Squeeze play: compression in video interfaces

In 2014 the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) introduced the 1.0 version of its Display Stream Compression (DSC) specification, the first standard system for compressing video specifically intended for use with hardwired display interfaces. The DSC standard was also endorsed by the MIPI Alliance, paving the way for widespread use in mobile devices and other applications beyond VESA’s original PC-centric focus.

Last year, version 1.2 was published, extending the feature set to include the 4:2:0 and 4:2:2, YCbCr formats commonly seen in digital television, and the group continues to develop and extend DSC’s capabilities and features.

But why the need for compression in the first place? Is it a good thing overall? Simply put, DSC’s adoption  is driven by the seemingly-insatiable appetite for more pixels, greater bit depth, and ever-increasing refresh rates. While the real need for some of these is debatable, there’s no argument that, especially in mobile devices, there’s a need to deliver high-quality, high-definition images while consuming the bare minimum of power. That leads to the need for compression.

A 1920 x 1080 image – considered just a moderate “resolution” these days – at a 60 Hz refresh rate and using 24-bit per pixel RGB encoding requires transmitting almost 3 gigabits of information every second between source and display, and that’s not even counting the inevitable overhead. Move up to “8K” video, as is coming to the market now, and that rate goes up geometrically. 48 billion bits of information need to move every second. That’s fast enough to fill a 1 TB drive in well under three minutes.

Leawo The move from 1080p to 4K, HDR, and even 8K content requires more and more data, increasing the necessity for compression to shrink file sizes.

Digital interface standards like DisplayPort and HDMI have done an admirable job of keeping up with this growing appetite for data capacity. DisplayPort 1.4 is capable of over 32 Gbits/sec., and future versions are expected to push that to 40 Gbits and higher. But these increases come at a price; all else being equal, faster transmission rates always take more power, on top of the generally higher power requirements of higher-resolution displays. Something has to give.

Compression is actually a pretty old idea, and it’s based on the fact that data (and especially image data) generally contains a lot of unnecessary information; there’s a high degree of redundancy.

Let’s say I point an HDTV camera at a uniformly white wall. It’s still sending out that three gigabits of data every second, even though you might as well be sending a simple “this frame is the same as the last one” message after the first one has been sent. Even within that first frame, if the picture is truly just a uniform white, you should be able to get away with sending just a single white pixel and then indicating, somehow, “don’t worry about anything else – they all look like that!” The overwhelming majority of that 3 Gbits/sec data torrent is wasted.

In mobile devices, compression standards give us the means for connecting high-res external displays— like VR headsets— without chewing through the battery or needing a huge connector.

In a perfect situation we could eliminate everything but that single pixel of information and still wind up with a picture that would be identical to the original: a perfectly uniform white screen. This would be a case of completely lossless compression — if  we can assume that “perfect” situation. What eliminating redundancy does, though, in addition to reducing the amount of data you need to transmit, is to make it all that much more important that the data you are sending gets through unchanged. In other words, you’ve made your video stream much more sensitive to noise. Imagine what happens if, in sending that one pixel’s worth of “white” that’s going to set the color for the whole screen, a burst of noise knocks out all the blue information. You wind up with red and green, but no blue, which turns our white screen yellow. Since we’ve stopped sending all those redundant frames, it stays that way until a change in the source image causes something new to be sent.

The goal is to come up with a compression system that is visually lossless

So compression, even “mathematically lossless” compression, can still have an impact on the image quality at the receiving end. The goal is to come up with a compression system that is visually lossless, meaning it results in images indistinguishable from the uncompressed video signal by any human viewer. Careful design of the compression system can enable this while still allowing a significant reduction in the amount of data sent.

Imagine that instead of a plain white image, we’re sending typical video; coverage of a baseball game, for instance. But instead of sending each pixel of every frame, we send every other pixel. Odd pixels on one frame, and even pixels on the next. I’ve just cut the data rate in half, but thanks to the redundancy of information across frames, and the fact that I’m still maintaining a 60 Hz rate, the viewer never sees the difference. The “missing” data is made up, too rapidly to be noticed. That’s not something that’s actually used in any compression standard, as far as I know, but it shows how a simple “visually lossless” compression scheme might work.

If you’re familiar with the history of video, that example may have sounded awfully familiar. It’s very close to interlaced transmission, which used in the original analog TV systems. Interlacing can be understood as a crude form of data compression. It’s not really going to be completely visually lossless; some visible artifacts would still be expected (especially when objects moving within the image). But even such a simple system would still give surprisingly good results while saving a lot of interface bandwidth.

Synopsys An example of how DSC and DSI interoperate on host and device sides, and sample compression rates with and without DSC.

VESA’s DSC specification is a good deal more sophisticated, and produces truly visually lossless results in a large number of tests. The system can provide compression on the order of 3:1, easily permitting “8K” video streams to even be carried over earlier versions of DisplayPort or HDMI. It does this via a relatively simple yet elegant algorithm that can be implemented in a minimum of additional circuitry, keeping the power load down to something easily handled in a mobile product — possibly even providing a net savings over running the interface at the full, uncompressed rate.

If you’re worried about any sort of compression still having a visible effect on your screen, consider the following. Over-the-air HDTV broadcasts are possible only because of the very high degree of compression that was built into the digital TV standard. Squeezing a full-HD broadcast, even one in which the source is an interlaced format like “1080i,” requires compression ratios on the order of 50:1 or more. The 1.5 Gbits per second of a 1080i, 60 Hz video stream had to be shoehorned into a 6 MHz channel (providing at best a little more than a 19 megabit-per-second capacity). HTDV broadcasts very typically work with less than a single bit per pixel in the final compressed data stream as it’s sent over the air, resulting in a clear, sharp HD image on your screen. When unusually high noise levels come up, the now-familiar blocky “compression artifacts” of digital TV pop up, but this really doesn’t happen all that often. Proprietary systems such as broadcast satellite or cable TV can use even heavier compression, and as a result show these sorts of problems much more frequently.

In the better-controlled environment of a wired digital interface, and with the much milder compression ratios of DSC, images transmitted using this system will probably be visually perfect. In mobile devices, compression standards such as these will give us the means for connecting high-res external displays— like VR headsets— without chewing through the battery or needing a huge connector.

You’ll very likely never even know it’s there.

Death of a Legislator: Dan Johnson’s Suicide and the GOP’s Far-Right Drift

Before facing abuse allegations and taking his own life, Kentucky Rep. Dan Johnson was becoming a far-right leader.

While the national press is focused on how the #MeToo movement is affecting Congress, state and city governments have also experienced a surge of women accusing politicians of sexual harassment and abuse. Kentucky has been especially shaken by this, with at least four Republican state legislators and a Democratic city councilman being publicly accused of sexual harassment in the past couple of months.

But the story took a particularly gruesome twist after a fifth statehouse Republican, Kentucky state Rep. Dan Johnson, took his own life last Wednesday. That came shortly after the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting published a blockbuster exposé of Johnson’s disturbing history, including allegations that he molested a 17-year-old member of his Heart of Fire congregation, where he was a minister.

This entire sordid affair is already being twisted by conservative pundits to discredit the #MeToo movement. Kathleen Parker asks whether Johnson had “a right to some sort of dispassionate hearing,” ignoring the fact that the alleged victim went to the police, to no avail. A deeper look into Johnson’s career, however, suggests a different moral: It illustrates the growing problem of radical fundamentalists quietly infiltrating local state governments.

Roy Moore may have lost his chance to be the U.S. senator from Alabama — if by an agonizingly narrow margin. But dozens of mini-Moores are flourishing in state legislatures, where they are pushing the Republican Party ever further to the right and quietly working to dismantle women’s access to reproductive health care.

While the molestation allegations against Johnson have been the focus, R.G. Dunlop and Jacob Ryan of the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting also uncovered a dizzying amount of disturbing information about Johnson that should have been disqualifying long before those accusations came to light. The man was a con artist who told lies about his own biography so outrageous they hardly needed fact-checking. He had repeatedly been in trouble with the law for running an illegal bar out of his church, and over several apparent arson incidents. During the 2016 election, he posted racist memes portraying Barack and Michelle Obama as monkeys and won his election over Democrat Linda Belcher anyway.

“I think that led him to believe there were lots of things he could do, yet his folks would still support him,” Marcie Crim, executive director of the Kentucky Health Justice Network, told Salon. 

When his Republicans colleagues came under fire in November for sexual harassment allegations, Johnson took to Facebook to offer a defense, writing, “I’m totally against anything that has to do with abuse, however there are no perfect people.”

Crim was not surprised by this, saying that both sexual abuse and anti-choice beliefs stem from an unwillingness to “believe that women’s bodies belong to the women.” Essentially, she said, right-wing men want to touch women “whenever they want, and they also want to tell them what kind of health care they can and can’t get access to.”

Johnson wasn’t just anti-abortion, which is par for the course in Republican politics. He was a radical anti-choice fanatic. He appears to have been closely working with Operation Save America, an extremist Christian organization that pushes what it calls the “doctrine of the lesser magistrates,” which holds that Christians shouldn’t obey laws that they believe conflict with God’s laws. It’s the same theory used to bolster the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples. Now it is being used to argue that federal laws protecting abortion rights need not be respected.

In October, Johnson pre-filed a piece of planned legislation called the Abolition of Abortion Act, which would have criminalized abortion in Kentucky both for doctors and patients. The proposed bill explicitly instructed the state to enforce this ban “regardless of any contrary or conflicting state or federal laws, administrative regulations, executive orders, or judicial decisions.” It appears Johnson was trying to put this “lesser magistrate” notion into law.

In an emotional video released before Johnson committed suicide — but after the allegations of sexual misconduct had emerged — Rusty Thomas, the head of Operation Save America, blamed the “sexual revolution” for sexual harassment, saying, “God is lifting the skirt of our national whoredoms.”

Thomas went on to defend both Johnson and Roy Moore, saying that the “establishment will spend millions of dollars to dig up dirt” and that it has “successfully weaponized sex as a political weapon” to publicly shame those “seeking to stand for righteousness and for godliness in our nation.”

Thomas, it’s worth noting, spends his days organizing protests outside abortion clinics that are meant to publicly shame women seeking abortion. Johnson himself showed up at one of these protests and was photographed by clinic escorts.

In the video, Thomas calls Johnson “the congressman we have been working with to introduce a bill of abolitions.” This comports with what Rewire reporter Jenn Stanley discovered while working on her audio documentary “Marching Toward Gilead.” She called Johnson to ask him about his anti-abortion bill, and he had Joseph Spurgeon, a pastor who works with Operation Save America, call her back within seconds. 

“I didn’t tell Dan Johnson that this was a story about Operation Save America,” Stanley told Salon. “So Joseph Spurgeon must be a guy he sends out to talk to reporters.” Spurgeon and Thomas have also said they tried to call and text Johnson to prevent him from committing suicide, to no avail. 

(Full disclosure: My partner was an executive producer on Stanley’s documentary.)

Operation Save America was the group that spent decades harassing Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider in Wichita, Kansas, until a regular clinic protester murdered him in 2009. When another clinic opened in the place of Tiller’s, Thomas declared, “OSA has some unfinished kingdom business in Wichita, Kansas. Tiller’s mill was reopened.”

But the main focus of Operation Save America has been the last remaining abortion clinic in Kentucky, which has been subject to the illegal clinic blockades that the groupused in the ’90s but abandoned for many years — until now. The group has been open about its desire to make Kentucky the home of the radical anti-abortion movement, especially now that it believes Donald Trump’s presidency has eased the path for more militant tactics.

The relationship between Johnson and Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin also shines some light onto the political dynamics that are allowing Republicans to chip away at abortion access in red states. As Crim argued, people like Johnson “would have been fringe characters two years ago, five years ago, but now they’re getting elected to office.” 

Once in, legislators like Johnson embrace extreme and blatantly illegal positions, such as an effort to reclassify abortion as murder. This makes politicians like Bevin, whose strategy is to use ginned-up regulations to bury abortion clinics under red tape, look moderate by comparison. But in reality, as Crim put it, “The fringe has become the mainstream.”

There’s only one abortion clinic left in Kentucky, because Planned Parenthood was unable to get hospital transfer agreements required by a recently-passed (and medically unnecessary) law blatantly intended to shut down as many clinics as possible. Planned Parenthood says it has evidence showing that Bevin used defunding threats to prevent hospitals from helping Planned Parenthood follow the law.

There is also reason to believe that Bevin’s true sympathies lie with extremists like Dan Johnson and Operation Save America. In February, Bevin held a meeting with the leaders of Operation Save America, who say they gave him the book “Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates” by Matt Trewhella, a pastor who has argued that murdering abortion doctors is justified. The group’s leaders further claimed Bevin had praised the book, even as he demurred on the question of signing legislation to classify abortion as murder.

(Bevin’s office and Operation Save America both failed to return Salon’s requests for comment.)

Stanley and Crim both told Salon that this entire situation highlights how easy it is for radicalized right-wingers to get power in state legislatures and start pushing a state’s politics to the right.

“Most people just have no idea who their state representatives are. People don’t go up to vote for that,” Stanley said. That makes the state legislature fertile ground for extremists to build a power base. “When you think about the things that really affect people’s personal lives,” she continued, “it’s the laws that are passed by these state legislators.”

Johnson’s death has certainly rattled the far-right fundamentalists who supported him, but it doesn’t seem to be slowing down their efforts to push their absolutist agenda through the Kentucky legislature. Even before Johnson’s death, his supporters were writing off the sexual abuse allegations as a politicized lie created by the “establishment” and largely ignoring the multitude of alarming claims about Johnson’s long history of fabrications. The day after Johnson’s death, his widow, Rebecca Johnson, announced plans to run for his legislative seat. “These high-tech lynchings based on lies and half-truths can’t be allowed to win the day,” she declared.

“People like to say it’s the last, dying gasp of previous generations,” Crim said of the rise of the far right in state legislatures. “And maybe it is the last gasp — but it’s a big gasp. It’s a very powerful breath they’re taking.”

 

 

 

Related Stories

  • Republican Senators Are Making Out Like Bandits with Special Real-Estate Tax Break
  • Paul Krugman: The GOP Is Completely, Hopelessly Corrupt
  • Is Trump an ‘Aspiring Despot’ or a ‘Bumbling Showman’? Why Not Both?

Jill Stein on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Investigation of Her Campaign for Russian Collusion: ‘There Is No There There’

The former Green Party candidate calls the inquiry evidence of a “new McCarthyism.”

This late November, the Senate Intelligence Committee delivered a request for internal communications and documents to Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein. According to former members of Stein’s 2016 presidential campaign, the request arrived through intellience commitee chairs Sen’s Richard Burr and Mark Warner, who are seeking information for the ongoing Russiagate investigation. While the Senate Intelligence Committee has yet to make the details of its inquiry into Stein’s campaign public, Republican Sen. Richard Burr told reporter Emma Loop that he is looking for evidence of Stein’s “collusion with the Russians.”

In recent weeks, the bipartisan investigation into Russian meddling has strayed from its focus on Trump and begun targeting left-wing political figures. Last month, the House Intelligence Committee sent a subpoena to Randy Credico, a retired comedian, noted prison reform activist and local New York political gadfly, seeking information on rumors that he had served as a go-between for right-wing operative Roger Stone and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. And now, Senate investigators have trained their sights on Stein, a veteran anti-war activist and pediatrician despised by Hillary Clinton partisans, who blame her for throwing the election to Trump.

I spoke to Stein immediately after the news from BuzzFeed leaked of the Senate inquiry into her campaign. She characterized the demand for Green Party documents as clear evidence of a “new McCarthyism, which is the flip side of a military madness that is stronger than ever in this country.”

“This is the continuing focus of empire and austerity and the assault on democracy that goes with it,” she continued. “The silver lining is we will get a chance at the microphone. A lot of people will be screaming at us but some people will hear us.”

Since news broke of the congressional inquiry into Stein’s campaign, she has been a punching bag for hardcore Democrat partisans. Zac Petnacas, the former rapid response director for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, proclaimed, “Jill Stein is a Russian agent” eight times in one tweet until he reached the maximum character limit.

The origins of allegations against Stein lay in the so-called Steele Dossier, a collection of unverified claims cobbled together by a former MI5 agent named Christopher Steele, who was paid by the DNC and the Clinton campaign. According to journalist Howard Blum, Steele relied on “an army of sources whose loyalty and information he had bought and paid for over the years.” Under the watch of James Comey, the FBI also made a deal to fund the dossier, but the arrangement fell apart, leaving it to the Clinton camp to funnel fees to Steele through the opposition research firm, Fusion GPS.

In addition to claiming that Putin held compromising footage of sex workers urinating on Trump on camera in a VIP suite at the Moscow Ritz, the dossier accused Stein of having been funded by the Russian government to attend a gala hosted by the Russian-backed news network, RT.

Stein told me this claim is false: “I paid my own way to Moscow. They [the Russian government] did not pay for my hotel or expenses, and I have the receipts to prove it.”

A gala dinner and collusion illusions

The RT gala was organized in November 2015 as a celebration of the international network’s 10th anniversary. Dignitaries, diplomats, politicians, media professionals, and activists from around the world gathered in Moscow for the event. I was among those invited to attend and I accepted. I wanted to interact with colleagues from around the globe and had long considered RT a valuable space in a conformist American media environment that is increasingly hostile to dissenting opinions, particularly where Western foreign policy is concerned.

During the two-day affair, I participated in a public panel discussion with former Salt Lake City mayor Rocky Anderson, historian Peter Kuznick and the Christian Science Monitor’s Moscow correspondent, Fred Weir, among others. I did not have a chance to collude with any Russian officials, though I did attempt a selfie with Mikhail Gorbachev as he brushed by me in a hallway. As far as I know, the only person who received a fee to attend the RT gala was former Gen. Michael Flynn, who was previously unknown to guests and was referred to dismissively as the “Obama general.” Flynn’s one-on-one with RT host Sophie Shevardzadze went over poorly; he was regarded as inarticulate and uninformed by a range of audience members I spoke to (I did not attend).

The event culminated with a catered dinner featuring live music and a video mash-up of RT’s greatest hits over the years. I spent much of the time at a table chatting with former Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura and his family, and Lee Camp, a left-wing political comedian who hosts the popular RT program, “Redacted Tonight.” None of us had any inkling that the festivities would come to be seen as a de facto crime scene by packs of Beltway reporters and congressional investigators. It would be months before Flynn emerged as a wild-eyed Trump surrogate and a full year before the Russiagate narrative was spun out of the ashes of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

At a table immediately in front of the stage, Stein was seated beside Willy Wimmer, the former foreign minister of Germany. Also at the table was Czech former Deputy Prime Minister Cyril Svoboda, a Russian filmmaker named Emir Kustursca and Flynn. Stein said her only substantive conversation was with Wimmer, and it lasted about two minutes. In the middle of the event, Russian President Vladimir Putin strode into the room alongside his chief of staff and spokesman. They briefly seated themselves at the dignitaries’ table before Putin appeared on stage for a few remarks, then shuffled toward the exit.

I asked Stein what took place when Putin arrived at her table. “Putin briefly ran around the table and shook everyone’s hand. No names were exchanged, it was an impersonal greeting,” she recalled. “There was nothing about that table that facilitated any communication of any sorts. The one person there who spoke English and Russian fluently was sitting next to Michael Flynn and translated what he said was the conversation between Flynn and Putin. It amounted to something to the effect of, ‘How are you? I’m fine.'”

Stein told me she had requested a moment with Putin or Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to discuss US-Russian cooperation on nuclear non-proliferation and de-escalating the conflict in Syria. “Hillary Clinton was promoting a no-fly zone in Syria, which would have put us in the position of shooting down Russian planes when we have 2,000 nuclear weapons on hair-trigger alert. So communication with your adversaries was important and we were in a crisis at the time. Our [Green Party] communications were exemplary,” she asserted. “They were content-focused, not about quid pro quo or any backroom deals. They were on target and in the words of JFK, I believe we should never negotiate out of fear, and never fear to negotiate.”

In the end, Stein was able to meet only with the foreign affairs chair of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament. A statement posted on Stein’s campaign website outlined her agenda for the meeting: “a new commitment to collaborative dialogue between our governments to avert disastrous wars for geopolitical domination, destruction of the climate, and cascading injustices that promote violence and terrorism.”

Stein’s visit to Moscow was part of a wider itinerary that brought her in contact with like-minded political figures across the Atlantic. She had just visited Paris, where she participated in a conference on climate change and rubbed shoulders with Jeremy Corbyn, now the leader of the UK Labour Party. “Corbyn had pretty much the same stance on the need for a peace offensive in the Middle East, a weapons embargo in the region, the dangers of a no-fly zone in Syria and on the need for nuclear non proliferation,” she recalled. “These aren’t fringe ideas and most of the world sees them as absolutely critical.”

Picture of a pseudo-scandal

In the weeks after Hillary Clinton’s election loss, a photograph of Stein seated at the table with Putin and Flynn began making the rounds. For many frustrated Democrats, the image was clear evidence of a nefarious conspiracy between a fringe third-party candidate, a Trump aide and Putin to deprive Hillary of her historic destiny. In their minds, Stein was not just a spoiler, but a spy.

“The fact that they got a photo out of this allowed them to launch a baseless smear campaign,” Stein said. “And they distorted the event itself. It was practically a who’s who of the peace community on hand.”

In July, Stein’s name was added to a Senate Judiciary Committee letter demanding communications between Donald Trump Jr., Russian officials and members of Trump’s presidential campaign. There was no indication that Stein had ever interacted with Trump Jr., and she denounced the letter as “an obvious smear designed to generate a fake news feeding frenzy.”

So far, no material has turned up to validate the committee’s unusual line of inquiry. In the face of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s request, Stein pledged cooperation. “We intend to provide any documents that are relevant,” she maintained, “but we had very little communications with Russia other than through RT for our appearances and limited logistics around the RT conference.”

But in the frenetic atmosphere of Russiagate, even Stein’s interviews with RT America have become grounds for suspicion. An error-laden report released by the Director of National Intelligence this January cast RT as a key aspect of Kremlin meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Among the transgressions the DNI accused RT of committing was hosting a third-party debate that gave a platform to candidates like Stein. The report also complained that RT was guilty of promoting “radical discontent.”

Despite the storm of accusations, Stein remains confident that her name will eventually be cleared. “Real people are not buying this effort to demonize us and [the investigation has] lost the thread. There is simply no there there,” she stated. “But there will be a lot of damage done before it comes out on the other end.”

 

Related Stories

  • Why the Mere Idea That Neocon Senator Tom Cotton Might Run Trump’s CIA Is Terrifying
  • By Clasping Hands with Netanyahu, Sen. Kamala Harris Reveals Herself as Just Another ‘Progressive Except For Palestine’
  • NY Times Frets About Russian Propaganda, Ignores the Massive Troll Farms Run By America and Its Allies

The GOP Tax Bill Rammed Through Congress on Tuesday Paves the Way to Defund and Dismantle Federal Government

Financial experts call it unworkable—and that’s what many Republicans want.

As the GOP tax bill raced through both chambers of Congress Tuesday, hurtling like a runaway train toward President Trump’s desk, Americans should see this GOP effort for what it is in the sweep of history—the Republican dismantling of federal government.

The tax bill’s specifics, with almost all of the benefits going to the very rich, confirm that the GOP’s lock on federal power is as bad as many predicted before the 2016 election. But the tax bill is also Republicans’ opening move to defund government—apart from national security, the military, infrastructure, and corporate welfare.

“The United States Senate should be doing more than providing 83 percent of the benefits in a tax bill to the top 1 percent,” Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, said during the Senate debate Tuesday. “We cannot go home unless we address the very serious crises facing the working families and the middle class of this country.”

Sanders cited a long list of ignored crises—including some intentionally created by President Trump and the red-run Congress—that show the GOP is bent on destroying social safety nets. That unfinished business includes legalizing 800,000 Dreamers, or young people raised here who are the sons and daughters of non-citizens; funding community health centers that serve 27 million people; funding the Children’s Health Insurance Program serving 9 million children; real disaster relief for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands; fixing a multi-employer pension fund that has 1.5 million retirees at risk of losing 60 percent of their anticipated income; reforming student loan debt for 40 million people; addressing a nationwide opioid epidemic; filling 30,000 vacancies in the Veterans Administration; and funding the Social Security Administration (in 2016, 10,000 people with disabilities died while awaiting review of their benefit applications).  

“And on and on it goes,” Sanders said, without citing specifics from the tax bill, such as how its cost, triggering past legislation controlling spending, will cut Medicare’s budget by 4 percent. (Congress still has to pass a 2018 federal budget, which envisions cuts to social welfare programs, science and the environment.)

The thread that ties together this willful neglect is simple. Republicans want to devolve government back to the local level. That’s been the political right’s rallying cry ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt created Social Security in the 1930s and Lyndon B. Johnson created the Great Society’s health safety nets in the 1960s.  

The tax bill gives the GOP a way to do this. Most everybody knows the bill’s fiscal benefits accrue to the already rich. But the tax bill has also been called unworkable by academics specializing in tax law.

On Tuesday, before the House passed it, business reporters noted the bill was moving so fast that the IRS would not be able to implement it when it goes into effect. For example, employers won’t know how much to withhold from January payrolls. That “puts the onus on workers to make adjustments later in the year if too much or too little of their money is being withheld,” Patricia Cohen wrote in the New York Times. 

The New Yorker’s John Cassady noted the bill is likely to bring in less revenue than projected, because it will launch an avalanche of new loopholes to exploit.

“What isn’t yet fully appreciated is how porous and potentially unstable the rest of the tax code will be after the bill is passed,” he wrote. “With a corporate rate of just 20 percent, and a big new break for proprietors of unincorporated businesses and certain types of partnerships, the new code will contain enormous incentives for tax-driven restructurings, creative accounting, and outright fraud. Every tax adviser and scammer in the country will be looking for ways to reclassify regular salary income.”

Cassady noted these contortions are destined to undercut federal revenues, which many Republicans welcome as an avenue to shrinking the federal government.

“The shortfall in tax revenues could be enormous. Perhaps that is what Republicans want to happen,” Cassady said. “Undoubtedly, there are some in the Party who would like to see the tax base decimated, the I.R.S. crippled, and the federal government forced to slash spending on domestic programs, particularly entitlement programs. But, for anybody who believes in a properly functioning government, a rational, clearly defined tax system is essential. The Republican reform doesn’t meet that standard.”

But today’s Republican leadership doesn’t want a functioning government outside the security state, military and infrastructure that buoys corporate America.

It’s hard to know what they are thinking as one looks ahead to the 2018 elections. If the GOP doesn’t want to talk about character—which seems to be the ascendant issue, as seen by Roy Moore’s loss in Alabama and the widespread backlash against male predatory sexual behavior, driven by suburban women who are voting in droves this year—then all the Republicans can point to is their tax bill. While the GOP’s opponents will emphasize intentionally widening inequality, don’t be surprised if Republicans recast their only major legislative achievement in 2017 as a victory against the phantom enemy they love to hate: big government.

Unfortunately, as Sanders pointed out on the Senate floor Tuesday, millions of Americans are getting hurt and are going to be hurt by this needless legislation and similar moves that are sure to follow.  

 

Related Stories

  • Bannon Is Trying to Take Over the GOP Within 1 Election—Can He Pull It Off?
  • The Supreme Court Is Set to Determine if GOP Extremists Will Hold America Hostage for Years to Come
  • Here Comes the Next Big Right-Wing Attack on Our Voting Systems

The best Honor 7X cases

Phone cases are about decoration, but more importantly, they’re about protecting your investment. If you drop your phone, a good phone case can be the difference between a disaster and a relief. Whenever a new phone comes out, case makers start to offer their wares as well. With the Honor 7X being a recent release, we’ll be sure to update this list as new Honor 7X cases hit the market.

There is a lot that goes into deciding on what case is right for your phone. You want to make sure your phone is protected not only from drops, but from the rigors of everyday life too. Some cases protect the phone from screen scratches as well. Whatever shape you usually find your phone in after several months, chances are, there is a case to help it NOT end up that way.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the selection of cases we have outlined below.


KuGi Huawei Honor 7X thin wallet

Amazon

One of the more popular options of smartphone case is the wallet-case. This is a protective case that serves the extra utility of carrying around your ID, credit cards, cash, etc. Since you’re going to carry around all that stuff anyway, why not combine them all into one case, rather than separate cases for each item. The benefit is that you have less to worry about, including dropping your phone, because the case is there to protect it. Add to that the utility of standing the phone up for media consumption and you have a case that does it all.

The PU leather finish looks great too. It’s a stylish way to carry your phone with four color choices — black, blue, green, and red. The Honor 7X case will help protect your phone from damage and screen scratches, keeping it nice and cozy for as long as you own the phone.

Get it on Amazon


Yiakeng Shock Absorbing Dual Layer Protective Fit Armor Phone Cases Cover Shell

Amazon

The name is a bit of a mouthful, but this case offers a ton of protection for your Honor 7X. This case is crafted with a TPU inner sleeve and an impact-resistant hard plastic outer shell. The corners are double-thick TPU to ensure the device can survive a fall. The phone offers drop protection, scratch protection, and slip protection. The phone is set back from the front of the case just enough to prevent screen impact when dropped on the face.

This Honor 7X case is textured to provide a grippy surface. So many phones are slippery these days, so maintaining a grip can be difficult. The textured case allows for maximum gripping surface, keeping your phone secure in your hand. The built-in kickstand allows you to watch movies hands-free, making the case functional and helpful.

Get it on Amazon

KuGiPremium Flexible Soft Anti Slip TPU Honor 7X Case 

Amazon

If a hard case isn’t the right look for you, KuGi has a shock absorbing soft case that fits over the Honor 7X like a glove. The soft silicone is textured to look and feel great. The sides are engineered for maximum grip. The holes for ports are precision cut to allow for access to the cameras, fingerprint sensor, charging port, and every other opening, without having to remove the case.

A creative new TPU formula helps extend the life of the case — providing long-lasting protection for your device. The Honor 7X case also comes with a 100 percent satisfaction warranty, allowing you a full refund or a new case if you aren’t completely satisfied. This is a classic look that will offer your device maximum protection.

Get it on Amazon

KuGi ultra-thin Flexible Rubber Soft TPU Hybrid Bumper Case

Amazon

Finally, if you would prefer to show off your phone, but still have it protected, the KuGi ultra-thin Flexible clear Honor 7X case will do just that. Made from a thin, drop/shock/scratch absorbent TPU, the case will allow you to admire the phone’s craftsmanship while still enjoying the protection the case provides.

The precision cutouts give you access to all of your ports, plus keeps your camera lenses and fingerprint sensor free. The TPU material is sturdy enough to maintain these port openings without a lot of wear and tear on the case, keeping your device safe and the case itself intact. The TPU has a soft touch feeling that feels great in the hand and is very grippy to prevent drops or accidental falls.

Get it on Amazon

So, that’s our list of the best cases you can get for your Honor 7X. It’s still a new device, so there are sure to be more cases coming, and we’ll update the list as they do. But this covers a good variety of styles, from the wallet case, to the ultra-durable, to the slim and fashionable. There is surely a case on here for you.

Disclosure: E-Commerce Content is independent of editorial content and we may receive compensation in connection with your purchase of products via links on this page. This post may contain affiliate links. See our disclosure policy for more details.

One more 7th Continent post before I shut up :)

The 2nd Kickstarter for 7th Continent ended with 43,733 backers having pledged over $7 million. But if you missed it, there is a possibility to Late Pledge with options limited to getting either just the new expansion, or the whole game plus expansion. I don’t know how long this will be possible, I presume it is until the pledge manager goes live in November.

*Spoiler Alert*
My wife and me are making great progress on the first curse, The Voracious Goddess. We lost on the first attempt and restarted. Knowing the starting island better made things easier, so on the second attempt we managed to get off the island the comfortable way. That gives you a choice of three places to continue, and by pure chance we seem to have chosen the absolutely best one. We found a place to rest and spend our xp on advanced skills. We found a place to hunt and recover all of the adventuring deck. And we found the next two landmarks on the clue map.

It was getting nearly too easy, and so we decided to do something more risky. Instead of following the clue map further, we entered what I can only describe as a dungeon. We didn’t completely clear it out, because there was a rather suspicious lever we didn’t dare to pull. But we did everything else in it and exited with some treasure and more advanced skills. Next we will try to hunt again and then follow the path on the clue map.

Civilization VI

I haven’t played Civilization VI yet. I am a fan of the series. But I have too many games and too little time, and I didn’t want to pay full price for yet another iteration of the same game. I was still waiting for the price to come down below $30 when I got the news that the full Civ 6 game has been ported to iOS. Yes, you need a newer iPad to play and it is battery-hungry, but it is the *full* Civ 6, not a toned down mobile version. That is pretty remarkable. So I downloaded the game for free, which lets you play 60 turns with the Chinese empire to see how it works. And then I balked at buying the full version for $60. I didn’t even want to pay that for the PC version, and for an iOS game that is very expensive.

So while I was still pondering what to do, I got another piece of news: You can this month get Civilization VI (PC version) plus 2 expansions plus a collection of other games in the Humble Bundle Monthly for $12. That is basically a subscription service where you pay $12 per month to get a bundle of games every month. But if you only want Civ 6 you can of course unsubscribe after 1 month. As this is the lowest I have ever seen Civ 6 go for, I ended up buying the game that way.

Not sure when I will get around to actually play it, I am still very busy with Zelda – Breath of the Wild. But as an opportunity to get Civ 6 cheap this is certainly worth mentioning. The offer is available until the end of the month.

‘Whoa, Whoa’: Fox Panel Goes off the Rails After Guest Suggests FBI Plotted to Assassinate Trump

The right-wing media has lost its mind.

Fox News contributor on Tuesday said that it was possible that the FBI had plotted to assassinate President Donald Trump — although he quickly backed off when “Outnumbered” host Harris Faulkner expressed alarm at his baseless speculation.

Appearing on “Outnumbered,” guest Kevin Jackson said that Congressional Republicans need to get to the bottom of what FBI agent Peter Strzok meant when he said that there needed to be an “insurance policy” in the event that Trump got elected.

Even though the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Strzok’s “insurance policy” quote referred to his sincere belief in the need to investigate Trump because he was possibly compromised by Russian intelligence services, Jackson immediately went off the deep end and suggested much darker motives.

“What was his intent, right?” Jackson asked. “Because that’s exactly what FBI Director, former FBI Director [James] Comey said when he was letting Hillary Clinton off the hook. And his intent, regardless of whether it was an assassination attempt or whatever, it was definitely something…”

At this point, a surprised Faulkner interjected and said, “Whoa, whoa!” Jackson then responded by toning his rhetoric down a notch.

“Well, I’m just saying, we don’t know what it was,” Jackson said. “When you say, ‘we’ve got to make sure that this guy doesn’t get in at all cost,’ what does that mean? So I’m saying there’s a spectrum of what does it mean, but one thing that we know for sure, is that he was plotting in an election against a candidate, and there’s FBI fingerprints all over this.”

Later in the segment, Jackson admitted that everything he has heard about FBI plots to kill Trump has come from social media accounts that were “nothing credible.”

Watch the video, via Media Matters, below.

 

Related Stories

  • How Fox News Is Waging ‘Psychological Warfare’ on the American People
  • Intelligence Analyst Malcolm Nance Compares Fox News Rhetoric to ‘Psychological Warfare’
  • Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro Delivers Her Most Disturbing Monologue of Trump’s Presidency

O’Reilly Accuser: Time Bomb of Info on Sex Harasser Executives in ‘Highest Positions’ at Fox News Is Counting Down

Fox News has paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements related to O’Reilly alone.

“Tick tock, tick tock,” wrote conservative commentator and Bill O’Reilly sexual harassment accuser Juliet Huddy on Saturday. “Executives who not only covered up for sexual harassers/predators (statements by 21st Century Fox co-chairman Rupert Murdoch, who said on Friday that the sexual harassment and abuse scandal at his network is merely “nonsense,” and that it’s a “political” attack on the network “because we’re conservative.”

LawAndCrime.com said that in a post that she deleted from Facebook, but then posted on Twitter, Huddy wrote, “Rupert Murdoch is not just a media mogul. He’s a perpetrator, complicit in wrecking careers of hardworking, talented people while protecting their tormentors.”

She continued, “The more we shame disgraceful executives like Murdoch, the faster we send the message that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.”

In a statement to Law and Crime, Huddy said, “It’s ironic that O’Reilly, Murdoch and others have suggested that I, along with the other accusers, are part of some left wing conspiracy. [One], I’m fiscally conservative and socially liberal so let’s just get that out of the way. [And two], based on everything I have seen and has been reported, the participants in this, The Grand Conspiracy, are the executives at Fox.”

She said that Murdoch himself is not accused of harassing women, but that he was instrumental in covering up and burying stories about O’Reilly, former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and others.

Huddy is one of multiple women to whom Fox News has paid out tens of millions of dollars in settlements related to O’Reilly alone. A parade of other women have come forward with accusations of harassment, sexualized bullying and a “locker room” culture at the network.

 

Related Stories

  • Is This a ‘Sex Panic’ or a National Moment of Reckoning? Can’t It Be Both?
  • Why Some of Us Hesitated to Say #MeToo
  • How One American Journalist Took Down Militiamen Who Raped 50 Young Girls

MongoDB – daTa ModeLLinG Concepts: SQL – Where all to UsE ?

Data Modeling

Data modeling (data modelling) is the analysis of data objects and their relationships to other data objects. Data modeling is often the first step in database design and object-oriented programming as the designers first create a conceptual model of how data items relate to each other. Data modeling involves a progression from conceptual model to logical model to physical schema.

MongoDB Data Modeling

In MongoDB, data has a flexible schema. It is totally different from SQL database where you had to determine and declare a table’s schema before inserting data. MongoDB collections do not enforce document structure. The main challenge in data modeling is balancing the need of the application, the performance characteristics of the database engine, and the data retrieval patterns.

Following things must be consider while designing MongoBD data models

  • Always design schema according to requirements.
  • Perform join on write operations only not on read operations.
  • Objects which you want to use together, should be combined into one document. Otherwise they should be separated.
  • Optimize schema for more frequent use cases.
  • Do complex aggregation in the schema.
  • You should duplicate the data but in a limit, because disc space is cheaper than compute time.

Lets see the example of website. Website has following requirements:

  1. Every post contain unique title, description and URL.
  2. Post can have one or more tags.
  3. Post has the name of its publisher and total number of likes.
  4. Post can have comments and the comments must contain username, message, date-time and likes.

For the above example, minimum three tables are required in RDBMS.

But in MongoDB, schema design will have one collection post and has the following structure:
 {
_id: POST_ID
title: TITLE_OF_POST,
description: POST_DESCRIPTION,
by: POST_BY,
url: URL_OF_POST,
tags: [TAG1, TAG2, TAG3],
likes: TOTAL_LIKES,
comments: [
{
user: 'COMMENT_BY',
message: TEXT,
datecreated: DATE_TIME,
like: LIKES
},
{
user: 'COMMENT_BY',
message: TEST,
dateCreated: DATE_TIME,
like: LIKES
}}}

So while showing the data, in RDBMS you need to join three tables and in MongoDB, data will be shown from one collection only.

Lets see how to create Database in MongoDB

There is no create database command in MongoDB. MongoDB use DATABASE_NAME is used to create database. The command create new database if it doesn’t exist, otherwise it will return the existing database.
Syntax :

use DATABASE_NAME

Example
If you want to create a database with name , then use DATABASE statement would be as follows :

>use mydb

To check your currently selected database, use the command db

>db

If you want to check your databases list, use the command show dbs.

>show dbs

Your created database (mydb) is not present in list. To display database, you need to insert at least one document into it.

>db.movie.insert({"name":"SCTPL"})
>show dbs

In MongoDB default database is test. If you didn’t create any database, then collections will be stored in test database.

The dropDatabase command is used to drop a database. It also deletes the associated data files. It operates on the current database.

db.dropDatabase()

MongoDB Create Collection

In MongoDB, db.createCollection(name, options) is used to create collection.
Syntax:

db.createCollection(name, options)

Name: is a string type, specifies the name of the collection to be created.
Options: is a document type, specifies the memory size and indexing of the collection. It is an optional parameter.
Following is the list of options that can be used.

  1. Capped: If it is set to true, enables a capped collection. Capped collection is a fixed size collecction that automatically overwrites its oldest entries when it reaches its maximum size. If you specify true, you need to specify size parameter also.
  2. AutoIndexID: If it is set to true, automatically create index on ID field. Its default value is false.
  3. Size: It specifies a maximum size in bytes for a capped collection. If capped is true, then you need to specify this field also.
  4. Max: It specifies the maximum number of documents allowed in the capped collection.

Let’s take an example to create collection. In this example, we are going to create a collection name SCTPL.

>use test
switched to db test
>db.createCollection("SCTPL")
{ "ok" : 1 }
>

You can check the created collection by using the command show collections.

 >show collections

The following example shows the syntax of createCollection() method with few important options

>db.createCollection("SCTPL_COL", { capped : true, autoIndexId : true, size : 
6142800, max : 10000 } )
{ "ok" : 1 }
>

In MongoDB, you don’t need to create collection. MongoDB creates collection automatically, when you insert some document.

Do you want to learn database Programming?