The Green Home Screen

If you like bold, high contrast designs, today’s home screen is for you. This design uses a primarily black base (which makes it great for AMOLED displays), accented with stark greens for an attractive display.


U.S. Attorney to Investigate New York Prisoner Death Blamed on “Beat Up Squad”

U.S. Attorney to Investigate New York Prisoner Death Blamed on

On Thursday, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, announced that his office would be joining the Dutchess County district attorney’s investigation into the suspicious death of Samuel Harrell, a prisoner at Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon, N.Y., in April.

The New York Times broke the story of Harrell’s death last week: on the evening of April 21, the inmate got into a confrontation with corrections officers after packing his bags and declaring that he was going home. (Harrell reportedly had “a history of erratic behavior linked to bipolar disorder.”) The corrections officers allegedly threw Harrell to the ground, handcuffed him, and beat him:

As many as 20 officers — including members of a group known around the prison as the Beat Up Squad — repeatedly kicked and punched Mr. Harrell, who is black, with some of them shouting racial slurs, according to more than a dozen inmate witnesses. “Like he was a trampoline, they were jumping on him,” said Edwin Pearson, an inmate who watched from a nearby bathroom.

Mr. Harrell was then thrown or dragged down a staircase, according to the inmates’ accounts. One inmate reported seeing him lying on the landing, “bent in an impossible position.”

“His eyes were open,” the inmate wrote, “but they weren’t looking at anything.”

The autopsy report said Harrell died of a cardiac arrhythmia “following physical altercation with corrections officers,” according to the Times. The Orange County medical examiner ruled his death a homicide.

In a statement on Thursday, Bharara said that his office would be “coordinating and working” with Dutchess County district attorney William V. Grady’s office, who, in turn, the Times reports, said that he had been discussing “a joint investigation” with the U.S. attorney for several days.

“The very nature of this case calls for a full, fair and objective investigation into not only potential criminal law violations, but constitutional violations as well,” Grady said in a news release.

The present investigation will determine whether criminal charges will be filed.

Image via BET. Contact the author of this post:

Make Tough Financial Decisions with the Help of an Emotional Balance Sheet

There are a lot of financial decisions that come down to so much more than numbers. Sometimes the emotional benefits of something far outweigh the financial ones, and an emotional balance sheet can help you determine that when things get tough.


Deadly Flash Flooding Possible as Tropical Storm Erika Aims for Puerto Rico

Deadly Flash Flooding Possible as Tropical Storm Erika Aims for Puerto Rico

Tropical Storm Erika is a mess today, barely holding itself together as it draws closer to Puerto Rico. Despite its ragged appearance, the storm is producing very heavy rain along its path; devastating flooding on the small island of Dominica killed at least four people last night. Erika is still a threat to Florida, and current forecasts show the storm closing in on the Sunshine State as a hurricane early next week.

Deadly Flash Flooding Possible as Tropical Storm Erika Aims for Puerto Rico

As of the 5:00 PM EDT advisory, Tropical Storm Erika has 45 MPH winds as it moves toward the west-northwest, which puts its eventual track closer and closer to the tall mountains of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico. These islands have a nasty habit of destroying storms as they pass overhead, so there’s a real possibility that Erika won’t survive to the other side of the Greater Antilles. It’s such a short distance either way that it’s impossible to tell exactly what will happen until it actually happens.

The latest forecast shows the storm—assuming it survives—moving into the Bahamas and strengthening into a hurricane as it approaches Florida. The track uncertainty at this point is very high, so the storm could wind up anywhere from Cuba to the Carolinas or even out to sea. The forecast indicates general direction at this point—we’ll worry about its exact track this weekend. Anyone in or around the cone of uncertainty should be concerned, though, and it’s a good idea to start gathering supplies and revising plans just in case you come under threat.

Deadly Flash Flooding Possible as Tropical Storm Erika Aims for Puerto Rico

Above is the probability of tropical storm force winds according to the National Hurricane Center—warmer colors indicate a higher risk of encountering tropical storm conditions over the next five days. This will change as Erika strengthens or weakens and as forecasters refine the track, but it gives you a good idea of the risk as it stands right now.

Deadly Flash Flooding Possible as Tropical Storm Erika Aims for Puerto Rico

For its entire life, Erika’s looked like a storm that stumbled out of bed with the flu—save for a few rare occasions, its center of circulation has been completely removed from its thunderstorms, and the convection itself is throbbing between virtually nothing and deep torrents that reach the top of the troposphere.

The culprit behind the tropical storm continuous struggle is dry air and wind shear, the latter of which is having more of an effect these days. Wind shear prevents thunderstorms from organizing around the storm’s center of circulation, blowing them downstream and keeping the system from strengthening.

Weaker storms tap into a different current of winds than stronger storms, so Erika’s track is directly related to its strength. Since it’s stayed on the weaker side, the storm is caught in low-level easterly flow pushing the center farther and farther west than originally forecast.

Even though Erika is a marginal tropical storm at best, the system is a prolific rain producer. The small island of Dominica got stuck under the heaviest rain in the storm, producing devastating flash flooding that killed at least four people and caused untold amounts of damage. The Associated Press also reports that parts of the island received up to fifteen inches of rain last night, which is an incredible amount of water in such a short period of time. It doesn’t take a strong storm to create a disaster.

Puerto Rico is now in the line of fire for very heavy rain and gusty winds as the storm crosses the island tonight and tomorrow. Much of the island stands to see several inches of rain from the storm, and locations at the foot of hills and mountains could see much higher totals. The rain will help with the drought, but too much rain all at once will lead to life-threatening flash flooding and landslides—scenes like the one that played out in Dominica today would create a much larger disaster in Puerto Rico, and island that’s home to fifty times more people than the former.

The future of Tropical Storm Erika is highly uncertain. Don’t ignore the threat, even if you’re not in the cone of uncertainty. Keep a close eye on the forecasts, and make sure you’re prepared for this and any storms in the future. Gather food, water, batteries, candles, flashlights, fuel, medicine, first aid supplies, and cold hard cash now just in case the storm hits and you’re stuck without power or water for several days. If you do it now, you won’t be caught in the mad rush on grocery stores if/when the storm gets closer to land.

The next full forecast from the National Hurricane Center comes out at 11:00 PM EDT.

[Images: NOAA, author | Video: CBS News via YouTube]

Email: | Twitter: @wxdam

If you enjoy The Vane, then you’ll love my upcoming book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, which comes out on October 6 and is now available for pre-order on Amazon.

Donald Trump Loved Miley Cyrus’ Infamous VMA Performance

Donald Trump Loved Miley Cyrus' Infamous VMA Performance

Miley Cyrus is hosting this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, which, you may or may not be aware, airs this Sunday. In honor of the event, she did an interview with the New York Times, in which she reveals that future two-term president Donald Trump personally called her up to say how much he loved her much-derided 2013 VMA performance with a man named Robin Thicke.

Miley says:

I was in the studio with Kanye [later] that night, and we watched it back and we didn’t say anything. He was like, “That was sick,” whatever. We woke up the next day, and he was like, “Whoa.” He called and said, “Turn on your TV.” I was staying at the Trump Hotel and Donald Trump literally called and said, basically, “I know everyone’s talking about it, but I loved it.” I had no idea anyone was talking about it yet.

Donald Trump loved something garish and grotesque. Crazy.

In the interview, Miley Cyrus also said dumb things about Nicki Minaj, who is opening the awards, if that’s more your thing.

[image via Getty]

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SchoolLinks Helps You Find the Perfect Colleges and Scholarships for You

Finding a college that fits all of your personal criteria is no easy task . The web site SchooLinks helps you find and learn about colleges, apply for admission and scholarships, and even offers free educational consulting.


This Is a Good Newspaper Front Page

This Is a Good Newspaper Front Page

Today’s New York Daily News cover shows yesterday’s murder of an CBS reporter in Virginia from the perspective of her killer. It’s horrific, graphic, and gruesome—and it’s important that everyone looks at it.

Reading about gun violence isn’t enough. A shooting is a visual tragedy. There’s a muzzle flash, bullets, a wound, blood, and bodies. When we see an upsetting image, our brain draws on tens of thousands of years of evolutionary training for a proper response. We are flooded with chemicals that make us feel the badness of what we see, so that we can adjust our behavior accordingly. Maybe that means running away from a tiger, or maybe it means passing gun control legislation. But horror is healthy and normal, and means your brain is working as intended. It’s a useful response, because it might convince you—it might force you—to viscerally react to our nation’s epidemic of gun violence. If people see photos of Alison Parker being effortlessly slaughtered by a disgruntled former co-worker with an easily obtained firearm, maybe they will conclude that guns are devices of horror and easy death. If so, it will be worth the discomfort. It’s a nice fantasy, but you can’t pretend that discomfort is optional; feeling like shit is a necessary part of being alive.

But let’s take a step back and address the arguments against the Daily News cover: 1) That publishing the images is “giving the murderer exactly what he wanted,” and 2) It’s tasteless, indecent, and offensive.

Vester Flanagan committed this horrible act because he wanted the feeling of power that comes with killing people and getting attention for it. He plainly laid out his motives on Twitter immediately after he murdered two people. It’s fair to say that he relished the attention he received before killing himself, but we’ve already given Vester Flanagan what he wanted. He hated his two victims, and he wanted them dead, and so he bought a gun and shot them until he killed them. He gave himself what he wanted, with the help of insanely lax gun laws that permitted a disturbed man to get a gun in the first place. Now that he’s dead, his hopes and desires cease to exist along with the rest of him—you can’t give a dead man what he wants any more than we can deprive him of it. I’m sure he enjoyed the hysteria his Vine videos and Facebook uploads caused in the wake of the bloodshed, but that’s irrelevant now.

(There’s also the fear that granting exposure and attention to the killer inspires copycats. The absurd hypothetical of a copycat killer motivated by imagery alone is little more than speculation—mass shooters are motivated by the deeds of mass shooters, not their press alone. Besides, the best way to prevent a similar crime from happening in the future is to make it as hard as possible to get a gun, not to hide images of that gun.)

The second argument against publishing images of a murder that happened in real life appeals to our sense of common decency, a mixture of earnest personal discomfort and “think of the children” moralizing:

In practice, the objection looks like this:

New York kids on summer break, walking around their neighborhoods, are going to see that Daily News cover at every bodega and newsstand.

August 27, 2015

I won't share the image, but the New York Daily News cover today is a shameful pile of trash. Everyone involved should feel ashamed.

August 27, 2015

NY Daily News is on every street corner in New York. Kids walking to school tomorrow will see that. I hope bodegas refuse to put it out.

August 27, 2015

The “protect our kids” argument assumes that children in 2015 have no means of media consumption other than print newspapers, which is a pretty funny thing for two writers to say on Twitter. It’s also a red herring: the fact that Moral Twitter is simultaneously concerned about the children of New York being exposed to the cover while loose on summer vacation and seeing the cover on their way to school shows how phony this argument is.

There’s also the obligatory claim that such images are exploitative, that they feed on human tragedy for economic gain, whether it’s a newspaper cover or the internet “clickbait” canard. This too is off the mark—literally all news coverage of tragedy profits from that tragedy. It’s why Gawker’s traffic spiked yesterday, and why I imagine more people tuned into CNN all afternoon. This isn’t a reason to avert your eyes. CNN didn’t kill anyone.

Maybe the appeal to the safety of children and TV screens is a means of dealing with our own adult unease with graphic images of murder, which is an entirely understandable reaction. Upsetting things make us upset. Parents will be mad, yes—and they should be, mad that they have to raise kids in this fucked up gun-filled world. Be mad about it! You’re right to be mad. But don’t mistake the picture of the man holding the gun for the paper that printed it.

But where were these scolding schoolmarms and moralizers 14 years ago, when a tragedy on a far vaster scale was repeatedly and unavoidably thrust under our noses? Were they too shocked by these newspaper covers to even speak, or had they not yet turned into pearl-clutchers because Twitter mass-morality didn’t exist at the time?

This Is a Good Newspaper Front Page

You’re giving the killers exactly what they want! (In this case literally true, by the definition of terrorism)

This Is a Good Newspaper Front Page

What if the schoolchildren see!

Yeah, what if? What if children (and their parents) are forced to confront the fact that guns are a horrible force of destruction, killing, fear, and mayhem? What if everyone sees an image that makes them uncomfortable and upset because the world is uncomfortable and upsetting? We should be uncomfortable! Be upset! Feel like shit this week!

If someone is mad at you and you both live in America, it’s very easy for that person to get a gun and murder you with it. That fact should scare you, every single day, until we do something about it. Pictures will help.

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Public PGP key
PGP fingerprint: E93A 40D1 FA38 4B2B 1477 C855 3DEA F030 F340 E2C7

Fall Asleep Faster by Sticking One of Your Feet Outside of Your Covers

Now matter how hard you try, sometimes you just can’t fall asleep when you want to. There are a lot of tricks for helping your brain head to sleepy town, but this scientifically supported method might be one of the simplest.


British Stripper and Her Mom Get Twin Surgeries to Look Like Katie Price

Kayla Morris, just a regular 20-year-old British woman, loves to do loads of things with her mum, Georgina Clarke. Such as: Wear the same clothes, get the same clothes, borrow each other’s clothes, get their nails done together, have their nails done the same, and get plastic surgery to look like British model and TV personality Katie Price. They’re very close.

So close, in fact, that when Kayla, at 17, decided to get a boob job to look more closely resemble Price—who got her start as a model under the mononym Jordan, and is primarily known for her gaudily huge breast implants—her mom was all for it. In fact, it had been her dream to become a Katie Price lookalike, too. So they both did it, getting boob jobs and lip implants to more closely resemble their idol.

(To translate Katie Price into imprecise American terms, think something like a cross between Anna Nicole Smith and Courtney Stodden, but with a couple of decades worth of inexplicably successful TV shows and books.)

“I was pleased that Kayla wanted a boob job,” Georgina told News Dog Media, “I wanted her to be like ... that kind of person.”

With her mum’s blessing, Kayla began stripping at 17, and soon found a sugar daddy to pay for her new boobs. She kept stripping to pay for her mom’s surgeries as well, something neither of them regrets. In fact, they’re “happy,” “so lucky,” and “living the dream,” and they plan to get more procedures because they haven’t quite reached their goal.

Here is a recent photo of Katie Price, via Getty Images:

British Stripper and Her Mom Get Twin Surgeries to Look Like Katie Price

Score Rare Discounts on a Few High End Roombas

I hear nothing but good things about Roombas, and if you want to try one out yourself, a few high end models are on sale today on Amazon. The Roomba 870 is $90 off its usual price, the 880 is $105 off, and if you need a robotic mop to go with it, the Braava 380t is also discounted $45 from its usual price. [iRobot Sale]


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