by A. Richard Miller
Begun September 29, 2008; last updated April 17, 2019.

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On the eve of USA's November 2008 national election, an urgent proposal for an unsecured $700-Billion, maybe $800-Billion loan to mismanaged banks and stockbrokers was generating understandable controversy. In its initial form the Bush Buddies Bailout was one more Weapon of Mass Deception, a (later, a two-step) public welfare program for wealthy people who game the system. But the problem remains.

What, exactly, went - and continues to go - wrong? What ARE reasonable goals, what are NOT, and how might a more populist government reach good ones?

Jill and I searched, asked friends, and found part of the discussion in the mainline U.S. Press. It is dominated by large corporations, and is quickly becoming a large corporation that reports with bias and too-often avoids reporting. We find the parts they don't want us to find - overseas, in The New York Times and The Washington Post, and in the Alternative Press. Some favorites are: Alternet, Campaign for America's Future, Common Dreams, Daily KOS, Demand Progress, Democracy Now, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Mother Jones, The Nation, Nation of Change, Dan Rather's News&Guts, Politico, The Raw Story, TruthOut, and Russ Baker's But we keep a sense of perspective; know which news is biased, and how.

The more we read, the more we realize that - as much as we want our money back - that is only one of many ways our country is becoming impoverished. Often by corporations, which most definitely are NOT people! (For one thing, these rapacious corporations have no shame.)

You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that, is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.

- Rahm Emanuel (Wall Street Journal Weekend Interview, Nov. 7, 2008)

Never waste the opportunities offered by a good crisis.
- Niccolo Machiavelli (Fifteenth Cent. 
Florentine writer and statesman)

Yes, as through this world I've wandered,
  I've seen lots of funny men;
Some will rob you with a six-gun,
  And some with a fountain pen.

And as through your life you travel,
  Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
  Drive a family from their home.

- Woody Guthrie, Dust Bowl Ballads

What is the robbing of a bank compared to the founding of a bank?
- Bertolt Brecht

Yes, We're Corrupt.
A List of Politicians Admitting That Money Controls Politics

Too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning.
- Jimmy Carter (1979, as U.S. President)

It is not particularly easy for one to climb up out of the working-class - especially if he is handicapped by the possession of ideals and illusions.
- What Life Means to Me, by Jack London (1905)

... peace was not in the interest of a stable society, that even if lasting peace "could be achieved, it would almost certainly not be in the best interests of society to achieve it." War was a part of the economy. Therefore, it was necessary to conceive a state of war for a stable economy. The government, the group theorized, would not exist without war, and nation states existed in order to wage war. War served the vital function of diverting collective aggression. They recommended "credible substitutes" and paying a "blood price" to emulate the economic functions of war. Prospective government-devised alternatives to war included reports of alien life-forms, the reintroduction of a "euphemized form" of slavery "consistent with modern technology and political processes", and - one deemed particularly promising in gaining the attention of the malleable masses - the threat of "gross pollution of the environment".
- Wikipedia's summary of The Report From Iron Mountain (1967)

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.
- U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower (April 16, 1953)

There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.
- John Adams, letter to Jonathan Jackson (2 October 1780), The Works of John Adams, vol 9, p.511.

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.
-- President Abraham Lincoln (1864 letter to William Fletcher Elkin), or faked in
Caldwell Remedy Company pamphlet (May 10, 1888), or...
         <> (pp. 4-6)

What is this you call property? It cannot be the earth. For the land is our mother, nourishing all her children, beasts, birds, fish, and all men. The woods, the streams, everything on it belongs to everybody and is for the use of all. How can one man say it belongs to him only?
- Massasoit

Only when the last tree has been cut down, only when the last river has been poisoned, only when the last fish has been caught, only then will you realize your money cannot be eaten.
- an old Cree saying? Maybe not; but good.

The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism.
- U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1938

Train communities through all their grades, beginning with individuals and ending there again, to rule themselves.
Walt Whitman

This planet has -- or rather had -- a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper, which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.
- Douglas Adams, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (1979)

The Fragile States Index (Fund For Peace)

US National Debt Clock, by Ed Hall

The Freecycle Network (Good. A
grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.)

Time Trade Circle (Good. Time Banking in eastern Massachusetts.)

Buy Nothing Project (Bad?)
(See its Person-to-Person section - on Facebook - and then see
Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life , below).

Calculated Risk (blog)

The Conscience of a Liberal (NY Times blog by Paul Krugman)

To Build A Better Ballot; an interactive guide to alternative voting systems, by Nicky Case, 2016) (Campaign for America's Future)

Lifton's Thought Reform, (ca. 1997; Changing Minds)
"Milieu control, mystical manipulation, confession, self-sanctification through purity, aura of sacred science, loaded language, doctrine over person, dispensed existence."

The Strange Disappearance of Cooperation in America, by Peter Turchin (Cliodynamica, 2013)

Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life (Institute for Critical Digital Culture, 2018)
"Every click on a website and every swipe on a smartphone may trigger a wide variety of hidden  
data sharing mechanisms distributed across several companies and, as a result, directly affect a  
person’s available choices. Digital tracking and profiling, in combination with personalization,  
are not only used to monitor, but also to influence peoples’ behavior. ...
"Facebook uses at least 52,000 personal attributes to sort and categorize its 1.9 billion users by,  
for example, their political views, ethnicity, and income. In order to do so, the platform  
analyzes their posts, likes, shares, friends, photos, movements, and many other kinds of behaviors.
"In addition, Facebook acquires data on its users from other companies. In 2013, the platform  
began its partnership with the four data brokers Acxiom, Epsilon, Datalogix and BlueKai, the latter  
two of which were subsequently acquired by the IT giant Oracle. These companies help Facebook track  
and profile its users even better than it already does by providing it with data collected from  
beyond its platform."

Help Us Cure Online Publishing of Its Addiction to Personal Data, by Doc Searls (Linux Journal, March 14, 2018)
(and The Big Datastillery that targets YOU) 

It's Official: Watching Fox Makes You Stupider (The Nation, 2012)

Ten True Facts Guaranteed to Short-Circuit Republican Brains (Daily KOS, 2012)

His Grief, and Ours: Paul Ryan's nasty ideal of self-reliance (New Republic, 2012)

We All Built This Great Nation Together: Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan, and the Myth of Radical Individualism (Nick Gier)

The Foul Reigh Of Emerson's "Self-Reliance" (New York Times, 2011)

The Death Of God, by Friedrich Nietzsche (1885)

Losing my religion for equality (Jimmy Carter, 2009)
"The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God."

RELIGION: What It Was For; What Went Wrong; How To Fix It, by Benjamin Becula

The New Populism (Campaign for America's Future, 2014)

Grokking Republicans: The Non-Cooperator's Dilemma (Daily KOS, 2014)
"To create More and Better Democrats means to increase cooperation. Punishing cooperation is the declared Republican mission. 'The Evolution of Cooperation', by Robert Axelrod, proposes a theory that says they lose, and recommends particular political strategies to make it happen faster."

Freethinkers and Libertarianism, by David Niose

Yale Climate Opinion Maps, U.S. 2016

Earthquakes of the First 15 Years of the 21st Century (4-min. video; NOAA, December 2, 2016)

Scientists Are Pro-Testing (Science, 2017)

Is the World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income? (Freakonomics, 2016)

The Gerasimov Doctrine (Politico, 2017)
"It’s Russia’s new chaos theory of political warfare. And it’s probably being used on you."

We All Want Healthcare To Cost Much Less  -  But We Are Asking The Wrong Question, by Joe Flowers (Medium, 2017)
"Imagine this: Healthcare  -  the whole system  -  for half as much. Better, more effective. No rationing. Everybody in."

What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest An Answer. (New York Times, November 7, 2017)

Our Revolution

Angry White House Staffer

GOP Rape Advisory Chart

The Loneliness of Donald Trump; On the Corrosive Privilege of the Most Mocked Man in the World, by Rebecca Solnit

Vote Sleuth: Investigating Democracyngeles Times, 2017)

The way Donald Trump is handling his job as president (Gallup Poll Daily Data)

"Who am I? Why am I here?" (#25thAmendmentNow)
A running thread of Trump not knowing where he is, how he got there, or the appropriate response to give in the moment."

Donald Trump (Vice)

Obamacare 101: Here's what you need to know (Los Angeles Times, 2017)

NEW: Duty To Warn (Duty To Warn, 2017)
"Duty To Warn is an association of mental health professionals and other concerned citizens who advocate Trump’s removal under the 25th Amendment on the grounds that he is psychologically unfit."

The way Donald Trump is handling his job as president (Gallup Poll Daily Data)

"Who am I? Why am I here?" (#25thAmendmentNow)
A running thread of Trump not knowing where he is, how he got there, or the appropriate response to give in the moment. Some mental health professionals are concerned that he may be exhibiting signs of Alzheimer's, but he might just be an idiot."

The Hamilton 68 Dashboard tracks Russian influence operations on Twitter. (Hosted by the Alliance for Securing Democracy.)

How Facebook’s destructive ethos imperils democracy (The Guardian, March 17, 2018)

Atlas Of Utopias (Transformative Cities, 2018)

CONGRESSIONAL SCORECARD; Congressional Civil Liberties Record in the Trump Era ACLU, 2018)

Chart: The percentage of women and men in each profession (Boston Globe)

Smoking bans in private vehicles (Wikipedia)

Light Cycles, by Quinn Norton

"The Suffocation of Democracy", by Christopher R. Browning (New York Review Of Books, October 13, 2018)
"If the US has someone whom historians will look back on as the gravedigger of American democracy, it is Mitch McConnell. He stoked the hyperpolarization of American politics to make the Obama presidency as dysfunctional and paralyzed as he possibly could. As with parliamentary gridlock in Weimar, congressional gridlock in the US has diminished respect for democratic norms, allowing McConnell to trample them even more. Nowhere is this vicious circle clearer than in the obliteration of traditional precedents concerning judicial appointments.
Trump’s personal flaws and his tactic of appealing to a narrow base while energizing Democrats and alienating independents may lead to precisely that rare wave election needed to provide a congressional check on the administration as well as the capture of enough state governorships and legislatures to begin reversing current trends in gerrymandering and voter suppression. The elections of 2018 and 2020 will be vital in testing how far the electoral system has deteriorated.
Alongside the erosion of an independent judiciary as a check on executive power, other hallmarks of illiberal democracy are the neutralization of a free press and the steady diminution of basic human rights. On these issues, often described as the guardrails of democracy against authoritarian encroachment, the Trump administration either has won or seems poised to win significant gains for illiberalism. Upon his appointment as chancellor, Hitler immediately created a new Ministry of People’s Enlightenment and Propaganda under Joseph Goebbels, who remained one of his closest political advisers. In Trump’s presidency, those functions have effectively been privatized in the form of Fox News and Sean Hannity. The highly critical free media not only provide no effective check on Trump’s ability to be a serial liar without political penalty; on the contrary, they provide yet another enemy around which to mobilize the grievances and resentments of his base. A free press does not have to be repressed when it can be rendered irrelevant and even exploited for political gain.

She Votes (NPR's special SERIES on women and the vote, October 20, 2018)

Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2017 (ADL Center on Extremism, February 27, 2018)
"Over the past 10 years (2008-17), domestic extremists have been responsible for at least 387 murders; of these, 274 (71%) were committed by right-wing extremists of one type or another."

Quantifying Hate: A Year of Anti-Semitism on Twitter (ADL Report, May 7, 2018)

ADL H.E.A.T. Map (ADL, August 9, 2018)

 The Future Of Electric Cars Is China (Quartz, ?? 2018)
"The world awaits an electric-car future, but that future is rapidly becoming the present in China. The country is on track to sell more than 1 million electric vehicles in 2018, nearly as much as the rest of the world combined. And with tens of billions of dollars already invested to build up an electric-car infrastructure (and tens of billions more on the way), China is not letting up in its pace to become the world leader in EVs."

The Great Filter - the most important question in history (Daily KOS, November 3, 2018)

The Neanderthal renaissance, by Rebecca Wragg Sykes (Aeon, March 13, 2019)
"Handprints on a cave wall, crumbs from a meal: the new science of Neanderthals radically recasts the meaning of humanity. The invention of new dating techniques, analysis of thousands more fossils and artefacts, and advances in ancient DNA research have collectively revealed the extent to which the lives of Neanderthals are braided together with our own."

Voices From The Field; FBI Agent Accounts of the Real Consequences of the Government Shutdown (FBI Agents Assn., January 2019)
"If the FBI and Dept. of Justice are not funded, the Agents will continue to face challenges in carrying out our mission to protect the nation."

50 Moments That Define an Improbable Presidency (The Atlantic, January 21, 2019)

Tracking Trump: The President’s Standing Across America (Morning Consult)
"On a daily basis, Morning Consult is surveying over 5,000 registered voters across the United States on President Trump. Each month, we’ll update this page with the latest survey data, providing a clear picture of Trump’s approval and re-election prospects."

Russia Investigation Summary (Teri Kanefield, continuing)
"Muller Probe Overview: Documents Filed, Crimes, etc."

A Timeline of Earth's Average Temperature Since The Last Ice Age Glaciation (xkcd)

Global Climate Change; Vital Signs Of The Planet (NASA, current)

Climate Change (United Nations)

NEW: Sizing Up the Carbon Footprint of Cities (NASA, April 11, 2019)
"Large and wealthy cities have the biggest carbon footprints."

NEW: Earthquake and Volcano Activity, Worldwide, 2001-2015 (NASA, NOAA)

NEW: Nancy Pelosi, by Hillary Rodham Clinton (Time100, 2019)
NEW: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, by Elizabeth Warren (Time100, 2019)
Greta Thunberg, by Emma González (Time100, 2019)

Pertinent Posts

BBC One: Climate Change - The Facts (BBC, April 18, 2019)
"After one of the hottest years on record, Sir David Attenborough looks at the science of climate change and potential solutions to this global threat. Interviews with some of the world’s leading climate scientists explore recent extreme weather conditions such as unprecedented storms and catastrophic wildfires. They also reveal what dangerous levels of climate change could mean for both human populations and the natural world in the future."
Read Mueller’s (REDACTED-by-White-House) Report Here (Common Cause, April 18, 2019)
"...and then sign our petition to demand full transparency."
(Or, read it on the U.S. Dept. of Justice website.)
Nikola Motor Company shows off two real trucks and… a new jet ski? (Ars Technica, April 17, 2019)
"The Tesla competitor had a very Tesla kind of product reveal."
Microsoft didn't want to sell its facial recognition tech to California police (Engadget, April 17, 2019)
"The tech giant recently turned down a request from law enforcement to equip officers' cars and body cameras with face recognition tech. The California department apparently wanted to run a scan every time an officer pulls anyone over.
Smith said Microsoft rejected the contract due to human rights concerns - it believes the technology's use for that particular purpose could lead a disproportionately large number of women and minorities being held for questioning. Face recognition systems still struggle with gender and race bias, because they're mostly trained on photos of white male subjects. As a result, they're more likely to misidentify women and persons of color."
T-Mobile, Comcast launch anti-robocalling feature, claim industry's first (Reuters, April 17, 2019)
T-Mobile said its new feature identifies authentic calls across the networks with the sign “Caller Verified” appearing on phone screens.
Robocalls, automated telephone calls that deliver a recorded message, typically on behalf of a political party or telemarketing company, are on the rise. Last month, 5.2 billion robocalls were placed, an average of 168.8 million per day, according to YouMail, a robocall management company that tracks the volume of calls. Scams make up about 40 percent of all robocalls."
The wave of domain hijackings besetting the Internet is worse than we thought (Ars Technica, April 17, 2019)
"Despite widespread attention since January, DNS campaign shows no signs of abating. A new report says state-sponsored actors have continued to brazenly target key infrastructure despite growing awareness of the operation."
Scammers May Be Using DNA Testing to Defraud Medicare and Steal Identities (Bloomberg, April 17, 2019)
"State authorities warn that DNA testers have targeted poor neighborhoods and senior communities."
ACLU asks judge to reject Trump admin claim it could take two years to identify separated families (Daily KOS, April 17, 2019)
Failed economist tells Fox audience that recession was caused by Obama, and now it's Bernie's fault (Daily KOS, April 16, 2019)
Anti-vax moms sue NYC as US heads toward record measles spread
(Ars Technica, April 17, 2019)
2019 is set to be the worst year for measles in the US this century.
In the lawsuit, the mothers claim that the outbreak does not constitute a dangerous epidemic (though the virus can cause severe complications and even death) and that the city's orders for vaccination are 'arbitrary and capricious.' Moreover, they allege that the MMR vaccine has significant safety concerns (this is false; side effects beyond mild, temporary discomfort are exceedingly rare) and that the order violates their religious freedom."
Biggest U.S. Health Insurer Slams Democrats’ ‘Medicare for All’ Proposals (Bloomberg, April 16, 2019)
"The U.S.’s biggest health insurer sharply criticized the “Medicare for All” proposals being debated by Democrats, wading into a heated Washington political debate that’s likely to dominate the 2020 presidential race and the conversation about the future of private health plans in America. For months, health insurers have kept mostly quiet about the proposal, the most-ambitious versions of which would replace privately financed health coverage with Medicare, the government program that covers about 60 million mostly elderly Americans. On Tuesday, UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s chief executive officer said such proposals would amount to a 'wholesale disruption of American health care.'
As a source of coverage, UnitedHealth is almost as large as Medicare itself. It provides health-insurance services to 49.7 million people, and last year recorded revenue of $226.2 billion. Along with insurance, it operates physician practices, sells consulting and data services, and administers drug benefits. It also covers millions of people in the private-sector versions of Medicare and Medicaid."
(And their executives might have to take a pay cut and, oh, right, it would bring all American citizens up to First-World standards.)
‘Sexual Playthings’: #MeToo Moment for Anadarko’s Denver Office (Bloomberg, April 16, 2019)
"Chevron agreed last week to buy Anadarko for $33 billion. Pre-sale harassment complaints prompt action at oil-drilling firm."
Notre Dame Alarm Raised 23 Minutes Before Blaze Was Detected (Daily Beast, April 16, 2019)
"An alarm was raised at Notre Dame at 6:20 p.m. on Monday night - 23 minutes before the structure was engulfed in flames- but officials found no sign of a fire. Firefighters who responded to a second alert raced to the scene but were then unable to tame an inferno that ripped through the 12th century cathedral for the next 9 hours. Doubts still remain about the integrity of the Gothic stone building. Two-thirds of the timber roof is gone - it had been crafted from more than 13,000 oak trees, an entire forest reduced to kindling.
The investigation is going to be long and complex. Investigators have identified and interviewed some of the construction crew who had been working on the €6 million ($6.8 million), four-year renovation project, which began last April. The restoration of the spire, which crumbled within the first hour of the blaze, was the first phase of a larger, 20-year renovation project on the rest of the cathedral. Some five different construction companies were involved in the ongoing restoration of the cathedral’s iconic spire. The work was being overseen by Le Bras Frères, which specializes in the restoration of historic monuments. Prior to the start of the Notre Dame project, the company had already worked on several of France’s historical churches, including those in Amiens, Reims, and Poitiers.
When the devastating fire broke out, firefighters and employees of French Culture Ministry formed a human chain to rescue as many of the cathedral's priceless artifacts and treasures as possible. Their efforts paid off, and several iconic artifacts, including the Crown of Thorns purported to have been worn by Jesus Christ during the crucifixion - along with what is believed to be portion of the cross and an original nail - were safely evacuated from the building. The blessed sacrament, a tunic worn by Louis the 13th, and several paintings, including a 17th-century work by French painter, Lubin Baugin, were rescued. The artifacts were first transported to a safe place in the city’s nearby Hôtel de Ville, then later moved to the Louvre Museum for safe-keeping.
The Rose Windows – the immense round stained glass windows over Notre Dame's three principal portals – also escaped the flames without major damage. The building’s legendary twin bell towers survived as well, as did Nicolas Coutou's 18th-century marble masterpiece ‘La Pieta’ sculpture behind the church’s main altar. Sixteen bronze statues surrounding the collapsed spire are still intact thanks to miraculous timing rather than divine intervention. The figures, depicting the 12 apostles and four evangelists, were removed from the roof just days before the fire as part of the extensive renovation.
Still, not everything escaped the fire. A number of large oil paintings that could not be removed from the high walls sustained damage and will be restored at the Louvre, according to Le Monde. Other religious treasures, including a separate piece of the Crown of Thorns, as well as relics of Saint-Denis and Saint-Geneviève are gone forever. All three were stored inside the copper Gallic rooster that crowned the spire that collapsed about an hour into the inferno."
Notre-Dame fire: Cathedral 'was 15 minutes from destruction' say officials as Macron pledges to rebuild it in five years (Telegraph, April 16, 2019)
"Notre-Dame cathedral was just minutes away from being totally consumed by the huge fire that destroyed its roof and spire, the French government said on Monday night. "
Notre Dame fire: Crews assess damage as donations flow in (Washington Post, April 16, 2019)
"French authorities investigating the inferno at the cathedral said early indications suggest it started by accident. Officials also warned that parts of the building may still have gravely dangerous vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, donations poured in to restore the church, an effort that one expert said could take decades. The roof was burned away. Char and smoke marks licked portions of the walls. Wooden roof beams that seemed eternal now looked like used matchsticks.
'The preliminary investigation suggests an accidental hypothesis,' said Paris Prosecutor Rémy Heitz, adding that there were no indications that the blaze was started deliberately. He made clear that the investigation was just beginning, as officials gingerly made their way into the devastated interior of the chapel. The fire appears to have started under the scaffolding that encased the exterior of the church’s nave, which was under renovation."
Notre Dame fire: Macron promises to rebuild, but Paris monument suffers 'colossal damage' (Washington Post
, April 15, 2019)
"PARIS - The spine-tingling, soul-lifting spire and roof of Notre Dame Cathedral were reduced to ash Monday, as a catastrophic fire spread through a building that has embodied the heart of Paris for more than 800 years. The fire, which came during Christianity's holiest week and was apparently accidental, left a smoldering stone shell where there had once been a peerless work of architecture, engineering and craftsmanship. The building, the cornerstone of which was laid in 1163, is the most visited monument in Paris, with more than 12 million people coming each year - nearly double the people who visit the Eiffel Tower. Its intricate stone gargoyles, spires, stained glass and flying buttresses have made it one of the great masterpieces of architecture, and it housed many ther.
Initial reports in the French press suggested that many of those pieces had already been removed last week during the renovations, and the cathedral's collection of sacred items, kept in the sacristy, were likely unharmed. Officials later confirmed that two of the cathedral's most precious relics survived the flames: a tunic worn by Saint Louis, a 13th-century French king, and the crown of thorns that Jesus Christ is said to have worn before his crucifixion.
The spire that collapsed on Monday is not an original component of the cathedral. It was added in the 19th century, when tastes veered toward a Gothic revival, by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. The gargoyles - immortalized in Victor Hugo's classic novel 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' - were likewise added in the 19th century."
Notre Dame fire: Paris cathedral devastated by ferocious blaze (The Guardian, April 15, 2019)
"Spire of centuries-old landmark destroyed after flames burst through the roof. An investigation has been opened by the prosecutor’s office, but police said it began accidentally and may be linked to building work at the cathedral. The 850-year-old gothic masterpiece had been undergoing restoration work.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, attended the scene and later gave a speech in which he vowed that the cathedral would be rebuilt, as fire crews said the landmark’s rectangular bell towers and structure of the building had been saved."
Notre-Dame de Paris brûle dans la nuit (Paris Match, April 15, 2019)
New scientific device creates electricity from snowfall (UCLA, April 15, 2019)
"The first-of-its-kind nanogenerator designed by UCLA researchers and colleagues also acts as a weather station."
Editorial: How to jump-start America (Boston Globe, April 15, 2019)
"How breakthrough science can revive economic
growth and the American Dream."
Why the High Hopes for Trump’s Tax Returns Are Misplaced (The WhoWhatWhy Blog, April 14, 2019)
"Instead of a silver bullet, it’s more likely that the tax returns will be a relative dud, and here is why: There is simply no way that they are complete and accurate. As we and others have documented - and anybody with an open mind must surely realize - Trump is a crook and a charlatan. It’s not just that he is lining his own pockets in myriad ways as president (along with his band of fellow grifters), or that his 'foundation' was forced to dissolve because it was caught self-dealing, or that he engaged in a pattern of stiffing people who worked for him, or that he set up a fraudulent 'university.'
All of that is small potatoes compared to the pattern of 'dubious tax schemes' that the New York Times uncovered (Oct. 2, 2018) in an excellent article. These practices - some of which, experts believe, were downright fraudulent - resulted in Trump’s father, Fred, evading taxes and gifting his son hundreds of millions of dollars.

Trump, backed by an army of lawyers like Michael Cohen, has engaged in tax fraud, various illegal schemes, and swindles for a very long time. And, for the most part, he has gotten away with them, apart from some slaps on the wrist. Add to that the president’s historic propensity for lying and you see why we are skeptical that Trump’s tax returns will provide further proof of things we already know: The president is a crook, and the rich get away with defrauding the government because their lawyers know how to abuse the tax code."
Are We Seeing A Late Combustion Age Collapse? (Clean Technica, April 13, 2019)
"What do things like global warming, the diesel emissions/collusion scandals, and the 737 MAX 8 crashes all have in common? It’s that we are pushing combustion technology too far. Not only are we getting diminishing efficiency returns, but we are also reaping great loss of human life, a mass extinction of animal life, and even the possible destruction of our species. The entire planet, both in the air and under the oceans, feels the effects."
The largest plane ever built takes to the air on a morning for both triumph ... and sadness (Daily KOS, April 13, 2019)
(Yes, Paul Allen will be missed. Also see its Comments thread, for Zephyr and more.)
For the first time, there are now as many Americans who claim no religion as there are evangelicals and Catholics, a survey finds (CNN, April 13, 2019)
"But in the U.S. Congress, they are a highly underrepresented group."
(See Faith on the Hill, the Pew Research Center poll, January 3, 2019.)
NEW: 64 Pounds of Trash Killed a Sperm Whale in Spain, Scientists Say (New York Times, April 12, 2019)
When a President encourages the murder of a member of Congress, it is time to impeach (Daily KOS, April 12, 2019)
"Trump is devolving the Presidency into levels of pure racism. His attacks on Rep Omar is an act of pure unadulterated racism that will lead to deaths. Rep Ilhan Omar, has already been targeted by a radical republican terrorist, has now got every republican terrorist targeting her. Trump has done this supposedly in response to Rep Omar’s remarks at a CAIR banquet."
‘His own tax lawyer testified against him’: Trump biographer David Cay Johnston explains why Trump is terrified of his taxes (Raw Story, April 12, 2019)
"'David, based upon your having seen one of Trump’s tax returns, I think it was 2005, what is he most sensitive to about people like us knowing … what does he want to keep secret?'
'There isn’t now and there never has been any evidence, verifiable evidence, Donald is a billionaire. He’s not a billionaire. That’s one thing he’s worried about.
Secondly, he’s worried that an audit will show tax cheating. Let’s not forget, Donald was tried twice for tax fraud, civil tax fraud, and was found in both cases to have engaged in fraud. He was excoriated by the judges in both cases. His own tax lawyer testified against him, saying, 'That’s my signature on the tax return, but I did not prepare that tax return.' That’s a very strong badge of fraud. And his sister, Maryann Trump Barry, as soon as she came under investigation by judicial authorities, because she’s a federal judge, as a tax cheat, resigned."
Why is an MIT alum in Congress pretending he doesn’t know climate change is real? (US Politics, April 12, 2019)
"Senator Kerry pointed out that during the last 800,000 years, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have never been as high as they are today.
'The reason you chose 800,000 years ago is because for 200 million years before that, it was greater than it is today,' Massie said.
'Yeah, but there weren’t human beings. That was a different world, folks,' Kerry said."
NEW: Katie Porter Grills Big Bank CEO on Their Employees Going into Debt to Survive (8-min. video; MSNBC, April 11, 2019)
"JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon makes $31M/year, ignoring the obvious."
Democratic lawmaker to drug industry on insulin prices: 'Your days are numbered' (Daily KOS, April 11, 2019)
"In a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on insulin prices Wednesday, Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and fellow lawmakers blasted manufacturers and drug industry intermediaries for creating a situation in which as much as a quarter of the population with diabetes is rationing and skimping on lifesaving doses of the drug because of cost. 'I don't know how you people sleep at night,' Schakowsky told the panel. 'I just want you to know your days are numbered.'"
Walmart’s $25 insulin can’t fix the diabetes drug price crisis (Vox, April 11, 2019)
"The US is an outlier in insulin costs and spending. America represents only 15 percent of the global insulin market and generates almost half of the pharmaceutical industry’s insulin revenue. Unlike other countries, America gives drug companies free rein to set prices. The result is that the cost of the four most popular types of insulin has tripled over the past decade, and the out-of-pocket prescription costs patients now face have doubled.
The US Walmart's chain offers a low-cost
1980's-tech option, but it’s far from ideal for all patients. There’s one way the insulin drug pricing problem could be fixed, however: lowering the price of insulin. Ultimately, it’s the list price that’s hurting patients. I keep going back to that: Just fix the list price. Companies could decide that, instead of launching one-off programs or doling out discounts, they’ll forgo profits and lower list prices once and for all. Or lawmakers could decide to regulate drug pricing.
We have a big problem here. People are hurting and people are dying. How much more will it take for them to regulate this? Clearly what’s in place now is not working. This is a place where our legislators can step in and help protect the patients with diabetes."
Assange arrested in London after seven years in Ecuador embassy, U.S. seeks extradition (Reuters, April 11, 2019)
"Assange’s supporters said Ecuador had betrayed him at the behest of Washington, that the termination of his asylum was illegal and that they feared he would ultimately end up on trial in the United States. To some, Assange is a hero for exposing what supporters cast as abuse of power by modern states and for championing free speech. But to others, he is a dangerous rebel who has undermined U.S. security.
WikiLeaks angered Washington by publishing hundreds of thousands of secret U.S. diplomatic cables that laid bare often highly critical U.S. appraisals of world leaders, from Russian President Vladimir Putin to members of the Saudi royal family. Assange made international headlines in early 2010 when WikiLeaks published a classified U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.
'Assange’s critics may cheer, but this is a dark moment for press freedom,' said Edward Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who fled to Moscow after revealing massive U.S. intelligence gathering.
Assange’s relationship with his hosts collapsed after Ecuador accused him of leaking information about President Lenin Moreno’s personal life. Moreno said Assange’s diplomatic asylum status had been canceled for repeated violation of conventions. He said he had asked Britain to guarantee that Assange would not be extradited to any country where he might face torture or the death penalty. 'The British government has confirmed it in writing,' Moreno said."
Chinese scientists have put human brain genes in monkeys - and yes, they may be smarter. (
MIT Technology Review, April 10, 2019)
"A quest to understand how human intelligence evolved raises some ethical questions."

MIT-grad Kentucky Republican congressman attempts to divert topic from Climate Change: Is This the Dumbest Moment in Congressional History? (Rolling Stone, April 10, 2019)
"(R-KY) Congressman Thomas Massie’s impossibly daft line of questioning left John Kerry flabbergasted."

The MIT Computer Scientist Whose Algorithm Led To The First Real Image Of A Black Hole (w/14-min. TED Talk; WBUR News, April 10, 2019)
"Three years ago, Katie Bouman was an electrical engineering and computer science graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She led a team of researchers to create an algorithm that would lead to the first real image of a black hole.
On Wednesday, that image finally was captured. Through the effort of scientists across the globe, the supermassive black hole was photographed in the middle of the Messier 87 galaxy within the Virgo galaxy cluster, about 53 million light years away from MIT's Haystack Observatory in Westford, Mass."
Astronomers have finally captured an image of a black hole (Quartz, April 10, 2019)
"Researchers on the Event Horizon Telescope project made the announcement today (April 10) at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The team has operated by linking up giant radio dishes from across the world, which has created a virtual telescope that’s about the size of Earth itself. The idea was that in creating such a network, they could generate the enormous amount of magnifying power needed to collect enough electromagnetic and radio waves to create an image of an area around a distant black hole. It was an elusive goal from the get-go. The target is invisible to the naked eye. Black holes are regions of space believed to have been formed when massive dying stars eventually collapse, leaving behind a space with such an immense gravitational power that even particles of light can’t escape their inward pull. The idea is that if something goes into a black hole, it gets shredded up, heated up, and then expelled.
In this historic case, the image was made possible because tiny photons are being sucked into the black hole in the Messier 87 galaxy, which is 53.49 million light years from Earth. Getting sucked into a black hole was described by the scientists as being plunged into most extreme environment in the known universe. The photons make their way into the center of the hole at light speed, transforming into 100 billion-degree plasma that’s then expelled outward from the black hole in massive jet streams, one of which is pointed almost directly toward Earth.
Back on Earth, the network of telescopes collected the data coming toward them from the black hole jet stream. It was an enormous amount of data, too, about five petabytes - about the size as 5,000 years of MP3 music files. Because the size of the data was so immense, the hard drives on which they were kept were flown to a central location to be analyzed. Transmitting the files via the internet simply would have been too slow. From there, scientists worked to create the single image that was shared today. It’s the size of just a few kilobytes. And that image helps broaden our understanding of the role black holes likely play. The jet streams expelled from black holes are immensely important when considering how galaxies and clusters of galaxies are formed and shaped, said Sera Markoff, an astrophysicist and member of the team from the University of Amsterdam. 'When black holes are activated by gravitationally capturing material…they temporarily become the most powerful engines in the universe.'"
Scientists reveal first image ever made of a supermassive black hole (Associated Press, April 10, 2019)
"The picture, assembled from data gathered by eight radio telescopes around the world, shows the hot, shadowy lip of a supermassive black hole, one of the light-sucking monsters of the universe theorized by Einstein more than a century ago and confirmed by observations for decades. It is along this edge that light bends around itself in a cosmic funhouse effect. 'We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have seen and taken a picture of a black hole. Here it is,' said Sheperd Doeleman of Harvard, leader of a team of about 200 scientists from 20 countries.
Unlike smaller black holes that come from collapsed stars, supermassive black holes are mysterious in origin. Situated at the center of most galaxies, including ours, they are so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape their gravitational pull. This one’s 'event horizon' - the precipice, or point of no return, where light and matter begin to fall inexorably into the hole - is as big as our entire solar system.
The black hole depicted is about 6 billion times the mass of our sun and is in a galaxy called M87 that is about 53 million light years from Earth. One light year is 5.9 trillion miles, or 9.5 trillion kilometers. While much of the matter around a black hole gets sucked into the vortex, never to be seen again, the new picture captures gas and dust that are lucky to be circling just far enough to be safe and to be seen millions of years later on Earth."
Boston University researchers use electricity to restore youthful memory function in old brains (Daily KOS, April 10, 2019)
"The results showed that before the electrical stimulation, the older group’s recall rate was around 80 percent, compared with the younger group’s rate of 90 percent. After as little as 10 minutes of stimulation to the brains of the older participants - while their younger counterparts wore caps that provided only a light current, as a placebo - the elder test subjects were able to score 90 percent on the same memory tests."
NEW: Victory! The House of Representatives Passes Net Neutrality Protections (Electronic Freedom Foundation, April 10, 2019)
"The Save the Internet Act was written to restore the strong and hard-fought protections of the 2015 Open Internet Order. Americans overwhelmingly support an Internet where Internet service providers (ISPs) have to treat all the data transmitted over their networks in a nondiscriminatory way. In other words, where ISPs don’t act as gatekeepers to the Internet and where you, the user, decide how and what you want to see online. As many Americans have no choice when it comes to their ISP, it is vital that they retain control over their online experience. Americans overwhelmingly support an Internet where Internet service providers (ISPs) have to treat all the data transmitted over their networks in a nondiscriminatory way.
Famously, violations of net neutrality have included the practices of blocking, throttling, and paid prioritization. But that is not all that ISPs can do to warp your Internet experience. The Open Internet Order of 2015 prohibited these three techniques, while also including privacy and competition protections. All of these things would be restored with the Save the Internet Act. We deserve a return to the 2015 order, not a watered-down version of net neutrality."
Barr doesn’t know if Mueller backs his summary (Associated Press, April 10, 2019)
Retiring as a Judge, Trump’s Sister Ends Court Inquiry Into Her Role in Tax Dodges (New York Times, April 10, 2019)
"President Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired as a federal appellate judge, ending an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings. The court inquiry stemmed from complaints filed last October, after an investigation by The New York Times found that the Trumps had engaged in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the inherited wealth of Mr. Trump and his siblings. Judge Barry not only benefited financially from most of those tax schemes, The Times found; she was also in a position to influence the actions taken by her family. Judge Barry had been a co-owner of a shell company - All County Building Supply & Maintenance - created by the family to siphon cash from their father’s empire by marking up purchases already made by his employees, The Times investigation found. Judge Barry, her siblings and a cousin split the markup, free of gift and estate taxes, which at the time were levied at a much higher rate than income taxes. On a financial disclosure form filed in 1999, Judge Barry noted that her share of the All County profits for the previous 17 months totaled just over $1 million. The family also used the padded invoices to justify higher rent increases in rent-regulated buildings, artificially inflating the rents of thousands of tenants. Similarly, Judge Barry benefited from the gross undervaluation of her father’s properties when she and her siblings took ownership of them through a trust, sparing them from paying tens of millions of dollars in taxes. For years, she attended regular briefings at her brother’s offices in Trump Tower to hear updates on the real estate portfolio and to collect her share of the profits. When the siblings sold off their father’s empire, between 2004 and 2006, her share of the windfall was $182.5 million.
Former prosecutors told The Times that if the authorities had discovered at the time how the Trumps were using All County, their actions would have warranted a criminal investigation for defrauding tenants, tax fraud and filing false documents.
In a letter dated Feb. 1, a court official notified the four individuals who had filed the complaints that the investigation was 'receiving the full attention' of a judicial conduct council. Ten days later, Judge Barry filed her retirement papers. The status change rendered the investigation moot, since retired judges are not subject to the conduct rules. The people who filed the complaints were notified last week that the matter had been dropped without a finding on the merits of the allegations.
In retirement, Judge Barry is entitled to receive annually the salary she earned when she last met certain workload requirements."
Ocasio-Cortez grills bankers on if more should have gone to jail for financial crisis (The Hill, April 10, 2019)
"Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday questioned major banking CEOs on whether more industry figures should have gone to prison over the 2007 financial crisis. In a House Financial Services Committee hearing meant to assess preparedness since the crisis, Ocasio-Cortez expressed 'concerns about how much things have really changed' since the recession. She noted fines and penalties in the interim, such as Bank of America’s $16.5 billion settlement in 2014 over misconduct related to mortgage-backed securities as well as a $20 million and another $720 million in consumer relief. She questioned the bankers on whether the fines and penalties were viewed as 'the cost of doing business' rather than something to be avoided. 'I represent kids that go to jail for jumping a turnstile because they can't afford a MetroCard,' Ocasio-Cortez told JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon. 'Do you think that more folks should have gone to jail for their role in a financial crisis that led to 7.8 million foreclosures in the 10 years between 2007 and 2016?'
The committee summoned the CEOs of the nation’s largest banks as a group for the first time since 2009 for the Wednesday hearing, during which the witnesses claimed their respective companies have become safer and more responsible since they were bailed out during the crisis. However, committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) expressed concerns that 'several of these institutions are simply too big to manage their own operations, too big to serve their communities, and too big to care about the harm they have caused.'"
Dummy Donald hates it when you laugh at him (Daily KOS, April 10, 2019)
"You know who I’m talking about. Individual #1. Cadet Bone Spurs. 45. The Orange One. Twitler. Mrs. Putin.  Don the Con.  Yep, that guy. He hates it when you laugh at him.
He loves it when you’re angry at him!  He feeds on your anger.  To him it’s a mark of achievement to tick off the Democrats, a proud moment he revels in.
But he hates it when you laugh at him."
Maxine Waters tells Steve Mnuchin: ‘Please do not instruct me as to how I am to conduct this committee’ (w/2-min. video; Daily KOS, April 10, 2019)
"In this case, it would be contempt of Congress. That’s what he was trying to get Maxine Waters to say but she’s far too savvy to fall into a trap like that. She didn’t want him to stay because she’d threatened him; she wanted him to do what he wanted to do and then she’d make sure he suffered the full consequences."
(Also, see today's Elle article in the Black Humor section of this web page.)
Mnuchin, Waters engage in angry exchange with cameras rolling on Capitol Hill (Washington Post, April 9, 2019)
"A number of the Democrats and Republicans on the committee still had not been able to ask Mnuchin questions, and she wanted Mnuchin to agree to come back twice in May for more time. He seemed exasperated at the request and wouldn’t agree to it."
Mnuchin reveals White House lawyers consulted Treasury on Trump tax returns, despite law meant to limit political involvement (Washington Post, April 9, 2019)
"Democrats are asking for six years of Trump’s returns, using a federal law that says the treasury secretary “shall furnish” the records upon the request of House or Senate chairmen. The process is designed to be walled off from White House interference, in part because of corruption that took place during the Teapot Dome scandal in the 1920s.
Mnuchin revealed the discussions during a congressional hearing. He said he had not personally spoken with anyone from the White House about the tax returns, but he said that members of his team had done so."
Steve Mnuchin Could Go To Jail If He Blocks Release Of Trump’s Taxes (PolitiZoom, April 9, 2019)
"The idea that if the president won he gets a blanket immunity for anything that came up during the election is ludicrous. Meanwhile, the 'I can’t release the returns because I’m being audited' excuse was always a lie. The IRS doesn’t forbid anyone from making their returns public if they’re being audited. Now, you know that if Trump’s tax returns were pristine, that he would have them displayed prominently on billboards all over the country, just like if the Mueller report 'fully exonerated' him, it would be the New Republican Bible and Sean Hannity would be quoting from it chapter and verse every single night. Bob Mueller would be “beautiful Bob” or some such sobriquet, and Trump would be looking to put him on the ticket as his vice president in 2020, unless I miss my guess. None of that is happening.
So, not only is the failure to disclose the tax returns a red flag, it is illegal as hell, and if Steve Mnuchin tries to block the release of Trump’s tax returns, he could be looking at a prison cell."

Trump hotels exempted from ban on foreign payments under new stance (The Guardian, April 9, 2019)
"A narrow justice department interpretation of the emoluments clause gives countries leeway to curry favor with the president via commercial deals. In more than 50 legal opinions over some 150 years justice department lawyers have interpreted the clause in a way that barred any foreign payments or gifts except for ones Congress approved. But filings by the department since June 2017 reveal a new interpretation that '… would permit the president – and all federal officials – to accept unlimited amounts of money from foreign governments, as long as the money comes through commercial transactions with an entity owned by the federal official.'"
Sayonara, Mike Pence? (PolitiZoom, April 9, 2019)
"History is stuffed chock-a-bock full with these 'odd couple' arranged marriages politically. Dan Quayle was about as qualified to be a vice president as a real quail, but he provided the necessary 'youthful glow' to the stodgy and drying paint dull of George H W Bush. Dick Cheney was supposed to be a steadying political influence on the addle pated and politically nebbish George W Bush, but instead left W in the playpen while he traded US military lives for Haliburton profits. And Joe Biden gave the up and coming, but inexperienced Barack Obama the political and foreign policy gravitas to make people more comfortable.
The Donald Trump-Mike Pence ticket was just such a shotgun marriage. Pence was supposed to be a steadying influence to 'traditional' Republican voters, as well as deep pocket GOP donors, who were obviously uneasy about the rather erratic behavior and public pronouncements of a candidate who treated real world politics like just another reality TV series. But where Dick Cheney had the strength of will to impose discipline on the pliant W, Pence had neither the savvy, nor the spine to even slow down, much less manipulate the alpha male in his relationship."
Boston University team revived working memory in older adults by synchronizing rhythmic brain circuits (Nature, April 8, 2019)
"We developed a noninvasive stimulation procedure for modulating long-range theta interactions in adults aged 60–76 years. After 25 min of stimulation, frequency-tuned to individual brain network dynamics, we observed a preferential increase in neural synchronization patterns and the return of sender–receiver relationships of information flow within and between frontotemporal regions. The end result was rapid improvement in working-memory performance that outlasted a 50 min post-stimulation period. The results provide insight into the physiological foundations of age-related cognitive impairment and contribute to groundwork for future non-pharmacological interventions targeting aspects of cognitive decline."
The crowd-sourced, social media swarm that is betting Tesla will crash and burn (
Los Angeles Times, April 8, 2019)
She falsely accused a stranger of trying to abduct her child, police say. Social media may be to blame. (
Washington Post, April 8, 2019)
Grassley unintentionally contradicts White House claims that Congress can’t see Trump tax returns. (ThinkProgress, April 8, 2019)
"The senior GOP senator and finance committee chair acknowledged the law gives Congress the power to get anyone's tax returns."
Federal judge blocks Trump administration program forcing asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while awaiting court hearings (Washington Post, April 8, 2019)
"The ruling - a preliminary injunction at least temporarily stopping the program - paralyzes one of the Trump administration’s last remaining tools to stem the flow of Central American families trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border, an influx that has hit decade-long highs and has infuriated the president. Trump took out some of that frustration on the Department of Homeland Security in recent days: Nielsen resigned days after the White House rescinded the nomination of one of her top deputies, Ronald Vitiello, to lead Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
In his 27-page ruling, Judge Seeborg said the legal question before him was not 'whether the MPP is a wise, intelligent, or humane policy, or whether it is the best approach for addressing the circumstances the executive branch contends constitute a crisis.' Rather, he wrote, the program probably violates the Immigration and Nationality Act, the Administrative Procedures Act and other legal protections to ensure that immigrants 'are not returned to unduly dangerous circumstances.'"
‘Our country is FULL!’: Trump’s declaration carries far-right echoes that go back to the Nazi era (Washington Post, April 8, 2019)
"Trump’s language - repeated on Saturday and affirmed again in a Sunday evening tweet stressing, 'Our country is FULL!' - was rebuked in the United States as an aberration. But it fits a pattern of far-right rhetoric reemerging globally. Fear of an immigrant takeover motivates fascist activity in Europe, where, historically, the specter of overcrowding has been used to justify ethnic cleansing. Adolf Hitler promised 'living space' for Germans as the basis of an expansionist project, which historians said distinguishes the Third Reich from today’s xenophobic governments. Still, experts found parallels. 'The echoes do indeed remind one of the Nazi period, unfortunately,' John Connelly, a historian of modern Europe at the University of California at Berkeley, said. 'The exact phrasing may be different, but the spirit is very similar. The concern about an ethnic, national people not having proper space - this is something you could definitely describe as parallel to the 1930s.'
The president’s words became even more freighted when he repeated them on Saturday before the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas, saying, 'Our country is full, can’t come. I’m sorry.' The remarks drew outrage, with critics pointing to the lesson of the SS St. Louis, a German ocean liner carrying Jewish refugees who were turned away by the United States in 1939. About a quarter of the passengers later perished in Nazi death camps. The words chosen by Trump have come to be associated with 20th-century moral catastrophe. An account of Switzerland’s xenophobic reaction to Jewish refugees from the Third Reich is titled, 'The Lifeboat is Full: Switzerland and the Refugees, 1933-1945.' Hermann Peiter, a former professor of theology at the University of Kiel, has documented how ideas about the master race gained currency after Germany’s defeat in World War I based on the complaint, 'No room for foreigners! Germany is full!'
Already on Thursday, before Trump had declared the country 'full,' Beto O’Rourke, the former Texas congressman and Democratic presidential candidate, was comparing the president’s language to the rhetoric used by Nazi leaders. 'Now, I might expect someone to describe another human being as ‘an infestation’ in the Third Reich,' O’Rourke said. 'I would not expect it in the United States of America.' White House spokesman Hogan Gidley, in a statement to the Associated Press, responded to O’Rourke’s comments by portraying the Democrats as anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. But it is Trump whose language echoes the warnings of white nationalists in Europe - a connection on which the White House didn’t have an immediate comment."
Chinese Woman Arrested at Mar-a-Lago Had a Hidden Camera Detector, Prosecutors Say (
New York Times, April 8, 2019)
"The Chinese woman who was arrested after gaining entry to President Trump’s private club while carrying four cellphones and other electronic equipment had stored even more electronics in her hotel room, including a device used to detect hidden cameras, a federal prosecutor said Monday. The woman, Yujing Zhang, 32, was arrested March 30 after telling Secret Service agents that she had come to use the pool at Mar-a-Lago and showing two Chinese passports. After the authorities determined that the event she said she had come to attend did not exist, she was arrested and charged with lying to a federal officer and accessing a restricted area. Ms. Zhang had entered the property with four cellphones, a hard drive and a thumb drive infected with malware, according to federal court records. Upon searching her hotel room, investigators found another cellphone and a radio frequency device that detects hidden cameras."
Trump Purge Set to Force Out More Top Homeland Security Officials (New York Times, April 8, 2019)
"President Trump moved to clear out the senior ranks of the Department of Homeland Security on Monday, a day after forcing the resignation of its secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, as he accelerated a purge of the nation’s immigration and security leadership. The White House announced the departure of Randolph D. Alles, the director of the Secret Service, who had fallen out of favor with the president even before a security breach at his Mar-a-Lago club that the agency effectively blamed on Mr. Trump’s employees. Government officials, who asked not to be identified discussing personnel changes before they were announced, said at least two to four more high-ranking figures affiliated with Ms. Nielsen were expected to leave soon, too, hollowing out the top echelon of the department managing border security, presidential safety, counterterrorism, natural disasters, customs and other matters."
Kirstjen Nielsen’s legacy of cruelty and incompetence is sealed (Washington Post, April 8, 2019)
"There is little doubt that no matter how draconian her policies and disingenuous her answers to Congress about the family separation debacle, Nielsen could never be as grotesquely cruel or as dismissive of existing law as her boss demanded. He ranted and raged, apparently insisting that she do things the law did not allow."
Chinese immigrants helped build California, but they’ve been written out of its history (Los Angeles Times, April 5, 2019)
"In 2014, the U.S. Labor Department formally inducted the Chinese workers who helped build the transcontinental railroad into its Hall of Honor, giving them a place in American labor history alongside union leaders such as Eugene V. Debs and A. Philip Randolph and champions of worker dignity such as Mother Jones and Cesar Chavez. What was remarkable about that moment was that it took the nation 145 years to recognize Chinese immigrants’ role in building the nation."
How China turned a city into a prison (New York Times, April 4, 2019)
"A survellance state reaches new heights; Kashgar becomes the Communist Party's vision of automated authoritarianism."
AI pioneer: ‘The dangers of abuse are very real’ (Nature, April 4, 2019)
"Yoshua Bengio, winner of the prestigious Turing award for his work on deep learning, is establishing international guidelines for the ethical use of AI.
You could argue that surveillance has potential positive benefits. But the dangers of abuse, especially by authoritarian governments, are very real. Essentially, AI is a tool that can be used by those in power to keep that power, and to increase it."
Additional software problem detected in Boeing 737 Max flight control system, officials say (Washington Post, April 4, 2019)
CO2 levels at highest for 3 million years - when seas were 20 meters higher. (CNN, April 4, 2019)
"Using a new computer simulation, researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), in Germany, found that the last time the earth's atmosphere had a CO2 concentration as high as today's was during the Pliocene epoch, the geological period 2.6-5.3 million years ago. CO2 emissions from human activities are the leading cause of climate change. According to the simulation, CO2 levels should not be higher than 280 parts per million (ppm) without human activity - but that they are currently 410 ppm and rising. Global mean temperatures are rising much faster than any time since the Pliocene."
'Complete and total exoneration': Trump's biggest lie of all starts to crumble (Daily KOS, April 4, 2019)
"After little more than a week of celebration, the thin veneer of propriety Donald Trump gained from four short fantastical pages penned by Attorney General William Barr has begun to disintegrate. The flow of champagne in the White House following Barr's hack job on Robert Mueller's report has been replaced by more of a panic pulsing through the West Wing, starting with Individual 1 himself. In the wee hours Thursday morning, Donald Trump woke in a fitful rage to begin railing against Democrats and the news outlet that first reported cracks in the 'complete and total exoneration' narrative Trump and Barr had spun."
Limited information Barr has shared about Russia investigation frustrated some on Mueller’s team (Washington Post, April 4, 2019)
Some on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr Revealed (New York Times, April 3, 2019)
Trump is unraveling before our eyes. He isn’t fit for reelection. (Washington Post, April 3, 2019)
"Far too much media time has been devoted to mulling whether former vice president Joe Biden, as svelte and vigorous as he has ever been and showing no sign of mental deterioration, is too old to run for president and not nearly enough considering whether President Trump is.
In the past 24 hours, Trump - who will be 74 in November 2020 and is 'tired,' according to aides - has:
- Falsely declared multiple times that his father was born in Germany. (Fred Trump was born in New York.)
- Declared that wind turbines cause cancer.
- Confused 'origins' and 'oranges' in asking reporters to look into the 'oranges of the Mueller report.'
- Told Republicans to be more 'paranoid' about vote-counting.
He is increasingly incoherent."
House Democrats seek six years of Trump’s personal and business tax returns (Los Angeles Times, April 3, 2019)
"The House Ways and Means Committee asked the IRS on Wednesday for six years of President Trump's personal and business tax returns, a request the president has already said he will fight. 'Congress, as a coequal branch of government, has a duty to conduct oversight of departments and officials,' Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.) said in a statement. 'The Ways and Means Committee in particular has a responsibility to conduct oversight of our voluntary federal tax system and determine how Americans - including those elected to our highest office - are complying with those laws.' Neal made the request in a two-page letter to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig in which he sought broad details about Trump's personal tax returns from 2013 to 2018, including whether the returns are or have been under audit. That has been the explanation Trump used during the campaign for refusing to release his tax returns, as has been the practice of past presidential candidates."
House panel votes to authorize subpoenas to obtain full Mueller report (Washington Post, April 3, 2019)
"A House panel voted Wednesday to authorize subpoenas to obtain special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s full report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, laying down a marker in a constitutional power struggle that could end up in the courts.
The much-anticipated move to compel the Justice Department to release the report comes one day after Barr missed a House-imposed deadline to turn over the nearly 400-page document.
The House Judiciary Committee voted 24-17 along party lines to authorize its chairman, Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), to subpoena the report and underlying documents of Mueller’s probe from Attorney General William P. Barr. The panel, which has jurisdiction over impeachment, also voted to subpoena five former White House officials they believe may have received documents relevant to the special counsel’s probe.
'This committee has a job to do,' Nadler said. 'The Constitution charges Congress with holding the president accountable for alleged official misconduct. That job requires us to evaluate the evidence for ourselves - not the attorney general’s summary, not a substantially redacted synopsis, but the full report and the underlying evidence.'"
Another Trump birther conspiracy debunked with a birth certificate. This time: His father. (Washington Post, April 3, 2019)
That isn't how privacy works - Facebook asked some users for their email passwords, because why not. (Ars Technica, April 3, 2019)
"And two third-party developers left the data from millions of Facebook users exposed in S3 bucket."
NEW: Whale Is Found Dead in Italy With 48 Pounds of Plastic in Its Stomach (New York Times, April 2, 2019)
NEW: Tucker Carlson Blows Up at Rutger Bregman in Unaired Fox News Interview (8-min. vi
deo; Now This, April 2, 2019)
"This is brilliant! First Carlson goes into the Davos event, where Bregman points out how the people there were hypocrites for espousing values they didn't work toward themselves. He permits
Carlson to compliment him for being that blunt and saying it out loud, even when Bregman admits they didn't like him for saying that. Carlson seems to enjoy it and Bregman smirks. Then he turns the tables and does what he did at Davos to Carlson, calling him out and saying it like it is. He says Fox News blames immigrants for economic problems, Murdoch and the Koch brothers don't want Fox anchors to talk about taxes, etc. And instead of the 'Hats off to you' that Carlson said he'd have given Bregman for that directness at Davos, he flies into a rage and insults him, revealing that he too is a massive hyporite and part of the problem. Flawless discussion for Bregman, who succeeded at revealing Carlson as a hollow mouthpiece with no true values."
California’s in an exceptional earthquake drought. When will it end? (Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2019)
After massive fire at famous civil rights center, officials found a ‘white power’ symbol nearby (Washington Post, April 2, 2019)
"After a fire burned down the main building of a storied civil rights center in Tennessee last week, the center’s organization has said that a symbol associated with the white power movement was found in the parking lot next to the rubble of the building. The Highlander Center, which hosted civil rights figures including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Stokely Carmichael in the 1950s and ’60s, made the disclosure on its Facebook page Tuesday.
No one was injured, but the fire destroyed the office, which housed what the center said was decades worth of historical documents, speeches, artifacts and other memorabilia from its history, including the era of the civil rights movement. The Wisconsin Historical Society, which is the center’s official archivist, said that a majority of its archives are safe. 'While we do not know the names of the culprits, we know that the white power movement has been increasing and consolidating power across the South, across this nation, and globally,' it wrote."
West Virginia cops minimize woman’s gun-waving and lies that resulted in arrest of Egyptian citizen (Daily KOS, April 2, 2019)
"The wrongly accused man, a 54-year-old Egyptian national in town on business, required an Arabic translator when he was arrested, arraigned, forced to surrender his passport, and held on $200,000 bond within seven hours of the crime that did not happen - as well as subjected to a widely publicized perp walk.
Why? Because he patted a 5-year-old girl on the head, and smiled."
After hundreds of crashes, this Britax jogging stroller faced recall. Then Trump appointees stepped in. (Washington Post, April 2, 2019)
"The untold story of the Britax case shows how changes in the safety agency’s leadership under President Trump influenced the handling of a product that the commission believed had injured consumers. The case was even more striking because it unfolded as Republicans assumed day-to-day control of the agency, eventually earning a majority on the agency’s oversight commission for the first time in more than a decade. According to a review of documents by The Washington Post and interviews with eight current and former senior agency officials, the agency’s Republican chairwoman kept Democratic commissioners in the dark about the stroller investigation and then helped end the case in court."
North Carolina Republican Party chair indicted for role in alleged bribery scheme (Daily KOS, April 2, 2019)
NEW: Hollywood's elite threatens Georgia boycott over abortion ban as other states try to poach business (CBS News, April 1, 2019)
"Members of Hollywood's elite have banded together to urge Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp to veto the state's controversial 'heartbeat bill,' a piece of legislation that would effectively prohibit women from seeking an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. Meanwhile, the governors of Pennsylvania and New Jersey have jumped at the opportunity to lure Georgia's entertainment business by advertising their own tax incentives and pro-abortion rights laws.
A petition started by Alyssa Milano, who's currently in Atlanta shooting for the Netflix show 'Insatiable,' was signed by more than 100 celebrities, including Amy Schumer, Alec Baldwin and Judd Apatow. Milano wrote that if the bill passed, 'we cannot in good conscience continue to recommend our industry remain in Georgia.'
The Writers Guild of America, East and West (WGA) wrote in a letter shared on Twitter that they 'urge Gov. Kemp to veto the bill.' The letter from the WGA also noted that if members were to boycott filming in Georgia, 'the cost would be most deeply felt by the residents of Georgia - including those who directly work in the film and television industry, and those who benefit from the many millions of dollars it pours into the local economy.'"
Two whales wash up dead with more than a hundred pounds of plastic in their stomachs (Daily KOS, April 1, 2019)
(No, it's not an April Fool's Day joke; these whales washed up half-way around the world from each other. But it IS about fools.)
Protests planned if Barr fails to meet deadline on Mueller report (4-min. video; MSNBC News, April 1, 2019)
"On her show, Rachel Maddow announced MoveOn's plan for a nationwide day of action this Thursday - 200 events so far and counting - to demand that Attorney General William Barr immediately release the full Mueller report and supporting evidence.
There is still so much that we do not know about the results of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference into the 2016 election and Donald Trump's obstruction of justice. The only thing that we have is a summary of the report from Barr, who was hand-picked by Trump for the job of attorney general precisely because of his repeated public condemnation of the Mueller investigation."
The White House does or doesn’t have a health-care plan that is or isn’t better than Obamacare (Washington Post, April 1, 2019)
Official: Trump team overruled 25 security clearance denials (Associated Press, April 1, 2019)
"A career official in the White House security office says dozens of people in President Donald Trump’s administration were granted security clearances despite 'disqualifying issues' in their backgrounds, such as concerns about foreign influence, drug use and criminal conduct. Tricia Newbold, an 18-year government employee who oversees the issuance of clearances for some senior White House aides, says she compiled a list of at least 25 officials who were initially denied security clearances last year because of their backgrounds. But she says senior Trump aides overturned those decisions, moves that she said weren’t made 'in the best interest of national security.'"
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez perfectly sums up our current wage system (Daily KOS, April 1, 2019)
An inside view on the brainwashing tactics of hyperfundie churches (Daily KOS, March 31, 2019)
"As many of us know, the biggest reason Trump is still standing despite approval ratings that would be in Code Blue territory for anyone else is because the religious right is still solidly behind him. Many of those religious right-oriented churches engage in tactics that can only be described as brainwashing."
(Also see Lifton's Thought Reform, ca. 1997: milieu control, mystical manipulation, confession, self-sanctification through purity, aura of sacred science, loaded language, doctrine over person, dispensed existence.)
Trevor Noah artfully steers 'white reparations' question back to conversations we should be having (Daily KOS, March 31, 2019)
"June marks the fifth anniversary of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ groundbreaking 'The Case for Reparations', published in The Atlantic. Gigantic both in scope and in size, the meticulously researched piece focused on efforts to keep black Americans from homeownership, and opened the eyes of many who read it, Fox News fans aside. White people were heartbroken to learn the extent of the crafting and maintenance of just one aspect of their race-based privilege; many were shocked to see just how successfully people—who looked like them—had stacked the deck against people who did not.At the risk of oversimplification, Coates fears that discussions about reparations will veer from issues of race into class, thus missing the point entirely, and paving the way for the U.S. to keep proudly spreading the virus that is white supremacy."
Democrats win two Louisiana state elections - in districts that Trump won by big margins in 2016 (Daily KOS, March 31, 2019)
The ghosts of the Mueller investigation will be haunting the GOP for the foreseeable future (
Daily KOS, March 31, 2019)
"This past week, the Trump administration has been doing a Snoopy dance of joy over the apparent findings of the Mueller report: there will be no further indictments, and there was no finding of criminal conspiracy by members of the Trump campaign or obstruction of justice by Trump beyond a reasonable doubt.
Trump loyalists have now begun to demand that Democrats 'move on' and end their current plans to investigate the Trump campaign and administration over Russia connections and a variety of other matters, such as their child separation policy, cozy connections with lobbyists, acceptance of foreign donations for the inauguration, potential fraud by the Trump Foundation, and money laundering by the Trump real estate company.
But they’ve also gone further than that. While they’ve demanded that Democrats 'stand down,' they themselves have argued that we should now ramp up investigations of the 'other side,' that now is the time to do a deep dive into how the Mueller investigation began, claiming that 'this can never again happen to an American president.' Unfortunately for them, that just might prove to be the biggest mistake they’ve made in two years."
Obamacare didn’t implode, so now Trump is trying to blow it up (Los Angeles Times, March 31, 2019)
"What was Trump thinking? As is often the case, his reasoning has been in plain view. The president is still angry about that 2017 defeat; repealing Obamacare was one of the core promises of his presidential campaign. Seven months after the death of John McCain, Trump still complains about the Arizona senator’s crucial vote against the GOP bill. More important, the president has often said forcing Obamacare to collapse may be the only way to compel Congress to act. It’s his version of chaos theory: If you create a crisis, you can make people agree to your terms. 'Let ObamaCare implode, then deal,' Trump tweeted in 2017. 'Watch!' But Obamacare didn’t implode. So now he’s trying to blow it up.
The gambit fits a pattern. Trump has threatened to walk out of NATO, the security treaty with Europe, if other countries don’t spend more on defense. He’s proposed closing the southern border if Mexico and other countries don’t do more to stop refugees. Last year he forced a partial government shutdown to get funding for a border wall. It doesn’t always work. (The government shutdown didn’t.) And his approach seems especially unlikely to work in the case of healthcare."
From moms to medical doctors, burnout is everywhere these days (Washington Post, March 30, 2019)
"Ziegler defines burnout as 'chronic stress gone awry.' The big three symptoms are emotional exhaustion, cynicism and feeling ineffective, according to the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), a survey designed to measure employee burnout in the workforce. Other symptoms can include frequent colds or sicknesses, insomnia and a tendency to alleviate stress in unhealthy ways, such as with too much alcohol or online shopping."
Progressives hammer DCCC over blacklist targeting primary challenges (The Hill, March 30, 2019)
"'The @DCCC’s new rule to blacklist+boycott anyone who does business w/ primary challengers is extremely divisive & harmful to the party,' Ocasio-Cortez wrote Saturday. 'My recommendation, if you’re a small-dollar donor: pause your donations to DCCC & give directly to swing candidates instead.'"
Trump's recognition of an Israeli Golan Heights draws little enthusiasm from those who live there (Los Angeles Times, March 30, 2019)
Judge restores Obama-era drilling ban in Arctic (Associated Press, March 30, 2019)
"President Donald Trump exceeded his authority when he reversed bans on offshore drilling in vast parts of the Arctic Ocean and dozens of canyons in the Atlantic Ocean, a U.S. judge said in a ruling that restored the Obama-era restrictions. Erik Grafe, an attorney with Earthjustice, welcomed the ruling, saying it 'shows that the president cannot just trample on the Constitution to do the bidding of his cronies in the fossil fuel industry at the expense of our oceans, wildlife and climate.'"
AP FACT CHECK: Trump twists facts of a migrant girl’s death (Associated Press, March 30, 2019)
"President Donald Trump is misrepresenting the circumstances of a 7-year-old migrant girl’s death as he seeks to steer any potential blame for it away from his administration. Trump, after mockingly painting asylum seekers as a 'con job' in a rally the previous night, asserted on Friday that Jakelin Caal Maquin was given no water by her father during their trek to a remote border area and that the dad acknowledged blame for his daughter’s death on Dec. 8. Those assertions are not supported by the record."
Former U.S. Prosecutor Says Redacted Mueller Report Will Show "Compelling Evidence Of Trump’s Crimes." (Daily KOS, March 30, 2019)
"The May 2017 appointment letter which set out the jurisdictional mandate, the scope, if you will, of Bob Mueller’s investigation was worded much more broadly than that. In the first of three paragraphs, it said that Bob Mueller is directed to investigate any contacts or coordination between members of the Trump campaign and Russia. That’s a fairly broad mandate. So I don’t understand and I don’t think any of us will ever understand until we see the full Mueller report, why Bill Barr would try to constrict the actual scope of Bob Mueller’s investigation. But what I remain confident of is that in those 400 pages, without even counting the attachments, Bob Mueller will have done a thorough job and we will all see what it is he found. And when he can’t clear the president of obstructing justice, I suspect what he found is going to be pretty dramatic."
William Barr Walks Back His Story, Says He Never Intended His Letter As A Summary (Daily KOS, March 30, 2019)
"Of course it wasn’t a 'summary.' It was a press release to create pro-Trump spin and give him weeks of victory laps and vengeful spewing before we find out the truth. The precise reason Barr was hired.
Again, imagine what this moment would be like if Democrats didn’t hold the House."
This is the toxic Trump for Democrats to clobber in 2020 (Washington Post, March 29, 2019)
"President Trump’s rallies have always been a peek into his unhinged, angry soul - confirmation that he operates outside the bounds of civilized behavior and rationality. Trump is now consumed with vengeance and fury, convinced (without actually seeing special Robert S. Mueller III’s report) that it provides complete exoneration. The part wherein Mueller says he does not exonerate Trump of obstruction and news that Mueller compiled hundreds of pages of evidence aren’t going to slow him or his sycophantic chorus down. In Michigan, he was especially toxic."
Attorney General William Barr expects redacted Mueller report to be released by mid-April, 'if not sooner' - and it's nearly 400 pages long (CNBC, March 29, 2019)
"The report 'sets forth the Special Counsel's findings, his analysis and the reasons for his conclusions,' Barr wrote. 'We are preparing the report for release, making the redactions that are required. Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own.' Barr also offered to testify about the report to both Graham's and Nadler's committees on May 1 and 2.
But Nadler within an hour fired back at Barr, noting that he had told the attorney general earlier in the week that 'Congress requires the full and complete Mueller report, without redactions, as well as access to the underlying evidence, by April 2. That deadline still stands. Congress must see the full report.'
Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff, D-Calif., responded late Friday afternoon, 'Congress has asked for the entire Mueller report, and underlying evidence, by April 2. That deadline stands.' 'In the meantime, Barr should seek court approval (just like in Watergate) to allow the release of grand jury material,' Schiff wrote on Twitter. 'Redactions are unacceptable.'"
Mueller report will be delivered by ‘mid-April, if not sooner,’ attorney general tells Congress (Washington Post, March 29, 2019)
"Barr’s letter aimed to reassure lawmakers and the public that the process for handling the report - which numbers nearly 400 pages, he said - would be aboveboard and fair. It also underscored just how much political distrust may fester as long as the report remains secret, and Democrats and Republicans accuse each other of misrepresenting the contents of a document they haven’t seen. 'Everyone will soon be able to read it on their own,' Barr wrote, adding a key new detail - that he does not plan to submit the report to the White House beforehand."
Forget what William Barr wrote about collusion. Listen to Adam Schiff instead (Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2019)
"We can all agree on what happened. The president encouraged computer crimes. Trumpworld has a pattern of back channeling with, digging dirt with, murky real-estate dealing with and swapping favors with Kremlin types. And Trumpworld lies about it.
Whatever the legal niceties, for most sane observers, the Barr letter is the latest entry in the administration’s effort to, shall we say, avoid a reckoning. Barr has suppressed Mueller’s findings, and he may have spun them hard, letting Trump spin that spin and claim, laughably, that he’d been, “Totally EXONERATED.” (Barr letter: The report “does not exonerate” Trump.)
The American people aren’t buying the president’s tweet, at least not yet. For any conclusion that big, we need the real report. And, according to a CNN poll this week, 87% of Americans want all of the Mueller findings released to the public, including 80% of Republicans. In the meantime, if you’re interested in understanding the Trump-Russia findings, ignore what Barr wrote. Watch the Schiff speech instead."
If the Report "Exonerates" Trump, Then They have Nothing to Worry about. Show us the "Exoneration" (Daily KOS, March 29, 2019)
Asus Just Gave You 1 Million Reasons To Switch From Windows To Linux (Forbes, March 29, 2019)
"Cyber-security and antivirus company Kaspersky dropped a bomb on Asus laptop users this week, revealing that malware was distributed through the Asus Live Update utility. It masqueraded as a legitimate security update, and even boasted a 'verified' certificate - hosted on Asus servers - to make it appear valid. Kaspersky has deemed this attack 'one of the biggest supply-chain incidents ever.' Such attacks spiked 78% between 2017 and 2018. This shouldn't raise alarms for just Asus users. It should prompt you to seriously consider whether you want Windows on your PC. Because the possibility of this ever happening on a desktop Linux OS like Ubuntu is minuscule."
Fossils show worldwide catastrophe on the day the dinosaurs died (Washington Post, March 29, 2019)
"Sixty-six million years ago, a massive asteroid crashed into a shallow sea near Mexico. The impact carved out a 90-mile-wide crater and flung mountains of earth into space. Earthbound debris fell to the planet in droplets of molten rock and glass. Ancient fish caught glass blobs in their gills as they swam, gape-mouthed, beneath the strange rain. Large, sloshing waves threw animals onto dry land, then more waves buried them in silt. Scientists working in North Dakota recently dug up fossils of these fish. They died within the first minutes or hours after the asteroid hit, according to a paper published Friday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a discovery that has sparked tremendous excitement among paleontologists."
Renewables ‘have won the race’ against coal and are starting to beat natural gas (Think Progress, March 29, 2019)
"Meanwhile, the president remains clueless about the clean energy revolution."
Trump brags about how much he 'cares' for Puerto Rico and lies about giving PR $91 billion (Daily KOS, March 29, 2019)
"Facts: While federal lawmakers approved $15.25 billion for Texas and Florida in disaster aid grants in September 2017, Puerto Rico was only offered $4.9 billion in the form of a loan."
Prankster sentenced to 20 years for fake 911 call that led police to kill an innocent man (Washington Post, March 29, 2019)
"Finch, who was at home with his mother and at least two other people when police arrived, was shot dead when an officer thought he saw him reach for a weapon. Police soon learned Finch was not carrying a weapon and there were no hostages in the house. 'I had seen the red and blue light flashing in my window,' Finch’s mother, Lisa Finch, told the Wichita Eagle at the time. 'I heard my son scream, I got up and then I heard a shot. … They didn’t call the ambulance until he was dead.'
At a news conference following Finch’s death, police said the officer who fired his gun had been placed on paid leave. The deputy police chief blamed Finch’s death on 'the actions of a prankster.'"
Watch raving hypocrite Sen. Lindsey Graham make the case for impeaching Donald Trump (Daily KOS, March 29, 2019)
"Sen. Graham (1999, re Clinton): 'You don't even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role, because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor in integrity to the office.'"
Donald Trump makes a great case for Donald Trump's resignation (Daily KOS, March 28, 2019)
"Donald Trump says it may be a crime for a politician to lie, says politicians should resign if they lie."
(You can't make this stuff up. Only Lying Donald can.)

Trump Tells Grand Rapids Rally: ‘The Russian Hoax Is Finally Dead’ (New York Times, March 28, 2019)
"President Trump, fresh off what he claims was “total vindication” in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, told supporters here Thursday he had vanquished a corrupt cabal of Democrats, the news media and the Washington elite, who tried to nullify his historic election victory by painting him as an agent of Russia. 'After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead,' Mr. Trump declared. 'The collusion delusion is over.' It was a calculated show of outrage by a president who has decided to seize on the Russia investigation to frame his ordeal as a conspiracy by his rivals to delegitimize him and diminish his achievements.
Mr. Trump has always peppered his speeches with 'hells' and 'damns,' but on Thursday, he crossed the line into cruder language. 'The Democrats need to decide whether they will continue to defraud the public with ridiculous bullshit,' the president said.
In vilifying his opponents, Mr. Trump was not troubled by the fact that the 300-plus-page report by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, has yet to be released, or that Attorney General William P. Barr, in his summary of Mr. Mueller’s findings, stipulated that the report did not exonerate the president, even if it did not find him guilty of conspiracy or of obstructing justice.
In many ways, the speech was a return to first principles for Mr. Trump, reviving an insurgent theme that had fueled his campaign in 2016. He said the Russia investigation underlined the need to “drain the swamp,” and he celebrated his cheering supporters over what he described as the faithless elites in Washington. “I’m president and they’re not,” he said. “They came, and they didn’t even know these people existed,” Mr. Trump said of the elites. “I have a better education than them. I’m smarter than them. I went to better schools than them,” he added. “Much more beautiful house. Much more beautiful everything.”
On Sunday evening, after Mr. Barr delivered his summary of the Mueller report, the president, who was in Palm Beach, Fla., was urged by his aides to avoid a tone of triumphalism in his reaction. That lasted for about an hour, until he delivered an angry denunciation of those behind the investigation before he returned to Washington. As the days wore on, Mr. Trump took aim at news organizations and demanded the resignation of Democrats like Mr. Schiff, whom he accused of lying repeatedly in discussing potential collusion between Mr. Trump and the Russians.
Mr. Trump has long savored his victory in Michigan. But the state could be more of an uphill struggle in 2020. Democrats made significant gains in the 2018 midterm elections, including winning the governorship."
Trump just gave a huge gift to an alleged billion dollar Medicare fraudster (Think Progress, March 28, 2019)
"Perhaps he should have listened to lawyers who actually know what they are talking about."
After Republican calls for his resignation, Rep. Adam Schiff hits back hard with investigation details (Daily KOS, March 28, 2019)
"After Donald Trump’s hand-picked attorney general (brought into the fold by Lindsey Graham to end the investigation) neatly summarized a two-year investigation in a few paragraphs, while still refusing to release the full report or even let the public know how many pages the report even was, Trump and others quickly began to call for Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to resign. Schiff, a former prosecutor, is still overseeing the House investigation into the Trump campaign and its Russian activities, and it makes sense they would love to shove him out of the way. He’s been a vocal critic of Trump and his campaign’s extensive contacts with Russians, especially those with known Russian intelligence ties.
Rep. Schiff addressed his colleagues at a House Intelligence Committee meeting this morning after all nine Republicans on the committee signed a letter calling for his resignation, and he not only remained unapologetic, but he doubled down and ticked off the list of known instances of collusion and the numerous attempts to conceal those meetings and communications."
How Donald Trump inflated his net worth to lenders and investors (Washington Post, March 28, 2019)
"When Donald Trump wanted to make a good impression - on a lender, a business partner, or a journalist - he sometimes sent them official-looking documents called 'Statements of Financial Condition.' These documents sometimes ran up to 20 pages. They were full of numbers, laying out Trump’s properties, debts and multibillion-dollar net worth. But, for someone trying to get a true picture of Trump’s net worth, the documents were deeply flawed. Some simply omitted properties that carried big debts. Some assets were overvalued. And some key numbers were wrong.
Now, investigators on Capitol Hill and in New York are homing in on these unusual documents in an apparent attempt to determine whether Trump’s familiar habit of bragging about his wealth ever crossed a line into fraud."
Icelandic budget airline WOW Air ceases operations (Boston Globe, March 28, 2019)
"Wow Air has gone out of business, stranding thousands of passengers and creating potentially huge risks for Iceland’s tiny economy and its growing reliance on tourism. The discount carrier is the eighth European airline to have failed since the summer as margins are pinched by fluctuating fuel costs and over-capacity that’s sparked a continent-wide fare war."
‘Sleep is critical to human existence’: Judge orders county jail to stop constantly waking up female inmates (Washington Post, March 28, 2019)
"In his preliminary injunction order, U.S. District Judge James Donato questioned how handing out medication 'in the dead of night' and eating breakfast at 4 a.m. served any legitimate purpose. Sleep, Donato wrote, 'is critical to human existence.' Sleep deprivation has already been found to be cruel and unusual punishment for those duly convicted of crimes, Donato noted. The plaintiffs, the judge stressed, have not even had their day in court."
HUD charges Facebook with housing discrimination (Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2019)
"The housing agency claims that Facebook mines users' extensive personal data and uses characteristics protected by law - race, color, national origin, religion, familiar status, sex and disability - to determine who can view housing ads. 'Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live. Using a computer to limit a person's housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone's face.'"
AOC: Climate Change "Not An Elitist Issue" (3-min. video; YouTube, March 27, 2019)
Jury awards $80 million to man who said Roundup weedkiller caused his cancer (Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2019)
"Monsanto developed glyphosate in the 1970s, and the weedkiller is now sold in more than 160 countries and widely used in the United States. The herbicide came under increasing scrutiny after the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classified it as a 'probable human carcinogen' in 2015. Lawsuits against Monsanto followed, and thousands are now pending nationwide."
Germany halted all arms exports to Saudi Arabia. It worked too well, and now Berlin is looking for a way out. (Washington Post, March 27, 2019)
"When international outrage mounted over the Saudi-led war in Yemen and the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi in fall 2018, Germany was the only major country to halt all arms exports to the kingdom. Human rights advocates praised the decision. At the time it was seen as a symbolic move, since other countries exported a great deal more arms to Saudi Arabia. But as it turns out, the intertwined nature of European industry meant that the German export ban had a great deal more effect than expected. The chief executive of Airbus - a company in which Germany owns shares - offered a scathing response to the German exports halt, telling Reuters in February: 'It has been driving us crazy at Airbus for years that when there is even just a tiny German part involved in, for example, helicopters, the German side gives itself the right to, for example, block the sale of a French helicopter.'
Germany and France’s very different responses to Saudi aggression abroad show that there is not a cross-European consensus on what constitutes an unacceptable human rights violation that would make a nation ineligible for exports."
India shoots down satellite in test of space defense (Washington Post, March 27, 2019)
"Joining the select space club of United States, Russia and China, India became the fourth country in the world to shoot down a low-orbit satellite with a missile."
Trevor Noah: Who Is Pete Buttigieg and Why Is He Killing It in the Polls? (6-min. video; The Daily Show, March 27, 2019)
"His last name is pronounced "Buddha" + "Judge", as in only Buddha can judge him because he's perfect!"
Barbara Bush: Did she still consider herself a Republican? 'I'd probably say no today.' (USA Today, March 27, 2019)
"How did she think things were going in the USA in the Age of Trump? 'I'm trying not to think about it,' she said in an interview as the first anniversary of Trump's election approached. 'We're a strong country, and I think it will all work out.' Even so, she was dismayed by the nation’s divisions and by the direction of the party she had worked for, and for so long.
Did she still consider herself a Republican? In an interview with me in October 2017, she answered that question yes. When I asked her again four months later, in February 2018, she said, 'I'd probably say no today.' That was a stunning acknowledgment. Barbara Bush had been one of the most recognizable faces of the Republican Party through two presidencies. She was the matriarch of one of the GOP’s leading families. But after Trump’s rise, she saw it as a party she could not continue to support, a party she no longer recognized."
Neil Gorsuch says no-one can sue to stop government establishing religion (Daily KOS, March 27, 2019)
"One inherent danger of allowing a religious minority to install a puppet controlled by religious fanatics in the White House is the now unfolding threat of government officially establishing religion – the Christian religion. Any American’s confidence that the U.S. Constitution is a protection against government establishing religion is grossly misplaced; that belief is about to be disabused by the current religious conservatives responsible for adjudicating the law of the land."
NEW: ‘Extreme Partisan Gerrymandering Is a Real Problem,’ Says Kavanaugh. He’s Right. (New York Times, March 27, 2019)
"The Supreme Court could make history by erecting a constitutional barrier to electoral maps that put party over country."
Mueller's finding on conspiracy is no excuse to pardon Trump's campaign aides (Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2019)
Comey: Imagine if it were Obama and Iran, not Trump and Russia (Politico, March 27, 2019)
"Trump has decried the FBI’s and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election as 'presidential harassment' and the promotion of a 'hoax.' Though Mueller’s long-awaited report supposedly did not establish evidence of any collusion between Trump and Russia, investigators have determined there were concerted Russian efforts to sway the election in Trump’s favor. During an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt aired Wednesday night, Former FBI Director James Comey turned the scenario around, suggesting that if the president had been Barack Obama and the interfering foreign power had been Iran, there would be no question that a thorough investigation would be necessary."
CNN poll: Majority of Americans find no exoneration for Trump on collusion (Daily KOS, March 27,  2019)
"However great Trump might feel, the Barr report doesn't seem to have moved the needle of public opinion at all. Some 40 percent of Americans are in the Trump camp, and another 56-57 percent are not in his camp. In fact, 56-57 percent is exactly the number of people who have already pledged to vote against Trump in 2020 in two separate polls in the last several months.
'Let's see, a bunch of Republicans investigating a bunch of Republicans produce a 'secret report' (never to be released to the public) but explained to us by a hand picked loyalist Republican who openly argues 'a sitting president cannot be indicted.' Gee, I wonder how we got that claim of exoneration?'
'Trump and company know their Mueller Report response failed to sway public opinion to the degree required to move on, so you get redirection on one side with Obamacare repeal, and you get the full court press of attacks from the Trump Administration on the enemies that threaten them and that have landed blows in the past. I would imagine that the Trump Administration, and its attendants in the media, are more panicked now than prior to the Barr Letter’s release. And one point I will hammer on again, the Trump Administration knows, in theory, they should be the only ones in possession of the Mueller Report … but they can’t be 100% confident of that. If the Mueller Report is damaging to Trump and his cohorts, you can bet Trump will demand it to be rewritten to praise him before it is released. The guy’s a malignant narcissist, and that would be his instinct. But if anyone tampers with the contents of the Mueller Report prior to release, and the actual report is in the possession of individuals outside the DoJ and Trump World, that’s BIG TIME obstruction of justice, and a case for impeachment that can’t be ignored. So, no, no victory lap for Trump, just more frustration for Team Trump because people refuse to be as stupid as they need them to be.'"

Trevor Noah: Democrats Demand Mueller’s Full Report and Republicans Seek Revenge (7-min. video; The Daily Show, March 26, 2019)
Stephen Colbert evens 'the Trump Score' in only the way that Stephen can do (16-min. video; Daily KOS, March 26, 2019)
"The best summary of what 'Barr said Mueller said.' Colbert also gave huge pushback to the 'Trump Wins' narratives. Would that the networks including CNN would reiterate the same points as Stephen Colbert."
The Borowitz Report: William Barr Reads "Moby-Dick," Finds No Evidence of Whales (The New Yorker, March 26, 2019)
"To illustrate his point, Barr quoted the book’s first sentence: 'Call me Ishmael.' 'As you can clearly see, that sentence does not have a whale in it,' Barr wrote. The Attorney General indicated that he hoped his report would put an end to 'reckless speculation' about the existence of whales in 'Moby-Dick.' 'It’s time to move on,' he wrote."

‘Undoubtedly there is collusion’: Trump antagonist Adam Schiff doubles down after Mueller finds no conspiracy (Washington Post, March 26, 2019)
"President Trump, emboldened by the special counsel’s determination he was not part of a criminal conspiracy to sway the 2016 election, has an early target as he seeks recompense from his critics: Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who maintains he’s seen evidence Trump colluded with Russia."
Batteries and Gas: Frenemies of the Power World Face Off (Bloomberg News, March 26, 2019)
"It was only three years ago that natural gas overtook coal to become king of America’s power mix, and its throne is already being challenged - by batteries. As battery costs fall, solar farms are increasingly installing storage systems, allowing them to sock away cheap electricity by day and pump it onto grids at night. Solar-storage projects are already cheaper than gas plants to build in the U.S. Southwest. And that’s bound to spread, some analysts and executives said Tuesday at the BNEF summit in New York."
McDonald's halts lobbying against minimum wage hikes (Politico, March 26, 2019)
"Fast-food giant McDonald's boosted congressional Democrats' efforts to hike the minimum wage Tuesday by telling the National Restaurant Association that it will no longer participate in lobby efforts against minimum-wage hikes at the federal, state or local level."
Trump surprises Republicans - and pleases Democrats - with push to revive health-care battle (Washington Post, March 26, 2019)
"In a new court filing, the Justice Department argued that the ACA, also known as Obamacare, should be thrown out in its entirety, including provisions protecting millions of Americans with preexisting health conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health-care plans. President Trump praised the move during a lunch with Senate Republicans, and suggested the GOP should embrace a new congressional battle over health-care policy ahead of the 2020 elections."
NEW: Georgia State Senate Passes Law That Would Ban Abortion Before Women Even Know They’re Pregnant (with  14-min. video of Georgia Sen. Jen Jordan; Blue Delaware, March  26, 2019)
"And cruelest of all, to demand that a victim of incest file a police report before being able to terminate a pregnancy at its earliest stages is horrifying. Or that of a victim of rape. Each of you sits here in judgment of a situation that you could never comprehend, and dictate what a woman can and cannot do with her body, with her life.
“But this bill takes it much, much further. For the first time, this state will make Georgia women criminals for seeking basic reproductive care. This bill subjects both the doctor and the woman to prosecution and imprisonment for up to 10 years.
“Any woman who suffers a miscarriage could be subject to scrutiny regarding whether or not she intentionally acted to cause that miscarriage."
The Trump Administration Now Thinks the Entire Affordable Care Act Should Fall (The Incidental Economist, March 25, 2019)
"The Trump administration has now committed itself to a legal position that would inflict untold damage on the American public. And for what? Every reputable commentator - on both the left and the right - thinks that Judge O’Connor’s decision invalidating the entire ACA is a joke. To my knowledge, not one has defended it. This is not a 'reasonable minds can differ' sort of case. It is insanity in print."
Trump campaign urges networks to challenge top Trump detractors (Politico, March 25, 2019)
"President Donald Trump’s campaign on Monday urged major news networks to not allow on their shows several people, including Democratic lawmakers, who have been critical of the president, adding that the networks should report the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report as a 'complete vindication' of Trump.
The Trump campaign letter comes a day after Attorney General William Barr released a 4-page summary of Mueller’s report indicating that there was no conspiracy or coordination between Russia and the president’s campaign. In addition, Barr’s summary also said he did not believe there was enough evidence that Trump obstructed justice. 'The only way to interpret these conclusions is as a total and complete vindication of President Trump,' Murtaugh wrote - even though Barr’s summary quoted Mueller’s submission as saying that 'while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.'"
The already-infamous "Barr Letter" is a deeply dishonest and misleading document that richly deserves methodical public evisceration by committed journalists. (Seth Abramson, March 25, 2019)

NEW: U.S. Army Backs Down on FOIA, Waives $300K Fee for PFAS Contamination Data (Environmental Working Group, March 25, 2019)
"In November, EWG filed a Freedom of Information Act request for data to determine the severity of PFAS contamination of drinking water and groundwater at hundreds of bases nationwide. EWG requested a fee waiver, which the Associated Press reported is routinely given to news outlets and nonprofit groups seeking information in the public interest.
But earlier this month, the Army said EWG would have to pay $290,400 for collection and preparation of the data. EWG appealed. 'Considering the Pentagon is one of the largest sources of pollution in this ballooning drinking water crisis, the Army and the rest of the military must be part of the solution, not more of the problem,' said EWG Legislative Attorney Melanie Benesh. 'Collecting as much of the data as possible about where and how much PFAS contamination threatens service members, their families and others who live and work near these facilities is paramount to this effort.'"

Jim Zemlin’s Linux Foundation Still Does Not Care About Linux Desktops (TechRights, March 24, 2019)
"Almost as though there’s an implicit agreement to leave that space to Microsoft."
Inconvenient Clover (The Sustainable-Enough Garden, March 24, 2019)
"Clover is a legume that fixes nitrogen in the soil, in effect making lawn fertilizer. It stays green all summer; it’s easy to grow, drought tolerant, and pest free. It aerates the soil. It stays low. Dog urine doesn’t cause it to discolor; and it attracts bees and beneficial wasps that control leaf-eating insects. It sounds like an asset for any lawn, right? Before the war, that’s how it was marketed.
But because of 2,4-D, Scotts changed their marketing approach. They told consumers that clover was a weed.And it worked.
After World War II, Americans embraced what a team of environmental scientists at Yale has termed the Industrial Lawn, defined as closely mowed, continuously green, and ideally free of weeds and pests. The Industrial Lawn requires regular inputs of water, fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides. Energy costs are high, not just for mowing but also for synthesizing and transporting the chemicals used."
Mystery parent paid $6.5 million to get kids into top universities as part of admissions scandal (Los Angeles Times, March 24, 2019)
"Usually, fraud refers to a scheme to obtain money from someone through a false promise. But in 1988, Congress expanded the anti-fraud law. A one-line amendment made it a crime to deprive someone of the 'intangible right of honest services.' In the college cheating scandal, prosecutors are alleging that parents deprived universities of their property - a slot in the school - by deception."
MassFiscal’s biggest funder is a nonprofit it founded (Boston Globe, March 24, 2019)
"Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, the vocal conservative group that has long fought efforts to identify its donors, quietly created a separate nonprofit that in less than a year became its single biggest source of cash, adding a new layer to its already guarded financing. The $460,000 in contributions that Fiscal Partners Inc. gave MassFiscal in 2017 tether together what tax experts call an unusual relationship between nonprofit organizations, and could make it more difficult for campaign finance regulators to determine who’s fueling the group’s cash flow should it dip into election-related work."
(Republican deceit and money-laundering, right here in Massachusetts?)
Here’s proof that William Barr is taking Robert Mueller’s report out of context (
Palmer Report, March 24, 2019)
House Democrats confirm the Mueller report does NOT exonerate Donald Trump (
Palmer Report, March 24, 2019)
AOC: "As horrific as this president is, he is a symptom of much deeper problems" (Daily KOS, March 24, 2019)
'Let’s say Trump goes down in disgrace from Mueller or the SDNY or Congressional investigations. We’re left with a big question: How did a guy like that get elected? Why do so many still support him? We can’t just say 'Fox News' or 'Russians.' We have serious issues to sort out.'
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: 'This is the REAL conversation we need to have as a country. As horrific as this president is, he is a symptom of much deeper problems. Even foreign influence plays on national wounds that we refuse to address: income inequality, racism, corruption, a willingness to excuse bigotry.'"
Insider: the real Robert Mueller report is “much worse” than the William Barr summary (Palmer Report, March 24, 2019)
"Things could have gone either way with William Barr, but it became clear today that he is solely interested in protecting Donald Trump. That said, Barr doesn’t seem to be stupid, and he surely knows that House Democrats will force the real Robert Mueller report to become public soon. So at most Barr’s fibbing today merely hands Trump a temporary talking point, until we get real answers from Mueller. The Democrats will immediately subpoena Mueller’s full report, and they’ll subpoena Mueller to publicly testify about his report."

Attorney general: Mueller does not find that Trump campaign conspired with Russia (Washington Post, March 24, 2019)
"Special counsel 'did not draw a conclusion . . . as to whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction', Barr says."
What the GOP learned when the wealthy tried to overthrow FDR and install a fascist dictator (Daily KOS, March 23, 2019)
"The bankers felt that FDR was going after their money, but they went far beyond just trying to sway the election. Some decided that this whole democracy thing just wasn’t working, and they had to take matters into their own hands. This was a few years before the extent of the horror inflicted by the Nazis had surfaced, and fascism had several believers within the American right.
The bankers plotted a coup against FDR, which would later be called the Wall Street Putsch. The conspirators included a bond salesman named Gerald MacGuire, the commander of the Massachusetts American Legion Bill Doyle, and investment banker Prescott Bush.  Yes, that Bush - father of George H.W. and grandfather of W."
‘If you took it all in in one day, it would kill you’: What Mueller’s investigation has already revealed (
Washington Post, March 22, 2019)
"One of Mueller’s core assignments from the start was to dissect exactly how Russia sought to influence the 2016 presidential campaign.
Four months before Mueller was appointed, the U.S. intelligence community laid out in a terse 14-page report how it said Russia - on the order of President Vladi­mir Putin - had waged an online campaign to help Trump win the election. The special counsel added to that 66 richly detailed pages of his own, outlining in two indictments the granular specifics of the cyberoperations. In the first, which accused 13 Russians of waging a social media influence effort that ran afoul of U.S. law, Mueller revealed he had access to the group’s internal communications, including an email from September 2017 in which one of those charged wrote to a family member: 'The FBI busted our work (not a joke).' Mueller also described how the group worked offline, visiting states to gather intelligence on U.S. politics and enlisting unwitting Americans to hold rallies in support of Trump - providing the clearest window yet into Russia’s covert efforts. In the second, which charged a group of Russian military officers with hacking Democrats’ emails and laundering them through fake online personae so they could be posted online, Mueller identified by name those he asserted were responsible for the attack. The indictment expanded considerably on the intelligence community’s assessment. Former independent counsel Robert W. Ray, now in private practice at Thompson & Knight, said it was particularly remarkable how quickly Mueller was able to work, bringing his complicated investigation to a close inside of two years."
NEW: Trump Nominates Famous Idiot Stephen Moore to Federal Reserve Board (New York Magazine, March 22, 2019)
"Moore’s primary area of pseudo-expertise - he is not an economist - is fiscal policy. He is a dedicated advocate of supply-side economics, relentlessly promoting his fanatical hatred of redistribution and belief that lower taxes for the rich can and will unleash wondrous prosperity. Like nearly all supply-siders, he has clung to this dogma in the face of repeated, spectacular failures."
Trump’s Sanctions Staff Defects as U.S. Expands Economic War (Bloomberg, March 22, 2019)
"Trump has nearly doubled the number of people and companies under U.S. sanctions. But in the last two years, about 20 staff have left the office in charge of implementing and enforcing sanctions, the Office of Foreign Assets Control - about 10 percent of its workforce."
I wrote the special counsel rules. The attorney general can - and should - release the Mueller report. (Washington Post, March 22, 2019)
"The public has every right to see Robert S. Mueller III's conclusions. Absolutely nothing in the law or the regulations prevents the report from becoming public. Indeed, the relevant sources of law give Attorney General P. William Barr all the latitude in the world to make it public."
Mueller's Final Move (Tea Pain Train, March 22, 2019)
"Ask yourself the simple question, 'Where did the bulk of the alleged Trump-Russia conspiracy take place?' and you have your answer: 'New York City.' If Mueller prosecuted Diaper Donny, Trump could pull the plug on Mueller's charter and we'd litigate it in the courts until doomsday. But placing the venue in the purvue of the Sovereign District of New York is a stroke of genius, safely away from Trump's prying baby hands. It's expedient because SDNY's staff is budgeted, fully-staffed, and ready to roll.
Oh. One more thing. News broke tonight that the SDNY replaced the lead attorney on the Michael Cohen case with Audrey Strauss, famous for her defeat of Roy Cohn, lawyer for the Gambino crime family and Trump family attorney until his death. The SDNY decided to bring in the one attorney that beat Trump's lucky charm."
NEW: Catholic Churches Are Being Desecrated Across France - and Officials Don’t Know Why (Newsweek, March 21, 2019)
"France has seen a spate of attacks against Catholic churches since the start of the year, vandalism that has included arson and desecration. Vandals have smashed statues, knocked down tabernacles, scattered or destroyed the Eucharist and torn down crosses, sparking fears of a rise in anti-Catholic sentiment in the country.
Last Sunday, the historic Church of St. Sulpice in Paris was set on fire just after midday mass on Sunday, Le Parisien reported, although no one was injured. Police are still investigating the attack, which firefighters have confidently attributed to arson."
Facebook Stored Hundreds of Millions of User Passwords in Plain Text for Years (Krebs On Security, March 21, 2019)
"The Facebook source said the investigation so far indicates between 200 million and 600 million Facebook users may have had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by more than 20,000 Facebook employees. The source said Facebook is still trying to determine how many passwords were exposed and for how long, but so far the inquiry has uncovered archives with plain text user passwords dating back to 2012."
Trump has lost support from male voters since shutdown, analysis shows (The Hill, March 21, 2019)
"Recent public opinion polls have shown Trump losing to several potential Democratic rivals, including former vice president Joe Biden, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). But winning more votes nationally is no guarantee of the presidency, of course. In the 2016 election, Trump received 46.1 percent of the vote compared to Clinton's 48.2 percent."
Vietnam veteran demands Trump show his bone spurs (CNN, March 21, 2019)
"Vietnam veteran and former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) says President Donald Trump should show the American public proof of his bone spurs, which Trump has said kept him out of the military draft during the Vietnam War.
'Everything he’s saying is bad enough, but when he says, he’s not my kind of guy because [McCain] went to Vietnam, was flying combat missions, got shot down, was held prisoner - that’s not your kind of guy? Who is your kind of guy? Your friends who falsified their records, so they didn’t have to go? I think that’s the answer. I think he sees all of us that went to Vietnam as fools. We were the suckers. We were the stupid ones that didn’t have the resources to get out of the draft. He had the resources and he got out of it.
So show us your bone spurs. Let’s see those X-rays!'"
Trump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP (The Hill, March 21, 2019)
"President Trump’s disparaging attack on the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is upsetting Senate Republicans who see the repeated insults on a war hero and former pillar of the Senate as unnecessary and corrosive. Trump has lashed out at McCain four times in the last five days, most recently at an event in Ohio on Wednesday where he spent a full five minutes on the senator - at one point even evoking the McCain's state funeral."
Aides struggle to see strategy in Trump’s Conway, McCain fights (Politico, March 20, 2019)
"The president has repeatedly forced people around him to make painful choices between their loyalties."
Donald Trump once called the electoral college ‘a disaster for democracy.’ Now he says it’s ‘far better for the U.S.A.’ (Washington Post, March 20, 2019)
How deadly pathogens have escaped the lab - over and over again (Vox, March 20, 2019)
"Research into dangerous viruses and bacteria is important, but for the deadliest pathogens, it’s not clear the benefits are worth the risks."
Confusion, Then Prayer, in Cockpit of Lion Air's Doomed Boeing 737 Max jet (New York Times, March 20, 2019)
Joe Biden’s plan for an early VP selection is a terrible idea (Vox, March  20, 2019)
"Sometimes there’s a reason everyone makes the boring choice."
Federal judge demands Trump administration reveal how its drilling plans will fuel climate change (Washington Post, March 20, 2019)
"The decision by U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras of Washington marks the first time the Trump administration has been held to account for the climate impact of its energy-dominance agenda, and it could have sweeping implications for the president’s plan to boost fossil fuel production across the country. Contreras concluded that Interior’s Bureau of Land Management 'did not sufficiently consider climate change' when making decisions to auction off federal land in Wyoming to oil and gas drilling in 2015 and 2016. The judge temporarily blocked drilling on roughly 300,000 acres of land in the state."
Trump could be left off some states’ ballots in 2020 if these bills become law (Washington Post, March 20, 2019)
"In refusing to release his tax returns, President Trump bucked decades of tradition and set off a Democrat hunt to obtain them. Now statehouses are looking at making their release a condition of the 2020 presidential election. Eighteen states have considered legislation this year that would require presidential and vice presidential candidates to post their tax returns to appear on the ballot during a primary or general election."
Our new plan to take our fight to the state legislatures is paying off. Today, we want to share two tales of victories, in the states of Arizona and New York. (Indivisible, March 20, 2019)
"Anti-democracy bill after anti-democracy bill has been dropping in the Republican-controlled Arizona legislature this session. Indivisibles have been on the clock, organizing to stop them at every turn.
Sometimes you organize for years, and then a million things change in one remarkable day. That’s what happened in New York. On the first day of the legislative session, New York took a great leap forward in expanding democracy to those left out of it for far too long."
Big Money in Politics and Free Speech (American Promise, March 20, 2019)
"In this commentary, American Promise Counsel Johannes Epke addresses the fundamental issue that concerns supporters of unlimited money in politics: Does limiting money in our political system limit free speech?"
6 steps to stop ethical debt in AI product development (Open Source, March 19, 2019)
"Machine bias in artificial intelligence is a known and unavoidable problem - but it is not unmanageable.
Alphabet (Google's parent company) used its latest annual report to warn that ethical concerns about its products might hurt future revenue. Entrepreneur Joy Buolamwini established the Safe Face Pledge to prevent abuse of facial analysis technology. And years after St. George's Hospital Medical School in London was found to have used AI that inadvertently screened out qualified female candidates, Amazon scrapped a recruiting tool last fall after machine learning (ML) specialists found it doing the same thing.
We've learned the hard way that technologies built with AI are biased like people."
NEW: The real reason the Trump administration is constantly losing in court (Washington Post, March 19, 2019)
"Federal judges have ruled against the Trump administration at least 63 times over the past two years, an extraordinary record of legal defeat that has stymied large parts of the president’s agenda on the environment, immigration and other matters. In case after case, judges have rebuked Trump officials for failing to follow the most basic rules of governance for shifting policy, including providing legitimate explanations supported by facts and, where required, public input."
"Everyone Thinks They’re Going to Sell": Hellfire at Fox as Hannity Mulls Leaving and Lachlan Goes Full Donna Brazile on Trump (Vanity Fair, March 19, 2019)
"Inside Fox, staffers believe that C.E.O. Lachlan Murdoch is likely to nudge the network in a less pro-Trump direction. Is this the first step in a larger strategy to sell the newly spun-off company?"
NEW: Dead Whale Found With 88 Pounds of Plastic Inside Body in the Philippines (New York Times, March 18, 2019)
"Ingesting plastic gives whales a false sensation of fullness without providing any of the nutrients they need. It leads to reduced weight, energy and swimming speed, making them more vulnerable to predators. They have no way of digesting or expelling the plastic. The whale’s grisly death brought renewed focus to the worldwide problem of plastics ending up in oceans; a 2015 study estimated that five million to 13 million metric tons of plastic waste pollute oceans each year. The problem is particularly severe in the Philippines, the world’s third-biggest contributor of plastic to oceans behind China and Indonesia."
Trump's vile and unhinged weekend performance demands a response from Congress (Daily KOS, March 18, 2019)
"Lies, distortions, rudeness, crudeness, and just plain meanness are all things that the country has come to expect from Donald Trump. But this weekend was special. Over the weekend, Trump delivered 52 tweets. 52. In them, he managed to hit every note from petty, as when he declared that he had 'let' Republicans vote to release the Mueller report because 'It makes us all look good and doesn’t matter,' to ultra-vile, as when he repeatedly attacked John McCain, including blaming the deceased senator for starting the Russia investigation. And then followed up with a slap to McCain’s daughter.
There was the tweet in which Trump threatened to take away an American factory and give it to a foreign competitor. The one in which he made fun of France, lied about the cause of rioting in the country, and topped it by claiming that 'the United States has gone to the top of all lists on the Environment.' Which could be true, if those lists are most-wanted lists. There was the tweet in which he threatened 'consequences' against Saturday Night Live for making jokes about him. And the incredible follow-up in which Trump declared that the late night shows were in 'collusion' with Democrats 'and, of course, Russia!
And there was the one that … No, sorry. This one is too nuts to explain."
Trump's on one of his famous Twitter tears. That often means bad news is coming. (Daily KOS, March 17, 2019)
"We've fallen out of the habit of highlighting Donald Trump's various rage-tweets of late, mostly because (1) there are so many and (2) nearly all are pointless. But the man has been in a full-blown tantrum this weekend, to an extent that is impossible to ignore. He appears to have lost the remaining scraps of his mind.
Let's go through these and highlight just how astonishingly inappropriate this behavior is for a supposed 'president.' Much of it seems to revolve directly around programs on Fox News - whether Donald's foul mood is because he has been watching too much teevee or whether his current couch potatoism is due to a preexisting bad mood is difficult to discern.
This is you, Republican Party. This is what you still stand behind."
Sierra Club’s Massachusetts climate leadership summit focuses on push for change (Boston's Metrowest Daily News, March 17, 2019)
"Ben Hellerstein
of Environmental Massachusetts discussed efforts Saturday to help communities commit to reaching 100 percent renewable energy as a long-term target, and how policies at local levels can help achieve that goal, during the Sierra Club’s statewide climate leadership summit at Framingham State University. More than 100 cities across the nation have committed to this target, and at least 12 are in Massachusetts, including Natick and Lowell. Massachusetts also has the greatest offshore wind potential in the nation, the equivalent to 19 times the state’s annual energy consumption."
NEW: Judge Blocks Kentucky Fetal Heartbeat Law That Bans Abortion After 6 Weeks (New York Times, March 16, 2019)
"A federal judge on Friday temporarily blocked a Kentucky law that prohibits abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which typically happens around six weeks into pregnancy, before many women know they are pregnant. The measure, which was signed into law on Friday by the state’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, and was set to take effect immediately, was poised to become one of the strictest anti-abortion laws in the country. But late on Friday, the judge, David J. Hale of the Western District of Kentucky, ruled the law was potentially unconstitutional. He halted enforcement for at least 14 days to 'prevent irreparable harm' until he could hold a hearing."
Beto 2020: a masterclass in male entitlement (The Guardian, March 16, 2019)
"The Democratic presidential hopeful said: ‘Man, I’m just born to be in it.’ He is, after all, a rich kid from a well-connected family."
Pelosi's absolutely crushing McConnell in their congressional rematch and the GOP is paying for it (Daily KOS, March 16, 2019)
"I have always thought of Pelosi as the most accomplished lawmaker of the 111th Congress, the first two years of Barack Obama's presidency in which Democrats pushed through a historic health care overhaul, Wall Street reform, credit card reform and several transformative civil rights bills like the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and repealing the military's ban on lesbians and gays serving openly in the military. The second most successful lawmaker that Congress in my book, was McConnell, who held his caucus together with extraordinary discipline to block other potential advancements once Democrats lost their supermajority in the upper chamber. In fact, if Pelosi hadn't held the Democratic caucus together with equal discipline on a difficult health care vote in the spring of 2010, McConnell's Republicans almost certainly would have blocked the Affordable Care Act from becoming law.  
The 116th Congress stood to be a rematch, but this time McConnell had the benefit of a GOP majority in the upper chamber and a Republican president, albeit Donald Trump. But what we have learned so far is that McConnell is no match for Pelosi, even when he has the upper hand. In fact, it's probably fair at this point to observe that McConnell is an abysmal legislator. What he is good at is exploiting weaknesses in the system to achieve ends that were never meant to be achieved. In other words, he's good at cheating and making that look skillful - and that's exactly what he's done with judicial appointments."
How a 50-year-old design came back to haunt Boeing with its troubled 737 Max jet (Los Angeles Times, March 15, 2019)
"A set of stairs may have never caused so much trouble in an aircraft. First introduced in West Germany as a short-hop commuter jet in the early Cold War, the Boeing 737-100 had folding metal stairs attached to the fuselage that passengers climbed to board before airports had jetways. Ground crews hand-lifted heavy luggage into the cargo holds in those days, long before motorized belt loaders were widely available.
That low-to-the-ground design was a plus in 1968, but it has proved to be a constraint that engineers modernizing the 737 have had to work around ever since. The compromises required to push forward a more fuel-efficient version of the plane - with larger engines and altered aerodynamics - led to the complex flight control software system that is now under investigation in two fatal crashes over the last five months."
Engineer: Satellite suggests fire caused massive Venezuela power outage (Associated Press, March 15, 2019)
"Two Venezuelans with expertise in engineering and geospatial technologies say they’ve analyzed NASA satellite imagery indicating there were three fires within close proximity to transmission lines that could have crippled the country’s electric grid."
Beto O’Rourke’s secret membership in America’s oldest hacking group (Reuters, March 15, 2019)
"As the Texas Democrat enters the race for president, members of a group famous for 'hactivism' come forward for the first time to claim him as one of their own. There may be no better time to be an American politician rebelling against business as usual. But is the United States ready for O’Rourke’s teenage exploits?"
Former Fox News reporter will now testify to Congress despite nondisclosure agreement with network (Daily KOS, March 15, 2019)
Republican Party’s anti-immigrant tweets anger Portland mayor – and Republican senators (Portland ME Press Herald, March 15, 2019)
"In a series of tweets late Thursday night, the state party took aim at migrants and the city, falsely connecting immigrants to outbreaks of infectious diseases. "
Missouri Republican proposes law forcing to own an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle (Daily KOS, March 15, 2019)
"Establishes the McDaniel Militia Act, which requires every person between 18 and 35 years of age who can legally possess a firearm to own an AR-15 and authorizes a tax credit for a purchase of an AR-15."
Remarkable, moving statement from Australian news anchor Waleed Aly on Christchurch (5-min. video; Daily KOS, March 15, 2019)
The dumbest person in Congress responds to the New Zealand shooting (Daily KOS, March 15, 2019)
"Dear Senator Anning,
Hello mate. I can’t understand why everybody seems to be laughing at your comment that if there hadn’t been Muslims in New Zealand then that attack wouldn’t have happened. How can anybody disagree? I also agree with your previous conclusions that there wouldn’t be any assaults on women if there weren’t women, and if there were no banks there wouldn’t be bank robberies, or car accidents if cars hadn’t been invented. Australia can really boast of having someone with such a sharp Trump-like genius analytical mind in the Senate."
New Zealand shooter called Donald Trump 'a symbol of white identity' as he murdered 49 people (Daily KOS, March 15, 2019)
"At least 49 people have died in an attack on two mosques in the city of Christchurch. Dozens more were wounded or otherwise injured. And there’s absolutely no doubt about the cause of this sickening event. Because one of the killers live-streamed it to Facebook, while delivering a white-power manifesto about his hatred for 'invaders.' This does not appear to be the act of a 'lone gunman,' but a coordinated, planned slaughter staged to catch worshipers at their morning prayers. In addition to the alleged gunman, police have detained at least two others, and reports indicate that one of them was found with a number of explosive devices. Even the awful total so far may not have been close to what was intended in this racist attack.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has issued an official response, saying, 'The United States strongly condemns the attack in Christchurch.' And, of course, she provided New Zealanders with the same assistance that has so often been extended to American victims in similar mass-murders: 'Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.' What’s not in Sander’s statement is any hint about why this happened. Nothing about the hate for Muslims that she, her party, and especially her boss have carefully nurtured. Nothing about the global spread of white nationalism that has seen a rise of hate crimes across America and Europe."
Climate strikes held around the world – as it happened (
The Guardian, March 15, 2019)
"Young people, inspired by Greta Thunberg, rally to press politicians to act on climate change."

Youth climate strikes to take place in more than 100 countries (The Guardian, March 14, 2019)
"Movement inspired by Greta Thunberg has snowballed, as Belgian workers join strike. There are 1,659 climate strike events planned worldwide."

Ireland's openly gay prime minister met with Mike Pence and he had a special message just for him (Daily KOS, March 14, 2019)
"'I stand here leader of my country,' Varadkar said to the audience assembled at the residence, 'flawed and human, but judged by my political actions and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs.' Pence was sitting to Varadkar’s immediate right, just feet away. 'I don’t believe my country is the only one in the world where this story is possible,' he continued. 'It is found in every country where freedom and liberty are cherished. We are after all, all god’s children. That’s true of the United States as well, the land and home of the brave and free.' But it’s also true that the vice president’s wife works at a school that bans people like Varadkar and his partner, Matt Barrett."
The strongmen strike back (Washington Post, March 14, 2019)
"Today, authoritarianism has emerged as the greatest challenge facing the liberal democratic world — a profound ideological, as well as strategic, challenge. Or, more accurately, it has reemerged, for authoritarianism has always posed the most potent and enduring challenge to liberalism, since the birth of the liberal idea itself. Authoritarianism has now returned as a geopolitical force, with strong nations such as China and Russia championing anti-liberalism as an alternative to a teetering liberal hegemony. It has returned as an ideological force, offering the age-old critique of liberalism, and just at the moment when the liberal world is suffering its greatest crisis of confidence since the 1930s. It has returned armed with new and hitherto unimaginable tools of social control and disruption that are shoring up authoritarian rule at home, spreading it abroad and reaching into the very heart of liberal societies to undermine them from within."
Trump's 'emergency' is already doing serious harm. Courts must end it if Congress can't. (USA Today, March 14, 2019)
"Trump failed to convince Congress that something was urgently needed. This is not an 'emergency.' The facts must at some point make a difference."
Senate votes to reject Trump’s emergency declaration, setting up president’s first veto (Washington Post, March 14, 2019)
"The Senate passed a resolution Thursday to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border, with 12 Republicans joining all Democrats to deliver a bipartisan rebuke to the president. The disapproval resolution passed the House last month, so the 59-41 Senate vote will send the measure to Trump’s desk. Trump has promised to use the first veto of his presidency to strike it down, and Congress does not have the votes to override the veto.
'VETO!', Trump tweeted moments after the vote.
Still, the Senate vote stood as a rare instance of Republicans breaking with Trump in significant numbers on an issue central to his presidency - the construction of a wall along the southern border.
For weeks Trump had sought to frame the debate in terms of immigration, arguing that Republican senators who supported border security should back him up on the emergency declaration. But for many GOP lawmakers, it was about a bigger issue: The Constitution itself, which grants Congress - not the president - control over government spending. By declaring a national emergency in order to bypass Congress to get money for his wall, Trump was violating the separation of powers and setting a potentially dangerous precedent, these senators argued."
NEW: House Votes, 420-to-0, to Demand Public Release of Mueller Report (New York Times, March 14, 2019)
Senate Rejects Trump’s Border Emergency Declaration, Setting Up First Veto (New York Times, March 14, 2019)
"The Senate on Thursday easily voted to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southwestern border, delivering a bipartisan rebuke to what lawmakers in both parties deemed executive overreach by a president determined to build his border wall over Congress’s objections. The 59-41 vote on the House-passed measure sets up the first veto of Mr. Trump’s presidency. It was not overwhelming enough to override Mr. Trump’s promised veto, but Congress has now voted to block a presidential emergency declaration for the first time - and on one of the core promises that animated Mr. Trump’s political rise, the vow to build a wall between the United States and Mexico."
US official reveals Atlantic drilling plan while hailing Trump’s ability to distract public (The Guardian, March 14,  2019)
"'One of the things that I have found absolutely thrilling in working for this administration,' said Balash, 'is the president has a knack for keeping the attention of the media and the public focused somewhere else while we do all the work that needs to be done on behalf of the American people.' Already the Trump administration is moving to permit a handful of private companies to start using seismic surveys in the Atlantic, a controversial practice in which air guns shoot loud blasts into ocean waters to identify oil deposits. Some scientific studies suggest that seismic surveys can harm or potentially kill marine creatures, including dolphins, whales, fish and zooplankton."
NEW: GOP lawmaker: Green New Deal 'tantamount to genocide' (Politico, March 14, 2019)
"'It’s no longer enough to say Republicans aren’t taking climate change seriously,' Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said. 'These stunts are getting more desperate and disconnected from reality.'"
NEW: Facebook Fine Could Total Billions if F.T.C. Talks Lead to a Deal (New York Times, March 14, 2019)
"The F.T.C. began its investigation into Facebook’s mishandling of data after The New York Times reported in March 2018 that the information of 87 million users had been harvested by a British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, without their permission.
Facebook confirmed the negotiations with the F.T.C., which could still break down and lead to litigation. The discussions were first reported by The Washington Post. Facebook’s 2011 consent decree requires the company to seek permission from users for plans to share their data with third parties. The trade commission also requires Facebook to notify it when third parties misuse this data.
Some F.T.C. officials have pressed for maximum penalties because of several new reports of potential privacy breaches since the start of the investigation. The agency can seek up to $41,000 for each violation found by the agency. In the case of Cambridge Analytica, 87 million people were affected. The highest financial penalty imposed by the F.T.C. so far was a $22.5 million fine on Google for violating an agreement to protect consumer data."
NEW: Judge Declines ExxonMobil's Motion To Dismiss Case Set To Put Climate Change And Corporate Responsibility On Trial (WBUR News, March 13, 2019)
Airlines rethink Boeing 737 orders after second crash in five months (Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2019)
"The 737, which first entered service in the late 1960s, is the aviation industry’s bestselling model and Boeing’s top earner. The re-engined Max version has racked up more than 5,000 orders worth in excess of $600 billion. 'With extensive grounding of the 737 Max, near term news could get worse for Boeing before it improves,' Cai von Rumohr, an analyst at Cowen & Co., said in a note. However, he added, because the company is readying an update to its flight-control software, 'we don’t see meaningful long-term risk.' Indeed, the only real rival to Boeing is European planemaker Airbus, whose production line for the A320neo is full well into the next decade."
Elizabeth Warren interview: "You can't be both the umpire and the team owner." (Daily KOS, March 13, 2019)
"While I don’t discount the notion that large corporations regularly abuse their market share to influence public policies to increase their bottom line, I’m afraid that Warren’s opponents will just use this to amplify their 'socialism is bad' rhetoric despite the fact that she’s talking about malignant capitalism."
Trump and Dems destroy GOP effort to escape national emergency bind (Politico,
March 13, 2019)
"The president told Senate Republicans he would not agree to curtail his powers in order to stem defections on the disapproval vote."
Dem, Republican join in effort to control how Trump grants, revokes security clearances (NBC News, March 13, 2019)
"Trump reportedly ordered that Jared Kushner be granted a security clearance, and revoked the clearance of ex-CIA Director John Brennan, a frequent critic. President Trump in August said he revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, an NBC News contributor who was a career CIA officer before joining the Obama administration. Brennan is a frequent critic of Trump.
Trump ordered that a Top Secret clearance be granted to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, despite flags in his FBI and CIA background checks. NBC News first reported that career White House security specialists had been overruled in the Kushner matter. That was one of about 30 occasions during the early days of the Trump administration during which career officials were overruled and security clearances were granted to White House officials despite concerns, sources familiar with the process told NBC News.
Trump also intervened in the case of his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who faced hurdles related to concerns about her husband's foreign business ties, among other issues."
Turning the hot lights on a religious right pastor who has gone full anti-Semite (Daily KOS, March 13, 2019)
"You may know Rick Wiles as the loon from TruNews who irately demanded that Obama be overthrown by military force and called for Democrats to be purged en masse in the wake of the Alexandria shooting. But lately, his commentary has taken on a distinct anti-Semitic tinge. Last month, for instance, he claimed that the White House push to decriminalize homosexuality around the world was a Jewish plot."
The web in 30 years? It'll be beyond our imagination, says Tim Berners-Lee (ZDNet, March 13, 2019)
"Working out where the web will go next is hard. But figuring out where we would like it to go is a little easier, says the inventor of the world wide web."
NEW: Facebook’s Data Deals Are Under Criminal Investigation (New York Times, March 13, 2019)
"Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals Facebook struck with some of the world’s largest technology companies, intensifying scrutiny of the social media giant’s business practices as it seeks to rebound from a year of scandal and setbacks.
A grand jury in New York has subpoenaed records from at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices, according to two people who were familiar with the requests and who insisted on anonymity to discuss confidential legal matters. Both companies had entered into partnerships with Facebook, gaining broad access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of its users. The companies were among more than 150, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, that had cut sharing deals with the world’s dominant social media platform. The agreements, previously reported in The New York Times, let the companies see users’ friends, contact information and other data, sometimes without consent."
NEW: Agent Orange Contamination Persists In Vietnam, Study Shows
(Asian Scientist Magazine, March 12, 2019)
"During the Vietnam War, US aircraft sprayed more than 20 million gallons of herbicides, including dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange, on the country’s rain forests, wetlands and croplands. Agent Orange defoliated the thick jungle vegetation concealing Viet Cong fighters and destroyed a portion of the country’s food crops, but it was primarily the dioxin contaminant that harmed so many Vietnamese and US military personnel. In this study, scientists at the University of Illinois (UI) and Iowa State University documented the environmental legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam, including hotspots where dioxin continues to enter the food supply.
Dioxin TCDD-contaminated sediment was - and still is - ingested by bottom-feeding fish and shrimp, accumulating in fatty tissue of those animals and up the food chain into many of the fish that form the basis of the Vietnamese diet, the researchers noted. Even though fishing is now banned from most contaminated sites, bans have been difficult to enforce and, as a result, dioxin TCDD is still entering the human food supply 50 years later."

The First Green Terawatt Was the Hardest (Daily KOS, March 12, 2019)
"We need something like 16 TW worldwide. More for EVs and economic growth in the poorest countries, less with improved efficiency and conservation, and so on."
Ethiopian Airlines crash came after US shutdown delayed Boeing 737 Max fixes (Quartz, March 12, 2019)
"Straightforward safety upgrades to the jets’ software to fix the automated safety feature, were originally expected in January according to multiple reports. But they were delayed until April, the Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 10, because of 'engineering challenges,' 'differences of opinion' between federal and Boeing officials, and the 35-day government shutdown, during  which 'consideration of the fixes was suspended.'"
House Democrats are laying the groundwork for impeachment, beginning with the Cohen hearing (Daily KOS, March 12, 2019)
"That path includes building public support for initiating such proceedings, which currently sits at only about a third of the nation. But public testimony like
former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's is all part of the process. Not only did the public find Cohen more believable than Trump (50-35 percent), but a strong majority of voters (58 percent) told Quinnipiac that Congress should do more to investigate Cohen's claims concerning Trump's 'unethical and illegal behavior.'"
What to Expect When You’re Expecting (the Mueller Report) (New York Times, March 12, 2019)
"A conversation with Representative Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, about how Congress is preparing for the results of the special counsel investigation."
No, President Trump, America’s Jews will not be joining you in the GOP (Washington Post, March 12, 2019)
"American Jews aren’t liberals by accident or out of some collective delusion, but because of a set of values that grows from their history and that gets passed from generation to generation. This is the liberal legacy of Judaism, that the experience of oppression and exclusion makes Jews sympathize with the oppressed and the excluded. That’s not to say there aren’t Jewish conservatives, because there are. But when a politician like Trump comes along, encouraging people to direct all their resentments and anger at immigrants, Jews know that, at other times and in other places, they were the ones that demagogues like him told people to hate."
The Making of the Fox News White House (New Yorker, March 11, 2019)
"After members of the press pool got out of vans and headed over to where the President was about to speak, they noticed that Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, was already on location. Unlike them, he hadn’t been confined by the Secret Service, and was mingling with Administration officials, at one point hugging Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security. The pool report noted that Hannity was seen 'huddling' with the White House communications director, Bill Shine. After the photo op, Hannity had an exclusive on-air interview with Trump. Politico later reported that it was Hannity’s seventh interview with the President, and Fox’s forty-second. Since then, Trump has given Fox two more. He has granted only ten to the three other main television networks combined, and none to CNN, which he denounces as 'fake news'.
Hannity was treated in Texas like a member of the Administration because he virtually is one. The same can be said of Fox’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch. Fox has long been a bane of liberals, but in the past two years many people who watch the network closely, including some Fox alumni, say that it has evolved into something that hasn’t existed before in the United States. It’s the closest we’ve come to having state TV."
New York Attorney General Opens Investigation of Trump Projects (New York Times, March 11, 2019)
"The new inquiry, by the office of the attorney general, Letitia James, was prompted by the congressional testimony last month of Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, the person briefed on the subpoenas said. Mr. Cohen testified under oath that Mr. Trump had inflated his assets in financial statements, and Mr. Cohen provided copies of statements he said had been submitted to Deutsche Bank."
John Oliver robocalls Ajit Pai and Trump's FCC every 90 minutes, telling them to end robocalls (Daily KOS, March 11, 2019)
"In March 2018, Trump-appointed Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai lauded a federal court’s decision to strike down an anti-robocall bit of consumer protections that took effect under President Barack Obama. At the time, Pai promised to find “consumer friendly” ways to stop robocalls.
Robocalls are getting worse, and projected by some experts to become half of all calls over the next year."
Steve Bannon gave documentarian behind-the-scenes access to him, and "The Brink" sounds like a doozy (Daily KOS, March 11, 2019)
"Variety calls the documentary a 'fly-on-the-wall, rise-and-fall-and-rise-of-a-white-nationalist documentary,' pointing to sequences where Bannon, not unlike his orange-headed friend Trump, sets up what he clearly thinks are cinematic moments that will ingratiate himself to the audience, only to end up accentuating how much of a creep he really is. The example given is him telling a story of going to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau, which were concentration camps and are now museums to the Holocaust. Through the telling of his experience there, the viewer, according to Variety, gets the distinct impression that Bannon doesn’t really have sympathy for the Jewish people murdered by the Nazis so much as he is amazed by the Nazis."
Fast-Growth Chickens Produce New Industry Woe: ‘Spaghetti Meat’ (Washington Post, March 10, 2019)
"Chicken companies are adding an estimated $200 million in annual costs to divert breast fillets that are too squishy or tough."
Ethiopian Airlines flight bound for Nairobi crashes, all 157 on board killed (Washington Post, March 10, 2019)
"The recently acquired aircraft was the same Boeing 737 Max 8 model that was involved in a crash in Indonesia in October. Preliminary investigation into that accident focused on a malfunctioning sensor and computer system that pushed the plane’s nose down.
Data from the Ethio­pian Airlines crash appears to show a similar erratic flight path as that in the Indonesia crash, with the plane first ascending, then descending, then ascending sharply before it fell from the sky."
(From last November: "Boeing’s latest airliners lack a common override feature that, in some dangerous circumstances, allows pilots to reliably pull planes out of nosedives and avert crashes such as last month’s fatal plunge by Lion Air Flight 610, aeronautics experts and pilot groups say. The state-of-the-art 737 MAX 8 airplanes do not have this feature, yet the company failed to prominently warn pilots of the change even as airlines worldwide began taking delivery of the new jets last year, pilots say.")
Want the GOP to stop using the word 'socialist' to scare off Democrats? Make 'capitalism' a bad word. (Daily KOS, March 10, 2019)
"I believe in having an economic system that works for everyone. It must be Democratic. The best one is a hybrid featuring free enterprise and a robust safety net, a system unable to hoard capital, which is a detriment to the economy as a whole."
The Pros and Cons of Impeaching Trump (New Yorker, March 10, 2019)
"Real and reasonable arguments among congressional Democrats - and, indeed, among the public - range from the practical to the procedural."
Just how dumb do they think we are? (Daily KOS, March 10, 2019)
"During my lifetime, I have seen and heard some amazing things. I have seen a president resign in disgrace. I have seen a president lose his shot at a second term because he was too honest. I have seen a president who likely had dementia act his way through two terms, and set the stage for the nation we have today. I have seen a so-so president lead us into war, and his successor impeached for lying about getting a blowjob. Then we had a president elected by the slimmest of margins in an election decided by the Supreme Court, then eight years of war and incompetence. That was followed by eight years of an intelligent, wise president who was dogged by a hostile opposition party that stole a Supreme Court seat from him.
I thought I had seen it all - but then along came Trump. Now, I have said this before, but it bears repeating: If Trump ran as a Democrat and agreed with me on every position, I would not have voted for him. He is a vile man who cheats on his spouses and has gone bankrupt running a casino, a business that is literally a license to print money."
The 10 personas of Donald Trump in a single speech (Washington Post, March 9, 2019)
"He lambasted and lampooned his rivals. He exaggerated and ballyhooed his record. He riddled his remarks with contradictions, shoddy statistics and falsehoods. And he embroidered it all with a fake Southern accent, curse words and bouts of extravagant pantomime. For two hours and five minutes last weekend, President Trump dazzled his supporters and appalled his critics with a mind-spinning, free-associating performance that neatly encapsulated his singular standing as a polarizing cultural figure.
Even for a politician who never seems to stop talking, the tour-de-force performance at the Conservative Political Action Conference - the longest speech of Trump’s presidency - stands apart as a road map to understanding the 45th president’s id. It also offers a preview of the cacophonous 2020 campaign to come."
Mueller vs Barr, and the battle to indict Trump (Spectator US, March 9, 2019)
"Mueller wants to indict the President but Barr doesn’t – while the two men agree that Trump’s children should be charged."
A Florida Massage Parlor Owner Has Been Selling Chinese Execs Access to Trump at Mar-a-Lago (Mother Jones, March 9, 2019)
"The strange, swampy saga of Trump donor Li Yang."
Thank A House Plant: Hydrogen-Based Energy Storage Inspired By Mother Nature (Clean Technica, March 9, 2019)
NEW: The Roundup row: is the world’s most popular weedkiller carcinogenic? (The Guardian, March 9, 2019)
"Producer Monsanto is facing thousands of lawsuits from customers who now have cancer."
If We Blow Up an Asteroid, It Might Put Itself Back Together (New York Times, March 8, 2019)
"Despite what Hollywood tells us, stopping an asteroid from creating an extinction-level event by blowing it up may not work."
House Passes the Most Significant Democracy Reform Bill in a Generation (Mother Jones, March 8, 2019)
"The Democratic measure would expand voting rights and crack down on gerrymandering and dark money. Every House Democrat present voted for the bill and every House Republican voted no. Its prospects are far dimmer in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declared his opposition to the bill, calling it 'the Democrat Politician Protection Act.' The Trump administration has also stated its opposition."
White House Source Leaks Ivanka/Jared Clearance Docs to House Dems: Report (Daily Beast, March 8, 2019)
"... after the Trump administration refused to hand over the paperwork."
All the Legal Trouble in Trumpworld (Foreign Policy, March 8, 2019)
"Robert Mueller may be the least of the president’s worries."
A Trump official said seismic air gun tests don’t hurt whales. So a congressman blasted him with an air horn. (Washington Post, March 7, 2019)
"Rep. Joe Cunningham’s stunt made a bang in a subcommittee hearing that questioned the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s decision to permit seismic testing, which harms whales."
Beware the Ides of Trump (Spectator US, March 7, 2019)
"The Special Counsel may hand in his report on Friday – word is that it will make the case for collusion."
Who’s Running for President in 2020? (New York Times, March 7, 2019)
NEW: EU food agency must release glyphosate studies: court (Reuters, March 7, 2019)
"Judges annulled two decisions by EFSA that denied access to details of the studies into the substance (Monsanto's Roundup), which campaigners say should be banned. The two cases were brought by Green members of the European Parliament among others.
'EFSA welcomes the decision,' the agency’s spokesman said in a statement. 'This case, and the Court’s ruling, is important because it provides orientation for EFSA and others charged with interpreting EU legislation on public access to documents.'"
NEW: I Quit My Job to Protest My Company’s Work on Building Killer Robots (ACLU, March 6, 2019)
"In 2014, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk led an effort with thousands of AI researchers to collectively pledge never to contribute research to the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems - weapons that could seek out a target and end a life without a human in the decision-making loop. The researchers argued that the technology to create such weapons was just around the corner and would be disastrous for humanity."
NEW: An Oxford researcher says there are seven moral rules that unite humanity (Quartz, March 6, 2019)
"The team found that these seven cooperative behaviors were considered morally good in 99.9% of cases across cultures. Curry is careful to note that people around the world differ hugely in how they prioritize different cooperative behaviors. But he said the evidence was overwhelming in widespread adherence to those moral values."
RICO, the racketeering statute used to bring down mob bosses, might ultimately seal Trump's fate (Daily KOS, March 6, 2019)
NEW: In the Middle of His Official Business, Trump Took the Time to Send Checks to Michael Cohen (New York Times, March 5, 2019)

Human Origins: The Domestication of Fire (Daily KOS, March 3, 2019)
NEW: Facebook won’t let you opt out of its phone number ‘look up’ setting (Tech Crunch, March 3, 2019)
"Last year, Facebook was forced to admit that after months of pestering its users to switch on two-factor by signing up their phone number, it was also using those phone numbers to target users with ads. But some users are finding out just now that Facebook’s default setting allows everyone - with or without an account - to look up a user profile based off the same phone number previously added to their account."
Black man becomes head of neo-Nazi group he intends to destroy (CNN, March 2, 2019)

Your car is more likely to be hacked by your mechanic than a terrorist (, March 1, 2019)
"As part of a good maintenance routine your mechanic will plug a device into the On Board Diagnostic (ODB) port to ensure there are no fault or diagnostic codes for the vehicle that need to be resolved. But, what would happen if a mechanic needed some extra business? Perhaps they wanted you to come back for service more often. Could they program your electronic brake sensor to trigger early by manipulating a control algorithm? Yes, and this would result in a lower life for your brake pads. Maybe they could modify one of the many computers within your vehicle so that it logs more kilometres than are actually being done? Or if they wanted to hide the fact they had taken your Ferrari for a spin, they could program the computer to wind back the odometer.
All of these are viable hacks – and your mechanic could be doing it right now. This isn't a new problem. It's no different from a used car dealer using a drill to run the speedo back to show a lower mileage. New technologies just mean the same tricks could be implemented in different ways.
Does a Bear Think in the Woods? (Sierra Club, February 26, 2019)
"Turns out animal intelligence is not so different from our own."
Bulldozers sit idle at border amid legal confusion over Trump's emergency (Los Angeles Times, February 26, 2019)
"Efren Olivares, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project, a nonprofit advocacy organization, told the crowd that landowners don’t have to sell their land. But he said that if they refuse, the federal government may sue to take it under eminent domain. Some in the room gasped. Homeland Security has offered some landowners $36,200 for small parcels of land along the Rio Grande. Olivares urged them to negotiate, noting that during the last major fence-building project in 2006, some owners were paid millions of dollars. 'I encourage you not to take the first offer, because it’s likely not going to be fair,' he said. 'There’s a reason the government isn’t here, and they come see you one by one."
House passes resolution to nullify Trump’s national emergency declaration (Washington Post, February 26, 2019)
"The House on Tuesday passed a resolution to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency on the southern border, as majority Democrats painted an apocalyptic portrait of a lawless chief executive out to gut the Constitution. The 245-182 tally was mostly along party lines, with 13 Republicans defecting to side with Democrats on a vote that effectively became a test of GOP loyalty to Trump. Despite their frequent complaints of executive overreach during the Obama administration, most Republicans fell in line with Trump’s decision to try to circumvent Congress to get billions of dollars for his border wall. As a result the vote fell well short of the two-thirds majority that would be required to overcome Trump’s threatened veto. Democrats argued that Trump’s claim of a crisis at the border was baseless, and that he was embarking on the road to dictatorship by unilaterally declaring an emergency to try to get money from U.S. taxpayers to fulfill an unpopular campaign promise."
U.S. Cyber Command operation disrupted Internet access of Russian troll factory on day of 2018 midterms (Washington Post, February 26, 2019)
"The U.S. military blocked Internet access to an infamous Russian entity seeking to sow discord among Americans during the 2018 midterms, several U.S. officials said, a warning that the Kremlin’s operations against the United States are not cost-free. The strike on the Internet Research Agency in St. Petersburg, a company underwritten by an oligarch close to President Vladi­mir Putin, was part of the first offensive cyber campaign against Russia designed to thwart attempts to interfere with a U.S. election, the officials said."
High CO2 Levels Can Destabilize Marine Layer Clouds (CalTech, February 25, 2019)
"At high enough atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations, Earth could reach a tipping point where marine stratus clouds become unstable and disappear, triggering a spike in global warming, according to a new modeling study."
Who - or What - Was the FBI’s Mole at the Heart of the Trump Campaign? (Observer, February 25, 2019)
"Trump seems unhinged by all the publicity McCabe’s been getting on his book tour, while the former FBI bigwig’s comments can’t sit well at the White House. McCabe has made clear that the Bureau investigated the president’s Kremlin connections because Trump so frequently parroted Russian propaganda in the Oval Office. In slightly more guarded language, McCabe stated, 'I think it’s possible' when asked point-blank if President Trump might be an asset of Russian intelligence.
How exactly top counterintelligence officials in our nation’s capital came to the shocking conclusion that Donald Trump really might be working for the Kremlin is the big question lurking at the heart of the entire Department of Justice investigation into the current administration. Answering that will reveal the core secrets of this presidency and perhaps change American politics forever."
Trump’s attorney general wants god’s moral order enforced by government (Daily KOS, February 23, 2019)
"The rise of theocrats in powerful positions of authority is particularly disconcerting because not only was America created as a secular nation with a secular Constitution, but because the theocrats running the federal government represent a very small minority of the population. And now Trump has given that vicious minority what they elected him to do in the first place; another radical Christian extremist, William Barr, in a powerful federal government position."
On Tuesday, Americans can watch Republicans betray the Constitution - and the country - in real time (Daily KOS, February 23, 2019)
"On Tuesday, the House will hold a vote weighing in on Donald Trump’s declaration that people attempting to cross our southern border without authorization (a misdemeanor offense) constitutes a 'National Emergency' of such dire import that it justifies bypassing the will of Congress, and by extension, the will of the American people. On Friday, Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro introduced a Resolution of Disapproval of the President’s 'emergency' declaration, co-sponsored by 225 Democrats and, as of this writing, exactly one Republican."

NEW: Microsoft employees demand military contract be dropped (Euronews, February 23, 2019)
"Microsoft employees protested the company's $480 million contract to supply the US Army with augmented-reality headsets in a letter in which they say they 'did not sign up to develop weapons.' The technology giant was awarded the so-called Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) contract with the US Department of the Army in November. Under the terms of the contract, Microsoft is to 'rapidly develop, test, and manufacture a single platform that Soldiers can use to Fight, Rehearse, and Train that provides increased lethality, mobility, and situational awareness necessary to overmatch against out current and future adversaries.' For the signatories of the letter, updating the HoloLens device to fulfill the contract, would see the technology giant cross the line 'into weapons development.'"

How To Keep Facebook from Tracking Your Location When You're Not Using the App (Gadget Hacks, February 22, 2019)
"When you think of companies that represent pillars like "privacy" or "security," Facebook is pretty far from the top of that list. However, the social media empire is making strides - small strides - to win trust with how it handles your user data. One of those efforts involves a way to prevent Facebook from tracking your iPhone or Android phone's location when you're not using the app."
Donald Trump tried to reward a Mar-a-Lago member with billions extorted from Qatar (Daily KOS, February 22, 2019)
"In April of 2018, Donald Trump pushed the Qatari sovereign wealth fund - the same fund that had recently bailed out Jared Kushner - to engage in a risky deal involving a nuclear power plant. The reason doesn’t seem to have anything to do with a need for nuclear power, and it certainly wasn’t done to help the Qataris. Instead, it appears to have been Trump using his leverage over the tiny nation of Qatar to help a billionaire speculator who just happens to be a Mar-a-Lago member and who plowed $1 million into Trump’s controversial Inaugural fund."
(Yes, the same nuclear plant and Franklin Haney that appear down below on February 19th.)
Federal Judge Shuts Down Trump Administration’s Discrimination Against Children of Same-Sex Couples (Slate, February 22, 2019)
"The Trump administration’s attempt to deny citizenship to the children of binational same-sex couples suffered a setback on Thursday when a federal court ruled these children are American citizens. U.S. District Judge John F. Walter of California rejected the State Department’s startling assertion that a married gay couple’s son was born “out of wedlock” and thus is ineligible for citizenship. But his decision applies only to these plaintiffs - meaning Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may continue to enforce an anti-gay policy on other binational couples. Somehow, nearly two years after the U.S. Supreme Court guaranteed equal rights to same-sex parents, the U.S. government is still trying to discriminate against their children under immigration law.
What’s most remarkable about Walter’s ruling is how brief and straightforward it is. At first glance, this case might seem complex, sitting at the intersection of surrogacy and immigration law. But the reality is that the Dvash-Banks’ sexual orientation should not actually complicate matters at all. The 9th Circuit previously found that the “presumption of legitimacy” applies to opposite-sex couples here, even when there is evidence that one parent had no biological relation. Why shouldn’t that presumption apply equally to same-sex couples? The answer, according to Walter (and the Supreme Court), is that it must."
NEW: Facebook will shut down its spyware VPN app Onavo (TechCrunch, February 21, 2019)
"Facebook will end its unpaid market research programs and proactively take its Onavo VPN app off the Google Play store in the wake of backlash following TechCrunch’s investigation about Onavo code being used in a Facebook Research app that sucked up data about teens. The Onavo Protect app will eventually shut down, and will immediately cease pulling in data from users for market research, though it will continue operating as a Virtual Private Network in the short-term to allow users to find a replacement.
Facebook has also ceased to recruit new users for the Facebook Research app that still runs on Android but was forced off of iOS by Apple after we reported that it violated Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program for employee-only apps. Existing Facebook Research app studies will continue to run, though.
To preempt any more scandals around Onavo and the Facebook Research app and avoid Google stepping in to forcibly block the apps, Facebook is now taking Onavo off the Play Store and stopping recruitment of Research testers. That’s a surprising voluntary move that perhaps shows Facebook is finally getting in tune with the public perception of its shady actions. [Voluntary? See italics, above. - ARM] The company has repeatedly misread how users would react to its product launches and privacy invasions, leading to near constant gaffes and an unending news cycle chronicling its blunders."
McCabe's 'masterful chess move' may have cemented Mueller's appointment and Trump's fate (Daily KOS, February 21, 2019)
"McCabe added the president to the already predicated, already long existing case on Russian meddling with the campaign. The obstruction case was not separate either. He added that to the existing [counterintelligence] case, so anyone trying to close that is closing an obstruction case on the president. The way McCabe decided to structure the cases had both practical impact and, in retrospect, symbolic importance."
NEW: The Supreme Court Just Struck a Huge, Unanimous Blow Against Policing for Profit (Slate, February 20, 2019)
"Its unanimous decision for the first time prohibits all 50 states from imposing excessive fines, including the seizure of property, on people accused or convicted of a crime. Rarely does the court hand down a ruling of such constitutional magnitude - and seldom do all nine justices agree to restrict the power that police and prosecutors exert over individuals. The landmark decision represents a broad agreement on the Supreme Court that law enforcement’s legalized theft has gone too far."
Your phone and TV are tracking you, and political campaigns are listening in (Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2019)
"Welcome to the new frontier of campaign tech - a loosely regulated world in which simply downloading a weather app or game, connecting to Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or powering up a home router can allow a data broker to monitor your movements with ease, then compile the location information and sell it to a political candidate who can use it to surround you with messages."
Disgusted by Brexit hard-liners, three lawmakers abandon Theresa May's Conservative Party (Washington Post, February 20, 2019)
"With Britain's chaotic departure from the European Union just weeks away, three prominent lawmakers abruptly resigned Wednesday from Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party, saying the government has surrendered control to reckless, hard-line Brexiteers who are endangering the country's future. The Conservative members of Parliament who resigned will join a new 'Independent Group' of lawmakers formed earlier this week by eight legislators who quit the opposition Labour Party. The creation of a small but potentially powerful independent bloc of 11 - now composed of moderate rebels from both parties - suggests that seismic forces are at work in British politics."
'America first' increasingly looks like America alone (Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2019)
"Germany's outgoing chancellor, Angela Merkel, finally said what she thinks of President Trump. Without using Trump's name, she described his 'America first' foreign policy as one of ignoring allies and promoting nationalism - and noted that Germany tried that before World War II with catastrophic results. 'Pieces of the classic, familiar order … are falling apart,' she said. 'We cannot just smash it. We need to cooperate.' The best course, she said, is to 'stick with multilateralism - which was the lesson of the Second World War.'
The mostly European audience gave her a standing ovation. Ivanka Trump, who listened stone-faced, did not stand."
NEW: $32 to cross the Golden Gate Bridge? Settlement with Hertz puts an end to that (Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2019)
"Those who drove a Hertz rental car across the Golden Gate Bridge and then discovered that the company charged them as much as $32 for the pleasure won’t face that kind of bill anymore after a $3.65-million settlement with the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, announced Tuesday. The suit, filed in March 2017, stemmed from the use of PlatePass, a device included in some Hertz rental cars that allows tolls to be assessed electronically. Consumers often had sticker shock when they returned the car because using one toll road triggered a use fee for each day the car was rented, not just the days on which a toll road was driven. Service fees were often added."
Google says the built-in microphone it never told Nest users about was 'never supposed to be a secret' (Business Insider, February 19, 2019)
"For Google, the revelation is particularly problematic and brings to mind previous privacy controversies, such as the 2010 incident in which the company acknowledged that its fleet of Street View cars 'accidentally' collected personal data transmitted over consumers' unsecured WiFi networks, including emails."
The Wall Street Journal argues Trump may have committed too many crimes to be investigated (Daily KOS, February 19, 2019)
"There are few sources of hypocrisy as constant and resilient as the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. While that publication’s news division is among the world’s best, its opinion and editorial pages are nearly always drawn from the darkest cesspool of the American right wing. Their function, through careful, constant repetition, is to convince the Journal’s upscale, self-regarding readership that the American left poses a serious and mortal threat to their continued, uninterrupted accumulation of wealth."
Inside a long-shot plan to buy a never-opened nuclear plant and sell its power to a single customer (Daily Memphian, February 19, 2019)
"Employing a business model he would replicate to enormous success throughout the South, Franklin Haney convinced the government to finance his construction with tax-free bonds. As owner of the office complex, he rented it back to the government at enormous profit.
The businessman snickers as he recalls how the IRS eventually amended its rules to terminate the use of tax-free financing for private buildings leased to the government – the 'Haney Rule,' he calls it. He remains unapologetic about his uncanny vision to find profit in government work. 'If you’re not rich when you’re born you’ve got to either steal it, marry it or get a government lease.'"
The Secret Economic Genius Behind the Green New Deal. (The Atlantic, February 19, 2019)
"He’s a precocious New Yorker with immigrant roots: Alexander Hamilton."
Flynn pushed to share nuclear tech with Saudis, report says (Associated Press, February 19, 2019)
"Senior White House officials pushed a project to share nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia despite the objections of ethics and national security officials, according to a new congressional report citing whistle-blowers within the administration. Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns that Saudi Arabia could develop nuclear weapons if the U.S. technology were transferred without proper safeguards.
The Democratic-led House oversight committee opened an investigation Tuesday into the claims by several unnamed whistle-blowers who said they witnessed 'abnormal acts' in the White House regarding the proposal to build dozens of nuclear reactors across the Middle Eastern kingdom. The report raises concerns about whether some in a White House marked by 'chaos, dysfunction and backbiting' sought to circumvent national security procedures to push a Saudi deal that could financially benefit close supporters of the president."
Andrew McCabe Couldn’t Believe the Things Trump Said About Putin (The Atlantic, February 19, 2019)
"The former deputy director of the FBI explains why the bureau felt obligated to investigate the president - and how the Mueller probe might end."
Ivanka Sits In Stunned Silence As Angela Merkel Shreds Daddy's Trade War With Europe (Daily KOS, February 18, 2019)
"Apparently, the American secretary of trade says German cars are a threat to America's national security. We're proud of our automotive industry, and, I think we can be, we're proud of our cars. They are built in the United States of America. South Carolina is one of the largest, it's actually the largest BMW plant. Not in Bavaria. South Carolina is supplying China.
So when these cars that, because they're built in South Carolina, are not becoming less threatening, rather than the ones that are built in Bavaria, are supposed to be a threat to the national security of America, it's a bit of a shock to us."
The Republican Party has become a cult (Daily KOS, February 18, 2019)
"One of the chief characteristics of a cult is their insistence on rejecting the research of scientists, investigative journalists and other experts, preferring to embrace the unsupported (and often illogical) proclamations of their cult leaders. Even when their cult leaders proclamations directly contradict what they said yesterday, the cult followers somehow manage to embrace the cult leaders new talking points without questioning how they could have changed so dramatically from one hour to the next."
Bring It On: Trump Flunky Lindsey Graham's Proposed Hearings Could Backfire, Proving Trump's Treason (Daily KOS, February 18, 2019)
"The hypnotic effects of cult worship have never been so clearly displayed as with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. In short order he went from a virulent opponent of Donald Trump to his most devoted sycophant in Congress. He literally described Trump as a 'kook' who is 'crazy' and 'unfit for office.' But after chugging what must have been gallons of Kool-Aid, Graham reversed himself with those very same words in the opposite context.
Now Graham is the newly installed chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a brand new compulsion to protect Trump from any and all criticism, while slandering those he perceives as the President's foes. That puts former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe in Graham's crosshairs."
Lawmakers launch new probe into 'complex web' of alleged ties between NRA, Russians (ABC News, February 18, 2019)
"House Democrats are launching a new probe of what they called the 'complex web of relationships' between members of the National Rifle Association and Russian individuals with close ties to the Kremlin."
Former acting FBI director ordered Russia investigation due to 'concern of national security threat' (Daily KOS, February 18, 2019)
"What a bonkers two years the world has endured since Donald Trump landed in the White House, despite losing the popular vote by millions of votes. Who could forget James Comey releasing his extremely inappropriate letter to the public, alerting voters that the FBI was taking a fresh look at old emails from Hillary Clinton associates, emails that turned out to be a big nothing burger, while at the same time never revealing that Donald Trump’s campaign was under investigation for colluding with foreign enemy No. 1, Russia. Without a doubt, those actions impacted the 2016 election."
Ex-FBI official: 'Crime may have been committed' by Trump (Associated Press, February 18, 2019)
"Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said in an interview that aired Sunday that a 'crime may have been committed' when President Donald Trump fired the head of the FBI and tried to publicly undermine an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia. McCabe also said in the interview with '60 Minutes' that the FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was in league with Russia, and therefore a possible national security threat, following the May 2017 firing of then-FBI Director James Comey."
Are we a democracy or are we a monarchy? (Daily KOS, February 17, 2019)
"Trump wants to get that wall. Trump needs to get that wall. And he's willing to destroy our democracy in order to do it."
Coalition of states sues Trump over national emergency to build border wall (Washington Post, February 17, 2019)
"The lawsuit, brought by 16 states, seeks a preliminary injunction that would prevent President Trump from acting on his declaration of a national emergency while the case plays out in the courts. The complaint immediately becomes the heavyweight among an outpouring of opposition to the declaration."
Mueller questions Cambridge Analytica director Brittany Kaiser (The Guardian, February 17, 2019)
"Damian Collins, chairman of UK parliament’s inquiry into fake news, said it was 'no surprise' that Kaiser was under scrutiny by Mueller because 'her work connected her to WikiLeaks, Cambridge Analytica and [its parent company] SCL, the Trump campaign, Leave.EU and Arron Banks'. He said it was now vital Britain had its own inquiry into foreign interference: 'We should not be leaving this to the Americans.'"
Republicans Hope to Sway Voters With Labels That Demonize Democrats (New York Times, February 17, 2019)
"In the 116th Congress, if you’re a Democrat, you're either a socialist, a baby killer or an anti-Semite. That, at least, is what Republicans want voters to think, as they seek to demonize Democrats well in advance of the 2020 elections by painting them as left-wing crazies who will destroy the American economy, murder newborn babies and turn a blind eye to bigotry against Jews.
The unusually aggressive assault, which Republican officials and strategists outlined in interviews last week, is meant to strangle the new Democratic majority in its infancy. It was set in motion this month by President Trump, who used his State of the Union address to rail against 'new calls to adopt socialism in our country' and mischaracterize legislation backed by Democrats in New York and Virginia as allowing 'a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments before birth.'"
Trump goes full dictator again, calls for "retribution" against Saturday Night Live (Daily KOS, February 17, 2019)
"I had to read this twice to believe it. The president of the United States has called for 'retribution' against a media outlet for daring to criticize him. Let there be no mistake about it - Trump has announced in capital letters that he does not believe in the First Amendment."
We must methodically take our wealth back from the super-rich - before it's too late (Daily KOS, February 17, 2019)
"Many think that when anyone criticizes the super rich - specifically the multimillionaires and the billionaires - that it stems from nothing more than wealth envy. While that may be true for a few who themselves were unable to attain that feat, for most it is about equity and fairness."
Pope Defrocks Theodore McCarrick, Ex-Cardinal Accused of Sexual Abuse (New York Times, February 16, 2019)
"The move appears to be the first time any cardinal has been defrocked for sexual abuse - marking a critical moment in the Vatican’s handling of a scandal that has gripped the church. It is also the first time an American cardinal has been removed from the priesthood."
Noam Chomsky: Those who failed to recognize Trump as the greater evil made ‘a bad mistake’ (Raw Story, February 16, 2019)
Democrats on ‘reassurance tour’ for European allies worried about Trump (Washington Post, February 16, 2019)
"Even Graham, a security hawk in line with McCain, has become a close ally of Trump in the past year. He has cheered on some actions - such as the national emergency declaration to try to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall - that traditionalist conservatives have rejected as a power grab.
It’s left a sense of confusion in Europe. On Friday, as he began his remarks in Munich, Vice President Pence said: 'I bring greetings' from Trump. The audience just remained silent, not cheering, not jeering.
All that has made the Democratic voices, from the chairmen to the newcomers, a sought-after commodity for understanding what course the United States is charting."
Trump’s Attempt to Circumvent Congress Leaves Uneasy Senate Republicans With Hard Choice (New York Times, February 16, 2019)
"On Friday, President Trump mounted one of the most serious executive branch challenges to congressional authority in decades, circumventing Congress with an emergency declaration. It would allow him to unilaterally divert billions of dollars to a border wall and presented his Republican allies on Capitol Hill, who labored on a legislative compromise, with the excruciating choice of either defending their institution or bowing to his whims.
The president’s move left Senate Republicans sharply divided, and it remains to be seen whether they will act collectively to try to stop Mr. Trump or how far into uncharted territory they are willing to follow a headstrong president operating with no road map beyond his own demands."
The War That Wasn’t: Trump Claims Obama Was Ready to Strike North Korea (New York Times, February 16, 2019)
"Wait a minute - don’t remember Mr. Obama’s near-war with North Korea? Neither do the people who were working for Mr. Obama at the time. But President Trump has been telling audiences lately that his predecessor was on the precipice of an all-out confrontation with the nuclear-armed maverick state."
A fuming Trump told aides to find a way to fund wall without Congress (Washington Post, February 16, 2019)
"The emergency declaration followed months of intense internal deliberations between the White House Counsel’s Office, Justice Department, Office of Management and Budget, lawmakers and the president."
Fact-checking President Donald Trump's claims about a national emergency (Politifact, February 15, 2019)
"Highly-distorted to outright false."
Donald Trump's rambling emergency announcement was an hour of absolute insanity (Daily KOS, February 15, 2019)
"Trump stumbled out of the White House, apparently breathless and confused, and opened by fumbling around about trade negotiations in China, but had nothing really to report on those other than 'who knows' if anything would actually be done. Then he wandered around the world, talking about the UK, Syria, North Korea … anything but getting to the point. And then, without any transition, he began talking about the border, then the economy, then the stock market, then the border again. Then he smiled and chuckled over the joys of his El Paso rally, then he zigged to Israel, then he genuinely fell into his fantasy of women, 'three, four women,' being tied up in the back of a van with tape over their mouths. Yes, Trump's emergency declaration included his women-with-tape-on-their-mouths fantasy, and Trump insisted that 'Nancy knows, and Chuck knows' that these women won't be coming through ports of entry. Finally, in words that will surely ring through history, Trump declared, 'So, I’m going to be signing a national emergency, it's been signed many times before,' before going on to claim that it was no big deal, and nothing to make a fuss about."
NEW: Weedkiller 'raises risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41%' (The Guardian, February 14, 2019)
"Study says evidence ‘supports link’ between exposure to glyphosate and increased risk."
Trump ripped his 'national emergency' move straight from the playbook of dictator Ferdinand Marcos (Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2019)
"As fellow narcissists risking constitutional showdowns for personal political advantage, their similarities are alarming enough to justify a closer look."
‘Off the rails’: Inside Trump’s attempt to claim victory in his border wall defeat (Washington Post, February 14, 2019)
"Several top White House officials said they were hoping to keep whatever emerged from Congress as a congressional product and something the president could later dismiss as inadequate as he seeks to rally his core voters for his 2020 reelection campaign, as he did Monday at a rally in El Paso. 'There's power in that,' said Marc Short, Trump’s former White House legislative affairs director. 'It's under-reported how being able to run against D.C. and Congress as an outsider helped him in 2016, and he can make that case again.'"
Trump's 'national emergency' just played the Democrats for suckers (Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2019)
Congress passes bill to avert shutdown as Trump vows to declare national emergency to build wall (Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2019)
NEW: Andrew G. McCabe: Every Day Is a New Low in Trump's White House (The Atlantic, February 14, 2019)
"The president steps over bright ethical and moral lines wherever he encounters them. Everyone in America saw it when he fired my boss. But I saw it firsthand time and time again.
People do not appreciate how far we have fallen from normal standards of presidential accountability. Today we have a president who is willing not only to comment prejudicially on criminal prosecutions but to comment on ones that potentially affect him. He does both of these things almost daily. He is not just sounding a dog whistle. He is lobbying for a result. Every day brings a new low, with the president exposing himself as a deliberate liar who will say whatever he pleases to get whatever he wants."
NEW: Fact-checking claim that Mitch McConnell's 'biggest donor' is sanctioned Russian oligarch (Politifact, February 14, 2019)
NEW: Why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s lesson in dark money is the most-watched political video (The Guardian, February 14, 2019)
"A clip in which the congresswoman asks ethics experts about government corruption has been viewed 40 million times."
Anti-Semitism has spread through the Islamic world like a cancer (Washington Post, February 14, 2019)
"In 2014, the Anti-Defamation League did a survey in more than 100 countries of attitudes toward Jews and found that anti-Semitism was twice as common among Muslims than among Christians, and it’s far more prevalent in the Middle East than the Americas. It has sometimes tragically gone beyond feelings, morphing into terrorist attacks against Jews, even children, in countries such as France.
It might surprise people to know that it wasn’t always this way. In fact, through much of history, the Muslim Middle East was hospitable to Jews when Christian Europe was killing or expelling them. The great historian Bernard Lewis once said to me, 'People often note that in the late 1940s and 1950s, hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Arab countries. They rarely ask why so many Jews were living in those lands in the first place.'"
Beto O'Rourke's Full Speech at the February 11th Celebration of El Paso (YouTube, February 13, 2019)
"10,000 residents rally against Trump's border-wall visit."
NEW: NASA's InSight Prepares to Take Mars' Temperature (NASA, February 13, 2019)
"Equipped with a self-hammering spike, the instrument will burrow up to 16 feet (5 meters) below the surface, deeper than any previous mission to the Red Planet. For comparison, NASA's Viking 1 lander scooped 8.6 inches (22 centimeters) down. The agency's Phoenix lander, a cousin of InSight, scooped 7 inches (18 centimeters) down."
Heaviest rain, strongest wind and coldest temperature: Snow in Hawaii follows a year of extreme weather (Washington Post, February 12, 2019)
"Highlighting the state’s year of wild weather: A U.S. rainfall record, nearly 50 inches in 24 hours."
If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set. (Democratic Underground, February 12, 2019)
"In Britain, we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist. Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that. He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat. He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.
And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully. That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a sniveling sidekick, instead."
(There's more. Also see the US version.)

Proposed US Migrant Shelter May Be Polluted, Green Group Warns (Voice Of America, February 12, 2019)
"'If allowed to happen, approximately 7,500 migrant children will be detained in an area contaminated with lead, arsenic, benzene, PFAS, and myriad other harmful chemicals associated with increased risk of cancer and permanent neurodevelopmental damage,' the Earthjustice report said."

McConnell says Senate will vote on ‘Green New Deal’ as he seeks to portray Democrats as radical (Washington Post, February 12, 2019)
"By bringing the legislation up for a vote, the majority leader will force Democrats to take a position on a plan that is increasingly a target of attacks by President Trump and other Republicans."
The Senate just passed the decade’s biggest public lands package. Here’s what’s in it. (Washington Post, February 12, 2019)
"The bipartisan measure would create more than 1.3 million acres of wilderness out West, add three national park units and expand eight others."
Lawmakers say they have reached an ‘agreement in principle’ to avoid government shutdown (Washington Post, February 12, 2019)
"At a rally in El Paso on Monday night, Trump told a crowd of supporters that he was briefed on the conference committee’s progress as he was walking onstage. 'Just so you know - we’re building the wall anyway,' Trump declared to the audience.
And Trump defended the ­record-long 35-day government shutdown that ended late last month - even though polling suggests voters largely blamed him for the impasse. 'If we didn’t do that shutdown, we would not have been able to show this country, these politicians, the world, what the hell is happening with the border. That was a very important thing we did,' Trump said.
The discussions are the first major political test for Democrats and Republicans after the last government shutdown froze the paychecks of 800,000 federal workers. A partial shutdown could have a broad impact on the country. Funding lapses would go beyond DHS to hit a number of other federal departments, including the Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Agriculture and Interior departments, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Internal Revenue Service."
White woman tells black cop he’ll get a visit from the KKK after he busts her for drunk driving (Raw Story, February 11, 2019)
Bezos, the National Enquirer, the Saudis, Trump, and the blackmailing of U.S. democracy (Philadelphia Inquirer, February 10, 2019)
"A nation founded in the ideals of democracy has been increasingly fallen prey to a new dystopian regime that melds the new 21st century dark arts of illegal hacking and media manipulation with the oldest tricks in the book: blackmail and extortion."
What happens when billionaires battle gossipmongers? Prepare for explosions. (Washington Post, February 9, 2019)
"Theirs is a tale of two billionaires - Jeffrey P. Bezos of fame and Peter Thiel, who birthed PayPal. So different in style and temperament, the two men have each found their sex lives splashed in public against their wills in separate tabloid 'gotchas.' But they have tangled with the merchants of salacity in completely opposite ways."
Jeff Bezos' civic lesson in how to defuse fear in Trump times (Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2019)
"In a supernova flash, the post illuminated Trumpworld's whole modus operandi. There it is - the daft gangsterism, the tabloid ribaldry, the media attacks. And less amusingly: deals by Americans to cover for unseemly foreign powers. In Trump times, learning to defuse fear is a civic lesson for a populace that has just been through the president's brinkmanship over the border wall: 'If your elected representatives don't give me $5.7 billion to prosecute my xenophobic fantasies, I'll shut the country down."
US Senators ask DHS to look into US government workers using foreign VPNs (ZDnet, February 8, 2019)
"Senators alarmed that US government workers may be sending sensitive traffic to China or Russia."
Matthew Whitaker's Bizarre Congressional Testimony Contained a Trump Easter Egg (Rolling Stone, February 8, 2019)
"Trump's attorney general nominee made a statement about the president the Mueller investigation that may come back to bite him."

Inside the Spy Scandal at the Heart of Jeff Bezos' War With the National Enquirer (Observer, February 8, 2019)
"The Amazon CEO is more than hinting that Riyadh is mixed up in AMI activities in a nefarious way, something which Pecker is desperate to obscure. If Saudi intelligence possesses the ability to intercept text messages inside the United States, that may be the key to this mystery."
Jeff Bezos' Damning Medium Post Pulls Back the Curtain on Something Much Larger (Rolling Stone, February 8, 2019)
"The Amazon CEO's dick-pic-blackmail story about the 'National Enquirer' might, in the end, involve President Trump."
Jeff Bezos Has Maybe Outdone The Great Carol Burnett (Daily KOS, February 8, 2019)
"She was smart, talented, funny and it turns out tough as nails. She was still hugely well known and popular in 1976 when the National Enquirer (a scumball rag even then) chose to slander her, claiming she ran around a restaurant (where Henry Kissinger was also dining - a way to hype their 'story') in a drunken state. Trashing celebrities has always been their stock in trade. But they made a mistake in taking on Burnett. Carol Burnett sued the National Enquirer. And won. The original judgement awarded $300,000 in compensatory damages and 1.3 million in punitive damages for a total of 1.6 million."
(The article's Comments thread makes great reading, too.)
Jeff Bezos (Amazon): 'No thank you, Mr. Pecker' (National Enquirer) (Medium, February 7, 2019)
The Mueller investigation has sprouted. Therein lies the jeopardy for Trump. (Washington Post, February 7, 2019)
"What started as an FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has spawned multiple investigations of other possible crimes. And that increases the legal exposure for Trump."
Trump keeps complaining about ‘presidential harassment’ - which is actually just ‘oversight’ (Washington Post, February 7, 2019)
Democrats go bold on economic plans, a deliberate contrast to 2016 (Los Angeles Times, February  7, 2019)
Today’s Earth looks a lot like it did 115,000 years ago. All we’re missing is massive sea level rise. (Washington Post, February 6, 2019)
"New research suggests the planet is already paralleling the most recent major warm period in its past. Now the only question is how fast Antarctica could collapse."
The glaring hole in Trump’s State of the Union address: Climate change (Washington Post, February 6, 2019)
"President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night zigzagged between paeans to unity and sops to his hardcore base. He eulogized World War II soldiers and then wheeled on immigrants and leftist rivals at home. But absent amid the nativist demagoguery and partisan jockeying was any reference to the threat looming above all others: climate change. That’s no surprise. Trump is an avowed climate skeptic who casts environmentalist efforts as challenges to American sovereignty, not ways to stave off a planet-wide disaster."
Trump delivered the Eddie Haskell State of the Union (E.J. Dionne, February 6, 2019)
Fact Checking the State of the Union (Fact Check, February 6,  2019)
"The president strayed from the facts, mainly on immigration and the economy."
Almost All U.S. Teens Falling Short on Sleep, Exercise (U.S. News, February 5, 2019)
"The study found that only 5 percent were meeting experts' recommendations on three critical health habits: sleep,exercise, and time spent gazing at digital media and television."
N//M to withdraw National Guard from Mexican border (Albequerque Journal, February 5, 2019)
"I reject the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border, along which are some of the safest communities in the country. However, I recognize and appreciate the legitimate concerns of residents and officials in southwestern New Mexico, particularly Hidalgo County, who have asked for our assistance, as migrants and asylum-seekers continue to appear at their doorsteps."
Trump’s State of the Union gave us the same old polarizing demagoguery - at great length (Washington Post, February 5, 2019)
"Having been forced to delay his State of the Union address by a government shutdown that he precipitated, President Trump seemed as though he might never yield the podium once he got his chance Tuesday night. In a speech that reflected endurance if not eloquence, Mr. Trump offered a thin sheen of 'unity' over large helpings of the same old polarizing demagoguery.
'We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions,' Mr. Trump declared. If those were truly his goals, he would have committed not to declare a phony state of emergency in order to build his wall against congressional wishes. He would not have recycled at great length his inflammatory and false portrayal of a 'tremendous onslaught' of illegal immigrants. He would not have slandered the governor of Virginia as having pledged to 'execute' newborn babies, and he would not have made the absurd and nervous-sounding claim that 'ridiculous partisan investigations' threaten national prosperity and security."
Sharing the State of the Union spotlight, Pelosi softly makes her own statement (Washington Post, February 5, 2019)
"Pelosi’s guests, announced by her office Tuesday afternoon, include two active-duty transgender Army officers - an implicit critique of Trump’s decision to implement a ban on transgender servicemembers - and survivors of last February’s mass shooting at a Florida high school, a protest of the Republican stance against stricter gun control. Also attending as Pelosi’s guest is Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood’s new president, who is set to appear amid a new uproar over Democratic state lawmakers’ attempts to expand abortion rights in New York and Virginia."
Trump will call for ‘unity’ tonight. It’s a scam, and here’s the proof. (Washington Post, February 5, 2019)
"It’s one of the most dispiriting rituals that attend State of the Union addresses in the Trump era: White House advisers piously promise us that President Trump will issue new calls for unity and bipartisan comity, and for reasons that remain baffling, far too many observers then feel obliged to pretend that these soothing exhortations are real.
But this time around, there’s just no excuse for playing along. That’s because we’ve already seen what happens in the real world after Trump stands before Congress and carries out his unity routine - not once, but twice."
We may finally see Trump’s tax returns, and Republicans are panicking (Washington Post, February 5, 2019)
"Washington is terribly divided these days, but there is at least one thing everyone - the Trump administration, members of Congress from both parties, journalists, cabdrivers - clearly agrees on: If the public ever got to see President Trump’s tax returns, it would be utterly disastrous for him.
Though they haven’t done it yet, Democrats are planning to utilize a law allowing the House Ways and Means Committee to obtain any American’s tax returns to demand that the IRS turn them over. Once they have them, the committee can vote to release them to the entire House. Terrified of that prospect, the administration is preparing to do everything in its power to keep it from happening."
Trump inaugural committee suspected of conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud and money laundering, subpoena indicates (Yahoo, February 5, 2019)
Fire chief charged with pulling gun on Boy Scout who had placed flyer on South Whitehall home (Morning Call PA, February 5, 2019)
Countries With Zero Rating Have More Expensive Wireless Broadband Than Countries Without It (Electronic Freedom Foundation, February 5, 2019)
"The entire wireless industry knows from their own studies that zero rating drives their customers to prefer zero rated content over alternatives. Hence zero rating serves as a powerful means for ISPs to pick winners and losers and shape consumers’ Internet experience. EFF raised these concerns specifically regarding the AT&T merger with Time Warner–HBO, where we predicted the ISP network would self-deal with its newly acquired content to the disadvantage of alternative video providers - which is exactly what it did."
The North Magnetic Pole’s Mysterious Journey Across the Arctic (New York Times, February 4, 2019)
"Scientists accelerated the update of a model of Earth’s fluctuating magnetic field, which is needed to keep navigational systems functioning. The north magnetic pole, the point on the Earth where a compass needle would point down, is sliding about 35 miles closer to Russia each year. Many wonder what’s happening inside the planet’s core."
Trump's wall bulldozers have arrived at Texas' National Butterfly Center (Daily KOS, February 4, 2019)
First signs of border wall construction spotted at National Butterfly Center (San Antonio TX Express-News, February 4, 2019)
"The existing funding will pay for 33 miles of new fencing in the Rio Grande Valley, including 6 miles that are under contract near McAllen, including the stretch through the butterfly center. The steel-and-concrete bollard fencing will cut off 70 of the sanctuary’s 100 acres, with gates for access."
Path to Trump’s Border Wall Narrows as Republicans Balk at Emergency Declaration (New York Times, February 4, 2019)
"As he prepares to make his case to the largest national audience of the year, Mr. Trump appeared to be in an increasingly precarious position, unable to sway the wider public to his cause and unwilling, at least so far, to apply the persuasion and compromise that have gotten previous presidents out of political jams. Anxiety over the damage being inflicted on the party is growing."
Trump Inaugural Committee Ordered to Hand Over Documents to Federal Investigators (New York Times, February 4, 2019)
"A lawyer working with President Trump's inaugural committee received a subpoena on Monday evening seeking documents related to all of the committee’s donors and event attendees; any benefits handed out, including tickets and photo opportunities with the president; federal disclosure filings; vendors; contracts; and more, one of the people said. Prosecutors also showed interest in whether any foreigners illegally donated to the committee, as well as whether committee staff knew that such donations were illegal, asking for documents laying out legal requirements for donations. Federal law prohibits foreign contributions to federal campaigns, political action committees and inaugural funds."

Trump's 'willful ignorance' towards his intelligence community (MSNBC, February 4, 2019)
Insider leaks Trump's "Executive Time"-filled private schedules (Axios, February 3, 2019)
Trump has spent around 60% of his scheduled time over the past 3 months in unstructured 'Executive Time'."
'We must retrain people's minds to be human first': A pastor weighs in on Trump's politics of fear (Daily KOS, February 2, 2019)
"White evangelicals love Donald Trump. Given that his words, actions, and policy stances are the very opposite of Christ-like, this is both bizarre and disturbing. Nonetheless, Trump consistently enjoys a more than 70 percent approval rating among this demographic group."
Why Trump likely erased protections from the legal definitions of domestic violence/sexual assault (Daily KOS, February 2, 2019)
Google Play apps with >4.3 million downloads stole pics and pushed porn ads (Ars Technica, February 1, 2019)
"The 29 apps concealed their malice and were hard for many infected users to uninstall.
Some apps falsely promised to allow users to 'beautify' their pictures by uploading them to a designated server. Instead of delivering an edited photo, however, the server provided a picture with a fake update prompt in nine different languages. The apps made it possible for the developers to collect the uploaded photos, possibly for use in fake profile pics or for other malicious purposes. The developers took pains to prevent users from detecting what was happening."
NEW: Trump’s Cabinet is So Corrupt, Polluters Don’t Even Need Lobbyists Any More (Daily KOS, February 1, 2019)
"Despite campaigning with a promise to 'drain the swamp,' Trump has since his first day in office appointed numerous lobbyists to run the federal government, including Andrew Wheeler at the EPA and David Bernhardt at Interior. Basically everyone was suspicious about whether these appointees would serve the public or their former employers - and rightfully so. While these lobbyists could use their deep understanding of the regulatory system and industry they’re regulating to protect the public and environment, that hasn’t been the way things played out."
NEW: From Celebrated to Vilified, House’s Muslim Women Absorb Blows Over Israel (New York Times, February 1, 2019)
"Four weeks later, their uncompromising views on Israel have made them perhaps the most embattled new members of the Democratic House majority. Almost daily, Republicans brashly accuse Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar of anti-Semitism and bigotry, hoping to make them the Democrats' version of Representative Steve King as they try to tar the entire Democratic Party with their criticism of the Jewish state."
Why the shutdown didn’t tank the January jobs report (Washington Post, February 1, 2019)
Cable-TV company is planning a 20% fee hike for local channels as pay-TV customers dwindle (Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2019)
"'I’m looking into alternatives,' Hartman said. 'What do you think of satellite?'
Different technology, same business model.
My advice is to cut the cord and stream content via a broadband internet connection."
U.S. announces withdrawal from major nuclear arms treaty with Russia (Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2019)
"The American withdrawal had been expected for months. It follows years of unresolved dispute over Russian compliance with the 1987 pact, which bans certain ground-launched cruise missiles. Russia denies violating the treaty. Pompeo said the U.S. will suspend its obligations to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty on Saturday. He said that if Russia doesn't come into compliance, the treaty 'will terminate.'
U.S. officials also have expressed concern that China, which isn't part of the treaty, is deploying large numbers of missiles in Asia that the U.S. can't counter because it's bound by the treaty."
European colonisation of the Americas killed 10% of world population and caused global cooling (The Conversation, January 31, 2019)
"While Europe was in the early days of the Renaissance, there were empires in the Americas sustaining more than 60 million people. But the first European contact in 1492 brought diseases to the Americas which devastated the native population, and the resultant collapse of farming in the Americas was so significant that it may have even cooled the global climate."
The fascinating backstory of the periodic table, which is about to turn 150 years old (Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2019)
White House Abruptly Canceled Trump’s Meeting With Intel Chiefs (Daily Beast, January 31, 2019)
"The cancellation came a day after CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, along with a number of other senior intelligence officials, discussed their assessment of national security threats in a way that undermined a number of Trump’s recent claims. In an open session before the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday, Haspel said Iran is currently complying with the terms of the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump has called a foreign policy disaster. Coats, meanwhile, said that ISIS remains a threat - a statement that appears at odds with Trump’s assertions that the U.S. has defeated ISIS in Syria.
The next morning, the White House canceled the president’s daily briefing as Trump lambasted his intelligence chiefs on Twitter over their congressional testimony. By Thursday, Trump’s tone had changed, at least publicly. He met with Haspel, Coats, and Deputy Director of National Intelligence Edward Gistaro in the Oval Office that afternoon, tweeting a picture of their conversation. He also blamed the media for making it appear that they had contradicted him in their congressional testimony."
Trump, in Interview, Calls Wall Talks ‘Waste of Time’ and Dismisses Investigations (New York Times, January 31, 2019)
"Mr. Trump made no mention of closing the government again, a move that backfired on him, but instead suggested he plans to declare a national emergency to build the wall."
Lawmakers introduce bill to withhold pay from Congress, president during shutdowns (WCVB News, January 30, 2019)
"This legislation will help prevent the American people from being political pawns for party leaders and help return sanity to the task of funding the government. The Solidarity in Salary Act of 2019 would place the pay of the president, vice president and members of Congress into escrow for each day of a shutdown."
NEW: Paths to Putin (The Network Thinkers, January 29, 2019)
"In most of our networks, whether it is with colleagues or friends, we want to be as close to others as possible. We want many direct relationships, and if those are not possible, then we want to keep our network paths as short as possible. Yet, in covert networks, the schemers do not want to have direct ties between the main parties. They do not want to show an obvious and direct quid pro quo. They want indirect paths so that they can have plausible deniability, or intermediaries they can blame, when a conspiracy is exposed."
The Media Cannot Talk About One Fundamental Truth Regarding Mueller's Investigation. (Daily KOS, January 29, 2019)
"Take absolutely nothing from the fact that not a single American has been indicted on the conspiracy, yet. Nothing. Nada. Zip.
Robert Mueller has to 'price-in' the fact that if - and when, ‘cause it’s comin’ - he files something that directly links someone close to the president with conspiring against the United States, he might have one hour left on the job."
Trump always dismisses climate change when it's cold. Not so fast, experts say. (Washington Post, January 29, 2019)
"Millions of Americans are bracing for a life-threatening cold snap. Flights are grounded. Schools are closed. At one Chicago zoo, only polar bears will be allowed outside."
Arctic Weather Plunges into North America (NASA, January 29, 2019)
Gone in a Generation (Washington Post, January 29, 2019)
"Across America, climate change is already disrupting lives."
Apple has disabled group FaceTime calls after it was humiliated on Data Privacy Day by a bug that lets people listen in on you (Business Insider, January 29, 2019)
"The bug allows an iPhone or iPad user to secretly hear what someone else is saying before that person answers the call."
PG&E files for bankruptcy. Electricity prices are likely to rise for millions of Californians (Los Angeles Times, January 29, 2019)
"PG&E says a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, which will allow the company to continue operating while it comes up with a plan to reorganize its debts, is the only way to deal with billions of dollars in potential liabilities from a series of deadly wildfires, many of which were sparked by the company’s infrastructure. A bankruptcy filing 'is ultimately the only viable option to restore PG&E’s financial stability to fund ongoing operations and provide safe service to customers,' the company told the Securities and Exchange Commission this month.
State lawmakers will have no formal role in the process, but some PG&E critics have called for the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom to break up the company into smaller pieces or convert it to a public entity. San Francisco officials have said they will study the possibility of acquiring PG&E’s electrical infrastructure in the city.
Financial pressure has been mounting on PG&E since October 2017, when a series of wildfires ravaged Northern California, killing 44 people. State investigators determined that PG&E’s equipment sparked or contributed to more than a dozen of those fires, which killed 22 people. The company’s crisis only grew with the November 2018 Camp fire, which killed 86 people and destroyed most of the town of Paradise. The utility company’s stock has lost more than 80% of its value since the 2017 fires broke out, and its credit rating has been downgraded to junk status.
The Chairman of the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee lamented the bankruptcy filing: 'The impacts to fire victims and ratepayers may be severe. Our goal all along was to protect the most vulnerable, but now the Bankruptcy Court will be managing the future of PG&E and its creditors, including the damages of fire victims for which the utility is deemed responsible.'
PG&E has blamed its wildfire costs, in part, on climate change, which scientists say is contributing to bigger and hotter fires in California and across the Western United States."
Democrats’ 2020 presidential contest is wide open as danger mounts for Trump, new poll shows (Washington Post, January 29, 2019)
If Trump Wants Another Shutdown, Republicans Won’t Stop Him (Bloomberg, January 29, 2019)
"The GOP didn’t prepare for the last one and took a political beating. History is repeating itself."
Clemson’s Black Players Refused to Accept Donald Trump’s Invitation to the McCookout (The Root, January 29, 2019)
Online travel agencies, supermarkets, laptops: The hidden monopolies that may cost you money (Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2019)
"Sometimes the secret isn’t shared ownership, but shared technology or a shared supply chain. You may consider yourself a MacBook aficionado or a Windows PC person, but there’s a good chance your laptop is manufactured in China by Quanta Computer, a hardware maker that counts among its clients Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Alienware (a subsidiary of Dell), Lenovo and Toshiba, among many other brands."
The Secrets of Lyndon Johnson’s Archives (New Yorker, January 28, 2018)
"On a Presidential paper trail."
Does Journalism Have a Future?, by Jill Lepore (New Yorker, January 28, 2018)
"In an era of social media and fake news, journalists who have survived the print plunge have new foes to face."
Howard Schultz Gets Shouted Down At Book Event: ‘Don’t Help Elect Trump!’ (Daily Beast, January 28, 2019)
Trump brags that he goaded Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz into running for president because it will 'help him' (Raw Story, January 28, 2019)
Howard Schultz Blames Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for His Decision to Run as Independent (Daily Beast, January 28, 2019)
(Because she would tax his $3.4Billon...)
Mitch McConnell reportedly linked to Putin, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Russian companies (Daily KOS, January 28, 2019)
Mueller's case against Roger Stone is open and shut (Daily KOS, January 28, 2019)
The Fox News knives come out for Ann Coulter after her disastrous order to shut down the government (Daily KOS, January 28, 2019)
Republican senators all disclaim shutdown as a really bad idea that totally wasn't their fault (Daily KOS, January 28, 2019)
Shutdown Damage Will Persist Long After U.S. Government Reopens (Bloomberg, January 28, 2019)
"Many fire crews missed their window for controlled burns to prevent wildfires. Irreplaceable relics may have been damaged in unguarded national parks. Science experiments were abandoned. And a generation of talent may now think twice about signing up for government, while workers returning to a month of unopened emails and missed meetings will have to decide which of their priorities to sacrifice this year. And there’s the threat it could happen all over again."
Border Patrol urgently seeking evidence that Trump's mouth-tape fantasy is grounded in reality (Daily KOS, January 28, 2019)
"In her newscast Monday, January 28, 2019, Rachel Maddow described how Trump’s claims exactly matched scenes in the 2018 fictional film 'Sicario: Day of the Soldado', including women duct-taped and abducted, smugglers with supercars, and 'prayer rugs in the desert'. Rachel Maddow's report on this begins at the 18:30 mark of her show, linked here:"
Trump's Approach to Governing? A Utah man nails it accurately! (Daily KOS, January 27, 2019)
U.S., Canadian Jets Scrambled To Escort Russian Bombers Away From North American Coastline (Radio Free Europe, January 27, 2019)
Millions of Americans Believe God Made Trump President (Politico, January 27, 2019)
"From early in Trump’s presidential candidacy, his biggest religious supporters - indeed, his only religious supporters for a while - were charismatic Christians like pastors Paula White and Darrell Scott. They were drawn to Trump, and he to them, because of their embrace of the prosperity gospel. Also sometimes referred to as 'health and wealth' theology, this belief holds that God rewards faith with good health and financial success. By those very simple metrics, a billionaire like Donald Trump, whether his fortune came from family, scams or a higher power, must be a very faithful man."
Trump ordered 15,000 new border and immigration officers - but got thousands of vacancies instead (Los Angeles Times, January 27, 2019)
"And shutdown jitters will probably make recruiting even harder."
Trump golf club fired 10 workers living in the U.S. illegally, lawyer says (NBC News, January 27, 2019)
"'The only thing I did wrong was work, work and work,' one of the former employees said."
NEW: Here’s an Especially Terrifying New Danger from the Rise in Wildfires (Mother Jones, January 27, 2019)
They can spawn their own thunderstorms, a phenomenon scientists believe can spark additional blazes far away.
Glacial melts in the Canadian Arctic reveal land that hasn't been seen in more than 40,000 years (Business Insider, January 25, 2019)
"Researchers  believe the Canadian Arctic is experiencing its warmest century of the past 115,000 years."
NEW: The Trump administration tells its ... um ... biggest lie to date (Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2019)
"Why would the white House go to such efforts to create a lie out of a truthful image? Well, the easy answer is because that's what they do over there at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the nation's home of alternative facts. The president himself uttered at least 8,158 lies or misleading statements in the first two years of his presidency, according to the Washington Post's tracker.
And the president's press office has had its own struggles with the truth, from Sean Spicer's claims of crowd sizes at the inauguration - an atrocious lie before the administration even really got started - to Sarah Huckabee Sanders' routine shadings of reality."
Trump Agrees to Reopen Government for 3 Weeks in Surprise Retreat From Wall (New York Times, January 25, 2019)
"The surprise announcement was a remarkable surrender for a president who made the wall his nonnegotiable condition for reopening the government. Mr. Trump relented as the effects of the shutdown rippled across the Northeast, with effects far beyond paychecks, such as air traffic slowing Friday because of a shortage of air traffic controllers, who called in sick. The F.B.I. director said he was as angry as he had ever been over his agents not being paid, and workers at the Internal Revenue Service called in sick."
Trump announces deal for government to reopen for three weeks, ending longest shutdown; no money for his border wall (Washington Post, January 25, 2019)
"President Trump on Friday announced a deal with congressional leaders to temporarily reopen the government while talks continue on his demand for border wall money, handing Democrats a major victory in the protracted standoff."
Instead of visiting White House during DC trip, Warriors meet with Barack Obama (San Francisco Chronicle, January 25, 2019)
Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax proposal is constitutional, experts say - and necessary (Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2019)
Former CIA Director Brennan: Indictments with names 'quite familiar to the average American' are coming (Daily KOS, January 25, 2019)
"I expect that over the next 60 days you're going to have - a significant number of indictments. I think people are waiting for the report that is coming out from Mueller, but what I look for most is the indictments, and it's just so rich in detail. To me, I think all of these indictments are going to be basically the compendium of the Robert Mueller investigation, special counsel’s investigation. So I expect there to be a significant number, and a significant number of names that are going to be quite familiar to the average American."
Who’s been charged in Mueller-linked probes, and why (Washington Post, January 25, 2019)
Russia Investigation Summary/Mueller Probe Overview: Documents Filed (Teri Kanefield, January 25, 2019)   
Two Important Points About Today’s Stone Indictment (Daily KOS, January 25, 2019)
Mueller indicts Roger Stone, says he was coordinating with Trump officials about WikiLeaks' stolen emails (CNN, January 25, 2019)
Trump has ruined two of the GOP's strongest messages (Daily KOS, January 25, 2019)
One Man’s Obsessive Fight to Reclaim His Cambridge Analytica Data (Wired, January 25, 2019))
"David Carroll has been locked in a legal war to force the infamous company to turn over its files on him. He’s won a battle, but the struggle continues."
Romney Snaps at Tillis. Johnson Blames Yurtle. GOP in Disarray Prior to Votes to End Shutdown. (Daily KOS, January 25, 2019)
‘This is your fault’: GOP senators clash over shutdown inside private luncheon (Washington Post, January 24, 2019)
"Republican senators clashed with one another and confronted Vice President Pence inside a private luncheon on Thursday, as anger hit a boiling point over the longest government shutdown in history. 'This is your fault,' Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at one point, according to two Republicans who attended the lunch and witnessed the exchange. 'Are you suggesting I’m enjoying this?' McConnell snapped back, according to the people who attended the lunch."

Feeling anxious? It’s not just you, it’s our philosophical era of neuroexistentialism (Quartz, January 25, 2019)
"We have no soul, no fixed self, and no inherent purpose. We exist simply because we exist, tiny specks on a small planet in an infinite universe, and not because a god made the Earth for us. This conception, called 'naturalism,' leaves many people feeling deeply uneasy - consciously or unconsciously - and casting about for meaning."
Lost humanity at the border and the farce of the national emergency (Daily KOS, January 24, 2019)
A History of People Power: Six times (so far) the American people have overruled SCOTUS to secure the rights of Americans (American Promise, January 24, 2019)
America's most expensive home sells for $238m to hedge fund boss (The Guardian, January 24, 2019)
"Penthouse at 220 Central Park South is 34 times bigger than average Manhattan apartment: 'Hope he got a lot of bathrooms,' says an advocate for the homeless."
New Horizons' Newest and Best-Yet View of Ultima Thule (Johns Hopkins University, January 24, 2019)
"The wonders – and mysteries – of Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 continue to multiply as NASA's New Horizons spacecraft beams home new images of its New Year's Day 2019 flyby target."
Why free software evangelist Richard Stallman is haunted by Stalin’s dream (in India, January 23, 2019)
NEW: Trump team accused of posting edited images on social media (BBC News, January 23, 2019)
"President Trump has said that his 'stamina and strength' are some of his greatest assets and has boasted about his 'great genes'. But now he has been accused of sharing doctored images in which his physical condition has been visibly enhanced. A number of pictures, first identified by the website Gizmodo, appear to show the president looking slimmer and neater than in the original version. (To see, just use the slider.)"
NEW: How Trump Offered NASA Unlimited Funding to Go to Mars in His First Term (New York Magazine, January 22, 2019)
"Trump asked about Mars. 'Tell me, Mars - what do you see a timing for actually sending humans?' he said. Whitson responded by noting that just a month earlier, Trump had signed a bill outlining such timing. 'Well, I think as your bill directed, it would be in the 2030s,' she said. 'Unfortunately spaceflight takes a lot of time and money, so getting there will take some international cooperation.'
Trump didn’t accept her answer. 'Well, I think we want to do it in my first term or at worst in my second term,' he said. 'So I think we’ll have to speed that up a little bit.'"
NEW: Democratic Senator Introduces ‘Stop Stupidity Act’ to Prohibit Future Government Shutdowns (Newsweek, January 22, 2019)
"The bill, called the Stop Stupidity (Shutdowns Transferring Unnecessary Pain and Inflicting Damage in the Coming Years) Act, would automatically renew the previous year's funding, ensuring the government will remain open if legislators cannot agree on a budget. The renewed funding would not include the legislative branch and the president's office."
NEW: Editorial: Shutdown (WCVB,  Jan. 22, 2019)
"As President Trump and Speaker Pelosi wage their high stakes game of political football, holding close to a million virtual hostages, solutions to the partial federal government shutdown remain elusive. Imagine if their creativity - in trying to upstage each other - were solely applied toward putting those federal employees and contractors back to work?
Perhaps it is time to acknowledge two things that should be obvious. First, why do the president and members of Congress and their staffs get paid, when others - who are simply pawns in their power play - do not? Second, why not agree then to first release the hostages in other words reopen the government and then hash out the many and reasonable but not insurmountable differences on border security and immigration? They are not linked, except by political force. There is simply no rational argument for continuing to inflict pain and suffering on the pawns in this mess. Our elected leaders on both sides are expected to lead those they serve. Not punish them."
NEW: Lady Gaga stops concert to pummel Mike Pence's Christianity and Trump's shutdown - the crowd goes wild (Daily KOS, January 22, 2019)
NEW: En garde! 'Cyber-war has begun' – and France will hack first, its defence sec declares. (The Register, January 22, 2019)
"Parly-vous cyber-security? No plan to surrender, military bug bounty coming."
NEW: NASA and ESA will attempt to knock an asteroid out of orbit for the first time in 2022 (Business Insider, January 22, 2019)
"Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA: 'DART would be NASA's first mission to demonstrate what's known as the kinetic impactor technique - striking the asteroid to shift its orbit - to defend against a potential future asteroid impact.'"
We Just Got Lab-Made Evidence of Stephen Hawking's Greatest Prediction About Black Holes (Science Alert, January 21, 2019)
"Using an optical fibre analogue of an event horizon - a lab-created model of black hole physics - researchers from Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel report that they have created stimulated Hawking radiation."
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Crusher of Sacred Cows (Rolling Stone, January 21, 2019)
"With its silly swipes at AOC, the American political establishment is once again revealing its blindness to its own unpopularity. There is a whole range of popular policy ideas the Washington political consensus has been beating back for decades with smoke and mirrors, from universal health care to legalized weed to free tuition to expanded Social Security to those higher taxes on the rich.
As we’ve seen over and over with these swipes on Ocasio-Cortez, the people opposing those ideas don’t realize how powerful a stimulant for change is their own negative attention. If they were smart, they’d ignore her.
Then again, if politicians were smart, they’d also already be representing people, not donors. And they wouldn’t have this problem."
NEW: President Trump Posts Altered Photos to Facebook and Instagram That Make Him Look Thinner (Gizmodo, January 21, 2019)
"President Donald Trump's social media accounts are filled with vile racism, idiotic xenophobia, and inaccurate statistics. And now we can add another category to the list: fake photos. In recent months, Trump's official Facebook and Instagram accounts have published photos of the president that have been manipulated to make him look thinner."
Trump's losing the shutdown showdown but can't admit it (Daily KOS, January 21, 2019)
The Trump Administration Quietly Changed the Definition of Domestic Violence and We Have No Idea What For (Slate, January 21, 2019)
"The Obama-era definition was expansive, vetted by experts including the National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The Trump administration’s definition is substantially more limited and less informed, effectively denying the experiences of victims of abuse by attempting to cast domestic violence as an exclusively criminal concern."

It Was Not Impeachment That Doomed Richard Nixon, It Was Open Session Senate Hearings (Daily KOS, January 21 2019)
"I believe that It was the fact that Congress did not rush to impeach Richard Nixon that ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation. In addition, decades later, it was the Republican Party’s rush to impeachment that ultimately helped Bill Clinton to survive his Presidential impeachment."
Remember the subprime mortgage mess? $1.2 trillion in risky corporate debt is flashing similar warning signs (Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2019)

Popular elected official suspended by DeSantis and replaced with republican, cuz that's a thing now (Daily KOS, January 20, 2019)
Steve King broke the first rule of White Club (Daily KOS, January 20, 2019)
"When Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King lamented that language like 'White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization' had 'become offensive,' GOP leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appeared horrified. But if they were shocked - SHOCKED! - to find Steve King’s racism going on in their Republican Party, they shouldn’t have been. King, after all, has a long history of incendiary rhetoric aimed at African-Americans, Latinos, and other minorities."
E.J. Dionne: Hating the government won’t improve it (Washington Post, January 20, 2019)
"In practice, conservatives regularly vote for lots of government - so long as it serves the interests they represent. Start with farm subsidies, massive defense spending, regulations that disempower unions and measures that sharply tilt the tax code in favor of corporate interests and the wealthy.
As for the power of states and localities, conservatives regularly propose federal action to override state governments that issue safety and environmental regulations that business regards as too robust. Somehow, they think we need national 'consistency' on these matters but not on, say, voting rights. And right-wing state legislatures regularly preempt laws passed by more liberal local governments."
Moscow Skyscraper Talks Continued Through ‘the Day I Won,’ Trump Is Said to Acknowledge (New York Times, January 20, 2019)
"The new timetable means that Mr. Trump was seeking a deal at the time he was calling for an end to economic sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama administration. He was seeking a deal when he gave interviews questioning the legitimacy of NATO, a favorite talking point of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. And he was seeking a deal when, in July 2016, he called on Russia to release hacked Democratic emails that Mr. Putin’s government was rumored at the time to have stolen."
Five reasons Trump may be a one-termer (Washington Post, January 20, 2019)
"President Trump’s critics have repeatedly complained that when it comes to his rhetoric, attacks on Democratic norms and incompetence, 'Nothing matters.' We’ve learned in the last couple of months just how wrong that is: His approval has cratered; Democrats won the House with a 40-seat trouncing; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continues to run rings around him; and Republicans now part with him on Russia policy matters - and a smaller number on reopening the government."
In Business and Governing, Trump Seeks Victory in Chaos (New York Times, January 20, 2019)
"As president, Mr. Trump has displayed a fixation in his standoff with Congress over leveraging a government shutdown to gain funding for a wall on the Mexican border. As he did during decades in business, Mr. Trump has insulted adversaries, undermined his aides, repeatedly changed course, extolled his primacy as a negotiator and induced chaos. 'He hasn’t changed at all,' said Jack O’Donnell, who ran a casino for Mr. Trump in the 1980s and wrote a book about it."
Nancy Pelosi hands Donald Trump a lesson in the art of politics (The Guardian, January 20, 2019)
"Trump delights in inventing nicknames for political adversaries but he refers to the House speaker as 'Nancy', a sign he may have met his match."
Nancy Pelosi is winning in her battle with Trump. Here's why. (Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2019)
Trump takes aim at Pelosi amid stalled shutdown negotiations (Washington Post, January 20, 2019)

NEW: EXvangelicals #ExposeChristianSchools. Want to understand Trump base? Read these horror stories (Daily KOS, January 19, 2019)
"It’s mind-blowing, horrific, sickening. And for me - an epiphany about why white evangelicals support Trump despite his frequent and obvious violations of what purport to be Christian values. They’ve formed a cult of Trump because they were raised in a cult. They support an abuser because they grew up with routine abuse of every imaginable kind at school. They cannot see through his lies because their education was lies, and extinguished critical thinking. They worship a hateful man because they were taught that secretly hating themselves and outwardly hating others was sacred."
Shouting, near fisticuffs, emotions high: Today’s Washington could get worse (Washington Post, January 19, 2019)
"By early Thursday afternoon, President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had traded insults several times. Pelosi called for a delay of Trump’s planned Jan. 29 State of the Union address as long as portions of the government were shut down. The president then revoked military support for her weekend trip to visit troops in Afghanistan.
A couple of days earlier, the House rebu
ked Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) for a history of racially and ethnically charged remarks, the latest in his questioning of how white supremacy had become offensive.
'We have just been through a very difficult week,' House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) lamented."
A Trump supporter yells 'Go back to Puerto Rico!' at Dem rep. Turns out it was a GOP congressman. (Daily KOS, January 18, 2019)
"Rep. Cárdenas, who, by the way, has Mexican rather than Puerto Rican heritage, wouldn’t let the matter drop. Eventually, the culprit came forward. Rep. Jason T. Smith (R-MO) finally admitted to shouting it - several hours later."
A reckoning for political journalism (Axios, January 19, 2019)
"Last night's rare on-the-record statement from the Mueller team is a reckoning that journalism had coming: Amid some of the most impressive reporting of our lifetimes, there's plenty of questionable coverage in this shock-a-minute era. Why it matters: BuzzFeed's report that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, if true, would put this presidency at existential risk.
- The story, as written, was as clean as it gets: Trump directed Cohen to lie about the Trump Tower in Moscow project, and there’s tons of evidence to support that.
- Very rarely has a story been so unequivocal - usually there are more hedges and acknowledgments of what isn't known.
- And unlike most other reportage in this saga, this accused the president of a felony - a very different bar."
U.S. House of Representatives: Delivery of the State Of The Union Speech (H.R. Archives, reported January 18, 2019)
Robert Mueller’s “Iron Triangles” Speech in Full (Millenial Politics, January 18, 2019)
"FBI archives contain 'The Evolving Organized Crime Threat,' a speech Mueller gave January 27, 2011, to the Citizens Crime Commission of New York. Reading it in full in light of current events is critical, and truly, the duty of all Americans.
One highlight: Rather than running discrete operations, on their own turf, they are running multi-national, multi-billion dollar schemes from start to finish. We are investigating groups in Asia, Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East. And we are seeing cross-pollination between groups that historically have not worked together. Criminals who may never meet, but who share one thing in common: greed. They may be former members of nation-state governments, security services, or the military… They are capitalists and entrepreneurs. But they are also master criminals who move easily between the licit and illicit worlds…They may provide logistical support to hostile foreign powers. They may try to manipulate those at the highest levels of government. Indeed, these so-called 'iron triangles' of organized criminals, corrupt government officials, and business leaders pose a significant national security threat."
Rudy G. Drives Bus over Trump Campaigners, and They Noticed. Now it's Circular-Firing-Squad-Time (Daily KOS, January 18, 2019)
"The habit of pitting his employees against each other, has been a dog-eared page in Donald Trump’s playbook for decades. He has bragged about using this tactic to find out who’s loyal to him, and who isn’t. Plus, he’s a bit of a sadist at heart. He appears to enjoy hurting people. Putting them in their place. Making them into losers. And watching them hurt each other.
Trouble is, this tactic doesn’t pan out so well, when you’re all being investigated by a Special Counsel’s Office of the United States Department of Justice. When that’s happening, it’s every man, woman, and toddler for themselves."
NEW: Trump is Not a Self-Made Billionaire (Daily KOS, January 18, 2019)
"When dealing with Trump supporters, make sure they know he was born rich and that whatever wealth he has now wasn't the result of his 'great deal making' or any kind of super business acumen on his part. He was given all the advantages in the world by his very wealthy father and fed money by him over and over again each time his business ventures failed.
Maybe all those handouts from his father spoiled any native business skill young Donald might have had until he'd burned all his bridges and couldn't borrow money from anyone anymore… and he had to turn to the Russians as the only ones still willing to keep giving him money. He's not a self-made man who did good for himself. He's a Richie Rich who had everything given to him on a silver platter, and he still made bad."
NEW: Judge blocks Trump’s evangelical assault on women in 13 states (Daily KOS, January 18, 2019)
NEW: Mitch McConnell calls House Democrats' anti-corruption bill a 'power grab' (Vox, January 18, 2019)
"McConnell just outlined his opposition to HR 1 in scathing detail."
Cooperation, collusion, conspiracy, and the constant game of redefining what Trump can get away with (Daily KOS, January 17, 2019)
"On Wednesday evening, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani conducted another of his numerous goalpost adjustments - this time by just carrying them right off the field. In an interview with CNN, Giuliani responded to challenges over the latest revelations about Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort by saying that he never said something that he’d said dozens, if not hundreds, of times.
Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.'
Except, of course, he has. And after claiming that he never said 'no collusion,' Giuliani went on to make an even more eye-rolling claim: 'Neither has Donald Trump.'"
Rudy Giuliani just contradicted nearly all the Trump team’s past collusion denials (Washington Post, January 17, 2019)
"This is at least the 10th time the denials have been watered down. It might be the most significant rollback."
Michael Cohen Paid A Tech Firm Owned By Jerry Falwell To Manipulate Online Polls In Trump's Favor (Daily KOS, January 17, 2019)
Thousands More Migrant Children Were Probably Taken From Families Than Reported (New York Times, January 17, 2019)
How does a Ford SUV = a T-Rex? (Sierra Club, January 17, 2019)
Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono calls Trump child, apologizes to children (Daily KOS, January 17, 2019)
Pelosi is destroying Trump so badly on the shutdown that reporters feel sorry for him (Daily KOS, January 17, 2019)
"On Thursday, she added another rationale: fairness. 'Let's pay the employees,' Pelosi told reporters. 'Maybe [Trump] thinks it is okay not to pay people who do work. I don't. My caucus doesn't, either.'"
Ninja Nancy Pelosi Is on a Roll. Her Letter to Trump Is more Proof. (Daily KOS, January 16, 2019)
"Today Nancy Pelosi told Trump he could shove his State of the Union. Yesterday no Democrats attended Trump’s shutdown lunch summit/photo op. And this follows her sunglassed, James Bond style, ass-kicking of Trump in December’s 'I'll own the shutdown' whine-fest."
In a West Wing in Transition, Trump Tries to Stand Firm on the Shutdown (New York Times, January 16, 2019)
"President Trump has insisted that he is not going to compromise with Democrats to end the government shutdown, and that he is comfortable in his unbendable position. But privately, it’s sometimes a different story. 'We are getting crushed!' Mr. Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, after watching some recent coverage of the shutdown, according to one person familiar with the conversation. 'Why can’t we get a deal?'"

ISIS Attack In Syria Kills 19 Including 4 Americans, Raising New Worries About Troop Withdrawal (New York Times, January 16, 2019)
NEW: No pay. No retirement. No stink bugs by mail. The shutdown pain is spreading (Science, January 16, 2019)
"The impasse has already meant a lost paycheck for some 800,000 federal employees, as well as missed payments for thousands more contractors and academic researchers. Agencies have canceled dozens of meetings to review thousands of funding proposals, at one of the busiest times for federal grantmaking. Researchers inside and outside of government have postponed, restructured, or just given up entirely on planned studies.
The shutdown could soon paralyze federally funded scientific facilities and research centers that have been largely insulated from the pain because they are operated by contractors who get paid in advance, often on a quarterly basis. 'But now that quarterly check may or may not be coming,' says Benjamin Corb, public affairs director at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Rockville, Maryland. 'The uncertainty is creating a real mess.'"

Trump is ignoring the law to keep the shutdown from causing him political pain ()Washington Post, January 15, 2019)
"In past shutdowns, more of the government ceased operating. Since the Constitution says the government can spend only money that has been appropriated by Congress, there’s only so much that can legally be done during a shutdown to mitigate harm. The government provides a wide range of important services, and when it has no funding, most of those services must stop, and the people who provide them cannot get their paychecks. The law limits what activities can continue during a shutdown: those necessary to protect life or property, to carry out the president’s core constitutional responsibilities, and to operate programs that Congress has said should continue in the absence of funding.
But Trump has shunted aside legal and programmatic considerations in favor of two imperatives: keeping bad press to a minimum and keeping influential supporters happy."
Dahr Jamail, "We Can't Undo This" (Tom Dispatch, January 15, 2019)
"Dahr Jamail’s just-published book, The End of Ice, focuses on climate change. TomDispatch author and naturalist William DeBuys has this to say about it: 'In a sane world, The End of Ice would be the end of lame excuses that climate change is too abstract to get worked up about. From the Arctic to the Amazon, from doomed Miami to the Great Barrier Reef, Dahr Jamail brings every frontier in our ongoing calamity into close focus. The losses are tangible. And so is the grief. This is more than a good book. It is a wise one.'"
NEW: Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’ (The Guardian, January 15, 2019)
"Scientist Brad Lister returned to Puerto Rican rainforest after 35 years to find 98% of ground insects had vanished."
Flowers can hear buzzing bees - and it makes their nectar sweeter. (National Geographic, January 15, 2019)
"I’d like people to understand that hearing is not only for ears."
IBM, Which Will Soon be Buying Red Hat, is Promoting Software Patents in Europe (Techrights, January 15, 2019)
This obscure company is doing more to destroy a free press in America than Trump (Philadelphia Inquirer, January 15, 2019)
"The newspaper’s shrinkage was the direct result of a distant Wall Street hedge fund that - through its investment vehicle with the Orwellian-like dishonest name of Digital First Media - had since 2013 been sucking money in full vampire-squid mode out of the Daily Camera’s newsroom revenue stream. Much of the cash that formerly paid reporters, editors and photojournalists instead went into the pocket of billionaire Randall Smith as Smith added to his collection of multi-million-dollar mansions around Palm Beach and the Hamptons (said at one point to be 18 - that’s not a typo - and counting).
For America’s news consumers, reality is probably about to get even worse. Digital First Media, a sister firm called MNG and their hedge-fund parent - the Smith-led Alden Global Capital - have launched a hostile takeover bid to gain control of America’s other biggest owner of daily newspapers, Gannett."
Why Doesn’t Donald Trump’s Cozy Relationship With Vladimir Putin Worry His Supporters? Jefferson Davis’s Treason Case Holds a Clue. (The Intercept, January 15, 2019)
(And President Andrew Johnson was a bad role model, too.)
William Barr carefully distances himself from Trump on key issues (Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2019)
'Do As I Say, Not As I Do:' Rand 'Socialized-Medicine-Is-Slavery' Paul Headed to Canada for Some Surgery (Common Dreams, January 14, 2019)
"When a 'libertarian' goes for some socialized medicine..."
Passenger gets gun through TSA checkpoint on Atlanta to Tokyo flight, two agents fired (NBC News, January 14, 2019)
"The agency said in a statement that the security breach was not due to the partial government shutdown."
NEW: It's not a shutdown as a means to an end; the shutdown is its own end. (Sarah Kendzior, January 14, 2019)
"Once again, people are relying on norms and expectations that do not apply to Trump. There is no leverage in poll numbers; this is not about the base. This is not about the wall. This is about the end. 
The GOP ideology of the 2013 shutdown -- weaken government, deem federal services unnecessary, and ultimately privatize and profit -- has merged with the kleptocratic agenda of a Russian asset who wants to not only destroy federal services, but destroy the US itself."
Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia (New York Times, January 14, 2019)
"There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years. Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States."
Even FOX News Can't Avoid How Badly the Trump Shutdown is Going Over with the American People (Daily KOS, January 14, 2019)
"At least six polls show that America blames Trump for the shutdown and opposes his exploitation of it for a stupid vanity wall. Trump is also fielding questions about whether he is a Russian asset. And it's been discovered that he has been suppressing information about his private meetings with Vladimir Putin. If Trump isn't a Russian asset, he's doing an awfully good imitation of one."
Trump, on shutdown’s 24th day, says he’s ‘not looking’ to call national emergency (Los Angeles Times, January 14, 2019)
"Speaking as he departed for New Orleans, where he will address a convention of farmers, Trump claimed of Democrats that many of them are calling and saying, ‘We agree with you,’ although he offered no names. He added, 'Many of them are calling and many of them are breaking. The Republicans are rock solid.' In reality, the Democrats have stood firm behind their leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.
Republicans, however, are showing splits. Some politically vulnerable Senate Republicans have stated publicly that they would prefer to end the shutdown and fight separately for additional border security funding, including a wall. (And remember that BOTH Chambers unanimously approved that action, before Trump vetoed it!) But hard-line conservatives tell the president that would be tantamount to accepting defeat and would disappoint his supporters."
The horrifying purpose of Special Atomic Demolition Munition units: 'We all knew it was a one-way mission, a suicide mission.' (Army Times, January 14, 2019)
"The hand-carried nukes evolved out of even smaller nuclear weapons that had been developed in the 1950s. Those included the Davy Crockett nuclear warheads that could be fired from bazookas and even recoilless rifles. The problem was, the blast range was larger than the trajectory."
Donald Trump, the Kremlin and the ghost of Alger Hiss (Spectator USA, January 14, 2019)
"The anti-Trump 'Resistance' ought to prepare itself for disappointment, since the unclassified version of the Mueller report will be lacking in detail."
NEW: Trump's call-in to Fox News backfires, and he may have committed a felony in the process (Daily KOS, January 14, 2019)
Ajit Pai Refuses to Brief Congress About Why Bounty Hunters Can Buy Cell Phone Location Data (Vice, January 14, 2019)
"The Chairman's staff said the selling of location data is not a 'threat to the safety of human life or property that the FCC will address during the Trump shutdown.'"
Judge blocks Trump birth control rules in 13 states and D.C. (NBC News, January 13, 2019)
"The new rules, allowing more employers to opt out of providing free birth control under Obamacare, are set to take effect elsewhere on Monday."
Federal worker with diabetes says she can’t afford to pay for insulin during shutdown (The Hill, January 13, 2019)
Trump concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration (Washington Post, January 13, 2019)
"The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries. As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference."
Mueller investigation isn't only probing Trump's role as a conspirator, but as a closet Chekist (Daily KOS, January 12, 2019)
All signs point the same way: Vladimir Putin has compromising information on Donald Trump (USA Today, January 13, 2019)
"The existence of the counterintelligence investigation is not a scandal. Indeed, it would be scandal if we had found out today that the FBI had not launched an investigation. Trump’s behavior regarding Russia has always presented a serious security concern. But when Trump fires the director of the FBI, and then brags about it to actual Russians, only the most stupid or craven law enforcement agency would decline to investigate what to any counterintelligence officer would be the brightest of dozens of flashing red lights."
'This is the biggest political story ever' - experts react to the Trump-Russia FBI investigation (Daily KOS, January 12, 2019)
NEW: Cambridge Analytica, DARPA , Watson = Political Psyops (Karol Cummins, January 12, 2019)
"We will learn a great deal when the indictments fall on the witting American assets who conspired with RU to psyops/influence USA & EU voters with military precision. Here are a few clues."
How Trump’s border wall would fit with previous national emergency declarations (Washington Post, January 12, 2019)
"Trump has said repeatedly that he has the power to declare the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border a national emergency, calling the law '100 percent on my side.' But with the number of apprehensions far down from 2000, he may have a difficult time making that justification politically."
National park visitors cut down protected Joshua trees during partial government shutdown (CNN, January 12, 2019)
D.C. Laughing Because WH Water Bill Past Due, Trump Plans To Mis-Appropriate Funds To Build Wall (Daily KOS, January 12, 2019)
"Seeing the knowledge level demonstrated by White House staff, in this case Kellyanne Conway, I am thankful that she is pushing that the emergency escape hatch for the Republicans of Donald taking control of the budget. One has to wonder if she is aware that declaring a National Emergency immediately allows the House to vote as to the legitimacy of the 'Emergency' and should they declare it a Phony Emergency, the Senate MUST hold a vote of the House’s action? No refusal to bring it to the floor of the Senate or hide it in a committee. ​​​​​​​That’s not my definition of a escape hatch, more likely giving us even more fodder for 2020 knowing each and everyone one of them MUST show whether this is legit.
Don isn’t mentally ill. He is an Adderall drug addict and been one for a long time. What we are seeing is the advanced stages of Illegal (snorting) Adderall use. Megalomania. Irrationality. Self delusion. Persecution complex. Detachment from reality. Unable to control self. Reacting emotionally. Unable to focus. Nuts."
TSA workers can expect a paycheck this week as their boss gives them a bonus (Washington Post, January 12, 2019)
Air traffic controllers sue Trump for being forced to work with no pay (Washington Post, January 11, 2019)
Trump sold $35 million in real estate in 2018 - over half came from a deal requiring HUD approval (Daily KOS, January 11, 2019)
Trump administration official knows what women need: magic semen and life at home with the kids (Daily KOS, January 11, 2019)
One day our sun will solidify into a giant crystal orb (Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2019)
Will the Media Be Trump's Accomplice Again in 2020? (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
"We have a second chance. Let’s not blow it."
If Trump declares a national emergency, Nancy Pelosi can immediately force a vote on rolling it back (Daily KOS, January 11, 2019)
"As soon as Trump declares an emergency, Nancy Pelosi can force a vote over whether or not that emergency continues."
Trump prepares to declare a unitary government, as Republicans cheer him on (Daily KOS, January 11, 2019)
"When the executive wants something and can’t get it through Congress, the answer is … no. You don’t get it. When President Obama was negotiating for health care, it took repeated, drastic compromises and counter offers to secure the bare majority that saw the Affordable Care Act go through on a narrow majority. At no point did Obama say, 'Screw this, the public option is so vital, I’m going to declare a national emergency and just implement it anyway.' And he could have. Health care represented a much, much, much larger problem than anything that’s happening on the southern border. So does the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. So do any number of other issues. Republicans aren’t just opening the door to Trump bypassing Congress to get his wall; they’re making it clear that he always has an out. That Congress is not allowed to say no to Trump."
Voters to Trump: Knock it off (Washington Post, January 11, 2019)
"Polling continues to show the shutdown is a loser with voters, and Trump is to blame. A new NPR/Ipsos polls tells us that three-quarters of Americans say the government shutdown, now tied for the longest in U.S. history, is 'embarrassing for the country,' including a majority of Republicans. . . . [and] about 7 in 10 in the NPR/Ipsos poll also say the government shutdown is going to hurt the country, that it will hurt the economy and that Congress should pass a bill to reopen the government now while budget talks continue. Contrary to Trump’s strategy, 'Just 3 in 10 believe the government should remain closed until there is funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.'"
F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.
The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice. Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. But the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.
The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, took over the inquiry into Mr. Trump when he was appointed, days after F.B.I. officials opened it. That inquiry is part of Mr. Mueller’s broader examination of how Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with them.
Fact Check of the Day: The Many Ways Trump Has Said Mexico Will Pay for the Wall (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
T.S.A. Agents Refuse to Work During Shutdown, Raising Fears of Airport Turmoil (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
Trump's Shutdown could cost the economy $13 billion a month (MSN, January 11, 2019)
1958 TV Show Had Conman ‘Trump’ Selling Mystical ‘Wall’ To Hysterical Townspeople (Talking Points Memo, January 10, 2019)
FBI Agents Complain To Trump That Shutdown Undermines The Bureau - Maybe That's The Plan? (Daily KOS, January 10, 2019)
Air traffic controllers get their first shutdown pay stub: $0.00 (Washington Post, January 10, 2019)
(We're glad we flew home cross-country early this week!)
Trump’s ‘forrest’ mismanagement threats are as disturbingly uninformed as they are authoritarian (Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2019)
EPA backs down from plan that could have allowed youth farmworkers to handle pesticides (Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2019)
Trump could take billions from disaster areas to fund wall (NBC News, January 10, 2019)
"Under the proposal, Trump could dip into money set aside to fund civil works projects all over the country including storm-damaged areas of Puerto Rico.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., said the Democrats would fight 'with every ounce of energy we have' to stop the president from using Army Corps funds to build a southern border wall. 'It would be beyond appalling for the president to take money from places like Puerto Rico that have suffered enormous catastrophes, costing thousands of American citizens lives, in order to pay for Donald Trump’s foolish, offensive and hateful wall,' Velázquez said. 'Siphoning funding from real disasters to pay for a crisis manufactured by the president is wholly unacceptable and the American people won’t fall for it.'"
‘If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, go through it,’ Trump said in 2004 speech (Washington Post, January 10, 2019)
‘Totally bonkers!’: Trump slams media in late-night tweets after failed shutdown meeting (Washington Post, January 10, 2019)
Trump's PR stunt accidentally proves that his wall won't work (Daily KOS, January 10, 2019)
Broadcasting from Deep Space, a Mysterious Series of Radio Signals (New York Times, January 10, 2019)
Earth’s magnetic field is acting up and geologists don’t know why (Nature, January 9, 2019)
Google Knows You Better Than Your Doctor Ever Could (Bloomberg, January 9, 2019)
"It's not intended as a substitute for medical professionals, but it has become one - free, convenient and crowdsourced."
Trump’s wall isn’t evil. It’s medieval. (Washington Post, January 9, 2019)
NEW: Science's blind spot (Aeon, January 8, 2019)
"It’s tempting to think science gives a God’s-eye view of reality. But we forget the place of human experience at our peril."
This Highway Sign Gave Me An Out-of-Body Experience (Daily KOS, January 8, 2019)
A Paul Manafort court filing just accidentally connected some big dots between the Trump campaign and Russia (Washington Post, January 8, 2019)
Trump Gets Instant Fact-Check From Fox News' Shepard Smith After Oval Office Speech (Daily Beast, January 8, 2019)
The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell, on Trump's "Empty" Oval Office Speech (MSNBC, January 8, 2019)
Rachel Maddow Show, on Trump's "Empty" Oval Office Speech (MSNBC, January 8, 2019)
Trump Cites Misleading Statistics of Crisis and Crime Along Border in New Appeal for Wall (New York Times, January 8, 2019)
A Look at Trump’s Biggest Border Lies (ACLU, January 8, 2019)
Pence explains Trump’s dubious claim: He’s not lying; he just doesn’t know any better (Washington Post, January 8, 2019)
Your fact-checking cheat sheet for Trump’s immigration address (Washington Post, January 7, 2019)
U.S. top court rejects Exxon in climate change document dispute (Reuters, January 7, 2019)
"The Massachusetts and New York investigations were launched following 2015 news reports that Exxon’s own scientists had determined that fossil fuel combustion must be reduced to mitigate the impact of climate change. Those news reports, by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times, were based on documents from the 1970s and 1980s. Exxon said the documents were not inconsistent with its public positions.
Massachusetts A.G. Maura Healey in 2016 issued a civil investigative demand to Exxon seeking documents to investigate whether it had violated the state’s consumer-protection law through its marketing and sale of fossil fuel products. Exxon said that because it is incorporated in Texas and New Jersey, Healey had no basis to seek documents to conduct a Massachusetts-based investigation. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in April held that jurisdiction existed because of Exxon’s control over advertising conducted for about 300 franchise gas stations operating under the Exxon and Mobil brands in Massachusetts. Exxon appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and now that appeal has been rejected."
What’s behind the confidence of the incompetent? This suddenly popular psychological phenomenon. (Washington Post, January 7, 2019)
"The Dunning-Kruger Effect explains why unskilled people think they know it all and tend to be overconfident."
The Border Wall: How a Potent Symbol Is Now Boxing Trump In (New York Times, January 5, 2019)
"Before it became the chief sticking point in a government shutdown drama that threatens to consume his presidency at a critical moment, President Trump’s promise to build a wall on the southwestern border was a memory trick for an undisciplined candidate."
The Border Wall: What Has Trump Built So Far? (New York Times, January 5, 2019)
Shutdown spares federal park rangers at site in Trump's Washington hotel (Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2019)
Pay raises frozen for Pence, Cabinet members until shutdown is over (CNN, January 5, 2019)
Enough Is Enough. The Air Lines Pilots Association Writes Trump A Letter Telling Him To Get Real (Daily KOS, January 5, 2019)
"The president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, representing 61,000 pilots, wrote a candid letter to his nibs, breaking down the reality of the situation. Basically, in human terms, the safety and security of the entire airspace system is in jeopardy and its workers are unfairly being asked to put themselves in egregious financial straits, from which they may never recover. So the pilots are asking Trump to stop the shutdown 'immediately.'"
Milky Way to face a one-two punch of galaxy collisions (Ars Technica, January 5, 2019)
"The Large Magellanic Cloud will hit us before Andromeda can get here."
Our privacy regime is broken. Congress needs to create new norms for a digital age. (Washington Post, January 5, 2019)
Lawsuit: Weather Channel illegally shared user location data with advertisers. (Ars Technica, January 4, 2019)
"IBM-owned company accused of tricking app users with false disclosures."
German politicians’ personal data posted online; government probes source of attack (Los Angeles Times, January 4, 2019)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shuts down 'DanceGate' nonsense in 11-second video (Daily KOS, January 4, 2019)
This shutdown is already one of the longest ever. Here’s how others ended. (Washington Post, January 4, 2019)
Pressure builds on McConnell in shutdown as Republicans start to peel away (Daily KOS, January 4, 2019)
Recently reelected Maine state lawmaker leaves Republican Party (The Hill, January 4, 2019)
Dem rep asks for pay to be withheld during government shutdown (The Hill, January 4, 2019)
NEW: House Democrats officially unveil HR-1, their first bill in the majority: a sweeping anti-corruption proposal (Vox, January 4, 2019)
"Democrats will take up voting rights, campaign finance reform, and a lobbying crackdown — all in their first bill of the year."
The lies Comcast allegedly told customers to hide full cost of service (Ars Technica, January 3, 2019)
"Minnesota AG seeks refunds, saying thousands of Comcast customers were harmed."
Machine learning can offer new tools, fresh insights for the humanities (Ars Technica, January 3, 2019)
"From the French Revolution to the history of the novel, Big Data makes its mark."
NEW: Faith on the Hill: The religious composition of the 116th Congress (Pew Research Center, January 3, 2019)
"While the number of self-identified Christians in Congress has ticked down, Christians as a whole – and especially Protestants and Catholics – are still over-represented in proportion to their share in the general public. Indeed, the religious makeup of the new, 116th Congress is very different from that of the United States population.
But by far the largest difference between the U.S. public and Congress is in the share who are unaffiliated with a religious group. In the general public, 23% say they are atheist, agnostic or 'nothing in particular.' In Congress, just one person – Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., who was recently elected to the Senate after three terms in the House – says she is religiously unaffiliated, making the share of 'nones' in Congress 0.2%.
When asked about their religious affiliation, a growing number of members of Congress decline to specify (categorized as 'don’t know/refused'). This group – all Democrats – numbers 18, or 3% of Congress, up from 10 members (2%) in the 115th Congress. Their reasons for this decision may vary. But one member in this category, Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., announced in 2017 that he identifies as a humanist and says he is not sure God exists. Huffman remains categorized as 'don’t know/refused' because he declined to state his religious identity in the CQ Roll Call questionnaire used to collect data for this report."
NEW: New polling shows voters - including independents - want Congress to pass an anti-corruption bill (Vox, January 3, 2019)
"Democrats’ anti-corruption bill HR 1 has good poll numbers behind it. But can they make it law?"
GOP senator calls on Congress to end government shutdown without border deal (The Hill, January 3, 2019)
"Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who faces a potentially tough reelection in 2020, says Congress should re-open the federal government, even without a deal on funding President Trump’s border wall. Gardner is the first Senate Republican to call for ending the partial shutdown even without a deal on Trump’s demand for $5 billion to fund a border wall."
China's Yutu 2 Rover Is Driving on the Far Side of the Moon (, January 3, 2019)
China Makes Historic 1st Landing on Mysterious Far Side of the Moon (, January 3, 2019)
With Ultima Thule Flyby, NASA Probe Helps Unlock Secrets of Planetary Formation (, January 3, 2019)
'Meet Ultima Thule': 1st Color Photo of New Horizons Target Reveals a Red 'Snowman' (, January 2, 2019)
Ocasio-Cortez Breaks With Pelosi in Key Early Vote for Democrats (Bloomberg, January 2, 2019)
"Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old representative-elect from New York City, said on Twitter Wednesday that the system referred to as paygo 'isn’t only bad economics,' but is 'also a dark political maneuver designed to hamstring progress on healthcare+other leg. We shouldn’t hinder ourselves from the start.'"

Source: Trump tells Schumer he can't accept Dems' offer because he'd 'look foolish' (CNN, January 2, 2019)
NBC News veteran warns of 'Trump circus' in 2,228-word farewell (CNN, January 2, 2019)
"William Arkin's frustrated farewell memo to NBC News says that his time at NBC News has been 'gratifying.' But he bluntly expresses his displeasure with the 'Trump circus,' US foreign policy failures, and the state of television news. 'In our day-to-day whirlwind and hostage status as prisoners of Donald Trump, I think — like everyone else does — that we miss so much,' Arkin says. He is a sharp critic of what he calls 'perpetual war' and the 'creeping fascism of homeland security.'"
Harry Reid Has a Few Words for Washington (New York Times, January 2, 2019)
"The former Senate majority leader on President Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer, and on why he doesn’t regret ending the filibuster for judicial appointments. Reid had dismissed Trump as a 'spoiled brat,' a 'con man' and a 'human leech.'
Mitt Romney: The president shapes the public character of the nation. Trump’s character falls short. (Washington Post, January 1, 2019)

NEW: AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s political spin on migrant deaths (Associated Press, December 31, 2018)
Record Breaker! NASA Probe Slips into Orbit Around Asteroid Bennu (, December 31, 2018)
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris: Everyone Gets Sick. And We Deserve Better. (New York Times, December 29, 2018)
"What my mother’s death taught me about the health care system America needs."
Markets poised to finish year with worst performance in a decade - and the volatility seems certain to continue (Washington Post, December 29, 2018)
"The past three months have been brutal for stocks, with key markets down 15 to 20 percent from their peaks. Analysts are predicting that the roller-coaster ride is likely to continue into the new year. The Federal Reserve is pushing forward with a campaign of ­interest-rate hikes that will slow economic growth. President Trump’s trade conflicts, particularly with China, are continuing and could escalate. The global economy is slowing. And the turmoil engulfing the White House appears to be intensifying."
In Yemen, an unnatural disaster (Washington Post, December 27, 2018)
"The country’s hunger crisis is born of deliberate policies, pursued primarily by a Saudi-led coalition backed by the United States."
Iraqi politicians, fuming after Trump's visit, demand U.S. forces leave the country (Los Angeles Times, December 27, 2018)
"Iraqi leaders are demanding U.S. troops leave the country after President Trump’s surprise visit to Iraq, which lawmakers characterized as an arrogant affront to the nation’s sovereignty. Trump made a three-hour sojourn in Iraq, traveling to Asad Air Base, some 115 miles northwest of Baghdad, but he did not meet with any Iraqi officials. And in Iraq’s parliament, that perceived slight left both Washington’s allies and its foes fuming."
Trump, visiting troops in Iraq, makes false claims about raising military pay (Los Angeles Times, December 26, 2018)
"President Trump bragged Wednesday to troops stationed in Iraq that he had secured them a massive pay raise, repeating a false claim he's made repeatedly on the campaign trail. Trump made the boast during his first visit as president to troops in a combat zone.
The president also stated - incorrectly - that he had authorized the first military pay increase in a decade. 'You haven't gotten one in more than 10 years,' Trump said. 'More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one.' Military pay, in fact, has risen every year for three decades.
Presenting himself as an ardent supporter of the military just days after the resignation of respected Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, who cited policy disagreements with the president in an astonishing resignation letter, Trump also repeated another common falsehood - his claim that the new Pentagon budget is the largest increase in defense funding ever."
Erdogan’s Anti-Semitism Will Sink Turkey’s Economy (Foreign Policy, December 24, 2018)
"The Turkish president’s racist conspiracy theories are a threat to economic stability."
700 Tage im Amt – 7.546 Mal gelogen (T-Online, Germany's top Webnews; December 23, 2018)
(Do you really need a translation?)
NEW: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says Congressional Salaries Should Be Furloughed During a Shutdown (Rolling Stone, December 23, 2018)
"'Have some integrity,' the congresswoman-elect tweeted."
Based on Trump’s 'detailed diagram' of his slat wall, here is some advanced mathematics (Washington Post, December 23, 2018)
"For probably the first time in American history, part of the government is shut down for lack of funding because of a dispute over a construction project. No longer would the wall be concrete planks, Trump now says, but instead 'artistically designed steel slats' - between which, drugs and even slim people could pass through. For all of the slats, we’d need about 9 million cubic feet of steel. As CNBC notes, that steel is a lot pricier than it was a year ago, thanks to the tariffs Trump imposed on foreign steel. At the beginning of 2018, this barrier would have cost 25 percent less. A civil engineer wrote in to note that, at current prices of $160 per cubic foot, the steel alone would cost about $1.5 billion -- excluding steel that would need to be used to extend the slats into the ground. She also noted that a 1-inch-thick wall wouldn’t be terribly sturdy."
Trump can launch nuclear weapons whenever he wants, with or without Mattis (Washington Post, December 23, 2018)
"No defense secretary can stop an impulsive president - yet.
Patrick Shanahan, Trump’s pick for acting defense secretary, steps into spotlight after Mattis’s ouster (Washington Post, December 23, 2018)
"Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, has no military experience, no previous government experience and little experience with foreign policy."
Trump Is Pushing Defense Secretary Mattis Out Of His Post Two Months Early (BuzzFeed, December 23, 2018)
"The president is replacing Defense Secretary James Mattis two months earlier than his planned retirement, amid concerns from Congress and the defense community over Mattis' exit from the administration. Trump tweeted on Sunday that he will replace Mattis with Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, who will take on the role of Acting Secretary of Defense on January 1."
The US Envoy On ISIS, Brett McGurk, Quit In Protest Over Trump's Withdrawal From Syria (BuzzFeed, December 23, 2018)
"It's the second major resignation over the president's decision in as many days."
For Trump, ‘a War Every Day,’ Waged Increasingly Alone (New York Times, December 22, 2018)
"At the midpoint of his term, the president has grown more sure of his own judgment and more isolated from anyone else’s than at any point since he took office."
Robert Reich: The end is near for Trump (Alternet, December 22, 2018)
"Trump is a 'dangerous menace.'"
 ‘A rogue presidency’: The era of containing Trump is over (Washington Post, December 22, 2018)
"For two years, they tried to tutor and confine him. They taught him history, explained nuances and gamed out reverberations. They urged careful deliberation, counseled restraint and prepared talking points to try to sell mainstream actions to a restive conservative base hungry for disruption. But in the end, they failed.
For President Trump, the era of containment is over. One by one, the seasoned advisers seen as bulwarks against Trump’s most reckless impulses have been cast aside or, as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis did Thursday, resigned in an extraordinary act of protest. What Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) once dubbed an 'adult day care center' has gone out of business."
‘This is tyranny of talk radio hosts, right?’: Limbaugh and Coulter blamed for Trump’s shutdown (Washington Post, December 22, 2018)
"On his radio show Wednesday, Limbaugh said the president was 'getting ready to cave' on getting money for the wall in the budget.  'It’s a textbook example of what the drive-by media calls compromise,' Limbaugh said. 'Trump gets nothing, and the Democrats get everything, including control of the House.'
Coulter, during a podcast on the Daily Caller, said Trump’s White House would become 'a joke presidency who scammed the American people' if he didn’t build the wall, adding that 'he’ll have no legacy whatsoever.' She also wrote a scathing column about the president and launched a flurry of criticisms on Twitter."
'Fear grips Republican officeholders': Conservative writer explains why Trump's chances of impeachment are rising (Alternet, December 21, 2018)

"If you're worried about getting impeached, don't spook the Senate."

'They're going to absolutely crush him': Trump is reportedly panicking and 'losing it' as Democrats finally gain the upper hand (Alternet, December 21, 2018)
"He didn't realize he's playing a losing game."

NEW: Beto O’Rourke’s voting record is more conservative than the average Democrat’s (Vox, December 21, 2019)
"It’s about what you’d expect from someone running a statewide campaign in Texas."
How Russian Money Helped Save Trump’s Business (Foreign Policy, December 21, 2018)
"After his financial disasters two decades ago, no U.S. bank would touch him. Then foreign money began flowing in."
Top US Intelligence Official Confirms Russian Propagandists Tried To Meddle In The Midterms (BuzzFeed, December 21, 2018)
"In a classified report, the US director of national intelligence confirmed that Russia, and to an extent China and Iran, tried to influence American voters in November."
NEW (Update): Former Member of Obama's NSC Says Mattis Has Inserted Himself in the Nuke Chain of Command (Daily KOS, December 21, 2018)
Glee in Russia Over Trump’s Foreign Policy Largess (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"'Trump is God’s gift that keeps on giving,' said Vladimir Frolov, a Russian columnist and foreign affairs analyst. 'Trump implements Russia’s negative agenda by default, undermining the U.S.–led world order, U.S. alliances, U.S. credibility as a partner and an ally. All of this on his own. Russia can just relax and watch and root for Trump, which Putin does at every TV appearance.'"
America’s Allies Fear That Traditional Ties No Longer Matter Under Trump (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"America’s allies in Europe and Asia thought they had learned to digest and compensate for the instinctive unpredictability of President Trump. But the bitter resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the abrupt announcement of plans to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan are being viewed as watershed moments for Washington’s relations with the world."
In a Flash, U.S. Military Policy Turns Inward and Echoes Across the Globe (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"On Friday morning, America’s 1.3 million active-duty service members woke up to a new reality: Their leader, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, had resigned over the Syria withdrawal and Mr. Trump’s rejection of international alliances, and everything he and other military leaders had told them through three presidencies had suddenly been abandoned."
In Afghanistan, Alarm and a Sense of Betrayal Over U.S. Drawdown (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"Afghan officials said they had not been consulted or even warned about the drawdown. And the timing was likely to complicate the American push for peace talks with the Taliban, which requires maintaining pressure, or at least holding the line, on the battlefield.
Just this week, senior American diplomats had conducted two days of extensive talks with representatives of the insurgency, with the future of the United States military presence among the topics discussed. And hours before the troop pulldown became public knowledge, Zalmay Khalilzad, the most senior American diplomat involved in the talks, said he had made it clear to the Taliban that the American commitment was firm."
Opinion: Shutdown? More Like a Breakdown (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"This is what happens when the nation’s chief executive holds a leadership philosophy akin to that of the Petyr Baelish character on 'Game of Thrones' - namely, that 'chaos is a ladder.' For most people, uncertainty and disorder are scary, unsettling forces to be avoided. But for Mr. Trump, they are cherished friends and strategic assets, in part specifically because other people are so anxious to avoid them. The president clearly believes that throwing everyone else off balance gives him an edge - that is, if he can make the turmoil fierce enough, those around him will give up and give in.
Better still, even when he doesn’t get his way, piling on the pandemonium keeps people from focusing on any one piece of it. The normal human mind can cope with only so much drama before it gets overloaded. Mr. Trump grasps better than most that a single scandal is cause for public outrage, while a million scandals is a statistic.
There’s no doubt that Mr. Trump was upset about conservatives trashing him for flirting with a wall-free spending bill. This president is driven by an insatiable need for adulation. The less popular he becomes with the bulk of the nation, the more vital it is for him - emotionally and politically - to keep his base happy.
Revving up the wall fight allows Mr. Trump to divert attention from so much of the other drama threatening to swallow him up. Even by Trumpian standards, the president has been enduring a bumpy patch. This week alone, Wall Street had its worst stretch in a decade; the Trump Foundation agreed to close up shop following accusations of 'a shocking pattern of illegality'; the Supreme Court declined to allow enforcement of Mr. Trump’s planned asylum ban, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg casting her vote shortly before undergoing surgery for lung cancer; and a backlash erupted over Mr. Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. This move proved too much for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who tendered his resignation on Thursday with a letter widely received as a rebuke to the president’s approach to foreign policy and national security. At this rate, the only person left in the administration by Valentine’s Day will be Mick Mulvaney, the incoming acting White House chief of staff. Then again, word around Washington is that the president has been displeased with Mr. Mulvaney’s failure to come up with shutdown solutions, and in 2015, Mr. Mulvaney called Mr. Trump’s ideas about a border wall 'absurd and almost childish.' So who knows how long until that relationship sours? And, of course, hovering above it all, the president’s legal troubles keep mounting as the Russia investigation churns on.
Faced with all that, who wouldn’t rather throw himself into a fight - maybe even shut down parts of the government - over a border wall? At least with his wall, Mr. Trump gets to pretend that he is still in control, even as his administration sinks further and further into the swamp. "
U.S. Federal Agencies Partial Shutdown to Take Effect at Midnight as Talks Fail to Break Impasse (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"With the clock ticking toward a shutdown on Friday, Mr. Trump remained adamant and appeared resigned to a shutdown, saying he hoped to keep funds flowing past midnight but that his adversaries must agree to fund his border wall. 'Now it’s up to the Democrats as to whether or not we have a shutdown tonight,' Mr. Trump said at the White House on Friday morning, moments after meeting with Senate Republicans. 'I hope we don’t, but we are totally prepared for a very long shutdown. This is our only chance that we will ever have, in our opinion.'
It was a striking reversal from his televised declaration during the Oval Office meeting a week ago that he relished the prospect of shuttering the government to force Democrats to accept a wall, and that he would not blame them for the outcome."
Bill Barr Just Argued Himself Out of a Job (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"His recent memo to President Trump seriously damages his credibility and raises questions about his fitness for the Justice Department’s top position."
The Truth Behind This Bomb That Took Down Pan Am 103 Over Lockerbie Remains a 30-Year Mystery (Observer, December 21, 2018)
"It is troubling that what U.S. intelligence confidently believed about the attack never translated into judicial or political action. The atrocity that took place over Scotland 30 years ago remains the deadliest terror attack on American civilians except for 9/11."
For the First Time in More Than 20 Years, Copyrighted Works Will Enter the Public Domain (Smithsonian Magazine, December 21, 2018)
"It's been 21 years since the last mass expiration of copyright in the U.S. The release is unprecedented, and its impact on culture and creativity could be huge. We have never seen such a mass entry into the public domain in the digital age. The last one - in 1998, when 1922 slipped its copyright bond - predated Google. 'We have shortchanged a generation,' said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive. 'The 20th century is largely missing from the internet.'"
Juul, the vape device teens are getting hooked on, explained (Vox, December 20, 2018)
"If you’ve seen people sucking on what look like USB flash drives, they’re probably 'Juuling.'"
Winters are warming faster than summers. These US cities could lose weeks of freezing days by 2050. (Vox, December 20, 2018)
"The dire consequences of having fewer days below freezing, explained."
‘A tailspin’: Under siege, Trump propels the government and markets into crisis (Washington Post, December 20, 2018)
"President Trump began Thursday under siege, listening to howls of indignation from conservatives over his border wall and thrusting the government toward a shutdown. He ended it by announcing the exit of the man U.S. allies see as the last guardrail against the president’s erratic behavior: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, whose resignation letter was a scathing rebuke of Trump’s worldview.
At perhaps the most fragile moment of his presidency — and vulnerable to convulsions on the political right — Trump single-handedly propelled the U.S. government into crisis and sent markets tumbling with his gambits this week to salvage signature campaign promises.
The president’s decisions and conduct have led to a fracturing of Trump’s coalition. Hawks condemned his sudden decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Conservatives called him a “gutless president” and questioned whether he would ever build a wall. Political friends began privately questioning whether Trump needed to be reined in."
What to Expect When Expecting a Government Shutdown (New York Times, December 20, 2018)
"Here are the agencies and services that would shutter if the government shuts down Saturday.
With ninety percent of their personnel considered essential, the Department of Homeland Security will be hit the hardest. Nearly 54,000 Customs and Border Protection agents and 42,000 Coast Guard employees are projected to work without pay, and as travelers flood the nation’s airports and train stations, 53,000 T.S.A. agents will keep working, as will air traffic controllers and aviation and railroad safety inspectors.
Law enforcement officers at the Justice Department will also be expected to continue working over the holidays without pay, including nearly 17,000 correctional officers, 14,000 F.B.I. agents, and 4,000 Drug Enforcement Administration agents. And after a long year battling ferocious wildfires, about 5,000 firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service will also remain on duty.
With funding for the Department of the Interior slated to expire, all 58 of the country’s national parks would shutter over the holidays. Tourists visiting the nation’s capital would also find themselves shut out of many of the district’s headline attractions, including the National Zoo and Smithsonian museums, the National Gallery of Art and the National Archives."
Trump pushes government toward a shutdown or a Wall 'with metal slats,' says he won't sign stopgap money bill (Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2018)
"Trump’s veto threat deepened the chaos in the House as Republican leaders confronted the impending deadline. Funding for about a quarter of federal agencies expires at midnight EST Friday, and a shutdown of the affected agencies would threaten paychecks for hundreds of thousands of federal workers over the holidays.
Forced to shelve the Senate-passed measure, House Republicans planned to vote late Thursday on a government funding bill that included $5 billion for the border wall and $8 billion in disaster relief for a number of states. While the bill could pass the House, it would be all but certain to fail in the Senate, where Republicans’ narrow majority means that Democratic votes would be required for passage. Lawmakers would be back to square one within a day of their shutdown deadline."
NEW: Former Member of Obama's NSC Says Mattis Has Inserted Himself in the Nuke Chain of Command (Daily KOS, December 20, 2018)
Opinion: Jim Mattis Was Right (New York Times, December 20, 2018)
"Who will protect America now?"
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Resigns, Rebuking Trump’s Worldview (New York Times, December 20, 2018)
"Officials said Mr. Mattis went to the White House on Thursday afternoon in a last attempt to convince Mr. Trump to keep American troops in Syria, where they have been fighting the Islamic State. He was rebuffed, and told the president that he was resigning as a result. His departure leaves the Trump administration without one of the few officials viewed as standing between a mercurial president and global tumult. The president said he would name Mr. Mattis’s replacement shortly."
A Bunch Of Countries Just Joined The US In Condemning Chinese Hacking (BuzzFeed, December 20, 2018)
"The accusations that China steals secrets from companies and gives the secrets to its own businesses isn't new, but a joint international condemnation is."
Chinese hackers charged with stealing data from Navy, JPL and U.S. companies (Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2018)
"Among other targets, the two hackers allegedly stole confidential data from the Navy, including the names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, salary information, phone numbers and email addresses of more than 100,000 sailors and other personnel.
They also infiltrated computers linked to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, and more than 45 companies in at least a dozen states, according to the indictment."
Be Careful of “Innovative” Financial Services (Ask Bob Rankin, December 20, 2018)
"Behind this growing wave of automation that saves banks money at the expense of your time (which has monetary value) has come another breed of fintech services which purports to make money management easier and more profitable to you. But the startup firms behind these new services are just as self-serving and disingenuous as the banks."
NEW: Fake LGBTQ youth hotline set up by Russian election trolls (Daily KOS, December 19, 2018)
Facebook Violates Its Users' Privacy Yet Again (Free Press, December 19, 2018)
"In response to criticism about how it violated its users’ privacy and failed to stop foreign-election interference on the platform, Facebook  paid a conservative PR firm to tie advocacy groups to philanthropist George Soros, tapping into hateful anti-Semitic tropes and tactics. Specifically, Facebook went after company critics including racial-justice nonprofit Color Of Change and groups that launched the Freedom from Facebook campaign. Facebook also worked feverishly to undermine the Russia investigation. Again and again, revelation after revelation shows that Facebook fails to protect its users’ information. Instead of respecting its users’ wishes and controls on privacy, it’s repeatedly granted large companies access to private data."
‘It’s about time’: Facebook faces first lawsuit from U.S. regulators after Cambridge Analytica scandal (Washington Post, December 19, 2018)
"In the months since the Cambridge Analytica scandal began, Facebook has fielded considerable criticism for a series of privacy missteps. Last week, Facebook admitted
that as many as 6.8 million users' photos may have been improperly accessed by third-party apps. On Tuesday, new details emerged about Facebook’s extensive data-sharing arrangements with corporate partners including Amazon and Spotify. The report from The New York Times quickly triggered another round of calls from Capitol Hill for the tech giant to be penalized."
Quark-gluon plasma reveals viscosity-free properties (Ars Technica, December 19, 2018)
"Recreation of the early Universe in the form of quark-gluon plasmas was first reported in collisions of heavy atoms by teams at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. But then the Large Hadron Collider came along and found that there might be signs of this material in collisions with light atoms. Following LHC observations, the folks at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider reexamined their data and found that they, too, seem to make a quark-gluon plasma without needing heavy atoms. As detectors were upgraded, new experiments revealed more and more details."
Cleveland man alleges racial profiling after bank refuses to cash check, calls 9-1-1 (Cleveland 19 News, December 19, 2018)
Have You Ever Visited Putin's Russia? (Washington Post, December 19, 2018)
"1975 d'étente recalled."
Is Denaturalization the Next Front in the Trump Administration’s War on Immigration? (New York Times, December 19, 2018)
"The prosecution of naturalized United States citizens is a sign of a gathering storm."
All indications are that Michael Flynn covered up something VERY BIG (Daily KOS, December 19, 2018)
"A series of events punctuated most recently by a sentencing hearing gone awry suggest that whatever former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn was covering up when he lied about his Russia contacts, it was a whopper. During Tuesday's sentencing hearing for Flynn, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan worked himself into a lather, noting his disgust and disdain for Flynn's criminal conduct. 'Arguably, that undermines everything this flag over here stands for,' Sullivan charged, pointing to the American flag behind him. 'Arguably, you sold your country out!'"
Opinion: Trump’s Decision to Withdraw From Syria Is Alarming. Just Ask His Advisers. (New York Times, December  19, 2018)
"This isn’t the first time the president and his administration have sent mixed messages."
Trump signed letter of intent on Moscow Project in the middle of his campaign (Daily KOS, December 19, 2018)
"On Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani fell back on Donald Trump’s last line of legal defense. As CNN reported, when Donald Trump’s attorney was confronted by the point that Trump had repeatedly lied to the press and the public about his knowledge of issues around the Russia investigation, he had a ready answer: 'The President's not under oath.'
That’s true enough - though in the past, people seem to have thought that public officials continually lying on important topics was a point of concern. But that new line has already received a heavy workout in court. And it’s about to get tested even more. Because Trump didn’t just send Felix Sater and Michael Cohen off to negotiate a real estate deal in Moscow, he put his signature on the agreement."
Trump signed letter of intent for Trump Tower Moscow project despite Giuliani insisting he didn't (
CNN, December 18, 2018)
"CNN's Chris Cuomo obtained a copy of the signed letter of intent that set the stage for negotiations for Trump condominiums, a hotel and commercial property in the heart of Moscow. The letter is dated October 28, 2015, and bears the President's signature.
When asked on Sunday about the letter, Giuliani incorrectly told CNN's Dana Bash that it had not been signed."
NEW: An Epidemic Is Killing Thousands Of Coal Miners. Regulators Could Have Stopped It (National Public Radio, December 18, 2018)
"For decades, government regulators had evidence of excessive and toxic mine dust exposures, the kind that can cause the advanced stage of black lung disease, known as complicated black lung or progressive massive fibrosis, as they were happening. They knew that miners like Kelly and Smith were likely to become sick and die. They were urged to take specific and direct action to stop it. But they didn't."
As Facebook Raised a Privacy Wall, It Carved an Opening for Tech Giants (New York Times, December 18, 2018)
"Internal documents show that the social network gave Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify and others far greater access to people’s data than it has disclosed."
These Democrats Will Soon Have the Power to Investigate the White House. How Far Will They Go? (New York Times, December 17, 2018)
"In two weeks, congressional Democrats will return to Washington with the authority to investigate a White House that is suspected of foreign collusion, conflicts of interest and mismanagement of the federal government. 'The oversight job after two years of Donald Trump is like coming upon a 73-car pileup on the highway.'"
Rudy Giuliani's truly remarkable answer on Donald Trump's lying (CNN, December 17, 2018)
"GIULIANI: 'The President's not under oath. And the President tried to do the best he can to remember what happened back at a time when he was the busiest man in the world.' This doesn't work on so many levels."
New Reports Shed Light on (Russian) Internet Research Agency’s Social Media Tactics (U.S. Intelligence Committee, December 17, 2018)
"Today, third-party experts released two independent analyses of social media tactics used by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) in their attempts to influence U.S. political discourse. The reports are the first comprehensive analyses of their kind conducted by entities other than social media companies themselves, and are based in part on data provided by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). The reports, titled “The Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency” and “The IRA and Political Polarization in the United States, 2015-2017,” were authored by New Knowledge, and University of Oxford and Graphika, respectively."
Republicans freak out over Obamacare decision, with Pelosi and Schumer promising to bring the pain (Daily KOS, December 17, 2018)
"Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised immediately after the ruling that House Democrats will intervene in the appeals process to save the law. What's more, they'll force that vote even though they don't technically have to. 'They intend to put all House Members on record and send a clear message to the court that the House as a body endorses defending the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. That extremist partisan judge just put his party in a world of hurt."
NEW: Just in Time for Supreme Court, Kavanaugh’s Cancer Powder Keg Blows Up (WhoWhatWhy, December 17, 2018)
"Johnson & Johnson has fought those claims aggressively, continues to deny that asbestos in any quantity or form sufficient to cause cancer appears in its baby powder, and has appealed several big jury awards to the contrary. Reuters confirms our reporting that J&J executives and paid lobbyists at the trade group, the Cosmetic, Fragrance & Toiletries Association (CFTA, now called Personal Care Products Council, PCPC), refused to disclose those studies to victims who sued the company, an omission one judge branded as 'misrepresentation.' What other outlets failed to report so far, however, is that the industry’s longtime chief lawyer-lobbyist, Edward Kavanaugh, now retired as president of the CFTA, is the father of Brett Kavanaugh, now an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Should any of the talc cases reach the court as expected, perhaps as soon as the coming session, lawyers for the plaintiffs in the talc cases tell WhoWhatWhy they are likely to ask that Kavanaugh recuse himself."
A Rule with No Exceptions? Ain't a Rule/ DOJ's Holding on Indictability (Daily KOS, December 17, 2018)
"This is the text of the ruling:
'A sitting President’s Amenability to Indictment and Crimimal Prosecution
The indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions.'
I do not dispute that Mueller would not deviate from this policy. I’ll leave it to legal scholars to ask whether the policy precludes Mueller from naming Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator and what the signifcance of his doing this would be. He has, it would seem by all accounts, to have actually participated in conspiracies which other people have already pleaded guilty to or are likely to be indicted for including members of his family.
Many of you have probably read or heard Harvard constitutional law professor Lawrence Tribe’s scathing take-down of DOJ policy that bars prosecutors from indicting a sitting presidents: 'Just because DOJ has a policy doesn’t make it reasonable, or not open to Supreme Court challenge.':
'Nothin" in the text, structure, or history of the U.S. Constitution says a sitting President cannot be indicted,' Tribe said. 'Some people claim that, even if Rosenstein gives Mueller permission to indict Trump as DOJ rules allow, the Constitution forbids such indictment. No! Nothing in its text, structure, or history supports that 'POTUS-is- above-the-law' view, nor does any SCOTUS precedent support it.'"
AND: Actually, there is an exception for extraordinary circumstances.
NEW: Should we be able to indict a sitting president? Consider Spiro Agnew. (Washington Post, December 16, 2018)
"What does the nation do if it turns out that a president of the United States has committed serious crimes that a prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt? One possible resolution would be to offer a plea bargain in which the commander in chief agreed to resign the presidency in exchange for utmost leniency. Perversely, the more financially corrupt or psychologically unstable the White House occupant, the greater his or her bargaining power: Only if you let my client go scot-free, a president’s lawyers could argue, will you be allowed to pry the nuclear codes from his hands.
That is a powerful bargaining chip but one with an expiration date. At the strike of noon on his successor’s Inauguration Day, when the (former) president’s Air Force One turns into a pumpkin, he loses that leverage and becomes like any other citizen before the bar of justice. That gives a provably corrupt president a great incentive to end his term early - and on his terms.
The end of Spiro T. Agnew’s vice presidency is instructive - and provides a good example for why we should be able to indict a sitting president."
The California Nurse Who Was Deported To Mexico In Trump Crackdown Is Back At Home In The US With Her Children (BuzzFeed News, December 15, 2018)
"Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, who had lived in the Bay Area for 20 years, became a local cause célèbre when ICE deported her in 2017. Saturday she returned to the US."
Climate Negotiators Reach an Overtime Deal to Keep Paris Pact Alive (New York Times, December 15, 2018)
"The United States agreed to the deal despite President Trump’s vow to abandon the Paris Agreement. Diplomats and climate change activists said they hoped that fact would make it easier for the administration to change its mind and stay in the Paris Agreement, or for a future president to embrace the accord once again. The United States cannot formally withdraw from the agreement until late 2020."
Donald Trump's crimes: This is deadly serious
(New York Daily News, December 15, 2018)
"Trump told a subordinate to commit a crime, a felony violation of United States campaign finance law. He conspired with an allied supermarket tabloid newspaper chain to do the same. Whatever, says the President."
Inauguration planner expressed concern about inflated Trump hotel charges 'when this is audited' (Daily KOS, December 15, 2018)
"The reason this is so believable is because it’s Trump. Of course he used donations solicited for his inauguration to enrich himself. And of course he overcharged the inaugural committee. And of course his daughter was complicit in this scheme. It’s what Trumps do."
As the Trumps Dodged Taxes, Their Tenants Paid a Price
(New York Times, December 15, 2018)
"They were collateral damage as Donald J. Trump and his siblings dodged inheritance taxes and gained control of their father’s fortune: thousands of renters in an empire of unassuming red-brick buildings scattered across Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Those buildings have been home to generations of strivers, municipal workers and newly arrived immigrants. When their regulated rents started rising more quickly in the 1990s, many tenants had no idea why. Some heard that the Trump family had spent millions on building improvements, but they remained suspicious."
‘Stop,’ ‘I wasn’t there,’ ‘I don’t know anything about that’: Republicans dodge or dismiss Trump’s legal woes (Washington Post, December 15, 2018)

Mounting legal threats surround Trump as nearly every organization he has led is under investigation (Washington Post, December 15, 2018)
Zinke, Face of Trump Environmental Rollbacks, Resigns Under Pressure (New York Times, December 15, 2018)
"Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the latest Trump administration official to exit his position facing questions of ethical conflict. He has been a key figure in the president’s plan to reshape the nation’s environmental framework.
Mr. Zinke is the latest Trump official to exit an administration plagued by questions of ethical conflict. And his departure comes as Mr. Trump has begun a shake-up in his administration. In early November, the president fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and last weekend he announced that his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, was leaving. In one of the final acts of Mr. Kelly’s tenure, his team told Mr. Zinke that he should leave by year’s end or risk being fired in a potentially humiliating way, two people familiar with the discussion said."
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to Leave His Job (Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2018)
"Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has been the subject of more than a dozen government investigations, will leave his position by the end of the year, President Trump said Saturday, adding to the list of top officials to exit the administration."
The Young Turks: Rudy Giuliani Is Starting To CRACK (10-min. video; YouTube, December 14, 2018)
"Giuliani is acting like he is on trial, not Trump. His arguments are confusing, comical and cringe-worthy. This is the man who said, 'Truth is not truth.'"
Trump is toast: This week really was the beginning of the end for the President (New York Daily News, December 14, 2018)
"He is done. Donald Trump will be forced to resign the presidency before November 2020. It's always looked like this might be where we were heading. But now it is far easier to believe it’s going to happen. The case against Trump has barreled past the tipping point. And there’s nothing he can do to reverse it. Let’s break it all down."
The Racketeer, The Evangelist, And The Pool Boy (The Soundings, December 14, 2018)
"Donald Trump is, was, and has always been a racketeer specializing in the crimes of extortion, bribery, money laundering, with some former US Attorneys now openly saying that his company resembles a criminal organization. Back in early 2016, Trump was feverishly trying to round up support from the conservative establishment, especially the evangelical base, as he tried to disavow the pro-choice rhetoric from earlier in his career. But, surprisingly, both Trump and Michael Cohen seemed totally assured that one of those evangelical leaders, Jerry Falwell, Jr., would be forthcoming with his endorsement. Josh Marshall at TPM has put together a story based on multiple reports of why that might be."
‘A breakdown in trust’: Revelations about hush money and Russian interference renew debate over the legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 win (Washington Post, December 14, 2018)
"The evidence emerging in recent days and months of crimes committed to help Trump win the presidency is fueling arguments from Democrats and other Trump critics that the man in the Oval Office got the job through nefarious means. Even without proof that those crimes swayed votes, the critics say Trump has no moral hold on the office. In the past week, the legitimacy debate has swelled with each new court filing in cases stemming from the investigations into Trump’s 2016 campaign."
NEW: Cohen says Trump knew hush-money payments were wrong, contradicting his former boss (Washington Post, December 14, 2018)
"Michael Cohen, the former lawyer and Trump fixer, added: 'He knows the truth. I know the truth. Others know the truth. And here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don’t believe what he is saying. The man doesn’t tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.'"
NEW: Facebook says a new bug allowed apps to access private photos of up to 6.8 million users (Washington Post, December 14, 2018)
"The mishap, which occurred over a 12-day period in September, adds to Facebook’s mounting privacy headaches after incidents earlier this year in which it failed to fully safeguard the personal data of its users. It has already prompted European regulators to investigate - and brought fresh calls for the company to be fined.
In general, Facebook allows apps by third-party developers to obtain users' permission and access photos shared on their timeline. Because of the bug, though, roughly 1,500 apps could access 'a broader set of photos than usual,' Facebook explained in a blog post. That includes photos that a user may have started to post, but abandoned before actually publishing, because Facebook keeps a copy of the draft in the event a user might want to finish uploading it later.
The software bug also may have allowed developers to access photos they weren’t supposed to on Marketplace, a Facebook hub for users to buy and sell goods, and some posted in Stories, where users can share short photo or video updates that appear for 24 hours.
Facebook’s latest revelation drew sharp rebukes from privacy advocates. 'It’s stunning that Facebook has the ability to send user photos to third parties when the user has not fully uploaded the photo,' said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. 'It’s like a provider sending draft emails.' 'You can call this a bug, or you can call it what it is: yet another instance of Facebook failing to protect its users’ privacy and running afoul of its 2011 consent decree,' Democratic Sen. Edward J. Markey (Mass.) echoed in a tweet Friday."
Quoting 'The Lorax,' Court Pulls Permit For Pipeline Crossing Appalachian Trail (National Public Radio, December 14, 2018)
"This conclusion is particularly informed by the Forest Service's serious environmental concerns that were suddenly, and mysteriously, assuaged in time to meet a private pipeline company's deadlines. 'I think what happened here is for years the Forest Service was asking tough questions about this project and requesting additional information and it turned on a dime when the Trump administration came into power.' - Patrick Hunter, a lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center. The court concluded that the Forest Service's decisions violated both the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, and found the Forest Service lacked the authority to grant the pipeline a right of way across the Appalachian Trail."
The nonprofit whose top exec earns more than Apple’s CEO (
Daily KOS, December 14, 2018)
"Delta Dental of California, which operates plans using the Delta name in 16 states, is a tax-exempt nonprofit/ Because of the public good it supposedly does, you subsidize it. That, however, hasn’t stopped it from paying its CEO as if he ran a for-profit company 20 or 40 times as big. The $14.3 million it paid him in 2016 is more than the CEO compensation paid by 30 of the 100 largest companies in America, including Apple and Anthem, the giant health insurer."
Federal judge in Texas strikes down Affordable Care Act (Daily KOS, December 14, 2018)
"U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth agreed with a coalition of Republican states led by Texas that he had to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act, the signature health-care overhaul by President Barack Obama, after Congress last year zeroed out a key provision -- the tax penalty for not complying with the requirement to buy insurance. Texas and an alliance of 19 states argued to the judge that they’ve been harmed by an increase in the number of people on state-supported insurance rolls. They claimed that when Congress repealed the tax penalty last year, it eliminated the U.S. Supreme Court’s rationale for finding the ACA constitutional in 2012.
The decision [was stalled from February to after November elections, to the closing days of enrollment in many States, and] is almost certain to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court."
Exclusive: Paul Manafort advised White House on how to attack and discredit investigation of President Trump (Vox, December 14, 2018)
"We now have details as to how the indicted former campaign manager worked with the president to undermine federal law enforcement."
In filing intended to be under seal, U.S. prosecutors ask to transport Maria Butina, possibly to testify at grand jury (Washington Post, December 14, 2018
Washington Post, December 13, 2018Washington Post, December 13, 2018)
"Butina, 30, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Russian government to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and the wider conservative movement to set up back-channel communications with leading Republicans around the time of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As part of her plea deal, she agreed to cooperate with prosecutors."
Russian Maria Butina pleads guilty in case to forge Kremlin bond with U.S. conservatives (
Washington Post, December 13, 2018Washington Post, December 13, 2018)
A Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (The Soundings, December 13, 2018)
"Hillary Clinton's warnings about Trump’s Russian connections were largely ridiculed at the time but have proven to be prescient. But perhaps the comments she was most harshly criticized and ridiculed for were her comments describing the Whitewater/Lewinsky/Paula Jones/Ken Starr/impeachment saga as the result of a 'vast right wing conspiracy', a claim that was subsequently largely proven to be true."
NEW: William Barr: Worse Than Jeff Sessions? David Cole on Trump’s nominee for attorney general.  (The Nation, December 13, 2018)
"Bill Barr for decades has been a very strong proponent of the view that the president has to have untrammeled power to remove executive officials without restriction from Congress. That, of course, is exactly what the issue will be if Donald Trump seeks to get rid of Bob Mueller. Mueller right now is appointed pursuant to a set of rules that limit the terms under which he can be removed, but Bill Barr thinks those kinds of limits are unconstitutional. He has a very broad view of the power of the executive, so broad that his views were relied upon by lawyers in the George W. Bush administration to argue that President Bush could order torture of Al Qaeda suspects—when federal law, international law, and the Constitution all forbade it.
A number of the Iran/Contra pardons were issued before there was even a criminal charge. Caspar Weinberger, Reagan’s secretary of defense, essentially got an advance pardon. So that’s yet another reason that Donald Trump may have found William Barr to be a very appealing choice. "
Verizon cuts 10,000 jobs and admits its Yahoo/AOL division is a failure (Ars Technica, December 13, 2018)
"Verizon is parting ways with 10,400 employees in 'a voluntary separation program,' despite the Trump administration providing a tax cut and various deregulatory changes that were supposed to increase investment in jobs and broadband networks. The cuts represent nearly seven percent of Verizon's workforce and were announced along with a $4.6 billion charge related to struggles in Verizon's Yahoo/AOL business division."
T-Mobile lied to the FCC about its 4G coverage, small carriers say (Ars Technica, December 13, 2018)
"FCC filing: T-Mobile claimed to cover areas where it hadn't installed 4G cells."

Bomb threat at Framingham DPW, many threats across Massachusetts (MetroWest Daily News, December 13, 2018)
"Police have also confirm e-mailed bomb threats to the Opera House in downtown Boston; businesses in Hingham and Braintree; and Cross Point in Lowell."
Gun deaths in US reach highest level in nearly 40 years, CDC data reveal (CNN, December 13, 2018)

Pelosi says she expects a House committee will ‘take the first steps’ toward obtaining Trump’s tax returns (
Washington Post, December 13, 2018)
In Michigan, Wisconsin and elsewhere, losers seek to undermine election results (Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2018)
"In Congress, GOP leaders have echoed President Trump and sought to undermine the legitimacy of Democrats’ strong midterm performance, raising unsubstantiated allegations of fraud and political malfeasance."
Senate rebukes Trump, Saudis over Khashoggi’s death with Yemen vote (Washington Post, December 13, 2018)
"Lawmakers voted to end U.S. military involvement in Yemen, expressing outrage and frustration with the president's refusal to condemn Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi despite the CIA’s finding that Mohammed likely is responsible."
NEW: Former Apprentice Staffer Claims Trump Was ‘Speed Freak,’ Invited Teen Beauty Queens to His Suite (Mediaite, December 13, 2018)
Trump's former friends flip as he faces a new reality (CNN, December 13, 2018)
"His former fixer has now been sentenced to prison and his tabloid friend's company landed an immunity deal. Trump separately admitted that his campaign did have interactions with Russians, which, even if it is the 'peanut stuff' he claims, is an important shift from the blanket denials he had made previously. The threads - hush money for claims of affairs and interactions with Russians - are becoming impossible to keep separate. But the pattern is clear: Schemes Trump repeatedly denied were hatched to help him get elected keep being proved true, and former friends and members of his inner circle keep heading to jail."

Trump claims ‘money we save’ from trade deal means ‘Mexico is paying’ for border wall (
Washington Post, December 13, 2018)
"The president’s argument in a morning tweet comes amid renewed criticism that he has abandoned his campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the wall."
Senate votes to overturn Trump donor disclosure rule (Politico, December 12, 2018)
"The Senate passed legislation Wednesday to reverse a Trump administration policy limiting donor disclosure requirements for political nonprofits in a rare rebuke to the White House."
Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees (The Atlantic, December 12, 2018)
"The White House again wants to expel certain groups of protected immigrants, a reversal after backing away from the policy months ago."
In the Trump era, job satisfaction tumbles in the federal workforce (Washington Post, December 12, 2018)
"After three years of steady improvement as the economy rebounded from the recession, the number of employees who would recommend their agency as a good place to work dropped at 60 percent of federal offices, the annual 'Best Places to Work in the Federal Government' rankings found. Less than 40 percent of agencies improved their ratings on the scorecard of job satisfaction at federal workplaces, compared with more than 70 percent in the Obama administration’s final years and Trump’s first."
Trump: Proud to shut down government over wall (
CNN, December 11, 2018)
"President Trump met with Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi amid talk over border security and funding the government."
Trump says he ‘never directed’ Cohen to break the law with hush money paid to women (
Washington Post, December 13, 2018)
"President Trump said that Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to charges related to the payments 'in order to embarrass the president.'"
NEW: 'No Collusion'? Here Are All the Trump Associates and Family Members Who Had Contact With Russians During the 2016 Campaign (Newsweek, December 11, 2018)
"Mueller’s team has spent more than 18 months looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether members of the campaign worked with Russia to influence the outcome of the presidential race. So far, at least 33 people have been indicted or pleaded guilty, including five former Trump advisers. In total, at least 16 different Trump associates had contact with Russians during the Trump campaign for presidency or during the transition into the White House. Here’s what we know so far."
Trump says he is not concerned about being impeached, defends payments to women (Reuters, December 11, 2018)
"'It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country,' Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview. 'I’m not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened,' he said."As Trump slides in a new poll, reality begins piercing the bubble (Washington Post, December 11, 2018)
"President Trump has steadfastly hewed to a simple M.O., which is to always claim he is winning, no matter how overwhelming the evidence grows to the contrary. Trump just raged at Democrats for failing to fund his wall, while simultaneously boasting that he has already secured the border and that the wall is indeed on track to getting built. Last week, Trump buffoonishly claimed that the news implicating him in his former lawyer’s felony 'totally clears the president.' But, while such outward displays of brash confidence may snooker his more gullible MAGA-hat-wearing supporters, the evidence is everywhere that a very different reality has begun to pierce the bubble. Meanwhile, new data shows that outside this bubble, majorities of the American people fully grasp that reality, and have done so for a long time now."
China-U.S. trade war will get a lot more personal (