MONEY IS NOT WEALTH
by A. Richard
Begun September 29,
2008; last updated December 6, 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
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
KOS, Demand Progress,
The Huffington Post,
Nation of Change,
Dan Rather's News&Guts, Politico, The Raw Story,
Russ Baker's WhoWhatWhy.org.
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 seen lots of funny
Some will rob you with a
And some with a
And as through your life
Yes, as through your
life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from
- Woody Guthrie, Dust
What is the robbing of a
bank compared to the founding of a bank?
- Bertolt Brecht
Yes, We're Corrupt.
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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
-- President Abraham
Lincoln (1864 letter to William Fletcher Elkin), or faked in Caldwell Remedy Company pamphlet (May 10, 1888),
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
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.
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.
- Walt Whitman
- Douglas Adams, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (1979)
Fragile States Index (Fund For Peace)
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
(See its Person-to-Person
section - on Facebook - and then see Corporate
Surveillance in Everyday Life , below).
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)
for America's Future)
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.
14 Characteristics of Fascism, by Lawrence Britt (Free
Inquiry magazine, 2003)
Market as God, by Harvey Cox (The Atlantic, 1999)
Living in the new dispensation.
Strange Disappearance of Cooperation in America, by Peter
Turchin (Cliodynamica, 2013)
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.
Us Cure Online Publishing of Its Addiction to
Personal Data, by Doc Searls (Linux Journal,
March 14, 2018)
Big Datastillery that targets YOU)
Official: Watching Fox Makes You Stupider (The Nation,
True Facts Guaranteed to Short-Circuit Republican Brains
(Daily KOS, 2012)
Grief, and Ours: Paul Ryan's nasty ideal of self-reliance
(New Republic, 2012)
All Built This Great Nation Together: Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan, and
the Myth of Radical Individualism (Nick Gier)
Foul Reign Of Emerson's "Self-Reliance (New York Times,
Declaration of Conscience, June 1, 1950 speech by U.S.
Senator Margaret Chase Smith (U.S. Senate, 1950)
(The beginning of the end for Senator Joe McCarthy but,
unfortunately, not for McCarthyism.)
Death Of God, by Friedrich Nietzsche (1885)
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."
What It Was For; What Went Wrong; How To Fix It, by
Populism (Campaign for America's Future, 2014)
Republicans: The Non-Cooperator's Dilemma (Daily KOS,
"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.
and Libertarianism, by David Niose
The Road Not Taken (Inside Climate News, 2015)
"This multi-part series describes how Exxon conducted
cutting-edge climate research decades ago and then, without
revealing all that it had learned, worked at the forefront of
climate denial, manufacturing doubt about the scientific
consensus that its own scientists had confirmed.
Really Warming The World? (Bloomberg, 2015)
Climate Opinion Maps, U.S. 2016
of the First 15 Years of the 21st Century (4-min. video;
NOAA, December 2, 2016)
Are Pro-Testing (Science, 2017)
World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income? (Freakonomics,
Gerasimov Doctrine (Politico, 2017)
"It’s Russia’s new chaos theory of political warfare. And it’s
probably being used on you.
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.
Hill: Sustainability is Destroying the Earth: The
Green Economy vs. The Planet (Deep Green
Resistance News Service, May 25, 2017)
What is it we are trying to sustain? A living
planet, or industrial civilization? Because we can’t
things the public sector does better than the
'free' market (Daily KOS, October 1, 2017)
Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International
Comparisons Suggest An Answer. (New York Times,
November 7, 2017)
White House Staffer
GOP Rape Advisory
Loneliness of Donald Trump; On the Corrosive Privilege of the
Most Mocked Man in the World, by Rebecca Solnit
Vote Sleuth: Investigating
Democracy (Los Angeles Times, 2017)
Donald Trump is handling his job as president (Gallup
Poll Daily Data)
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.
101: Here's what you need to know (Los Angeles Times,
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
way Donald Trump is handling his job as president
(Gallup Poll Daily Data)
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.
Hamilton 68 Dashboard tracks Russian
influence operations on Twitter.
(Hosted by the Alliance
for Securing Democracy.)
Facebook’s destructive ethos
imperils democracy (The
Guardian, March 17, 2018)
Of Utopias (Transformative
SCORECARD; Congressional Civil
Liberties Record in the Trump Era
The percentage of women and men in
each profession (Boston Globe)
bans in private vehicles
Cycles, by Quinn
If the US has
will look back
on as the
make the Obama
as he possibly
could. As with
the US has
than in the
and his tactic
to a narrow
may lead to
check on the
as well as the
of 2018 and
2020 will be
erosion of an
judiciary as a
of a free
press and the
either has won
poised to win
created a new
of his closest
the form of
Fox News and
media not only
ability to be
a serial liar
his base. A
does not have
it can be
women and the
in the United
States in 2017
(ADL Center on
Over the past
for at least
of these, 274
one type or
Hate: A Year
May 7, 2018)
How every part
of the world
has warmed –
that future is
country is on
track to sell
more than 1
as much as the
rest of the
with tens of
build up an
(and tens of
on the way),
China is not
letting up in
its pace to
Great Filter -
a cave wall,
crumbs from a
meal: the new
of the Real
If the FBI and
our mission to
On a daily
page with the
Since The Last
Signs Of The
Up the Carbon
country has a
It’s time for
and a renewed
Days to the
I propose to
Time to Break
May 9, 2019)
Facebook, is a
Project and a
have taken a
mistakes - the
of millions of
fake news; and
more of our
that of anyone
else in the
of people use
more like an
Mark alone can
decide how to
people see in
can use and
sets the rules
for how to
he can choose
to shut down a
"Mark is a
I’m angry that
his focus on
growth led him
in myself and
about how the
that Mark has
himself with a
must hold Mark
July 25, 2019)
is above the
Photos - The
Images of All
TIME and an
100 Photos of
July 23, 2019)
entering a new
era in which
data is the
there are far
forces at work
in the world
such as 3D
carry with us
are not just
for it. For
good or bad,
we are more
exposed to a
of ideas than
we have ever
been. And we
global as a
the State of
than 500 law professors sign letter calling Trump actions
impeachable. (The Hill, December 6, 2019)
The 520 professors said in the letter posted to Medium that
impeachment does not require a crime, but rather an abuse of
the public trust. "There is overwhelming evidence that
President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use
presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help
him distort an American election, for his personal and
political benefit, at the direct expense of national security
interests as determined by Congress," the professors wrote.
"His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy
that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of
impeachment in the Constitution."
House blows off House Democrats invitation to participate in
impeachment process as Trump focuses on Senate.
(Washington Post, December 6, 2019)
The White House on Friday appeared to reject the latest
entreaties from the House to participate in the
rapidly-accelerating impeachment inquiry, calling the
proceedings “completely baseless” as Democrats continued with
their push to impeach the president by the end of the month.
asks committee chairs to proceed with articles of
Post, December 5, 2019)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that President Trump’s
wrongdoing strikes at the heart of the Constitution and asked
House committee chairs to proceed with articles of
impeachment, saying lawmakers have “no choice but to act.”
look inside Trump’s anti-impeachment spin factory.
(Washington Post, December 5, 2019)
They were celebrating a rare feat: The small team of officials
in that room — pulled from the communications, legislative,
digital and legal affairs departments in the White House — had
just observed Trump following a talking point. That had
occurred because of an effort being managed out of a
bunkerlike space underneath the Oval Office by temporary White
House hires Tony Sayegh and Pam Bondi. What they are running
is not a traditional war room but more of an anti-impeachment
talking-point factory built for an impeachment battle playing
out in a frenetic news cycle that burns through half a dozen
fresh revelations a day. The environment favors Trump’s
approach of repeating a single catchphrase endlessly until it
back against Facebook disinformation. (Credo Action,
December 4, 2019)
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Donald Trump had a second
secret dinner during Zuckerberg's last trip to the capital,
and Americans deserve to know what they discussed.
constantly eat microplastics. What does that mean for our
health? (New Scientist, December 4, 2019)
By some estimates, the average household generates 6 kilograms
of plastic dust every year, around 700 billion fragments known
as microplastics. Like snowflakes, every one is different.
Every one may also be harmful. They aren’t just indoors. “They
are everywhere,” says Dick Vethaak, an environmental
toxicologist at the Deltares research institute in Delft, the
Netherlands. “In the water, in food, in the air – you are
surrounded by a cloud of them. Everything is contaminated.”
More are created every day and they will be with us for
Big plastic debris has been on our radar for years. Yet this
is just the start of something more insidious. Plastic waste
doesn’t biodegrade but it does break down, fragmented by wind,
waves and sunlight into ever-smaller pieces. They may be too
small to see, but they are still there, worming their way into
every nook and cranny of the environment – including our
This, in a nutshell, is the pervasive problem of
microplastics. But beyond knowing that they exist and are
everywhere, we are woefully ignorant about them and their
potential impact on us.
own witness Jonathan Turley makes the case for Democrats to
enforce subpoenas. (Daily KOS, December 4, 2019)
Prof. Jonathan Turley: “The House testimony is replete with
references to witnesses like John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, and
Mike Mulvaney who clearly hold material information.”
Agreed. And yet Trump is obstructing Congress and preventing
them from testifying. Trump’s witness says they have material
information. Democrats should take that as proof of the
necessity of enforcing subpoeanas.
scholar explains the most dangerous part of Sondland’s
testimony. (Daily KOS, December 4, 2019)
Law professor Pamela Karlan offered legal advice to the
House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. In her opening
statement in the impeachment hearings that began before the
committee, Karlan said that she was not there to cater to
anyone’s political talking points. She continued to
dismantle every obfuscating talking point Republicans have
been using to gaslight the country into forgetting what is
actually at stake during the proceedings.
During one exchange, Karlan asked if she could
explain what about Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s impeachment
hearing testimony was most alarming and damning. She pointed
to Sondland explaining that Trump’s release of aid to Ukraine
was based very obviously on hurting a political opponent and
not at all on the general existential threat of corruption in
Ukraine. “He had to announce the investigations, he didn’t
actually have to do them, as I understood it,” Sondland had
Abroad and Assailed at Home, Trump Returns to Face
Impeachment. (New York Times, December 4, 2019)
Two days in London on the world stage provided him no respite.
“Trump doesn’t just want to be in the club, he wants to be the
unquestioned leader and center of attention,” said Gwenda
Blair, a Trump biographer. “It had to be both humiliating and
infuriating that the other heads of state who were mocking him
were untouchable by tweet or insulting nickname, but no doubt
he was already calculating the next round of tariffs he would
send their way.”
leaders mock Trump at NATO, Trump responds by calling Justin
Trudeau 'two-faced'. (Daily KOS, December 4, 2019)
Trump and Europe, a Surprising Role Reversal (New York
Times, December 3, 2019)
President Trump has always relished throwing European
leaders off balance, antagonizing allies, embracing
insurgents and setting off a frantic contest for how best to
deal with him. Now, as Europe undergoes dizzying political
changes of its own, it is throwing Mr. Trump off balance.
In London for a NATO summit meeting, Mr. Trump was subjected
to a rare tongue-lashing on trade and terrorism by President
Emmanuel Macron of France, who dismissed his attempt to
lighten the mood with a curt, “Let’s be serious.” The president who once exchanged
a death-grip handshake with Mr. Macron sat by wordlessly
while his much-younger counterpart lectured him on the
need to fight the Islamic State. Earlier in the
day, Mr. Trump held his own tongue about British politics,
heeding Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plea not to barge
into Britain’s election at the 11th hour. The president who
once threatened to pull the United States out of NATO
suddenly emerged as the alliance’s defender. The president
who championed Brexit and hectored Mr. Johnson’s
predecessor, Theresa May, about her deal-making skills
suddenly had nothing to say about it.
For a president who prides himself on being the Great
Disrupter, it was a startling turnabout, one that
underscored how Europe’s shifting landscape - with an
ambitious president in France, a lame-duck leader in Germany
and a breakaway populist in Britain - has scrambled the
calculus for Mr. Trump.
Provisional Statement on the State of the Global Climate in
2019 (World Meteorological Association, December 3,
Extreme heat conditions are taking an increasing toll on human
health and health systems. Greater
impacts are recorded in locations where extreme heat occurs in
contexts of aging populations,
urbanization, urban heat island effects, and health
inequities. In 2018, a record 220 million heatwave
exposures by vulnerable persons over the age of 65 occurred.
In addition to conflicts, insecurity and economic slowdowns
and downturns, climate variability and
extreme weather events are among the key drivers of the recent
rise in global hunger and one of the
leading causes of severe food crises. After a decade of steady
decline, hunger is on the rise again –
over 820 million people suffered from hunger in 2018. The
situation is most severe in sub-Saharan
Africa, where the number of undernourished people increased by
more than 23 million between
2015 and 2018, particularly in countries affected by conflict.
Among 33 countries affected by food
crises in 2018, climate variability and weather extremes were
a compounding driver together with
economic shocks and conflict in 26 countries and the leading
driver in 12 of the 26.
More than 10 million new internal displacements were recorded
between January and June 2019. Of
these, 7 million were triggered by hydrometeorological events
including Cyclone Idai in southeast
Africa, Cyclone Fani in south Asia, Hurricane Dorian in the
Caribbean, and flooding in Iran, the
Philippines and Ethiopia, generating acute humanitarian and
protection needs. Among natural
hazards, floods and storms have contributed the most to
displacement recorded so far in 2019,
followed by droughts. Asia and the Pacific remain the regions
most prone to disaster displacement
due to both sudden and slow-onset disasters. For instance,
more than 2 million people were
evacuated in Bangladesh, the second most disaster-prone
country in the region, due to Cyclone
Bulbul in November, and more than 2 million in China due to
Typhoon Lekima in August.
staggering millennial wealth deficit, in one chart
(Washington Post, December 3, 2019)
The divide widens with each generation, data show, the
byproduct of wage stagnation and income inequality.
the health-care industry wants to destroy any Democratic
reform (Washington Post, December 2, 2019)
Lobbyists either helped draft or made extensive revisions to
opinion columns published by three state lawmakers in a way
that warned against the dangers of Medicare-for-all and other
government involvement in health care. Montana state Rep.
Kathy Kelker (D) and Sen. Jen Gross (D) acknowledged in
interviews that editorials they published separately about the
single-payer health proposal included language provided by
John MacDonald, a lobbyist and consultant in the state who
disclosed in private emails that he worked for an unnamed
client. Gross said MacDonald contacted her on behalf of the
Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a
multimillion-dollar industry group founded in 2018 and funded
by hospitals, private insurers, drug companies and other
private health-care firms.
This is hardly the first time a lobbyist or
representative of an interest group wrote an op-ed for a
legislator, but it’s an important reminder of what’s happening
with the health-care debate. On one side, you’ve got some
pro-Medicare-for-all groups such as Physicians for a National
Health Program, with modest budgets and small staffs. (PNHP
has a staff of four.) In the middle, you have Democratic
presidential candidates arguing about how far to go on
health-care reform. And on the other side, you have insurers,
hospitals, drug companies, device companies and other
health-care interests who together wouldn’t think twice about
dropping hundreds of millions of dollars to destroy
Medicare-for-all and anything that resembles it. After all,
there are tens of billions of dollars in profits at stake.
Which is why those groups formed the Partnership for America’s
Health Care Future, which will be the vanguard of the war on
health-care reform should a Democrat be elected president and
try to get an ambitious bill passed.
Here’s one of the most important things to understand about
these interests: They despise “moderate” reform as much as
they do Medicare-for-all. There are reasons the kind of
expansive public-option plan being offered by Joe Biden or
Pete Buttigieg is more politically practical than
single-payer, but opposition from industry is not one of them.
useful idiot from Louisiana (Washington Post, December
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.)
showcasing the “typical shell game” of Republicans on
impeachment: Eliminate the importance of the “quid pro quo,”
muddy the waters of the president’s motive and distort the
impeachment process itself. Since then, the senator from
Louisiana has taken his pro-Trump spin to a new level:
repeating Russian disinformation without a care.
made Trump president. It's not the first time Russia has
subverted another country's election. (Daily KOS,
December 1, 2019)
I’m talking about stealthily subverting another country’s
election and placing its puppet into power. That’s what Russia
did to Poland-Lithuania during the 18th century. Lithuania was
once the largest country in Europe? Moreover, that was before
it joined with Poland to become, for a time, not only the
dominant power in Eastern Europe, but also one with a
significant degree of democracy.
As Eric Lohr, an American University historian specializing in
Russia, summarized it, “By the early 18th century, Russia was
routinely meddling in internal Polish electoral politics.”
This should sound quite familiar to Americans in the era of
Vladimir Putin’s Russia interfered in our elections in 2016,
as U.S. intelligence agencies have clearly documented. Not
only that, but Moscow has spent years denying it and
deflecting blame by spreading the false rumor that Ukraine—a
country that, like 18th-century Poland, it wants to weaken and
ultimately dominate—was the one who did it.
swimming in my underwear taught me about Donald Trump and
getting away with it. (USA Today, December 1, 2019)
Impeachment is the atomic bomb of rebukes, a judgment that
'You are not fit to serve.' And it will distinguish Democrats
from Republicans in history.
has the 2nd Amendment in its sights—and gun groups are
November 30, 2019)
On Monday (Dec. 2), the US Supreme Court will hear one of the
most anticipated and disputed cases of the term, a gun rights
fight that pits New York City against the New York State Rifle
and Pistol Association (NYSRPA). The matter has politicians on
the left and right up in arms, inspiring unusually unfriendly
amicus briefs and strange letters to the court. The case
arises from a New York City gun transport ban that limited
licensed gun owners’ ability to travel with firearms. The
state rifle and pistol association sued the city, alleging
violations of the Constitution’s Second Amendment right to
is taking a fight over toxic-waste cleanup to the US Supreme
Court. (Quartz, November 30, 2019)
The US Supreme Court will this week hear oral arguments in a
high-stakes case about corporations, hazardous waste, and
paying to clean up pollution. The matter arises from a dispute
between Montana landowners and the oil company Atlantic
Richfield Co. (ARCO) over the now-defunct Anaconda Smelter.
The smelter was shut down in 1980, after about a century of
use in refining copper ore for phone wires and power lines. In
the years it was operational, its smokestacks spewed arsenic
and lead over a 20,000-acre area of Big Sky Country, covering
about five towns.
Atlantic-Richfield argues that this is about more than just
money. The landowners’ desired further remediation efforts
could undermine work done by the federal government to clean
up the Superfund site, it says. More importantly, allowing
such suits to go forward will wreak havoc on the national
toxic waste cleanup scheme. The company contends that CERCLA
bars claims like those being made by the Montana landowners
and that federal law trumps local rules, and many businesses
and industry groups have signed on to amicus briefs supporting
this position. The federal government controls local cleanups
at Superfund sites and has the final say on remediation, ARCO
and its allies argue. Otherwise, different authorities all
over the country could be working at counter purposes,
implementing contradictory cleanup plans that could cause even
more damage in vulnerable regions.
Meanwhile, environmentalists, who side with the private
landowners, scoff at the corporation’s position. They say that
nothing in the federal law limits landowners from seeking
additional remediation to restore their property under state
rules. In other words, the EPA does indeed designate Superfund
sites and formulate plans for their cleanup, but those plans
aren’t necessarily the sole remediation efforts that
corporations must make if there are other appropriate state
law claims. The landowners also argue that ARCO is being
disingenuous when it says that their plan would actually
damage and undermine cleanup efforts made in the region of the
smelter thus far. Conceding that the EPA found their proposed
plan technically difficult and expensive to implement, they
contend that there’s nonetheless no evidence that it would
actually be environmentally harmful as ARCO argues.
dodged US tax on $2 billion by routing cash through multiple
countries, whistleblower says. (Quartz, November 29,
Walmart, the world’s biggest company, underpaid US taxes on
nearly $2 billion worth of offshore cash, according to
whistleblower documents filed by a former Walmart executive to
the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2011, and recently
obtained by Quartz. The firm avoided nearly $200 million in
taxes on that money and “dramatically” overstated its foreign
tax credits in 2009 and 2010 by routing payments from
Luxembourg to the United States via the United Kingdom and not
declaring they came from a tax haven, the whistleblower wrote.
Walmart’s history of alleged tax dodging poses a challenge to
the firm’s efforts to rebrand itself as an exemplar of
conscious capitalism, especially as it regroups from settling
a seven-year bribery investigation for $282 million in June.
In September, Quartz obtained files showing the firm may owe
up to $2.6 billion in US taxes, avoided by creating a
“fictitious” Chinese entity. And in 2015, a report by the
Americans for Tax Fairness alleged that Walmart had placed
assets worth at least $76 billion in tax havens where it had
no retail stores—a figure equal to 37% of the company’s total
assets at the time. Walmart has contested both reports.
the future of work be ethical? (TechCrunch, November 28,
After generations of increasing inequality, can we teach tech
leaders to love their neighbors more than algorithms and
Nature: The Financialization of The Planet. (87-min.
video; Deep Green Resistance News Service, November 27, 2019)
In recent years, nature conservation has become a flourishing
business sector where huge sums of money change hands and
endangered organisms are transformed into financial products.
This film exposes the corporations and non-profits banking on
the monetization of the planet.
Are On Native Land. (New Economy, November 27, 2019)
Indigenous people are -- and have always been -- at the front
lines of resisting colonization. In the spirit of
Truthsgiving, we want to use this space to lift up Native-led
stories and resources that demonstrate that another way of
life is possible.
Omar challenger permanently suspended from Twitter.
(Washington Times, November 27, 2019)
Danielle Stella, a Republican seeking to unseat Rep. Ilhan
Omar, Minnesota Democrat, was suspended from Twitter after her
account posted Tuesday about killing the congresswoman. Ms.
Stella’s campaign account on Twitter, @2020MNCongress, was
punted from the platform after posting at least twice about
hanging Ms. Omar, a progressive freshman frequently the target
of right-wing attacks.
Nunes is trending on Twitter, and the hashtag is something
to behold. (Daily KOS, November 27, 2019)
In June, Rep. Devin Nunes sued Twitter, as well as three
individual Twitter accounts, for defamation. The complaint,
which asked for $250,000,000 in damages and $350,000 in
punitive damages, argued that, "As part of its agenda to
squelch Nunes' voice, cause him extreme pain and suffering,
influence the 2018 Congressional election, and distract,
intimidate and interfere with Nunes' investigation into
corruption and Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential
Election, Twitter did absolutely nothing." What were these
disparaging and defaming accounts, attacking Nunes in such a
way as to warrant this lawsuit? They were Devin Nunes' Mom
(@DevinNunesMom) and Devin Nunes' Cow (@DevinCow).
(Don't miss the Comments thread! :-)
Deutsche Bank Exec Connected to Trump Loans Dies by Hanging
in Malibu. (Los Angeles Magazine, November 27, 2019)
Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank—which lent him around
$2 billion after most other institutions had forsaken him for
his history of defaults and bankruptcies—has come under
investigation by two Congressional committees and the New York
Attorney General, who are hoping the bank can shed light on
Trump’s elusive finances, according to the New York Times. At
one point, Bowers had a close connection to those finances.
Bowers isn’t the first Trump-connected Deutsche exec to commit
suicide by hanging. In 2014, Deutsche derivatives analyst
William S. Broeksmit, who reportedly had links to Trump and
Russia, hung himself from a dog leash at his home in London.
Florida rally, Trump claims he beat Obama and saved
Christmas. (Daily Kos, November 27, 2019
And then he flew to the moon and single-handedly defeated 15
Donald Trump held a rally in Florida last night. We generally
don't even cover these at this point: You can't even call them
campaign rallies as much as "rallies Trump's staff arranges
for him to give him an outlet for his megalomanic tendencies
that does not involve military strikes or making Cabinet
members battle to the death."
That said, there were a few moments during this one that stood
out. The man is in a positively venomous mood of late—no
surprise—and it is the times when he most seeks the adulation
of his crowds that he turns weird and racist. Well, weirder
The phrase "slurring noticeably" is going to start appearing
more and more frequently in the coming months, so be prepared
for that. Is he out of his mind? Of course. Is he a
pathological liar? Absolutely: It is both a side effect of the
worst case of malignant narcissism most people will ever have
the opportunity to themselves witness, and his own coping
mechanism for managing a life in which he knows nothing, has
instincts for nothing, and fails continuously through his own
faults, propped up only by a near-boundless supply of daddy's
posted a picture of himself as Rocky. No one knows what to
make of it. (The Guardian, November 27, 2019)
robot scientist has conducted 100,000 experiments in a year.
(TechCrunch, November 27, 2019)
Science is exciting in theory, but it can also be dreadfully
dull. Some experiments require hundreds or thousands of
repetitions or trials — an excellent opportunity to automate.
That’s just what MIT scientists have done, creating a robot
that performs a certain experiment, observes the results, and
plans a follow-up… and has now done so 100,000 times in the
year it’s been operating.
The field of fluid dynamics involves a lot of complex and
unpredictable forces, and sometimes the best way to understand
them is to repeat things over and over until patterns emerge.
One of the observations that needs to be performed is of
“vortex-induced vibration,” a kind of disturbance that matters
a lot to designing ships that travel through water
efficiently. It involves close observation of an object moving
through water… over, and over, and over. Turns out it’s also a
perfect duty for a robot to take over. But the Intelligent Tow
Tank, as they call this robotic experimentation platform, is
designed not just to do the mechanical work of dragging
something through the water, but to intelligently observe the
results, change the setup accordingly to pursue further
information, and continue doing that until it has something
a few 2020 US Presidential candidates are using a basic
email security feature. (TechCrunch, November 27, 2019)
Out of the 21 presidential candidates in the race according to
Reuters, only seven Democrats are using and enforcing DMARC,
an email security protocol that verifies the authenticity of a
sender’s email and rejects spoofed emails, which hackers often
use to try to trick victims into opening malicious links from
seemingly known individuals.
It’s a marked increase from April, where only Elizabeth
Warren’s campaign had employed the technology. Now, the
Democratic campaigns of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Michael
Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard and Steve
Bullock have all improved their email security. The remaining
candidates, including presidential incumbent Donald Trump, are
not rejecting spoofed emails. Another seven candidates are not
using DMARC at all.
That, experts say, puts their campaigns at risk from foreign
influence campaigns and cyberattacks.
engine’: Vallejo’s Mare Island megaproject envisions
thousands of new homes. (San Francisco Chronicle,
November 26, 2019)
bleak report, U.N. says drastic action is only way to avoid
worst effects of climate change. (3-min. video: Washington Post, November 26, 2019)
Global greenhouse gas emissions must begin falling by 7.6
percent each year beginning 2020 — a rate currently nowhere in
sight — to meet the most ambitious aims of the Paris climate
accord, the report issued early Tuesday found. Its authors
acknowledged that the findings are “bleak.” After all, the
world has never demonstrated the ability to cut greenhouse gas
emissions on such a scale.
“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate
change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions,”
Inger Andersen, executive director of the U.N. Environment
Program, said in a statement announcing the findings. “We need
to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated.”
The sobering report comes at a critical moment, when it
remains unclear whether world leaders can summon the political
will to take the ambitious action scientists say is essential.
So far, the answer has been no.
White House Budget Official Said 2 Aides Resigned Amid
Ukraine Aid Freeze. Judiciary Committee invites White House
to participate. (New York Times, November 26, 2019)
Mark Sandy, an official at the Office of Management and
Budget, testified that two of his colleagues quit after
expressing concerns about President Trump’s decision to
withhold military assistance. Mr. Trump has insisted he never
pressured Ukraine for the investigations or made the aid
contingent upon them, and was instead withholding the money
out of concern for corruption in Ukraine and a desire to have
other countries pay their fair share. And his Republican
allies have argued that the funding’s eventual release proves
that Mr. Trump did nothing wrong.
Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the
Judiciary Committee chairman, wrote a letter to the president
Tuesday afternoon notifying him of the hearing and offering
his lawyers a chance to question the witnesses. He asked the
White House to inform him by Sunday if the president or his
lawyer wants to participate in the initial hearing, and
reminded Mr. Trump that House rules empower him as chairman to
curtail that involvement if “you continue to refuse to make
witnesses and documents available” related to the inquiry. The
letter from Mr. Nadler initiated what is likely to be a
high-stakes legal and political dispute between the two sides
over what rights the president and his legal team should be
afforded. In modern times, the Judiciary Committee has allowed
presidents facing similar proceedings an active role, inviting
them to recommend witnesses for testimony, conduct
cross-examinations and present a defense through their
lawyers. But whereas Mr. Clinton and former President Richard
M. Nixon grudgingly engaged with Congress — at least to some
extent — as it built impeachment cases against them, Mr.
Trump’s White House has thus far responded only by declaring
the House’s inquiry illegitimate and refusing to cooperate.
House counsel McGahn must comply with House subpoena, judge
rules. (Washington Post, November 26, 2019)
A federal court ruled Monday that “no one is above the law”
and that top presidential advisers cannot ignore congressional
demands for information. U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown
Jackson of Washington found no basis for a White House claim
that the former counsel is “absolutely immune from compelled
congressional testimony,” setting the stage for a historic
separation-of-powers confrontation between the executive and
legislative branches of the government.
The House Judiciary Committee went to court in August to
enforce its subpoena of McGahn, whom lawmakers consider the
“most important” witness in whether President Trump obstructed
justice in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s
investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S.
election. Trump blocked McGahn’s appearance, saying McGahn had
cooperated with Mueller’s probe, was a key presidential
adviser, and could not be forced to answer questions or turn
over documents. Judge Jackson disagreed, ruling that if McGahn
wants to refuse to testify, such as by invoking executive
privilege, he must do so in person and question by question.
The Justice Department’s claim to “unreviewable absolute
testimonial immunity,” Jackson wrote in a 118-page opinion, “is baseless, and
as such, cannot be sustained.” The judge ordered McGahn to
appear before the House committee and said her conclusion was
“inescapable” because a subpoena demand is part of the legal
system — not the political process — and “per the
Constitution, no one is above the law. However busy or
essential a presidential aide might be, and whatever their
proximity to sensitive domestic and national-security
projects, the President does not have the power to excuse him
or her from taking an action that the law requires. Fifty
years of say so within the Executive branch does not change
that fundamental truth.”
The Bush administration’s claim of “absolute immunity from
compelled congressional process for senior presidential aides
is without any support in the case law,” wrote Bates, a Bush
appointee, former presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Court and deputy independent counsel in the
Whitewater probe of President Bill Clinton. The parties
eventually agreed on questioning behind closed doors and
release of a public transcript, mooting the case.
Judge Jackson, an Obama nominee, quoted Bates’s 2008 decision
heavily, calling the administration’s immunity claim “a
fiction” maintained “through force of sheer repetition,” one
that has never gone through the “crucible of litigation.
Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of
recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings."
The assertion that a president can overrule current or former
aides’ “own will to testify,” she added, “is a proposition
that cannot be squared with core constitutional values, and
for this reason alone, it cannot be sustained.”
Jackson did not limit her ruling to impeachment proceedings
but wrote, “It is hard to imagine a more significant wound
than such alleged interference with Congress’ ability to
detect and deter abuses of power within the Executive branch
for the protection of the People of the United States."
The White House said in a statement Monday that the decision
“contradicts longstanding legal precedent established by
Administrations of both political parties. We will appeal and
are confident that the important constitutional principle
advanced by the Administration will be vindicated.”
writes letter to House Democrats, passes impeachment inquiry
on to Judiciary Committee. (Daily KOS, November 25,
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff sent a letter
to House Democrats today updating them on the status of the
impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. Schiff writes that his
committee has "uncovered a massive amount of evidence" and
that Trump "sought foreign interference in our elections for
his personal and political benefit at the expense of our
141-foot ‘Super Guppy’ aircraft delivered the Orion
spacecraft to a testing facility in Ohio ahead of 2024
mission to land the first woman and next man on the Moon.
(Daily Mail, November 25, 2019)
- The Super Guppy aircraft is used by NASA to transport large
- It was used to move parts of the Saturn V rocket during the
- It was taking the Orion spacecraft to Ohio for pre-flight
- NASA says Orion will fly to the moon without a crew for a
test flight in 2020.
- The Artemis missions will eventually see humanity return to
the moon by 2024.
wants a chief algorithm officer to counter bias, build
transparency. (Ars Technica, November 25, 2019)
The big, black decision-making boxes could get more
transparent to New Yorkers.
Uplifting Tweet You Just Shared? A Russian Troll Sent It.
(Rolling Stone, November 25, 2019)
Here’s what Russia’s
2020 disinformation operations look like, according to
two experts on social media and propaganda.
Professional trolls are good at their job. They have studied
us. They understand how to harness our biases (and hashtags)
for their own purposes. They know what pressure points to push
and how best to drive us to distrust our neighbors. The
professionals know you catch more flies with honey. They don’t
go to social media looking for a fight; they go looking for
new best friends. And they have found them.
Professional disinformation isn’t spread by the account you
disagree with — quite the opposite. Effective disinformation
is embedded in an account you agree with. The professionals
don’t push you away, they pull you toward them.
Disinformation operations aren’t
typically fake news or outright lies. Disinformation is most
often simply spin. Spin is hard to spot and easy to believe,
especially if you are already inclined to do so.
The Russians know that, in political warfare, disgust
is a more powerful tool than anger. Anger drives people to the
polls; disgust drives countries apart.
Russian disinformation is not just about President Trump or
the 2016 presidential election. Did they work to get Trump
elected? Yes, diligently. Our research has shown how Russia
strategically employed social media to build support on the
right for Trump and lower voter turnout on the left for
Clinton. But the IRA was not created to collude with the Trump
campaign. They existed well before Trump rode down that
escalator and announced his candidacy, and we assume they will
exist in some form well after he is gone. Russia’s goals are
to further widen existing divisions in the American public and
decrease our faith and trust in institutions that help
maintain a strong democracy. If we focus only on the past or
future, we will not be prepared for the present.
The IRA generated more social media content in the year
following the 2016 election than the year before it. They also
moved their office into a bigger building with room to expand.
Their work was never just about elections. Rather, the IRA
encourages us to vilify our neighbor and amplify our
differences because, if we grow incapable of compromising,
there can be no meaningful democracy. Russia has dug in for a
long campaign. So far, we’re helping them win.
McConnell’s Opposition to Federal Election Security Is
Hitting Home. (Mother Jones, November 25, 2019)
Kentucky officials say local voting systems are “one emergency
away from disaster.”
Why Has The U.S. Economy Not Sunk Yet? It Is Because The Fed
Is Doing A Whole Lot Of Bailing. (Daily KOS, November
When Trump’s really dumb tax cuts took effect starting in
2018, the Fed increased the Prime Interest Rate to prevent the
extra cash influx from the tax cuts that were flowing into the
U.S. economy from creating inflation. This tightening of the
U.S. money supply, along with Trump’s clueless tariffs meant
that the U.S. Dow Jones Industrial Average was barely higher
at the end of 2018 than it was at the beginning of 2018.
During this time, Donald Trump moaned about how the higher
interest rates were hurting the economy. Any economist worth
his or her salt could have told Trump that interest rates
would have risen when his tax cuts were implemented, but
instead, someone apparently told Trump that his tax cuts would
magically make the stock market go crazy. You see, Donald
Trump isn’t just ignorant. He’s apparently also surrounded by
Trump’s equally clueless combination of tax cuts and tariffs
eventually slowed down the U.S. economy in 2018 to such a
point that the Fed ended up having to lower the Prime Interest
Rate again in 2019. However, just lowering interest rates has
not been enough to counteract the damage that Trump’s policies
have done to the U.S economy. In addition to lowering the
Prime Interest rate, the Fed has also had to start a program
that many would call Quantitative Easing (QE), but which the
Fed has been insisting is not actually Quantitative Easing.
Basically, during quantitative easing, the Fed buys a lot of
assets, like bonds, and. in turn, it also acquires an equal
amount of debt at the same time.
Perry Calls Donald Trump The Chosen One Sent By God To Rule
Over Us. (Politico, November 25, 2019)
The secretary of energy used “imperfect” Old Testament kings
to make his point.
realism of Bernie Sanders’ climate policy. (Boston
Globe, November 25, 2019)
Sanders believes that as our economy rapidly shifts to
renewable energy, power companies should be publicly owned and
controlled, and the biggest polluters should help underwrite
New York City Found Clean Water. (Smithsonian, November
For nearly 200 years after the founding of New York, the city
struggled to establish a clean source of fresh water.
Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web
Foundation: "I Invented the World Wide Web. Here’s How We
Can Fix It." (New York Times, November 24, 2019)
I had hoped that 30 years from its creation, we would be using
the web foremost for the purpose of serving humanity. Projects
like Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap and the world of open source
software are the kinds of constructive tools that I hoped
would flow from the web.
However, the reality is much more complex. Communities are
being ripped apart as prejudice, hate and disinformation are
peddled online. Scammers use the web to steal identities,
stalkers use it to harass and intimidate their victims, and
bad actors subvert democracy using clever digital tactics. The
use of targeted political ads in the United States’ 2020
presidential campaign and in elections elsewhere threatens
once again to undermine voters’ understanding and choices.
We’re at a tipping point. How we respond to this abuse will
determine whether the web lives up to its potential as a
global force for good or leads us into a digital dystopia.
Cybertruck is ridiculous, but who wants to bet against Elon
Musk? (Quartz, November 23, 2019)
It’s a Tesla. Vehicles, at least in this class, are about
identity. Most pickups, it turns out, are “cowboy costumes,”
an expensive way to haul air and make a statement. Only 25% of
truck owners ever drive off-road or tow something. The most
important features truck buyers want in their pickup? “To look
good while driving, to present a tough image, to have their
car act as an extension of their personality, and to stand out
in a crowd.”
(And this $40-$70K super-"truck" is the ultimate pick-up.)
Awful Truth About Impeachment: Facts be damned is Trump’s approach, and it’s
working. (The New Yorker, November 22, 2019)
After five days, twelve witnesses, lots of shouting, and
dozens of angry tweets from the President, the House
Intelligence Committee’s public impeachment hearings into
Donald Trump’s Ukraine affair ended on Thursday with one
unequivocal result: a Republican stonewall so complete that it
cannot and will not be breached. The G.O.P. defense, in
essence, is that facts are irrelevant, no matter how damning
or inconvenient, and that Trump has the power to do whatever
he wants, even if it seems inappropriate, improper, or simply
wrong. Recognizing this, Democrats on Thursday evening
signalled that they will move ahead with impeachment by the
full House anyway, and soon. It was a grim choice, made with
the knowledge that the case against Trump will likely proceed
without any Republican votes, or even testimony from key
Administration witnesses who have obeyed the President’s
command not to appear.
lot of things are the matter with me': The best lines from
Trump's Fox interview. (Politico, November 22. 2019)
flirts with standing against a unanimous Congress and in
favor of China's President Xi. (Daily KOS, November 22, 2019)
It's up to Trump. Side with 100% of the U.S. Congress and, of
course, human rights, or with another of his favorite
autocrats and veto the bill? Because unanimous is definitely a
a deep red town’s only grocery closed, city hall opened its
own store. Just don’t call it ‘socialism.’ (Washington
Post, November 22, 2019)
Notably, these experiments in communal ownership are taking
place in deep-red parts of the country where the word
“socialism” is anathema. By definition, a collectively owned,
government-run enterprise like the Baldwin Market is
inherently socialist. But Lynch, who has a nonpartisan
position but governs a town where 68 percent of residents
voted for Donald Trump in 2016, doesn’t see it that way. From
his point of view, the town is just doing what it’s supposed
to do: providing services to residents who already pay enough
Knew, Too. (Huffington Post, November 22, 2019)
A newly-unearthed journal from 1966 shows the coal industry,
like the oil industry, was long aware of the threat of climate
In a 1966 copy of the industry publication Mining Congress
Journal, James R. Garvey, who was the president of Bituminous
Coal Research Inc., a now-defunct coal mining and processing
research organization, wrote: "There is evidence that the
amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere is
increasing rapidly as a result of the combustion of fossil
fuels. If the future rate of increase continues as it is at
the present, it has been predicted that, because the CO2
envelope reduces radiation, the temperature of the earth’s
atmosphere will increase and that vast changes in the climates
of the earth will result. Such changes in temperature will
cause melting of the polar icecaps, which, in turn, would
result in the inundation of many coastal cities, including New
York and London."
Trump Says He Wants a Trial. Here's What Needs to Happen in
the House Impeachment Inquiry Before He Gets One. (Time,
November 22, 2019)
In one sense, the question before Nancy Pelosi and other House
leaders is straightforward: Will more hearings produce
evidence that ultimately strengthens the case that President
Donald Trump should be removed from office, or do they already
have what they need to make the case?
But the larger question facing Pelosi and her aides is a more
complicated political one. If, as polls suggest, there is no
evidence that will convince Republican voters, and therefore
GOP lawmakers, that Trump abused the power of the presidency,
what is the best course of action for Democrats as they seek
to retake the White House and the Senate, and hold on to the
keeps making it tougher for his defenders. (The
Washington Post, November 22, 2019)
Up against the wall, Donald Trump has always reached into his
ready arsenal of aggressive tactics. Confronted with
challenges that would make many people search for a way out,
he punches back, insults those who speak against him, tosses
up falsehoods and distracting stories he knows will get big
play in the news media and offers frequently shifting
Now, facing the likelihood that he will become only the third
president ever to be impeached, Trump is deploying his full
playbook — even as his statements repeatedly undercut the case
Republican defenders in Congress have made on his behalf. The
president’s unsupported attacks on some of the key witnesses
appearing over the past two weeks before the House
Intelligence Committee not only surprised many of his
Republican allies but also contradicted the narrative that
they had settled on to describe why Trump’s actions in the
Ukraine controversy do not justify his removal from office.
“It makes it more politically difficult for us,” said Rep.
Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), “but it doesn’t change how we’ll vote
biggest mistake Democrats made in the impeachment hearings
was not focusing on CrowdStrike. (Daily KOS, November
Dr. Fiona Hill included this in her opening statement: "Based
on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this
committee appear to believe that Russia and its security
services did not conduct a campaign against our country—and
that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a
fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated
by the Russian security services themselves."
What Republicans did not say, and what Hill really meant, was
that Donald Trump, William Barr, and every Republican on the
committee are actively involved in an attempt to prove that
Russia was not involved in 2016 election interference. Forget
Nunes’ weak-tea report, because Republicans, Nunes included,
are right now working to disprove that report themselves. What
Hill was referring to was something that Trump discussed in
his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Baron Cohen blasts social media giants for ‘ideological
imperialism’. (Daily KOS, November 22, 2019)
Cohen focused his speech on social media and the handful of
tech giants that control the world’s largest platforms,
calling them “the greatest propaganda machine in history.”
Cohen outlined the rise of fascistic, racist, xenophobic,
anti-Semitic conspiracy theories around the world and their
breeding grounds on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and
Google. “On the internet, everything can appear equally
legitimate. Breitbart resembles the BBC. The fictitious
Protocols of the Elders of Zion look as valid as an ADL
report. And the rantings of a lunatic seem as credible as
the findings of a Nobel Prize winner. We have lost, it
seems, a shared sense of the basic facts upon which
Cohen said that while Facebook and Twitter and others had
made small attempts to deal with these content issues, much
more was needed. Specifically, he argued that Mark
Zuckerberg’s defense of Facebook’s semi-hands-off approach
to political ads and hate groups is disingenuous, saying,
“Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach.” Cohen also
argued that no one is asking Facebook to police free speech
around the world, but, since it is a privately owned
company, he doesn’t see why Facebook won’t stop lies from
Cohen noted that the real problem is that there are six
people, whom he calls the “Silicon Six” (Facebook’s Mark
Zuckerberg; Google’s Sundar Pichai, Larry Page, and Sergey
Brin; Susan Wojcicki at YouTube; and Jack Dorsey at
Twitter), who control what the majority of the globe sees
CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife privately recommended
staff hires to Pete Buttigieg. (CNBC,
November 21, 2019)
The news reveals that the Big Tech executive has played
a larger role in the 2020 election than was previously
Baron Cohen's Keynote Address at ADL's 2019 'Never Is Now'
Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate (25-min. video;
Anti-Defamation League, November 21, 2019)
Remarks by Sacha Baron Cohen, Recipient of ADL's International
Was Teaching a Lot of Misconceptions.’ The Way American Kids
Are Learning About the 'First Thanksgiving' Is Changing.
(Time, November 21, 2019)
The teachers at this Nov. 9 workshop on “Rethinking
Thanksgiving in Your Classroom” were there to learn a
better way to teach the Thanksgiving story to their students,
but first, they had some studying to do. When Gokey explained
that early days of thanks celebrated the
burning of a Pequot village in 1637, and the
killing of Wampanoag leader Massasoit’s son, attendees
Moments From Hill and Holmes’s Testimony in the Impeachment
Inquiry. (New York Times, November 21, 2019)
President Trump’s former adviser testified that the pressure
campaign on Ukraine was a “domestic political errand” that
diverged from U.S. foreign policy.
Pence all of a sudden can't recall if he talked with
Sondland about Ukraine aid being withheld. (Daily KOS,
November 20, 2019)
Starr, on Fox News: 'It doesn't look good for the
president.' (Daily KOS, November 20, 2019)
Today, during a break in the testimony, Starr quoted Adam
Schiff, saying (again, on Fox News), “There is now proof that
the President committed the crime of bribery. This has been
one of those bombshell days,” adding that “it doesn’t look
good for the president.” Finally, he said, “I think articles
of impeachment are being drawn up if they haven't already been
drawn up,” the only question being whether they would be
bipartisan or not.
Trump’s very large, very strange Sharpie notes on
impeachment. (Vox, November 20, 2019)
The talking points were scrawled in all caps on an Air Force
Democrats, three Republicans in U.S. presidential race.
(Reuters, November 20, 2019)
Are The Top Trump Administration Officials Implicated By
Gordon Sondland. (Huffington Post, November 20, 2019)
The ambassador gave explosive testimony that named top
officials as part of a quid pro quo effort with Ukraine.
Two Most Important Sentences of the Impeachment Hearings.
(The Atlantic, November 20, 2019)
Ambassador Gordon Sondland delivered a bombshell this morning:
“Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.”
was no secret': Ambassador says quid pro quo came at
'express direction of the President'. (CNN, November 20,
US Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified Wednesday there was a
quid pro quo for Ukraine to announce investigations into
President Donald Trump's political opponents that came from
the President's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the "express
direction of the President."
What's more, Sondland provided House impeachment investigators
with emails and texts showing it wasn't just him and Giuliani
pushing for the investigations outside government channels —
Trump's inner circle knew what was going on, too. He even said
he raised concerns with Vice President Mike Pence that the
freezing of $400 million in security aid to Ukraine was linked
to the investigations.
Sondland's testimony is the most damning evidence to date
directly implicating Trump in the quid pro quo at the heart of
the impeachment inquiry. His public remarks show a link
between US security aid and a White House meeting and Ukraine
publicly announcing investigations that would help the
placed in suspended animation for the first time. (New
Scientist, November 20, 2019)
Samuel Tisherman, at the University of Maryland School of
Medicine, told New Scientist that his team of medics had
placed at least one patient in suspended animation, calling it
“a little surreal” when they first did it. He wouldn’t reveal
how many people had survived as a result.
The technique, officially called emergency preservation and
resuscitation (EPR), is being carried out on people who arrive
at the University of Maryland Medical Centre in Baltimore with
an acute trauma – such as a gunshot or stab wound – and have
had a cardiac arrest. Their heart will have stopped beating
and they will have lost more than half their blood. There are
only minutes to operate, with a less than 5 per cent chance
that they would normally survive.
EPR involves rapidly cooling a person to around 10 to 15°C by
replacing all of their blood with ice-cold saline. The
patient’s brain activity almost completely stops. They are
then disconnected from the cooling system and their body –
which would otherwise be classified as dead – is moved to the
A surgical team then has 2 hours to fix the person’s injuries
before they are warmed up and their heart restarted. Tisherman
says he hopes to be able to announce the full results of the
trial by the end of 2020.
planet is burning. (Aeon, November 20, 2019)
Fire - wild, feral, and fossil-fuelled - lights up the globe.
Is it time to declare that humans have created a Pyrocene?
Becoming a Carbon Source Instead of a Sink. (NASA,
November 19, 2019)
As global and regional warming continues, winter emissions of
carbon dioxide from Arctic lands are offsetting what plants
absorb in the summer.
Passes Bill to Support Hong Kong Protesters, Putting
Pressure on Trump. (New York Times, November 19, 2019)
The House and Senate both passed the bill with a veto-proof
majority. It compels the U.S. to penalize Chinese and Hong
Kong officials responsible for abuses.
will top biggest-battery record. (Seeking Alpha,
November 19, 2019)
Tesla's (NASDAQ:TSLA) battery project with Neoen (OTC:NOSPF)
in South Australia became "the world's largest battery" when
it was completed two years ago, and now it's expanding by 50%
to 150 megawatts.
The storage site has already saved more than A$50M in its
first year of operation, meaning that the A$66M venture is
quickly on its way to pay for itself. Australian Energy Market
Operator confirmed the system is much more rapid, accurate and
valuable than a conventional steam turbine.
of upsetting her NRA donors, US senator Joni Ernst blocks
Violence Against Women Act. (11-min. video; The Young
Turks, November 19, 2019)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is absolutely right when
he calls out Ernst and says that if she wants to alter the
legislation with amendments of her own, they can be debated
independently, along with the amendment closing the so-called
"boyfriend loophole." Except the Republicans don't want to
debate the issue because they know it's a huge loser for them.
Hence the obstruction.
said he was quoting Nancy Pelosi on impeachment. He was
actually quoting Fox News. (Daily KOS, November 19,
Republicans’ preferred witnesses are implicating Trump.
(Washington Post, November 19, 2019)
The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday heard from two
former Trump administration officials whose testimony was
requested by Republicans. So it was striking that the stories
they told simply added to the evidence that President Trump
abused his office and twisted long-standing U.S. policy in
Ukraine to serve his personal political interests.
Hearings Live Updates: Republicans Question Vindman’s
Loyalty. (New York Times, November 19, 2019)
The top Ukraine expert at the National Security Council
testified that President Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president
in which Mr. Trump asked for investigations of former Vice
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was “inappropriate” and “a
partisan play,” as Republicans raised questions about his
loyalty and professionalism. Marie
Yovanovitch represents something Americans are desperate
for: decency. (The Guardian, November 18, 2019)
Trump calls her ‘bad news’, but the public won’t be convinced
by his smear.
She rooted out Trump in the middle of the hearing as he
blurted more bile. It changed the course of the impeachment
hearings. It will change the course of politics. We were
reminded of the redeeming power of decency, which properly
resides in a healthy sense of shame that is very much alive
right now. It will take down Trump and revive the Republic.
Supreme Court May Criminalize Immigrant Advocacy.
(Slate, November 18, 2019)
The case could let the government prosecute people for routine
legal work or even sympathetic tweets.
Court stops Trump financial documents from going to House on
Wednesday. (CNN, November 18, 2019)
President Donald Trump's financial documents won't be released
Wednesday, after the Supreme Court on Monday put on hold a
lower court opinion that allowed a House subpoena to go
forward. The court did not set a timeline when it will rule or
release the documents, but has asked for the House to respond
on Thursday to Trump's request to block the subpoena.
Earlier Monday, the House said that it would endorse a 10-day
delay to give the justices more time to consider legal
impeachment ire turns on Pompeo amid diplomats' starring
roles. (NBC News, November 18, 2019)
Impeachment hearings have created a rift between the president
and one of his staunchest allies in the administration.
Pompeo has served in the administration since its start. Trump
tapped him as CIA director, then moved him to secretary of
state after he fired Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson. For
almost three years, Pompeo seamlessly navigated a finicky
president. He’s remained, and became more influential, as
Trump churned through two chiefs of staff, three national
security advisers, an attorney general, and secretaries of
defense, state, labor, homeland security, interior, veterans
affairs and health and human services.
But in recent weeks Pompeo has been under steady fire over his
role in the Ukraine scandal, as well as his handling of it.
Initially when the Ukraine controversy became public, Trump
wanted Pompeo to publicly defend him against the State
Department bureaucracy, officials said. But the White House
thought Pompeo appeared unprepared in his television
interviews, and his performance only fueled the president’s
frustrations, they said.
Trump has hinted publicly at tensions with Pompeo, and while
the comments might go unnoticed by the untrained ear they’ve
been heard loudly by people close to the president. The first
was on Oct. 23, officials said, when Trump wrote on Twitter:
“It would be really great if the people within the Trump
Administration, all well-meaning and good (I hope!), could
stop hiring Never Trumpers, who are worse than the Do Nothing
Democrats. Nothing good will ever come from them!” Trump
followed up with another tweet specifically calling Taylor,
and his lawyer, "Never Trumpers." Two days later, Trump said
Pompeo “made a mistake” in hiring Taylor.
Pompeo has faced criticism for saying, during an interview on
ABC’s “This Week,” that he didn’t know anything about the July
25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr
Zelenskiy that is at the center of the controversy. Pompeo
didn’t disclose until more than a week later that he had
listened in on that call.
Like the White House, he has attempted to block State
Department officials from testifying. And he has refused to
turn over State Department documents related to Ukraine.
Criticism of Pompeo inside the State Department escalated when
he refused to publicly defend Yovanovitch after a
reconstructed transcript of the July 25 call revealed Trump
disparaged Yovanovitch to Zelenskiy, administration officials
have said. Pompeo’s closest aide, Ambassador Mike McKinley,
resigned over the secretary’s refusal to defend Yovanovitch.
Testimony from Taylor and others show Pompeo was keenly aware
of the concerns his top officials had about Giuliani’s efforts
and his handling of Yovanovitch.
In public testimony on Friday, Yovanovitch appeared to
excoriate Pompeo for “the failure of State Department
leadership to push back as foreign and corrupt interests
apparently hijacked our Ukraine policy. It is the
responsibility of the department's leaders to stand up for the
institution and the individuals who make that institution the
most effective diplomatic force in the world,” she said.
Poll: 70% of Americans say Trump’s actions tied to Ukraine
were wrong. (ABC News, November 18, 2019)
of a feather: Why Trump wants to commute Rod Blagojevich's
sentence. (Daily KOS, November 17, 2019)
Convicted former Illinois governor Blagojevich’s criminal
behavior increased markedly in 2008 in a race against time.
The state had passed an ethics law that was due to take effect
on Jan. 1, 2009 and prohibited “any individual or entity with
existing state contracts of more than $50,000 from
contributing to entities like Friends of Blagojevich.” So the
push was on to get as much as possible before the law kicked
in, with a total goal of $2.5 million. Some $500,000 was
expected to be raised by Highway Contractor 1, who wanted to
supply concrete for a new toll road project. The CEO of
Children’s Memorial Hospital had funding threatened over a
But the crime for which Blagojevich will long be remembered is
the attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat. It was breathtaking
in its audacity. He attempted to sell it to the newly-elected
president in exchange for an appointment as the secretary of
the Health and Human Services Department.
jails in Trump era are packed, but deportations are fewer
than in Obama’s. (Washington Post, November 17, 2019)
It has been nearly 700 days since Bakhodir Madjitov was taken
to prison in the United States. He has never been charged with
a crime. Madjitov, a 38-year-old Uzbek national and father of
three U.S. citizens, received a final deportation order after
his applications to legally immigrate failed.
He is one of the approximately 50,000 people jailed on any
given day in the past year under the authority of U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the most foreigners held
in immigration detention in U.S. history. The majority of
those detainees, such as Madjitov, are people with no prior
“ad blocker” plasters users with—you guessed it—ads.
(Ars Technica, November 17, 2019)
Ads Blocker uses several tricks to covertly and constantly
bombard users with ads.
fight for the future of the web (The Guardian, November
In reality, two-thirds of us have been funnelled into using
Google’s Chrome, but browser choice also hides a contest about
the openness of the web and how data is collected about users.
One organisation that has always put such issues to the
forefront is Mozilla.
FedEx Cut Its Tax Bill to $0. (New York Times, November
The company, like much of corporate America, has not made good
on its promised investment surge from President Trump’s 2017
Robert Reich: Warren doesn't just
frighten billionaires – she scares the whole establishment.
(The Guardian, November 17, 2019)
No wonder the wealth tax turns the Gray Lady white as a sheet:
it will help the needy and its author is a good bet for
On Thursday, the New York Times reported on a study showing
that Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax (and presumably
Bernie Sanders’ even more ambitious version) would reduce
economic growth by nearly 0.2% a year, over the course of a
decade. Under the headline “Warren
Wealth Tax Could Slow the Economy, Early Analysis Finds”,
the Times trumpeted the analysis, from the Wharton School of
the University of Pennsylvania, as “the first attempt by an
independent budget group to forecast the economic effects” of
a centerpiece of the Warren and Sanders campaigns.
It sounded like a game-changer. The super rich obviously don’t
like a wealth tax, but if it also slows the economy, it could
But wait. In order to arrive at their conclusion, the authors
of the study make two bizarre leaps of economic logic.
Democrat, Gov. John Bel Edwards, Keeps Seat Despite Trump's
Opposition. (NPR, November 17, 2019)
"If this campaign has taught us anything, it's that the
partisan forces in Washington, D.C. are not strong enough to
break through the bonds that we share as Louisianans," Edwards
said in his victory speech.
Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South and
is not a typical Democrat. He's a pro-Second Amendment gun
owner who signed one of the country's strictest anti-abortion
bills this year.
This is the third and final gubernatorial election of 2019 and
the second loss for President Trump, who campaigned for all
three candidates. The president was in Louisiana this past
week and framed the race as a personal referendum, urging
voters to unseat Edwards. Trump traveled to Louisiana three
times to support Rispone. About two weeks ago, Republican Tate
Reeves won the open seat in Mississippi, but in Kentucky,
Democrat Andy Beshear ousted Republican incumbent Gov. Matt
Bevin. Edwards' second term may be a bitter pill for Trump,
who had much invested in this year's elections ahead of his
own election in 2020.
John Bel Edwards wins reelection to remain Deep South's only
Democratic governor (USA Today , November 16, 2019)
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards won a second term Saturday to
remain the only Democratic governor in the Deep South despite
an all-out effort by President Donald Trump to flip the seat
to the Republican column.
Edwards narrowly beat wealthy Republican businessman Eddie
Rispone, who invested more than $14 million of his own money
to finance his campaign and tied himself to Trump from start
The president told Louisiana voters the race was a symbolic
referendum on his presidency, which he said is under attack by
Democrats who've started impeachment hearings in the House.
"You've got to give me a big win, OK?"
But in the end Trump’s coattails weren’t long enough to carry
Rispone across the finish line. Edwards predicted as much
during his own rally in Shreveport Thursday, expressing
confidence voters wouldn’t allow the president to nationalize
the election. "The voters of Louisiana are going to decide
this election on Louisiana issues," Edwards said. "They don't
need the president or anybody else to tell them how to vote."
Congresswoman shreds The Hill for publishing conspiracy
theories as 'opinion' columns. (Daily KOS, November 16,
A Washington-based reporter and Fox News personality who had
until recently been working at the politics outlet The Hill,
John Solomon, 52, is not well known outside conservative
media. But, according to interviews and testimony, his writing
and commentary helped trigger the chain of events that are now
the subject of the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump. Mr.
Solomon’s work has been endorsed by some of the most
influential figures on the right like Sean Hannity, Rush
Limbaugh and the president, who has highlighted Mr. Solomon’s
articles on Twitter.
The spread of Solomon’s work, according to media experts who
spoke to the Times, is a near-perfect example of how rightwing
media isn’t actually an echo chamber … it’s an ecosystem.
Here’s how it works.
whole hearing turned on a dime': The Trump catastrophe even
Fox News couldn't ignore. (Daily KOS, November 16, 2019)
On Friday, as Trump lashed out at a seasoned U.S. diplomat in
the midst of her sworn congressional testimony, Fox News was
doing what every other actual news outlet in the nation was
doing—covering the impeachment hearings. Trump's witness
bullying was a bombshell most Fox anchors would have ignored
on any other day. But because House Intelligence Committee
chair Adam Schiff stopped the hearing to read Trump's tweets
and ask Yovanovitch if she wanted to respond, Trump's
intimidation became part of a hearing Fox was already
"This whole hearing turned on a dime when the president
tweeted about her in real time," noted Fox anchor Brett
Baier. "That enabled Schiff to then characterize that
tweet as intimidating the witness or tampering with the
witness, which is a crime. Adding essentially an article of
impeachment real time." In other words, Trump singlehandedly
authored another article of impeachment. Wow, now that is some
stunning straight talk on Fox.
key takeaways from testimony by former Ukraine Ambassador
Marie Yovanovitch (ABC News, November 15, 2019)
ambassador says "foreign corrupt interests" orchestrated
ouster — live updates. (5-min. video; CBS News, November
Marie "Masha" Yovanovitch appeared Friday before the House
Intelligence Committee in the second public hearing in the
impeachment inquiry. Over the course of more than six hours,
she said she was given no reason for her abrupt removal from
Kiev and did not know why she was targeted by Rudy Giuliani.
Republicans at the hearing praised her service and largely
avoided casting doubt on her account, instead criticizing
Democrats for their handling of the proceedings and
questioning the relevance of Yovanovitch's testimony, given
that she was dismissed before the events at the center of the
Ukraine affair. Democrats said her experience showed that U.S.
foreign policy had been co-opted by a rogue faction that was
led by Giuliani and abetted by other U.S. diplomats.
As she was testifying, the president tweeted a new attack
targeting her, claiming that "everywhere Yovanovitch went
turned bad," seemingly blaming her for instability in
dangerous foreign countries where she has been posted over her
33-year career. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam
Schiff said the president's attacks were tantamount to witness
"I want to let you know, ambassador, that some of us here take
witness intimidation very, very seriously," Schiff said.
trickster” Roger Stone convicted on all counts in Mueller
indictment. (Ars Technica, November 15, 2019)
Former Trump campaign adviser found guilty of witness
intimidation, lies, and obstruction.
After his indictment, Stone was banned by Judge Amy Berman
Jackson from using social media after he posted a photo of
Judge Jackson in cross-hairs on his Instagram account. Stone
had been banned from Twitter after inflammatory posts in 2017.
Stone violated Judge Jackson's order 11 times since February.
Service Records Contradict Trump’s Claim on Doral G-7.
(Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington,
November 15, 2019)
CREW received records from the United States Secret Service
that, along with emails from Doral city officials, undermine
President Trump’s dubious claim that members of the Secret
Service wanted the 2020 G-7 Summit to be hosted at Trump’s
Doral resort in Miami. The reality appears to be quite
different, with the Secret Service instead expressing
reluctance, saying “the property does present some
challenges,” followed by a redaction that implies security
concerns. The records also seem to show that Doral was added
for consideration at the last minute, saying “[b]y departure,
they had already cut two (California and North Carolina) and
added Miami on the back end.” Taken together, the records that
CREW obtained call into question nearly every aspect of
Trump’s justification of his choice.
Trump leaned heavily on a claim that after an exhaustive
search, members of the government preferred Doral, saying
“When my people came back…They went to places all over the
country. And they came back and they said, ‘This [Doral] is
where we would like to be.’ Now we had military people doing
it. We had Secret Service people doing it.”
House releases new Trump-Zelensky transcript revealing its
initial call readout was all lies. (Daily KOS, November
Out (Longreads, November 15, 2019)
Search and rescue teams train for the worst conditions. But
the worst conditions are getting worse. Are they ready for the
next big disaster?
ships, crop circles, and soft gold: A GPS mystery in
Technology Review, November 15, 2019)
A sophisticated new electronic warfare system is being used at
the world’s busiest port. But is it sand thieves or the
Chinese state behind it?
tries to sell D.C. hotel, promising big profits from foreign
visitors and government business. (Daily KOS, November
There are still lawsuits underway which accuse Trump of
violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which forbids
all office holders, especially the president of the United
States, from accepting gifts or other income from foreign
countries while in office. What would the founders have
thought about a Saudi lobbyist paying for 500 rooms at Trump’s
D.C. hotel immediately after he won the election Electoral
Wanting to find a way out of these lawsuits might be a reason
to sell, but is there more going on here? Based on recent
elections and voter registration data, Donald Trump, and
Republicans in general, are in danger of losing in 2020.
Surely that hotel will get a lot less popular if he loses and
the MAGA types lose their appetite for overpriced rooms and
steaks. But there have been other recent decisions by the
Trump Organization that seem to indicate something bigger
might be going on here.
In its Comments thread:
- Heading for yet another bankruptcy? Note that Trump
and his organization do not actually own most of these
properties. His creditors do. What Trump does own
and where he gets most of his revenue is his brand, and that
has been sharply devalued during his term of office.
When Trump and his family are finally put out of office, they
may also be out of business.
- That lease for Trump’s DC Hotel was broken the day that
Trump was sworn in as President. It contains a clause that
states that it cannot be used by a government official for a
commercial, for-profit, business. One of his first hires as
head of the GSA was a guy that wrote an opinion that
exonerated him from keeping that hotel even though the lease
said that it was illegal. I would like to know if the GSA man
is under Nancy Palosi’s radar for the House emoluments case
F. Kennedy Jr. is the single leading source of anti-vax ads
on Facebook. (Ars Technica, November 14, 2019)
Researchers dig into Facebook's ad library.
Chomsky, there was Lippmann: the First World War and
‘manufactured consent’. (18-min. video; Aeon, November
Walter Lippman contended that, because the world is too
complex for any individual to comprehend, a strong society
needs people and institutions specialised in collecting data
and creating the most accurate interpretations of reality
possible. When used properly, this information should allow
decisionmakers to ‘manufacture consent’ in the public
interest. However, in one of the most damning critiques of
democracy, Lippman identifies how public opinion is instead
largely forged by political elites with self-serving interests
– powerful people manipulating narratives to their own ends.
Truth Online Is Hard Enough. Censors Make It A Labyrinth. (New
York Times Magazine, November 13, 2019)
On Saturday, April 29, 2017, Turkey banned Wikipedia. This
came as a shock, even in a country with a history of banning
everything from novels (Albert Camus’s “The Plague,” from
public schools in 1987) to films (“Nymphomaniac,” in 2014) to
entire genres of music (arabesk, from state channels in the
’70s and ’80s).
The Turks were perhaps more prepared than many to deal with
two of the most bewildering new features of what is now our
shared global predicament: the chaos of the internet and the
populist subterfuge of one-man regimes. But in recent years,
both have accelerated to a scary degree in Turkey. What was
once a semi-predictable stranglehold on official information
has become a chaotic, repressive race to protect Erdogan’s
After so many years of censorship, who is to say what anyone
really feels or believes in Turkey anymore? By what method
would anyone even gather and represent those feelings? During
the Istanbul mayoral election, the country surprised itself,
and its citizens surprised one another. During the war in
Syria, it has made sense to ask how much of the country does
not reflexively support Erdogan’s foreign war. There is no way
to know. A heavily censored society not only loses access to
information; it ceases to know itself. The greatest loss the
Turks face under Erdogan might be their knowledge of one
Suffers Worst Flooding in 50 Years, Mayor Blames Climate
Change. (Live Science, November 12, 2019)
Late on Tuesday (Nov. 12), high tides from the surrounding
lagoon surged onto the more than 100 islands that make up
Venice, flooding 85% of the city and damaging artwork and many
historic sites, Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted. Photos and
videos posted on social media show the intense flood turning
alleyways into rushing rivers, stranding large water taxis in
public plazas, and drenching some of the city's most iconic
historic sites — including St. Mark's Basilica, completed in
1092. According to the local tide monitoring center, water
levels from the flood peaked at 6.1 feet (1.87 meters) last
night — the highest floodwaters in more than 50 years, and the
second highest ever recorded in Venice. (The tide reached 6.3
feet, or 1.94 m, in November 1966.)
Venice is susceptible to some flooding — or "aqua alta," as
it's regionally known — every year when high tides mix with
heavy rain and strong winds. However, Brugnaro noted,
yesterday's intense surge was exceptional, and almost
certainly linked to the increasingly powerful storms fueled by
global warming. Of the 10 highest tides in Venice since
record-keeping began in 1923, five have occurred in the last
20 years, including the current flood and one in 2018. Both
events were tied to strong storm surges blowing northeastward
across the Adriatic Sea (Venice is located on the northern
seashore), thanks in part to changing patterns in the jet
stream. These jet-stream patterns are likely to continue,
leading to more frequent and intense storms, as climate change
Racial Justice Guide to Thanksgiving. (Center for Racial
Justice in Education, November 12, 2019)
As we enter this holiday season, this resource is intended to
support educators and families as we address the true story of
Thanksgiving. This guide provides resources that range from
lesson plans to narratives that uplift the perspectives and
contributions of the Native American community.
Kills Senior Islamic Jihad Commander in Gaza. (New York
Times, November 12, 2019)
Israel described the Gaza commander, Baha Abu al-Ata, as a
“ticking bomb” who was “responsible for most of the
Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s activity in the Gaza Strip.”
Before 6 a.m., militants in Gaza began firing barrages of
rockets toward southern and central Israel from the
Palestinian coastal enclave. Islamic Jihad called the Israeli
strike “a declaration of war against the Palestinian people”
and said, “Our response to this crime will have no limits.”
Get Confused By The Ukraine Scandal: Here Are The Key Facts.
Post, November 12, 2019)
It seems like it’s getting more complicated,
but it really isn’t.
private speech, Bolton suggests some of Trump's foreign
policy decisions are guided by personal interest.
(5-min. video; NBC News, November 12, 2019)
Former national security adviser John Bolton derided President
Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law during a private speech
last week and suggested his former boss’ approach to U.S.
policy on Turkey is motivated by personal or financial
interests. Bolton also questioned the merits of Trump applying
his business acumen to foreign policy, saying such issues
can’t be approached like the win-or-lose edict that drives
real estate deals: When one deal doesn’t work, you move on to
The description was part of a broader portrait Bolton outlined
of a president who lacks an understanding of the
interconnected nature of relationships in foreign policy and
the need for consistency.
Bolton's pointed comments, at a private gathering last
Wednesday at Morgan Stanley’s global investment event in
Miami, painted a dark image of a president and his family
whose potential personal gain is at the heart of
decision-making, according to people who were present for his
remarks. Bolton is a potential linchpin witness in the inquiry
into Trump’s efforts to elicit help from the Ukrainian
government to investigate the family of former Vice President
Joe Biden, given his central role in the White House during
that time. The impeachment inquiry moves to public testimony
Impeachment Of Donald Trump Is Starting. Here’s What To
Post, November 12, 2019)
The proceedings will be televised and give the most visible
look yet at the effort to impeach the president.
Emails Show Stephen Miller Is Exactly Who You Think He Is.
(Huffington Post, November 12, 2019)
Emails sent to Breitbart editors promoted white nationalism
and xenophobia, and bemoaned opposition to Confederate
violated Constitution by searching phones for no good
reason, judge rules. (Ars Technica, November 12, 2019)
ICE and Customs violated 4th Amendment with suspicionless
searches, ruling says.
‘Project Nightingale’ Gathers Personal Health Data on
Millions of Americans. (Wall Street Journal, November
Search giant is amassing health records from Ascension
facilities in 21 states; patients not yet informed.
Unparalleled Genius of John von Neumann (Medium,
November 11, 2019)
“Most mathematicians prove what they can; von Neumann proves
what he wants.”
Rather: President Trump's support seems cultish.
(CNN, November 11, 2019)
"Increasingly, President Trump's support seems cultish,"
legendary journalist Dan Rather says. "It's all about him,
it's not about the policy, it's not about standards of
politics." Rather expresses doubt that Senate Republicans
will break with Trump, so Brian Stelter asks him if Mitch
McConnell is part of the "cult."
You Can’t Impeach Trump for a Crime He Does ‘All the Time’.
(New York Magazine, November 11, 2019)
“It is inappropriate for a president to ask a foreign leader
to investigate a political rival,” Thornberry conceded.
Nonetheless, he argued for acquittal. Leaning hard into
Republican objections to the impeachment process, Thornberry
argued that the entire impeachment proceeding is null and
void, however damning the evidence may be. Batting away a
question about his focus on “process,” Thornberry replied:
“And process — you know, you all always want to say substance,
not process. There’s a reason we let murderers and robbers and
rapists go free when their due process rights have been
how Trump's hardball tactics put the Constitution in peril.
(The Guardian, November 9, 2019)
Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence committee,
told reporters this week the executive branch refusal to
cooperate amounted to evidence of obstruction of the inquiry,
suggesting Trump, like Nixon, might face an article of
impeachment along those lines. “The White House excuses keep
changing,” Schiff said. “First it was: the House hasn’t held a
vote. Then, a claim of immunity never upheld by a court. Now
they want their lawyers to participate, which is against the
rules Republicans wrote. It doesn’t add up – except as
evidence of obstruction.”
release testimony of White House officials who raised
Ukraine alarms. (ABC News, November 8, 2019)
Transcripts of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill
were made public. The two top White House officials said they
were so disturbed by the Trump administration’s handling of
Ukrainian policy that they reported their concerns directly to
National Security Council Legal Adviser John Eisenberg, at one
point relaying concerns that U.S.-Ukraine interactions were
akin to a “drug deal” being cooked up by the White House chief
Came SO CLOSE To Getting Ukraine To Do His Bidding. Trump
Defenders Grasping At Disposable Straws. (8-min. video: The Young Turks,
November 8, 2019)
In the face of growing, and increasingly overwhelming,
evidence of a quid pro quo over Ukraine, Trump’s defenders are
grasping ever-more desperately at inane, bizarre and often
risible justifications for the president’s actions. Case in
point: South Carolina Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who
recently offered up two “defenses” of Trump, each patently
comical in their own way.
As Cenk and Ana discuss in this clip, Graham has chosen a -
shall we say - interesting explanation for why EU ambassador
Gordon Sondland has asked to revise his original testimony in
front of House committees from “I wasn’t aware of any quid pro
quo” to “Oh yeah, there was definitely a quid pro quo.”
Sondland’s change of heart arose after many others in the
administration offered damning evidence that contradicted with
Sondland’s, and he clearly saw the possibility of a perjury
charge in his future. But that’s not how Lindsey Graham sees
it - Graham instead has floated a bizarre conspiracy that
House Dems like Adam Schiff somehow “got to” Sondland.
Although, as Ana notes, Graham for some reason seems to think
his name is “Sunderland,” which it isn’t.
The other crazy justification may have a little more validity,
at least according to Cenk. Graham told reporters that Trump
couldn’t possibly have demanded a quid pro quo from Ukraine
because the administration’s Ukraine policy is too incoherent.
Or, as Ana puts it, “Trump is too stupid to do a quid pro
quo.” Cenk loves this defense as well, wondering if this is
sufficient evidence to conclusively prove that people who hang
out with Trump become more stupid by osmosis, citing as
another corroborating data point: Rudy Giuliani.
went into Barnes & Noble and replaced the covers of
Trump Jr.'s new book. (Daily KOS, November 8, 2019)
warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump. (The
Hill, November 7, 2019)
Republicans discover their silver impeachment bullet is
backfiring. (Daily KOS, November 7, 2019)
It wasn't supposed to be like this. After House Democrats
opened an impeachment inquiry, Republicans were supposed to
be able to flail around wildly hurling words like "witch
hunt" and "socialist" and "Soviet," at which point frenzied
GOP voters would rush to the polls and deliver whopping,
stinging electoral defeats to Democrats. That was the
plan—and even the conventional wisdom—until Tuesday, when
Democrats bested Republicans in yet another off-year
election as we move toward the all-important 2020
Actually, voters did go to the polls in droves but, if there
was a motivating factor, it seemed more about sending Trump
the signal that many, many Americans are damn sick and tired
of watching him defile our republic. There is simply no
other way to read the results in Virginia, where turnout
surged from 29% in 2015 to nearly 40% four years later and
delivered control of both legislative chambers to Democrats.
Some observers wondered whether scandals that have plagued
Democrats in Virginia's executive branch might offset some
of the anti-Trump fervor. Nope. The issues were also clearly
on the side of Democratic candidates in Virginia, but the
notable spike in turnout seems to be as much a product of
anti-Trump rage voting as anything else.
And in Kentucky, no amount of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin
railing against impeachment and Trump begging voters to
protect his reputation could save a candidate who
Kentuckians despise, though Bevin has not conceded defeat to
Democrat Andy Beshear yet. Turnout also surged in Kentucky
to 42%, 11 points above what the secretary of state had
just lost his last impeachment defense: Bombshell evidence
of quid pro quo. (6-min. video; The Young Turks,
November 7, 2019)
tax cuts hiked the deficit, now $1 trillion, so guess what
Republicans want for 2020? (USA Today's Editorial Board,
November 7, 2019)
The 2017 tax cuts produced only a brief sugar high for the
economy. America can't afford Round 2!
ordered to pay $2M after misusing his charity in 'shocking
pattern of illegality'. (3-min. video; MSNBC, November
President Donald Trump must pay a $2 million judgment for
improperly using his Trump Foundation to further his 2016
presidential campaign, a New York state judge ruled Thursday.
The order appears to bring to an end the New York attorney
general's lawsuit against the president and three of his adult
children over the now-shuttered foundation, which the attorney
general alleged had engaged in repeated "self-dealing."
Gates challenges Elizabeth Warren to discuss wealth tax, and
she calls his bluff. (Daily KOS, November 7, 2019)
a Different Approach to Fighting Climate Change. (New
York Times, November 7, 2019)
Inequality is a big contributor to climate change.
world cope if GPS stopped working? (BBC, November 6,
Knowing that you're lost is one thing; being wrongly convinced
you know where you are is another problem altogether.
terrible software design decisions led to Uber’s deadly 2018
crash. (Ars Technica, November 6, 2019)
NTSB says the system "did not include consideration for
Barr is racing to deliver a report that blows up the
impeachment inquiry—and everything else. (Daily KOS,
November 6, 2019)
Barr appears to have taken the results of an inspector general
report that was expected to end weeks ago, rolled it together
with the investigation-into-the-investigation that he launched
under the nominal control of prosecutor John Durham, and
capped it all with the “findings” of a world tour that
included attempts to get the Australian government, the
Italian government, and the U.K. government to participate in
attacks on U.S. intelligence agencies. What’s going to come
out the other end could be a dud, but it could launch an
effort to derail the impeachment process—and more.
Results 2019: Democrats Take Control of Virginia
Legislature. (Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2019)
Democrats now have a trifecta, giving them unified control of
both chambers and governor’s office.
takeaways from the stunning victory for Democrats in
Kentucky (maybe) and Virginia yesterday (Boston Globe,
November 6, 2019)
president: Kentucky governor's race could be decided by
state legislature. (Louisville KY Courier Journal,
November 6, 2019)
Gov.-Elect Andy Beshear! Kentucky dumps Matt Bevin, despite
Trump's selfish pleas. (Daily KOS, November 5, 2019)
York City just became the largest place in America to adopt
instant-runoff voting (also known as ranked-choice voting).
(Daily KOS, November 5, 2019)
A recent special election for public advocate took place
without any primary or runoff and saw the winner prevail with
just 33% in a field of 17 candidates, an outcome that will no
longer be possible. Given the city's prominence in the media,
this switch could accelerate the adoption of instant runoffs
elsewhere as more citizens become aware of how the system
Blockade Shipment of Tar Sands Pipeline. (Portland
Rising Tide, November 5, 2019)
Community members from Oregon and Washington have shut down
part of the Port of Vancouver, WA to block a shipment of
pipeline that is destined for the Trans Mountain Pipeline
Expansion (TMX) project in Canada that would run from Edmonton
to Vancouver, B.C. This latest action is the third in a series
of actions targeting the Port of Vancouver, WA for its role in
transporting dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure.
Six climbers have locked themselves to the dock where the
shipment is to be off-loaded in order to prevent the pipeline
pipes from making it to their final destination in Vancouver,
B.C. They are supported by dozens of kayakers and other
boaters who are rallying to tell the Port of Vancouver,
Governor Inslee, and Prime Minister Trudeau to stop this
dangerous fossil fuel project that is jeopardizing a livable
future for everyone on this planet.
Kiera, a climber blocking the ship dock, said, “The hypocrisy
of the Port of Vancouver is embarrassing. The Port
Commissioners should be ashamed — they claim to be
environmental stewards concerned about climate catastrophe,
yet they are enabling the dirtiest pipeline project in the
world by allowing this pipe to pass through the port.”
An activist with Portland Rising Tide, Rachel Walsh, said,
“I’m here because tar sands crude transported by the Trans
Mountain Expansion project would require three times more
water for extracting and refining and would release 15% more
greenhouse gas per gallon of gasoline when compared with
conventional oil. We are also taking action in solidarity with
Fort McKay First Nations who are suing the Alberta government
because tar sands expansion threatens sacred land that the
government promised to protect.”
America Tried to Deport Its Radicals (New Yorker,
November 4, 2019)
A hundred years ago, the Palmer Raids imperilled thousands of
immigrants. Then a wily official got in the way.
Seek to Swamp Democratic Offices With Anti-Impeachment
Calls. (New York Times, November 4, 2019)
The Republican National Committee’s effort was meant to tie up
phone lines of congressional Democrats as part of a broader
plan to defend the president.
former Republican Rep. David Jolly: Today’s Republican Party
Is ‘Spineless Politicians Rotten to the Core’. (2-min.
video; Breitbart, November 4, 2019)
"These are, in today’s Republican party, spineless
politicians, rotten to the core without virtue, without any
level of human integrity, devoid of self-respect,
self-reflection, without courage, and without the moral
compass to recognize their own malevolence. And one day,
maybe, they will have the recognition of how they failed the
country and themselves in this moment, but that would be
giving them credit that somewhere down deep they have the
goodness to recognize how to reconcile their own failings with
what is right and just in American politics—and frankly, what
is right and wrong in the eyes of adults and children alike.”
federal appeals court just demolished Trump’s claim that he
is immune from criminal investigation. (Vox, November 4,
One of Trump’s most audacious legal claims had a terrible day
Less than two weeks ago, President Trump’s personal attorney
William Consovoy stood before a panel of federal appellate
judges and told them that the president is immune from
criminal investigation even if Trump shoots someone in the
middle of Fifth Avenue. It didn’t take long for that panel to
reject this extraordinary argument. On Monday, an unanimous
panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second
Circuit held that Trump is not immune from such
investigations. The case is Trump v. Vance.
Vance arises from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s
effort to secure many of Trump’s financial documents from
Trump’s accounting firm, including his tax forms. Vance seeks
these documents as part of a fairly broad-reaching criminal
investigation that may ultimately implicate Trump himself, but
that may also only wind up implicating some of Trump’s
companies or his business associates.
Vance’s investigation is a state investigation and is entirely
separate from the House impeachment inquiry. Indeed, Trump’s
lawyers argued that one reason why Trump should be immune from
this investigation is because it is being conducted by state
officials and not the federal government.
Yet, as Chief Judge Robert Katzmann, a Clinton appointee,
explains for his court, Trump’s immunity claim is especially
weak because Vance seeks personal documents that are unrelated
to Trump’s conduct in office. Though prior Supreme Court
decisions establish that the president enjoys “absolute
immunity from damages liability predicated on his official
acts,” this case does not involve Trump’s conduct in office.
Nor does it even involve an “order that compels the President
himself to do anything.”
Hybrid 2.0 strategy: Azure Arc, Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack
Edge explained (ZDNet, November 4, 2019)
At Ignite 2019, Microsoft is announcing new branding and a new
strategy meant to make Azure the place IT pros will manage
their edge, on-premises and multi-cloud software and services.
Here's my best attempt to demystify the new hybrid
House lawyer defies House subpoena; Trump sees ‘no reason’
to summon witnesses on Ukraine call. (Washington Post,
November 4, 2019)
Lawmakers wanted to question John Eisenberg, the deputy
counsel on the National Security Council, about what
transpired after President Trump’s call with Ukrainian
President Volodymyr Zelensky.
things we learned from the New York Times series on Trump’s
Twitter habits. (Boston Globe, November 4, 2019)
Donald Trump has exploited social media like no other US
president, using it as a springboard to change policy.
Newsom fires back at Trump's Twitter threat to cut off
California's wildfire aid. (Daily KOS, November 3, 2019)
reviewed all of Trump's tweets. Conclusion: He's a vicious,
narcissistic, dictator-loving loon. (Daily KOS, November
What did the paper of record find? A lot of what you’ve
probably already concluded. He loves dictators, isn’t so fond
of our traditional allies, likes to insult people, loves
himself, hates minorities.
two-thirds of US voters say Trump has not made them better
off. (Financial Times, November 3, 2019)
FT-Peterson poll casts doubt on whether economic arguments
will boost president’s campaign.
House calls claim that Jared Kushner gave Saudi ruler
permission to arrest Jamal Khashoggi before journalist was
killed and dismembered 'false nonsense'. (UK Daily Mail,
November 3, 2019)
- White House calls claim in British conservative news
magazine's gossip column that Jared Kushner
green-lighted Jamal Khashoggi's arrest.
- Article claims more whistle-blowers have come forward to
Democrat-led House of Representatives with claims of
wrongdoing by Trump officials.
- Report says one whistle-blower is alleging that Jared
Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, approved Saudi plans to arrest
Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- According to Spectator, Turkey intercepted call between
Kushner and Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and then used it
to gain leverage over Trump.
- Trump agreed to remove American troops from northern Syria
after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip
- White House official calls report 'false nonsense'.'
Spectator acknowledged of its own report, 'whether any of this
is true is another matter'.
the habitable exoplanets—here are some of our galaxy’s
freaks. (Ars Technica, November 2, 2019)
One of these worlds is darker than coal, with an atmosphere as
hot as lava.
were told to ‘build the wall’ at White House Halloween
party. (Yahoo News, November 2, 2019)
Trump’s proposed border wall has drawn criticism for its cost
and because opponents argue his rhetoric toward Latino
immigrants is racist, an accusation Trump has denied. Former
officials told Yahoo News they thought the “Build the Wall”
display at the EEOB Halloween party was disturbing.
“To the extent the wall is just a xenophobic symbol, this is
obviously a gross thing to have children do,” Ben Rohrbaugh,
who worked on National Security Council on border security in
the Obama administration, told Yahoo News. “To the extent it’s
a representation of an actual wall on the southwest border,
the kids have made nearly as much progress as the president
has since 2017.”
Mengzi came up with something better than the Golden Rule
(Aeon, November 1, 2019)
Care about me not because you can imagine what you would
selfishly want if you were me. Care about me because you see
how I am not really so different from others you already love.
Trump may not qualify, and his NY audit just got more
interesting and personal. (Daily KOS, November 1, 2019)
hands, abandon ship! I repeat all hands abandon ship as Fox
News staff jump overboard. (Daily KOS, October 31, 2019)
House Backing Off Proposed Fuel-Efficiency Freeze. (Wall
Street Journal, October 31, 2019)
Trump administration plans for annual efficiency increases of
1.5%; rule likely to come by year’s end.
DNA database used to find the Golden State Killer is a
national security leak waiting to happen. (MIT
Technology Review, October 29, 2019)
Here’s how spies could use a crowd-sourced genetic ancestry
service to compromise your privacy—even if you’re not a
is suing the world’s top hacking company. (MIT Technology Review, October 29,
One of the most powerful tech firms on earth takes on the
Israeli cyber surveillance firm NSO Group.
poll shows why Trump’s defenders are more focused on
impeachment process than substance. (Washington Post,
October 29, 2019)
Most polls have asked Americans in specific terms what they
think of President Trump requesting that his Ukrainian
counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky order an investigation into Joe
Biden’s son. A new national survey from Grinnell College,
conducted by the respected Iowa pollster Ann Selzer, probes
public attitudes in more plain language – and gets revealing
"Is it okay with you or not okay for political candidates in
the U.S. to ask for assistance from a foreign government to
help them win an election?" In response to that question, only
7 percent of U.S. adults say it’s okay. Eighty-one percent say
it is not okay. More than 80 percent of self-identified
Republicans, evangelicals and rural dwellers say it’s not
okay for a president to ask for assistance from a foreign
government to help win an election.
This helps explain why Trump defenders on Capitol Hill
have fixated more on complaining about the impeachment process
than offering a substantive defense of Trump’s conduct toward
Ukraine or his public call for China, from the White House
lawn, to investigate the Bidens. The rough transcript of the
July 25 call released by Trump shows the president asking
explicitly for a "favor" right after Zelensky raised the
subject of military aid to Ukraine. Additional reporting,
along with sworn testimony from administration officials, has
established that this was part of a broader campaign to compel
Kyiv to help Trump tar Democrats generally and Biden
Last week, even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took
the rare step of distancing himself from a tweet by Trump that
likened his impeachment to "a lynching."
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine)
said on Monday that they will join Mitt Romney in not
co-sponsoring a resolution spearheaded by Sen. Lindsey Graham
(R-S.C.) to condemn the House’s impeachment process.
are meddling in the Democratic primary. Is anyone paying
attention? (Washington Post, October 29, 2019)
Contrary to the aims of a traditional intelligence operation,
discovery and attribution will be the point, derailing the
primary with news of yet another Russian disinformation
campaign and driving a wedge between the Democratic factions.
As media coverage mounts, Trump will feel justified in
launching an investigation, ensuring that his political rivals
are not “profiting” from the efforts of a foreign power (and
possibly distracting from other operations working to his own
benefit.) All the old narratives will be turned on their head.
It will be Democrats, not Republicans, who suffer Russia as a
campaign issue, no matter how loudly they disavow the
operations conducted in their name.
Although foreign interference remains the gravest threat to
the future of free and fair U.S. elections, the issue of
foreign interference represents a counterproductive and
potentially dangerous one for the Democratic primary.
Democratic campaigns must give each other the benefit of the
doubt. If they use the existence of foreign influence
operations to score cheap political points against fellow
Democrats, it will be the party — and the country — that
ultimately pays the price.
death: More details emerge from US raid. (CNN, October
House Ukraine Expert Sought to Correct Transcript of Trump
Call. (New York Times, October 29, 2019)
Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, who heard President Trump’s
July phone call with Ukraine’s president and was alarmed,
testified that he tried and failed to add key details to the
rough transcript. The omissions, Colonel Vindman said,
included Mr. Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of
former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussing Ukraine
corruption, and an explicit mention by Ukraine’s president,
Volodymyr Zelensky, of Burisma Holdings, the energy company
whose board employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter.
Colonel Vindman, who appeared on Capitol Hill wearing his dark
blue Army dress uniform and military medals, told House
impeachment investigators that he tried to change the
reconstructed transcript made by the White House staff to
reflect the omissions. But while some of his edits appeared to
have been successful, he said, those two corrections were not
rise could flood hundreds of millions more than expected.
Review, October 29, 2019)
Princeton researchers found that far more people are living
closer to the ocean than previously believed.
Seas Will Erase More Cities by 2050, New Research Shows.
(New York Times,
October 29, 2019)
Some 150 million people are now living on land that will be
below the high-tide line by mid-century, according to
Declaration of War (Daily KOS, October 28, 2019)
I live in Humboldt County. We’ve had our power shut off twice
now, even though we’re not in a fire area. Here are my
thoughts: Like all natural monopolies, the People should own
the power grid. And Water. And Roads, and Cable
Internet. The people who run our utilities need to be
answerable to US, not to shareholders. If WE were in charge of
our utilities, we would have allocated the funds where they
should have gone, instead of in someone’s pocket.
Slap anyone who asks "how are we going to pay for it?" That’s
a straw man. When we want to do something — anything — like
going to war, or giving tax breaks to zillionaires, we ALWAYS
find the money. Always. Every single time. Remember when the
Iraq war was estimated to cost $85 million. Real cost? Last I
heard, CBO said $2.4 trillion. TRILLION.
I say, we "declare war" on the Climate Crisis, and spend
whatever the heck it takes to win that war.
outages: Almost 2 million Californians could face blackouts
Tuesday. (San Francisco Chronicle, October 28, 2019)
The warning came even as PG&E issued the all-clear Monday
to start restoring power to the bulk of the 970,000 customers
whose electricity was shut down over the weekend as part of
the utility’s wildfire prevention efforts. As of Monday
evening, PG&E had restored power to 375,000, or roughly
39% of those customers; progress varied greatly, from none in
Alpine and Yuba counties to 95% in Colusa County, according to
PG&E. Some people who lost power over the weekend may not
have it restored until Friday.
turns announcement of ISIS leader's death into disturbing
rant, says U.S. will take Syrian oil. (Daily KOS,
October 27, 2019)
Trump delivered his speech with such bloody glee, that clips
of it could be used for any number of terrorist recruiting
videos. He repeatedly returned to claims that al-Baghdadi had
“screamed, cried, and whimpered,” that he had “run like a dog,
like a coward.” And, according to Trump, the ISIS founder was
eventually pursued into a dead-end tunnel by dogs brought to
the compound by U.S. forces. He then died by setting off a
suicide vest. In the process he also killed three children.
No one mourns al-Baghdadi. The level of fanaticism,
intolerance, and violence he brought to ISIS was disturbing
even to other terrorist leaders. However, the way that Trump
painted his end, including his emphasis on the use of dogs,
his calling al-Baghdadi a dog, and repeatedly talking about
the ISIS leader crying and screaming … will not go down well
in the Middle East. Additionally, the idea that al-Baghdadi
ultimately evaded capture and died by his own hand will also
be seen as a “victory” of sort by his followers.
the dramatic US military raid that killed ISIS leader
Baghdadi (CNN, October 27, 2019)
Trump's announcement on Sunday morning was remarkable in its
own right. He teased the news on Twitter the night before,
saying "something very big just happened!" And in a contrast
with Obama's sober address to the nation about bin Laden,
Trump's freewheeling appearance before the cameras was filled
with descriptions of gruesome imagery -- "his body was
mutilated by the blast" -- and he openly mocked the terror
leader, saying he died "whimpering and crying and screaming
all the way."
Baghdadi in their sights, U.S. troops launched a ‘dangerous
and daring nighttime raid’ (Washington Post, October 27,
As President Trump and senior advisers settled into the
Situation Room on Saturday evening, elite U.S. forces more
than 6,000 miles away launched one of the most significant
counterterrorism operations in the campaign against the
Islamic State. Taking off in eight helicopters from Iraq, the
troops flew over hostile territory for hundreds of miles in
the early Sunday morning darkness.
Their target, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the brutal founder and
leader of the Islamic State, was holed up in a compound in
northwestern Syria with family members and terrorist
associates, and the United States had been watching him for
days. A tip from a disaffected Islamic State militant set the
operation in motion, according to a U.S. official, who like
others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a
What followed was what Trump called a “dangerous and daring
nighttime raid” that was carried off “in grand style.” It
ended, he said, with Baghdadi fleeing from advancing U.S.
forces into a dead-end tunnel and detonating a suicide vest,
killing himself and three of his children.
Harris drops out, then rejoins an Historically Black
Colleges and Universities event after Trump honor. (ABC
News, October 27, 2019)
"Let’s just deal with the elephant in the room which is the
events of the last 24-48 hours," Harris said. "Mayor Benjamin
called me and told me that it was shifting and it was going to
change ... that it was only right and a reflection of this
most honorable institution that this event would be opened to students,,
that it would not be a paid event and that everyone would be
able to participate," Harris said.
Fellow presidential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said,
"[Trump’s] remarks were offensive. Talking about being the
best president ever for black people is an offensive lie,
because he’s actually doing things to hurt the
Army finds that the 'military could collapse within twenty
years' thanks to climate breakdown. (Daily KOS, October
According to a new
report prepared by the US Army and, commissioned by the
Pentagon, found that the next couple of decades will be so
chaotic due to a warming climate that we will be unable to
adapt in time. Our inability to change will be the result of
years of inaction by ‘leaders' who have kicked the proverbial
can of worms down the road for future generations to solve.
The report predicts that within the next twenty years, our
power grid infrastructure will be unable to adapt to the
expected extreme temperatures that are bearing down upon us.
During this time, people will be hungry, thirsty, and unable
to cope with unbearable heat. The PGE crisis provides a
glimpse into the future, Millions
Of Californians Brace For Power Outages As Wildfires Ravage
The key players in the study were NASA, the military, and
defense intelligence agencies, and they warned the Pentagon
'to urgently prepare for the possibility that domestic power,
water, and food systems might collapse due to the impacts of
climate change as we reach mid-century.'
A race against time to slow Sonoma fire before monster winds
return (Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2019)
The Kincade fire has burned 21,900 acres in northern Sonoma
County and was only 5% contained as of Friday afternoon. The
entire town of Geyserville and vineyards in the region were
ordered to evacuate, though some stayed, using generators for
power. Fire officials said 49 structures, including 21 homes,
were destroyed, and the Geysers geothermal facilities run by
Calpine Corp. reported some damage.
Tomorrow, conditions are likely to worsen. The winds are
expected to head down slope, reaching urban areas as far as
Oakland, San Francisco and Sacramento. These winds are what
brought devastation to rural communities in the foothills of
the North Bay hills when fires struck in 2017. The Tubbs fire
in Sonoma and Napa counties killed 22 people and destroyed
more than 5,000 homes.
return of socialism is about the political divide. (The
Hill, October 26, 2019)
Young people extolling socialism have caused conservatives to
sound alarms about the direction the country is going. But the
reappearance of socialism is more a sign of a wide partisan
divide than it is evidence that people want to change
America’s economic system.
When Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning spokespeople talk
about socialism — or democratic socialism — they’re not
talking about changing the means of production. When your
college sophomore nephew expresses some sympathy for socialism
at Thanksgiving dinner, he’ll likely be talking about just
expanding the social welfare programs that already exist and
maybe importing others from Europe. We’ve already got a lot of
this kind of socialism in America. There’s Social Security and
Medicare, and states keep mandating that businesses offer paid
leave to employees. When the people on the left talk glowingly
of socialism, they tend to talk about a socialism that is a
couple large steps down the path of bigger government.
deficit hit $984 billion in 2019, soaring during Trump era.
(Washington Post, October 25, 2019)
Budget experts say it is unprecedented for America’s deficit
to expand this much during relatively good economic times.
In 2013, when federal debt totaled $16.7 trillion, Trump
tweeted: “Obama is the most profligate deficit & debt
spender in our nation’s history.” The federal government is
now more than $22 trillion in debt, according to the White
The U.S. government’s budget deficit ballooned to nearly $1
trillion in 2019, the Treasury Department announced Friday, as
the United States’ fiscal imbalance widened for a fourth
consecutive year despite a sustained run of economic growth.
The deficit grew $205 billion, or 26 percent, in the past
The country’s worsening fiscal picture runs in sharp contrast
to President Trump’s campaign promise to eliminate the federal
debt within eight years. The deficit is up nearly 50 percent
in the Trump era. Since taking office, Trump has endorsed big
spending increases and steered most Republicans to abandon the
deficit obsession they held during the Obama administration.
Were Hunting for the Next Ebola. Now the U.S. Has Cut Off
Their Funding. (New York Times, October 25, 2019)
Predict, a government research program, sought to identify
animal viruses that might infect humans and to head off new
Wins Pentagon’s $10 Billion JEDI Contract, Thwarting Amazon.
(New York Times, October 25, 2019)
The decision was a surprise because Amazon had been considered
the front-runner, in part because it had built cloud services
for the Central Intelligence Agency. But that was before Mr.
Trump became publicly hostile to Mr. Bezos, who also owns The
Washington Post. The president often refers to the newspaper
as the “Amazon Washington Post” and has accused it of
spreading “fake news.” In public, Mr. Trump said there were
other “great companies” that should have a chance at the
contract. But a speechwriter for former Defense Secretary Jim
Mattis says in a book scheduled for publication next week that
Mr. Trump had wanted to foil Amazon and give the contract to
The issue quickly became radioactive at the Pentagon. The new
defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, at first said he wanted to
take several months to review the issue and then, a few days
ago, recused himself from the bidding. He said he could not
participate because his son worked for IBM, one of the
competitors for the contract.
As recently as this month, the betting was that Microsoft
would, at most, get only part of the contract and that the
Pentagon would use multiple suppliers for its cloud services,
as do many private companies. Microsoft was considered in the
lead for other government cloud programs, including an
intelligence contract; only recently has Microsoft opened
enough classified server facilities to be able to handle data
on the scale of the Pentagon contract.
Microsoft did not immediately have a comment. Amazon, which
calls its cloud platform Amazon Web Services, or AWS, said in
a statement that it was surprised by the decision. “AWS is the
clear leader in cloud computing, and a detailed assessment
purely on the comparative offerings clearly led to a different
conclusion. We remain deeply committed to continuing to
innovate for the new digital battlefield where security,
efficiency, resiliency and scalability of resources can be the
difference between success and failure.”
The award to Microsoft is likely to fuel suspicions that Mr.
Trump may have weighed in privately as well as publicly
against Amazon. Experts on federal contracting said it would
be highly improper for a president to intervene in the
awarding of a contract. Price Floyd, a former head of public
affairs at the Pentagon who consulted briefly for Amazon, said
he thought Mr. Trump’s vocal criticism of Amazon would give it
ample grounds to protest the award to Microsoft. “He’s the
commander in chief, and he hasn’t been subtle about his
hostility toward Amazon,” Mr. Floyd said.
Microsoft’s win has implications for the cloud computing
industry, in which businesses rent space on technology
companies’ server computers, giving them cheap and fast access
to storage and processing. Amazon has long been the dominant
player, with about 45 percent of the market, trailed by
Microsoft with around 25 percent.
Landing the JEDI contract puts Microsoft in a prime position
to earn the roughly $40 billion that the federal government is
expected to spend on cloud computing over the next several
years, he said. Losing the bid is also a hit to the reputation
of Amazon, which decided last year to open a large outpost in
Northern Virginia that will eventually employ at least 25,000
awards controversial $10 billion cloud computing deal to
Microsoft, spurning Amazon. (Washington Post, October
The Pentagon awarded its controversial $10 billion cloud
computing contract to Microsoft Friday evening, spurning a bid
from Amazon after President Trump expressed opposition to
giving the lucrative award to a company led by Jeff Bezos, one
of his longtime rivals.
Amazon was openly described by competitors and industry
analysts as a clear front runner to win the massive award, due
to its years of experience handling classified data for the
CIA. The company this year chose to build a massive second
headquarters, a few miles from the Pentagon’s campus.
After a lawsuit and bid protests from Oracle and IBM failed to
block the award this summer, Amazon appeared poised to win the
contract, partly because the military already had designated
the company with the highest data management certification.
Microsoft’s designation was below Amazon’s.
Complete: U.S. Nuclear Weapons No Longer Need Floppy Disks.
(New York Times, October 24, 2019)
Rest easy, people of Earth: The United States’ nuclear arsenal
will no longer rely on a computer system that uses eight-inch
floppy disks, in an update the Defense Department has cast as
a step into the future but which some observers might be
surprised to learn was required at all. The system, called
Strategic Automated Command and Control System, or SACCS, “is
still in use today but no longer uses floppy disks,” David
Faggard, a spokesman for the Air Force Global Strike Command,
which manages the Air Force portion of the arsenal, said in an
email. “Air Force Global Strike Command is committed to
modernizing for the future.”
The update is part of a broader overhaul of the United States’
atomic weapons that began under President Barack Obama and has
continued under President Trump. The move away from floppy
disks was completed in June but was not widely reported at the
time. It was reported last week by C4ISRNET, a website that
covers military technology.
Military Could Collapse Within 20 Years Due to Climate
Change, Report Commissioned By Pentagon Says. (Vice,
October 24, 2019)
The report says a combination of global starvation, war,
disease, drought, and a fragile power grid could have
cascading, devastating effects.
officially annihilated a second strain of polio. Only one
remains. (Ars Technica, October 24, 2019)
Still a tough road ahead, but we're getting closer.
Trump tries to take credit for Kansas economy, state
legislator torches her. (Daily KOS, October 24, 2019)
Ivanka Trump doesn’t bother with the facts. Instead, she
points to the success of Kansas since the 2016 election. This
misunderstanding of Kansas politics — which led to the
election of a Democratic governor and Democratic US House
members in 2018 — gets a big correction as Stephanie Clayton,
once a Republican who switched parties after 2018, takes
highest of high crimes’: Rudy Giuliani accidentally blows up
Trump’s defense against impeachment on Twitter. (Raw
Story, October 24, 2019)
Giuliani is contradicting himself here. He has previously
described his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden,
the DNC, and the 2016 campaign as unrelated to his legal work.
“I’m not acting as a lawyer,” Giuliani told The Atlantic last
month of his activities in Ukraine. “I’m acting as someone who
has devoted most of his life to straightening out government.”
But while Giuliani’s new version of events may help him if he
wants to make a claim of attorney-client privilege, it
actually makes Trump’s role in the scheme look even more
damning than it already is. Legal experts argued that it only
strengthened the case for impeachment.
“This merely confirms what was so outrageous: Giuliani wasn’t
a representative or employee of the United States; his duty of
loyalty was 100% to his (personal capacity) client. And yet
Trump told Ukraine it had to dance to Rudy’s tune,” said Marty
Lederman, a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center.
“[A] a tune designed to advance Trump’s personal interests–in
order to remain in the U.S.’s good graces (e.g., to secure
access, aid, etc.). This is the highest of high crimes–using
the leverage of his position as chief diplomat to advance his
News legal analyst surprises Fox & Friends by destroying
impeachment talking points. (Daily KOS, October 24,
Andrew Napolitano: "As frustrating as it might be to have
these hearings going on behind closed doors, the hearings over
which Congressman Schiff is presiding, they are consistent
with the rules. And when were the rules written last? In
January of 2015. And who signed them? John Boehner. And who
enacted them? A Republican majority.
editorial says Trump shouldn’t be impeached because he was
too ‘inept’ to carry out quid pro quo. (Raw Story,
October 24, 2019)
An editorial from the conservative Wall Street Journal
argues that President Donald Trump does
not deserve to be impeached because he was too
incompetent to properly carry out a corrupt act.
In an editorial that criticizes Rep. Adam Schiff
(D-CA) for holding impeachment inquiry testimony behind
closed doors so far, the editorial board argues that
ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony that Trump directly tied
military aid to Ukraine to investigating his political
opponents shouldn’t be seen as an impeachable offense
because the president got caught doing it.
Krugman: The hole elected Republicans, especially in the
Senate, have dug for themselves. (New York Times,
October 23, 2019)
Despite the Journal’s assertions that Trump cannot be
impeached for bungling his attempt at extorting Ukraine, at
least one Republican legal scholar believes that the
president may face real legal jeopardy for his actions.
Philip Zelikow, a history professor at the University of
Virginia who served as an official in the George W. Bush
administration, argued on Thursday that Trump may have run
afoul of 18
U.S.C. § 201(b), which states that any public
official who “corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts,
or agrees to receive or accept anything of value
personally or for any other person or entity, in return
for… being influenced in the performance of any official
act” is breaking the law.”
to introduce desperate resolution attacking Democrats'
inquiry. It's an admission of failure. (Daily KOS,
October 24, 2019)
Lindsey Graham is in big trouble with the orange menace
in the Oval Office. Not only has Graham criticized Trump's
Syria policy, but as Senate Judiciary Committee chair he has
failed to hold sham hearings exploring the Biden and DNC
server conspiracy theories that Trump has been counting on.
Graham's first effort to get back in Trump's good graces was
hailing Trump for "thinking outside the box" on his inane
plan to control Syrian oil fields by partnering with the
Kurds, who Trump just completely screwed over. Days later
Graham leapt to the defense of Trump's racially offensive
comparison between the impeachment inquiry into him and a
"lynching." Even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
wouldn't defend Trump on that, but Graham stood up
wholeheartedly for Trump's racially charged ignorance,
claiming "this is a lynching in every sense" and assailing
impeachment—a constitutionally outlined remedy—as
Graham plans to outdo himself later Thursday, introducing a
joint resolution with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
“condemning the House of Representatives’ closed door,
illegitimate impeachment inquiry." Because contrary to
popular belief, the U.S. Constitution gave Graham and
McConnell "the sole Power of Impeachment," not the House of
Representatives. Graham will turn the tables on House
Democrats' impeachment inquiry into Trump's shadow foreign
policy by naming the inquiry "a shadow process." Clever.
So, in essence, yet another lame Republican jab at process
for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to whisk off her shoulder
like a pesky fly. In actuality, Graham's resolution is an
admission of defeat.
discredits: here are the Repubs who barged in on a
CLASSIFIED hearing. (Daily KOS, October 23, 2019)
House Republican disruption of impeachment testimony ends.
(Daily KOS, October
The move by a group of roughly two dozen House Republicans
to "storm" the House sensitive compartmented information
facility, or SCIF, compromising the secure space by refusing
to turn over private cell phones or submit to other
screening, has now ended.
The extent to which the Republican action was intended
purely as a pro-Trump publicity stunt can be discovered by
looking at the list of participants: Twelve of those
Republicans are actually on the three impeachment-relevant
committees, and have had access to witness testimony from
the beginning. A full 46 House Republicans sit on those
committees, and all of them have heard witness testimony.
(You may recall the constant presence of those members
leaving each deposition to insist to assembled reporters
that the testimony they were hearing was untrustworthy, or
not at all damaging to Trump, or simply boring.)
The latest updates:
• Donald Trump himself reportedly approved the stunt, only
the latest display of White House contempt for both the law
and national security considerations.
• Also approving the stunt in advance: House Minority Leader
Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy dismissed the security implications
of Republican members bringing cell phones into the secure
space, bafflingly telling a reporter, “These are individuals
who have never been in Intel Committee before or anywhere
else. So it’s nothing serious from that matter.”
• Rather than the action being an unintentional oversight,
some Republicans explicitly refused to turn over their
unsecured cell phones to security when entering the
• Rep. Alex Mooney brazenly recorded a "report from inside"
the secure space, the latest House Republican to brag about
committing a national security breach.
• Rep. Matt Gaetz's office handed out expired congressional
passes to uncredentialed reporters and an HBO crew in an
effort to boost publicity for the event.
• Rep. Adam Schiff, who is leading the House impeachment
inquiry: “Clearly the White House was devastated by
yesterday’s testimony. These witnesses have been willing to
defy the administration and follow the law and come testify,
so the president’s allies are trying to stop them through
invade impeachment hearing, disrupt testimony, and violate
security protocol. (Daily KOS, October 23, 2019)
The impeachment inquiry isn’t just happening behind closed
doors; it’s happening in a sensitive compartmented
information facility (SCIF) intended to prevent electronic
eavesdropping. The purpose of this is both to protect the
witnesses who come forward to speak after attempts by the
White House to cut off their testimony, and to keep
potential witnesses from listening in and calibrating their
stories to what has already been said. But on Wednesday
morning, a horde of Republican representatives let by Matt
Gaetz charged into the impeachment inquiry, violating the
security of a witness, and defying the ironclad rules around
SCIF by bringing their cell phones into the confidential
is now calling Republicans who oppose him 'human scum'.
(Daily KOS, October 23, 2019)
The eliminationist and Nazi-like rhetoric from the White
House ratcheted up dramatically on Wednesday as the
ramifications of Ambassador William Taylor’s Tuesday
testimony before a House Committee became public knowledge.
In one tweet Trump labeled “Never Trump” Republicans—those
in the GOP who are firmly and vocally opposed to his
presidency—as “human scum,” noting that their numbers had
been severely lessened.
Trump's last defense against charges of extortion is more
extortion. (Daily KOS, October 23, 2019)
On Wednesday morning, Donald Trump spent most of his early
“executive time” retweeting items that, notably, had
appeared before the impeachment inquiry testimony of
Ambassador William Taylor on Tuesday, but eventually Trump
staked out a new, fingers-clutching-the-edge-of-the-cliff
position in his own defense. There can be no quid pro quo,
declared Trump, because neither Taylor nor other witnesses
have said that the Ukrainians knew that aid was being
Trump’s fallback position represents an extraordinary
retreat. It would seem to acknowledge the indisputable fact
that he was withholding military aid—a fact for which Trump
has provided multiple, mutually exclusive excuses—and it
would absorb the idea that Taylor and others knew that this
aid was being withheld in order to gain the investigations
that Trump sought.
There are only a few problems with this. First of all, of
course the Ukrainians realized that the military aid had not
appeared. Because it hadn’t appeared.
officer fired after threatening to shoot parents of
4-year-old who 'stole' doll from Family Dollar. (Daily
KOS, October 23, 2019)
In May, after visiting a dollar store in Phoenix, Arizona,
with their young children, and heading back to an apartment
complex to drop the kids at a babysitter, Dravon Ames and
Iesha Harper found themselves descended upon by a swarm of
police. You see their four-year-old daughter—not their other
one-year-old daughter who doesn’t walk yet—had taken a doll
out of the store without paying for it. After shouting Ames
into his car, with the door closed, they pulled out their
guns, trained them on Iesha Harper—who was holding her kids
in the backseat of the car. The situation escalated with
police officers treating the family and their children like
they had just come out of a bank brandishing semi-automatic
rifles. Expletives and threats to kill both parents were
hurled by officers at the family during the arrests.
are “immune” to traffic jams. (Ars Technica, October
Unlike self-interested humans, ants have a common goal: The
have the tools and technology to work less and live
better. (Aeon, October 23, 2019)
Today’s discussions need to move beyond the old point about
the marvels of technology, and truly ask: what is it all
for? Without a conception of a good life, without a way to
distinguish progress that’s important from that which keeps
us on the hedonic treadmill, our collective inertia will
mean that we never reach Keynes’s 15-hour working week.
announces steps to protect US 2020 elections; no mention
of fact-checking political ads. (Medianama, October
Facebook has announced a host of steps to protect US
Presidential candidates for the 2020 elections and reduce
foreign interference in the elections. With Facebook
Protect, it will offer candidates, elected officials,
federal and state departments and agencies, party
committees, and their staff stronger account security
protections such as two factor authentication. Facebook will
also monitor accounts of people who opt-in to this service
for potential hacking.
Confirmed page owner: Pages will now have a new
“Organisations That Manage This Page” tab, featuring its
“confirmed” owner, including the organisation’s legal name
and verified city, phone number or website. If Facebook
finds a Page to be concealing its ownership, it will be
required to successfully complete the verification process
and show more information in order to stay up.
Labelling state-sponsored media: From November 2019,
the company will start labelling media outlets that are
wholly or partially under the editorial control of a
government as state-controlled media.
Ad-spend tracker: This transparency feature includes
a U.S. presidential candidate spend tracker, more geographic
spending details, information on which apps an ad appears on
and programmatic access to downloads of political ad
Labelling false/incorrect content: Over the next
month, content across Facebook and Instagram that has been
rated false or partly false by a third-party fact checker
will start to be more prominently labelled. Facebook didn’t
say who these third-party fact checkers are.
Banning voter-suppression ads: Facebook also said
it’ll apply a wider ban on advertisements that are targeted
towards voter suppression.
Reducing foreign interference in the 2020 US elections:
Facebook said that it removed four foreign interference
operations including one which targeted the 2020 US
presidential elections. One of these networks was
likely being run by the Internet Research Agency (IRA),
which was behind the attempted Russian interference in the
2016 US Presidential elections. The campaign used 50
Instagram accounts and one Facebook account with about
246,000 followers to publish nearly 75,000 posts, according
to Graphika, which analysed the network for Facebook. In
total, the company removed:
- 93 Facebook accounts, 17 Pages and four Instagram accounts
originating from Iran and focusing primarily on the US for
“coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. About 7,700 accounts
followed one or more of these Pages and around 145 people
followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
- 38 Facebook accounts, 6 Pages, 4 Groups and 10 Instagram
accounts originating from Iran and focusing on countries in
Latin America. About 13,500 accounts followed one or more of
these Pages, about 4,200 accounts joined at least one of
these Groups and around 60,000 people followed one or more
of these Instagram accounts.
- 4 Facebook accounts, 3 Pages and 7 Instagram accounts that
originated in Iran and focused mainly on the US.
These new policies come at a time when Facebook has been
criticised for not fact checking political advertisements,
and a leaked audio call of CEO Mark Zuckerberg talking to
his employees has surfaced where he promises to fight back
against any calls for breaking up the company.
Many — perhaps most — Republican senators have always known
that Trump is morally, emotionally and intellectually unfit
for high office; they’re cynics, not idiots. At first,
however, they decided that it was worth supporting him anyway.
Maybe I still have too much faith in human nature, but I’d
like to imagine that there are some Republicans who look at
themselves in the mirror and feel self-loathing, who might yet
seize a chance at redemption. But how many G.O.P. senators
still have a conscience? We’re probably going to find out in a
Giuliani Associate Ties Case to Trump. (New York Times,
October 23, 2019)
The connection was made as two associates of Rudolph W.
Giuliani pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan. One
of the two indicted associates of President Trump’s personal
lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, on Wednesday tied the case to the
president himself, saying that some of the evidence gathered
in the campaign-finance investigation could be subject to
The unusual argument was raised by a defense lawyer in federal
court in Manhattan as the two associates, Lev Parnas and Igor
Fruman, pleaded not guilty to federal charges that they had
made illegal campaign contributions to political candidates in
the United States in exchange for potential influence. Mr.
Parnas and Mr. Fruman have become unexpected figures in the
events at the heart of the House Democrats’ impeachment
inquiry, having played a role in helping Mr. Giuliani’s
efforts on behalf of President Trump to dig up information in
Ukraine that could damage former Vice President Joseph R.
Biden Jr., a prospective Democratic challenger.
Evidence Hints at Another Justice Department Coverup.
Mother Jones, October 22, 2019)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) released evidence on Tuesday that
the Justice Department buried the whistle-blower complaint
about President Donald Trump’s call with the Ukrainian
president by failing to refer the matter to the Federal
Election Commission (FEC). Klobuchar suggested the Justice
Department violated a longstanding agreement between the
agencies to share information about possible campaign finance
violations for potential enforcement action.
To recap: The whistle-blower complaint at the heart of the
impeachment inquiry didn’t just contain evidence that the
president pressured a foreign government to help him win
reelection. It also contained evidence of a potential campaign
farming is actually worse for climate change. (MIT
Technology Review, October 22, 2019)
The practice cuts greenhouse-gas emissions only if you ignore
the inconvenient fact that it requires a lot more land.
Jammed: Russia Is Messing with America's F-35s.
(National Interest, October 22, 2019)
Russian forces have been jamming GPS systems in the Middle
East. The electronic-warfare campaign could affect U.S. forces
gathering in the region in advance of potential strikes on
Moscow is seeing what it can do. Great powers often experiment
with ways to disrupt each others' weapons systems.
In late 2018 Finland and Norway both lodged complaints with
Russia over the disruptions. “Defense and civil aviation
chiefs in Finland and Norway warned that the GPS jamming posed
a serious risk to both military and commercial aircraft using
the affected airspace in the High North,” Defense News noted.
“Russia asked (us) to give proof. We gave them the proof,”
Norwegian defense minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told Arctic
Today. The proof consisted of measurements showing signals had
been jammed. “Russia said, ‘Thank you, we will come back when
our experts review that,’” Bakke-Jensen said. “To have such an
answer from Russia is a positive thing,” he said. Bakke-Jensen
implied the jamming was intentional. “They were exercising
very close to the border and they knew this will affect areas
on the other side,” Bakke-Jensen said of the Russians.
The U.S Army is planning to test jam-resistant GPS systems in
Europe as a potential step toward countering Russian
takedowns show new Russian activity targeted Biden, praised
Trump. (Democratic Underground, October 21, 2019)
Facebook said the network bears the hallmark of the same
Kremlin-backed group that interfered in the 2016 election by
sowing social discord, boosting Trump and attacking Democratic
candidate Hillary Clinton. The new disinformation campaign
appears to follow the same playbook.
urges GOP to ‘get tougher and fight’ impeachment as Pelosi
details his ‘shakedown’ of Ukraine. (Washington Post,
October 21, 2019)
Top DHS Staffer Who Defended The Muslim Travel Ban Now Works
At Google. (BuzzFeed, October 21, 2019)
Former DHS staffer Miles Taylor once defended a “tough” but
“tailored” version of Trump’s controversial travel ban and
served under Kirstjen Nielsen during the implementation of the
family separation policy at the US–Mexico border.
fix things. Tech doesn’t fix things.’ (TechCrunch,
October 21, 2019)
At the AI Now
Institute, an interdisciplinary research center at New York
University, Veena Dubal was a featured speaker. The symposium
is the largest annual public gathering of the NYU-affiliated
research group that examines AI’s social implications. Held at
NYU’s largest theater in the heart of Greenwich Village, the
symposium gathered a packed crowd of 800, with hundreds more
on the waiting list and several viewing parties offsite. AI
Now’s symposium represented the emergence of a no-nonsense,
women and people of color-led, charismatic, compassionate, and
crazy knowledgeable stream of tech ethics. Which may be bad
news for companies that design and hawk AI as the all-purpose,
all glamorous solution to seemingly every problem, despite the
fact that it’s often not even AI doing the work they tout.
As the institute’s work demonstrates, harmful AI can be found
across many segments of society, such as policing, housing,
the justice system, labor practices and the environmental
impacts of some of our largest corporations. AI Now’s diverse
and inspiring speaker lineup, however, was a testament to a
growing constituency that’s starting to hold reckless tech
businesses accountable. As much as the banking class may panic
at the thought of a Warren or Sanders presidency, Big Tech’s
irresponsible actors and utopian philosopher bros should be
keeping a watchful eye on the ascendance — a rise truly based
on merit and competence, rather than cheap charisma — of this
next generation of critics like Crawford, Whittaker, and
Is Coming and the World Isn’t Ready. (Nautilus, October
Technology is, in other words, enabling criminals to target
anyone anywhere and, due to democratization, increasingly at
scale. Emerging bio-, nano-, and cyber-technologies are
becoming more and more accessible. The political scientist
Daniel Deudney has a word for what can result: “omniviolence.”
The ratio of killers to killed, or “K/K ratio,” is falling.
For example, computer scientist Stuart Russell has vividly
described how a small group of malicious agents might engage
in omniviolence: “A very, very small quadcopter, one inch in
diameter can carry a one-or two-gram shaped charge,” he says.
“You can order them from a drone manufacturer in China. You
can program the code to say: ‘Here are thousands of
photographs of the kinds of things I want to target.’ A
one-gram shaped charge can punch a hole in nine millimeters of
steel, so presumably you can also punch a hole in someone’s
head. You can fit about three million of those in a
semi-tractor-trailer. You can drive up I-95 with three trucks
and have 10 million weapons attacking New York City. They
don’t have to be very effective, only 5 or 10% of them have to
find the target.” Manufacturers will be producing millions of
these drones, available for purchase just as with guns now,
Russell points out, “except millions of guns don’t matter
unless you have a million soldiers. You need only three guys
to write the program and launch.” In this scenario, the K/K
ratio could be perhaps 3/1,000,000, assuming a 10-percent
accuracy and only a single one-gram shaped charge per drone.
Civilization is an experiment. We may not get the results
we’re expecting. So humanity would do well to hope for the
best but prepare for the worst.
the Butterfly Discovered Daylight (New York Times,
October 21, 2019)
Nocturnal moths evolved into daytime butterflies not to escape
bats, as biologists once thought, but to enjoy an abundant new
drink: the nectar of flowering plants.
The speaker’s “fact sheet” outlines what her office
characterized as a gross abuse of power by Trump, including a
“shakedown,” “pressure campaign” and “cover up.”
Used Cars for Sale; Unrepaired, recalled vehicles at
AutoNation dealerships (USPIRG, October 20, 2019)
None of us want to drive unsafe cars -- but AutoNation is
selling them. Our research partners at MASSPIRG Education Fund
found unsafe, recalled used cars for sale at every AutoNation
location surveyed. AutoNation claims to make buying a used
vehicle "worry-free." But 1 in 9 cars at their surveyed
locations had risky, unrepaired recalls.
AutoNation needs to do better to keep their customers safe. We
know they're capable, because they promised once, in 2015, not
to sell used vehicles with unrepaired recalls. But they
changed their minds just a year later, and now dangerous
recalls still put people at risk at their dealerships.
Liberation of Mitt Romney (The Atlantic, October 20,
The newly rebellious senator has become an outspoken dissident
in Trump’s Republican Party, just in time for the president’s
Feffer: The Far Right's War on Culture (TomDispatch,
October 20, 2019)
It really does boil down to Us Versus Them.
Here’s a simple, if grim, reality: we are living in an ever
more extreme world, as the residents of significant parts of
California undoubtedly realized recently when the electricity
went off amid ever increasing fears of wildfires; or the
residents of the Houston area after it was drenched, in a mere
two days, with a 40-inch flood of rain from a fierce tropical
cyclone; or the residents of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas
after it was essentially leveled by Dorian, a devastating
category five hurricane; or those who live in Tokyo and nearby
parts of Japan after the worst typhoon in more than six
decades whacked that island nation. And so it not only goes
but will go, as ever more greenhouse gas emissions head into
the atmosphere, whether from the burning peatlands of Siberia,
the still-burning rainforests of Brazil and Indonesia, or
simply fossil-fuel companies intent, according to the
Guardian, on flooding energy markets with ever increasing
numbers of barrels of oil in the coming years. (“New research
commissioned by the Guardian forecasts Shell and ExxonMobil
will be among the leaders with a projected production increase
of more than 35% between 2018 and 2030 -- a sharper rise than
over the previous 12 years.”)
This, in turn, means that, barring change, our present
extremity is only a taste of what’s to come as significant
parts of the planet are ruled by leaders who are clearly
pyromaniacs. Of course, these days when we talk about
extremism -- especially in a nation whose citizenry is armed
to the teeth, often with military-style weaponry, in a way no
other country on Earth comes close to, not even Yemen -- we
mean something else entirely. That word brings to mind a grim
litany of white nationalism, racism, and repetitive mass
If you’re not a member of the far right, if you don’t
subscribe to its YouTube channels or follow its burgeoning
Twitter accounts, you might have only scant acquaintance with
this story. But once you start looking for it, the great
replacement turns out to be omnipresent. Between 2012 and
2019, for instance, 1.5 million tweets in English, French, and
German referenced it. You could hear an echo of the phrase at
the Unite the Right gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, in
August 2017, when neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other
demonstrators chanted, “You will not replace us!” But the
phrase really broke into the headlines in March 2019 when a
mass shooter who opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch,
New Zealand, killing 51 people, titled the online manifesto he
prepared for the occasion, “The Great Replacement.”
Ambitions Go Beyond Syria. He Says He Wants Nuclear Weapons.
(New York Times, October 20, 2019)
A month before invading Kurdish areas in Syria, Turkey’s
president said he “cannot accept” the West’s restrictions that
keep him from a bomb.
Already Turkey has the makings of a bomb program: uranium
deposits and research reactors — and mysterious ties to the
nuclear world’s most famous black marketeer, Abdul Qadeer Khan
of Pakistan. It is also building its first big power reactor
to generate electricity with Russia’s help. That could pose a
concern because Mr. Erdogan has not said how he would handle
its nuclear waste, which could provide the fuel for a weapon.
Russia also built Iran’s Bushehr reactor.
With Turkey now in open confrontation with its NATO allies,
having gambled and won a bet that it could conduct a military
incursion into Syria and get away with it, Mr. Erdogan’s
threat takes on new meaning. If the United States could not
prevent the Turkish leader from routing our Kurdish allies,
how can it stop him from building a nuclear weapon or
following Iran in gathering the technology to do so?
reversed course on hosting G-7 at his club after learning
that impeachment-weary Republicans were tired of defending
him. (Washington Post, October 20, 2019)
Trump blamed his G-7 reversal on critics, saying on Twitter
that his decision to scrap plans for a summit at the Doral
club was “based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and
But behind closed doors, several aides and allies said, Trump
changed his mind in response to pressure and frustration from
his own party.
Media Cheers Trump’s Moves in Syria: ‘Putin Won the
Lottery!’ (Daily Beast, October 19, 2019)
For Russia, Trump’s presidency is a gift that keeps on giving.
The Kremlin’s propagandists see no acceptable alternative
among any viable presidential candidates in 2020.
By now, it’s become alarmingly clear that an increasing number
of people are taking this bizarre, historically deficient, and
thoroughly warped story to heart.
panics after Graham challenger breaks fundraising record,
and new poll shows 7-point gap. (Daily KOS, October 19,
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham may soon learn that his
plan to convert himself into Trump’s bootlicker wasn’t such a
hot idea after all. Although Graham is still currently the
favorite to win in this safe Trump state, he is trending
downward after several major embarrassments, with a
historically low approval rating for an incumbent: 35%.
Additionally, 58% said they want someone other than Graham
representing them in the Senate. Although Graham remade
himself into a sycophant, it has not helped him much as he
tries to ride Trump’s coattails.
On the flip side, Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison has
been steadily rising in the polls, with the latest national
poll indicating that Harrison only trails Graham by seven
New York rally marks largest of primary campaign.
(Washington Examiner, October 19, 2019)
Bernie Sanders's campaign rally in New York City brought in
nearly 26,000 attendants, making it the largest audience of
the entire Democratic primary thus far. At the "Bernie is
Back" event in Queens, the Vermont senator sought to fight
back against concerns that his White House run is in jeopardy
following his heart attack earlier this month. The rally
featured a number of high-profile speakers who offered their
endorsements, including liberal filmmaker Michael Moore and
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
season of weakness: A president who prizes strength enters
key stretch in a fragile state. (Washington Post,
October 19, 2019)
Trump now finds himself mired in a season of weakness. Foreign
leaders feel emboldened to reject his pleas or contradict him.
Officials inside his administration are openly defying his
wishes by participating in the impeachment probe. Federal
courts have ruled against him. Republican lawmakers are
criticizing him. He has lost control over major conservative
media organs. And polling shows a growing share of Americans
disapprove of his job performance and support his impeachment.
Many of Trump’s Republican allies revolted over his decision
to withdraw U.S. troops in Syria, which triggered a bloody
Turkish invasion that killed Kurdish fighters and civilians.
Trump bragged about sending a “very powerful letter” warning
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to invade Syria.
“Don’t be a fool!” Trump wrote. But Turkish officials leaked
word that their leader had thrown the letter in the trash, and
Erdogan then took Trump to task for his “lack of respect.”
pushed for impeachment powers. Trump is what he had in mind.
October 19, 2019)
He wanted a strong president — and a way to get rid of the
Moore: Trump Is Heading For Impeachment Because Of 'High
Crimes' Like We've Never Seen. (9-min. video; MSNBC,
October 18, 2019)
McConnell: Withdrawing From Syria Is A Grave Mistake. (Washington Post, October 18, 2019)
The combination of a U.S. pullback and the escalating
Turkish-Kurdish hostilities is creating a strategic
nightmare for our country. Even if the five-day cease-fire
announced Thursday holds, events of the past week have set
back the United States’ campaign against the Islamic State
and other terrorists. Unless halted, our retreat will invite
the brutal Assad regime in Syria and its Iranian backers to
expand their influence. And we are ignoring Russia’s efforts
to leverage its increasingly dominant position in Syria to
amass power and influence throughout the Middle East and
As neo-isolationism rears its head on both the left and the
right, we can expect to hear more talk of “endless wars.”
But rhetoric cannot change the fact that wars do not just
end; wars are won or lost.
PG&E rejects San Francisco's bid to buy back the power
grid. (Daily KOS, October 18, 2019)
After being convicted of felony obstruction “of knowingly
failing to inspect and test its gas lines for potential
dangers,” PG&E continued to choose to pad their
executives’ bonuses and shareholder prices instead of
upgrading their infrastructure and performing speedy safety
analysis of their power grid. Those decisions have led to
forced blackouts affecting millions of people.
Hamburg, ‘Gesundheit’ Means More Than A Wish For Good
Health. (Kaiser Health News, October 18, 2019)
Researchers around the world hail Germany for its robust
health care system: universal coverage, plentiful primary
care, low drug prices and minimal out-of-pocket costs for
residents. But it turns out that tending to the health needs
of low-income patients still presents universal challenges.
Life expectancy in the poorest areas of Hamburg is estimated
to trail that in its wealthier neighborhoods by 13 years ―
about equivalent to the gap between Piedmont, a particularly
wealthy California suburb, and neighboring West Oakland. In
Hamburg, the difference persists even though residents never
skip out on doctors’ visits or medication because of cost.
Medical care is only part of the equation. An array of other
factors ― known collectively as the “social determinants of
health” ― factor strongly into these populations’ well-being.
They include big-picture items like affordable healthy food
and safe areas to exercise as well as small ones, like having
the time and money to get to the doctor.
Christians Credit God for Killing Elijah Cummings.
(Daily KOS, October 17, 2019)
flooding US with opioids, industry giants offer $50 billion
settlement. (Ars Technica, October 17, 2019)
Settlement is uncertain as some plaintiffs want more details.
secretary tells Fox News that grieving parents lied about
meeting with Trump. (Daily KOS, October 17, 2019)
And this, while there are thousands of families that have been
separated and continue to be separated, their children put in
cages, that Donald Trump doesn’t seem to care about at all.
to us': DOJ distances itself from Mulvaney claim that
Ukraine aid was tied to investigation. (Washington
Examiner, October 17, 2019)
“The president has not spoken with the attorney general
about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former
Vice President Biden or his son,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri
Kupec said immediately after the transcript's release. “The
president has not asked the attorney general to contact
Ukraine — on this or any other matter. The attorney general
has not communicated with Ukraine — on this or any other
subject. Nor has the attorney general discussed this matter,
or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani.”
“Let me ask you this — if we wanted to cover this up, would
we have called the Department of Justice almost immediately
and have them look at the transcript of the tape?” Mulvaney
asked rhetorically on Thursday. “Which we did, by the way.”
The DOJ told the Washington Examiner that it "was first made
aware of the June 25th transcript in mid-August."
emerges as a key facilitator of the campaign to pressure
Ukraine. (Washington Post, October 16, 2019)
In late May, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney
organized a meeting that stripped control of the country’s
relationship with Ukraine from those who had the most
expertise at the National Security Council and the State
Instead, Mulvaney put an unlikely trio in charge of managing
the U.S.-Ukraine account amid worrisome signs of a new
priority, congressional officials said Tuesday: pressuring the
fledgling government in Kiev to deliver material that would be
politically valuable to President Trump. The work of those
“three amigos,” as they came to call themselves — diplomats
Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, plus Energy Secretary Rick
Perry — has come to light in recent days through newly
disclosed text messages and the testimony of government
witnesses appearing before an impeachment inquiry in Congress.
FBI assistant director: Trump is 'spiraling downward,
incredibly vulnerable' to foreign actors. (Daily KOS,
October 16, 2019)
The fullness of Trump's deteriorating mental state led
Kellyanne Conway spouse George to tweet out, "Are we ready yet
to have a full national conversation about the diseased mental
state of the president of the United States?"
Is Winning the Online War. (New York Times, October 16,
The technical superiority and sophistication of the
president’s digital campaign is a hidden advantage of
Both the Democratic and Republican parties maintain and
regularly update massive voter and non-voter lists that
include details of credit card usage — magazine subscriptions,
church and club dues, hunting and fishing licenses — that are
all useful in predicting which candidates voters are more
likely to choose.
Now, imagine a file with that, and every piece of information
taken from your smartphone. This is the world we’re moving to.
In this new terrain, the G.O.P. is running pretty far ahead of
the Democrats innovating online, mostly because of its
Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies. (Pro
Publica, October 16, 2019)
The president’s businesses made themselves appear more
profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials.
One expert calls the differing numbers “versions of fraud.”
Thank Trump for ISIS’ Chance to Return to Europe. (Daily
Beast, October 16, 2019)
France won’t be the only country threatened by jihadis
escaping in Syria thanks to Trump’s disastrous decisions, but
it knows a lot about the people already planning new attacks.
Thanks to U.S. President Donald Trump pulling troops out of
northeast Syria, French ISIS fighters, captured in recent
years by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in
northern Syria, are said to be escaping their captors—and
rejoining their former comrades in what could mean a
renaissance for the once mighty Islamic State. Between 400 and
450 French ISIS fighters have been detained in Kurdish camps
in northeastern Syria. Last week, Turkey launched Operation
Peace Spring after Trump gave the de facto go-ahead by moving
U.S. troops out of the way. The Kurds, desperate after being
abandoned by the U.S., are now aligning themselves with the
hated President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and no longer have
the manpower to guard their prisons. As The Daily Beast
reported, the American forces now withdrawing have had to turn
their attention away from pursuing ISIS and focus on the risk
that ISIS will be pursuing them.
we possess our possessions or do they possess us? (Aeon,
October 16, 2019)
In 1859, around 450 passengers on the Royal Charter,
returning from the Australian goldmines to Liverpool, drowned
when the steam clipper was shipwrecked off the north coast of
Wales. What makes this tragic loss of life remarkable among
countless other maritime disasters was that many of those on
board were weighed down by the gold in their money belts that
they just wouldn’t abandon so close to home. Humans have a
particularly strong and, at times, irrational obsession with
October 15th Democratic Candidates Debate (coming soon;
CNN, October 16, 2019)
Democratic debate highlights (3 45-min. videos;
Washington Post, October 15, 2019)
The fourth Democratic debate has wrapped. On the stage were
former vice president Joe Biden | Sen. Elizabeth Warren
(Mass.) | Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) | Sen. Kamala D. Harris
(Calif.) | South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg | former
congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas | Sen. Amy Klobuchar
(Minn.) | businessman Andrew Yang | Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) |
former housing and urban development secretary Julián Castro |
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) | businessman Tom Steyer.
Again? The Halle Attack and Everyday Anti-Semitism in
Germany (Der Speigel, October 15, 2019)
Jews in Germany are taunted and harassed every day, often --
but by no means exclusively -- by the far right. This daily
discrimination also sets the stage for violence against Jewish
"20 years ago, you said not complying with a subpoena was an
impeachable offense." Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham:
"Nothing's changed." (The Hill, October 15, 2019)
Impeachment Syndrome: Now Trump is Attacking Both CNN and
FOX News. (Daily KOS, October 15, 2019)
The severity of Trump's psychotic breakdown is leading him to
ever more bizarre outbursts and tantrums. As his mental
infirmity declines, his incoherent raving accelerates. In just
the past few days this has manifested in absurd threats to sue
Nancy Pelosi, nauseating mimicry of orgasms, and hypocritical
assaults on the business affairs of wealthy, politically
four biggest foes of America that gain from Trump’s Syria
pullout. (Washington Post, October 14, 2019)
When President Trump announced his decision to pull troops
from northern Syria, his critics immediately warned that the
move would pave the way for a Turkish offensive with
potentially catastrophic repercussions. State Department
officials swiftly denied that Trump supported the Turkish
incursion. Meanwhile, Trump appeared convinced he had made the
right choice. “Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and
the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out,” Trump
They now indeed are, but not to the advantage of the United
States. “What’s clear is that the U.S. has shot itself into
the foot,” said Ali Fathollah-Nejad, a visiting fellow at the
Brookings Doha Center.
The U.S. pullout has enabled Turkey to pursue its military
incursion without having to fear U.S. interference, but it has
also created opportunities for four of the United States’ key
foes: Iran, the Assad regime, Russia and — potentially — the
Islamic State group.
The biggest losers — it appears at this stage — are the allies
who fought alongside U.S. soldiers in Syria: Europe and the
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Rep. Liz Cheney Tells Fox News Turkey Invaded Syria Because
Democrats Launched Impeachment Inquiry Against Trump.
(1-min. video; Newsweek, October 14, 2019)
Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney claimed in an interview
with Fox News on Monday morning that Democrats are to blame
for Turkey's invasion of Syria because they launched an
impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, despite
the fact that the president withdrew U.S. forces from the
Middle Eastern nation to give the Turkish forces the
greenlight to enter. "I also want to say that the impeachment
proceedings that are going on and what the Democrats are doing
themselves to try to weaken this president is part of this,"
Cheney, who represents Wyoming and is the daughter of former
Vice President Dick Cheney, argued. "It was not an accident
that the Turks chose this moment to roll across the border,"
she claimed. "And I think the Democrats have got to pay very
careful attention to the damage that they're doing with the
Although Cheney may have attempted to shift the blame to
Democrats on Monday, many other Republican lawmakers have
directly attacked the president for his decision and its
Cedes Syrian City to Russia in Battlefield 'Handover' as
Turkey Tries to Take It. (Newsweek, October 14, 2019)
The U.S. was scheduled as of Monday to officially withdraw
from Manbij within 24-hours, leaving the mostly Kurdish Syrian
Democratic Forces behind as two rival factions—the Syrian
government, backed by Russia and Iran, and the Turkey-backed
Syrian insurgents opposed to it—sought to seize control of the
strategic location. A senior Pentagon official told Newsweek
that U.S. personnel, "having been in the area for longer, has
been assisting the Russian forces to navigate through
previously unsafe areas quickly."
"It is essentially a handover," the official said. "However,
it's a quick out, not something that will include
walk-throughs, etc., everything is about making out with as
much as possible of our things while destroying any sensitive
equipment that cannot be moved."
retreat in Syria turns into a mess. (Washington Post, October 14, 2019)
A week ago, President Trump shocked Washington and announced
he wouldn’t impede an imminent Turkish invasion of
northeastern Syria. Now, in the space of just a few days, his
administration is already reaping what it sowed.
Turkey’s incursions at various points along its border with
Syria began on Wednesday and, by the weekend, had already
plunged the region into chaos. Turkish artillery pounded
Syrian Kurdish positions, while footage emerged appearing to
show Turkish-affiliated militiamen carrying out grisly
roadside executions of Kurdish fighters allied to the United
States. Tens of thousands of panicked civilians attempted to
flee the Turkish-led advance, raising fears of an eventual
exodus into Iraqi Kurdistan, where more than a million people
displaced by conflict still live in camps.
Trump, who spent part of the weekend at one of his golf
courses, insisted on Twitter that his country ought to be rid
of its commitments in the “quicksand” of the Middle East.
Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper told CBS’s “Face the
Nation" on Sunday that the United States was now in “a very
untenable situation” and would evacuate its roughly 1,000
troops in northeastern Syria entirely. The order to remove
troops came Saturday, toward the end of a chaotic day in which
the viability of the U.S. mission in Syria rapidly unraveled
after Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel proxies advanced
deep into Syrian territory and cut U.S. supply lines.
It flew in the face of the Pentagon’s assurances last week
that the United States would not “abandon” its Syrian Kurdish
partners, who have been on the front lines in the war against
the Islamic State and borne the brunt of the casualties in a
troops enter towns in northeast as Erdogan warns of wider
offensive. (Washington Post, October 14, 2019)
The abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria has unleashed
dramatic developments, with Syrian government forces retaking
territory long held by U.S. allies and Turkish-led forces
expanding their offensive. Here’s what we know so far.
- Syrian government troops have moved back into towns in
northeastern Syria for the first time in years after
U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters, in a stunning reversal, reached
a deal with the government.
- Turkish-backed rebels have begun a push to retake the
northern city of Manbij, which has long been a flash point.
- Hundreds of Islamic State family members have escaped a
detention camp in Ain Issa, which has been the administrative
capital of the Kurdish-led government in northeastern Syria.
Lobby Scandal Widens as Museum of the Bible Admits Oxford
Prof Sold Illicit Papyri to Green Family. (Daily Beast,
October 14, 2019)
The Museum of the Bible revealed today that at least 13
biblical fragments in its collection were illicitly sold by a
Oxford professor to Hobby Lobby's Green family.
Columbus. (First Nations News and Views, October 14,
What we need is not only a name change of the federal holiday
from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day but an honest
exploration of our painful history. We need to show our
children we can look at “heroes” with clear eyes and use that
clarity to build a society which we can truly be proud of and
pass on to future generations.
vs. Warren: A Difference of Philosophy, Not Just Policy
(Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2019)
Do Democratic voters want a period of calm and order
post-Trump or a crusade that promises more disruption of the
goes old. Sanders goes young. Warren is in-between. What
Facebook ads reveal about 2020. (New York Times, October
about time: Biden, Democratic candidates punch back against
shoddy press coverage. (Daily KOS, October 13, 2019)
No longer willing to stoically suffer through bad, misleading
press coverage, Democrats are borrowing a page from
Republicans by going public with their complaints and
demanding journalists do better. But unlike Republicans who
often “work the refs” by griping about imaginary slights in
hopes of better treatment in the future, Democrats are calling
out the press with wholly accurate claims of media
Last week, Joe Biden's presidential campaign sent a blistering
letter to New York Times editor Dean Baquet, reprimanding the
paper for helping spread Donald Trump's debunked conspiracy
theory about Joe Biden and his son's business dealings in
Ukraine. It's "part of a larger strategy not to let the same
coverage that corrupted the 2016 election happen this time
around," a campaign source told CNN's Brian Stelter.
The stinging critique from Biden came one day after the Times
published an opinion column from discredited right-wing author
Peter Schweizer, once again hyping the Biden/Ukraine story.
Schweizer, who wrote a patently dishonest book about Hillary
Clinton in 2015 alleging all sorts of made-up crimes—a book
the Times helped market and promote during the campaign—has
been peddling the Biden smear all year within the far-right
Video of Fake Trump Shooting Media and Critics Is Shown at
His Resort. (New York Times, October 13, 2019)
A video depicting a macabre scene of a fake President Trump
shooting, stabbing and brutally assaulting members of the news
media and his political opponents was shown at a conference
for his supporters at his Miami resort last week. Several of
Mr. Trump’s top surrogates — including his son Donald Trump
Jr., his former spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the
governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis — were scheduled to speak at
the three-day conference, which was held by a pro-Trump group,
American Priority, at Trump National Doral Miami.
time, it's the same long con job. (Daily KOS, October
You know what it is when you recognize it: It's a scam. It's a
con job. It's the same con job that Donals Trump has been
playing since the beginning.
In 2016 he used rumors, innuendo, and blatant smears to sully
Hillary Clinton's reputation and defeat her in the Electoral
College with ardent help from Russia—and reluctant,
half-hearted help from then-FBI director James Comey. Trump
did this while he was caught up in a scandal of numerous
sexual assault allegations, while he was attempting to forge a
secret deal to build a billion-dollar Trump Tower in Moscow,
and also was secretly paying off two former mistresses not to
reveal his secret in the 11th hour of the election.
Each time, he's corrupt as a crooked scarecrow. He's violated
security protocols, clearances, and rules of sketchy foreign
entanglements while pointing the finger the other way. He's a
hustler. He's a grifter. And he been caught red-handed, again
and again and again.
Trump is a national emergency, and the Republicans own it.
(Daily KOS, October 13, 2019)
The Republican Party owns Donald Trump. Every Republican who
has done nothing to stop him is fully complicit, and that
includes every Republican member of the Senate. That also
includes the invertebrate Republicans who posture and do
nothing. Trump's corruption is their corruption. Trump's
failures are their failures. Trump's devastation of national
security is their devastation of national security. Trump's
attempts to destroy the republic are their attempts to destroy
the republic. This is who the Republicans are. This is not a
afraid of Donald Trump? No one. And for Trump, that's the
real end game. (Daily KOS, October 12, 2019)
There’s a genuine dilemma for Trump here. In past impeachment
efforts, the cover-up has been worse than the crime. But in
this case, the crime—extorting an allied nation for personal
political gain—is worse than any cover-up. Still, that doesn’t
make the cover-up any less a crime in its own right. Trump is
damned if he does obstruct, damned if he doesn’t. Because he
has already damned himself, but good.
Yesterday, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch
provided the House impeachment inquiry with 10 hours of
testimony detailing how she had been hounded by Trump’s
personal attorney Rudy Giuliani; how she had been forced to
resist repeated attempts to break both protocol and law to
forward Trump and Giuliani’s schemes in Ukraine; and how she
was ultimately removed from her position on the basis of
conspiracy theories and lies. And the best talking point the
White House could generate, the best thing that Republicans
had to offer, was that it was unfair to make Yovanovitch
explain how Giuliani set her up and Trump knocked her down. It
was bullying to have her stand up and tell Congress how Trump
chopped off a 30-year career of service so he could find
someone willing to go along with an international shakedown.
But far more important than any particular detail that
Yovanovitch shared was the fact that she was there and talking
at all, despite an order to defy Congress and stay silent. She
did not. Instead she obeyed a congressional subpoena and
testified. That action alone shows that the walls are down.
Trump’s castle of lies is crumbling.
calls police for wellness check on black neighbor's home,
white cop shoots and kills her instead. (Daily KOS,
October 12, 2019)
A Fort Worth woman was shot and killed in her own home early
Saturday by one of the police officers sent to do a wellness
check on her residence.
This is the seventh shooting of a civilian by the department
since June 1, and the sixth to be fatal. “It makes you not
want to call the police department,” James Smith told the Fort
Worth Star-Telegram. Smith is struggling in the wake of the
shooting: He’s the one who dialed a Fort Worth non-emergency
number after noticing his neighbor’s door was ajar and lights
were on in the home of Atatiana Jefferson, 28, her aunt, and
an 8-year-old nephew.
phones were targeted by one of the world’s most advanced
spyware apps. (Ars Technica, October 12, 2019)
"Pegasus," developed by Israel-based NSO Group, stalks 2
Moroccans, researchers say.
invasion of Syria puts Islamic State fight on hold at a
critical time. (Washington Post, October 11, 2019)
A senior official with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic
Forces said anti-ISIS operations had come to a complete halt
because U.S. troops need partners on the ground and the SDF is
too busy confronting Turkey.
Trump administration threatens sanctions against Turkey if
incursion into Syria destabilizes region.
Israelis see Trump’s Syria pullout as a ‘betrayal’.
Isn't a Drill, It's the Catastrophe. (Der Speigel,
October 11, 2019)
On Wednesday, a terrorist in the city of Halle, located in
former East Germany, went on a shooting spree targeting Jews.
Armed with a rifle, a bulletproof vest, and four kilograms of
explosives in the trunk of his car, the man drove to the
synagogue. There were 51 people inside. The only reason he
didn't make it into the synagogue was because the door didn't
give way when he fired at it. Instead, he murdered two other
Germany is a country where hatred for those who are perceived
to be different slides effortlessly from a tick on the
election ballot to genocide. It's not enough to install a few
security cameras -- it's time for an antifascist consensus.
disastrous impeachment polling sends shock waves through
GOP. (Daily KOS, October
It didn't matter which poll you looked at this week—they were
all bad news for Donald Trump, as well as for GOP lawmakers
seeking reelection in 2020. Public support for impeachment
grew rapidly in every poll, with nearly all of them finding
majority support for the inquiry and two finding 50% support
or more for Trump's impeachment and removal from office.
Rounding out the week, the NPR/Marist/PBS poll found 52%
support for the impeachment inquiry in a survey that showed
independent voters had flipped in mere weeks from majority
opposition to the inquiry (50%-44%) to majority support for it
(54%-41%). That's a 19-point swing for independents from late
September to now.
The poll also found that 61% of respondents don't think Trump
shares the moral values that most Americans try to live by.
And with regard to a president asking a foreign leader to
investigate a political rival, fully 68% of Americans said it
was not acceptable, including 64% of independents and even 40%
These polls, including the Fox News poll that found majority
support for Trump's removal, have reportedly sent shock waves
through both Washington and Republican circles.
loses appeal to stop House subpoena of his tax documents.
(CNN, October 11, 2019)
The opinion is a strong signal that the White House's letter
earlier this week refusing to cooperate with the impeachment
probe without a full House vote authorizing it would not hold
up in court. The court specifically weighed in on this idea,
writing it has "no authority" to require the House to take a
full vote in support of a subpoena to investigate the
President, citing the Constitution. "The courts lack the power
to invalidate a duly authorized congressional subpoena merely
because it might have been 'better [if]...the full House' had
specifically authorized or issued it," the court wrote.
"Unless and until Congress adopts a rule that offends the
Constitution, the courts get no vote in how each chamber
chooses to run its internal affairs."
Elizabeth Warren's simple response to a marriage equality
question. (4-min. video; CNN, October 11, 2019)
to Know About Eleanor Roosevelt’s Radical Progressive Legacy
(Teen Vogue, October 11, 2019)
On the 135th anniversary of Eleanor Roosevelt's birthday, the
Roosevelt Network's Katie Kirchner celebrates the former first
lady's advocacy for social justice.
disasters are costing more but killing fewer. (Ars
Technica, October 11, 2019)
While the average cost isn't changing much, the most costly
disasters are rising.
California Power Outage Triggers Chaos in Science Labs.
October 11, 2019)
Researchers without access to backup power scramble to save
invaluable specimens and expensive reagents.
mob of horny tarantulas is prowling San Francisco.
(CNet, October 10, 2019)
Tarantula mating season in Northern California is extended,
thanks to higher temperatures.
Lights Out in California to Deal With Climate Risks.
(Scientific American, October 10, 2019)
More than a million people in Northern California lost power
yesterday in an intentional blackout that reveals the stunning
measures utilities and state officials will take to ameliorate
the risk of wildfire as the effects of climate change become
Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which provides electric service
to 5.4 million customers in California, said it cut power to
800,000 of them to protect people, work crews and property
from a potential outbreak of wildfires. It’s unclear how many
people would be affected, but it stands to far surpass the
number of homes and buildings that would lose power. The move
comes as California grapples with an extraordinary string of
destructive wildfire seasons. Last year’s was worse than any
other. More than 8,000 fires burned 1.8 million acres
statewide, shattering past records and punctuating scientific
warnings that climate change is altering the frequency and
ferocity of wildfires.
Giuliani is in over his head! A thorough analysis of U.S.
political corruption in action. (18-min. video; The
Young Turks, October 10, 2019)
"The American government is for sale." Details follow.
least four national security officials raised alarms about
Ukraine policy before and after Trump call with Ukrainian
president. (Washington Post, October 10, 2019)
At least four national security officials were so alarmed by
the Trump administration’s attempts to pressure Ukraine for
political purposes that they raised concerns with a White
House lawyer both before and immediately after President
Trump’s July 25 call with that country’s president, according
to U.S. officials and other people familiar with the matter.
The nature and timing of the previously undisclosed
discussions with National Security Council legal adviser John
Eisenberg indicate that officials were delivering warnings
through official White House channels earlier than previously
understood — including before the call that precipitated a
whistleblower complaint and the impeachment inquiry of the
Trump Administration Downplays Warming, Agencies Chronicle
Climate Impacts. (Scientific
American, October 9, 2019)
Environmental reviews emphasize the relatively small
contributions from individual infrastructure projects,
ignoring the bigger picture.
“The reality is that the administration is in a corner,” Hayes
said. “It’s denied the science, but scientists that
participate in the preparation of [environmental reviews] have
no choice but to explain what’s really happening. And as a
result ... the courts are not willing to defer to the
administration, given its hypocrisy.”
anger at Trump grows as Turkey launches 'sickening' attack
on US allies. (CNN, October 9, 2019)
Turkey launched its military operation to flush Kurds allied
with the US out of northeastern Syria Wednesday, sparking
outrage in Congress and creating rare bipartisan unity about
the risks to Kurds, US national security interests, regional
stability and the fight against ISIS. The attack has
highlighted a rare Republican willingness to directly
criticize President Donald Trump, who apparently gave Turkish
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the go-ahead on Sunday to
proceed with his long-planned move against Kurdish fighters
who make up part of the Syrian Defense Forces who had fought
against ISIS with the US.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and
Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland on Wednesday
announced a framework to place immediate sanctions on senior
Turkish government officials, ban all US military business and
military transactions with Turkey, and immediately activate
2017 sanctions on the country to remain in place until Ankara
stops its operations against the Kurds. "This unlawful and
unwarranted attack against an American friend and partner
threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of civilians,
many of whom have already fled from their homes elsewhere in
Syria to find safety in this region," Graham and Van Hollen
said in a statement. "This invasion will ensure the resurgence
of ISIS in Syria, embolden America's enemies including Al
Qaeda, Iran, and Russia, and launch yet another endless
conflict in what had been, until today, one of the most safe
and stable areas of Syria and a region experimenting with the
best model of local governance currently available in that
The White House announced that US troops would move out the
way and would not support or be involved in the operation.
Launches Syria Offensive, Targeting U.S.-Backed Kurds.
(New York Times, October 9, 2019)
Turkey’s long-planned move to root out United States-allied
Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria has accelerated rapidly
since President Trump gave the operation a green light
in a call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on
Sunday. The operation could open a dangerous new front in
Syria’s eight-year-old war, pitting two United States allies
against each other and raising the specter of sectarian
bloodletting. Even before it began, it had set off fierce
debates in Washington over Mr. Trump’s Syria policy.
On Wednesday, after the operation had begun, Mr. Trump
clarified his position. “The United States does not endorse
this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this
operation is a bad idea,” he said in a statement. “Turkey,” he
added, “has committed to protecting civilians, protecting
religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no
humanitarian crisis takes place — and we will hold them to
50 Years of Unix (Bell Labs, October 9, 2019)
The summer of 1969 was one of the most culturally significant
times in modern American history. It was the summer when Neil
Armstrong landed on the moon, more than 400,000 people
attended the legendary Woodstock music festival, and the
Stonewall riots brought the fight for gay rights to the
However, something else happened that summer which you won’t
find in most history books… a Bell Labs researcher named Ken
Thompson created the first version of Unix, which turned out
to be one of the most important pieces of computer software
Chemistry Nobel we can use: Lithium-ion batteries (Ars
Technica, October 9, 2019)
A Nobel in chemistry for figuring out how to do a bit less
is the constitutional crisis we feared. (Washington
Post, October 9, 2019)
The White House has released an extraordinary letter from
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to congressional Democrats,
a document that will live on in infamy from this day forward
as evidence of how profoundly Trump corrupted the office of
the president and everyone around him.
Despite the fact that it appears under the signature of the
chief lawyer of the White House, the letter reads like some
combination of a deeply misinformed seventh-grader’s social
studies paper and a rant from Sean Hannity, randomly tossing
around terms like “civil liberties” and “separation of powers”
without any apparent understanding of what they mean.
Boiled down to its essence, the letter asserts that Trump is
beyond the reach of oversight, of impeachment and of any
checks and balances from the legislative branch. Because he
thinks Congress is not treating him “fairly” (the word “fair”
appears eight times in the letter), Trump has decided that he
can issue a blanket refusal to “participate in your partisan
and unconstitutional inquiry.” All requests for documents and
testimony will be rejected, and all subpoenas will be thrown
in the trash.
Tantrum Over Impeachment Just Got Official. (Reason,
October 9, 2019)
Trump seems to think that as the House is trying to determine
whether impeachment is even warranted—and before the White
House answers any questions at all or submits to any
information requests—he is entitled to the same rights as a
defendant in a criminal trial. The letter accuses House
Democrats of denying Trump "the right to cross-examine
witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive transcripts of
testimony, to have access to evidence, to have counsel
present, and many other basic rights," and asserts that this
is one of the reasons Trump will not cooperate.
But as lawyer and national security analyst Mieke Eoyang
points out, "the White House doesn't get to tell Congress how
to conduct impeachment." Indeed, the president's "due process
rights kick in when the proceedings move to the Senate" and
the trial phase of impeachment begins. Any "due process
concerns raised by the WH counsel's letter" can be negotiated
at that stage.
"Impeachment in the House is akin to a grand jury &
indictment," notes Eoyang, and the House has already made
allowances beyond what's permitted for the targets of a grand
jury. In a grand jury proceeding, for instance, witnesses
can't bring in personal lawyers and "the target's counsel does
not get to sit and hear the evidence." But the House is
allowing personal counsel for witnesses and letting all sides
hear witness testimony. Overall, they're being quite fair.
and other defences against Trump impeachment. (BBC,
October 8, 2019)
Whether or not US President Donald Trump would get convicted
in an impeachment trial could come down to the Republican
majority in the Senate.
But what do Republican politicians and commentators think of
impeachment and Trump's call with Ukraine?
Mar-a-Lago cancels hate group event, and the vilest of Trump
supporters are very upset. (Daily KOS, October 8, 2019)
throws fit after Minneapolis mayor sends estimated security
bill in advance of campaign rally. (Daily KOS, October
With impeachment threatening to end the Donald Trump gravy
train, the white supremacist con man in chief is retreating to
what he does best: holding fact-free campaign rallies. The
problem with Trump’s rallies is that they cost a ton, and, as
with everything Trump, the bill for them is never paid. Some
cities, such as Orlando, have asked that the costs for the
rallies be covered upfront. Minneapolis, Minnesota, is
expecting a Trump Nazi rally on Thursday. It has reportedly
sent a $500,000 bill to the campaign to cover security costs
and the use of the Target Center.
Use of Surveillance Database Violated Americans’ Privacy
Rights, Court Found. (Wall Street Journal, October 8,
The intelligence community disclosed Tuesday that the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court last year found that the FBI’s
efforts to search data about Americans ensnared in a
warrantless internet-surveillance program intended to target
foreign suspects have violated the law authorizing the
program, as well as the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment
protections against unreasonable searches. The issue was made
public by the government only after it lost an appeal of the
judgment earlier this year before another secret court.
The court concluded that in at least a handful of cases, the
FBI had been improperly searching a database of raw
intelligence for information on Americans—raising concerns
about oversight of the program, which as a spy program
operates in near total secrecy.
father of the yield curve indicator says now is the time to
prepare for a recession. (CNBC, October 8, 2019)
Duke University professor Campbell Harvey says the bond yield
curve is “flashing code red” for a recession. The yield for
the 3-month Treasury has been above the 10-year since May, a
condition known as an inverted yield curve that has predicted
the past seven recessions.
Harvey encourages investors, business executives and consumers
to prepare now. The inversion is not a coincident indicator
but rather one that points to downturns six to 18 months or so
in the future. So businesses can react to it, for instance, by
delaying spending plans until the storm passes.
Everything Is Getting Louder (The Atlantic, October 8,
The tech industry is producing a rising din. Our bodies can’t
AirPods will die. We’ve got the trick to replacing them.
(Washington Post, October 8, 2019)
We shouldn’t let Apple turn headphones into expensive,
disposable products because of bad battery design.
CEO says they melted $5 million worth of assault rifles
after halting sales. (Daily KOS, October 8, 2019)
Ed Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods (and son of the
company’s founder), told CBS News that he didn’t stop with his
highly publicized move of stopping sales of assault weapons
and high-capacity magazines and all gun sales to people under
21 after the Parkland school shooting, a move he made after
finding out that the shooter had bought a shotgun at Dick’s,
and a move that cost the chain around $250 million.
Stack was faced with the decision of what to do with the
assault-style weapons Dick’s had in stock at the time the
chain stopped selling the guns. “I said, 'You know what? If we
really think these things should be off the street, we need to
So they did, turning $5 million of guns into scrap metal.
California customers could be impacted by PG&E power
shutoffs; most of San Francisco Bay Area under watch.
(San Francisco ABC News, October 8, 2019)
The dry, windy weather pattern (during which sparks can ignite
more forest fires) is expected to reach from the northern
portions of PG&E's service territory and down through the
Sacramento Valley before spreading into the central areas of
the state including most of the Bay Area. Beginning Wednesday
morning, the danger period is expected to last five days or
may cut electricity during high wind and fire danger, here's
how to be ready for a blackout. (San Francisco ABC News, October 7, 2019)
PG&E has announced that it may proactively cut electrical
power during days of strong winds and extreme fire danger to
prevent a tragedy like the deadly and destructive Camp Fire
where it's believed PG&E power lines caused the fire. A
forced blackout would leave residents in the dark, in more
ways than one. That's because devices we have come to rely on
need electricity to function, like WiFi transmitters,
streaming televisions and digital assistants like Amazon's
Echo and Google Home.
groundwater use is destroying freshwater ecosystems.
(Ars Technica, October 7, 2019)
And the situation is set to get much, much worse.
defiance of oversight challenges Congress’s ability to rein
in the executive branch. (Washington Post, October 7,
Experts and lawmakers worry the president’s hostile stance
toward congressional oversight and Democrats’ flailing
response are undermining the separation of powers and could
have long-term implications for the democracy.
Throws Middle East Policy Into Turmoil Over Syria. (New
York Times, October 7, 2019)
President Trump threw Middle East policy into turmoil with a
series of conflicting signals on Monday as his vow to withdraw
American forces from the region touched off an uprising among
congressional Republicans and protests by America’s allies.
Defending his decision to clear the way for a Turkish military
operation against America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria,
Mr. Trump said it was “time for us to get out” and let others
“figure the situation out.”
But after Republican allies condemned the move, he pivoted
sharply and said he would restrain Turkey. “As I have stated
strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does
anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to
be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the
Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” the president wrote on
Twitter, without explaining what exactly he would consider off
Even after Mr. Trump walked back his decision, Senator Mitch
McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader,
warned him against “a precipitous withdrawal” that would
benefit Russia, Iran, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and
the Islamic State. Mr. McConnell sharply urged the president
to “exercise American leadership.”
federal judge takes a sledgehammer to Trump’s stonewalling.
October 7, 2019)
It was no great surprise that a federal court Monday morning
rejected President Trump’s argument that, as a sitting
president, he is immune even from being investigated by the
Manhattan district attorney. Nor that the court of appeals
swiftly granted a stay of the order, thus preserving its
ability to hear an appeal.
But the district court’s scathing assessment of the
implications of Trump’s argument is telling, and the tale it
tells should greatly concern the White House in the looming
Recall that Trump brought the action in federal court to
prevent Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. from
subpoenaing Trump’s accountants for his tax returns as part of
Vance’s criminal investigation. (This is the same case that
the Justice Department recently entered, on behalf of Trump.)
The court’s technical ruling Monday is that it would abstain
from entering the fray based on a general court-made doctrine
— it’s known as the Younger abstention — that instructs
federal courts not to meddle in pending state criminal
prosecutions. Trump (and the Justice Department) had argued
that fundamental questions of presidential immunity justified
ignoring that doctrine here. The court’s rejection of the
president’s position could not have been more emphatic.
Notably, the 75-page opinion by U.S. District Judge Victor
Marrero came just two weeks after oral arguments, blindingly
fast by litigation standards. Its length and complexity
suggest that the court was already working on the opinion from
the time Trump filed his hyperaggressive claim.
Most important, Marrero, who could have made quick and summary
work of Trump’s argument, went on at substantial length to
explain just how lawless and brazen the position was.
Taxes: President Ordered to Turn Over Returns to Manhattan
D.A. (New York Times, October 7, 2019)
A judge rejected the president’s argument that he was immune
from criminal investigations. In a 75-page ruling, Judge
Marrero called the president’s argument that the Constitution
shields sitting presidents from any criminal investigation
“repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and
constitutional values.” Presidents, their families and
businesses are not above the law, wrote the judge.
17-year-old planned to shoot up his school until his mother
turned him in to police. (CBS News, October 7, 2019)
She called the police after finding and reading her son's
journal. He wrote about attacking his school on a specific
date: April 20, 2020 — the anniversary of Columbine. The
journal went into chilling detail. He would detonate pipe
bombs, and use multiple firearms to "blast anyone in sight"
and "execute survivors."
When asked how it feels as a mother to turn her son in, Nicole
responded, "Like I've done something wrong." Police believe
she did everything right.
is about to become the right-wing smear machine's biggest
unintended casualty of all time. (Daily KOS, October 6,
In what is truly the richest of ironies, Donald Trump is now
poised to become just another piece of right-wing roadkill, an
unintended casualty of his own disinformation machine, the
exact same machine that cemented his electoral victory over
Hillary Clinton in 2016. By extorting foreign leaders to
manufacture dirt involving former Vice President Joe Biden’s
son, Trump stupidly fell into the trap of believing his own
team’s propaganda, a result that those who created the
Biden-Ukraine fairy tale in the first place completely failed
to foresee. And now he’s looking at impeachment for believing
their lies and taking them to their logical conclusion.
Justice Department is oddly incurious about potential
criminality in the Trump-Ukraine mess. (Washington Post,
October 6, 2019)
Something is not adding up about the Justice Department’s
account of its decision not to open a criminal investigation
based on a complaint by a whistleblower in the U.S.
intelligence community about President Trump’s dealings with
Ukraine. The complaint was passed on to the Justice Department
through both the acting director of national intelligence,
Joseph Maguire, and, as NBC News reported Friday, the CIA’s
general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood.
The Justice Department appears to have conducted a wholly
cursory examination. It interviewed no witnesses and examined
no evidence other than the complaint. Text messages within the
State Department that might have provided evidence of
criminality were not examined. Justice closed the file without
opening a formal investigation.
Since then, the department has supplied somewhat shifting
defenses of its decision. One point the department has
maintained consistently is that the final decision was made by
Brian Benczkowski, the head of the Criminal Division, in
consultation with career attorneys at the Public Integrity
Section. Benczkowski is a political appointee with zero
prosecutorial experience. Likewise, neither Deputy Attorney
General Jeffrey A. Rosen nor Attorney General William P. Barr
spent a day as a prosecutor. If it has ever happened before
that the three top officials in the Justice Department’s
criminal chain of command lacked prosecutorial experience, the
idea was as terrible then as it is now.
But that doesn’t mean — and it can’t mean — that the Justice
Department is closed for business regarding any possible new
criminal violations by others in the administration. The
department’s Public Integrity Section exists for this purpose.
The prosecutors there need to do their job.
$7.5 Billion Victory Could Cost Trillions. (Yahoo
Finance, October 5, 2019)
Trump’s new trade war: According to the October 2 statement by
the Office of the United States Trade Representative (or
USTR), “The United States today has requested that the WTO
schedule a meeting on October 14 to approve a U.S. request for
authorization to take countermeasures against the EU.”
Notably, the EU can’t retaliate like China for WTO-approved
countermeasures, and the EU cannot appeal. The Trump
administration is empowered to impose tariffs up to 100% over
“affected products” at any time. However, the USTR decided to
impose a 10% tariff on civil aircraft. Agricultural and other
products would be subject to a 25% tariff.
Plus, Trump appears to have opened a new front in the tariff
war. In a September 3 tweet, he warned the EU about unfair
trade practices. The timing of this decision might adversely
impact the global economy, and business investment decisions
could be impacted around the world. According to IHS Markit
data, world real GDP could be reduced by 0.8% and 1.4% in 2019
and 2020, respectively. Moreover, this model assumes a
“protectionism scenario.” In nominal GDP terms, this decline
could worth over $1 trillion.
embrace of Google's Android software is bigger than its
new phone. (C/Net,
October 5, 2019)
Microsoft's Surface reputation and the adoption of a
once-rival platform gets the software titan back into the
Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine
(New Yorker, October 4,
How a conservative dark-money group that targeted Hillary
Clinton in 2016 spread the discredited story that may lead to
Donald Trump’s impeachment.
pay is stagnant — economists blame robots. (CBS News,
October 4, 2019)
American workers are more productive than ever, but their
paychecks haven't kept pace. Researchers with the Federal
Reserve Bank of San Francisco have a culprit: robots.
Economists Sylvain Leduc and Zheng Liu theorize that
automation is sapping employees' bargaining power, making it
harder for them to demand higher wages. Companies across a
range of industries increasingly have the option of using
technology to handle work formerly done by people, giving
employers the upper hand in setting pay. The result — a
widening gulf between wages and productivity.
of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan would be global.
(Ars Technica, October 4, 2019)
50-125 million immediate deaths, and then the weather changes.
tectonics runs deeper than we thought. (Ars Technica, October 3, 2019)
At 52 years old, plate tectonics has given geologists a whole
new level to explore.
of Iraq's internet shut down amid mass protests. (C/Net,
October 3, 2019)
An internet watchdog reports the blackout started with social
mocked in anonymous NYC subway ad: 'Need a lawyer? Call
crazy Rudy.' (The Hill, October 3, 2019)
Korea tests submarine-capable missile fired from sea.
(BBC, October 3, 2019)
North Korea has confirmed it test-fired a new type of a
ballistic missile, a significant escalation from the
short-range tests it has conducted since May. The missile -
which was able to carry a nuclear weapon - was the North's
11th test this year.
But this one, fired from a platform at sea, was capable of
being launched from a submarine. Being submarine-capable is
important as it means North Korea could launch missiles far
outside its territory.
According to South Korean officials, the missile flew about
450km (280 miles) and reached an altitude of 910km before
landing in the sea. That means the missile flew twice as high
as the International Space Station, but previous North Korean
tests have gone higher. It came down in the Sea of Japan, also
known in South Korea as the East Sea. Japan said it landed in
its exclusive economic zone - a band of 200km around Japanese
The test came hours after North Korea said nuclear talks with
the US would resume.
and Canonical work together in financial services.
(ZDNet, October 2, 2019)
Just because IBM owns Red Hat doesn't mean it's not working
with other Linux powers such as Ubuntu Linux.
Kong Rallies Around Teen Protester Shot by Police.
(Breitbart, October 2, 2019)
Thousands of Hong Kong citizens, many of them fellow students,
marched on Wednesday to support Tony Tsang Chi-kin, the
18-year-old demonstrator shot in the chest by police with live
ammunition on Tuesday afternoon. Police officials defended the
shooting as a justifiable act of self-defense, while
protesters accused the police of looking for excuses to murder
lawsuit in Supreme Court could cause ‘irreparable harm’ to
minority protections, NAACP warns. (Philadelphia
Inquirer, October 2, 2019)
Comcast says, “This case arises from a frivolous
discrimination claim that cannot detract from Comcast’s strong
civil rights and diversity record or our outstanding record of
supporting and fostering diverse programming from African
“We have been forced to appeal this decision to defend against
a meritless $20 billion claim, but have kept our argument
narrowly focused. We are not seeking to roll back the civil
rights laws — all we are asking is that the court apply
Section 1981 in our case the same way it has been interpreted
for decades across the country.”
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, called the
Comcast petition “the most important civil rights case to be
heard by the Supreme Court in term. A negative ruling stands
to all but shut the courthouse door on a vast number of
victims of discrimination all across the country.”
Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 says all people
in the United States have the same rights to make and enforce
contracts “enjoyed by white citizens.” It was enacted to help
newly freed African Americans engage in work fairly, without
laws that created conditions that “paralleled chattel
slavery,” according to the Lawyers’ Committee brief. “In light
of the increasing visibility of minority populations, civil
rights laws like Section 1981 must be strengthened, not
weakened.... Petitioner [Comcast] asks this court also to
ignore its past pronouncements and allow race to play some
role in contracting decisions, so long as race discrimination
is not the but-for cause of a refusal to contract.”
amps up attacks on whistleblower as some Republicans call
for more strategic response to impeachment. (MSN,
October 1, 2019)
President Trump continued to escalate his scorched-earth
campaign against a whistle-blower who accused him of
pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, even
as new evidence emerged Monday that he and his administration
are urging other governments to provide assistance to a
related Justice Department inquiry that has been pushed by the
president. Trump said he was trying to “find out about” the
whistleblower Monday, the latest move in an increasingly
frenetic counterassault targeting the anonymous intelligence
officer and top Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry.
Upholds Net Neutrality Repeal, With Some Caveats. (New
York Times, October 1, 2019)
Over all, the decision Tuesday was a victory for the Trump
administration, which has encouraged deregulation across the
government. The F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, who was appointed
by President Trump, made the repeal of the rules a top
priority, saying it would encourage innovation and help propel
The agency voted to throw out the rules in a 3-to-2 party-line
vote in 2017, reversing a decision made during the Obama
administration. The rules had prohibited broadband internet
providers like Comcast and AT&T from blocking websites or
charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The
appeals court upheld the F.C.C.’s decision to no longer
regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility,
or a “common carrier,” like phone service.
Satellites are tracking an enormous iceberg that broke off
from the Antarctic ice shelf. (MIT Technology Review, September 30, 2019)
“Planet 9” actually a primordial black hole? (MIT
Technology Review, September 30, 2019)
Astronomers think there’s another planet in our solar system,
but no one has been able to see it. That could be because it’s
not a conventional planet at all.
News outs two Fox analysts as working 'off the books' with
Trump, Giuliani to find Biden dirt. (Daily KOS,
September 30, 2019)
to the Impeachment Investigators: Trump Rarely Acts Alone.
(New York Times, September 29, 2019)
President Trump’s assaults on democracy are rarely solo
endeavors. His schemes often entangle, by chance or by choice,
an array of accomplices, enablers, observers and victims —
many of whom will need to be heard from as House members begin
investigating the Ukraine scandal as part of the impeachment
inquiry announced last week.
is using Facebook to run thousands of ads about impeachment.
(CNN, September 30, 2019)
President Donald Trump is using his powerful social media
presence to push back against the impeachment inquiry,
tweeting and retweeting more than 100 times over the weekend
and his reelection campaign has spent hundreds of thousands of
dollars on Facebook ads on the topic over the past week.
More than 1,800 ads on Trump's Facebook page mentioning
"impeachment" have run in the past seven days. The ads have
been viewed between 16 and 18 million times on Facebook and
the campaign has spent between $600,000 and $2,000,000 on the
effort. The President is using ads to enlist people in what
his campaign is calling the "Official Impeachment Defense Task
ways impeachment could play out (Politico, September 29,
If you’re looking at history to provide a guide to the
impending impeachment saga … don’t. With only three past
examples, involving three very different controversies,
there’s thin gruel that will provide little nourishment. We’re
in unprecedented territory.
2 Deep-Dive Books on Kavanaugh Taught Me About Truth in the
Trump Era (Politico, September 29, 2019)
Last September, the country was torn apart by decades-old
allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh as he
headed into his Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Now, the
recent frenzy around the possible impeachment of Donald Trump
and the whistle-blower report that started it has prompted the
same kinds of questions. Which stories and which storytellers
should we believe in our hyper-partisan era?
the GOP won't abandon Trump no matter what for one reason:
he's the last. (Daily KOS, September 28, 2019)
Long before Trump, today’s GOP lost any ability to be
constructive on just about anything. If something is good,
they reflexively oppose it. People having healthcare?
Oppose. People going to college? Oppose. Stopping gun
massacres? Oppose. Renewable energy? Oppose.
Their entire policy on immigration is bigotry and hate. Their
policy on the budget is to cut taxes for the wealthy. Their
policy on elections is to have as few people as possible
voting. Also, I’m not quite sure how a political party would
be opposed to saving our environment, but here we are.
Then 2016 happened. Republicans have surrendered
everything--their duty, their patriotism, and their
principles—in order to pledge fealty to a man too stupid to be
trusted to manage his own social media account. He remade the
party in his ugly image, so now those who haven't left
can largely be divided into just three groups: the rich, the
racists, and the rubes. This is who they have to work with
now. Every demographic the GOP had been working on gaining has
been forever lost.
down impeachment, Trump sees himself as a victim of historic
proportions. (Washington Post, September 28, 2019)
In the five days since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
opened an impeachment inquiry following revelations about
President Trump’s conduct with his Ukrainian counterpart,
Trump has been determined to cast himself as a singular victim
in a warped reality — a portrayal that seems part political
survival strategy, part virtual therapy session.
As Trump tells it, he is a hard-working and honorable
president whose conduct has been “perfect” but who is being
harassed and tormented by “Do Nothing Democrat Savages” and a
corrupt intelligence community resolved to perpetuate a hoax,
defraud the public and, ultimately, undo the 2016 election.
impeachment inquiry sparks 'bedlam' at Fox News. (The
Guardian, September 28, 2019)
Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry is causing chaos at Fox
News, with reports of “management bedlam” as hosts battle over
how to approach a political drama that threatens its ratings
as well as its valuable presidential TV star.
After mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio,
prime-time host Tucker Carlson disputed that Trump ever
“endorsed white supremacy or came close to endorsing white
supremacy” and dismissed white supremacy as “actually not a
real problem in America”. According to Media Matters, the
number of ads supporting Carlson’s show plummeted. The host
left on vacation – which Fox New flacks claimed was planned in
advance – as advertisers, including Stein Mart, HelloFresh,
and Nestlé severed ties with Tucker Carlson Tonight and the
fast food chain Long John Silver’s pulled advertising from Fox
News entirely. Nearly 50 companies have issued statements
dropping Carlson’s show since December, when he asserted that
migrants make America “poorer and dirtier” – and dozens more
quietly cut ties without saying anything publicly.
answer their call to duty, leaving Republicans
shell-shocked. (Daily KOS, September 28, 2019)
Polling conducted by Morning Consult/Politico over last
weekend showed no increase in support for impeachment, with
the pro-impeachment needle stuck right about where it's been
for months at 36%. For Democrats and Pelosi alike, this was a
moment of moral clarity as they coalesced around protecting
the republic from the gravest threat it has faced in nearly
half a century.
The shift was also so decisive it knocked congressional
Republicans back on their heels. Just as quickly as Democrats
found their footing, GOP Senators rapidly evolved from
spouting Trump's talking points about the Bidens on Monday to
uniformly zipping their lips on the matter by Wednesday. GOP
Senators are now in bunker mode until they can wrap their
minds around the new political calculus they are facing
vis-a-vis impeachment and 2020.
the White House Hide a Bombshell Memo From Mueller?
(Slate, September 28, 2019)
If there was a memorandum of that meeting, how is it possible
that it was not produced to Mueller? It’s awfully hard to
believe that Mueller didn’t ask for any readout or memorandum
from that meeting; a meeting at which the president explained
that he fired Comey in part because he was being pressured by
the Russia investigation. That admission to his Russian
visitors is part of one of the obstructive acts Mueller found.
So, assuming the Post is correct that a memorandum of that
meeting exists, what happened to it? Assuming Mueller is
capable of drafting a document request, why was that
memorandum not produced? Was it logged and redacted? Was it
deemed classified under the newly discovered separate server
used only for hiding catastrophic missteps or worse? Or was it
produced to Mueller, and its contents did not make it into the
report because for unknown reason Mueller chose not to include
Robert Reich: Trump can do more damage
than Nixon. His impeachment is imperative. (The
Guardian, September 28, 2019)
Watergate brought down a second-term president. If Trump
survives and wins the White House again, all bets are off.
Amid the impeachment furor, don’t lose sight of the renewed
importance of protecting the integrity of the 2020 election.
The difference between Richard Nixon’s abuse of power (trying
to get dirt on political opponents to help with his 1972
re-election, and then covering it up) and Donald Trump’s abuse
(trying to get Ukraine’s president to get dirt on a political
opponent to help with his 2020 reelection, and then covering
it up) isn’t just that Nixon’s involved a botched robbery at
the Watergate while Trump’s involves a foreign nation. It’s
that Nixon’s abuse of power was discovered during his second
term, after he was re-elected. He was still a dangerous crook,
but by that time he had no reason to inflict still more damage
on American democracy.
in Canada today while Millions of Young Activists around the
Planet March for Climate Action. (Daily KOS, September
Was 'Foreign Asset' To Russia Ahead of 2016, New Senate
Report Reveals. (National Public Radio, September 27,
Drawing on contemporaneous emails and private interviews, an
18-month probe by the Senate Finance Committee's Democratic
staff found that the NRA underwrote political access for
Russian nationals Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin more than
previously known — even though the two had declared their ties
to the Kremlin. The report, available
here, also describes how closely the gun rights group
was involved with organizing a 2015
visit by some of its leaders to Moscow.
Assembled over 100 Voting Machines. Hackers Broke Into Every
Single One. (Mother Jones, September 27, 2019)
A cybersecurity exercise highlights both new and unaddressed
vulnerabilities riddling US election systems.
told Russian officials he was unconcerned about election
interference. (The Guardian, September 27, 2019)
White House reportedly restricted access to comments in 2017
meeting, allowing only a few officials to see transcript.
told Russian officials in 2017 he wasn’t concerned about
Moscow’s interference in U.S. election. (Washington
Post, September 27, 2019)
community strikes back — an impeachment game-changer
(The Hill, September 27, 2019)
I have never seen a more buttoned-up set of whistleblower
allegations than these. To me, the whistleblower appears to
have taken a leadership role, sticking his neck out to protect
subordinates in the intelligence community while conveying
their information to appropriate authorities through
appropriate channels. It’s easy to see how the intelligence
community inspector general steered it to the Congressional
Intelligence Committees, under the cover of great credibility,
through a gauntlet of resisters.
In this one brief complaint, the whistleblower managed to do
what former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation
could not: ensnare the president of the United States himself
in a shameful abuse of his power. Trump held back military aid
to Ukraine then asked Ukraine for “a favor” — to dig up or
create dirt on a political rival for the forthcoming election.
The complaint, once it was made public, has upended the
impeachment chessboard in the House.
President Donald J. Trump will
be impeached — maybe not convicted by the Senate but
impeached by the House. That’s my prediction, given the
rapidly unfolding events in Ukrainegate. The catalyst for
impeachment is the alleged CIA whistleblower and the team of
intelligence community officials he is going to bat for.
Trump picked a fight with the wrong crowd. Now, they’re
fighting back, with the Constitution in one hand and
evidence of Trump’s corruption in the other. Game on.
You might call this team, collectively, “Deep State Throat.”
They’re a deep state, all right, but not like Trump thinks.
They’re not rogues. They’re patriots. Let’s just buckle up
and watch how this plays out over the coming weeks and
Blitt’s “Whack Job” (The New Yorker, September 27, 2019)
Impeachment Meets a Broken Congress (Politico, September
The most essential branch of the U.S. government is collapsing
before our eyes—right as it faces a historic showdown. Even in
the most basic relationship-forming aspect of things, there’s
this division. And it becomes clear that you’re supposed to be
is in a world of trouble. (7-min. video; The Young
Turks, September 26, 2019)
Whistle-Blower Complaint Is Democracy at Work, Not the
Deep State. (The New Yorker, September 26, 2019)
In his testimony, Maguire praised the whistle-blower. “As
public servants, we have a solemn duty to report waste and
abuse,” he said. So far, the whistle-blower and the
inspector general appear to be committed public servants.
Both learned of potential abuse and reported it. Both appear
to have followed the law. The whistle-blower system worked.
The checks and balances also appear to be working. When
threatened with impeachment by the House, the President
released a summary of his call, as well as the full
whistle-blower complaint. In the weeks ahead, transparency
should be increased, not decreased. When grave abuses of
power are alleged, information should be made public, not
kept secret. Citizens should read the call summary and the
whistle-blower complaint themselves, and make their own
judgments. This is not a deep state. This is American
Audio of Trump discussing whistleblower at private event:
‘That’s close to a spy.’ (Los Angeles Times, September
Trump, as he continued to speak, expressed further dismay that
he is the one being investigated, not Biden. “They’re talking
about me and I didn’t do anything,” he said, hedging slightly.
“I don’t know if I’m the most innocent person in the world.”
(But WE do!)
Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint. (New York Times,
September 26, 2019)
written complaint about Trump's misconduct (Los Angeles
Times, September 26, 2019)
claimed Trump abused his office and that White House
officials tried to cover it up. (Washington Post,
September 26, 2019)
In forceful language, the unidentified whistleblower alleged
that the commander in chief pushed his foreign counterpart to
investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter
Biden and that senior White House officials then tried to
“lock down” records related to the matter. The pressure, the
whistleblower alleged, came in a phone call July 25 between
Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, an exchange
that turned so politically problematic that White House
lawyers directed other officials to remove the electronic
transcript of the conversation from the computer system where
it was stored. The transcript, the whistleblower alleged, was
then loaded onto a separate system meant for classified
information. And according to White House officials who
informed the whistleblower, that was “not the first time” a
transcript was put there due to concerns about politics rather
than national security, the complaint alleged.
Trump, the whistleblower wrote, was “using the power of his
office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the
2020 U.S. election.”
While the whistleblower’s primary concern is the president’s
phone call with Zelensky, it is clear from the document
released Thursday that its author also was troubled by what
appeared then to be a four-month pattern of election season
misconduct involving the president, his lawyer and White House
aides who sought to keep the whole thing quiet. “I am also
concerned that these actions pose risks to U.S. national
security and undermine the U.S. government’s efforts to deter
and counter foreign interference in U.S. elections,” the
According to the complaint, the whistleblower was not alone in
harboring concerns. “The White House officials who told me
this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired
in the phone call,” the whistleblower wrote. “They told me
there was already a ‘discussion ongoing’ with White House
lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood,
in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the
President abuse his office for personal gain.” About a dozen
White House officials listened in on the call, which is common
when heads of state speak directly. The alarm was so great,
the whistleblower alleged, that White House officials sought
to limit access to the written record of the call.
The whistleblower also alleged that in May, Trump instructed
Vice President Pence to cancel planned travel to Ukraine for
Zelensky’s inauguration — sending Energy Secretary Rick Perry
in his place — and that it was “made clear” to U.S. officials
that Trump did not want to meet with Zelensky until he saw how
Zelensky “chose to act” in office.
Bezos says Amazon is writing its own facial recognition laws
to pitch to lawmakers. (Vox, September 26, 2019)
The tech giant’s hope is that federal lawmakers will adopt
much of its draft legislation.
an Architect Who Designs ‘Half-Houses’ Rebuilt a City
(City Lab, September 26, 2019)
Alejandro Aravena, who helped a city recover from an
earthquake and a tsunami, says participatory design is not
just inclusive but “more efficient.”
to Know the People You Love (Rikleen Institute,
September 26, 2019)
How often do we truly see beloved relatives as the individuals
that lie beneath the surface of their familiar faces?
Vaults into the Lead in California’s Democratic Presidential
Primary. (Berkeley IGS Poll, September 25, 2019)
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has pulled into the
lead in California among voters likely to be participating in
California’s March Democratic presidential primary. The latest
Berkeley IGS Poll finds Warren to be the choice of 29% of
likely voters, up eleven points from June. While support for
Warren has grown significantly over the past three months,
backing for her two principal rivals,former Vice President Joe
Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has remained fairly
static, with Biden polling 20%, down two points from June and
Sanders at 19%, up two points. Meanwhile, support for
California’s home-state Senator Kamala Harris has declined
five points since June and is now in single digits (8%). South
Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has also slipped four
points from June to 6%. None of the other Democratic
candidates received more than 3% of likely voter support,
while 8% of likely voters have no preference.
The strength of Warren’s candidacy is further demonstrated
when voters are asked which candidates they are giving at
least some consideration to supporting in the Democratic
primary. In this setting 68% of likely voters citeWarren,
twenty-three points higher than any of her opponents. In
addition, a 54% majority of likely voters lists Warren among
their top two choices, twenty-one points greater than any of
her Democratic rivals.
up, moron’: Rudy Giuliani lashes out at critics, defends his
Ukraine involvement. (Washington Post, September 25, 2019)
On Fox News, Giuliani vigorously defended himself and Trump.
He argued that he only contacted Ukrainian officials at the
request of the State Department, called for investigations of
“corrupt” Democrats, and repeatedly alleged that former vice
president Joe Biden and his son Hunter had done wrong in
Ukraine. The allegation about the Bidens, which Trump has also
voiced, has not been backed up by any official evidence thus
tale of two Lindseys: 1999 video reminds us how the South
Carolina senator once viewed impeachment. (Daily KOS,
September 25, 2019)
The 1999 version of Lindsey Graham sought to take down a
Democrat, then-President Bill Clinton; now that Donald Trump
is in office, Graham’s hypocrisy has long-since ramped up far
beyond threat level midnight.
REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM, 1999: So the point I’m trying to make is
(this): 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 and integrity to the
REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM, 1999: He (Clinton) doesn’t have to say,
“Go lie for me,” (for it) to be a crime. You don’t have to
say, “Let’s obstruct justice” for it to be a crime. You judge
people on their conduct, not magic phrases.
Us a Favor”: The Forty-eight Hours That Sealed Trump’s
Impeachment (The New Yorker, September 25, 2019)
The most interesting moments to be in Washington are when the
conventional wisdom is shifting and not everyone knows it yet,
or when an old certainty has been shredded and nothing has
emerged to replace it. As of Monday morning, the political
world was pretty sure that Donald Trump would not be impeached
by the Democratic House of Representatives, and that he would
enter the 2020 campaign and race to win re-election, before
the economy betrayed him with a recession that forecasters
increasingly see as inevitable. Instead, over a remarkable day
and a half, a new reality emerged: Donald Trump appears to
have got himself impeached. Trump now seems all but certain
not only to face an impeachment investigation but an actual
impeachment vote in the House. And, whenever it happens, and
whatever the specifics of the indictment turn out to be, the
impeachment vote will have been triggered by a new scandal
very much of his own making.
cuts away from Trump: ‘We hate to do this, but the president
isn’t telling the truth.’ (Daily KOS, September 25,
"These allegations against Joe Biden and Hunter Biden that he
has been repeating have been investigated by the Ukrainians.
None other than the Wall Street Journal included in their
report, on Friday, that the Ukrainians view this issue as
having been investigated and adjudicated, and what’s amazing
is that what Trump appears to be trying to do is to turn his
own impeachment into a big deflection."
incredulous after his moves on transparency failed to stop
Pelosi. (CNN, September 25, 2019)
He had felt confident after phoning Pelosi earlier that
morning. The drive for impeachment in her caucus had ramped up
amid reports he pushed the Ukrainian President to investigate
Joe Biden, and Trump was hoping to head off a clash. He
figured he could de-escalate tensions by speaking with her
directly. It was after that call that Trump made the decision
to release an "unredacted" version of the transcript of his
July call -- against the advice of aides such as Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo, who warned him it would set a risky
precedent. Trump wanted to undercut the argument from
Democrats that he acted inappropriately, he said, and felt he
had nothing to hide.
But when the announcement he would release the transcript did
little to quell the growing calls for his impeachment, Trump
was in disbelief. Democrats immediately argued that it
wouldn't be enough. They also wanted to see the
whistleblower's complaint, which had been found urgent and
credible by the inspector general for the intelligence
community and was mandated by law to be handed over to the
intelligence committees. Administration officials began
working out a plan to declassify and redact the complaint so
it could be turned over too, all in the hope of easing
escalated tensions with lawmakers.
After Pelosi's historic announcement, Trump immediately began
lashing out, accusing Democrats of distracting from his
successes at the United Nations General Assembly and arguing
it was just "more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage."
of House members supporting impeachment inquiry swells to
200. (Washington Post, September 25, 2019)
Key developments are playing out Wednesday in a controversy
that has ignited a drive for impeachment of the president by
accidentally sends his talking points on Ukraine to House
Democrats, then 'recalls' them. (Daily KOS, September
adviser: Ukraine 'understood' discussing Biden was
condition for talking to Trump. (The Hill, September
Asks Ukraine’s Leader to ‘Do Us a Favor’ and Also Urges
Inquiry of Biden. (New York Times, September 25, 2019)
“I would like you to do us a favor,” Mr. Trump said in
response to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine raising
the prospect of acquiring military equipment from the United
States. The president then also asked for another inquiry:
that the Ukrainians examine an unsubstantiated theory about
stolen Democratic emails.
After a whistle-blower raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s
dealings with Ukraine, the director of national intelligence
and the inspector general for the intelligence community each
referred the complaint for a possible criminal investigation
into the president’s actions, according to a Justice
Mr. Trump’s suggestion that American law enforcement be
directly involved and in contact with Ukraine’s government
marks the first evidence that the president personally sought
to harness the power of the United States government to
further a politically-motivated investigation.
offered to meet Ukraine leader at White House after he
promised an investigation. (Washington Post, September
In his July 25 phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, President
Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart to work with the U.S.
attorney general to investigate the conduct of Joe Biden, a
pressuring for an investigation of Biden isn't even the
worst part of Ukraine 'transcript', (Daily KOS,
September 25, 2019)
Donald Trump has long been convinced that he could shoot
someone on Fifth Avenue without losing the support of his
followers. Now the question is: Can he threaten an entire
nation, repeatedly, without losing the support of Republicans
in the Senate? Because, despite a history of altering
transcripts to massage Trump’s fumbles, misstatements, lies,
and insults, the document that the White House put out on
Tuesday morning is sufficient on its own merits to convict
Trump in any court. It is terrible.
The White House transcript is replete with language that would
make a Mafia boss blush. It’s absolutely chock-a-block with
descriptions of political opponents as “very bad people,” with
praise for a pro-Russian prosecutor who resigned in disgrace,
and with pressure from Trump to not just investigate Joe
Biden’s son, but dig into a laundry list of disproved
Trump’s Call With the Ukrainian President (New York
Times, September 25, 2019)
Here is the transcript released by the White House on
Wednesday morning of a July 25 call between President Trump
and Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine.
union head says GM ending insurance for striking workers
is 'obscene'. (The Hill, September 25, 2019)
GM spokesperson David Barnas disputed Weingarten's remarks,
telling the The Hill that the company has not cut off
benefits for striking workers. “Medical and prescription
drug benefits are continuous for striking workers, and
benefits are even retroactive to the beginning of the strike
for those that enroll in COBRA coverage," Barnas said in a
A UAW spokesman told The Associated Press that the company
and auto workers are “still talking.” But, as auto workers
are on strike, GM has stopped paying striking workers’
health insurance and shifted the cost onto the UAW union.
Brian Rothenberg, a spokesman for the UAW strikers, told The
Hill the "UAW strike fund is funding health insurance."
Weingarten's comments come as nearly 49,000 GM workers are
carrying $165 million worth of cocaine intercepted by Coast
Guard cutter in Pacific. (WDBJ, September 25, 2019)
to fight deepfakes and ransomware: Better security training
(The Enterprisers Project, September 24, 2019)
Did you hear about the CEO who was recently duped by an
AI-powered deepfake voice scam? It’s time to increase security
training for everyone - especially the Corporate Suite
Day in History: Little Rock Nine enroll at Central High
School in Arkansas. (WCVB, September 24, 2019)
On this day in 1957, nine black students entered Central High
School in Little Rock, Arkansas, an all-white school. The
students, known as the Little Rock Nine, were escorted into
the school by the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.
Steps Up, Trump Blinks. (New York Times, September 24,
It’s a start, maybe. It turns out President Trump can push his
fellow Republicans too far. Senate Republicans stuck up for
themselves, and their institution, on Tuesday by joining
unanimously with their Democratic colleagues to call on the
president to stop stonewalling. They asked him to release to
the relevant congressional committees the complaint from a
whistle-blower that an inspector general had said raised an
“urgent concern” about the president’s behavior.
On the need for greater transparency from this White House,
lawmakers from both parties are in unusual agreement, at least
for now. And the White House showed signs of backing down,
signaling not that it would release the full complaint but
that it might not block the whistle-blower from testifying.
impeachment works and what’s happened with previous
presidents (WCVB, September 24, 2019)
can't gaslight us, sir!': Chuck Todd shuts down Sen. John
Kennedy's anti-impeachment nonsense. (Daily KOS,
September 24, 2019)
are Republicans silent about the Ukraine whistleblower
scandal? This one chart explains. (Washington Post, September 24, 2019)
Comparing the political fortunes of Lindsey Graham and Jeff
Flake tells you a lot.
Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump.
(New York Times, September 24, 2019)
Faced with new allegations against President Trump and
administration stonewalling, Democrats have ended months of
wins "right to be forgotten" case in Europe. (ZDNet,
September 24, 2019)
The right to the protection of personal data is not an
absolute right, the European Court of Justice ruled Tuesday.
took FCC cash for “serving” 885,000 people it wasn’t
actually serving. (Ars Technica, September 24, 2019)
Sprint admits mistake, promises to pay money back but could be
punished by FCC.
experimented with activating all nearby cameras after a 911
call. (The Verge, September 24, 2019)
Ring seemed to be aware of potential privacy concerns around
this automatic activation — Ring owners would have had to opt
in to allow nearby 911 calls to activate the cameras on their
doorbells, according to the emails seen by CNET. But this
feature, if it was implemented, could have significantly added
to concerns about Ring’s ability to collect data on and
potentially surveil citizens.
This year, Ring has come under continued press scrutiny of its
partnerships with police and cities, including working with
police to help them request security camera footage from
customers, and some city governments subsidizing the costs of
Ring products for citizens. Ring itself revealed in August
that it has partnered with more than 400 law enforcement
agencies across the US.
Is Working on a Device That Can Read Human Emotions.
(Bloomberg, September 23, 2019)
The notion of building machines that can understand human
emotions has long been a staple of science fiction, from
stories by Isaac Asimov to Star Trek’s android Data. Amid
advances in machine learning and voice and image recognition,
the concept has recently marched toward reality. Companies
including Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and IBM
Corp., among a host of other firms, are developing
technologies designed to derive emotional states from images,
audio data and other inputs.
The technology could help the company gain insights for
potential health products or be used to better target
advertising or product recommendations. The concept is likely
to add fuel to the debate about the amount and type of
personal data scooped up by technology giants, which already
collect reams of information about their customers.
gadgets 'making people more vulnerable' from hackers.
(BBC, September 23, 2019)
Google Just Achieve Quantum Supremacy? (Popular
Mechanics, September 23, 2019)
A deleted paper—from NASA, no less—hints at the major
computing benchmark. But what does it mean?
Considered 'Simple,' the Ancient Edomites Were Actually Tech
Mechanics, September 23, 2019)
Copper was the must-have tech of the ancient world, and
Edomites were its master.
This The New Normal? Hawaii Wrestles With Record Heat.
(Honolulu Civil Beat, September 23, 2019)
Hawaii has broken a heat record almost every day since April.
It’s hot. It’s muggy. And it’s exactly what climate experts
have been telling us would happen for decades — increasingly
warmer weather as we emit ever more carbon dioxide and
heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.
Climatologists are frustrated by the lack of action in
response to man-made global warming, but there are some simple
solutions that could provide relief.
loses it in front of world's 'fake' media, rails about
Biden deserving 'the electric chair'. (Daily KOS,
September 23, 2019)
Donald Trump is losing it. Again. In a bilateral sitdown
with Polish President Andrzej Duda, a sweating, red-faced
Trump railed at the “fake media,” at Joe Biden and his
son, and at the fake media again when asked about Ukraine
and the intelligence whistleblower's allegations against
him. "Joe Biden and his son are corrupt," he spewed. "But
the fake news doesn't want to report it because they're
Democrats. If a Republican ever did what Joe Biden did, if
a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they'd be
getting the electric chair by right now." The electric
chair. Maybe it's that prospect that's got him so worked
up. He ended by almost screaming at the press corps,
"You're all crooked as hell." Then, barely taking a beat,
he concluded with, "Okay thank you very much, I hope you
Said to Have Frozen Aid to Ukraine Before Call With Its
York Times, September 23, 2019)
The revelation came as leading congressional Democrats
demanded that the administration turn over documentation
about the matter and calls for impeachment grew.
the Door to Hell Itself’: Bahamas Confronts Life After
Hurricane Dorian. (Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2019)
With 1,300 people still missing and neighborhoods flattened,
leaders aren’t yet sure how long the recovery will take.
takeover of GOP forces many House Republicans to head for
the exits. (Washington Post, September 22, 2019)
Paul Mitchell is among a growing list of House Republicans —
18 to date — who have announced plans to resign, retire or
run for another office, part of a snowballing exodus that
many Republicans fear is imperiling their chances of
regaining control of the House in the 2020 elections.
And the problem for the GOP is bigger than retirements.
Since Trump’s inauguration, a Washington Post analysis
shows, nearly 40 percent of the 241 Republicans who were in
office in January 2017 are gone or leaving because of
election losses, retirements including former House speaker
Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), and some, such as Mitchell, who are
simply quitting in disgust.
The vast turnover is a reminder of just how much Trump has
remade the GOP — and of the purge of those who dare to
oppose him. Former congressman Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) lost
his June 2018 primary after challenging Trump; he’s now a
Republican presidential candidate. Rep. Justin Amash
(I-Mich.), the only Republican to accuse Trump of
impeachable acts, quit the GOP in July citing the “partisan
death spiral.” His political future is uncertain.
top officials rush to Sunday shows to defend apparent
Ukraine extortion scheme. (Daily KOS, September 22,
We do not know the full details of the whistle-blower
complaint that appears, via reporting, to center on a
"promise" Donald Trump made and on repeated efforts to
pressure the Ukrainian government to find compromising
information on one of Trump's potential 2020 election
opponents. But we do know that Trump personally led that
effort; we also know that Trump withheld, without explanation,
desperately needed military aid to Ukraine until after a
series of conversations with Ukrainian leaders.
Trump using the office of the presidency to apparently extort
an allied power for his personal gain would be, of course,
corruption on an international scale. That does not mean,
however, that his staff and other top Republicans are not
rushing to defend those acts.
Acknowledges Discussing Biden in Call With Ukrainian Leader.
(New York Times, September 22, 2019)
“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with
largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place and
largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice
President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already
in the Ukraine,” Mr. Trump told reporters before leaving for a
trip to Texas and Ohio. Mr. Trump did not directly confirm
news reports that he pressured Mr. Zelensky for an
investigation. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Mr.
Trump urged Mr. Zelensky about eight times during the July 25
phone call to work with the president’s lawyer, Rudolph W.
Giuliani, on an investigation of Mr. Biden and his son.
Mr. Giuliani has already publicly acknowledged pressing
Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens, and Mr. Trump
told reporters on Friday and again over the weekend that the
former vice president should be investigated without saying
whether it came up during the phone call.
The president’s interest over the summer in a Ukrainian
investigation into Mr. Biden, a candidate for the Democratic
presidential nomination and the right to run against Mr. Trump
in next year’s election, coincided with his administration’s
decision to hold up $250 million in security aid to Ukraine.
But there have been no indications that Mr. Trump mentioned
the money during the call. The president finally agreed to
release the money this month after coming under bipartisan
pressure from Congress.
Repeatedly Pressed Ukraine President to Investigate Biden’s
Son. (Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2019)
Interactions under focus amid whistle-blower complaint on U.S.
president’s dealings with a world leader
shows that almost a third of all birds have vanished in the
last fifty years. (Daily KOS, September 21, 2019)
As much as people enjoy watching birds for their colorful
plumage and complex behaviors, there is much more to them than
the joy they bring by their presence. Many plants depend on
birds to spread their seeds. Birds are second only to insects
in pollinating flowers. And many insect-eating birds chow down
on exactly the kind of insects that bring bites and disease to
humans. Their loss hurts us aesthetically, and in the stomach,
and in the blood.
The suspected culprits for the decline are no great
surprise—loss of habitat and chemicals in the environment.
Pesticides have not just given us shinier apples, but
eliminated insects that fed sparrows. Herbicides have wiped
out plants whose seeds were staples for dozens of species.
Both have run into waters and destroyed populations of fish
and frogs that fed shorebirds.
a Deadly American Summer (New York Times, September 21,
One massacre followed the next, sometimes on the very same
day. In sudden bursts of misery, they played out in big
cities, along rural roads, inside trim suburbs. They left
behind shaken neighborhoods, tearful memorials and calls for
change, but little concrete action. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, America
endured 26 mass shootings in 18 states, killing 126 and
wounding many more.
A New York Times review of every shooting, from the first, on
the late afternoon of May 31, to the last, the night of Sept.
2, found that each one was distinct. Yet clear patterns
emerged. The suspect in every shooting was male, and no case
Warren Will Do (Warren Plans Page, September 21, 2019)
Elizabeth has a lot of plans, but they’re really one simple
plan: We need to tackle the corruption in Washington that
makes our government work for the wealthy and well-connected,
but kicks dirt on everyone else, and put economic and
political power back in the hands of the people.
Concern: This Unambiguously Constitutes an Impeachable
Offense. (Slate, September 20, 2019)
Gaining insight into the whistleblower situation.
Pressed Ukraine’s Leader on Inquiry Into Biden’s Son.
(New York Times, September 20, 2019)
President Trump pressed the Ukrainian president in a July call
to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s
son, according to a person familiar with the conversation, an
apparently blatant mixture of foreign policy with his 2020
re-election campaign. Mr. Trump also repeatedly told the
Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, to talk with his
personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who had been urging the
government in Kiev to investigate Mr. Biden and his family,
according to two other people briefed on the call.
The revelations added urgency to questions about Mr. Trump’s
dealings with Ukraine, which is battling Russian-controlled
separatists in the country’s east. When the president sought
the Biden investigation, the Trump administration’s military
aid to Ukraine had been frozen for weeks.
For Democrats who want to examine the whistle-blower complaint
— itself the subject of an internal administration dispute
over whether to hand it over to Congress, as is generally
required by law — the key question is whether Mr. Trump was
demanding a quid pro quo, explicitly or implicitly. Democratic
House committee chairmen are already investigating whether he
manipulated American foreign policy for personal political
advantage and have requested the transcript of the Zelensky
a foreign reporter visiting the US I was stunned by Trump's
press conference. (The Guardian, September 20, 2019)
Despite being subjected to a daily diet of Trump headlines, I
was unprepared for the president’s alarming incoherence.
The wall was “amazing”, “world class”, “virtually
impenetrable” and also “a good, strong rust colour” that could
later be painted. It was designed to absorb heat, so it was
“hot enough to fry an egg on”. There were no eggs to hand, but
the president did sign his name on it and spoke for so long
the TV feed eventually cut away, promising to return if news
was ever made.
He did, at one point, concede that would-be immigrants, unable
to scale, burrow, blow torch or risk being burned, could
always walk around the incomplete structure, but that would
require them walking a long way. This seemed to me to be an
important point, but the monologue quickly returned to the
In writing about this not-especially-important or unusual
press conference I’ve run into what US reporters must
encounter every day. I’ve edited skittering, half-finished
sentences to present them in some kind of consequential order
and repeated remarks that made little sense. In most
circumstances, presenting information in as intelligible a
form as possible is what we are trained for. But the shock I
felt hearing half an hour of unfiltered meanderings from the
president of the United States made me wonder whether the
editing does our readers a disservice. I’d understood the
dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies – the
racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But
watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me
understand how the process of reporting about this president
can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence.
Thunberg hopes today's Student Climate Strikes will be
'social tipping point'. (Yahoo, September 20, 2019)
Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg told AFP that
she hoped Friday's massive worldwide climate strikes would
mark a turning point in persuading leaders to take decisive
action on global warming. (4-min.
video w/Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot.) The
16-year-old described the numbers of people who took to the
streets as "unbelievable" -- from Asia-Pacific to Europe and
Africa, culminating in New York where a million students have
been permitted to skip school.
will make them hear us’: Millions of youths around the world
strike for action. (w/2-min. video; Washington Post,
September 20, 2019)
The strikes come three days before world leaders are set to
gather at the United Nations for a much-anticipated climate
After hours of marching and chants and speeches in New York,
the sea of protesters roared as Greta Thunberg finally took
“The eyes of the world will be upon them,” she said of the
national leaders gathering next week at the U.N. summit. “They
have a chance to take leadership. To prove they actually hear
us.” She paused. “Do you think they hear us?”
The crowd screamed back: “No.”
She smiled. “We will make them hear us,” Thunberg said,
adding, “Change is coming. Whether they like it or not.”
just pledged to hit net zero climate emissions by 2040.
(MIT Technology Review, September 19, 2019)
The plan was generally met with praise, but as ever, the devil
is in the details. In part it could be dismissed as climate
accounting: investing in solar and wind power elsewhere to
offset the portion of fossil-fuel-generated electricity that’s
actually being used. In addition, accurately measuring forest
offsets, which the company will need to balance out emissions
from plane flights and other carbon-heavy aspects of its
operations, is notoriously difficult.
The company’s own climate activist employee group, Amazon
Employees for Climate Justice, trumpeted the pledge as a “huge
win” but said it didn’t go far enough. “As long as Amazon uses
its power to help oil and gas companies discover and extract
more fossil fuel, donates to climate-denying politicians and
think tanks, and enables the oppression of climate refugees,
employees will keep raising our voices,” they said. More than
1,500 workers there still plan to walk out tomorrow.
Skies: Billions of North American Birds Have Vanished.
(Scientific American, September 19, 2019)
Though waterfowl and raptor populations have made recoveries,
bird populations have declined since 1970 across nearly all
of the North American avifauna (Science, September 19,
Species extinctions have defined the global biodiversity
crisis, but extinction begins with loss in abundance of
individuals that can result in compositional and functional
changes of ecosystems. Using multiple and independent
monitoring networks, we report population losses across much
of the North American avifauna over 48 years, including once
common species and from most biomes. Integration of range-wide
population trajectories and size estimates indicates a net
loss approaching 3 billion birds, or 29% of 1970 abundance.
A continent-wide weather radar network also reveals a
similarly steep decline in biomass passage of migrating birds
over a recent 10-year period. This loss of bird abundance
signals an urgent need to address threats to avert future
avifaunal collapse and associated loss of ecosystem integrity,
function and services.
Treasure Island, poised for building boom, escaped listing
as Superfund site. (San Francisco Chronicle, September
San Francisco’s Treasure Island, the former naval base being
transformed into a $6 billion development of condos and shops,
was once considered hazardous enough to be a federal Superfund
waste site but was never officially named one, newly disclosed
documents show. While it’s not clear why Treasure Island was
never named a Superfund site, a designation given to some of
the most polluted places in the country, the release of the
records prompted calls Wednesday from some environmentalists
for more federal examination.
However, the island’s developers, who have plans to put more
than 8,000 homes on the site by 2035, said the cleanup has
been heavily scrutinized and handled effectively by multiple
government agencies, dismissing any suggestion that the area
is not safe for habitation.
Kids Test Positive for Depleted Uranium Remnants Near Former
US Air Base. (TruthOut, September 19, 2019)
or the first time, independent researchers have found that the
bodies of Iraqi children born with congenital disabilities,
such as heart disease and malformed limbs, near a former
United States air base in southern Iraq are contaminated with
high levels of radioactive heavy metals associated with toxic
depleted uranium pollution leftover from the 2003 U.S.-led
The findings appear to bolster claims made by Iraqi doctors
who observed high rates of congenital disabilities in babies
born in areas that experienced heavy fighting during the
bloody first year of the most recent Iraq war. In 2016,
researchers tested the hair and teeth of children from
villages in proximity to the Talil Air Base, a former U.S. air
base, located south of Baghdad and near the city Nasiriyah.
They found elevated levels of uranium and of thorium, two
slightly radioactive heavy metals linked to cancer and used to
make nuclear fuel.
Thorium is a direct decay product of depleted uranium, a
chemically toxic byproduct of the nuclear power industry that
was added to weapons used during the first year of the war in
Iraq. Thanks to its high density, depleted uranium can
reinforce tank armor and allow bullets and other munitions to
penetrate armored vehicles and other heavy defenses. Depleted
uranium was also released into the environment from trash
dumps and burn pits outside U.S. military bases.
Goes Deeper Than You Think. (Scientific American,
September 19, 2019)
Awareness can be part of it, but it’s much more than that.
Giuliani lost his mind on CNN and admitted he was a
co-conspirator in Ukraine deal. (Daily KOS, September
Rudy Giuliani appeared on CNN with Chris Cuomo on Thursday
night to try and spin the unfolding story that Donald Trump
asked newly elected leader Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr
Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden’s son, who has worked on
matters in the Ukraine, in exchange for $250 million in aid to
the Ukraine. The day after the call, U.S. Special
Representative Kurt Volker was dispatched to meet with
Ukrainian leaders and later, Rudy Giuliani himself was
dispatched to the Spanish countryside, where he met with Prime
Minister Zelensky’s right-hand man.
In short, this is a serious matter and very likely a federal
crime. With that in mind, Giuliani hit CNN and there he had a
serious meltdown, shouting, yelling about the “Deep State”,
claiming Biden is corrupt and most importantly, ended up
confessing that yes, he did it.
Giuliani denies asking Ukraine to investigate Biden --
before admitting it. (CNN, September 19, 2019)
"So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?" Cuomo
pressed. "Of course I did," Giuliani said.
When asked about his contradicting answer, Giuliani said he
"didn't ask" for Biden to be investigated specifically, but
asked Ukraine "to look into the allegations that related to my
client, which tangentially involved Joe Biden in a massive
Giuliani's remarks come the same day The Washington Post and
The New York Times reported that a recent whistleblower
complaint about Trump making a "promise" to a foreign leader
involves Ukraine. As CNN previously reported, the complaint
has led to a standoff between Congress and acting Director of
National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who has refused to turn
over the complaint to the House Intelligence Committee.
Complaint Is Said to Involve Trump and Ukraine. (New
York Times, September 19, 2019)
The complaint, from a member of the intelligence
community, remained opaque but involved at least one of
the president’s communications with a foreign leader.
Though it is not clear how Ukraine fits into the
allegation, questions have already emerged about Mr.
Trump’s dealings with its government. In late July, he
told the country’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, that
Ukraine could improve its reputation and its “interaction”
with the United States by investigating corruption,
according to a Ukrainian government summary of the call.
Some of Mr. Trump’s close allies were also urging the
Ukrainian government to investigate matters that could
hurt the president’s political rivals, including former
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family
communications with foreign leader are part of
whistleblower complaint that spurred standoff between
spy chief and Congress, former officials say.
(Washington Post, September 18, 2019)
The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense
showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and
Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a
foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials
familiar with the matter.
Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a
“promise” that was regarded as so troubling that it
prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to
file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector
general for the intelligence community, said the former
It was not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump
was speaking with or what he pledged to deliver, but his
direct involvement in the matter has not been previously
disclosed. It raises new questions about the president’s
handling of sensitive information and may further strain
his relationship with U.S. spy agencies. One former
official said the communication was a phone call.
Just Saved Their Democracy (Bloomberg, September 18,
Netanyahu wanted to annex Palestinian land, neuter the Supreme
Court and put himself above the law. This week’s election
means those things won’t happen.
fraud: Is there an open source solution? (Open Source,
September 18, 2019)
The Trust The Vote project is developing open source
technology to help keep elections honest.
Reserve rescues markets twice, for the first (and second)
time since 2008 financial crisis. (Daily KOS, September
crack just emerged in the financial markets: The NY Fed
spends $53 billion to rescue the overnight lending market
(CNN, September 18, 2019)
The spike in overnight borrowing rates forced the New York
Federal Reserve to come to the rescue with a special operation
aimed at easing stress in financial markets. It was the NY
Fed's first such rescue operation in a decade, the last
occurring in late 2008.
"It's unprecedented, at least in the post-crisis era," said
Mark Cabana, rates strategist at Bank of America Merrill
Lynch. "The funding
markets are clearly stressed," said Guy LeBas of Janney
the Lewandowski Circus Change Congressional Hearings
Forever (New York Times, September 18, 2019)
Because the status quo is just terrible. To call Corey
Lewandowski’s appearance before the House Judiciary
Committee on Tuesday problematic would be generous. It was a
strutting spectacle of contempt for democratic processes
worthy of President Trump himself. Mr. Lewandowski’s
performance requires a serious response. Maybe more than
Moments From Corey Lewandowski’s Testimony Before Congress
(New York Times, September 17, 2019)
Mr. Lewandowski, President Trump’s former campaign manager,
testified before lawmakers conducting an impeachment
of Congress, Live on TV (Bloomberg, September 17,
Trump’s ex-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski wouldn’t
answer legitimate questions at a hearing. There’s a word for
AI’s Effect on Media and Truth (Mozilla, September 17,
Mozilla is announcing its eight latest Creative Media
Awards. These art and advocacy projects highlight how AI
intersects with online media and truth — and impacts our
Today, one of the biggest issues facing the internet — and
society — is misinformation. It’s a complicated issue, but
this much is certain: The artificial intelligence (AI)
powering the internet is complicit. Platforms like YouTube
and Facebook recommend and amplify content that will keep us
clicking, even if it’s radical or flat out wrong.
Krugman: Republicans Don’t Believe in Democracy.
(New York Times, September 16, 2019)
Do Democrats understand what they’re facing?
What the stories have in common is that they
illustrate contempt for democracy and constitutional
government. Elections are supposed to have
consequences, conveying power to the winners. But
when Democrats win an election, the modern G.O.P.
does its best to negate the results, flouting norms
and, if necessary, the law to carry on as if the
voters hadn’t spoken.
Sacklers shift at least $1 billion around, Purdue files
for bankruptcy. (Ars Technica, September 16, 2019)
committee launches investigation into Transportation
Secretary Chao. (The Hill, September 16, 2019)
The House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday launched
an investigation into Mitch McConnell's wife, U.S.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, over whether she is
using her office to benefit herself and her family. The
investigation follows a series of reports alleging that Chao
used her role in the Trump administration to boost Foremost
Group, a shipping company founded by her father, and
initially didn't divest from stock in a major construction
Years of Trump Tax Returns Are Subpoenaed by Manhattan D.A.
(New York Times, September 16, 2019)
Investigators demanded the president’s personal and corporate
tax returns as they examine hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.
Northern Hemisphere just had its warmest summer on record.
(Washington Post, September 16, 2019)
The 5 hottest summers have occurred in the past 5 years.
What’s remarkable about 2019′s record warmth is that it comes
in the absence of a strong El Niño event in the tropical
Pacific Ocean. Such events tend to boost global temperatures
by warming the seas and sending more heat into the atmosphere.
Instead, a weak El Niño has been present at times during 2019
but nothing like what occurred in 2016, which was the last
time a Northern Hemisphere summer was this warm.
As global average temperatures continue to rise in response to
increasing levels of human-produced greenhouse gases, it is
becoming easier to exceed climate benchmarks even without
strong El Niño events.
Arabia says weapons used to attack its oil facilities were
Post, September 16, 2019)
Saudi Arabia charged Monday that Iranian weapons were used to
attack the kingdom’s oil installations, dismissing claims of
responsibility by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who threatened
additional assaults amid U.S. warnings of retaliation. The
Houthis’ new threat, reported Monday by the group’s al-Masirah
TV, came two days after they claimed a crippling assault on
facilities in the desert kingdom - adding that drones modified
with jet engines were used in the operation Saturday.
U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have
blamed Iran directly for the attacks, saying that the assault
did not come from Yemen. Pompeo did not offer evidence for the
claim, which he tweeted on Saturday. The Houthis also have not
provided any proof to support their assertion that they
carried out the strikes on the Saudi oil installations, using
what they said was a fleet of 10 drones.
Trump had said late Sunday that the United States was prepared
to respond to the devastating attacks on two oil installations
in Saudi Arabia that halved the state oil company’s output.
“There is reason to believe that we know the culprit,” Trump
said in a tweet Sunday evening. He said the United States was
“locked and loaded depending on verification.”
Stallman, or The Passion Of Saint iGNUcius (Jack Baruth,
September 16, 2019)
Stallman has no way to understand how people feel about
something; he doesn’t feel that way. The community of actual
computer scientists and clued-in tech people has long accepted
this because — and I cannot emphasize this enough — Richard
Stallman is responsible for computing as we know it.
In a world where Richard Stallman did not exist, neither would
Apple, or the Android phone, or “cloud computing”, or
Amazon.com. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The world
without Stallman would be a world where you still used a
Windows 95 computer, where you paid real money for every
single piece of software on it. Internet Explorer would be the
browser. Computing would be limited to the upper-middle-class,
the way it was in 1985. No matter how you are reading this
website, both you and I are using systems which incorporate
GNU software. Even if you’re using Windows, which nowadays
runs on a very GNU-like operating system beneath the covers.
The idea of truly free software given to the world for
humanitarian purposes would not exist without Stallman. He was
the only person who ever had the thought. Which means it is
more radical than calculus, heavier-than-air flight, the
theory of relativity, or the atomic bomb. It took someone with
Stallman’s particular blend of Promethean IQ and mentally
handicapped social skills to push it all the way to reality.
You live in Richard Stallman’s world, whether you like it or
not. He has had more influence on how we communicate in 2019
than any other single human being currently living. Any sane
society would consider him a national treasure of greater
importance than Fort Knox, to be cherished and protected
Scientist Richard Stallman Resigns From MIT Over Epstein
Comments. (Vice, September 16, 2019)
Stallman said the "most plausible scenario" is that one of the
trafficking victims "presented herself to him as entirely
Biden Is Problematic. (New York Times, September 15,
Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner and may well be the
nominee. He is by far the favorite candidate among black
voters. He was a loyal vice president to Barack Obama, and the
two men seem to have shared a deep and true friendship. He,
like the other Democratic candidates, would be a vast
improvement over Donald Trump.
And, Biden’s positioning on racial issues has been
problematic. No amount of growth or good intentions will
change this fact.
Toxic Fallout (New York Times, September 14, 2019)
PARIS — The April fire that engulfed Notre-Dame contaminated
the cathedral site with clouds of toxic dust and exposed
nearby schools, day care centers, public parks and other parts
of Paris to alarming levels of lead. The lead came from the
cathedral’s incinerated roof and spire, and it created a
public health threat that stirred increasing anxiety in Paris
throughout the summer.
Flames engulfed 460 tons of lead when Notre-Dame’s roof and
spire burned, scattering dangerous dust onto the streets and
parks of Paris. Five months after the fire, the French
authorities have refused to fully disclose the results of
their testing for lead contamination, sowing public confusion,
while issuing reassuring statements intended to play down the
analysts start seeing the strength of Warren's slow but
steady rise. (Daily KOS, September 14, 2019)
Washington pundits appear to have finally turned the corner
this week on starting every conversation about Massachusetts
Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy by questioning whether a
woman is electable. Her slow but steady upward trend in the
polls combined with Vice President's Joe Biden's slow but
steady slope downward has finally convinced at least some
professional analysts that Warren's gradual build could in
fact be a strength not a weakness.
As Dave Weigel, one of the smarter and less group-thinky
campaign reporters, noted, this week's CNN poll showing Biden
as the frontrunner at 24% with Warren at 18% and Sanders at
17% is perhaps best viewed by where things began in April,
when Biden first announced. By that measure, Biden's support
has consistently eroded (-15 points) while the opposite is
true for Warren (+10 points).
was it with Biden's reparations word-salad 'answer,' and his
scoffing at the question? (Daily KOS, September 13,
O'Rourke: Finally, a profile in courage. (Daily KOS, September 13, 2019)
"Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.
We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow
You Like Him Or Hate Him, Bernie Sanders Was Right About The
Media and Insurers. (Daily KOS, September 13, 2019)
George Stephanopoulos wanted to get Sanders and Warren to
admit that middle class taxes will go up. And as both
candidates pointed out, total costs for Americans will go DOWN
with Medicare for All. Stephanopoulos was doing his corporate
master’s bidding by trying to kill Medicare for All with a
Republican talking point. Thank God Sanders and Warren are
sticking to their guns on this.
Note: Republicans NEVER get asked the question of how are you
going to pay for all those tax cuts and wars they initiate.
It’s only Democrats who propose some government spending that
get asked about costs.
was Right: Biden Said "Buy In." MSNBC and Others Should
Apologize for Bad "Fact Checking". (Daily KOS, September
Immediately after last night's Democratic Presidential Debate,
MSNBC debunked Castro’s claim that Biden said that under his
plan people who became unemployed would have to “buy in” to
his plan. Castro was correct.
Castro brings up a couple of important issues in these
interviews. Our candidate needs to be able to face off against
Trump. We do ourselves no favors by assuming that our front
runners should not be called out for what they say. Biden
couldn’t keep his story straight on this.
Biden’s healthcare plan does not clarify what he said. There
seems to be automatic enrollment for people who enroll in SNAP
benefits, but enrolling in SNAP is not automatic for low
income people. There is also no reason to believe that people
who lose their jobs will necessarily apply for SNAP benefits,
so enrollment would not be automatic as some have suggested.
It would make them automatically eligible to apply, which may
have been what Biden meant. Biden’s main plan requires
individuals to buy in to receive it, but provides tax breaks
to some recipients. Given that his plan is unclear, it would
have been helpful if he could have been more precise in
explaining it on the debate stage.
visits Moscow days after Trump says talks ‘dead’.
(Associated Press, September 13, 2019)
Acting National Security Adviser Said Nuclear War With USSR
Was Winnable. (Huffington Post, September 13, 2019)
Questioning “mutual assured destruction,” Charles Kupperman
called nuclear conflict “in large part a physics problem.”
Finances Closer to Scrutiny as U.S. Court Revives Suit.
(Bloomberg, September 13, 2019)
Decision in New York could force Trump to open his finances.
Group claims Trump businesses violate emoluments clauses.
The decision intensifies a legal threat to Trump over the
mixing of his business interests with his authority as
president. Unless an expanded panel of judges or the Supreme
Court reverses the decision, Trump may be forced to defend his
actions and open his business and personal finances to
Trump has been accused of a range of conflicts, including
encouraging foreign dignitaries and U.S. service members to
stay at his hotels. He attracted fresh criticism last month
when he suggested that next year’s meeting of Group of Seven
leaders, to be hosted by the U.S., should be held at his
resort in southern Florida.
Secretly Includes Telemetry Software in More Windows
Updates. (Softpedia, September 13, 2019)
Windows 7 and 8.1 updates coming with telemetry tasks.
Reckoning: The 18th century misadventures of HMS Wager and
her reluctant crew, by Alan Bellows (Damn Interesting,
September 12, 2019)
In the Earth’s extreme southern latitudes, where the Pacific
and Atlantic oceans meet, there is a rocky gap of sea between
Antarctica and South America known as the Drake Passage. Among
18th century seafarers, this corridor was also known by a more
ghoulish nickname: The sailors’ graveyard. In the so-called
Age of Exploration, the Drake Passage was the least
impractical route for large European ships to travel around
South America to access its west coast. The passage hooks far
south—almost to the Antarctic Circle—to navigate around Cape
Horn on the extreme southern tip of the continent. Sensible
sailors avoided the corridor except in the relatively calm
summer, yet on 12 April 1741—deep into blustery autumn—the
British Royal Navy ship HMS Wager was at full sail in the dead
center of the Drake Passage.
decline in songbirds is linked to common insecticide.
(National Geographic, September 12, 2019)
Neonics—pesticides introduced to plants at the seed stage—act
like an appetite suppressant for birds, making them lose
weight within hours.
Democratic Candidates Debate (2.5-hour video; ABC News,
September 12, 2019)
People Say About the Economy Can Set Off a Recession,
(New York Times, September 12, 2019)
Hardly any of us have precise formulas to decide our economic
plans. So we allow ourselves to be influenced by the emotions,
theories and scripts suggested in the stories we hear from
Fortunately, the widespread digitization of text, combined
with enhanced capabilities for natural-language processing, is
beginning to give us new insights into the history of economic
narratives. We are beginning to develop a new economics, one
that studies these changing economic stories and metaphors
Sotomayor warns the Supreme Court is doing “extraordinary”
favors for Trump. (Vox, September 12, 2019)
The Trump administration thinks the court is its personal
fixer. The court isn’t doing much to disabuse it of this idea.
The Supreme Court rarely granted such stays in the past, and
for good reason. Because the Supreme Court is the final word
on any legal dispute, it typically likes to hang back for a
while as lower court judges wrestle with new legal questions.
If a lower court hands down an erroneous order, and the
Supreme Court does not take immediate action, then the
erroneous order may remain in place for months. But a lower
court decision will eventually work its way through the
appeals process and can be reversed by the Supreme Court if it
is wrong about the law.
If the Supreme Court acts prematurely, however, its erroneous
decision could last forever because no higher court can
overrule the justices.
Thus, out of a healthy fear that its mistakes could linger,
the Court historically has preferred to give lower court
judges time to consider novel legal questions so that the
justices can be informed by those judges’ opinions before the
Supreme Court hands down a final word. Sotomayor’s warning is
that her Court may no longer be exercising such caution — at
least when the Trump administration comes knocking.
Bipartisan Outcry, White House Agrees to Release Ukraine Aid
(New York Times, September 12, 2019)
The White House had previously requested a review of the
spending, ostensibly to ensure that it was being used to
further American foreign policy interests. But the delay
prompted a swift backlash from Republicans and Democrats in
Congress, where there has long been strong support from both
parties for Ukraine’s efforts to stave off Russian aggression.
And some Democrats suggested that the delay was intended to
pressure the government of the newly elected Ukrainian
president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to start investigations of Mr.
Trump’s political rivals, including the family of former Vice
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The inquiries have been sought
by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and other
the man Trump once called ‘my African American’ is leaving
the GOP (PBS, September 12, 2019)
People Tried to Rush This Judge Through the Senate. I Can
See Why. (Esquire, September 11, 2019)
Steven Menashi has quite a record, both in and out of the
Menashi Made His Senate Confirmation Hearing Even Worse Than
Expected. (Huffington Post, September 11 2019)
The controversial judicial nominee angered Republicans and
Democrats by not addressing the work he’s done for Trump.
Confirmation Hearing Devolves Into 'Worthless Exercise,'
Exasperating Democrats and Republicans. (National Law
Journal, September 11, 2019)
“I’m out of time. You took a lot of it by not answering my
questions,” Republican Sen. John Kennedy said to Steven
Going to Manipulate the Government to Stay in Power.
(Daily Beast, September 11, 2019)
The president has given us ample signs that he will use the
powers of the presidency in ways previously unimaginable. How
come Democrats seem so relaxed about it?
The power of an incumbent president to aid re-election by
abusing the executive branch has in the past been limited by a
few powerful forces: Presidential integrity; the fear of a
scandal emerging in the media; and the prospect of aggressive
Due to forces outside their control, the Democratic nominee
won’t be saved by the first two “norms based” options. And as
a result of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s strategy of not “focusing
on Trump,” the president has every reason to scoff at the
prospect of aggressive congressional oversight, up to and
including a genuine “go big” effort at impeachment.
Combined, these elements must force us to consider a truly
horrifying series of questions: Does President Trump have the
means, motive, and opportunity to tilt the 2020 election? The
answer, unfortunately, is yes, yes, and yes. And it behooves
Democrats to understand that now, before it is too late.
a prop in the back’: Advisers struggle to obey Trump’s
Kafkaesque rules (Washington Post, September 11, 2019)
“There is no person that is part of the daily Trump
decision-making process that can survive long term,” said a
former senior administration official who spoke on the
condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “The
president doesn’t like people to get good press. He doesn’t
like people to get bad press. Yet he expects everyone to be
relevant and important and supportive at all times. Even if a
person could do all those things, the president would grow
tired of anyone in his immediate orbit.”
Leon Panetta, who served as a defense secretary, CIA director
and White House chief of staff in past Democratic
administrations, said Trump’s eclectic management style can be
“The presidency is an isolated position to begin with, and it
is incredibly important to have people around you who will
tell you when they think you’re wrong,” Panetta said.
“Presidents need to appreciate that information and not then
take it out on that individual. This president has a real
blind spot in that he does not want anybody around him who is
“He has become more convinced than ever that he is the ‘chosen
one,’ ” said Tony Schwartz, who co-wrote Trump’s 1987
bestseller, “The Art of the Deal,” but has since become
critical of the president. “The blend of the megalomania and
the insecurity make him ultimately dismissive of anybody’s
opinion that doesn’t match his own.”
9/11 speech includes lies and a threat to use something
worse than nuclear bombs (Daily KOS, September 11,
will Michael Hayden explain why the NSA did not predict
9/11? (IT Wire, September 11, 2019)
As America marks the anniversary of the destruction of the
World Trade Centre towers by terrorists, it is a good time
to ask when General Michael Hayden, head of the NSA at the
time of 9/11, will come forward and explain why the agency
was unable to detect the chatter among those who had banded
together to wreak havoc in the US.
Before I continue, let me point out that nothing of what
appears below is new; it was all
reported some four years ago, but mainstream media
have conspicuously avoided pursuing the topic because it
would probably trouble some people in power.
lawmakers introduce bill to stop tear gas sales to Hong
Kong. (South China Morning Post, September 11, 2019)
Bill would prohibit US companies from exporting non-lethal
crowd control and defence items to Hong Kong.
the Internet: We’re living in an era of digital feudalism.
Blockchain is how to take your data and identity back.
(Quartz, September 11, 2019)
We’re over two decades into an era of digital feudalism.
Feudalism is a centuries-old concept. In medieval times, the
nobility owned vast amounts of land. Serfs worked the land
to create value, but most of that value was confiscated by
Instead of farm produce, today the new asset class is
data—created by us, but captured by digital landlords such
as social-media companies, search engines, online retailers,
governments, and banks. “Surfing the internet” has become
“serfing the internet,” with users giving up intimate
details of their lives for the internet lordships to
aggregate, expropriate, and monetize. We, as the serfs, only
get left with a few lousy cabbages.
This is important, because this data isn’t just the
biproduct of your labor. It is the stuff of your identity in
the digital age. All this data constitutes a “virtual you.”
The digital crumbs that you leave in daily life create a
mirror image that knows more about you than you do. You
probably can’t remember dozens of your personal identifiers:
your driver’s licence details, credit-card numbers,
government information. But you definitely don’t know your
exact location a year ago; what you bought or what amount of
money you transacted; what you said online; or what
medication you took or diagnosis you received. And that’s
just the beginning. In the future, the virtual you will
contain detailed medical information like your heart rate,
blood pressure, or myriad other real-time measures of what
you do, how you function, where you are, and even how you
The trouble is that the virtual you is not owned by you.
“Imagine if General Motors did not pay for its steel,
rubber, or glass—its inputs,” economist Robert J. Shapiro
once said. “That’s what it’s like for the big internet
companies. It’s a sweet deal.” We create the asset: They
expropriate it. Yet we still thank them for use of their
land, rather than demanding what is rightfully ours.
What we need is a wholesale shift in how we define and
assign ownership of data assets and how we establish,
manage, and protect our identities in a digital world.
Change those rules, and we end up changing everything. It is
a revolution to be sure. We’ve called it the blockchain
unveils massive wind, solar battery project in South
Australia. (Renew Economy, September 11, 2019)
There are numerous other projects also in the state, which
now seems sure of meeting the state Liberal government’s
target of “net 100 per cent renewables” well before the
advertised date of 2030.
new hot zones are spreading around the world. (Prince
George Citizen, September 11, 2019)
LA CORONILLA, Uruguay - The day the yellow clams turned
black is seared in Ramón Agüero's memory. It was the summer
of 1994. A few days earlier, he had collected a generous
haul, 20 buckets of the thin-shelled, cold-water clams,
which burrow a foot deep into the sand along a 13-mile
stretch of beach near Barra del Chuy, just south of the
Brazilian border. Agüero had been digging up these clams
since childhood, a livelihood passed on for generations
along these shores.
But on this day, Agüero returned to find a disastrous
sight: the beach covered in dead clams. "Kilometer after
kilometer, as far as our eyes could see. All of them dead,
rotten, opened up," remembered Agüero, now 70. "They were
all black, and had a fetid odor." He wept at the sight.
power: Hasbro brings gender pay gap debate to game night
with new Ms. Monopoly (USA Today, September 10, 2019)
The debate over equal pay starts before shuffling the cards,
choosing a token and rolling the dice. The banker doles out
$1,900 in Monopoly Money to each female player and $1,500 to
each male. The gap continues every time a player passes go
with women collecting $240 and men $200. Instead of investing
in real estate properties like the classic game, players
invest in inventions and innovations made by women, including
chocolate chip cookies, bulletproof vests, solar heating and
ladies’ modern shapewear.
Ousts John Bolton as National Security Adviser. (New
York Times, September 10, 2019)
Mr. Bolton disputed the president’s version of how the end
came in his own tweet shortly afterward. “I offered to resign
last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it
tomorrow,’” Mr. Bolton wrote, without elaborating.
Trump Court Pick Gets Expedited Senate Confirmation Hearing.
(September 9, 2019)
Steven Menashi, a White House aide with a record of denouncing
feminism and diversity, is on track to become a lifetime
starting to see the scale of Trump's personal corruption —
and it's massive. (Salon, September 9, 2019)
Mandatory stops at Trump resorts are the tip of the iceberg.
This president has been "wetting his beak" all along.
lawmaker calls for removal of higher education to cut off
‘liberal breeding ground’. (Associated Press, September
least 100 Hurricane Dorian evacuees booted from boat headed
to U.S. over lack of visa. (Daily KOS, September 9,
chief scientist will investigate why agency backed Trump
over its experts on Dorian. (Washington Post, September
Scientists attacked NOAA officials for conceding to Trump
during a weather emergency, when accuracy and messaging are
vital to keep the public safe. The American Meteorological
Society issued a statement of support for the NWS, writing:
“AMS believes the criticism of the Birmingham forecast office
is unwarranted; rather they should have been commended for
their quick action based on science in clearly communicating
the lack of threat to the citizens of Alabama."
In his email to employees Sunday, NOAA’s acting director Craig
McLean criticized his agency’s public statement, saying it
prioritized politics over NOAA’s mission. “The NWS
Forecaster(s) corrected any public misunderstanding in an
expert and timely way, as they should,” McLean wrote. “There
followed, last Friday, an unsigned news release from 'NOAA’
that inappropriately and incorrectly contradicted the NWS
forecaster. My understanding is that this intervention to
contradict the forecaster was not based on science but on
external factors including reputation and appearance, or
simply put, political. The content of this news release is
very concerning as it compromises the ability of NOAA to
convey life-saving information necessary to avoid substantial
and specific danger to public health and safety." McLean is investigating whether the
agency’s response to President Trump’s Hurricane Dorian
tweets constituted a violation of NOAA policies and ethics.
National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini has also
broken with NOAA's political leadership.
Employees Will Walk Out Over the Company's Climate Change
Inaction. (Wired, September 9, 2019)
The planned event will mark the first time in Amazon's
25-year history that workers at the company's Seattle
headquarters have participated in a strike.
Plants Will Get Crushed by Wind and Solar Power by 2035,
Study Says. (Bloomberg, September 9, 2019)
Generators now on drawing boards will be left uneconomical.
This development will be a dramatic reversal of fortune for
priests can bless you, advise you, and even perform your
funeral. (Vox, September 9, 2019)
AI religion is upon us. Welcome to the future.
ruling party hit badly in Moscow election (BBC News,
September 9, 2019)
The party lost nearly a third of the seats in the 45-member
parliament, but remains on course to retain its majority with
about 26 seats. With most opposition candidates disqualified,
the Communists, independents and others gained seats. The
exclusion of the opposition candidates triggered mass
Unlike Moscow, Kremlin-backed candidates dominated in other
local and regional elections held across the country on 8
September. They look set to win in all 16 regions that were
electing their governors.
leak forced US to extract top spy from inside Russia in
2017. (CNN, September 9, 2019)
The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a
May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed
highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister
Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey
Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been
provided by Israel.
At the time, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo told other senior
Trump administration officials that too much information was
coming out regarding the covert source, known as an asset. An
extraction, or "exfiltration" as such an operation is referred
to by intelligence officials, is an extraordinary remedy when
US intelligence believes an asset is in immediate danger.
News, GOP media now warn of bloodshed if Democrats win in
2020. (Daily KOS, September 8, 2019)
"The core philosophy of the Three Percenter movement, whose
adherents have engaged in violence, is that citizens would be
justified in taking up arms to violently overthrow the
government if the government enacted stronger gun
regulations," Media Matters recently noted.
Yet, when a Democrat was in the White House, typically
gun-happy Fox News warned that the federal government had too
many guns. In 2015, when it was reported that the
Environmental Protection Agency law enforcement had a sizeable
budget for weapons, conservative pundits freaked out,
portraying the government as needlessly armed.
Trump’s Plan to Secretly Meet With the Taliban Came
Together, and Fell Apart. (New York Times, September 8,
The proposed Taliban visit to Camp David, which would have
been one of the biggest headline-grabbing moments of Trump's
tenure, was put together on the spur of the moment and then
canceled on the spur of the moment. The usual National
Security Council process was dispensed with; only a small
circle of advisers was even clued in.
For Mr. Trump, ending the war in Afghanistan has been a focus
since taking office, a signature accomplishment that could
help him win re-election next year. For nearly a year, a
former ambassador to Afghanistan has engaged in secret talks
with the Taliban to make that happen.
On September 1st, that U.S. negotiator with the Taliban
proposed that they visit Washington. Taliban leaders said they
accepted the idea — as long as the visit came after the deal
was announced. That would become a fundamental dividing point
contributing to the collapse of the talks. Mr. Trump did not
want the Camp David meeting to be a celebration of the deal;
after staying out of the details of what has been a delicate
effort in a complicated region, Mr. Trump wanted to be the
dealmaker who would put the final parts together himself, or
at least be perceived to be.
After the deal fell apart, Mr. Trump took it upon himself to
disclose the secret machinations in a string of Saturday night
Twitter messages that surprised not only many national
security officials across the government but even some of the
few who were part of the deliberations.
I learned some interesting history of Abaco, the island in
the Bahamas hit hardest by hurricane Dorian. (Michael
Harriot, September 7, 2019)
Abaco vs. U.S. Slavery and the Hermosa (1840). (The
black-rap is not a literal translation. :-)
is putting his right-wing colleagues in a tough spot.
(13-min. video; The Young Turks, September 6, 2019)
It turns out that whatever border wall funding Donald Trump
gets is, shockingly enough, NOT going to come from Mexico
after all. No, it’s going to come from Kentucky. And Utah. And
Arizona. And a number of other states, as well as
government-funded projects across the globe that congress
appropriated money for, but which is now being diverted to the
And as John, Jayar and Adrienne note in this clip, Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is livid. At Democrats. For
not funding the wall in the first place, and thereby forcing
Trump to steal money that was supposed to help with Puerto
Rico’s recovery, to bolster US cybersecurity, to store
hazardous waste materials and dozens of other projects more
worthy than a stupid, pointless wall.
Other Republican senators, like Mitt Romney, Martha McSally
and Susan Collins, expressed disappointment at this turn of
events, but offered up primarily weak sauce, pathetic
criticism of Trump, knowing full well that they all owe fealty
to him and can’t contradict the president without losing the
support of the Republican base.
The three hosts wonder if this may be the moment when Trump
DOES lose some support, with Adrienne noting that he’s now
taking billions of dollars away from “the troops,” who remain
popular, and Jayar suggesting this is the opening Democrats
need to take on mealymouthed wafflers like Susan Collins.
John, meanwhile, wonders why, when Trump’s whole campaign was
built around the premise of a wall, paid for by Mexico, this
won’t become his “Read my lips” or “You can keep your
insurance” moment. The three agree that it likely won’t and
Trump’s fans will continue to let him slide, happy that even
though they’re the ones paying for the wall rather than
Mexico, at least Trump is “triggering” the left and “owning
the libs,” and for many on the right that’s even more valuable
Dorian-Battered Island, What’s Left? Virtually Nothing.
(New York Times, September 6, 2019)
No schools. No banks. No gas stations. No supermarkets. No
restaurants. No churches. No pharmacies. No hardware stores.
No water, no electricity and no phone lines. In this part of
the Bahamas, nearly everything is gone. Hurricane Dorian
didn’t just upend life in Marsh Harbour, the biggest town in
the Abaco Islands. Dorian crushed it, stripping all
essentials, schedules and routines — everything residents and
visitors had taken for granted. And there’s no sense when
those things might be restored.
Real Donald Trump Is a Character on TV (New York Times, September 6, 2019)
To ask who the “real” Donald Trump is, is to ignore the
obvious. You already know who Donald Trump is. All the
evidence you need is right there on your screen. He’s
half-man, half-TV, with a camera for an eye that is constantly
focused on itself. The red light is pulsing, 24/7, and it does
not appear to have an off switch.
Presidential Storm Leaves Forecasters Rebuked (New York
Times, September 6, 2019)
The hurricane was accelerating away from the Mid-Atlantic
coast. In the Bahamas, victims were picking through the
devastation. In the Southeast, they were cleaning up debris.
And in Washington, President Trump waged war over his
On Friday, for the sixth straight day, Mr. Trump continued his
relentless campaign to prove that he was right when he
predicted that Hurricane Dorian could hit Alabama regardless
of what the scientists said, a quest that has come to consume
his White House and put his veracity to the test. And once
again, Mr. Trump’s government came to his aid. Late Friday
afternoon, the parent agency of the National Weather Service
issued a statement declaring that its Birmingham, Ala., office
was wrong to dispute the president’s warning that Alabama
“will most likely be hit” by the hurricane despite forecasts
to the contrary.
Dan Sobien, the president of the National Weather Service
Employees Organization, called NOAA’s statement “utterly
disgusting and disingenuous,” emphasizing that Weather Service
employees had nothing to do with it.
Rear Adm. David W. Titley, a retired Navy officer who
previously served as NOAA’s chief operating officer, was even
more scathing about his former agency. “Perhaps the darkest
day ever for @noaa leadership,” he tweeted. “Don’t know how
they will ever look their workforce in the eye again. Moral
Sharpie-doctored hurricane map embodies the man. (Washington Post, September 5, 2019)
President Trump showed us again this week how spectacularly
ignorant, vainglorious and obsessive he can be. This time, he
did it with a clumsily doctored map.
I said was accurate!’: Trump stays fixated on his Alabama
error as hurricane pounds the Carolinas (Washington
Post, September 5, 2019)
Trump’s fixation on his erroneous Dorian warnings underscores
a long history of defending inaccurate claims — from the crowd
size at his inaugural address to false claims of voter fraud
in 2016 to fictional “unknown Middle Easterners” streaming
across the southern border in migrant caravans.
Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer and executive editor of
Bloomberg Opinion, said the Alabama claims underscore the
president’s belief that admitting error is a sign of weakness.
“He’s doubling down on the worst sides of his troubled
personality — to never admit an error and to continue
obsessing about it, and emphasizing it, when it doesn’t serve
him well to do so,” he said. “He doesn’t move along because he
is incapable of moving along.”
Turns 60: Why It Will Outlive Us All (ZDNet, September
In the beginning, there was machine languages and assembler.
Neither was easy to use, but then along came COBOL, and
In computing's early years, the only languages were machine
and assembler. Clearly, there needed to be an easier language
for programming those hulking early mainframes. That language,
named in September 1959, became Common Business-Oriented
Language (COBOL). The credit for coming up with the basic idea
goes to Mary Hawes, a Burroughs Corp. programmer.
In 2016, the Government Accountability Office reported the
Department of Homeland Security, Department of Veterans
Affairs, and the Social Security Administration, to name just
three, were still using COBOL. 200 billion lines of COBOL code
are still in use today and 90% of Fortune 500 companies still
having COBOL code keeping the lights on. If you've received
cash out of an ATM recently, it's almost certain COBOL was
running behind the scenes.
Trump Has Never Explained a Mysterious $50 Million Loan. Is
It Evidence of Tax Fraud? (Mother Jones, September 5,
Donald Trump’s massive debts—he owes hundreds of millions of
dollars—are the subject of continuous congressional and
journalistic scrutiny. But for years, one Trump loan has been
particularly mystifying: a debt of more than $50 million that
Trump claims he owes to one of his own companies. According to
tax and financial experts, the loan, which Trump has never
fully explained, might be part of a controversial tax
avoidance scheme known as debt parking. Yet a Mother Jones
investigation has uncovered information that raises questions
about the very existence of this loan, presenting the
possibility that this debt was concocted as a ploy to evade
income taxes—a move that could constitute tax fraud.
In short, Trump claims he bought a debt related to his Chicago
venture, but neither of the two loans associated with this
property appear to have been purchased. The Deutsche Bank loan
was refinanced. The Fortress debt, according to sources with
knowledge of the transaction, was canceled. And this raises a
question: Did Trump create a bogus loan to evade a whopping
tax bill on about $48 million of income?
Several legal and real estate finance experts say it’s
possible to fabricate a loan. Doing so would be as easy as
creating some paperwork and declaring the debt on your tax
returns, though such a scheme would also violate federal tax
law. “When you see it, if you lay all this out, it’s pretty
brazen,” says Adam Levitin, a law professor specializing in
commercial real estate finance at Georgetown University. “If
he didn’t actually buy the loan, this is just garden-variety
Sanders CRUSHED it at CNN’s climate change town hall! Joe
Biden rambled. (14-min. video;The Young Turks, September
Many candidates ARE going after fossil fuel companies, which
is unprecedented for major party presidential aspirants and
has only happened since Bernie changed the rules of the game
back in 2016 by clearing a lane for candidates to call out
major corporations by name and industry.
The less said about Joe Biden’s rambling performance, the
better, except that Cenk observes how sharp and in command of
his positions Bernie Sanders appears by comparison. The age
question may dog Biden and Trump in this presidential race,
but after this town hall there can be little question that
Bernie retains all his faculties.
commentators review Democratic presidential candidates at
last night's Climate Crisis Town Hall (CNN, September 5,
clips from last night's Climate Crisis Town Hall (CNN,
September 5, 2019)
candidates unveil sweeping climate proposals ahead of CNN
town hall - tonight, 5PM-Midnight, EDT! (CNN,
September 4, 2019)
Here is tonight's
Majority of 2020 Democrats have shown 'intense interest' in
climate plan. (The Hill, September 4, 2019)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a former Democratic presidential
candidate, said Wednesday that several candidates have
expressed interest in his climate plan after Sen. Elizabeth
Warren (D-Mass.) adopted
his plan as part of her presidential platform.
things a president can actually do to tackle the climate
crisis (CNN, September 4, 2019)
Candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination and most
scientists say the climate crisis is the existential threat of
our time, while President Donald Trump once claimed it's a
hoax cooked up by the Chinese. Trump also said at last month's
G7 meeting that "I'm an environmentalist," citing his
experience filing environmental impact statements as a
businessperson, though he skipped an actual session about
climate change that his fellow world leaders attended.
That pretty much sums up the difference between how a Democrat
would treat climate change compared with Trump: as an
emergency as opposed to as a joke.
age solar solution moves toward production (PV Magazine,
September 4, 2019)
A consortium of European research institutes has received
€10.6 million in EU funding to establish pilot production of a
high efficiency module concept developed by Swiss startup
Insolight. The module combines high efficiency multijunction
cells with a solar concentrator lens and has previously
demonstrated 29% efficiency.
and YouTube Will Pay Record $170 Million for Alleged
Violations of Children’s Privacy Law (U.S. Federal Trade
Commission, September 4, 2019)
FTC, New York Attorney General allege YouTube channels
collected kids’ personal information without parental consent.
About the Con': Ocasio-Cortez Says 'Virtually Every' Trump
Policy Is Designed to Loot Public Coffers and Enrich His
Cronies (Common Dreams, September 4, 2019)
"Since corruption isn't popular policy, racism works as the
cover for the con. That's why addressing racism isn’t a
'distraction'—it's key to understanding the hustle against
working people. Virtually every policy Trump pursues works to
steal public money and personally enrich himself and his
friends," said the New York Democrat, who said Trump deploys
racism and xenophobia as a "cover for the con."
As concrete examples, Ocasio-Cortez cited the Trump
administration's decision to open national monuments to
corporate exploitation (which enriches fossil fuel
executives), expand "border concentration camps" (which
enriches private prison CEOs), and appoint Education Secretary
Betsy DeVos (which enriches "loan sharks").
after leaving post, ex-Interior official who pushed drilling
in Alaska takes oil company job (Washington Post,
September 4, 2019)
Joe Balash, who served as the Interior Department’s top
official overseeing oil and gas leasing on federal land until
Friday, is joining a firm that's expanding drilling operations
on the North Slope.
cynical way to make poor people disappear (Politico,
September 4, 2019)
The Trump administration is redefining poverty in order to
reduce safety net benefits for low-income Americans.
of the most iconic photos of American workers is not what
it seems. (Washington Post, September 3, 2019)
But Lunch Atop A Skyscraper, which was taken during
the Great Depression, has come to represent the country's
resilience, especially on Labor Day.
to Your Questions About the Dark Side of the Internet
(Mozilla, September 3, 2019)
A mom and her teenage son answer your questions about the dark
side of the internet.
messy impeachment push hits critical phase (Politico,
September 3, 2019)
The window to impeach Trump is closing, and senior lawmakers
are sending mixed messages.
five-count political indictment of Trump (Washington
Post, September 3, 2019)
Trump Broken the World Economy? It's Starting to Look Like
It. (Daily KOS, September 3, 2019)
was so angry after China’s trade retaliation that he wanted
to double tariffs (CNBC, September 3, 2019)
The revelation that Trump wanted to double duties comes on a
day when fears about the trade war between the world’s two
largest economies helped to sink major U.S. stock indexes.
Both the U.S. and China imposed new tariffs on some goods
Earlier Tuesday, Trump suggested he could take even more
drastic action to crack down on China’s trade practices if he
wins reelection next year without a new trade agreement in
place. “Deal would get MUCH TOUGHER!” he wrote in a tweet.
The trade war has contributed to investor concerns about a
global economic slowdown. New economic data Tuesday did not
help: The U.S. manufacturing sector contracted in August for
the first time in three years.
emoluments: Trump encouraged Pence to stay at his golf
resort in Ireland. (Washington Post, September 3, 2019)
The Constitution bars presidents from taking “any other
Emolument from the United States” beyond the presidential
salary. Trump’s critics have charged that he is violating that
provision when his hotels take payments from the federal
government. Trump says there is no violation if the government
is only paying him for services rendered.
Conservative commentator Bill Kristol, a frequent Trump
critic, also faulted the arrangement, suggesting Pence was
trying to curry favor with Trump so that he would remain on
the Republican ticket next year. “How worried must Pence be
about being dumped from the ticket to go these lengths to
spend . . . taxpayer dollars at a Trump resort?” Kristol
lawmakers take control: What it means for Boris, Brexit and
September 3, 2019)
The House of Commons took the unprecedented step of usurping
government control of Parliament — a dramatic move that raises
more questions than it answers.
Johnson defeated as UK's MPs seek to stop no-deal Brexit
(Politico, September 3, 2019)
The prime minister said he regarded the vote as one of
confidence in his premiership.
Sea Ice Completely Melted for First Time in Recorded History
(TruthOut, September 3, 2019)
The country of Iceland has held a funeral for its first
glacier lost to the climate crisis. The once massive Okjökull
glacier, now completely gone, has been commemorated with a
plaque that reads: “A letter to the future. Ok is the first
Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next
200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same
path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is
happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did
Are Getting Worse. (New York Times, September 3, 2019)
Why are so many people afraid to talk about climate change?
The frequency of severe hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean has
roughly doubled over the last two decades, and climate change
appears to be the reason. Yet much of the conversation about
Hurricane Dorian — including most media coverage — ignores
That’s a mistake. It’s akin to talking about lung cancer and
being afraid to mention smoking, or talking about traffic
deaths and being afraid to talk about drunken driving. Sure,
no single road death can be attributed solely to drunken
driving — and many people who drive under the influence of
alcohol don’t crash — but you can’t talk meaningfully about
vehicle crashes without talking about alcohol.
basin popping to life with tropical activity
(Accuweather, September 3, 2019)
The Atlantic may soon be a three-ring circus of tropical
activity with Dorian in the center ring and other areas
brewing to the left over the Gulf of Mexico and to the right
over the central and eastern part of the main ocean.
Dorian threatens millions in U.S. after pummeling Bahamas
(CBS News, September 3, 2019)
won't make landfall in Florida, but the east coast is still
under threat. (CNN,
September 3, 2019)
Aperture Radar view of flooding in Freeport, Grand Bahama
(Mike Rizzo Weather, September 3, 2019)
Dorian is finally crawling away from the Bahamas, leaving
terrible damage. 'We are in trouble,' lawmaker says.
(CNN, September 3, 2019)
Dorian kills 5 people in the Bahamas. (CNN, September 2, 2019)
time to bid farewell to Joe Biden. (Washington
Post, September 2, 2019)
shows some political beliefs are just historical accidents.
(Ars Technica, September 2, 2019)
Early trend-setters swayed the group in experiments on party
Doctorow: DRM (Digital Rights Management) Broke Its Promise
(Locus Magazine, September 2, 2019)
There’s a name for societies where a small elite own property
and everyone else rents that property from them: it’s called
feudalism. DRM never delivered a world of flexible
consumer choice, but it was never supposed to. Instead, twenty
years on, DRM is revealed to be exactly what we feared: an
oligarchic gambit to end property ownership for the people,
who become tenants in the fields of greedy, confiscatory tech
and media companies, whose inventiveness is not devoted to
marvelous new market propositions, but, rather, to new ways to
coerce us into spending more for less.
The Methane Dragon That Lurks In The Deep Sea
(Huffington Post, September 2 2019)
We went into the depths of the ocean with a scientist seeking
to understand how frozen gas deposits might respond in a
rapidly warming world.
Methane is among the most potent greenhouse gases. And while
the numerous sources of methane are well understood, what’s
driving the recent surge in global emission levels remains a
matter of scientific debate.
Surges in atmospheric methane have been blamed for past
planetary warming events. The most severe, the “The Great
Dying,” occurred 250 million years ago and wiped out
approximately 90% of all species.
Has Trump’s Exceptional Corruption Gone Unchecked? (New
York Times, September 2, 2019)
“Drain the swamp” suggests that all political corruption is
the same. It isn’t, and the distinctions matter.
Great Tax Break Heist (New York Times, September 2, 2019)
A few days ago The
Times reported on widespread abuse of a provision in the
2017 Trump tax cut that was supposed to help struggling urban
workers. The provision created a tax break for investment in
so-called “opportunity zones,” which would supposedly help
create jobs in low-income areas. In reality the tax break has
been used to support high-end hotels and apartment buildings,
warehouses that employ hardly any people and so on. And it has
made a handful of wealthy, well-connected investors —
including the family of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s
son-in-law — even wealthier.
It’s quite a story. But it should be seen in a broader
context, as a symptom of the Republican Party’s unwillingness
to perform the basic functions of government.
taught us a lesson about Trump. Now we need to unlearn it.
Post, September 2, 2019)
I mean the other lesson: Don’t underestimate Donald Trump. All
good lessons, however, are eventually over-learned, especially
by once-burned political commentators. In this case, our
reticence disguises just how weak Trump really is. While it is
absurd at this point to predict anything about the 2020
presidential election, no sane candidate would prefer to be
playing Trump’s hand.
mayor mocks Trump for dealing with hurricane ‘out on the
golf course’. (Politico, September 2, 2019)
Sadiq Khan renews beef with US president, criticizing him for
canceling trip to Poland to commemorate start of World War II.
views of Category 5 Hurricane Dorian near peak intensity
September 1, 2019)
Hurricane Dorian unleashing ‘catastrophic’ blow in northern
Bahamas, takes aim at Southeast U.S. (Washington Post,
September 1, 2019)
With peak winds of 185 mph, Hurricane Dorian is the strongest
storm on record to strike the Bahamas, and threatens to bring
hurricane force winds, coastal flooding and other impacts to
the east coast of Florida and Southeast U.S. It also ranks as
the 2nd-strongest storm (as judged by its maximum sustained
winds) ever to form in the Atlantic Ocean, behind Hurricane
Allen of 1980. The storm’s peak sustained winds are the
strongest so far north in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida
Dorian is unleashing wind gusts over 220 mph, along with storm
surge flooding of 18 to 23 feet above normal tide levels. The
storm is still
intensifying. Over the northern Bahamas, the storm’s core of
devastating wind and torrential rain may sit for at least 24
hours as steering currents in the atmosphere collapse,
causing Dorian to meander slowly, if not stall outright, for
a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a
Windfall for the Rich (New York Times, August 31,
President Trump has portrayed America’s cities as
wastelands, ravaged by crime and homelessness, infested by
But the Trump administration’s signature plan to lift them —
a multibillion-dollar tax break that is supposed to help
low-income areas — has fueled a wave of developments
financed by and built for the wealthiest Americans. Among
the early beneficiaries of the tax incentive are billionaire
financiers like Leon Cooperman and business magnates like
Sidney Kohl — and Mr. Trump’s family members and advisers.
church mass shooting victims may sue federal government
over gun purchase, court rules. (Daily KOS, August 31,
Now Cuts and Splices Whole Chromosomes (Slashdot, August
Has Been the Worst Year for iPhone Security Yet. (Vice,
August 30, 2019)
After several high profile attacks and embarrassing slip-ups,
Apple’s perception as the secure consumer device is starting
finds 'indiscriminate iPhone attack lasting years' (BBC
News, August 30, 2019)
and Biden have the same message: You may not like me, but
you must vote for me. (Washington Post, August 29, 2019)
They're giving voters an ultimatum rather than inspiration.
am talking directly to you': US attorney delivers powerful
rebuke to white nationalists (ABC News, August 29, 2019)
In powerful remarks, U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman calls out
white supremacists while announcing charges against a man
accused of threatening an attack on Jewish community center.
"Those actions don't make you soldiers; they make you
Major Climate Change Rules the Trump Administration Is
Reversing (New York Times, August 29, 2019)
the Empty Seats at the F.E.C. Won’t Fix America’s Corrupt
Elections (New Yorker, August 29, 2019)
The Federal Election Commission stood by while foreign regimes
used the Internet to undermine social cohesion, relying on the
reach of Facebook and Google, in particular, to seed
misleading, uncredited advertisements online. Between 2017 and
2018, as the F.E.C. debated requiring digital platforms to
adhere to the same disclosure laws as political ads that are
broadcast on television, the agency received more than three
hundred and fourteen thousand public comments about digital-ad
transparency. In a memorandum sent in June, Ellen Weintraub,
the sole Democratic F.E.C. commissioner and its current chair,
laid out amendments to the U.S. code that would bring digital
ads in line with broadcast ads. Her recommendations went
nowhere. Now that Petersen has resigned, unless the Trump
Administration nominates new commissioners, and Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allows them to be
confirmed—and the new commissioners demonstrate more
commitment to the public interest than their predecessors—the
identities of digital-ad buyers will continue to be shielded
by the F.E.C.’s inertia.
step too far for the Appalachian Trail (Politico, August
The Trump administration wants to allow a pipeline to cross
the Appalachian Trail on federal lands. Congress should say
the wall’: Trump tells aides he’ll pardon misdeeds, say
current and former officials (Washington Post, August 29, 2019)
he campaigns for president, Joe Biden tells a moving but
false war story (Washington Post, August 29, 2019)
chances of taking the Senate just got better.
(Washington Post, August 28, 2019)
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) just announced that because of
health concerns, he will retire from the Senate at the end
of 2019. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that the
fate of the republic could rest on what happens in Georgia
next November, and the chance that a Democratic president
could actually implement their agenda just got significantly
There was already going to be one Georgia Senate race on the
ballot in 2020, as Sen. David Perdue is up for reelection.
The state is one of a few that have been solidly Republican
in recent years but have been moving away from the GOP year
by year as they grow more diverse, a list that includes
Arizona and Texas.
Misogyny of Climate Deniers (New Republic, August 28,
Why do right-wing men hate Greta Thunberg and Alexandria
Ocasio-Cortez so much? Researchers have some troubling
answers to that question.
“There is a package of values and behaviors connected to a
form of masculinity that I call ‘industrial breadwinner
masculinity.’ They see the world as separated between humans
and nature. They believe humans are obliged to use nature
and its resources to make products out of them. And they
have a risk perception that nature will tolerate all types
of waste. It’s a risk perception that doesn’t think of
nature as vulnerable and as something that is possible to be
destroyed. For them, economic growth is more important than
the environment” Hultman told Deutsche Welle last year.
The corollary to this is that climate science, for skeptics,
becomes feminized—or viewed as “oppositional to assumed
entitlements of masculine primacy,”
Elements (Bloomberg, August 28, 2019)
Special issue, for the 150th anniversary of Dmitri
Mendeleev's Periodic Table of the Elements.
an end to Retadup: A malicious worm that infected hundreds
of thousands (Avast, August 28, 2019)
We were able to determine that the most infected computers had
either two or four cores (the average number of infected
computer cores was 2.94) and that the majority of victims used
Windows 7. Over 85% of Retadup’s victims also had no
third-party antivirus software installed. Some also had it
disabled, which left them completely vulnerable to the worm
and allowed them to unwittingly spread the infection further.
firm Ring has partnered with 400 police forces, extending
surveillance concerns. (Washington Post, August 28,
Ring is owned by Amazon, which bought the firm last year for
more than $800 million, financial filings show.
Ring officials and law enforcement partners portray the vast
camera network as an irrepressible shield for neighborhoods,
saying it can assist police investigators and protect homes
from criminals, intruders and thieves.
“The mission has always been making the neighborhood safer,”
said Eric Kuhn, the general manager of Neighbors, Ring’s
crime-focused companion app. “We’ve had a lot of success in
terms of deterring crime and solving crimes that would
otherwise not be solved as quickly.”
But legal experts and privacy advocates have voiced alarm
about the company’s eyes-everywhere ambitions and increasingly
close relationship with police, saying the program could
threaten civil liberties, turn residents into informants, and
subject innocent people, including those who Ring users have
flagged as “suspicious,” to greater surveillance and potential
Could End Up Replacing Android with a Russian Operating
System (Softpedia, August 27, 2019)
Barred from using US
software, Chinese smartphone manufacturer is
considering using Aurora OS on its devices.
comms lags and shock discoveries: 30 years after Voyager
2 visited gas giant Neptune (The Register, August
That time we found those lovely old geysers on one of the
icy giant's MOONS.
should we talk about what’s happening to our planet?
(Washington Post, August 27, 2019)
Those who are talking about it have ratcheted up their
rhetoric. In May, the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg
ditched “climate change” for “climate breakdown” or
“climate emergency.” The Guardian now uses “climate
catastrophe” in its articles. A resistance movement born
in Europe last year named itself Extinction Rebellion,
partly to normalize the notion of aggressive action in a
has sunk by up to 4 meters, forcing Indonesia to build a new
capital (Ars Technica, August 27, 2019)
Ten million people live in the Indonesian capital, but
the city is going under.
Bolsonaro says he might accept G-7 offer to help fight
Amazon fires — if Macron apologizes (Washington Post, August 27, 2019)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro appeared to walk
back an initial rejection of funds to help fight fires
sweeping through the Amazon rainforest, but he said any
consideration of the aid remained tied up in his dispute with
the French president.
Warren Manages to Woo the Democratic Establishment (The
Atlantic, August 26, 2019)
The party insiders at the DNC’s summer meeting seemed
unexpectedly drawn to the senator from Massachusetts.
& Johnson to pay $572m for fueling Oklahoma opioid
crisis, judge rules (The Guardian, August 26, 2019)
Oklahoma becomes first state to successfully sue an opioid
manufacturer, a ruling that is sure to affect other drug
In a damning 42-page decision, Judge Thad Balkman ruled that
the company bore a wide responsibility for helping to create
the worst drug epidemic in US history. He said it not only
aggressively pushed false claims about the safety and
effectiveness of its own narcotic painkillers, but that it
changed medical practice with “deceptive” claims intended to
break down caution among doctors about prescribing opioids.
That included using its huge resources to fund organisations
and research to promote narcotics.
Balkman ordered the company to pay $572m in compensation
initially with additional payments to be negotiated to cover
treatment, overdose prevention and other costs of abating the
epidemic in Oklahoma in the coming years. The state had asked
Johnson & Johnson said it will appeal.
ambassador says Mercosur trade deal unaffected by Amazon
wildfires (Euractiv, August 26, 2019)
In light of the worst wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, one
of the world’s largest carbon sinks, Ybáñez -the EU's ambassador to Brazil -
said, “The Mercosur agreement contains some commitments of how
we want our future relationship to be. For example, on the
environmental issue, there is a clear commitment to compliance
with the Paris agreement and international agreements by
Brazil and Mercosur”.
But the lack of action from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
to tackle the critical situation in the Amazon has triggered
the strong reaction of some EU member states. France and
Ireland threatened to block the Mercosur deal, while
conservative Bolsonaro warned French President Emmanuel Macron
not to meddle in his country and stop using the issue for
domestic political reasons.
EURACTIV France reported that Amazon has become a hot topic in
the country as many politicians highlighted the threat of a
new environmental tragedy. “Fires burning in the Amazon are a
crime against humanity and those responsible must be held
accountable”, said Anne Hidalgo, head of the coalition of
cities for the climate C40.
above the Amazon fires, 'all you can see is death' (CNN,
August 26, 2019)
NEW: Eunice Newton Foote, The Hidden Figure
in Climate Science (Scientific American, August 26,
John Tyndall is credited with the link between carbon dioxide
and climate—but Eunice Newton Foote got there first.
spy in your wallet: Credit cards have a privacy problem
(Washington Post, August 26, 2019)
In a privacy experiment, we bought one banana with the new
Apple Card — and another with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa
from Chase. Here’s who tracked, mined and shared our data.
and the Art of the Flail, by Paul Krugman (New York
Times, August 26, 2019)
Protectionism is worse when it’s erratic and unpredictable.
The “very stable genius” in the Oval Office is, in fact,
extremely unstable, in word and deed. That’s not a
psychological diagnosis, although you can make that case too.
It’s just a straightforward description of his behavior. And
his instability is starting to have serious economic
suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting U.S.
(Axios, August 25, 2019)
again lashes out at Fox News: 'Not what it used to be'
(The Hill, August 25, 2019)
He's repeatedly lashed out at the network over its polling
during the past two months. He knocked the network last week
after a survey showed him losing to former Vice President Joe
Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in hypothetical
2020 matchups. "I don't know what's happening with Fox," he
told reporters, adding he doesn't "believe" the polls.
to CNN's Stelter: Trump 'may be responsible for many more
million deaths' than Hitler, Stalin, Mao (The Hill, August 25, 2019)
"Calling Trump crazy hides the fact that we’re crazy for
having elected him," Allen Frances, the author of "Twilight of
American Sanity," said on CNN's "Reliable Sources." "And even
crazier for allowing his crazy policies to persist. Trump is
as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin and
Mao were in the last century. He may be responsible for many
million more deaths than they were. He needs to be contained,
but he needs to be contained by attacking his policies, not
says it stopped 'killer drone' attacks from Iran (The
Hill, August 25, 2019)
Israeli military spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan
Conricus told reporters that "a number of attack drones" were
planned to hit northern Israel on Thursday but the plan was
thwarted. He did not disclose how Israel stopped the “killer
The IRGC denied that Iranian targets had been hit late on
Saturday and said its military “advisory centers have not been
harmed," according to Reuters.
Economists for the Mess We’re In (New York Times, August
Why did America listen to the people who thought we needed
“more millionaires and more bankrupts?” Willful indifference
to the distribution of prosperity over the last half century
is an important reason the very survival of liberal democracy
is now being tested by nationalist demagogues.
Accounts of the rise of inequality often take a fatalistic
view. The problem is described as a natural consequence of
capitalism, or it is blamed on forces, like globalization or
technological change, that are beyond the direct control of
policymakers. But much of the fault lies in ourselves, in our
collective decision to embrace policies that prioritized
efficiency and encouraged the concentration of wealth, and to
neglect policies that equalized opportunity and distributed
rewards. The rise of economics is a primary reason for the
rise of inequality.
And the fact that we caused the problem means the solution is
in our power, too.
Ravaging of Amazonia (New York Times, August 24, 2019)
A global treasure lies at the mercy of the smallest, dullest,
pettiest of men.
the Amazon Burns, Europe Seizes Title of Climate Champion
(New York Times, August 24, 2019)
disputes’: At G7 Summit, E.U.’s Tusk says Trump’s trade wars
are damaging global economy (Washington Post, August 24,
“This may be the last moment to restore our political
community,” he told reporters at the beginning of the Group of
Seven summit here. Tusk’s comments came one day after Trump
and Chinese President Xi Jinping dramatically escalated a
fierce trade war between the two countries. Tusk is attending
the G-7 summit with Trump and leaders from France, Germany,
the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada and Japan, and he said the
summit comes at a perilous time. “Trade wars will lead to
recession while trade deals will boost the economy,” he said.
marks the start of American slavery in 1619 with speeches,
Post, August 24, 2019)
The commemoration of the arrival of the first enslaved
Africans 400 years ago began at dawn at Fort Monroe with the
rhythm of drums and a cleansing ritual.
Police Photoshopped His Mug Shot for a Lineup. He’s Not the
Only One. (New
York Times, August 24, 2019)
When witness descriptions made no mention of a suspect’s
facial tattoos, the police airbrushed them away for an
identification lineup. The practice goes beyond one case.
Visited 47 Sites. Hundreds of Trackers Followed Me. (New
York Times, August 23, 2019)
Is How Trump Will Tank the Economy and His Presidency
(New York Magazine, August 23, 2019)
What the president showed us today is he’s prepared to hit the
gas as he approaches the cliff. That should make us all
worried about the economic outlook — and it should make
Republicans very worried about the political outlook.
President, a tweet could end your trade war and avoid
recession. But hurry. (Philadelphia Inquirer,
August 23, 2019)
The risk of recession is uncomfortably high and rising.
President Donald Trump’s trade war is the proximate cause of
what ails the economy. Indeed, if the president follows
through on his most recent threat to raise tariffs on Chinese
imports, the odds of a downturn between now and this time next
year are better than even.
The economy’s growth has already slowed sharply. Real GDP and
job growth have throttled way back from this time last year,
and unemployment is no longer declining. The slowdown is due,
in part, to the winding down of the deficit-financed tax cuts.
The president had argued that the tax cuts, which went mostly
to corporations and wealthy households, would significantly
lift long-term growth. Not so. The stimulus from the tax cuts
has already faded.
But the economy’s growing struggles are increasingly about the
president’s trade war. The most direct hit to the economy is
from the tariffs. They act as a significant tax increase on
American businesses and consumers.
XL Pipeline Plan Is Approved by Nebraska Supreme Court (New York Times, August 23, 2019)
Many Republican politicians and labor groups see Keystone XL
as an economic boon, a way to create jobs and satisfy the
world’s demand for oil. But for environmentalists and some
Native Americans and farmers along the planned route, the
pipeline is seen as a grave threat to the warming climate and
to fertile land it would run through.
Koch, billionaire industrialist who influenced conservative
politics, dies at 79 (Washington Post, August 23, 2019)
war inside Palantir: Data-mining firm’s ties to ICE under
attack by employees (Washington Post, August 22, 2019)
CEO Alex Karp faced a dilemma last year, when employees of the
data-mining company Palantir confronted the chief executive
with their concerns over a partnership with Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, according to three people familiar with
the incident. Palantir provided digital profiling tools to the
federal agency as it carried out President Trump’s
increasingly controversial policies for apprehending and
deporting undocumented immigrants, troubling more than 200
employees who signed a letter to Karp, the people said.
Karp, a Democrat, has long been aware that the nature of
Palantir’s data-mining work would expose the company to
ethical concerns. Early on, he created a privacy and civil
liberties team to review ethical issues in government
contracts. This group’s key tenet, according to its public
statement of principles, is to hold the company accountable
for answering one question: “Do I want to live in the kind of
world that the technology we’re building would enable?”
But after Google
dropped a defense contract over employee pressure,
Palantir’s leaders doubled down on controversial work with
the U.S. government.
Biden’s Poll Numbers Mask an Enthusiasm Challenge.
(New York Times, August 22, 2019)
There are signs of a disconnect between support for Mr.
Biden in polls and excitement for his campaign on the ground
flips out on NBC reporter for pointing out his stupidity
(Daily KOS, August 22, 2019)
regarding Jeffrey Epstein and MIT (MIT, August 22, 2019)
may have gamed the system from beyond the grave
(Yahoo, August 21, 2019)
The will that Jeffrey Epstein signed just two days before
his jailhouse suicide puts more than $577 million in assets
into a trust fund that could make it more difficult for his
dozens of accusers to collect damages. Estate lawyers and
other experts say prying open the trust and dividing up the
financier's riches is not going to be easy and could take
of Greenland: Greenland considering buying America (Daily KOS, August 21, 2019)
According to the Danish newspaper Politiken, the Premier of
Greenland (Kim Kielsen) is considering buying the US back. In
a (clearly snarky) statement, Kielsen pointed out that Leifr
“The Lucky” Eiríksson was the first European to settle
America, and as a consequence Greenland has a prior claim on
the country. “So it’s only natural for the Greenlandic nation
to get USA back.”
Asked about the price, the premier said that they haven’t
decided on a specific price yet, but that the vast debt of the
US would be taken into consideration. And if Trump is included
in the deal, then the price would be even lower.
claiming to be the 'King of Israel' and 'second coming of
God,' Trump adds 'the chosen one' (Daily KOS, August 21,
On Wednesday alone, Donald Trump first tweeted a quote in
which he was described as the “King of Israel” and “the second
coming of God.” Which seems like it would be enough
maximum-scale delusions of grandeur for anyone on a single
day, especially when it was given a boost by Trump’s claim
that American Jews who didn’t support him were “deeply
However, it turns out that Trump wasn’t done. Standing on the
South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday afternoon, Trump
set out to explain why he, and only he, can solve the trade
war with China. And no. The answer was not “because I created
this trade war out of my own fundamental misunderstandings of
economics and finally recognize that the American consumer is
shelling out billions to defend my fragile ego.” Instead Trump
looked to the sky and declared “I am the chosen one.”
drone shot down over Yemen: officials (Reuters, August
Officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the
drone was shot down late on Tuesday. This is not the first
time a U.S. drone has been shot down in Yemen. In June, the
U.S. military said that Houthi rebels had shot down a U.S.
government-operated drone with assistance from Iran.
to stop Facebook tracking your web browsing activity
(The Independent, August 21, 2019)
Facebook will finally stop tracking you across other websites,
but only if you ask them.
Removes Videos of Robots Fighting For 'Animal Cruelty'
(Slashdot, August 20, 2019)
Channels posting robot combat videos saw their content removed
and received a notice from YouTube explaining that the videos
were in breach of its community guidelines. Each notice cited
the same section of these guidelines, which states: "Content
that displays the deliberate infliction of animal suffering or
the forcing of animals to fight is not allowed on YouTube." It
goes on to state: "Examples include, but are not limited to,
dog fighting and cock fighting."
appears to be guilty of yet another (financial) crime
(Daily KOS, August 20, 2019)
to human heart transplants 'possible within three years'
(The Guardian, August 19, 2019)
On the 40th anniversary of the first successful heart
transplant, pioneer UK
surgeon Sir Terence English told The Sunday Telegraph
that his protege from that operation would try to replace a
human kidney with a pig’s this year. “If the result of
xenotransplantation is satisfactory with porcine kidneys to
humans, then it is likely that hearts would be used with good
effects in humans within a few years. If it works with a
kidney, it will work with a heart. That will transform the
During the research, scientists delivered microRNA-199 into
pigs after a myocardial infarction. There was “almost complete
recovery” of cardiac function after a month. A treatment that
helps the heart repair itself after a heart attack is the holy
grail for cardiologists. This study convincingly demonstrates
for the first time that this might actually be feasible and
not just a pipe dream.”
Lobbyist Touts Success in Effort to Criminalize Pipeline
Protests, Leaked Recording Shows (The Intercept, August
Some Christians ‘Love the Meanest Parts’ of Trump (The
Atlantic, August 18, 2019)
The writer Ben Howe grew up in the world of conservative
evangelicalism. When he looks at the religious right now, all
he sees is a thirst for power and domination.
power prices now lower than the cost of natural gas (Ars
Technica, August 17, 2019)
In the US, it's cheaper to build and operate wind farms than
buy fossil fuels.
4 Tools to Prevent Fraud (AARP, August 16, 2019)
How 'Informed Delivery' and password managers add protection
reveals a House Republican strategy on shootings: downplay
white nationalism, blame left (Tampa Bay Times, August
The GOP memo falsely pinned the El Paso massacre and other
notable mass shootings on the left.
nominates advocate of 'ethnonationalism' for judgeship
(MSNBC, August 15, 2019)
Rachel Maddow shares passages from a law journal article by
Donald Trump's federal court nominee Steven Menashi in which
he argues democratic countries work better when everyone is
the same ethnicity.
suggests opening more mental institutions to deal with mass
shootings (CNN, August 15, 2019)
Trump's comments come less than two weeks after back-to-back
mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, killed
dozens. The suggestions also come a day after a man shot six
police officers when he barricaded himself for several hours
in his Philadelphia home, where police were attempting to come
in with a narcotics warrant.
The emphasis on mental illness -- an approach favored by
pro-gun groups -- marked a slight change from earlier this
week. On Tuesday, he claimed that many Republicans support his
push for strengthening background checks on gun sales -- a
view that appears at odds with what lawmakers are telling the
President in private
court slams Georgia for security failures and bans use of
paperless voting machines for 2020 (Daily KOS, August 15, 2019)
results add to questions surrounding Epstein's death
(Daily KOS, August 15, 2019)
Broken Bones in Jeffrey Epstein's Neck 'Are Common In
Victims of Homicide by Strangulation' (PJ Media, August
According to the official story released by the authorities,
Epstein's guards fell asleep while on duty and failed to check
on him for three hours, which supposedly gave him time enough
to hang himself. Simultaneously, the camera system failed to
work. Oh, and he magically found some tools to hang himself --
in a maximum-security prison. And then there's the fact that
his cellmate was removed from his cell, meaning that Epstein
was all alone, which "violated the jail's procedures."
McConnell: Favorable/Unfavorable (RealClearPolitics,
accessed August 14, 2019)
"Moscow Mitch" McConnell is the #1 most unpopular member of
the entire U.S. Senate with his own voters.
a McConnell-backed effort to lift Russian sanctions boosted
a Kentucky project (Washington Post, August 14, 2019)
In January, as the Senate debated whether to permit the Trump
administration to lift sanctions on Russia’s largest aluminum
producer, two men with millions of dollars riding on the
outcome met for dinner at a restaurant in Zurich. On one side
of the table sat the head of sales for Rusal, the Russian
aluminum producer that would benefit most immediately from a
favorable Senate vote. The U.S. government had imposed
sanctions on Rusal as part of a campaign to punish Russia for
“malign activity around the globe,” including attempts to sway
the 2016 presidential election.
On the other side sat Craig Bouchard, an American entrepreneur
who had gained favor with officials in Kentucky, the home
state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Bouchard was
trying to build the first new aluminum-rolling mill in the
United States in nearly four decades, in a corner of
northeastern Kentucky ravaged by job losses and the opioid
epidemic — a project that stood to benefit enormously if Rusal
were able to get involved.
The timing of their meeting shows how much a major venture in
McConnell’s home state had riding on the Democratic-backed
effort in January to keep sanctions in place. By the next day,
McConnell had successfully blocked the bill, despite the
defection of 11 Republicans.
an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out
(New York Times, August 14, 2019)
She was an heiress without a cause — an indifferent student,
an unhappy young bride, a miscast socialite. Her most enduring
passion was for birds. But Cordelia Scaife May eventually
found her life’s purpose: curbing what she perceived as the
lethal threat of overpopulation by trying to shut America’s
doors to immigrants.
Facebook become an independent state? (Boston Globe,
August 14, 2019)
The assault on Facebook has been the big story of late. A
month ago, “the Federal Trade Commission approved a fine of
roughly $5 billion against Facebook for mishandling users’
personal information,” The New York Times reported, calling it
“a landmark settlement that signals a newly aggressive stance
by regulators toward the country’s most powerful technology
Facebook has responded by (1) preparing to lease vast amounts
of office space in mid-town Manhattan, (2) announcing its
intention to create a global cryptocurrency — Libra — that
will “bank the unbanked” and completely disrupt the remittance
business, and (3) declaring its intention to rebrand WhatsApp
and Instagram as WhatsApp from Facebook and Instagram from
The exploring of office space in Manhattan was an unsubtle
message to Wall Street that Facebook is deadly serious about
entering the financial services arena and unconcerned about
competing with the incumbent banks. With about 1.6 billion
daily average users, Facebook’s entrance into any business is
almost automatically disruptive, because it is able to operate
at almost unimaginable scale. If it takes dead aim at the
endless cascade of fees on overdrafts, credit cards,
remittances (and the like) that the banking business depends
on, Facebook immediately poses an existential threat to those
Facebook’s entrance into the cryptocurrency arena was less an
unveiling of a “Facebook Bitcoin” and more like the
introduction of a sovereign currency. No less than the
chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, Jay Powell, took note,
saying: “While the project’s sponsors hold out the possibility
of public benefits, including improved financial access for
consumers, Libra raises many serious concerns regarding
privacy, money laundering, consumer protection, and financial
stability. These are concerns that should be thoroughly and
publicly addressed before proceeding.”
Putin had this to say two years ago: “Artificial intelligence
is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It
comes with colossal opportunities, but also [with] threats
that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in
this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” Who is the
leader in AI research at the moment? It depends on how you
measure it, but the rough consensus is: The United States
leads, followed by China, England, Canada, Japan, and Germany.
The United States is the leader in large measure because of
the research being done at Facebook and Google.
According to Machine Box CEO Aaron Edell, “80 percent of all
machine learning engineers work at Google or Facebook.” What
happens if Facebook and Google grow tired of what they almost
certainly regard as regulatory encroachment and government
overreach? What happens if Facebook and Google spin off their
AI research companies and re-domicile those companies in, say,
Canada? One thing that happens is that Canada becomes the
world’s leading superpower, overnight, by virtue of its being
the new home to the world’s two greatest AI research
cryptocurrency scams offering to sell Libra for bitcoin
plague social network (Independent, August 13, 2019)
Cyber criminals are using Facebook's own platform to run scams
about the tech giant's new cryptocurrency.
in the box: Hacking into companies with “warshipping”
(Ars Technica, August 13, 2019)
For under $100, compact hardware can turn a shipped package
into a Trojan horse for attacks.
Musk’s Neuralink: Both an evolution and a plan for radical
change (Ars Technica, August 13, 2019)
Neuralink will probably fail in interesting and worthwhile
Microsoft dumping MS Office, consider LibreOffice for your
next PC office suite (ZDNet, August 13, 2019)
If you want a standalone office suite for your computer, LibreOffice may soon
not just be your best choice, it will be close to your only
(LibreOffice is free, it's excellent, and we use it.)
NEW: UN: Credible Evidence Hong Kong Police Use Banned
Tactics to Suppress Protesters. (Voice Of America, August 13,
"OHCHR (United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for
Human Rights) has reviewed credible evidence of law
enforcement officials employing less lethal weapons in ways
that are prohibited by international norms and standards,”
Colville said. “For example, officials can be seen firing tear
gas canisters into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at
individual protesters on multiple occasions, creating a
considerable risk of death or serious injury." Colville said
there are clear guidelines on how supposed non-lethal weapons,
such as tear gas, batons and rubber bullets should be
used."Law enforcement officials should only employ tear gas to
disperse crowds as a last resort when widespread violence
creates an imminent threat of serious injury or damage to
property. And, in this situation, the canisters must be fired
at a high angle to create indirect fire."
The U.N. human rights office is calling on Hong Kong
authorities to investigate these incidents immediately and
ensure security personnel comply with the rules of
engagement. It warns excessive use of force will only
inflame tensions and worsen the situation.
to help create nation's first open-source foundation
(China Today, August 13, 2019)
The plan for the software foundation came after GitHub, the
world's largest host of source code, prevented in July users
in Iran and other nations sanctioned by the United States
government from accessing portions of its service. The
incident highlights increasing geopolitical interference with
global open-source tech communities, which are supposed to be
fair and open to all, analysts said.
Wang Chenglu, president of the software department at Huawei's
consumer business group, said software development relies on
open-source codes and communities. "If China does not have its
own open-source community to maintain, manage and host these
open-source codes, the domestic software industry will be
vulnerable in the face of uncontrollable factors," Wang said.
delays some China tariffs to Dec. 15th to limit impact on
holiday shopping (Washington Post, August 13, 2019)
The White House on Tuesday said it would delay imposing
tariffs on Chinese imports of cellphones, laptop computers,
video game consoles, and certain types of footwear and
clothing until Dec. 15, significantly later than the Sept. 1
deadline President Trump had repeatedly threatened. The
announcement ensures that Apple products and other major
consumer goods would be shielded from the import tax until at
least December, potentially keeping costs on these products
down during the holiday shopping season. A number of companies
had petitioned to the White House to exempt items they import
from the new tariffs, saying the costs would be either passed
along to the consumer or threaten the solvency of individual
Trump told reporters that he delayed the tariffs “just in
case” they would have a negative impact on U.S. shoppers this
holiday season, marking the most explicit admission he’s made
so far that the tariffs could have raised costs for American
consumers and businesses and had a negative impact on the
economy. USTR said the 10 percent tariff would still go into
effect in September on some items, including many food
products, gloves, coats and suits. But it said tariffs on
other items would be waived completely “based on health,
safety, national security and other factors.”
(Primarily, other factors like Trump overcharging his
supporters and losing his re-election bid.)
Focus on Gun Bills, Democrats Urge McConnell and Senate to
Act (New York Times, August 13, 2019)
Six top Democrats called on Senator Mitch McConnell, the
Republican leader, to bring senators back to Washington to
pass two House bills: one mandating background checks on all
gun purchases, including at gun shows and on the internet,
and another extending the time the F.B.I. has to complete
background checks. “The time is not simply for reflection,”
said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the
Democratic leader. “The time is not for a moment of silence.
The time for the Senate is to act. The time is to listen to
the American people.” [Read
more about mass shootings in 2019.]
raining plastic: microscopic fibers fall from the sky in
Rocky Mountains (The Guardian, August 13, 2019)
Discovery raises new questions about the amount of plastic
waste permeating the air, water, and soil virtually
everywhere on Earth.
Russian nuclear accident seems to be characterized by lies
(Washington Post, August 13, 2019)
village evacuation as rocket blast sparks radiation fears
(Al Jazeera, August 13, 2019)
Nyonoksa residents asked to leave within a day after last
week's explosion that spiked radiation levels up to 16
nuclear engineers buried after 'Skyfall nuclear' blast
(Al Jazeera, August 13, 2019)
Experts link the explosion to the Burevestnik
nuclear-powered cruise missile touted by President Putin in
Happened at Russia’s Missile Test Site? (New York
Times, August 12, 2019)
Don’t expect a straight answer from Vladimir Putin’s
bans hamburgers 'to tackle climate change' (BBC News,
August 12, 2019)
Rosie Rogers, of Greenpeace UK, said: "It's encouraging to
see an institution like Goldsmiths not simply declaring a
climate emergency but acting on it. From energy use, to food
sales and plastic pollution - all universities and
organisations with campus sites can make changes across
their facilities that are better for our planet. We call on
others to urgently follow suit and to include cutting all
ties from fossil fuel funding in their climate-emergency
wildfires spew soot and smoke cloud bigger than EU
(The Guardian, August 12, 2019)
Plume from unprecedented blazes forecast to reach Alaska as
fires rage for third month.
The normally frozen region, which is a crucial part of the
planet’s cooling system, is spewing carbon dioxide into the
atmosphere and worsening the man-made climate disruption
that created the tinderbox conditions.
A spate of huge fires in northern Russia, Alaska, Greenland
and Canada discharged 50 megatonnes of CO2 in June and 79
megatonnes in July, far exceeding the previous record for
the Arctic. The intensity of the blazes continues with 25
megatonnes in the first 11 days of August – extending the
duration beyond even the most persistent fires in the
17-year dataset of Europe’s satellite monitoring system.
are hopping mad about Trump’s drug importation plan. Some
of them are trying to stop it (STAT, August 12, 2019)
“You are coming as Americans to poach our drug supply, and I
don’t have any polite words for that,” said Amir Attaran, a
professor at the University of Ottawa, who calls the plan
“deplorable” and “atrociously unethical.” “Our drugs are not
for you, period.”
the Lord’s name in vain’: Evangelicals chafe at Trump’s
blasphemy (Politico, August 12, 2019)
Trump enjoys the support of the religious right — and losing
the group’s support would be catastrophic for his reelection
bid. About 80 percent of white evangelicals cast their ballots
for Trump in 2016 and 61 percent of the broader evangelical
voting bloc believes the U.S. is heading in the right
direction under his administration, according to a 2018 survey
by the Public Religion Research Institute.
Evangelicals are also more likely to vote than other
demographic groups and gravitate toward Republican candidates
when they do. And in swing states such as Florida, North
Carolina and Michigan, evangelicals dominate the religious
composition, eclipsing Catholics, mainline Protestants and
Day Jeffrey Epstein Told Me He Had Dirt on Powerful People
(New York Times, August 12, 2019)
Death Has a Simpler Explanation (The Atlantic, August
On social media yesterday, many people speculated, without
evidence, about who besides Epstein might be responsible for
his death. Tellingly, many criminal-justice experts pointed
instead to a broader issue: Suicide has been a lingering
problem in detention facilities, and systemic factors—such
as inattention, understaffing, or inadequate
training—generally offer a simpler explanation for a
prisoner’s death than nefarious intent.
man who sowed panic at Springfield, MO Walmart claimed
he was testing his Second Amendment rights, police say
Post, August 11, 2019)
Electric Motor Design Massively Boosts Power, Torque, and
Efficiency (Slashdot, August 11, 2019)
We Living in a Computer Simulation? Let’s Not Find Out
(New York Times, August 10, 2019)
Experimental findings will be either boring or extremely
violation of realism": The future can change the past
(Daily KOS, August 10, 2019)
It's about modern physics, not about impeaching Trump.
administration said it was moving these agencies for
efficiency. Now the truth comes out. (Washington Post, August 10, 2019)
“What a wonderful way to streamline government,” said acting
White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney at a gala last week,
referring to the Agriculture Department’s plan to move two of
its science agencies out of the D.C. area to the Kansas City
region. In celebrating this controversial decision, Mr.
Mulvaney laid bare the thinly-veiled motivations behind
uprooting researchers: not efficiency, but to drive talented
Epstein’s apparent suicide is unfathomable (Washington
Post, August 10, 2019)
If any prisoner in the federal system should have been a
candidate for suspicion of suicide, it was the high-profile
and disgraced Epstein. All administrative and structural
measures should have been in place to ensure it could not
pioneer accused of having sex with trafficking victim on
Jeffrey Epstein’s island (The Verge, August 9, 2019)
Marvin Minsky was named alongside several other prominent men.
World’s Smartest Chimp Has Died (New York Times, August
Sarah's life helped us answer the question: What do animals
has blessed ‘brutal' assault on Amazon, sacked scientist
warns (The Guardian, August 9, 2019)
In interview with the Guardian, Ricardo Galvão says if the
far-right leader doesn’t change tack the Amazon will be
frequent marine heatwaves can lead to the almost instant
death of corals, scientists working on the Great Barrier
Reef have found. (BBC News, August 9, 2019)
These episodes of unusually high water temperatures are - like
heatwaves on land - associated with climate change.
"This is a new phenomenon that's being caused by climate
change. And the impacts are even more severe than we had
"This could be 'the canary in the coal mine' for these
ecosystems. The findings were a strong warning that things are
going wrong on some reefs around the world."
"It's hard to know just how much we have to keep saying that
this is a big problem before policy-makers decide to do
something about it."
Big Just Slammed Into Jupiter (Gizmodo, August 9, 2019)
The Shocking Truth About ESD (Ask Bob Rankin, August 9,
House proposal would have FCC and FTC police alleged social
media censorship (CNN, August 9, 2019)
"The (existing) law that I wrote, Section 230, allows
platforms to get this kind of slime and hate off the
platform," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in an interview with
CNN on Friday, referring to hate speech that has appeared on
forums such as 8chan. By comparison, according to the summary,
the White House draft order asks the FCC to restrict the
government's view of the good-faith provision. Under the draft
proposal, the FCC will be asked to find that social media
sites do not qualify for the good-faith immunity if they
remove or suppress content without notifying the user who
posted the material, or if the decision is proven to be
evidence of anticompetitive, unfair or deceptive practices.
Wyden, in the interview, called the proposal "horrible" and
said neither the FTC nor the FCC are "exactly tripping over
themselves... to carry it out. I bet you scores of
conservatives are turning over in their grave right now
listening to all of these big government approaches," Wyden
said. "Their proposal today amounts to nothing short of a
Trip to Dayton and El Paso: The Back Story (New York
Times, August 9, 2019)
By the time President Trump arrived in El Paso on Wednesday,
on the second leg of a trip to meet with people affected by
mass shootings in two cities, he was frustrated that his
attacks on his political adversaries had resulted in more
coverage than the cheery reception he received at a hospital
in Dayton, Ohio, the first stop on his trip. So he screamed at
his aides to begin producing proof that in El Paso people were
happy to see him.
Civil Rights Lawyer Shows 20 Ways Trump Is Copying Hitler’s
Early Rhetoric and Policies (Common Cause, August 9,
Burt Neuborne questions whether federal government can contain
Trump and GOP power grabs.
Ring Is a Perfect Storm of Privacy Threats (Electronic
Frontier Foundation, August 8, 2019)
Doors across the United States are now fitted with Amazon’s
Ring, a combination doorbell-security camera that records and
transmits video straight to users’ phones, to Amazon’s
cloud—and often to the local police department. By sending
photos and alerts every time the camera detects motion or
someone rings the doorbell, the app can create an illusion of
a household under siege. It turns what seems like a perfectly
safe neighborhood into a source of anxiety and fear.
Thanks to in-depth reporting from Motherboard,
CNET, and others, we know a lot about the symbiotic
relationship between Amazon’s Ring and local police
departments, and how that relationship jeopardizes privacy and
Produce, Brought to You by Robots (Atlas Obscura, August
A family-owned market in California is now selling
robot-reared leafy greens.
Pharma is using faux generics to keep drug prices high,
critics say (Ars Technica, August 8, 2019)
Drug makers have mastered gaming the system to beat generic
competition. High-profile examples of "authorized generics"
include Mylan’s cheaper form of its EpiPen, a life-saving
epinephrine autoinjector that curbs deadly allergic reactions.
In 2016, under political and public pressure to lower drug
prices, Mylan introduced the authorized generic of EpiPen
priced at $300 for a two-pack. That’s half the price of a
two-pack of the brand-name version, which has a list price of
around $600. But it’s still a staggering hike from EpiPen’s
original cost of around $50 per injector in 2007. That year,
Mylan bought the rights to EpiPen and then raised the price
more than 400% in the years that followed. The authorized
generic is essentially triple the price of what two injectors
used to cost.
As of July 2019, there are
nearly 1,200 authorized generics on the market in the US.
the data on white supremacist terrorism the Trump
administration has been 'unable or unwilling' to give to
Congress (Yahoo News, August 8, 2019)
Alleged white supremacists were responsible for all race-based
domestic terrorism incidents in 2018, according to a
government document distributed earlier this year to state,
local and federal law enforcement. The document, which has not
been previously reported on, becomes public as the Trump
administration’s Justice Department has been unable or
unwilling to provide data to Congress on white supremacist
domestic terrorism. The data in this document, titled
“Domestic Terrorism in 2018,” appears to be what Congress has
been asking for — and didn’t get.
rounds up over 600 undocumented workers in immigration
sweeps in Mississippi (CBS News, August 8, 2019)
Many children of those arrested across the state were left
with nowhere to go. Children, some as young as toddlers, were
relying on neighbors and even strangers to pick them up and
drive them to the gym, where people tried to keep them calm.
But many of them couldn't stop crying for their parents.
Julia Solórzano, a legal fellow at the Southern Poverty Law
Center, said these types of large-scale workplace operations
"terrorize" and "destroy" communities, while accomplishing
little for the administration. "For a lot of the cities where
these raids occurred, it was the first day of school. We know
from past immigration enforcement actions of this type, that
there are going to be children who go home tonight and their
parents will be gone. It's extremely disruptive to families.
It's — in many cases — depriving the family of the primary
the El Paso shooter isn’t being charged with terrorism
(Vox, August 8, 2019)
How the law defines terrorism, and what that means for the
fight against white nationalist terror, explained.
attacks local leaders as he visits two cities grieving from
mass shootings (Washington Post, August 8, 2019)
None of the eight patients still being treated at University
Medical Center in El Paso agreed to meet with Trump when he
visited the hospital. Before Trump’s visit Wednesday, however,
some of the hospitalized victims accepted visits from a number
of city and county elected officials, as well as Reps.
Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.) and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.).
And the White House version?...
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the
president and first lady Melania Trump met with “victims of
the tragedy while at the hospital” and were “received very
warmly by not just victims and their families, but by the many
members of medical staff who lined the hallways to meet them.
It was a moving visit for all involved.”
(The White House says what it wants to say.)
Visits Dayton and El Paso (New York Times, August 7,
The president took sharp aim at opponents even as he visited
two cities in mourning after horrific mass shootings in Ohio
The White House had signaled that Mr. Trump would play the
traditional role of healer in chief on Wednesday, eschewing
photo-ops in favor of private sessions with emergency and
hospital workers and victims of the shootings that shocked
both cities and the nation. But Mr. Trump proved unwilling to
completely refrain from his usual combative style. On his way
to El Paso from Dayton, he tweeted attacks on the Democratic
mayor of Dayton and a Democratic senator who he said had not
accurately described the closed-door sessions at a Dayton
hospital earlier in the day. And earlier on Wednesday, Mr.
Trump held a 20-minute session with reporters in which he
unloaded many of his usual grievances, displaying little
hesitation to engage in politics on a day of grief for many
people around the country.
don’t want him here’: Trump to face protests and skepticism
as he visits El Paso and Dayton after mass shootings
(Washington Post, August 7, 2019)
“He’s made this bed and he’s got to lie in it. His rhetoric
has been painful for many in our community,” Dayton Mayor Nan
Whaley (D) told reporters Tuesday, adding that she supported
the planned protests against Trump. “Watching the president
for the past few years over the issue of guns, I don’t think
he knows what he believes, frankly.”
The open repudiation of a visiting president in the aftermath
of a mass tragedy was striking Tuesday as a growing chorus of
critics made clear that Trump would not be universally welcome
during a pair of condolence visits that will take Air Force
One from the Rust Belt to the southern border.
In a statement Monday, Trump denounced “racism, bigotry and
white supremacy,” without acknowledging his own rhetoric —
which has at times included warnings of “an invasion” across
the southern border. Trump’s language has been embraced by
The president has offered several proposals for reducing gun
violence but has given few specifics and has largely steered
clear of anything that would restrict broader access to
firearms. Instead, he pointed to “gruesome and grisly video
games” and online radicalization as drivers of the kind of
violence that left at least 31 people dead in back-to-back
mass shootings in the span of about 13 hours last weekend.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has so far
refused to allow a vote on a universal background check bill
passed by the House in February, said Monday that he was
willing to work with the White House and Democratic lawmakers
on legislation to address mass killings. In Louisville, Ky.,
dozens of people upset with McConnell’s inaction on gun
control and other legislation held a protest late into the
night outside his house. They banged pots and drums — at times
even scraping a shovel across a sidewalk. It was one of
several demonstrations calling for stricter gun laws that
erupted in cities across the country this week.
video games aren’t causing America’s gun problem, in one
chart (Vox, August 7, 2019)
Trump says they are. But when we look at the top video
game–consuming countries, there’s one clear outlier.
Took a Ride on NYC’s First Self-Driving Shuttle
(Futurism, August 7, 2019)
New York City just got its first autonomous vehicles. Futurism
was on the scene.
is not a crime (Electronic Frontier Foundation, August
Ola Bini is Swedish citizen and open source developer who has
worked for years to improve the security and privacy of the
Internet. He was arrested in Ecuador on a warrant for a
“Russian hacker.” With the most basic research, we knew that
he is neither of these.
Interviews Tim Verheyden, the Journalist Who Broke the Story
on Google Employees Listening to People's Audio Recordings
(Linux Journal, August 7, 2019)
How he got hold of the story, why he is now using the
encrypted contact form Secure Connect by Tutanota and why the
growing number of "ghost workers" in and around Silicon Valley
is becoming a big issue in Tech.
forecasters fear 5G wireless technology will muck up their
predictions (Science Magazine, August 7, 2019)
Neil Jacobs, NOAA's acting administrator, testified to
Congress in May that an internal study had found 5G-related
interference could cost NOAA 77% of the water vapor data it
collects at 23.8 GHz, and could degrade weather forecasts by
up to 30%, to 1980 levels. "It's a critical data set for us,"
Jacobs said. Bridenstine has echoed Jacobs's concerns, and the
Navy also worries about deteriorating forecast quality. But
NOAA has not released the studies publicly or submitted them
to FCC—the result, suggest some congressional sources, of
pressure from the White House, which has strongly backed 5G.
NOAA's experts misunderstand 5G technology, FCC Chairman (and
former Verizon lawyer) Ajit Pai said in his own congressional
testimony in June.
finally gotten a look at the microbe that might have been
our ancestor (Ars Technica, August 7, 2019)
A very strange cell structure hints at how complex cells
originated. Welcome to Asgard.
Morrison Taught Me How to Think (New York Times, August
late Toni Morrison on the Power of Language: Her Spectacular
Nobel Acceptance Speech After Becoming the First African
American Woman Awarded the Accolade (Brain Pickings,
August 6, 2019)
Eric Lundgren Case and Similar High-Profile Plea ‘Bargains’
- Aaron Swartz and Marcus Hutchins (Tech Rights, August 6, 2019)
Innocence is irrelevant. This is the age of the plea bargain.
Most people adjudicated in the criminal-justice system today
waive the right to a trial and the host of protections that go
along with one, including the right to appeal. Instead, they
plead guilty. The vast majority of felony convictions are now
the result of plea bargains—some 94 percent at the state
level, and some 97 percent at the federal level. Estimates for
misdemeanor convictions run even higher. These are astonishing
statistics, and they reveal a stark new truth about the
American criminal-justice system: Very few cases go to trial.
and Libel From Microsoft; Demonising the Victim (Tech
Rights, August 6, 2019)
Microsoft may not understand this (yet), but each time it lies
it’s digging itself deeper in the electronic grave.
Incredible Real-Time Voice Language Translator Is Also a
Global WIFI Hotspot (Futurism, August 6, 2019)
The Langogo uses advanced AI to tear down barriers between 105
languages and counting.
Flag’ Gun Control Bills Pick Up Momentum With G.O.P. in
Congress (New York Times, August 6, 2019)
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia already have red
flag laws. But the push for them on Capitol Hill stops well
short of the legislation mandating universal background checks
that Democrats and gun control advocates — as well as a
handful of Republicans — have been clamoring for. Already,
Democrats are warning that Republicans will use Mr. Graham’s
proposal to skirt the larger issue.
mainstream media is failing to do its job (The Young
Turks, August 6, 2019)
A New York Times headline read “Trump Urges Unity vs Racism,”
which garnered its own share of headlines - mainly for its
abysmal, Trump-favoring slant that neglected the support and
cover Trump has given to white supremacists. Focusing on the
few lines Trump devoted to criticizing white nationalism,
while ignoring the majority of his speech and subsequent
tweets attacking his political enemies and demanding stronger
anti-immigrant measures, does a major disservice to readers
Republican is finished with his party, tells voters to 'Beat
every single one of them!' (Daily KOS, August 6, 2019)
Republicans will never do anything on gun control. Nothing.
Ever. They won't. Think about Las Vegas. They did nothing when
500 people were injured. The Pulse nightclub, 50 killed. The
question for the nation was, do we allow terrorists, suspected
terrorists, to buy firearms, Republicans did nothing.
Parkland, they did nothing. Emanuel AME in South Carolina,
nothing. Go to Sandy Hook in Connecticut, nothing. The Jewish
temple in Pittsburgh, nothing. The Jewish temple in San Diego,
nothing. Sutherland Springs Evangelical Church in Texas,
nothing. Now we have Texas, now we have Ohio in the same
weekend, and all we get is silence. So I say that because if
this is the issue that informs your ideology, as a voter, the
strength to draw in this moment is to commit to beating
Republicans. Beat ‘em. Beat every single one of ‘em. Even the
safe ones in the House—beat ‘em.
Reacts to El Paso Shooting and the Hate That Fueled It (New York Times, August 6, 2019)
After an attack targeting Latinos, international reactions
depicted America’s mass shooting epidemic as violence in a
country at war with itself. “White nationalist terrorism.”
“America’s new civil war.” “‘Domestic terrorists’ devastate
the U.S.” After two mass shootings rocked the United States
last weekend, headlines from Sydney to Paris depicted the
bloodshed as America battling itself.
International reactions to previous mass shootings focused on
the ubiquity of guns in the United States — a culture that
many people around the globe see as alien — and their role in
making it the world’s most violent highly developed country.
But in the days since a gunman killed 22 people and injured
dozens more at a Walmart store in El Paso, Tex., attention has
shifted to the toxic mixture of racism, nationalism and
terrorism — along with the easy availability of firearms — and
to President Trump’s role in inflaming ethnic divisions. The
horror was only compounded by a shooting hours later in
Dayton, Ohio, that left nine people dead.
“People are used to the fact that in the United States, every
month, a lot of people are killed by someone for no apparent
reason,” said Josef Janning, a senior policy fellow at the
European Council on Foreign Relations, based in Berlin. “And
now it comes together with this trend in Western society of
gut-feeling, tribal politics that inflames people rather than
Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crises (New York Times,
August 6, 2019)
Climate change heightens the risk. As rainfall becomes
more erratic, the water supply becomes less reliable. At the
same time, as the days grow hotter, more water evaporates from
reservoirs just as demand for water increases.
Water-stressed places are sometimes cursed by two extremes.
São Paulo was ravaged by floods a year after its taps nearly
ran dry. Chennai suffered fatal floods four years ago, and now
its reservoirs are almost empty.
Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, is drawing groundwater so fast
that the city is literally sinking. Dhaka, Bangladesh, relies
so heavily on its groundwater for both its residents and its
water-guzzling garment factories that it now draws water from
aquifers hundreds of feet deep. Chennai’s thirsty residents,
accustomed to relying on groundwater for years, are now
finding there’s none left. Across India and Pakistan, farmers
are draining aquifers to grow water-intensive crops like
cotton and rice.
Hot Was July? Hotter Than Ever, Global Data Shows (New York Times, August 5, 2019)
Last month is part of a long-term trend: As human-related
emissions of greenhouse gases have continued, the atmosphere
has continued to warm. The past five years have been the
hottest on record, including the record single year in 2016.
The 10 hottest years have all occurred in the past two
decades. This June was the warmest on record, and the previous
five months were among the four warmest for their respective
months, the climate researchers said. That puts this year on
track to be in the top five, or perhaps the hottest ever.
cesspool of hate’: U.S. web firm drops 8chan after El Paso
shooting (Washington Post, August 5, 2019)
Calls to de-platform the site had intensified Sunday as
authorities worked to confirm that Patrick Crusius, the
21-year-old suspect in the El Paso shooting, had posted a
manifesto decrying a 'Hispanic invasion of Texas' to 8chan
before the attack. The suspected shooters at mosques in
Christchurch, New Zealand, and a synagogue in San Diego also
reportedly posted on the site before carrying out their
attacks. On Sunday, some 8chan message boards celebrated the
El Paso massacre.
The site’s founder, Fredrick Brennan, was among those calling
for 8chan to be shut down after the El Paso shooting.
Republican facing calls from party to resign after blaming
gay marriage, Obama for shootings (Daily KOS, August 5,
"Why not place the blame where it belongs," complained state
Rep. Candice Keller, proceeding to point to "the breakdown of
the traditional American family (thank you, transgender,
homosexual marriage, and drag queen advocates)”—interestingly,
no mention of a thrice-married president—“open borders,”
“hatred of our veterans,” “violent video games,” “snowflakes,”
“failed school policies,” and “professional athletes,” just to
name a few.
There was no mention of mass killing machines, or of white
supremacy, which definitely led to the killing of 22 in El
Paso. Nor did Keller clarify why “open borders” led to that
massacre, when it was the white supremacist who drove nine
hours to terrorize this peaceful community.
unique gun violence problem, explained in 16 maps and charts
(Vox, August 5, 2019)
In the developed world, these levels of gun violence are a
uniquely American problem. Here’s why.
after El Paso shooting, Mitch McConnell tweeted photo of a
graveyard with name of his opponent (Daily KOS, August
Condemns White Supremacy but Doesn’t Propose Gun Laws After
Shootings (New York Times, August 5, 2019)
Mr. Trump stopped well short of endorsing the kind of broad
gun control measures that activists and Democrats have sought
for years, instead falling back on time-honored Republican
remedies, calling for stronger action to address mental
illness, violence in the media and in video games. He warned
of “the perils of the internet and social media” with no
acknowledgment of his use of those platforms to promote his
brand of divisive politics.
let Trump's campaign run over 2,000 ads referring to
immigration as an “invasion” (Media Matters, August
At least nine other Republicans have also pushed the white
supremacist, anti-immigrant talking point in Facebook ads.
do you stop these people?’: Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric
looms over El Paso massacre (Washington Post, August 4, 2019)
President Trump has relentlessly used his bully pulpit to
decry Latino migration as 'an invasion of our country.' He has
demonized undocumented immigrants as 'thugs' and 'animals.' He
has defended the detention of migrant children, hundreds of
whom have been held in squalor. And he has warned that without
a wall to prevent people from crossing the border from Mexico,
America would no longer be America.
'How do you stop these people? You can’t,' Trump lamented at a
May rally in Panama City Beach, Fla. Someone in the crowd
yelled back one idea: 'Shoot them.' The audience of thousands
cheered and Trump smiled. Shrugging off the suggestion, he
quipped, 'Only in the Panhandle can you get away with that
On Saturday, a 21-year-old white man entered a shopping center
in El Paso, according to police, and allegedly decided to
To experts in the field, the El Paso rampage was predictable.
Frank Figliuzzi, a former head of counterintelligence at the
FBI, wrote in a column published just four days earlier in the
New York Times that Trump’s words eventually could incite
bloodshed. 'The president has fallen short of calling for
overt violence against minorities and immigrants, but
unbalanced minds among us may fail to note the distinction,'
Figliuzzi wrote. 'If a president paints people of color as the
enemy, encourages them to be sent back to where they came from
and implies that no humans want to live in certain American
cities, he gives license to those who feel compelled to
eradicate what Mr. Trump calls an infestation.'
and Policy: 2 Sides of White Nationalism (New York
Times, August 4, 2019)
The white supremacist terrorists and the white supremacist
policymakers share the same mission.
Paso shooting suspect could face federal hate crime charges
(Washington Post, August 4, 2019)
weekend of mass murder reflects how American violence goes
Post, August 4, 2019)
2 cities, 13 hours, 29
The deadliest mass shootings in the US (Al Jazeera,
August 4, 2019)
Thirty people die in two mass shootings within hours,
shocking the country and prompting calls for tighter gun
Bursts of Gun Violence in El Paso and Dayton Stun Country
(New York Times, August 4, 2019)
In a country that has become nearly numb to men with guns
opening fire in schools, at concerts and in churches, the
back-to-back bursts of gun violence in less than 24 hours
were enough to leave the public stunned and shaken. The
shootings ground the 2020 presidential campaign to a halt,
reignited a debate on gun control and called into question
the increasingly angry words directed at immigrants on the
southern border in recent weeks by right-wing pundits and
Rapid DNA Testing on Migrants at the Border Is Yet Another
Iteration of Family Separation (Electronic Frontier
Foundation, August 2, 2019)
Numerous issues were reported with similar systems related
to the hardware, firmware, software as well as the
cartridges. The most severe issues are the retrieval of an
incorrect DNA profile, PCR product or sample leakage and the
low success rate. In total 36% of the runs had problems or
errors effecting two or more samples resulting in a 77%
success rate for samples consisting of . . . amounts where
complete DNA profiles are expected.
The PIA states that a biological parent-child match must be
verified by a 99.5% accuracy. But we don’t even know the
baseline rate of success that these Rapid DNA testing
companies have established: the government has provided no
statistical information or peer-reviewed studies as to the
Ways Ohio Now Proposes Nuclear Suicide (Counterpunch,
August 2, 2019)
A bought, gerrymandered Ohio Legislature has just handed a
much-hated $150 million/year public bailout to two dinosaur
nuke reactors primed to explode. It also bails out two filthy
50-year-old coal burners and guts programs for increased
Opioid and Trump Addictions: Symptoms of the Same Malaise
'Socioeconomic conditions' account for only about two-thirds
of the Trump-opioid connection - which is to say, the economic
decline is not sufficient to explain it. Many equally
precarious Black and Hispanic communities elsewhere in the
country have neither turned massively to Trump or to opioids.
Clearly there is something different about the culture of
What is immediately different for indigent people in rural
Kentucky or the Mahoning Valley of Ohio is that so far as they
are concerned, they didn’t simply lose their jobs; the Blacks
got them - because the Government favors Blacks.
you say, ‘Hey, Siri’? Apple and Amazon curtail human review
of voice recordings. (Washington Post, August 2, 2019)
The tech giant is suspending the review of how its voice
assistant activates after privacy concerns were raised.
Many smart-speaker owners don’t realize that Siri, Alexa and,
until recently Google’s Assistant, keep recordings of
everything they hear after their so-called “wake word” to help
train their artificial intelligences. Google quietly changed
its defaults last year, and Assistant no longer automatically
records what it hears after the prompt “Hey, Google.”
Apple said it uses the data “to help Siri and dictation . . .
understand you better and recognize what you say,” Apple said.
But this wasn’t made clear to users in Apple’s terms and
system 'should be recognised as inventor' (BBC News,
August 1, 2019)
(Almost as wrong as claiming that corporations are people.)
Dame Reconstruction Work On Hold Over Lead Fears (Wall
Street Journal, August 1, 2019)
Work on the 850-year-old landmark stopped after inspection
raises concerns over lead poisoning. Lead-poisoning concerns
have loomed since the fire caused Notre Dame’s majestic roof
to collapse, leaving craterlike holes in the cathedral ceiling
and its nave exposed to the elements. The roof was made of
more than 1,300 lead tiles, each about a quarter-inch thick,
adding up to 210 tons of lead. Notre Dame’s massive spire,
also destroyed, was built with 250 tons of lead.
Mitch’ McConnell ‘fuming’ with trolling (9-min. video;
MSNBC, August 1, 2019)
New pressure on the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch
McConnell, who blocked a series of elections security bills
despite warnings from Bob Mueller and American intelligence
that Russia is still at it. McConnell is furious with his new
‘Moscow Mitch’ nickname as progressive groups put up
billboards in McConnell's home state of Kentucky showing
McConnell in a Russian military uniform. Senator Richard
Blumenthal and Malcom Nance, a former counter-intelligence
operative in the U-S military join The Beat.
are making human-monkey hybrids in China (MIT Technology
Review, August 1, 2019)
The US, China and Spain are involved in the controversial
research, designed to grow human organ transplants. In the US,
the National Institutes of Health says federal funds can never
be used to create mixed human-monkey embryos. However, there
is no such rule in China, which is probably why the research
is occurring there.
army just released a video showing soldiers practicing
shooting protesters (Washington Post, August 1, 2019)
2 Spacecraft Successfully Demonstrates Flight by Light
(The Planetary Society, July 31, 2019)
the last piece of software you'd expect to spy on you? Maybe
your enterprise security suite? Bad news. (The Register,
July 31, 2019)
Report finds enterprise software collecting and shipping out
sensitive customer information.
in plastic: meet the man swimming the Pacific garbage patch
(The Guardian, July 31, 2019)
Ben Lecomte is making a trans-Pacific journey to better
understand how plastics pollution is affecting our oceans
Epstein Hoped to Seed Human Race With His DNA (New York
Times, July 31, 2019)
Mr. Epstein, who was charged in July with the sexual
trafficking of girls as young as 14, was a serial illusionist:
He lied about the identities of his clients, his wealth, his
financial prowess, his personal achievements. But he managed
to use connections and charisma to cultivate valuable
relationships with business and political leaders.
Interviews with more than a dozen of his acquaintances, as
well as public documents, show that he used the same tactics
to insinuate himself into an elite scientific community, thus
allowing him to pursue his interests in eugenics and other
fringe fields like cryonics.
cheesed off at Microsoft, call for Rexit from Office Online,
Mobile apps over Redmond data slurping (The Register,
July 30, 2019)
Sanders’s bold ideas are transforming Democratic politics
(Washington Post, July
Sanders is shaping the race in ways that are often
underappreciated by a media that often marginalizes and
Big Money Out of Politics. Overturn Citizens United. Pass
the 28th Amendment (Newsweek, July 30, 2019)
Today, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) introduces the Democracy for
All Amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and get big
money out of politics.
of Trump's U.S. farm aid goes to biggest and wealthiest
farmers: advocacy group. (Reuters, July 30, 2019)
More than half of the Trump administration’s $8.4 billion in
trade aid payments to U.S. farmers through April was received
by the top 10% of recipients, the country’s biggest and most
successful farmers, a study by an advocacy group showed on
Tuesday. Highlighting an uneven distribution of the bailout,
which was designed to help offset effects of the U.S.-China
trade war, the Environmental Working Group said the top 1% of
aid recipients received an average of more than $180,000 while
the bottom 80% were paid less than $5,000 in aid.
Turmoil at the BLM Is Threatening Public Lands (Outside,
July 30, 2019)
All signs point to a massive selloff of federally managed
public lands, as BLM officials defy congressional oversight.
Mitch’ Tag Enrages McConnell and Squeezes G.O.P. on Election
Security (New York Times, July 30, 2019)
Mitch McConnell Won't Protect U.S. Voting (The Young
Turks, July 29, 2019)
McConnell (R.-Kentucky) recently refused to bring two voting
security measures that had passed the House up for a vote in
the Senate. Republicans are constantly bandying conspiracy
theories about tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and
Google cheating them. And those firms have a widely reported
liberal bias, so shouldn’t McConnell want to protect his GOP
colleagues from digital manipulation by Silicon Valley? Cenk
proposes two theories to explain McConnell’s actions - one,
corruption and two, that if foreign actors are interfering in
elections to help the GOP, he doesn’t want to do anything to
hamper those efforts.
Then, on a completely unrelated note, John mentions that
Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s company, recently removed
from the sanctions list, mind you, has opted to invest
millions of dollars in an aluminum plant in - get this -
Kentucky. Fun to at least enjoy this wild coincidence as the
integrity of our voting system disintegrates.
One Data Breach Compromises Data of Over 100 Million
(New York Times, July 29, 2019)
"While the breach was possible because of a security lapse
by Capital One, it was aided by Ms. Thompson’s expertise.
new intelligence pick could make Russian interference more
likely (Washington Post, July 29, 2019)
"President Trump has announced that he will nominate
ultraconservative Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) to be the new
director of national intelligence, replacing Daniel Coats to
oversee an intelligence apparatus that sprawls across 17
different federal agencies and touches the most sensitive
and complex national security challenges faced by our
country. It’s not because he has served on the House
Intelligence Committee for six whole months. It’s because
Donald Trump saw him on TV yelling about how the Russia
investigation was a big witch hunt.
'richly deserves' impeachment, says House Judiciary chair
(Daily KOS, July 29, 2019)
Donald Trump 'richly deserves' to be impeached, House
Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler said on Sunday, but despite
growing support, House Democrats are still holding back. Trump
'has done many impeachable offenses' and 'violated the law six
ways from Sunday,' Nadler said on CNN, but 'That’s not the
question. The question is, can we develop enough evidence to
put before the American people?'
say 'slumlord' Jared Kushner's Maryland properties are
crawling with mice and maggots - even as father-in-law Trump
tweets about 'rodent infested' Baltimore (Daily Mail,
July 28, 2019)
- President Trump was slammed as racist over weekend because
of tweets about 'rodent infested' Baltimore
- Trump targeted House Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democrat who
represents Maryland's seventh congressional district
- Baltimore County officials, however, noted that it was
ironic Trump was talking about 'infestation' when his
son-in-law is an accused 'slumlord'
- Jared Kushner owns thousands of rental units in Baltimore
County, which tenants say are infested with mice and maggots
- Kushner's property management company has also been accused
of using aggressive tactics to collect debts from tenants who
racism is about to have an impact (Daily KOS, July 28, 2019)
shares impassioned anti-Trump op-ed on Twitter (Daily
KOS, July 27, 2019)
There is truly nothing more un-American than calling on fellow
citizens to leave our country - by citing their immigrant
roots, or ancestry, or their unwillingness to sit in quiet
obedience while democracy is being undermined.
We refuse to sit idly by as racism, sexism, homophobia and
xenophobia are wielded by the president and any elected
official complicit in the poisoning of our democracy.
Roots of Boeing’s 737 Max Crisis: A Regulator Relaxes Its
Oversight (New York Times, July 27, 2019)
For decades, the F.A.A. relied on engineers inside Boeing to
help certify aircraft. But after intense lobbying by industry,
the agency adopted rules in 2005 that would give manufacturers
like Boeing even more control. Previously, the agency selected
the company engineers to work on its behalf; under the new
regulations, Boeing could choose them.
But some F.A.A. engineers were concerned that they were no
longer able to effectively monitor what was happening inside
Boeing. In a PowerPoint presentation to agency managers in
2016, union representatives raised concerns about a 'brain
drain' and the 'inability to hire and retain qualified
personnel.' By 2018, the F.A.A. was letting the company
certify 96 percent of its own work, according to an agency
official. Nicole Potter, an F.A.A. propulsion and fuel systems
engineer who worked on the Max, said supervisors repeatedly
asked her to give up the right to approve safety documents.
She often had to fight to keep the work. 'Leadership was
targeting a high level of delegation,' Ms. Potter said. When
F.A.A. employees didn’t have time to approve a critical
document, she said, 'managers could delegate it back to
It was a process Mr. Bahrami championed to lawmakers. After
spending more than two decades at the F.A.A., he left the
agency in 2013 and took a job at the Aerospace Industries
Association, a trade group that represents Boeing and other
manufacturers. 'We urge the F.A.A. to allow maximum use of
delegation,' Mr. Bahrami told Congress in his new lobbying
role, arguing it would help American manufacturers compete.
In 2017, Mr. Bahrami returned to the F.A.A. as the head of
protests: Thousand arrests at Moscow rally (BBC News,
July 27, 2019)
Demonstrators were dragged away from the city hall as security
forces used batons against the crowd. People were protesting
against the exclusion of opposition candidates from local
polls. The opposition say they were barred for political
Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the U.S. (NASA, July
Scientists have developed a new way to measure water cycle
intensity over time. Regions with weakening water cycles and
low soil moisture (parts of the southeast, northwest,
and upper midwestern U.S.) should be carefully tracked over
the next few decades because they could become increasingly
dry. That would make agriculture more difficult or require
more irrigation. On the other hand, too much rain or soil
moisture storage, such as in the northeast U.S. or Texas,
could lead to increased flooding.
snuck up on us’: Scientists stunned by ‘city-killer’
asteroid that just missed Earth (Washington Post, July 26, 2019)
NASA confirmed that on July 25, Asteroid 2019 OK passed about
73,000 kilometers from Earth, roughly one-fifth the distance
to the Moon. What would we do if an near-Earth object (NEO)
were found to be on a collision course with Earth? Could we deflect
the asteroid to prevent the impact?
amoeba kills again - here’s how it kills and how to avoid it
(Ars Technica, July 26, 2019)
It kills more than 97% of its victims. Only four people in the
US have ever survived it.
McConnell is a Russian asset (Washington Post, July 26,
Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today.
Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to
raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate
majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves.
Let’s call this what it is: unpatriotic. The Kentucky
Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding.
is a strategy behind Trump's madness, and it's already much
later than you think (Daily KOS, July 26, 2019)
Court Lets Trump Proceed on Border Wall (New York Times,
July 26, 2019)
press malpractice (Daily KOS, July 25, 2019)
This was their do-over and their chance to make up for all
those 'Attorney General Barr Says That Trump is Innocent and
King' headlines. Here are the headlines that should have been
out there today:
'Mueller Says Russia is DOING IT AGAIN'
'Mueller Says Trump was Untruthful in Written Answers'
'Mueller Blasts Trump’s Gleeful Encouragement of Foreign
'Mueller States that Numerous Members of Trump Administration
Lied During Investigation, Obscuring Deeper Truths About the
Trump Campaign’s Role in Assisting or Cheering Russian
'Mueller States that Trump Can Be Indicted When He Leaves
'Mueller Says that DOJ Policy Prevented Indictment Against
'Republicans Devote Hearing to Debunked and Unsubstantiated
IRS turned over Nixon’s tax returns the same day a
congressional panel asked for them (Washington Post,
July 25, 2019)
The newly released documents appear to contradict the Trump
administration’s claims that House Democrats’ demands for the
president’s tax returns are 'unprecedented,' and suggest a
split between this administration and past IRS officials over
the interpretation of the law.
the Trump administration is thwarting House oversight (Washington Post, July 25, 2019)
Since taking control of the House after the 2018 midterms,
Democrats have sought to exert their oversight power over the
Trump administration by opening up dozens of investigations
and inquiries. The White House has pushed back, refusing to
provide information and challenging Congressional subpoenas in
court. Here’s where the most important oversight battles
stand, and which House committee chairs are making the
Omar: It Is Not Enough to Condemn Trump’s Racism
(New York Times, July 25, 2019)
The nation’s ideals are under attack, and it is up to all of
us to defend them.
The reasons for weaponizing division are not mysterious.
Racial fear prevents Americans from building community with
one another - and community is the lifeblood of a functioning
democratic society. Throughout our history, racist language
has been used to turn American against American in order to
benefit the wealthy elite. Every time Mr. Trump attacks
refugees is a time that could be spent discussing the
president’s unwillingness to raise the federal minimum wage
for up to 33 million Americans. Every racist attack on four
members of Congress is a moment he doesn’t have to address why
his choice for labor secretary has spent his career defending
Wall Street banks and Walmart at the expense of workers. When
he is launching attacks on the free press, he isn’t talking
about why his Environmental Protection Agency just refused to
ban a pesticide linked to brain damage in children.
His efforts to pit religious minorities against one another
stem from the same playbook. If working Americans are too busy
fighting with one another, we will never address the very real
and deep problems our country faces - from climate change to
soaring inequality to lack of quality affordable health care.
Ecstatic Homecoming for AOC (Jacobin, July 25, 2019)
At a recent town hall in Queens, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
received a rapturous reception from constituents, many of them
activists who spoke out about their local organizing work. The
lesson was clear: to keep up the fight, she and her
Congressional colleagues will need more than applause -
they’ll need a movement behind them.
Justice Department Resumes Use of Death Penalty, Schedules
Five Executions (Reuters, July 25, 2019)
U.S. public support for the death penalty has declined since
the 1990s, according to opinion polls, and all European Union
nations have abolished it. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio
Guterres believes the practice should not happen anywhere,
spokesman Farhan Haq said.
climate event of the last 2,000 years looks like this
humanity-caused one (Ars Technica, July 25, 2019)
Warm or cool periods you may have heard of were regional
Chris Hughes’s campaign to break up Facebook, the tech
‘monopoly’ he helped create (Washington Post, July 25,
Facebook’s wealth and power and massive user base have pushed
it into monopoly territory, and its acquisitions of rivals
have squashed competition. Co-founder Hughes, who left the
social media giant in 2007 and cashed out his nearly $500
million worth of stock, has been making the rounds in the
nation’s capital to press the case for breaking up the social
Commissioner Rohit Chopra's dissenting statement re
Facebook case (US Federal Trade Commission, July 24,
"The case against Facebook is about more than just privacy -
it is also about the power to control and manipulate. Global
regulators and policymakers need to confront the dangers
associated with mass surveillance and the resulting ability
to control and influence us. The behavioral advertising
business incentives of technology platforms spur practices
that are dividing our society. The harm from this conduct is
immeasurable, and regulators and policymakers must confront
We should reasonably assume Facebook seeks to advance its
own financial gains. Here, Facebook’s behavioral advertising
business model is both the company’s profit engine and
arguably the root cause of its widespread and systemic
problems. Behavioral advertising generates profits by
turning users into products, their activity into assets,
their communities into targets, and social media platforms
into weapons of mass manipulation. We need to recognize the
dangerous threat that this business model can pose to our
democracy and economy.
appointed Chopra because FTC rules prohibit more than
three members from any political party.)
Mount to Ease Big Tech’s Grip on Your Data (New York
Times, July 24, 2019)
"We all create valuable data points with every tap on a
screen or keystroke - clicks, searches, likes, posts,
purchases and more. We hand it over willingly for free
services. But the biggest economic windfall goes to the tech
giants like Google and Facebook. Their corporate wealth is
built on harvesting and commercializing the information
supplied by the online multitudes.
'Imagine if General Motors did not pay for its steel, rubber
or glass - its inputs,' said Robert J. Shapiro, an economist
who recently did an analysis of the value of data. 'That’s
what it’s like for the big internet companies. It’s a sweet
But there is a growing collection of people seeking ways to
alter that arrangement. As a disparate group of academics,
economists, technologists and lawmakers, their politics
range from moderately liberal to free-market conservative.
The rising calls for a better data bargain come during an
intensifying backlash against Big Tech and its handling of
user data. Lawmakers and regulators in several countries are
investigating the companies’ market power, their role as
gatekeepers of communication and their handling of data,
especially in failing to protect users’ privacy.
to pay massive $5.1B fines in settlement with FTC, SEC
(Housing Wire, July 24, 2019)
"Social media giant will cough up serious change for
Cambridge Analytica debacle.
(But that's NOT serious change for Facebook!)
Rosselló, Puerto Rico’s Governor, Resigns After Protests
(New York Times, July
Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico announced his
resignation on Wednesday night, conceding that he could no
longer credibly remain in power after an extraordinary popular
uprising and looming impeachment proceedings had derailed his
administration. In a statement posted online just before
midnight, Mr. Rosselló, 40, said he would step down on Aug. 2.
Europe, a historic heat wave is shattering records with
astonishing ease, may hasten Arctic melt (Washington
Post, July 24, 2019)
Climate studies have consistently shown that heat waves are
becoming more common, severe and longer-lasting as the global
average surface temperature warms. In other words, heat waves
are now hotter than they used to be, making it easier to set
A published earlier this year found a record-breaking summer
heat wave in Japan during 2018 'could not have happened
without human-induced global warming.' And a recent rapid
attribution analysis, which has not yet been published in a
peer-reviewed science journal, showed that the early summer
heat wave in Europe was made at least five times more likely
to occur in the current climate than if human-caused warming
had not occurred.
GOP’s questions to Mueller seemed bizarre - unless you watch
Fox News (Washington Post, July 24, 2019)
Treating right-wing conspiracy theories as smoking guns shows
that Republicans are mostly speaking to their base.
to Take Down Trump (New York Times, July 24, 2019)
Robert Mueller is just not good at drama. Think of him as
Robert 'I’d Refer You to the Report for That' Mueller. The
hearing was a miscalculation on the part of the Democrats, who
were a little frustrated that Mueller’s report, although
damning for Trump, did not have the kind of juicy language
that makes for memorable headlines. His big quote, after all,
was: 'If we had had confidence that the president clearly did
not commit a crime we would have said so.' But you don’t have
to be thrilling if you’re willing.
Mueller testifies (CNN, July
what you need to know about Mueller's day (CNN, July 24, 2019)
Right at the outset, Mueller clarified the most significant
exchange from earlier in the day. He did not intend to say
they did not indict the president because of the OLC guidance.
He clarified that he meant that because of the OLC guidance
there was no decision either way on whether to indict.
In clear and concise language, Mueller reminded the panel why
his investigation matters: 'We spent substantial time ensuring
the integrity of the report understanding that it would be our
living - a message to those who come after us. But it also is
a signal, a flag to those of us who have some responsibility
in this area to exercise those responsibilities swiftly and
don't let this problem continue to linger as it has over so
Mueller defended not subpoenaing the President because of the
prolonged process to fight over it. But asked if anyone tried
to stop it, Mueller made clear they could have subpoenaed if
they wanted to.
Mueller condemned the behavior of the President and his son.
On Trump’s WikiLeaks comments, Mueller said 'problematic is an
understatement.' An exchange between Donald Trump, Jr. and
WikiLeaks was 'disturbing and also subject to investigation.'
At another point, he refused to weigh in on the President’s
credibility. He also said he felt the president was not
truthful in his written answers.
Mueller sticks to the script in high-profile hearings
(CNN, July 24, 2019)
Deepfakes Gets Real (Fortune, July 24, 2019)
Like a zombie horde, they keep coming. First, there were the
pixelated likenesses of actresses Gal Gadot and Scarlett
Johansson brushstroked into dodgy user-generated adult films.
Then a disembodied digital Barack Obama and Donald Trump
appeared in clips they never agreed to, saying things the real
Obama and Trump never said. And in June, a
machine-learning-generated version of Facebook CEO Mark
Zuckerberg making scary comments about privacy went viral.
Welcome to the age of deepfakes, an emerging threat powered by
artificial intelligence that puts words in the mouths of
people in video or audio clips, conjures convincing headshots
from a sea of selfies, and even puts individuals in places
they’ve never been, interacting with people they’ve never met.
Data Won't Protect Your Identity (Scientific American,
July 23, 2019)
In the U.S., on average, if you have 15 characteristics
(including age, gender or marital status), that is enough to
reidentify Americans in any anonymized data set 99.98 percent
of the time. Although 15 pieces of demographic information may
sound like a lot, it represents a drop in the bucket in terms
of what is really out there: in 2017 a marketing analytics
company landed in hot water for accidentally publishing an
anonymized data set that contained 248 attributes for each of
123 million American households.
2 Unfurls, Next Step Toward Space Travel by Solar Sail
(New York Times, July 23, 2019)
The ability to sail across the cosmos, powered by the
energy of the sun, is finally becoming a
reality. Engineers in California pressed a button on Tuesday
that unfurled the sails on a satellite that can be steered
around Earth, advancing long held hopes for an inexhaustible
form of spaceflight and expanding the possibilities for
navigating the voids between worlds.
an Oil Theft Investigation Laid the Groundwork for the Koch
Playbook (Politico, July 22, 2019)
In the late 1980s, Charles Koch faced a federal probe, rallied
all of his resources to fight it off and came away with
lessons that would guide the Kochs for decades.
NASA TV special
coverage: 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 first steps on the
July 20, 2019 - 10:38PM EDT)
"Replay of original Moonwalk broadcast from July 20,
11: The final 13 minutes that took humans to the Moon
(BBC, July 20, 2019)
We Heading Toward Extinction? (Huffington Post,
July 20, 2019)
"The Earth’s species - plants, animals and humans, alike -
are facing imminent demise. How we got here, and how to
You will find yourself among the throngs of humanity who are
easily distracted and amused, playing with their toys as the
house burns, 'tranquilized by the trivial,' as Kierkegaard
said, and speaking of the future as though it was going to
go on as it has. After all, we made it this far. We have
proven our superiority at figuring things out and removing
obstacles to our desires. We killed off most of the large
wild mammals and most of the indigenous peoples in order to
take their lands. We bent nature to our will, paved over her
forests and grasslands, rerouted and dammed her rivers, dug
up what journalist Thom Hartmann calls her 'ancient
sunlight,' and burned that dead creature goo into the
atmosphere so that our vehicles could motor us around on
land, sea, and air and our weapons could keep our enemies in
check. And now we have given her atmosphere a high fever.
But, as the old adage has it, (a phrase I first heard in the
1980s, which has informed me ever since), 'Nature bats
area of the United States broils on what could be the
hottest weekend in U.S. history (Daily KOS, July 20,
Across America Could Create Catastrophic Acid Clouds. It
Almost Happened In Philly. (Huffington Post, July 20,
Last month’s explosion at a 150-year-old oil refinery in
Philadelphia could have forced 1.1 million people to evacuate.
onslaught of pills, hundreds of thousands of deaths: Who is
accountable? (Washington Post, July 20, 2019)
The origin, evolution and astonishing scale of America’s
catastrophic opioid epidemic just got a lot clearer. The drug
industry - the pill manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers -
found it profitable to flood some of the most vulnerable
communities in America with billions of painkillers. They
continued to move their product, and the medical community and
government agencies failed to take effective action, even when
it became apparent that these pills were fueling addiction and
overdoses and were getting diverted to the streets.
This has been broadly known for years, but this past week, the
more precise details became public for the first time in a
trove of data released after a legal challenge.
British tanker in Strait of Hormuz (BBC, July 20, 2019)
Voting pitched as inclusive election reform (Boston
Metrowest Daily News, July 20, 2019)
Ranked choice voting would allow voters to rank multiple
candidates in order of preference. If no candidate gets a
majority of the vote when the election is tallied, an instant
'We’re all here in this shared effort to ensure that every
voter in Massachusetts has a greater voice when they go to the
At minimum, we as a Legislature, should provide an easy path
forward for our towns and cities to say, ‘Yes, we want ranked
choice voting for our community.'
Great Hack: the film that goes behind the scenes of the
Facebook data scandal (The Guardian, July 20, 2019)
This week, a Netflix documentary on Cambridge Analytica sheds
light on one of the most complex scandals of our time. Carole
Cadwalladr, who broke the story and appears in the film, looks
at the fallout – and finds 'surveillance capitalism' out of
Carroll’s doomed attempt to lift the veil from the
data-industrial complex that underpinned Cambridge Analytica
is the dark heart of the film. Because although he proved that
the firm had illegally processed his data, ultimately his
attempt to retrieve that data was thwarted by Cambridge
Analytica’s decision to liquidate.
Carroll’s experience is just one of the many unknowns that
still surround this story. We still know very little about
what the company actually did with the data. Who was targeted?
With what ads? In what locations? Carroll knows nothing about
the nature of the 5,000 data points the firm claimed, in its
own marketing, to have on 230 million American voters,
including himself. We still have no clear picture what
Cambridge Analytica did for Trump. Or what it did in any of
the dozens of elections worldwide it claimed to have worked on
– what Carroll calls 'subversion on an industrial scale'. All
we know is that both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have
gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent the facts coming out.
The data swamp remains dark, toxic and invisible. But what the
film tries to do through creative and unusual graphics is to
make the invisible visible: pixels representing data bytes
float off Carroll as he rides the subway – the informational
exhaust fumes we give off, hundreds of thousands of data
points every day, which are hoovered up and monetised by the
tech monopoly giants in ways we can’t see or understand.
Is Stuck In A Racist Catch-22: Saturday's Good News (Daily KOS, July 20, 2019)
always doubles down’: Inside the political crisis caused by
Trump’s racist tweets (Washington Post, July 20, 2019)
Trump ordered an all-hands White House effort to keep the GOP
caucus together. White House aides told allies on the Hill
that it was okay to criticize Trump, as long as they didn’t
vote with Democrats. Trump was obsessed with the vote tally
and received regular briefings. Aides fed him a constant
stream of lawmaker reactions and put him on the phone himself
with several lawmakers. He told his team to tell any wafflers
that he loves America and that they needed to pick sides.
do ‘Lock her up’ and ‘Send her back’ have in common? It’s
pretty obvious. (Washington Post, July 20, 2019)
In the Trump vernacular, any woman could become one who should
be locked up or sent back. Trump
asserts no one should criticize the U.S. as he resumes
attacks on four legislators. ‘Send
her back!’: Trump, Ilhan Omar and the complicated history of
back to Africa.
vows congresswomen ‘can’t get away with’ criticizing U.S.
(Washington Post, July 19, 2019)
President Trump broadly declared Friday that no one should
criticize the United States while he is president, part of a
renewed attack on four minority congresswomen whom he has
targeted as un-American. Trump also praised his supporters who
chanted at a rally, 'Send her back!,' a refrain directed at
one of the lawmakers, Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
The president called the campaign crowd 'incredible patriots'
- a day after saying he disagreed with the chant.
Speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, he claimed that the
congresswomen have talked about 'evil Jews,' which they
haven’t, and inaccurately said Ocasio-Cortez had called
America 'garbage,' when she was actually talking about not
settling for incremental policies that were '10 percent better
Trump’s shift Friday was reminiscent of how he responded to
the deadly clash between white nationalists and protesters in
Charlottesville in August 2017. He initially denounced the
bigotry and hatred, then issued a stronger statement calling
the racism practiced by hate groups 'evil,' but the next day
he spoke of 'very fine people on both sides.'
lesson of Ivanka Trump’s latest reported intervention with
her father (Washington Post, July 19, 2019)
President Trump issued the subtlest of rebukes Thursday to his
supporters who chanted 'send her back' about Somali American
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). He said he disagreed with the chant
and that he tried to stop it. (He didn’t.)
And who reportedly advocated for that course-correction? You
guessed it: his daughter, Ivanka Trump. Thursday was merely
the latest time the president’s daughter has been reported to
have intervened to guard against her father’s worst impulses.
Trump has already downplayed the severity of the 'send her
back' chants, and if he had to be persuaded to say he
disagreed with them, that shows you what he really thinks.
That’s really the lesson of Ivanka Trump’s repeated, reported
head says 'fewer than 1,000' kids recently separated, like
it's something to be proud of (Daily KOS, July 19, 2019)
Win on Health Plans Advances Effort to Undo Obamacare
(Bloomberg, July 19, 2019)
Judge rejects challenge to short-term plans that flout the
ACA. Trouble for Republicans is also possible in wake of 2018
States of Consciousness: The Neuropsychology of How Time
Perception Modulates Our Experience of Self, from Depression
to Boredom to Creative Flow (Brain Pickings, July 19,
The brain does not simply represent the world in a disembodied
way as an intellectual construct… Our mind is body-bound. We
think, feel, and act with our body in the world. All
experience is embedded in this body-related
NEW: Car parts
from weeds: The future of green motoring? (BBC, July 19,
The carbon footprint of making a new car varies greatly
depending on the model, but it is usually big. Some have
calculated that as much carbon is emitted to manufacture a car
as is emitted by driving it across its lifetime.
That's why Selena, a research group in Poland, is turning to
plants that are not used in the human food chain as a
potential source of eco-friendly plastics. It's called the
Biomotive project and it has been awarded €15m (£13.5m) from
Decline of Plants and Animals as Global 'Red List' Reveals
Nearly One-Third of Assessed Species Under Threat
(Common Dreams, July 18, 2019)
"We must act now both on biodiversity loss and climate
Won’t Ban Chlorpyrifos, Pesticide Tied to Children’s Health
Problems (New York Times, July 18, 2019)
The Trump administration took a major step to weaken the
regulation of toxic chemicals on Thursday when the
Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would not
ban a widely used pesticide that its own experts have linked
to serious health problems in children. The decision by Andrew
R. Wheeler, the E.P.A. administrator, represents a victory for
the chemical industry and for farmers who have lobbied to
continue using the substance, chlorpyrifos, arguing it is
necessary to protect crops.
It was the administration’s second major move this year to
roll back or eliminate chemical safety rules. In April, the
agency disregarded the advice of its own experts when
officials issued a rule that restricted but did not ban
asbestos, a known carcinogen. Agency scientists and lawyers
had urged the E.P.A. to ban asbestos outright, as do most
other industrialized nations.