MONEY IS NOT WEALTH
by A. Richard
Begun September 29,
2008; last updated October 22, 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.
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
Democracyngeles 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
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)
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
Mitch McConnell: (Washington
Post, October 18, 2019)
Trump’s prized Doral resort is in steep decline,
according to company documents, showing his business problems
are mounting. (Washington Post, October 18, 2019)
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
pays for allegiance to Trump, plummets further in approval
ratings than any other senator (Daily KOS, July 18,
weather is dangerous and can kill:' City officials urge
residents to prepare for grueling heat wave
(Accuweather, July 18, 2019)
Co-Founder Has Cashed Out at Least $700 Million Via Sales,
Loans (Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2019)
Adam Neumann has sold some of his WeWork stake and borrowed
against some of his holdings, investing the proceeds in real
estate and startups
found your data. It’s for sale. (Washington Post, July
Computers using Chrome and Firefox extensions to collect your
browser data are putting your privacy at risk. As many as 4
million people have Web browser extensions that sell their
every click. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In total,
Jadali’s research identified six suspect Chrome and Firefox
extensions with more than a few users: Hover Zoom, SpeakIt!,
SuperZoom, SaveFrom.net Helper, FairShare Unlock and
(Note that these are independent extensions. Firefix
is not a problem; Chrome
will give away software to guard U.S. voting machines
(NBC News, July 17, 2019)
The tech giant said it had tracked 781 cyberattacks by foreign
adversaries targeting political organizations so far this
The company said it was rolling out the free, open-source
software product called ElectionGuard, which it said uses
encryption to 'enable a new era of secure, verifiable voting.'
The company is working with election machine vendors and local
governments to deploy the system in a pilot program for the
Google and Apple clouds banned in Hesse/Germany’s schools
(Sophos, July 17, 2019)
The problem is twofold, it explained. Firstly, it isn’t happy
with Microsoft storing personal data (especially children’s
data) in a European cloud that could be accessed by US
authorities, adding, 'The digital sovereignty of state data
processing must be guaranteed.'
Its other issue is with Microsoft’s data slurping. It warned:
'With the use of the Windows 10 operating system, a wealth of
telemetry data is transmitted to Microsoft, whose content has
not been finally clarified despite repeated inquiries to
Microsoft. Such data is also transmitted when using Office
365.' HBDI is taking its lead from the Federal Office for
Information Security, which posted a technical
analysis of Windows 10 telemetry in November 2018
(chapters 1.2 onwards are in English).
You can’t solve this problem by asking users for consent, the
HBDI added. If you can’t be certain what data Microsoft
collects or how the company will use it, then you can’t give
Although the majority of the report focused on Microsoft
Office 365, HBDI explicitly called out other cloud service
providers, so schools can’t use Google Docs or Apple’s iWork
either: 'What is true for Microsoft is also true for the
Google and Apple cloud solutions. The cloud solutions of these
providers have so far not been transparent and comprehensible
set out. Therefore, it is also true that for schools,
privacy-compliant use is currently not possible.'
crosses “red line,” gets booted from F-35 partnership
(Ars Technica, July
"Erdoğan's welcome of Russian missiles puts nail in coffin
of F-35 buy.
shows close Donald Trump relationship with Jeffrey
Epstein. (Rachel Maddow, July 17, 2019)
Rachel Maddow reviews the well-documented evidence of Donald
Trump's close relationship with sex criminal Jeffrey
Epstein, evidence that may be freaking Trump out a little as
the new case against Epstein builds momentum.
200th birthday to Eunice Foote, hidden climate science
pioneer. (NOAA, July 17, 2019)
American Eunice Foote was an amateur scientist from the
mid-1800s whose experiments foreshadowed the discovery of
Earth's greenhouse effect. Her experiments comparing the
temperature within cylinders filled with different gases
revealed the ability of water vapor and carbonic acid gas
(carbon dioxide) to raise temperature. The studies inspired
her to hypothesize that Earth would have been much warmer in
the past if its carbon dioxide levels were higher.
floats fully self-driving cars as soon as this year. Many
are worried about what that will unleash. (Washington
Post, July 17, 2019)
The electric-car maker said it will do that without light
detection and ranging, or lidar, complex sensors that use
laser lights to map the environment - technology most
autonomous vehicle makers consider necessary. Even with lidar,
many of those manufacturers have adopted a slow and deliberate
approach to self-driving vehicles, with limited testing on
Tesla shows little sign of such caution, officials said. And
because autonomous vehicles are largely self-regulated -
guided by industry standards but with no clearly enforceable
rules - no one can stop the automaker from moving ahead.
Musk Announces Plan to 'Merge' Human Brains With AI
(Vice, July 17, 2019)
Neuralink wants to start by treating brain injuries, and
eventually 'achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence'.
newest startup is venturing into a series of hard problems
(Ars Technica, July 16, 2019)
Elon Musk will describe his plans for Neuralink, a
brain-computer interface company.
billion opioid pills: Newly released federal data unmasks
the epidemic (Washington Post, July 16, 2019)
America’s largest drug companies saturated the country with 76
billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills from 2006 through
2012 as the nation’s deadliest drug epidemic spun out of
control, according to previously undisclosed company data
released as part of the largest civil action in U.S. history.
The information comes from a database maintained by the Drug
Enforcement Administration that tracks the path of every
single pain pill sold in the United States - from
manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and
city. The data provides an unprecedented look at the surge of
legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic,
which has resulted in nearly 100,000 deaths from 2006 through
troll Anglin's celebratory mood crushed by $14 million
judgment against him (Daily KOS, July 16, 2019)
Prime Day could usher in a new wave of fear-based social
media usage. (Vox, July 16, 2019)
Ring and its attendant app Neighbors let people in a given
community report crimes and share footage of those crimes —
often people stealing Amazon packages — that they collect via
their Amazon Ring video cameras. In practice, that means a lot
of reports of “suspicious” brown people on porches and a
general perception that the world is a scarier place than it
People of color are still disproportionally featured in Ring
videos of “crimes,” and racist language describing alleged
criminals is commonplace, especially in the comments on the
Neighbors app. Ring and Neighbors users are also encouraged to
share the videos with law enforcement, a practice that can
exacerbate dangerous interactions with police among people of
As Steven Renderos, senior campaigns director at the Center
for Media Justice, previously told me, “These apps are not the
definitive guides to crime in a neighborhood — it is merely a
reflection of people’s own bias, which criminalizes people of
color, the unhoused, and other marginalized communities.”
It’s also bad for the mental health of the people who own the
devices. Since these apps focus on crime nearby, it can feel
like there’s more imminent danger than there really is.
Indeed, Americans perceive crime to be going up even as
national statistics from the FBI and the Bureau of Justice
Statistics show crime rates are declining.
Amazon’s Ring was a Prime Day bestseller. Get ready for more
neighborhood surveillance and fear-based social media.
A Feisty Google Adversary, Tests How Much People Care About
Privacy (New York Times, July 15, 2019)
House projects $1 trillion deficit for 2019 (The Hill,
July 15, 2019)
The White House projects that the federal deficit will surpass
$1 trillion this year, the only time in the nation's history
the deficit has exceeded that level excluding the 5-year
period following the Great Recession. As a candidate,
President Trump had promised to not only wipe out the deficit,
but the entire federal debt, which has surpassed $22 trillion.
say Border Patrol asked migrant toddler to pick which parent
got to stay with her in US (The Hill, July 15, 2019)
own fiefdom’: Mulvaney builds ‘an empire for the right wing’
as Trump’s chief of staff (Washington Post, July 15, 2019)
He has helped install more than a dozen ideologically aligned
advisers in the West Wing since his December hiring. Cabinet
members are pressed weekly on what regulations they can strip
from the books and have been told their performance will be
judged on how many they remove. Policy and spending decisions
are now made by the White House and dictated to Cabinet
agencies, instead of vice versa.
Graham’s and the GOP’s initial responses to Trump’s ‘go
back’ tweets are a mess (Washington Post, July 15, 2019)
They’re all over the place, and they’re often nonsensical.
Trump's Racist Tweets (Public Citizen, July 15, 2019)
Pelosi Versus the Squad Really Means (New York Times,
July 15, 2019)
The progressive-liberal civil war isn’t just a conflict of
what’s too far left.
Liberalism loves sympathy, suspects rage and detests cruelty.
Politics is inevitably a dialogue between partial truths.
Compromise is a virtue, not a sign of cowardice. Moreover,
means determine ends.
Many of today’s young leaders, and their older allies, don’t
want to work within the established liberal system. They want
to blow it up. They embrace essentialism, which is the
antithesis of liberalism. Essentialism is the belief that
people are defined by a single identity that never changes.
So which side will prevail? Over the short term, I’d put my
money on the anti-liberals.
Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: Here's how to choose a president
(The Hill, July 14, 2019)
Tweets Prove That He Is a Raging Racist, by Charles M.
Blow (New York Times,
July 14, 2019)
It is undeniably true that America’s president opposes
The central framing of this kind of thinking is that this is a
white country, founded and built by white men, and destined to
be maintained as a white country. For anyone to be accepted as
truly American they must assimilate and acquiesce to that
narrative, to bow to that heritage and bend to those customs.
It sees a country from which black and brown people come as
deficient - 'a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most
corrupt and inept anywhere in the world' - because, at its
base, it sees black and brown people as deficient.
It is a form of white identitarianism, which opposes
multiculturalism, but refuses to deem that opposition racist.
And so, it chafes when these black and brown women from
exotic-sounding places with exotic-sounding names would dare
to challenge the white patriarchy in this country. Why do they
not know their place? Why do they not genuflect to the gentry?
Why do they not recognize - and honor - the white man’s
Start here: because the entire white supremacist ideology and
ethos is a lie. America expanded much of its territory through
the shedding of blood and breaking of treaties with Native
Americans. It established much of its wealth through 250 years
of exploiting black bodies for free labor. And, for the entire
history of this country, some degree of anti-blackness has
existed. Now, there is an intensifying anti-Muslim and
America was born with a congenital illness and it has been in
need of active rehabilitation ever since, although it has
often rejected the curative treatments and regressed.
Challenging America to own its sins and live up to its ideals
isn’t a vicious attack, it’s an act of patriotism. As James
Baldwin once put it, 'I love America more than any other
country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist
on the right to criticize her perpetually.'
And, who better to lead the charge than four women who
represent the future face of America?
White people and whiteness are the center of the Trump
presidency. His primary concern is to defend, protect and
promote it. All that threatens it must be attacked and
assaulted. Trump is bringing the force of the American
presidency to the rescue of white supremacy. And,
self-identified Republicans absolutely love him for it. We are
watching a very dark chapter in this nation’s history unfold
in real time. We are watching as a president returns naked
racism to the White House. And we are watching as fellow
citizens - possibly a third of them - reveal to us their open
animus for us through their continued support of him.
Fans the Flames of a Racial Fire (New York Times, July
His Twitter harangue goading Democratic congresswomen of color
to 'go back' to the country they came from, even though most
of them were actually born in the United States, shocked many.
But it should have surprised few who have watched the way he
has governed a multicultural, multiracial country the last two
and a half years. When it comes to race, Mr. Trump plays with
fire like no other president in a century.
Attacks Democratic Congresswomen With White Nationalist
Rhetoric (New York Magazine, July 14, 2019)
President Trump launched a white nationalist–themed attack on
Sunday against four Democratic congresswomen of color who have
been outspoken critics of his administration’s war on
immigrants and attention-earning proponents of more
progressive government policies. The attack deployed one of
the most obnoxious clichés of racist and xenophobic hate
speech: telling an immigrant or descendent of immigrants to
'go back to your country.'
Soccer: Where Men Are Men, and Women Are Repeat World Cup
Champions (New York Times, July 13, 2019)
They are unequaled in play and unequal in pay.
Southwest Key leader who ran migrant child shelters for U.S.
government earned $3.6 million in 2017 (Washington Post, July 13, 2019)
Trump is right about bitcoin (Market Watch, July 13,
Cryptocurrencies are a pure gamble with no discernible
for Trump (New York Times, July 13, 2019)
They sold their principles a long time ago.
works out actually better’: When Trump loses, he’s quick to
tout Plan B as the real victory (Washington Post, July 13, 2019)
"After fighting for months in court to try to get a
citizenship question on the 2020 Census - and briefly
overruling his own Justice Department’s legal surrender -
Trump abandoned the effort in a manner that had a familiar
plot twist: A surprise backup plan that, in Trump’s view, is
actually better than the original plan.
Politically, for his base, he has already won. The thing
Trump’s base talks about more than anything is how he
'fights.' So as long as he shows that he’s fighting, his
base is happy. It’s a rare example of the process being more
important than the outcome.
protests, hotel chains say they won't let ICE use their
rooms for temporary detention (Daily KOS, July 12,
unlikely to charge Trump Org executives, sources say
(CNN, July 12, 2019)
far-right Twitter summit: the most bizarre highlights
(The Guardian, July 12, 2019)
Here are some of the ‘highlights’ from the gathering of
far-right propagandists, conspiracy theorists and YouTube
is the No. 1 most obese state in America (Market Watch,
July 12, 2019)
The sad individual and societal costs of the obesity epidemic.
Contamination Crisis Grows as House Passes Critical Cleanup
Bill (Environmental Working Group, July 12, 2019)
This week EWG released an updated map and analysis that shows
the extent of American communities’ confirmed contamination
with the highly toxic fluorinated compounds known as PFAS. The
latest update adds 53 Air Force bases, five Air National Guard
bases and 44 civilian airports that are also used by Air
National Guard units. 'Despite knowing the risks posed by PFAS
in firefighting foam, the Pentagon continued to put military
families at risk for decades,' said Melanie Benesh, EWG’s
legislative attorney. 'Now, when it’s time to clean up its
PFAS pollution, the military is dragging its feet. It’s
of air pollution particles found in hearts of city dwellers
(The Guardian, July 12, 2019)
Study shows associated damage to critical pumping muscles,
even in children.
Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life (Vice, July
It's super painful to be a human being right now at this point
God it’s Thursday: the four-day workweek some want to bring
to the U.S. (Washington Post, July 11, 2019)
Some economists have speculated that American attitudes about
work may make it particularly inhospitable for a four-day
still don't know how to fight the 'big lie,' and that's what
makes it truly the biggest threat (Daily KOS, July 11,
On Thursday, Donald Trump is proclaiming the victory of social
media over traditional media, and using that opportunity not
just to continue his assault on the press, but to launch a
whole new attack on the basic nature of democracy and the
judiciary branch of the government. Trump charging into the
Rose Garden to declare that his name on a placard means the
Supreme Court can pack up its robes may seem worthy of
stop-the-presses, all-hands-on-deck, full-on emergency
coverage. Because it is. But so is Trump bellowing an entire
series of lies to justify a new generation of nuclear
brinkmanship in the Middle East. So is Trump issuing a series
of misogynistic and racist statements about a presidential
candidate. So is Trump declaring his support for hate speech,
violent rhetoric, and autocratic white nationalism. And all of
that came in just a few hours of what has come to be an
It’s a moment that can’t pass without us referencing this
description of Hitler's psychological profile as developed by
the United States Office of Strategic Services during the
Hayabusa2 Spacecraft Lands on Asteroid It Blasted a Hole In
York Times, July 11, 2019)
The robotic probe attempted to collect a sample scattered from
a crater made on the surface of the space rock Ryugu in April.
Putting Patent Traps Inside Linux While Blackmailing
Companies Using Patents Associated With These Traps
(TechRights, July 11, 2019)
In an effort to make exFAT (a patent trap) the ‘industry
standard’, even inside Linux, Microsoft now wants exFAT inside
the very heart of Linux and people are pushing back.
gives away false document but it’s blamed on time travel
(Office Watch, July 10, 2019)
Department Analyst Resigns After White House Blocked Climate
Change Testimony (Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
Rod Schoonover was prohibited from including evidence and data
supporting his assessments in testimony to House committee.
the Money That Undermines Climate Science (New York
Times, July 10, 2019)
Omar Responds to Tucker Carlson's Xenophobic Tirade: 'Kinda
Fun Watching a Racist Fool Like This Weeping About My
Presence in Congress' (Common Dreams, July 10, 2019)
Could Have Been Any of Us’: Disdain for Trump Runs Among
Ambassadors (New York Times, July 10, 2019)
‘special relationship’ is in tatters after British
ambassador, under fire, resigns (Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
President Trump saw an opportunity to embarrass the British
government, already divided by Brexit, and used it to drive a
wedge into another country.
migrant kids describe sexual assault, verbal abuse,
retaliation by border agents (Daily KOS, July 10, 2019)
Trump’s July 4 event and related protests have bankrupted
D.C. security fund (Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
The celebration cost the District $1.7 million, an amount that
- combined with police expenses for related protests - has
depleted a city fund used to protect the nation’s capital from
terrorist threats and secure rallies and state funerals. In a
letter to the president Tuesday, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser
(D) warned that the fund has now been depleted and is
estimated to be running a $6 million deficit by Sept. 30. The
mayor also noted that the account was never reimbursed for
$7.3 million in expenses from Trump’s 2017 inauguration.
disrespectful’: Four House women struggle as Pelosi isolates
Post, July 10, 2019)
Sure Looks Like Jeffrey Epstein Was a Spy - But Whose?
(Observer, July 10, 2019)
earthquakes in southern California were centered near a
naval station contaminated with 'forever chemicals'
(SFGate, July 9, 2019)
A report from Northeastern University and the nonprofit
Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that the water source
at the China Lake station contained PFAS levels of 8 million
parts per trillion - more than 114,000 times the EPA
Thoreau’s 19th-Century Observations Are Helping Shape
Science Today (Atlas Obscura, July 9, 2019)
For one thing, they tell us that plants aren’t blooming when
they used to at Walden Pond - or most anywhere else.
Wozniak thinks that you should quit Facebook (Cult Of
Mac, July 9, 2019)
Just Quietly Opened Three New Detention Centers, Flouting
Congress’ Limits (Mother Jones, July 9, 2019)
The facilities are all run by private prison companies, and
one experienced a violent riot.
dossier author Steele gets 16-hour DOJ grilling
(Politico, July 9, 2019)
The interview was contentious at first, according to two
people familiar with the matter, but investigators ultimately
found his testimony credible and even surprising.
Epstein Was a ‘Terrific Guy,’ Donald Trump Once Said. Now
He’s ‘Not a Fan.’ (New York Times, July 9, 2019)
It was supposed to be an exclusive party at Mar-a-Lago, Donald
J. Trump’s members-only club in Palm Beach, Fla. But other
than the two dozen or so women flown in to provide the
entertainment, the only guests were Mr. Trump and Jeffrey
remember that 2018 BBC documentary alleging Trump preyed on
underage models? (Daily KOS, July 8, 2019)
Epstein Is the Ultimate Symbol of Plutocratic Rot (New
York Times, July 8, 2019)
Powerful elites enabled the financier accused of trafficking
underage girls. Epstein was arrested after getting off a
private flight from Paris. He has been accused of exploiting
and abusing “dozens” of minor girls, some as young as 14, and
conspiring with others to traffic them. Epstein’s arrest was
the rare event that gratified right and left alike, both
because it seemed that justice might finally be done, and
because each side has reason to believe that if Epstein goes
down, he could bring some of its enemies with him.
Democrats subpoena Trump’s financial, business records
(Washington Post, July 8, 2019)
Congressional Democrats began issuing dozens of subpoenas
Monday for financial records and other documents from
President Trump’s private entities as part of an ongoing
lawsuit alleging that his businesses violate the
Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign
governments. 'We are seeking a targeted set of documents to
obtain the information that we need to ensure that the
President can no longer shirk his constitutional
responsibility,' Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a
The Constitution’s emoluments provision - barring payments or
gifts from foreign governments without prior approval from
Congress - was designed to prevent undue influence over the
nation’s leaders. Attorneys for the lawmakers say Trump is
violating the ban when his businesses accept payments and
other benefits from foreign governments. Democrats are seeking
information related to not only the president’s hotels but
office buildings, trademarks and the trust in which Trump is
storing his business interests while in office. Three
properties - the two hotels and Mar-a-Lago - have hosted
foreign governments or large foreign delegations since Trump
entered office. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has booked blocks
of rooms at both hotels, and the D.C. hotel has hosted the
governments of Kuwait, Bahrain and Malaysia, among others.
The demands for detailed information about the president’s
closely held finances came on the same day the Trump
administration asked an appeals court in Washington to halt
the lawsuit and block the subpoenas, saying the case is based
on 'novel and flawed constitutional premises.'
massive new plants, Formosa wants OK to double amount of
chemicals released into St. James Parish air (The
Advocate/Baton Rouge LA, July 8, 2019)
sinkhole that saved the Internet (TechCrunch, July 8,
Keeping the 'kill switch' alive is the only thing preventing
another WannaCry outbreak.
ICE find state driver’s license photos are a gold mine for
facial-recognition searches (Washington Post, July 7,
A cache of records shared with The Washington Post reveals
that agents are scanning millions of Americans’ faces without
their knowledge or consent.
quality forum in Harvard, Mass.: Many PFAS questions, few
answers (The Harvard Press, July 6, 2019)
At a June 19 water quality forum held in Town Hall, the only
thing that was clear was that Harvard’s PFAS story is still
being written. Massachusetts Department of Environmental
Protection (MassDEP) officials revealed new test results on
three public water supplies in Harvard that showed PFAS levels
in the Ayer Road Properties water are significantly higher
than those from previous tests, and two new PFAS compounds
and Barr are crossing another line (Washington Post,
July 5, 2019)
From his very first day in office, President Trump has had a
strange and, at times, strained relationship with the U.S.
intelligence community. The president and his political aides
have often challenged the honesty and integrity of the
community, damaging morale, undercutting its mission and
making the already difficult challenge of uncovering threats
to our nation even harder.
But, by putting the CIA’s analytic judgment (that one of
Russia’s objectives in interfering in the 2016 election was to
help then-candidate Trump) into the crosshairs of the Justice
Department, as reported by several news organizations, the
president and Attorney General William P. Barr are crossing
another line. A Justice-led review of the quality of
intelligence analysis represents yet another weakening of the
intelligence community as an institution. The country could be
paying for these kinds of decisions for years to come.
Is Still Looking For ‘New’ Reason To Add Citizenship
Question To Census (Talking Points Memo, July 5, 2019)
BUT... "Judge Hazel ordered discovery to begin in a letter
issued less than two hours after the DOJ asked for it to be
delayed. 'Plaintiffs’ remaining claims are based on the
premise that the genesis of the citizenship question was
steeped in discriminatory motive,' Hazel wrote. 'Regardless of
the justification Defendants may now find for a 'new'
decision, discovery related to the origins of the question
will remain relevant.' Hazel has been trying to keep the new
round of discovery on a tight 45-day schedule and has
expressed dismay with a confusing series of statements by DOJ
lawyers and President Trump this week.
Per an earlier injunction, census forms will continue to be
printed without the question, the government assured U.S.
District Judge George Hazel in the Friday filing.
Trump’s "Inoffensive" War on Reality (New Yorker, July
Donald Trump’s Fourth of July address was most remarkable for
the things it did not contain. Immediately afterward,
commentators noted that Trump didn’t use the opportunity to
attack the Democratic Party, to issue explicit campaign
slogans, or, it would appear, make any impromptu additions
(with the possible exception of the claim that American troops
commandeered enemy airports during the Revolutionary War).
Campaign slogans and glaring Trumpisms were not the only
things absent from the speech. Immigrants were missing. Trump
has retired the myth of America as a nation of immigrants
because he staked his election campaign and his legitimacy as
president on the demonization of immigrants - and on
mobilizing Americans for a war against immigrants.
Two days before the July 4th celebration, the Department of
Homeland Security’s Inspector General issued an urgent report
on the conditions in migrant detention facilities in the Rio
Grande Valley. Photographs in the report showed children and
adults in crowded cages. Other pictures showed people in
extremely crowded holding rooms raising up signs in windows,
apparently attempting to attract the attention of government
inspectors. The document reported 'serious overcrowding' and
prolonged detention that violated federal guidelines. Children
had no access to showers and hadn’t been provided with hot
meals. At one facility, the report said, adults were held in
standing-room-only conditions. The report left no doubt that
'concentration camps' was an accurate term for the facilities
it described. On the eve of Independence Day, the media
reported the story, which looked obscene among other stories.
How could we read, write, or talk about anything else?
The President responded in a series of tweets in which he
blamed the Democrats and the immigrants themselves. 'If
Illegal Immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the
quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them
not to come. All problems solved!,' he tweeted. Most of
Trump’s tweeting day, though, was spent on other issues:
railing against the Supreme Court’s decision not to allow a
citizenship question on the census, for example, and hyping
expectations for his Fourth of July extravaganza. In the
Trumpian universe, immigrants pose a superhuman threat but are
themselves of subhuman significance. Through his tweets, his
attacks on the media, and his lying, Trump has been waging a
battle to define reality to the exclusion of documented facts.
In Trump’s reality, it’s not just that the Administration
refuses to be held accountable for running concentration camps
- it’s that the camps, and the suffering in them, do not
Following his speech, Trump kept retweeting images of his own
limo leaving the White House, of fighter jets flying, of the
red stage and a strange cross-like formation of red elevated
platforms, and of himself speaking. In these pictures, Trump
is the supreme ruler of the mightiest military empire in the
history of the world and his people are with him in the public
square. Nothing else exists.
A common maxim of the Trump era has it that two Americas
exist, each with its own media and consequently limited view
of the world. In fact, though, in one America there is only
Trump, his tanks and planes and ships. In the America that a
majority of us inhabit, however, there are concentration camps
- and Trump with his flyovers.
In less than three years, as our senses were dulled by the
crudeness of the tweets, the speed of the news cycle, the
blatant quality of the lies, and the brutality of official
rhetoric, Trump has reframed America, stripping it of its
ideals, dumbing it down, and reducing it to a nation at war
against people who want to join it.
Alaska, Shatters All-Time Heat Record, And It Could Get
Hotter Still (Huffington Post, July 5, 2019)
Temperatures spiked to 90 degrees for the first time in the
earthquake in years rattles Southern California (Los
Angeles Times, July 5, 2019)
The largest earthquake in two decades rattled Southern
California on Thursday morning, shaking communities from Las
Vegas to Long Beach and ending a quiet period in the state’s
seismic history. Striking at 10:33 a.m., the magnitude 6.4
temblor was centered about 125 miles northeast of Los Angeles
in the remote Searles Valley area near where Inyo, San
Bernardino and Kern counties meet. It was felt as far away as
Ensenada and Mexicali in Mexico, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Reno and
Chico, Calif. A 5.4 magnitude aftershock awoke many Friday
submarine hit by deadly fire is nuclear-powered, Putin
confirms (CBS News, July 4, 2019)
National Trust plans to dump fossil fuel shares (BBC
News, July 4, 2019)
The National Trust is Europe's largest conservation charity.
That same goal was also adopted by the Church of England in
2015. A year ago, the Church's General Synod voted to withdraw
investment from companies that do not meet the terms of the
Paris climate agreement by 2023. And last month, the Norwegian
parliament approved plans for the country's sovereign wealth
fund, which manages $1tn (£786bn) of the country's assets, to
sell coal and oil investments worth $13bn and invest in
renewable energy projects instead.
Amash: Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s
why I’m leaving the GOP. (Washington Post, July 4, 2019)
Rep. Justin Amash, the only Republican in Congress to have
accused President Trump of impeachable acts, said Thursday
that he is leaving the GOP and becoming an independent,
bemoaning that 'modern politics is trapped in a partisan death
spiral, but there is an escape.' In an op-ed in The Washington
Post, the Michigan congressman described himself as a lifelong
Republican who has grown disenchanted with party politics and
frightened by a two-party system that has 'evolved into an
existential threat to American principles and institutions.'
Citing the warnings in George Washington’s farewell address,
Amash said Americans 'have allowed government officials, under
assertions of expediency and party unity, to ignore the most
basic tenets of our constitutional order: separation of
powers, federalism and the rule of law.'
(One Republican knew how to celebrate Independence Day! Read
his - and George Washington's - warning. Also see May
a citizenship question could cause the census to miss
millions of Hispanics (Washington Post, July 4, 2019)
And why that’s a big deal. The data that forms the census are
the foundation for the relative functioning of the U.S.
economy and government at all levels. Census and its derived
data provides the most accurate and reliable demographic,
housing and economic data.
The data is a tool for local governments in decisions
including budgeting, disaster response, land-use planning, and
measuring economic or environmental impacts. Researchers rely
on it to study topics as divergent as the spread of diseases
and gentrification. For businesses, the data helps decide
where to set up shop, who their prospective customers are,
what products to launch and how to market them.
Members within all of those groups have voiced concern over
the inclusion of a citizenship question and the potential
undercount. The current Supreme Court case was brought, in
part, by New York state, 16 other states, seven cities and the
U.S. Conference of Mayors. Friend-of-the-court briefings have
been filed by research and business groups alike, including
the American Statistical Association, polling firm Nielsen and
ride-hailing company Uber.
Fourth of July speech inserts politics and protests into
national celebration (Los Angeles Times, July 4, 2019)
With tanks on the streets of the nation’s capital, military
jet flyovers and a presidential address on the steps of the
Lincoln Memorial, President Trump injected his trademark
over-the-top style - as well as his divisive personality -
into the traditional fireworks display at the National Mall.
While most presidents have steered clear of Fourth of July
festivities to avoid politicizing the day, Trump has been
personally involved in the details of the planning - much to
the frustration of local officials and residents in the
predominantly liberal city.
Ever since Trump’s 2017 visit to watch France’s Bastille Day
celebration, he has pressed for a similar event at home. He
initially tried to organize a military parade on Veterans Day,
but plans fell apart amid opposition from the local government
and estimates that the costs would run into the tens of
millions of dollars. Even some Pentagon officials bristled at
such an overt public display of American military power. The
Trump administration has still not repaid the city for the
nearly $7 million it spent to help fund his inauguration in
Fourth of July celebration thrills supporters, angers
opponents (Washington Post, July 4, 2019)
Americans gathered in Washington on Thursday as one nation,
feeling a little divisible, struggling to maintain unity on
the Fourth of July, a summer ritual that normally brings a
day-long pause to partisan hostilities. But that was before
President Trump updated the day with his unique stamp -
speaking of 'one people chasing one dream and one magnificent
destiny' from a Lincoln Memorial flanked by armored vehicles,
with military jets passing overhead - his presence thrilling
supporters, angering opponents and creating near-parallel
celebrations of the country’s 243rd birthday.
From Trump’s Fourth of July Celebration (New York Times,
July 4, 2019)
President Trump added flyovers, a display of tanks and a
program in front of the Lincoln Memorial to the traditional
lineup of festivities.
the effort to build suspense - and crowds - for Trump’s
Fourth of July (Washington Post, July 3, 2019)
says his generals are ‘thrilled’ with his Fourth of July
salute. Their silence suggests otherwise. (Washington
Post, July 3, 2019)
More than any president in modern history, Trump has ignored
norms intended to keep the armed forces out of partisan
fights. He has dispatched U.S. troops to the southern border
and even suggested that it would be acceptable for them to
open fire on unarmed migrants - a violation of the laws of
war. He has tweeted orders at top generals in a brazen end run
around the traditional chain of command and regularly refers
to America’s fighting forces as 'my military.' His speeches to
military audiences, such as at service academy graduations,
have been filled with partisan broadsides and false
statements. Trump’s July 4 celebration, which he’s calling
'Salute to America,' has elevated his norm-defying behavior.
Some former military officials said that if Trump’s speech
devolves into an attack on his political enemies, the top
brass should quietly step off the stage. 'The generals think
they are adhering to norms and doing their duty” when they
stand by the president. “What they don’t realize is that
they’re paving the groundwork for further abuse. They are
making it harder for the next guy to make the right call.'
Reasons Not to Worry About Trump’s Fourth of July - and 1
Big Reason to Worry (Politico, July 3, 2019))
Other presidents have celebrated the Fourth. It's hard to
think of one who has less sense of what it's about.
Trump has been obsessed by the idea of a massive military
parade ever since attending the Bastille Day celebration in
Paris two years ago, first ordering up a Veterans Day parade
for 2018 that was canceled only after the price tag proved
embarrassingly high. For someone who literally cannot grasp
the possibility that more people voted for his opponent than
him, or that fewer people came to his inaugural than his
predecessor’s, it is not much of a reach to imagine that in
the president’s mind he will see the flyovers and the
fireworks as a nation paying tribute to the greatness of a
man, rather than the other way around.
It is true that, on some public occasions, Trump has been able
to subordinate this vanity to a sense of occasion, at least in
his literal words. He has delivered State of the Union
speeches without describing Democrats in the House chamber as
treasonous, or the media in the press sections as enemies of
the people. What remains unsettling, however, is the
thoroughly reasonable conviction that when the president
delivers such homilies, he has no real connection to those
words. At any moment, it’s plausible to expect that the id
will drive the superego from the podium, and the explosion of
grievance, self-pity and rage will erupt - dominating a day
that has in recent times been free of political division.
York attorney general claps back after Trump attacks her on
Twitter: 'My name is Letitia James' (Daily KOS, July 3,
Sorry for not responding to your tweet earlier, Mr. President.
We were a little busy standing up for the true values of our
nation, and fighting for liberty & justice for all.
We’re glad the 2020 Census will begin printing without a
history is as complicated as ours (Ars Technica, July 3,
New study hints at Neanderthal population turnover in Siberia
90,000-120,000 years ago.
produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than
other developed countries (The Guardian, July 3, 2019)
US represents 4% of the world’s population but produces 12% of
municipal solid waste, a stark contrast with China and India.
energy consumption 'equals that of Switzerland' (BBC
News, July 3, 2019)
to Track Us Online Is on the Rise. Here’s What to Do.
(New York Times, July 3, 2019)
Advertisers are increasingly turning to an invisible method
that pulls together information about your device to pinpoint
Time to Rethink What Counts as a Voter Turnout Strategy
(Behavioral Scientist, July 3, 2019)
Efforts to alleviate poverty and give people health care are
critical priorities—and perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising
that improving access to basic needs increases the value
people see in voting, or that it enables more people to cast a
ballot. But this new evidence suggests that poverty
alleviation and health care provision have the potential to
improve the health of our democracy too.
denies administration’s retreat on census citizenship
question (The Globe and Mail, July 3, 2019)
'The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping
its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is
incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE! We are absolutely
moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the
answer to this question,' Trump wrote on Twitter.
White House and Commerce Department officials had no immediate
comment on Trump’s tweet.
'There’s nothing fake about the Department of Justice writing
us saying printing is starting without the citizenship
question,' the American Civil Liberties Union, which had
challenged the citizenship question in court, wrote on
administration drops citizenship question from 2020 census
(The Hill, July 2, 2019)
"The Trump administration said Tuesday it was dropping a
citizenship question from the 2020 census, days after the
Supreme Court ruled against the question’s inclusion.
President Trump had initially said that he wanted to delay
the decennial census as his administration continued to push
for the question to be included in the 2020 survey. But that
effort appears to be over.
Files Lawsuit Seeking Disclosure of Trump Tax Returns
(New York Times, July 2, 2019)
In Tuesday’s filing, the House argued that the
administration’s defiance of its request amounted to 'an
extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain
information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the
I.R.S. and the tax laws on behalf of the American people.' It
asked a judge to order the defendants to comply.
Watchdog Finds Squalid Conditions in Border Centers (New York Times, July 2, 2019)
Overcrowded, squalid conditions are more widespread at migrant
centers along the southern border than initially revealed, the
Department of Homeland Security’s independent watchdog said
Tuesday. Its report describes standing-room-only cells,
children without showers and hot meals, and detainees
clamoring desperately for release.
'The inspector general’s report provides a shocking window
into the dangerous and dehumanizing conditions that the Trump
administration is inflicting on children and families at the
border,' Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. 'This
report is even more troubling after the discovery of the vile,
crude comments made on social media by some of those in C.B.P.
responsible for caring for migrant families and children. The
inhumanity at the border is a challenge to the conscience of
While senior Department of Homeland Security officials have
for months sounded the alarm over a record number of Central
American families crossing the southwestern border, officials
in recent weeks have disputed the descriptions of the
conditions of detained migrants. Mr. McAleenan last week
described the allegations at the Clint facility as
'unsubstantiated' and called it 'clean and well managed.' But
the government’s own report backed up the Democrats’
Park Service diverts $2.5 million for Trump’s July 4
extravaganza (Washington Post, July 2, 2019)
The agency will dip into entrance and recreation fees
primarily intended to improve parks across the country,
according to two individuals familiar with the arrangement.
Trump administration officials have consistently refused to
say how much taxpayers will have to pay for the expanded
celebration on the Mall this year, which the president has
dubbed 'Salute to America'.
There Earth-Friendly Disposable Dishware? (Sierra Club,
June 2, 2019)
Not paper, not styrofoam and most plastics. When in doubt,
avoid single-use items.
Maps Show How Groundwater Affects Lakes and Rivers (Sierra Club, July 2, 2019)
100 years of pumping has reduced stream flows by 50 percent in
Change Denialists Dubbed Auto Makers the ‘Opposition’ in
Fight Over Trump’s Emissions Rollback (New York Times,
July 2, 2019)
Automakers have balked at the Trump administration’s plan,
which in its most extreme scenario proposes to substantially
weaken Obama-era standards that would have doubled the fuel
economy requirement of new cars by 2025. Last month, 17
automakers asked Mr. Trump to soften his approach, saying his
plan threatened to hurt their profits and produce 'untenable'
instability given that California and 13 other states, as well
as Canada, are expected to stick with the stricter standards -
raising the specter of a national auto market split in two,
and a nasty legal battle.
leaves Mexican city looking like dead of winter in middle of
summer (Accuweather, July 1, 2019)
In a tweet, Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramirez said 'I
witnessed scenes that I had never seen before' after surveying
the results of the extreme weather on Sunday morning, and
attributed the freak amount of hail to the effects of climate
change. He added on Twitter, 'Hail more than a meter high, and
then we wonder if climate change exists.'
Is Our Fault’: El Salvador’s President Takes Blame for
Migrant Deaths in Rio Grande (New York Times, July 1,
Trump critic’s cartoon went viral and, within hours, he lost
his contract. He says that’s no coincidence. (Washington
Post, July 1, 2019)
American Medical Association Is Taking a More Aggressive
Approach on Abortion Legislation (Time, July 1, 2019)
The AMA is suing North Dakota to block two abortion-related
laws, the latest signal the doctors’ group is shifting to a
more aggressive stance as the Donald Trump administration and
state conservatives ratchet up efforts to eliminate legal
congressman offers amazing excuse for campaign money spent
on extramarital affairs (Daily KOS, July 1, 2019)
Hunter is on trial for having spent campaign money for
personal reasons, including not just affairs but vacations,
clothes, and video games. His expenditures on affairs, then,
are entirely relevant to the charges he faces. But! Hunter
carried on these affairs with three lobbyists, a staffer in
his own office, and a Republican National Committee official.
So his lawyers are arguing that the money he spent in the
course of having affairs with them should count as a
legitimate political expenditure.
Moochers of Middle America, by Paul Krugman (New York
Times, July 1, 2019)
The Democrats aren’t radical, but Republicans are.
In what sense are the Dems moving too far left? What I’m
seeing are three fairly distinct claims. First, that the party
is endangering its electoral prospects. Second, that the party
is being fiscally or economically irresponsible. Third, that
Democrats are unfairly proposing to redistribute income from
those who create wealth to those who don’t.
So you should know that the first claim is probably wrong, the
second is definitely wrong, and the third ignores the extent
to which we already do a lot of redistribution in this country
- with Republican voters some of the biggest beneficiaries.
new GOP attacks on Mueller will backfire on Trump - bigly.
(Washington Post, July 1, 2019)
If Mueller’s investigation exonerated Trump, you would think
the best strategy for Trump’s allies would be to simply sit
back while Mueller describes his findings in as detailed and
unvarnished way as possible. Oddly enough, that’s not what
they’re planning on doing.
The monumental absurdity at the core of this disconnect is the
reason this strategy is likely to backfire on Trump. Yet, at
the same time, the very existence of this strategy, despite
its obvious ridiculousness, opens a window on how the Trump
propaganda network wields disinformation, and how in certain
respects, it does serve his ends.
Welcome Humiliation of John Bolton (New York Times, July
A warmonger is the latest to lose his dignity to Donald Trump.
Say this for Donald Trump. He may be transforming American
politics into a kleptocratic fascist reality show and turning
our once-great country into a global laughingstock, but as
least he’s humiliating John Bolton in the process.
Trump tried to talk to world leaders at G-20 Summit. The
video is hard to watch (Daily KOS, June 30, 2019)
AOC: It may be shocking to some, but being someone’s daughter
actually isn’t a career qualification. The US needs our
President working the G20. Bringing a qualified diplomat
couldn’t hurt either.
The Hell Is Nancy Pelosi Doing? (Huffington Post, June
House Democrats have lost their moral compass.
Democrats agree with Trump in a surprising way
(Washington Post, June 30, 2019)
The rich have way outperformed everyone else, exacerbating
inequality and leaving many people feeling left behind.
Economic disruption and dizzying technological changes have
many parents doubting that their children will prosper.
Student debt, rising drug prices, affordable-housing
shortages, racist policing, fear of deportation, opioid abuse
- these are all-consuming facts of life for many people.
President Trump has not solved these problems, and he has made
some of them worse. In fact, he rejects solutions - on
immigration, first and foremost - rather than give up his
reelection platform of anger and hate. More, he is a major
reason for the gloom. It is hard for many Americans to have
faith in democracy when their elected leader is dishonest,
malicious and incompetent. His lies and inaction on climate
change intensify a sense of apocalyptic foreboding.
Rule of Outlaws (WhoWhatWhy, June 30, 2019)
'Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a
message to all federal employees that they need not abide by
the Hatch Act’s restrictions,' special counsel Henry Kerner
said in a June 12 letter to Trump. 'Her actions thus erode the
principal foundation of our democratic system - the rule of
In the letter, OSC suggested that Conway should be fired. The
president, again, did nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true,
because the White House attacked OSC and suggested it was
'influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations.'
The House Oversight Committee then invited Conway to testify
on the issue and, after she did not show up, voted to subpoena
her on Wednesday.
The problem with all of this is apparent - and maybe it is
just a symptom of something that has been festering for a
while: It’s really no longer accurate to say the US is
governed by the rule of law.
The president is a crook, his staff brazenly disregards laws,
he dangles pardons in front of indicted former associates, and
is considering pardoning war criminals. And while many
companies are not breaking the law, they don’t have to because
they helped write them, which means they no longer pay their
fair share of taxes - if they pay any at all. And they don’t
have to comply with regulations, e.g. to protect the
environment, because those are being dismantled.
At the same time, the vast majority of Americans are at the
mercy of a justice system that is stacked against them.
Senate Session Descends Into Screaming Match Over Poverty
Assistance Program (Time, June 29, 2019)
The Pennsylvania senate’s state budget negotiations descended
into chaos on Wednesday when lawmakers and activists clashed
over the elimination of a cash assistance program for the
state’s neediest people. The PA General Assistance Program,
which the house voted to end last week, provided roughly $200
a month to about 11,095 of the state’s poorest residents,
including many who don’t qualify for other assistance programs
or are waiting for approval.
Consultant Is Trolling Democrats With Biden Site That Isn’t
Biden’s (New York Times, June 29, 2019)
Armed with bogus websites that mock leading candidates, a
Trump campaign worker is exploiting tensions on the left with
Russian-style disinformation. His targets have included former
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Bernie Sanders and
Senator Kamala Harris.
All the site says about its creator is buried in the fine
print at the bottom of the page. The site, it says, is a
political parody built and paid for 'BY AN American citizen
FOR American citizens,' and not the work of any campaign or
political action committee.
There is indeed an American behind the website. But he is very
much a political player, and a Republican one at that. His
name is Patrick Mauldin, and he makes videos and other digital
content for President’s Trump’s re-election campaign.
Stops President Trump From Using $2.5 Billion in Military
Funding to Build Border Wall (Time, June 29, 2019)
At issue is President Donald Trump’s February declaration of a
national emergency so that he could divert $6.7 billion from
military and other sources to begin construction of the wall,
which could have begun as early as Monday. Trump declared the
emergency after losing a fight with the Democratic-led House
that led to a 35-day government shutdown.
Trump Uses Stock Models To Act As His Supporters In Campaign
Videos (Design Taxi, June 28, 2019)
Judd Legum, creator of political newsletter Popular
Information, has revealed in a Twitter thread that the Trump
committee has been coughing up 'significant resources on a
highly manipulative online ad campaign' by using stock footage
rather than recordings of real supporters.
Trump Says Huawei Can Buy American Products Again
(Softpedia, June 29, 2019)
The policy hasn't been implemented, it's just a statement.
technology started by tracking steps. Soon, it may allow
your boss to track your performance. (Washington Post,
June 28, 2019)
Researchers says they have developed a system that assesses
worker performance with 80 percent accuracy. 'I can’t really
look into a crystal ball, but I’m hopeful this passive sensing
technology will be used to empower the workforce rather than
used against them.'"
Suffers Through Hottest Day In Its History - 113 Degrees
Fahrenheit (NPR, June 28, 2019)
The European Environmental Agency says that as rising
greenhouse gas emissions have warmed the climate, Europe's
number of warm days doubled between 1960 and 2018. The
continent is projected to have similar or worse heat waves as
often as every two years in the second half of the 21st
century, in the highest emission scenario of four scenarios
used by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
hold the balance in climate crisis (Climate News
Network, June 28, 2019)
It is not as if climate researchers are unaware of the
microbial connection: there is evidence of the powerful role
microscopic life plays in ocean warming and on land. But the
consensus statement says it documents the central role and
global importance of micro-organisms in climate change
biology. It also puts humanity on notice that the impact of
climate change will depend heavily on the responses of
micro-organisms, which are essential for achieving an
environmentally sustainable future.
The scientists want to see more research, closer attention to
the microbial underpinning of climate change, and more
education. They point out that 90% of the mass of living
things in the ocean is microbial. Marine phytoplankton take
light energy from the sun, remove carbon dioxide from the
atmosphere and provide the basis of the ocean’s life support
system. A warming world could mean a diminished ocean food
On land, microbes are powerful agencies in both agriculture
and disease. Farming ruminant animals releases vast quantities
of methane from the microbes living in their rumen – so
decisions about global farming practices need to consider
And lastly, climate change worsens the impact of pathogenic
microbes on animals (including humans) − that’s because
climate change is stressing native life, making it easier for
pathogens to cause disease.
electricity beat out coal for the first time in April
(Ars Technica, June 28, 2019)
Seasonal shifts helped, but long-term changes underlie the
Douglass would be outraged at Trump’s Fourth of July
Post, June 28, 2019)
Objectors (ACLU, June 28, 2019)
The 100-years-old American Civil Liberties Union was born out
of World War I and the repression that resulted when the U.S.
joined the fight. In one of the most consequential speeches in
U.S. history, President Wilson asked Congress for a
declaration of war that would take the country into the Great
War’s killing fields in Europe. During his address that night,
President Wilson called Americans to arms with the memorable
pledge that 'the world must be made safe for democracy.'
Most Americans today are familiar with the phrase, or
misinterpretations of it, such as 'a war to end all wars.' Few
people, however, are familiar with what Wilson said next: 'If
there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with a firm hand
of stern repression.'”
joking with Putin over eliminating journalists is a betrayal
of America. So is ignoring it. (Washington Post, June
According to Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs, who was
traveling with the president to the G-20 summit in Osaka,
Trump 'bonded with Putin' over his scorn for journalists. She
quoted their exchange in a tweet:
'Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it?' Trump
said. 'You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.'
'We also have,' Putin answered, in English. 'It’s the same.'
They then 'shared a chuckle,' she reported.
That this happened on the first anniversary of the massacre of
five employees of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis probably
never occurred to him - nor would his staff remind him of
something as apparently inconsequential to the administration
as that horror.
Passes Senate Border Bill in Striking Defeat for Pelosi
(New York Times, June 27, 2019)
Congress sent President Trump a $4.6 billion humanitarian aid
package on Thursday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi capitulated to
Republicans and Democratic moderates and dropped her
insistence on stronger protections for migrant children in
overcrowded border shelters. The vote came after a striking
display of Democratic disunity and was a setback for Ms.
The Supreme Court just abdicated its most important role:
enforcing the Constitution (Los Angeles Times, June 27,
In a 5-4 decision, split along ideological lines, the court’s
conservative majority acknowledged that partisan
gerrymandering is 'incompatible with democratic principles,'
but it nonetheless said that the issue should be regarded as a
'political question' and that federal courts thus lack
jurisdiction to hear cases challenging it.
Court undermines free and fair elections by refusing to
limit partisan gerrymandering (Daily KOS, June 27, 2019)
On Thursday, the Supreme Court dealt a historic defeat to
redistricting reformers when it ruled 5-4 along ideological
lines that challenges to partisan gerrymandering could not be
adjudicated under the U.S. Constitution, pushing the next
battles over these maps to the states. The two cases under
review dealt with congressional maps from a pair of states: a
Democratic gerrymander in Maryland and a Republican
gerrymander in North Carolina. Holding that there was no
workable standard to determine when such maps go too far, the
Supreme Court’s partisan Republican majority overturned two
lower court decisions that had thrown out both maps last year.
intelligence hacked 'Russia's Google' Yandex to spy on
accounts - sources (Reuters, June 27, 2019)
The malware, called Regin, is known to be used by the 'Five
Eyes' intelligence-sharing alliance of the United States,
Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the sources said.
Intelligence agencies in those countries declined to comment.
Western cyberattacks against Russia are seldom acknowledged or
spoken about in public. It could not be determined which of
the five countries was behind the attack on Yandex, said
sources in Russia and elsewhere, three of whom had direct
knowledge of the hack. The breach took place between October
and November 2018.
officials weigh encryption crackdown (Politico, June 27,
A ban on end-to-end-encryption would make it easier for law
enforcement and intelligence agents to access suspects' data.
But such a measure would also make it easier for hackers and
spies to steal Americans' private data, by creating loopholes
in encryption that are designed for the government but
accessible to anyone who reverse-engineers them. Watering down
encryption would also endanger people who rely on scrambled
communications to hide from stalkers and abusive ex-spouses.
The DOJ and the FBI argue that catching criminals and
terrorists should be the top priority, even if watered-down
encryption creates hacking risks. The Commerce and State
Departments disagree, pointing to the economic, security and
diplomatic consequences of mandating encryption 'backdoors.'
DHS is internally divided. The Cybersecurity and
Infrastructure Security Agency knows the importance of
encrypting sensitive data, especially in critical
infrastructure operations, but ICE and the Secret Service
regularly run into encryption roadblocks during their
(And nobody's mentioning infringement
of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment guarantee of privacy?)
turns out planes are even worse for the climate than we
thought (NewScientist, June 27, 2019)
Their non-CO2 warming effect is set to triple by 2050,
according to a study by Ulrike Burkhardt and Lisa Bock at the
Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Germany. Altogether,
flying is responsible for around 5 per cent of global warming,
the team says, so this figure will soar even higher – and no
meaningful actions are being taken to prevent this.
Dragonfly Will Fly Around Titan Looking for Origins, Signs
of Life (NASA, June 27, 2019)
NASA has announced that our next destination in the solar
system is the unique, richly organic world Titan. Advancing
our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly
mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites
around Saturn’s icy moon. Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and
arrive in 2034. The rotorcraft will fly to dozens of promising
locations on Titan looking for prebiotic chemical processes
common on both Titan and Earth. Dragonfly marks the first time
NASA will fly a multi-rotor vehicle for science on another
planet; it has eight rotors and flies like a large drone. It
will take advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere – four times
denser than Earth’s – to become the first vehicle ever to fly
its entire science payload to new places for repeatable and
targeted access to surface materials.
says it will label tweets from Trump and other leaders that
break its rules (CNN, June 27, 2019)
Twitter plans to place a disclaimer on future tweets from
world leaders that break its rules but which Twitter decides
are in the public interest, the company said in a blog post
Thursday. This policy change could face its most prominent
test in President Trump. Trump has repeatedly tested Twitter's
community standards with his regular tirades on the platform
and some of the president's tweets have run afoul of Twitter's
claims Mueller a criminal, is 'very happy' McCain is dead,
and Fed chief is 'a pu— ' (Daily KOS, June 26, 2019)
In an interview today with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo, Donald Trump
went on an extended rant that included repeating claims that
his campaign was spied on, claiming that Robert Mueller
'illegally terminated the emails,' and declaring that the
Federal Reserve chair isn’t a tough guy but … something not so
tough. And then Trump moved to the stage at a meeting of the
Christian organization Faith and Freedom Coalition and
informed the Christian crowd that, if he hadn’t won in 2016,
Iran would have conquered the entire Middle East. And, most
Christian of all, he expressed his hope that John McCain is in
Republican Party has evolved into an American version of
Europe's far-right neo-fascists (Daily KOS, June 26, 2019)
"According to its 2016 manifesto, the Republican Party lies
far from the Conservative Party in Britain and the Christian
Democratic Union in Germany - mainstream right-leaning
parties - and closer to far-right parties like Alternative
for Germany, whose platform contains plainly xenophobic,
anti-Muslim statements. In fact, the only significant
difference between the U.S. Republican party and the
far-right neo-fascists is that the Republican platform does
not directly and explicitly espouse bigotry as policy.
Instead, it uses culturally-coded 'dog whistles.'
Warren Just Released a Plan to Protect American Elections
(Mother Jones, June 25, 2019)
A $20 billion effort would require audits and offer bonuses
for high voter turnout. "Our elections should be as secure as
Fort Knox," Warren wrote. 'But instead, they’re less secure
than your Amazon account.'
Tax Us More, 19 U.S. Billionaires Plead In Letter To
Presidential Candidates (Huffington Post, June 25, 2019)
We 'enjoy uncommon fortunes, but each of us wants to live in
an America that solves the biggest challenges of our common
future,' notes the plea.
Earth’s climate is paying for our addiction to plastic
(The Guardian, June 25, 2019)
Every stage of the plastic lifecycle releases harmful carbon
emissions into the atmosphere, contributing to global heating.
admits to unlawful release of PFAS in Alabama (Chemical & Engineering News,
June 25, 2019)
"US EPA barred company from discharging two substances
Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then
Trump Became President. (New York Times, June 25, 2019)
The project’s reversal of fortunes has angered
environmentalists and focused attention on an unusual
connection between a Chilean billionaire and President Trump’s
is what they deserve, justice is what we can deliver: Let's
pay contractors back wages, by Rep. Ayanna Pressley,
D-Mass. (The Hill, June
It’s been nearly six months since the longest government
shutdown in our country’s history, and while federal
government employees rightfully received backpay for the time
they couldn’t go to work, thousands of government contractors
have yet to be made whole for the wages lost over the course
of the shutdown. Government contractors perform essential jobs
that keep our government operating - janitors, security
officers and food service workers who work diligently day in
and day out, oftentimes on an hourly basis and at low wages,
to keep our government buildings across the country safe and
clean. We’ve made historic progress toward securing the back
pay these contract workers are owed, but unless and until we
do, these workers and their families will continue to struggle
to catch up.
sues US over mandate to monitor Huawei shipments
(Engadget, June 25, 2019)
"It says it can't monitor
packages on the scale the government wants.
wrong with the North Pole? (New Scientist, June 25,
"It isn’t just that your compass can be thrown off by local
quirks in the magnetic field. The north pole itself isn’t
what it used to be. In 1900, the pole was in Canada. A
century later, it was near Greenland. In the past 18 years,
it has raced eastwards at about 40 kilometres per year, and
is currently heading for Siberia.
The weird behaviour of Earth’s magnetic field doesn’t end
there. It also occasionally reverses its polarity: there
were times in our planet’s history when a compass needle
would have pointed to what we call south. Even now, there
are spots under the surface where a compass would point the
wrong way. What is going on? The mystery has deep
implications for technology and the future of our planet.
a Poof, Mars Methane Is Gone (New York Times, June 25,
Last week, NASA’s Curiosity rover detected a belch of natural
gas on the red planet. The gas has since dissipated, leaving
only a mystery.
about the plastic crisis? Stop trying so hard. (The
Guardian, June 24, 2019)
have made 8.3bn tons of plastic since 1950. This is the
illustrated story of where it's gone. (The Guardian, June 24, 2019)
Until recently we didn’t know how much plastic was piling up
around us. When we found out, the picture wasn’t pretty. We
make good-faith efforts to help the planet by recycling, but
what we really need to do is even simpler.
Pi used to steal data from NASA lab (BBC, June 24, 2019)
An audit report reveals the gadget was used to take about
500MB of data. It said two of the files that were taken dealt
with the international transfer of restricted military and
space technology. The attacker who used the device to hack the
network went undetected for about 10 months.
power of Ravelry’s stance against white supremacy reaches
beyond the knitting community (TechCrunch, June 23,
We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also
allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump
administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.
You can still participate if you do in fact support the
administration, you just can’t talk about it here.
Department buries studies showing dangers of climate change
(Politico, June 23, 2019)
The Trump administration has stopped promoting
government-funded research into how higher temperatures can
damage crops and pose health risks. It has refused to
publicize dozens of government-funded studies that carry
warnings about the effects of climate change, defying a
longstanding practice of touting such findings by the
Agriculture Department’s acclaimed in-house scientists. The
studies range from a groundbreaking discovery that rice loses
vitamins in a carbon-rich environment — a potentially serious
health concern for the 600 million people world-wide whose
diet consists mostly of rice — to a finding that climate
change could exacerbate allergy seasons to a warning to
farmers about the reduction in quality of grasses important
for raising cattle.
All of these studies were peer-reviewed by scientists and
cleared through the non-partisan Agricultural Research
Service, one of the world’s leading sources of scientific
information for farmers and consumers. None of the studies
were focused on the causes of global warming – an often
politically charged issue. Rather, the research examined the
wide-ranging effects of rising carbon dioxide, increasing
temperatures and volatile weather.
The administration, researchers said, appears to be trying to
limit the circulation of evidence of climate change and avoid
press coverage that may raise questions about the
administration’s stance on the issue. “The intent is to try to
suppress a message — in this case, the increasing danger of
human-caused climate change,” said Michael Mann, a leading
climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. “Who loses
out? The people, who are already suffering the impacts of sea
level rise and unprecedented super storms, droughts, wildfires
and heat waves.”
legal fight looms over Trump pollution rule (The Hill,
June 23, 2019)
At least nine attorneys general have criticized the new rule
and are expected to file lawsuits soon. 'The coal lobbyists
and climate deniers running the Trump Administration wrote
every word of this unjustifiable and illegal rule that will
pollute the air, explode emissions, and cost thousands of
lives,' Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) said
in a statement. 'Massachusetts is committed to addressing the
climate crisis and the public health impacts on our residents,
and we will be suing to stand up for science and federal law.'
and robotics are bigger threats to American jobs than
outsourcing (Daily KOS, June 23, 2019)
We will see wholesale job losses, and world economies flipped
upside down. This will not happen overnight, but it could very
well happen in my lifetime.
is the least electable candidate - here's why (The
Hill, June 23, 2019)
the rise of populism: 'It pops up in unexpected places'
(The Guardian, June 22, 2019)
How we paired up with a network of political scientists to
create a wide-ranging series and a groundbreaking database.
Rover on Mars Detects Puff of Gas That Hints at Possibility
of Life (New York Times, June 22, 2019)
The Curiosity mission’s scientists picked up the signal this
week, and are seeking additional readings from the red planet.
have discovered a sea of fresh water under the ocean
(Quartz, June 22, 2019)
Scientists from Columbia University and the Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution spent 10 days on a research ship
towing electromagnetic sensors from New Jersey to
Massachusetts. By measuring the way electromagnetic waves
traveled through fresh and saline water, researchers mapped
out fresh-water reservoirs for the first time.
It turns out the subterranean pools stretch for at least 50
miles off the US Atlantic coast, containing vast stores of
low-salinity groundwater, about twice the volume of Lake
Ontario. The deposits begin about 600 ft (183 m) below the
seafloor and stretch for hundreds of miles. That rivals the
size of even the largest terrestrial aquifers. The size and
extent of the freshwater deposits suggest they are also being
fed by modern-day runoff from land - and may exist elsewhere
with similar topography.
approved cyber-strikes against Iran’s missile systems
(Washington Post, June 22, 2019)
The cyberstrikes, launched Thursday night by personnel with
U.S. Cyber Command, were in the works for weeks if not months,
according to two of these people, who said the Pentagon
proposed launching them after Iran’s alleged attacks on two
oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this month. The strike
against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was coordinated
with U.S. Central Command, the military organization with
purview of activity throughout the Middle East. Though
crippling to Iran’s military command and control systems, the
operation did not involve a loss of life or civilian
casualties - a contrast to conventional strikes, which the
president said he called back Thursday because they would not
The administration on Saturday warned industry officials to be
alert for cyberattacks originating from Iran.
a Steadfast Hawk, Coaxes a Hesitant Trump on Iran (New
York Times, June 22, 2019)
In April, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Bolton pushed Mr. Trump to
designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a
terrorist organization, even though Pentagon and C.I.A.
officials opposed the action, saying it could provoke attacks.
Mr. Pompeo then announced the end of permission for eight
governments, including American allies, to bypass sanctions in
buying oil from Iran. Those moves, analysts say, have led to
the current crisis.
In recent classified briefings to Congress and in public
declarations, Mr. Pompeo has discussed ties between Iran and
Al Qaeda. Democratic and some Republican lawmakers say that is
a blatant attempt to lay the groundwork for bypassing the need
for new congressional war authorization if Mr. Trump decides
to strike Iran.
Lawmakers also question Mr. Pompeo’s role in stalled policy on
other signature Trump issues, such as Venezuela and North
Korea. The North, unlike Iran, actually has a nuclear arsenal.
And lawmakers have grilled Mr. Pompeo on his unwavering
support of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin
Salman, who American intelligence officials say was
responsible for the killing of the columnist Jamal Khashoggi
and who is leading an air war in Yemen that has resulted in a
humanitarian disaster. Legislators are also furious that Mr.
Pompeo has sought to circumvent the congressional approval
process for arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
Critics say that growing scrutiny of Mr. Pompeo is warranted
given his unrelenting attacks on Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton during the Benghazi hearings when he was a congressman
- and given the potential threats to the United States
resulting from the administration’s foreign policy.
Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were lost on the Moon. Really.
(Fast Company, June 22, 2019)
Neither NASA nor the Apollo 11 astronauts knew exactly where
they were when they landed on the Moon. Yet it didn’t impede
glowing light on Mars captured by NASA's Curiosity probe
(Independent, June 21, 2019)
Could it be a huge pile of aliens driving past? Probably not.
Bank: The Land Where the Internet Ends (New York Times,
June 21, 2019)
To find real solitude, you have to go out of range. But every
year that’s harder to do, as America’s off-the-grid places
Chrome has become surveillance software. It’s time to
switch. (Washington Post, June 21, 2019)
Our latest privacy experiment found Chrome ushered more than
11,000 tracker cookies into our browser - in a single week.
Having the world’s biggest advertising company make the most
popular Web browser is about as smart as letting kids run a
candy shop. Here’s why Firefox is better.
reverses his earlier claim that he stopped Iran action on
the brink of the attack (Daily KOS, June 21, 2019)
It’s not clear that Trump’s statement about planes not being
in the air in advance of the attack is a lie, or plain
ignorance. What is clear is that Trump’s earlier claim to have
stopped the mission just ten minutes away from hitting Iranian
targets was an out-and-out fabrication designed to add some
fake drama to the situation. Trump cancelled the operation on
Thursday evening before 7PM D.C. time, which was still several
hours before the scheduled operation in Iran.
Trump’s claim that he got a last minute estimate of potential
casualties is also a clear lie, both because Trump has dressed
the tale up with all the knee-scrapping honorifics he usually
adds when relating such stories, and because the Pentagon
would have certainly made the results of such a strike clear
before it was authorized. But there is another reason he might
have changed his mind - Nancy Pelosi told him no.
But of course, Trump has been pretty good at not just ignoring
Congress, but actively working to diminish congressional
authority over everything. So … maybe it was some other
warning he heeded. A warning like, 'I will say it straight, it
would be a catastrophe, at a minimum for the region,' said
says he doesn't want war with Iran, but there will be
'obliteration' if it comes (NBC News, June 21, 2019)
Trump also discussed his decision-making process that led him
to halt strikes on Iran on Thursday night, saying that he
hadn't given final approval to any attack and adding that no
planes were in the air.
on Iran Approved by Trump, Then Abruptly Pulled Back
(New York Times, June 20, 2019)
As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were
expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at
the White House among the president’s top national security
officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple
senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the
Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on
a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile
batteries. The operation was underway in its early stages when
it was called off, a senior administration official said.
Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no
missiles had been fired when word came to stand down. The strike was set to take place
just before dawn Friday in Iran to minimize risk to the
Iranian military and civilians.
The abrupt reversal put a halt to what would have been the
president’s third military action against targets in the
Middle East. Mr. Trump had struck twice at targets in Syria,
in 2017 and 2018.
The retaliation plan was intended as a response to the
shooting down of the RQ-4 Global Hawk, an unmanned, $130 million surveillance
drone made by Northrop Grumman, which was struck
Thursday morning by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Iran’s
ability to target and destroy the high-altitude American
drone, which was developed to evade the very surface-to-air
missiles used to bring it down, surprised some Defense
Department officials, who interpreted it as a show of how
difficult Tehran can make things for the United States as it
deploys more troops and steps up surveillance in the region.
Still Is Attempting to Destroy the Careers of
Its Critics, Including Free Software Proponents
(TechRights, June 20, 2019)
It’s very important to understand what Microsoft is up to:
it’s not a friend, it’s just getting closer for the purpose of
causing damage (from the inside). Earlier this month Dina Bass
wrote a widely-syndicated (dozens of news sites) piece
pretending that Microsoft was reaching for peace and had
already appeased its biggest critics. It’s a lie, but if
the media keeps repeating this lie, then more and more people
will believe it. To appease the Linux Foundation and OSI,
Microsoft just had to dump some money on them; that’s not
about trust, it’s about corrupting people using money - not
the same thing!
warn that climate change could hinge on microbes (MSN,
June 20, 2019)
More than 30 microbiologists signed a statement published in
Nature Reviews Microbiology yesterday (June 19) intended to
put 'humanity on notice' about the risk of ignoring these tiny
creatures. In the statement, titled 'Scientists’ warning to
humanity: microorganisms and climate change,' they write that
'the microscopic majority can no longer be the unseen elephant
in the room.'
Microscope Sees ‘Through the Eyes of the Cell’ (New York
Times, June 20, 2019)
A new imaging tool works more like Google Maps than a
vaccines at the pharmacy or at home will be the way of the
future (Ars Technica, June 20, 2019)
Our current model of manufacturing stockpiles won't work
against bioterror or superbugs.
Himalayas Are in Even Worse Shape Than We Thought
(Outside, June 19, 2019)
New research shows just how much global warming is eating away
at the glaciers on the world’s highest peaks.
Bad Buzz For Bees: Record Number Of Honeybee Colonies Died
Last Winter (NPR, June 19, 2019)
Varroa mites are the number one concern around wintertime.
They've become harder to control because some of the tools
that beekeepers have been using - chemical strips that attract
and kill mites, essential oils and organic acids - are losing
Pollinators are responsible for one of every three bites of
food we take, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.
Most of these pollinators are domesticated honeybees.
Maryann Frazier, a retired senior extension associate for the
College of Agricultural Sciences at Pennsylvania State
University, says the results are troubling, if unsurprising.
Stressed, sick bees in close proximity are likely to die
during the winter months. And bees face increasing levels of
stress. Until all parties work together to address the sources
of that stress, she says, steep winter die-offs will continue.
'I don't expect to see a change in losses over time for this
reason. There's been no significant effort to correct what's
causing the decline,' she says.
Take pesticides, she says. 'There's a huge amount of data
[and] research showing pesticides are a significant player in
the decline of honeybees and other insect species. And yet
there's been so little done to make a change on that front.
The EPA has been incredibly ineffective.'
She says that pesticide industry leaders often try to shift
blame for bee declines solely onto Varroa mites and viruses
when in fact, she says, 'there is so much evidence that
pesticides are a major player in the decline of honeybees. And
these things are synergistic,' she adds. Pesticides can
compromise immune systems, so when a mite or other pest hits a
bee compromised by pesticides, it's a downward spiral. Other
sources of stress, like changing landscapes, have not been
superbugs, accidentally or otherwise (Ars Technica, June
Synthetic biology and hacking viruses sounds great until you
wipe out humanity.
should create a global DNA threat-detection network to fight
future pathogens (Ars
Technica, June 19,
"Geneticist George Church talks about early
detection and surveillance.
Wants to Replace Email. Is That What We Want? (New York
Times, June 19, 2019)
As the office chat start-up prepares to go public, some of us
are still figuring out how available we want to be - and
whether it’s O.K. to ping the C.E.O.
rise of the only child: How America is coming around to the
idea of ‘just one’ (Washington Post, June 19, 2019)
The proportion of mothers who had one child at the end of
their childbearing years doubled from 11 percent in 1976 to 22
percent in 2015, according to Pew Research Center, and census
data show the trend continuing to tick steadily upward.
shareholder meeting draws protests over antitrust, human
rights (CNet, June 19, 2019)
Google’s recent scandals take center stage at its parent
company’s annual gathering of investors.
urge Google to break up before regulators force it to.
(Reuters, June 19, 2019)
The proposal and 13 other shareholder measures opposed by the
company were voted down on Wednesday, according to its
preliminary tally. Alphabet’s top two executives, Larry Page
and Sergey Brin, hold 51.3 percent of shareholder votes.
Nevertheless, it shows a growing focus on the prospect of
antitrust action against Alphabet and other big technology
firms such as Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc as they face a
political and public backlash over privacy issues and the
power they now wield over the world’s information.
Fast (Center for Public Integrity, June 19, 2019)
Hypersonic missiles are a revolutionary new type of weapon,
one that would have the unprecedented ability to maneuver and
then to strike almost any target in the world within a matter
of minutes. Capable of traveling at more than 15 times the
speed of sound, hypersonic missiles arrive at their targets in
a blinding, destructive flash, before any sonic booms or other
meaningful warning. So far, there are no surefire defenses.
Fast, effective, precise and unstoppable - these are rare but
highly desired characteristics on the modern battlefield. And
the missiles are being developed not only by the United States
but also by China, Russia and other countries.
Not To Prevent a Cyberwar With Russia (Wired, June 18,
Since 2017, Trump has been elevating Cyber Command's authority
and reversing Obama administration rules that required other
agencies' sign-off before it launched an offensive hacking
operation. But former White House cybersecurity officials
caution against that cyberwar hawkishness. 'The idea that we
can use cyber offense capabilities to impose sabotage-like
effects, and to do so in increasingly large scale and costly
ways until they get it through their head that they can’t win,
I don’t think that's going to work,' says Tom Bossert, who
served as White House homeland security advisor and the
president's most senior cybersecurity-focused official until
April of last year. 'I want to make sure we don’t end up in an
escalatory cyber exchange where we lose more than they do.'
In many respects the US economy and infrastructure is far more
reliant on digitization and automation than Russia's, giving
the Kremlin an inherent advantage in any future
no-holds-barred cyberwar. He paraphrases former secretary of
defense Ash Carter: 'If you're doused in gasoline, don't start
a match-throwing contest.'
plan to deport 'millions' likely not feasible (ABC
News, June 18, 2019)
President Donald Trump’s promise on the eve of a campaign
rally to begin deporting next week 'millions' of people living
in the U.S. illegally is raising the issue of how the
administration could feasibly launch such a massive operation
because it's out of space to hold them. Also in question would
be whether the administration would further abandon its past
focus of deporting undocumented migrants convicted of crimes
in order to deport families, which at least one top official
said was inevitable. Another concern would be that families
could be separated, possibly leaving thousands of young
children in limbo without guardians.
Poll: Trump Losing Florida to Warren, Sanders, and Biden
(Daily KOS, June 18, 2019)
A Quinnipiac University poll released today shows all
Democratic candidates lead Donald Trump or are in a
statistical dead heat in the swing state of Florida.Among
Independent Florida voters, Sanders does the best, winning
that group by 17% (51%-34%). But all the Democratic candidates
beat Trump by at least 6% among Independents.
Quinnipiac follows other polls that show Trump in trouble in
many battleground states. A leaked internal Republican poll
from March showed Trump ahead in only 2 of 17 battleground
wants money upfront after Trump stiffs cities on campaign
rally bills (Daily KOS, June 18, 2019)
Trump’s campaign has been doing what any Trump organization
does - not paying its bills. In this case, it includes bills
accrued for local law enforcement assistance at Trump campaign
events, requested by the Secret Service. Looking through
municipal records, the Center for Public Integrity found that
Trump’s campaign still owes around $841,219, dating as far
back as 2016, to at least nine city governments.
Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not
Donald Trump | Editorial (Orlando FL Sentinel, June 18.
Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his
re-election campaign. We’re here to announce our endorsement
for president in 2020, or, at least, who we’re not endorsing:
Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a
candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the
identity of his opponent. Because there’s no point pretending
we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump. After 2½
years we’ve seen enough.
was ready to ‘blow up everything’: Biographer Michael Wolff
on why Mueller didn’t indict (Raw Story, June 18, 2019)
If Mueller had pushed Donald Trump into a corner he would blow
up everything. Donald Trump would take the country’s political
institutions down with him. Trump would take down the
Department of Justice. Trump would not care. For somebody like
Robert Mueller, this was a reality he had to confront. Mueller
was likely thinking to himself, 'I have to deal with the fact
that somebody who has as much power as I do, or more, can use
this power in a way that could harm everybody in a much
greater way.' Robert Mueller decided it was much better to let
Donald Trump just run out the clock than to give Trump the
opportunity and the cause to destroy everything, the country’s
shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than
predicted. (The Guardian, June 18, 2019)
Ice blocks frozen solid for thousands of years destabilized.
The climate is now warmer than at any time in last 5,000
lays bare reality of melting Greenland sea ice (The Guardian, June 18, 2019)
Research teams traversing partially melted fjord to retrieve
weather equipment release startling picture.
ousted President Morsi buried after courtroom death
(Associated Press, June 18, 2019)
Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane (The
Atlantic, June 17, 2019)
Five years ago, Flight MH370 vanished into the Indian Ocean.
Officials on land know more about why than they dare to say.
immigrants fired from Trump golf clubs to crash his 2020
campaign kickoff in Florida (NY Daily News, June 17,
'No one knows better than Trump himself that immigrants are
hardworking individuals who support a multitude of industries
across the country, including his restaurants, golf courses,
wineries and hotels,' said Romero, who represents 44
undocumented immigrants who used to work at Trump properties.
'And no one knows better than the undocumented workers who
worked for Trump, how urgent it is for Congress to pass humane
and sensible immigration laws so that immigrants can continue
contributing to their communities and to our nation, just like
they did for Trump and his family.'
does your plastic go? Global investigation reveals America's
dirty secret (The
Guardian, June 17, 2019)
A Guardian report from 11 countries tracks how US waste makes
its way across the world – and overwhelms the poorest nations.
is harvesting organs from detainees, tribunal concludes
(The Guardian, June 17, 2019)
An independent tribunal sitting in London has concluded that
the killing of detainees in China for organ transplants is
continuing, and victims include imprisoned followers of the
Falun Gong movement.
Clouds on Mars Formed by ‘Meteoric Smoke,’ Study Says
(Vice, June 17, 2019)
Scientists have identified a kind of cloud on Mars that has
been neglected in past climate models.
are fervid Googlers making ad-blocker-breaking changes to
Chrome? Because they created a monster – and are fighting to
secure it. (The Register, June 17, 2019)
We said engineers made the API too powerful. We weren't wrong.
(Just use Firefox - with DuckDuckGo.)
Court dismisses challenge to findings of racial
gerrymandering in Virginia districts (Washington Post,
June 17, 2019)
The decision could give an advantage to the state’s Democrats.
All 140 seats in the state legislature are on the ballot this
fall, and the GOP holds two-seat majorities in both the House
and the Senate.
still have questions about whether Russia meddled in North
Carolina. That’s a bad sign. (Washington Post, June 17, 2019)
campaign cutting ties with three members of polling team
after grim numbers leaked (Washington Post, June 17, 2019)
Privately, the president was livid that the numbers leaked
out, according to White House and campaign officials. 'He is
madder that the numbers are out than that the numbers exist,'
said one senior administration official.
Trump’s 'kill the messenger' strategy in response to the
leaked polling data reflects his desire to show strength at
all times, even in the face of less-than-favorable news from
within his own campaign. On Monday morning, Trump seemingly
continued to deny the authenticity of the numbers.
lost an escape route. SCOTUS: States & Feds can
prosecute for similar behavior. (Daily KOS, June 17,
Stewart takes on Stonewalling McConnell (Daily KOS, June 16, 2019)
- for turning 9/11 Responder’s Health problems, into just
another GOP bargaining chip. Mitch McConnell always
holds out to the last minute before funding another few years
of support for our nation's Heroes - and then always in
exchange for some GOP Agenda item - before he ultimately
'lets' the GOP do the right thing.
court orders jail for rape victim unless kids handed to
rapist. No, wait. That was in Alabama. (Daily KOS,
June 16, 2019)
"In Alabama, a rapist is entitled to visitation rights to
children resulting from his crimes, and can even sue for
custody. Alabama is one of only two states that allow
this. However, this horror takes on new meaning in
Alabama, because last month the state passed a law
outlawing the destruction of embryos for all victims of
sexual assault. The law even prescribes jail for doctors
who perform abortions.
organisations call on the EU to immediately halt trade
negotiations with Brazil (Seattle To Brussels, June
In an open letter, over 340 civil society organisations
are demanding that the European Union immediately halt
free trade agreement negotiations with the Mercosur bloc
(Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) on the grounds
of deteriorating human rights and environmental conditions
in Brazil. The letter is addressed to presidents of the EU
institutions ahead of the ministerial-level meeting next
week in Brussels where EU and Mercosur foreign ministers
aim to finalise the negotiations.
Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid (New
York Times, June 15, 2019)
Power grids have been a low-intensity battleground for years.
Since at least 2012, current and former officials say, the
United States has put reconnaissance probes into the control
systems of the Russian electric grid.
But now the American strategy has shifted more toward offense,
officials say, with the placement of potentially crippling
malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an
aggressiveness that had never been tried before. It is
intended partly as a warning, and partly to be poised to
conduct cyberstrikes if a major conflict broke out between
Washington and Moscow.
Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had
not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place
'implants' - software code that can be used for surveillance
or attack - inside the Russian grid. Pentagon and intelligence
officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with
Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his
reaction - and the possibility that he might countermand it or
discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he
mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian
Democrats shine: Bernie on the meaning of freedom, Warren
on the wealth gap, and more (Daily KOS, June 15, 2019)
Chair Weintraub: Statement Regarding Illegal Contributions
From Foreign Governments (U.S. Federal Election
Commission, June 14, 2019)
It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive
anything of value from a foreign national in connection with
a U.S. election
makes it clear he can't speak under oath because he just
can't stop lying (Daily KOS, June 14, 2019)
Lying is what Donald Trump does. And in his ABC interview
Thursday, Trump admitted straight up that that’s why he didn’t
want to answer questions for Robert Mueller.
'If you answer these questions to me now,' asked host George
Stephanopoulos, 'why not answer them to Robert Mueller under
'Because they were looking to get us for lies or slight
misstatements,' replied Trump. 'I looked at what happened to
people, and it was very unfair. Very, very unfair. Very
Trump could not have laid it out more neatly: It’s just dandy
to lie to the public and the press because … what are they
going to do about it? But lying under oath has consequences.
So he won’t speak under oath.
may review Trump hotel's liquor license over challenge to
President's 'good character' (CNN, June 14, 2019)
An attorney who is representing the group challenging the
license renewal told CNN on Friday that the board's order is
'a solid victory for the rule of law. Despite Trump's efforts
to silence the public and hold himself above the law, the
board correctly denied his motion to dismiss and found that
the public can protest the owner's character on renewal of
their liquor license.'
Donald Trump says it 'doesn't matter' what former White
House counsel Don McGahn told Mueller (ABC News, June 14, 2019)
Trump’s internal polling data from March showed him far
behind Joe Biden in key battleground states (ABC News,
June 14, 2019)
Object’ Struck Tanker in Gulf of Oman, Operator Says, Not a
Mine (New York Times, June 14, 2019)
rejects Iran’s denials that it attacked tankers, citing
video released by US Central Command (Washington Post,
June 14, 2019)
President Trump cited a video released by the U.S. military
that it said showed Iranian vessels retrieving a mine from one
of the damaged ships. Earlier, Iran accused the Trump
administration of sabotage and 'economic terrorism.'
We're not killing ad blockers. Translation: We made them too
powerful, we'll cram this genie back in its bottle (The Register, June 13, 2019)
We want to make Chrome safer... by taking away the API we used
to race Firefox.
Ditches Microsoft to ‘Take Back Control’ with Open Source
Software (OMG! Ubuntu!, June 13, 2019)
While the Microsoft Alternatives project (MAlt) is ambitious,
it’s also a unique opportunity for CERN to demonstrate that
building core services can be done without vendor and data
lock-in, that the next generation of services can be tailored
to the community’s needs and finally that CERN can inspire its
partners by collaborating around a new range of products.
Cyberattack Hits Telegram, App Used by Hong Kong Protesters
(New York Times, June
A network of computers in China bombarded Telegram, a secure
messaging app used by many of the protesters, with a huge
volume of traffic that disrupted service. The app’s founder,
Pavel Durov, said the attack coincided with the Hong Kong
protests, a phenomenon that Telegram had seen before.
The Hong Kong police made their own move to limit digital
communications. On Tuesday night, as demonstrators gathered
near Hong Kong’s legislative building, the authorities
arrested the administrator of a Telegram chat group with
20,000 members, even though he was at his home miles from the
protest site. 'I never thought that just speaking on the
internet, just sharing information, could be regarded as a
speech crime,' the chat leader, Ivan Ip, 22, said in an
Past the tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray, the Hong
Kong protests are also unfolding on a largely invisible,
digital front. Protesters and police officers alike have
brought a new technological savvy to the standoff.
Demonstrators are using today’s networking tools to muster
their ranks, share safety tips and organize caches of food and
water, even as they take steps to hide their identities.
The Hong Kong authorities are responding by tracking the
protesters in the digital places where they plan their moves,
suggesting they are taking cues from the ways China polices
businesses paying even less than expected under GOP tax law
(Politico, June 13, 2019)
Though profits remain up and the economy is strong, total
corporate taxes are at the lowest levels seen in more than 50
McConnell, Too, Welcomes Russian Interference (New York
Times, June 13, 2019)
Or at least he won’t let Congress do anything to stop it.
just a psychotic’: Letterman looks back with regret on his
dozens of Trump interviews (Washington Post, June 13,
"'I had no sense that he was the soulless bastard that he’s
turned into,' Letterman said on the podcast. Letterman and
others like Stern beamed Trump to the masses for
entertainment. For Letterman, it’s not funny anymore. 'He
used to be kind of like the boob of New York that pretended
to be wealthy, or we thought was wealthy, and now he’s just
in the country should be totally appalled' by Trump comments
on foreign interference: Pelosi (ABC News, June 13, 2019)
claimed he’s never called the FBI. He has - when he wanted
its help. (Washington Post, June 13, 2019)
'You don’t call the FBI,' Trump said. 'Life doesn’t work that
way.' Except it did for Trump.
think I’d take it': In exclusive interview, Trump says he
would listen if foreigners offered dirt on opponents
(ABC News, June 12, 2019)
President Donald Trump may not alert the FBI if foreign
governments offered damaging information against his 2020
rivals during the upcoming presidential race, he said, despite
the deluge of investigations stemming from his campaign's
interactions with Russians during the 2016 campaign. Trump
disputed the idea that if a foreign government provided
information on a political opponent, it would be considered
interference in our election process.
Knew About PFAS Food Contamination in 2001 (The
Intercept, June 12, 2019)
Last week, we learned that the Food and Drug Administration
had detected PFAS compounds in pineapple, sweet potato, meat,
and chocolate cake. The presence of the industrial compounds
in our food was made public by the Environmental Working Group
after a staff member of the Environmental Defense Fund took
photos of the research at a scientific conference in Europe.
While the FDA fields questions about why it didn’t present
this information to the public itself (the agency released the
data along with a statement on Tuesday), it has become clear
that 3M, the company that originally developed PFOS and PFOA,
had known for a very long time that these toxic and persistent
chemicals were in our food. According to a 2001 study
sponsored by 3M, 12 samples of food from around the country -
including ground beef, bread, apples, and green beans - tested
positive for either PFOA or PFOS. One piece of bread had
14,700 parts per trillion of PFOA, though the report noted
that the sample was considered 'suspect.'
The Environmental Protection Agency has known about the study
for years, but it is not clear if the FDA was aware of the
research. The Environmental Working Group mentioned the 3M
study in a 2002 report on PFAS chemicals and alerted the
Centers for Disease Control.
citizen sleuths cracked the Wolverine tannery pollution case
(MLive, June 12, 2019)
AI researchers race to detect ‘deepfake’ videos: ‘We are
outgunned’ (Washington Post, June 12, 2019)
The threat of deepfakes, named for the 'deep learning' AI
techniques used to create them, has become a personal one on
Capitol Hill, where lawmakers believe the videos could
threaten national security, the voting process - and,
potentially, their reputations. The House Intelligence
Committee will hold a hearing Thursday in which AI experts are
expected to discuss how deepfakes could evade detection and
leave an 'enduring psychological impact.' Rep. Adam B. Schiff
(D-Calif.), who chairs the committee, said Thursday, 'I don’t
think we’re well prepared at all. And I don’t think the public
is aware of what’s coming.'
A disinformation campaign using deepfake videos probably would
catch fire because of the reward structure of the modern Web,
in which shocking material drives bigger audiences - and can
spread further and faster than the truth.
Read 150 Privacy Policies. They Were an Incomprehensible
Disaster. (New York Times, June 12, 2019)
Most privacy policies are verbose and full of legal jargon -
and opaquely establish companies’ justifications for
collecting and selling your data. The data market has become
the engine of the internet, and these privacy policies we
agree to but don't fully understand help fuel it.
machine password leak in North Carolina grows murkier the
more we learn (Daily KOS, June 11, 2019)
Hopefully, the silver lining to this incident’s dark cloud
will prove to be the shaming of DHS into upping its game
(which is my personal interest in reporting this story).
Because if DHS isn’t at least as good as Vickery at finding
the chinks in our electoral armor, it sure as hell isn’t as
good as Russia’s GRU.
Perhaps DHS and the state Board of Elections might even
consider enlisting Vickery’s help, rather than vilifying his
worries the world - May 2019 (Ipsos, June 11, 2019)
Top five global issues: Unemployment (33%), Poverty/Social
Inequality (32%). Financial/ Political corruption (31%), Crime
& Violence (30%), Healthcare (25%)
World Is a Mess. We Need Fully Automated Luxury Communism.
(New York Times, June 11, 2019)
Asteroid mining. Gene editing. Synthetic meat. We could
provide for the needs of everyone, in style. It just takes
Nation: Toxic Discharges Suspected From Almost 500
Industrial Facilities Across U.S. (Environmental Working
Group, June 11, 2019)
to break up Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple get louder
(CNet, June 11, 2019)
Regulators are gearing up to investigate Big Tech. But are
breakups of these companies on the horizon?
Cash That Powered Silicon Valley Is Suddenly Toxic (Wall
Street Journal, June 11, 2019)
As U.S. startups reject their money, Chinese venture-capital
firms in U.S. are dialing back investments, structuring deals
to avoid regulators or shutting down."
laundering and crypto-coin legislation could hurt
open-source ecosystem – activists (The Register, June
Rights groups slam UK.gov's customer due diligence plans.
Cared About His Campaign Spending When It Was His Money -
Not Anymore (New York Magazine, June 11, 2019)
For his 2020 bid, Trump is eagerly taking advantage of the big
donors he once scorned. Super-PACs, which he’s called a 'scam'
and 'very unfair,' are now supporting him with hundreds of
millions of dollars. And his campaign has collected gobs of
cash, bringing in $30 million in the first quarter of 2019.
The shift in how the money has come in is also affecting how
it’s going out. In 2016, Trump had a skeleton staff and
routinely stiffed vendors, including a group of little girls
who sang at his rallies. But that’s when he was spending his
own money. Now he’s spending other people’s money, and
according to the New York Times, he doesn’t care where it
It’s not surprising that Trump, who managed to convince
millions of people that he could spend Mexico’s money on a
border wall, is careless with money that isn’t his. He’s
openly eager to spend other people’s money, as he admitted on
the campaign trail in 2016. 'It’s called OPM. I do that all
the time in business,' he said. 'It’s called other people’s
money. There’s nothing like doing things with other people’s
Presidential Debates Could Reignite Warren-Biden Bankruptcy
Fight (National Public Radio, June 11, 2019)
Warren advised Hillary Clinton to vote against the bankruptcy
bill that Joe Biden supported, and talked about her
disappointment in a 2004 interview with journalist Bill
WARREN: She voted in favor of it.
WARREN: As Sen. Clinton, the pressures are very different.
It's a well-financed industry. You know, a lot of people don't
realize that the industry that gave the most money to
Washington over the past few years was not the oil industry.
It was not pharmaceuticals. It was consumer credit products.
Credit card companies have been giving money, and they have
MOYERS: And Mrs. Clinton was one of them as senator.
WARREN: She has taken money from the groups, and more to the
point, she worries about them as a constituency.
'If you talk to many independent voters, they worry that both
parties are funded by the same corporate interests,' said Adam
Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign
Committee, which has endorsed Warren ahead of 2020. 'Elizabeth
Warren has been part of the solution trying to re-brand the
Democratic Party as being of the people. The credit card fight
was just one chapter of that ongoing struggle.'
facial recognition boss wants the feds to hurry up with
regulation. (Vox, June 10, 2019)
Otherwise, AWS CEO Andy Jassy said, “You’ll have 50 different
laws in 50 different states.”
border cops confirm: Maker of America's license-plate,
driver recognition tech hacked, camera images swiped (The Register, June 10, 2019)
That story we broke in May? It is still true – and perhaps
even worse than first thought.
raising axe for 'significant workforce balancing in Europe',
says staffer rep council (The Register, June 10, 2019)
GTS to shoulder third of cuts, with UK and DACH hit hardest.
White House counsel Dean describes parallels between Trump
and Nixon (Washington Post, June 10, 2019)
'In many ways the Mueller report is to President Trump what
the so-called Watergate roadmap … was to President Richard
Nixon,' said Dean, whose congressional testimony in 1973
ultimately led to the resignation of Nixon. 'Special counsel
Mueller has provided this committee with a roadmap.' Dean
highlighted similarities he saw between the two presidents,
particularly on the matter of pardons and whether they were
used to obstruct justice. Mueller identified 10 potential
cases of obstruction of justice by Trump in his report.
denies Trump's claim of secret concessions in deal
(CTPost, June 10, 2019)
needs some victories’: Trump lashes out over his Mexico
deal (Politico, June 10, 2019)
"As Trump's presidency reaches the 2.5-year mark, he is more
aggrieved than ever, telling advisers that he believes he’ll
never get fair treatment.
Needs a Target to Stay Interested in His Campaign. For
Now, It’s Biden. (New York Times, June 10, 2019)
"After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll
conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump
told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him
trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win,
even though he is also trailing in public polls from key
states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And when
top-line details of the polling leaked, including numbers
showing the president lagging in a cluster of critical Rust
Belt states, Mr. Trump instructed aides to say publicly that
other data showed him doing well.
latest rage-threat gives Democrats a big opening. One just
took it. (Washington
Post, June 10, 2019)
Beto O’Rourke used this situation as a window into a much
broader indictment of Trump’s nationalist agenda. He stressed
that the threat of tariffs against Mexico is only serving to
'jeopardize' our 'most important trading relationship'; that
this places at risk markets that our farmers have cultivated;
and that they are already taking a beating from Trump’s trade
wars with China. Importantly, O’Rourke made the case that
precisely the opposite approach - strengthened, reality-based
international integration - is the answer both on trade and on
immigration. O’Rourke called for trade arrangements in
farmers’ and workers’ interests and for increased investments
in Central America 'to ensure that no family has to make that
peddle grotesque abortion-slavery comparison (Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
State-sanctioned slavery justified by a dogma of religious
paternalism is a monstrous crime unequaled in American
history. All of which is why analogizing any political
controversy to slavery isn’t merely wrong, but obscene.
Nevertheless, today’s Republicans routinely compare slavery to
Obamacare, gun control, the national debt, the social safety
net, and just about any other political development they hate.
And as their wave of draconian bans in Georgia, Ohio, Alabama,
Missouri and other states shows, the Republicans equation of
abortion to slavery is the most insidious of them of all.
administration denied requests to fly pride flags. These
U.S. embassies are still flying them (Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
The Trump administration has made big changes in the way it is
approaching pride. Last year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
made the approval process a whole lot harder. In past years,
embassy staffers could submit their requests directly to the
ambassador, who could approve them. Under Pompeo’s rules,
every embassy has to submit requests to fly the pride flag to
the State Department.
This year, the State Department rejected every single request.
Crisis Comes Home to Roost in the Midwest (Daily KOS,
June 9, 2019)
"As of June 2 only 33 percent of Ohio’s corn acreage and 18
percent of the state’s soybean acreage had been planted. By
this time of year, at least 90 percent of corn should have
been planted, and 79 percent of soybeans should have been
planted. And that’s based only on the most recent five-year
average. Years ago, plantings were made much earlier in the
hate machine: bot nation threatens our national discourse
(Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
"While 2016 is behind us, the work on behalf of bot networks
for 2020 is already underway, and so is the influence that
bot networks have on our political discussions. Despite
Donald Trump’s pronouncements, the overwhelming majority of
fake news shares, according to studies, were conservative.
How much impact these bot networks have through faked
articles and shared content is difficult to say, but the
bans at Facebook hint that much bigger problems may be
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have
fought hard against any real oversight of how their
businesses may be manipulated by armies of imaginary
accounts. It is time for the U.S. House to begin asking
serious questions of Facebook and Twitter, about their
advertisement policies, reporting policies, data services,
and what plans, if any, they have to prevent online hordes
from overwhelming any real discussion of issues in 2020.
Cain was a college dropout looking for direction. He
turned to YouTube. (New York Times, June 8, 2019)
"Mr. Cain, 26, recently swore off the alt-right nearly five
years after discovering it, and has become a vocal critic of
the movement. He is scarred by his experience of being
radicalized by what he calls a 'decentralized cult' of
far-right YouTube personalities, who convinced him that
Western civilization was under threat from Muslim immigrants
and cultural Marxists, that innate I.Q. differences
explained racial disparities, and that feminism was a
dangerous ideology. 'I just kept falling deeper and deeper
into this, and it appealed to me because it made me feel a
sense of belonging,' he said. 'I was brainwashed.'
YouTube has inadvertently created a dangerous on-ramp to
extremism by combining two things: a business model that
rewards provocative videos with exposure and advertising
dollars, and an algorithm that guides users down
personalized paths meant to keep them glued to their
Linux Foundation in 2019: Over 100 Million Dollars in
Income, But Cannot Maintain Linux.com? (TechRights, June
The Linux Foundation isn’t what it seems; it isn’t even what
it’s called. Our readers and guests often urge us to
investigate further, getting to the bottom of what goes on at
this relatively secretive nonprofit. Without going too deep
into the 2017 IRS filing, one can easily see that it’s not a
nonprofit and it’s totally out of control. It’s more like a
corporate PAC or pressure group. There are aspects to it that
we weren’t aware of before. And readers be forewarned… it’s
not pretty, to say the least.
of Alabama robs students of $26.5 million because the donor
spoke out for women's rights (Daily KOS, June 8, 2019)
Culverhouse said, 'My love for Alabama is exactly why I was so
horrified to watch its lawmakers trample over the Constitution
last month. The ban on abortion they passed wasn’t just an
attack against women, it was an affront to the rule of law
itself. Part of being an American is engaging in public
debate, and we can disagree over this issue. But the courts
settled this matter a long time ago: Abortion is legal. So it
was shocking to see legislators ignore this and pass a bill
that turned women and health professionals into criminals, and
it felt important to say so publicly.'
But the punishment that Culverhouse is getting for this is …
no punishment at all. He’s getting his money back. The people
being punished are the University of Alabama students who are
being deprived of the facilities and staff that money would
have supported; the students who will now have to open their
own wallets, or take out more loans, to make up the
EPA Is Letting “Forever Chemicals” Into Our Food, Experts
Say (Truthout, June 7, 2019)
A growing chorus of environmental groups and public health
experts are slamming the Trump administration for its
milquetoast response to the widespread problem of per- and
polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a family of toxic 'forever
chemicals' that are linked to serious diseases and have
contaminated food products and drinking water across the
Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump (New
York Times, June 7, 2019)
A New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law
School, Columbia Law School and other sources, counts more
than 80 environmental rules and regulations on the way out
under Mr. Trump. Our list represents two types of policy
changes: rules that were officially reversed and rollbacks
still in progress. The Trump administration has released an
aggressive schedule to try to finalize many of these rollbacks
All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks
could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead
to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality every year,
according to a recent report prepared by New York University
Law School's State Energy and Environmental Impact Center.
Climate Rebellion Inside Amazon (Huffington Post, June
'It’s so easy to just say, oh, we’re building some new solar
panels here, but at the same time we haven’t actually reduced
our emissions,' said an Amazon engineer.
to put $500M into closing all remaining coal plants by 2030
(CBS News, June 7, 2019)
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is plunging $500
million into an effort to close all of the nation's remaining
coal plants by 2030 and put the United States on track toward
a 100% clean energy economy. The billionaire Bloomberg's
investment in the Beyond Carbon initiative marks the largest
ever philanthropic effort to combat climate change, according
to the mayor's foundation. The organization will bypass the
federal government and instead seek to pass climate and clean
energy policies, as well as back political candidates, at the
state and local level.
'We're in a race against time with climate change, and yet
there is virtually no hope of bold federal action on this
issue for at least another two years. Mother Nature is not
waiting on our political calendar, and neither can we,'
life Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr. launches climate change
coalition to clean up the world with technology (Good
Morning America, June 5, 2019)
Downey's new venture, called the Footprint Coalition, will
launch in April 2020. 'Between robotics and nanotechnology, we
could clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10
years,' Downey said.
say they'll lose nearly $1 trillion to climate change (CBS News, June 5, 2019)
215 of the world's largest companies predict they stand to
lose $970 billion to climate-change-related disruptions over
the next seven years. Risks include paying more for insurance,
writing off facilities in threatened locations and customers
shifting to more environmentally friendly companies. The same
companies say they could make $2 trillion from adapting to
worker shortages would be even worse without immigrants
(Washington Post, June 5, 2019)
The study finds more than one-fourth of direct care workers
and 30.3 percent of nursing home housekeeping and maintenance
workers are immigrants, underscoring their key role as the
U.S. population ages. They make up 18.2 percent of the total
health-care workforce at more than 3 million people.
vendor may have opened a gap for hackers in 2016 swing
state (Politico, June 5, 2019)
"A Florida election software company targeted by Russians in
2016 inadvertently opened a potential pathway for hackers to
tamper with voter records in North Carolina on the eve of
the presidential election, according to a document reviewed
by Politico and a person with knowledge of the episode. VR
Systems, based in Tallahassee but with customers in eight
states, used what’s known as remote-access software to
connect for several hours to a central computer in Durham
County, N.C., to troubleshoot problems with the company's
voter list management tool, the person said. The software
distributes voter lists to so-called electronic poll books,
which poll workers use to check in voters and verify their
eligibility to cast a ballot.
Last year, top voting machine maker Election Systems &
Software admitted that for years it had installed and used
remote access software on election-management systems it
sold to counties, after initially denying it.
Election-management systems are even more critical to
elections because they are used first to program voting
machines and then to tally the results. The revelation about
VR Systems, however, indicates that the practice of remotely
accessing critical election infrastructure is more
widespread than previously believed.
Linux Foundation Fires All Staff and Editors at Linux.com.
Future Uncertain. (TechRights, June 5, 2019)
Carla Schroder, author, former editor of Linux Today and so
many other things (also a technical writer in Linux.com) spoke
out less than an hour ago in response to our article about the
Linux Foundation. In her own words, 'The Linux Foundation
sucks. Remember when they took over http://Linux.com and
promised to be good stewards? In short order they made it a
corporate shill site, and then in April laid off all writers
and editors without so much as a word of thanks or
explanation. All along they’ve been paying lip service to
community, while bending over for their corporate members. The
individual membership was discontinued years ago.
@linuxfoundation needs a housecleaning at the top, and some
Want to Live in Elizabeth Warren’s America (New York
Times, June 5, 2019)
The Massachusetts senator is proposing something radical: a
country in which adults discuss serious ideas seriously."
Biden's long evolution on abortion rights still holds
surprises (NBC News, June 5, 2019)
As a senator from Delaware, he once supported stripping
exceptions for rape and incest from federal funding.
Ditch MitchMcConnell (New York Times, June 5, 2019)
The Senate majority leader comes out of his shell.
Dept. Forces Out Official Who Worked on Plan That Led to
Ex-Employer’s Arms Deals (Wall Street Journal, June 5,
Ex-Raytheon outside lobbyist took part in department’s
decision to fast-track sales, according to current and former
are dozens of hilarious images from the British resistance
during Trump's London visit (Daily KOS, June 4, 2019)
Also, 'Kids in cages have heartbeats, too.'
Trump tells Prince Charles US has 'clean climate' (The
Guardian, June 5, 2019)
President blames other countries for environmental crisis, in
long talk with prince.
mayor compared President Trump to an 11-year-old child
(CNN, June 4, 2019)
Richard Engel: Trump’s London Fanfare Claim Is ‘Delusional,’
‘Deeply Disturbing’ (Huffington Post, June 4, 2019)
'There were thousands of people on the streets. They were
protesting Trump, not celebrating his arrival,' the journalist
support for Trump has moved from transactional to fanatical
(Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2019)
Support for Trump is coming to define what it means to be a
conservative. One reason Trump has become a conservative
litmus test is that there’s a policy vacuum on the right and
Trump’s personality is filling the void. Another is the GOP
voter base, which has imposed a binary choice of its own:
You’re either with the president or you’re with 'the left.'
Republicans have internalized Trumpism so deeply that they now
see the world through his eyes. It’s perfectly 'reasonable'
for a White House staffer to think the commander in chief
should be shielded from even the name of his late adversary
because Trump’s feelings are all that matter.
a biblically wet spring, this is the week that could break
the Corn Belt (Washington Post, June 4, 2019)
In recent years, corn plants have typically emerged on about
84 percent of planned corn acres by this point. This year, it
is at 46 percent. Illinois (32 percent) and Indiana (18
percent) are even farther behind. And the acres remaining to
plant were always going to be the hardest. The farmers have
already planted all their driest fields - the ones that are
left are the ones that become most challenging in wet
conditions. Some acres just won’t get planted.
For many farmers, the clock has run out on corn for 2019. Even
if they work around the clock under optimal conditions, there
just are not enough hours to finish planting. About 10 million
acres will either go unplanted for insurance purposes or be
switched to soybeans. For perspective, that lost acreage would
have been the third largest corn state this year, behind the
predicted totals for Iowa and Illinois.
Farmers could switch to soybeans, but then they would find
themselves even more exposed to President Trump’s trade war
with China, the world’s largest soybean market. And beans face
many of the same planting issues as corn. For many farmers,
the alternative is to bow out and collect crop insurance. As
more farmers give up on 2019, alarmed traders will probably
bid up prices on corn and soybeans, making costs soar for
ethanol producers, hog farmers and others who are already
caught in the president’s escalating two-front trade war.
(As Trump sows, so shall we reap.)
change could pose 'existential threat' by 2050: report
(CNN, June 4, 2019)
"Twenty days of lethal heat per year. Collapsed ecosystems.
And more than 1 billion people displaced. Those are all
probable scenarios that could devastate societies by 2050 if
swift and dramatic action isn't taken to curb climate
mangroves? Economies recover faster after tropical cyclones
(Ars Technica, June 4, 2019)
Analysis measures economic losses with satellite images of
starts blocking third-party cookies by default (Venture
Beat, June 4, 2019)
Brief History of How Your Privacy Was Stolen (New York
Times, June 3, 2019)
Google and Facebook took our data - and made a ton of money
from it. We must fight back.
10 Apps Serving Malicious Ads Warning of Virus Infections
(Softpedia News, June 3, 2019)
Ads bundled into Windows 10 apps available for users from the
Microsoft Store point users to deceptive campaigns eventually
trying to deploy malware on their devices.
NEW: A Key
Cog in Charles Koch’s Master Plan (Public Citizen,
June 3, 2019)
"How the Purportedly Unbiased George Washington University
Regulatory Studies Center Advances an Agenda to Deregulate
and Fiat Chrysler Unmasked as Tesla's Secret Source of
Cash (Bloomberg, June 3, 2019)
"Detroit carmakers disclose deals to buy regulatory credits.
GM says it’s hedging against ‘future regulatory
uncertainties.’ These are the first acknowledgments from
carmakers that they’re turning to Tesla for help to comply
with intensifying U.S. environmental regulations.
inspection finds 900 people crammed into Border Patrol
facility meant to detain 125 (Daily KOS, June 3, 2019)
Detainee Deaths Were Preventable: Document (The Young
Turks, June 3, 2019)
One ICE official told TYT the problem is 'systemic.' 'IHSC
[ICE’s Health Services Corps] is severely dysfunctional and
unfortunately preventable harm and death to detainees has
Money Helping Make Up For Tenant Shortage At Trump Tower
(Huffington Post, June 3, 2019)
As commercial renters flee, Trump keeps spending $37,500 a
month in campaign funds at his own building - even though much
of the Republican Party’s leased space in Virginia is going
Asia Doesn't Want to Be the World's Dumping Ground. Here's
How Some Countries Are Pushing Back (Time, June 3, 2019)
The global trash trade has reached a turning point; wealthier
nations have long shipped their plastic waste to the
developing world to be processed, but in recent months, some
nations in Southeast Asia have begun sending the exports -
much of it contaminated plastic and trash that is unrecyclable
- back to where it came from.
The pushback comes as containers of trash continue to
accumulate on the shores of countries like Malaysia, Thailand
and the Philippines, which are increasingly worried that the
environmental costs are greater than the income they bring in
from importing the waste.
and Amazon Are at the Center of a Storm Brewing Over Big
Tech (New York Times, June 2, 2019)
The Justice Department is exploring an investigation of
Google, underlining a major shift in the United States’
attitude toward the big technology companies.
promises 'ironclad case' against Trump (The Hill, June
In his report, special counsel Mueller warned us in the
starkest terms that there was an attack on our election and an
attack on our democracy. Why won't the president defend us
from this attack? What is the president covering up? We must
investigate the president's welcoming of the assault on our
evolving remarks on Russian election interference (The
Hill, June 1, 2019)
the U.S. and China, it’s not a trade war anymore - it’s
something worse (Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2019)
Beneath the surface, a new tone has begun to emerge since
trade talks broke down in early May and Trump ratcheted up
tariffs on imported goods from China, an action met with
retaliatory duties from Beijing. Officials on both sides of
the Pacific have begun to portray the U.S.-China relationship
in nationalistic and emotion-charged terms that suggest a much
Lopez Obrador of Mexico responds to Trump's tariff threat
& it’s a beautiful thing (Daily KOS, May 31, 2019)
trolls fueled anti-vaccination debate in U.S. by spreading
misinformation on Twitter, study finds (CBS News, May
Russian Twitter trolls have attempted to fuel the
anti-vaccination debate in the U.S., posting about the issue
far more than the average Twitter user last year, a
study out of George Washington University has found. The
"sophisticated" bots shared opinions from both sides of the
anti-vaxxer debate, which took the U.S. by storm and prompted
tech companies to crack down on the spread of misinformation
Rights Are More Popular Than You Think (Jacobin, May 31,
Don't let the slate of new anti-abortion bills fool you -
support for abortion rights has actually increased in the last
decade. Defeating these draconian measures will mean defeating
the elite minority that imposes them.
Startup To Bring Pogo Sticks To San Francisco As E-Scooter
Alternative (SF CBS, May 31, 2019)
(A sure sign of massive traffic congestion?)
lawmakers pass bill to cut renewable requirement, help
nuclear and coal (Ars Technica, May 31, 2019)
Critics say the bill unnecessarily bails out nuclear, coal
owner FirstEnergy Solutions.
says there's 'no doubt' climate change impacts tornadoes
(The Hill, May 31, 2019)
issues second warning about patching BlueKeep as PoC code
goes public (ZDNet, May 31, 2019)
Time's running out on patching older systems against the
BlueKeep vulnerability. An exploit exists for this
vulnerability, and if recent reports are accurate, nearly one
million computers connected directly to the internet are still
military moves closer to replacing Windows with Astra Linux
(ZDNet, May 31, 2019)
The Chinese military is also working on a similar plan to
replace Windows with a custom OS.
a key beneficiary of China subsidies that US wants ended
(Agence France Presse,
May 30, 2019)
A replica of the Palace of Versailles, medieval turrets, and
spires rise across Huawei's new campus in southern China, a
monument to the telecom giant's growing fortune - and the
benefits of state aid. The fairytale-like facilities rest on
land that was sold by the local government at cut-rate prices
to woo and bolster a strategic, high-tech company like Huawei.
Restrictions, Membership Organizations and Huawei
(Consortium Info, May 30, 2019)
New U.S. sanctions against Huawei in the escalating U.S.–China
trade war have thrown another wrench into the gears of global
commerce. But how do these sanctions affect standards
organizations and open source development? The high level
answer is that the impact will be significant for most
standards organizations, and negligible for most open source
projects. The major differentiator will be the degree of
transparency of the organization in question.
Chrome May Block Ad Blockers: What This Means for You
(Tom's Guide, May 30, 2019)
Still Has A White Nationalist Problem (Huffington Post,
May 30, 2019)
Almost 18 months after Twitter promised to crack down on hate,
the platform teems with racist extremists.
House USS McCain cover-up story gets even more embarrassing
for Trump, if that's possible (Daily KOS, May 30, 2019)
G.O.P. Strategist’s Hard Drives Reveal New Details on the
Census Citizenship Question (New York Times, May 30,
Thomas B. Hofeller, a leading Republican strategist, died in
August and left a trove of computer files containing evidence
that could now be relevant in a Supreme Court. Files on those
drives showed that he wrote a study in 2015 concluding that
adding a citizenship question to the census would allow
Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to
stymie Democrats. And months after urging President Trump’s
transition team to tack the question onto the census, he wrote
the key portion of a draft Justice Department letter claiming
the question was needed to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act
- the rationale the administration later used to justify its
decision. In nearly 230 years, the census has never asked all
respondents whether they are American citizens. But while
adding such a question might appear uncontroversial on its
face, opponents have argued that it is actually central to a
Republican strategy to skew political boundaries to their
advantage when redistricting begins in 2021.
Tweets, and Then Retracts, Statement That Russia Helped Him
Get Elected (New York Times, May 30, 2019)
says his investigation did not exonerate Trump (Los
Angeles Times, May 29, 2019)
In his first and perhaps last public comments on the Russia
investigation, outgoing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III
pointedly refused Wednesday to clear President Trump of a
possible crime, while urging Americans to confront foreign
interference in U.S. elections. Appearing at the Justice
Department, Mueller sought to put a capstone on his nearly
two-year investigation, reading a statement but taking no
questions from reporters. He did not definitively rule out
testifying to Congress but said he would not go beyond the
redacted 448-page report released six weeks ago.
He stopped far short of Trump’s claims, and those of Atty.
Gen. William Barr, that the investigation found no obstruction
of justice by the president and 'no collusion' between Trump’s
campaign and Russian operatives. Mueller said Justice
Department guidelines prevented indicting a sitting president,
a remark that suggested it was the rules, not the lack of
evidence, that spared Trump from criminal charges. 'If we had
confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would
have said so.'
'There were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our
 election,' Mueller said. 'And that allegation deserves
the attention of every American.'
described Trump Organization as 'criminal enterprise',
Michael Wolff book claims (The Guardian, May 29, 2019)
The former White House adviser Steve Bannon has described the
Trump Organization as a criminal entity and predicted that
investigations into the president’s finances will lead to his
political downfall, when he is revealed to be 'not the
billionaire he said he was, just another scumbag.'
Department of Energy Is Now Calling Fossil Fuels “Molecules
of Freedom” and “Freedom Gas” (Slate, May 29, 2019)
The Trump administration loves fossil fuels, but apparently
has decided that they need some rebranding.
Energy Costs Take Another Tumble, Making Fossil Fuels Look
More Expensive Than Ever (Forbes, May 29, 2019)
Almost every source of green energy can now compete on cost
with oil, coal and gas-fired power plants, according to new
data released today.
NEW: How the 1919 Solar Eclipse Made Einstein the
World's Most Famous Scientist (Discover
Magazine, May 29, 2019)
Heaven and earth moved to make Albert Einstein a star, a
century ago today.
believe the internet can be better," Mozilla to the
International Grand Committee (Mozilla, May 29, 2019)
'We believe the internet can be better. And to build an
internet that is both innovative and worthy of people’s trust,
we will need better technology and better policy,' said Alan.
In his testimony Alan Davidson, Vice President of Global
Policy, Trust and Security focused on the need for better
regulation right; and the complexities of content policy
issues. Against the backdrop of tech’s numerous missteps over
the last year, our mission-driven work is a clear alternative
to much of what is wrong with the web today.
Dems need to impeach Trump to win 2020 (2-min. video;
CNN, May 29, 2019)
Finds Trump Tax Cuts Failed to Do Anything But Give Rich
People Money (New York Magazine, May 29, 2019)
Supporters of the Trump tax cuts insisted not only that they
would promote growth, but that they would promote so much
growth the measure would pay for itself. Even moderates like
Susan Collins repeated assurances by the party’s
pseudo-economists that the plan would not increase the
deficit. So far, the growth feedback from the tax cuts has
made up about 5 percent of the plan’s revenue loss, a mere 95
percent shy of the predictions. The passage of the plan was
met with a coordinated wave of corporate public-relations
announcements of worker bonuses. But the paper finds no
widespread increase in bonuses or worker compensation.
When assessing these arguments, keep a close eye on the number
of Republican officials or conservative policy-makers who
revise their position on the Trump tax cuts in light of the
data. If their true primary goal was to increase business
investment, then the complete failure of a highly expensive
program to achieve its stated goal would lead them to question
their support. Why not cancel the Trump tax cuts and use the
couple trillion dollars in lost revenue to fund a more
effective growth-promoting policy?
So far, the number of Republicans reassessing their support
for the Trump tax cuts is, give or take, zero. What this
suggests is that the alleged growth-incentivizing secondary
effects of the plan were rationales, and the primary effect -
giving business owners more money - was the hidden main goal
devastating analysis of the tax cut shows it’s done
virtually no economic good (Los Angeles Times, May 29,
You may remember all the glowing predictions made for the
December 2017 tax cuts by congressional Republicans and the
Trump administration: Wages would soar for the rank-and-file,
corporate investments would surge, and the cuts would pay for
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has just
published a deep dive into the economic impact of the cuts in
their first year, and emerges from the water with a different
picture. The CRS finds that the cuts have had virtually no
effect on wages, haven’t contributed to a surge in investment,
and haven’t come close to paying for themselves. Nor have they
delivered a cut to the average taxpayer. The negligible (at
best) economic impact of the cuts shouldn’t surprise anyone,
the CRS says. 'Much of the tax cut was directed at businesses
and higher-income individuals who are less likely to spend,'
its analysts write. 'Fiscal stimulus is limited in an economy
that is at or near full employment.'
drew up obstruction indictment against Trump, Michael Wolff
book says (The Guardian, May 28, 2019)
A new book from Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff
says special counsel Robert Mueller drew up a three-count
obstruction of justice indictment against Donald Trump before
deciding to shelve it a year later – an explosive claim which
a spokesman for Mueller flatly denied.
According to a document seen by the Guardian, the first count,
under Title 18, United States code, Section 1505, charged the
president with corruptly – or by threats of force or
threatening communication – influencing, obstructing or
impeding a pending proceeding before a department or agency of
the United States.
The second count, under section 1512, charged the president
with tampering with a witness, victim or informant.
The third count, under section 1513, charged the president
with retaliating against a witness, victim or informant.
Not To Ruin The World By Visiting It (Wisconsin Public
Radio, May 28, 2019)
How We Might Make Tourism More Ethical.
researchers sound alarm over spraying antibiotics on FL
citrus (Florida Phoenix, May 28, 2019)
The Trump administration in December gave the go-ahead for
agricultural operations to spray antibiotic pesticides on
nearly a half-million acres of Florida citrus, despite
warnings from scientists and government health officials that
it could increase the problem of antibiotic resistance in
people and in the air, water, and soil. Antibiotic pesticides
have been sprayed in Florida before, but this scale is
Now, newly uncovered documents show that researchers at the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control – the federal agency that
deals with America’s public health and disease outbreaks –
concluded two years ago that spraying streptomycin and
oxytetracycline is tied to antibiotic resistance in bacteria
that cause serious health threats – including the MRSA, CRE
and VRE infections. The most alarming finding of the Centers
for Disease Control’s study is that when antibiotic pesticides
are sprayed on bacteria (in soil, water, air and on trees and
fruit), the bacteria can pass the resistance to other
bacteria, and then that resistance can adapt to “one or more
unrelated antibiotics used to treat infections.”
Military Is Locked in a Power Struggle With Wind Farms
(Wired, May 28, 2019)
A 2018 Pentagon-commissioned study by researchers at MIT found
that the 104 turbines at Amazon’s North Carolina wind farm did
not interfere with a local Naval radar facility, despite
claims by state legislators. The greatest threat to the
viability of military facilities in eastern North Carolina is
not wind farms, it’s the encroachment of houses and homes on
the training area.
Still, politicians in some rural areas seem convinced that the
military has a stronger argument. Texas legislators removed
tax breaks for wind farms near military bases and are debating
further cuts to federal and state incentives.
Some Texas observers note that anti-wind legislators in Texas
are supported by groups that also deny climate change, such as
the Texas Public Policy Foundation that works to support oil
and gas interests at the statehouse. 'This is nothing but pure
politics,' says Fred Beach, assistant director for policy
studies at the University of Texas Energy Institute and a
former naval aviator. 'People don’t want the wind turbines for
whatever reason, and they raise this false issue to scare
4channer with body armor guns down three police officers,
one fatally (Daily KOS, May 27, 2019)
Three police officers were shot, one of them fatally, when
they responded to a domestic disturbance call in Auburn on
Sunday night. The man arrested shortly afterward, it soon
emerged - Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, a veteran from Auburn - was
fond of posting memes from the alt-right online gathering spot
4chan, most of them mock humor about guns, white nationalist
trolling signals, and encouragement for Proud Boys-style
violence against left-wing protesters, who he described as
Administration Hardens Its Attack on Climate Science
(New York Times, May 27, 2019)
The attack on science is underway throughout the government.
In the most recent example, the White House-appointed director
of the United States Geological Survey, James Reilly, a former
astronaut and petroleum geologist, has ordered that scientific
assessments produced by that office use only
computer-generated climate models that project the impact of
climate change through 2040, rather than through the end of
the century, as had been done previously.
Scientists say that would give a misleading picture because
the biggest effects of current emissions will be felt after
2040. Models show that the planet will most likely warm at
about the same rate through about 2050. From that point until
the end of the century, however, the rate of warming differs
significantly with an increase or decrease in carbon
'What we have here is a pretty blatant attempt to politicize
the science - to push the science in a direction that’s
consistent with their politics,' said Philip B. Duffy, the
president of the Woods Hole Research Center, who served on a
National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed the
government’s most recent National Climate Assessment. 'It
reminds me of the Soviet Union.'
Trump agencies set for clash over chemicals in water
(The Hill, May 27, 2019)
PFAS has been linked with kidney and thyroid cancer along with
high cholesterol and other illnesses. Contamination has spread
to 43 states, and a 2015 study found 98
percent of Americans tested now have the chemical in
main parties hammered in E.U. elections - voters opt for
those with clearer stances on Brexit (Washington Post,
May 27, 2019)
Nigel Farage’s single-issue Brexit Party was the clear winner
of the elections, with the potential to impact the race over
who becomes the next British prime minister. The
pro-E.U. Liberal Democrats and the Greens - who also have a
simple message on Brexit: stop it - made significant gains as
well. Overall, support for all the parties that are
unabashedly pro-European was slightly higher than those that
are pushing for a hard Brexit. In other words, Britain
is as divided as ever.
Election Results Show Growing Split Over Union’s Future
(New York Times, May
Populists and nationalists who want to chip away at the
European Union’s powers increased their share in Europe’s
Parliament after four days of continent-wide elections, but it
was not the deluge that many traditionalists had feared. When
the vote counting is done, the populists are expected to get
around 25 percent of the 751 seats, up from 20 percent five
years ago, figures released by the European Union showed on
Sunday. But a higher than usual turnout suggested that
pro-European voters were also more motivated than before.
What Is That?’ Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying
Objects (New York Times, May 26, 2019)
Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen N.S.A. Tool Wreaks Havoc
(New York Times, May 25, 2019)
Since 2017, when the N.S.A. lost control of the tool,
EternalBlue, it has been picked up by state hackers in North
Korea, Russia and, more recently, China, to cut a path of
destruction around the world, leaving billions of dollars in
damage. But over the past year, the cyberweapon has
boomeranged back and is now showing up in the N.S.A.’s own
Before it leaked, EternalBlue was one of the most useful
exploits in the N.S.A.’s cyberarsenal. According to three
former N.S.A. operators who spoke on the condition of
anonymity, analysts spent almost a year finding a flaw in
Microsoft’s software and writing the code to target it.
Initially, they referred to it as EternalBluescreen because it
often crashed computers - a risk that could tip off their
targets. But it went on to become a reliable tool used in
countless intelligence-gathering and counterterrorism
missions. EternalBlue was so valuable, former N.S.A. employees
said, that the agency never seriously considered alerting
Microsoft about the vulnerabilities, and held on to it for
more than five years before the breach forced its hand.
allies insist he is winning in feud with Pelosi. Her backers
say she showed up the president. (Washington Post, May
Taking stock of the feud, each side insisted they got the
upper hand in a fight that shows no sign of waning 18 months
before the 2020 elections, with implications for the economy
as the budget and federal borrowing limit remain unresolved
while the dispute regarding oversight between the White House
and Congress rages.
Pelosi’s allies said she showed up the president and
reinforced an image of a chief executive behaving so badly and
childishly that he is unfit for office - a clear message to
voters next year. But to Trump’s backers, the president
succeeded in highlighting that an already unpopular politician
is struggling not only with the far-left liberals in the
Democratic ranks, but even some on her leadership team.
(Focus. Which one stomped out of his conference?)
May announces she will resign on 7 June (The Guardian,
May 24, 2019)
Prime minister to leave Downing Street, drawing three-year
tenure to a close. May’s announcement came after a meeting
with Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench Tory 1922
Committee, which was prepared to trigger a second vote of no
confidence in her leadership if she refused to resign. Her
fate was sealed after a 10-point 'new Brexit deal', announced
in a speech on Tuesday, infuriated Tory backbenchers and many
of her own cabinet – while falling flat with the Labour MPs it
was meant to persuade. The leader of the House of Commons,
Andrea Leadsom, resigned on Wednesday, rather than present the
Brexit bill to parliament.
American Financial Corp. Leaked Hundreds of Millions of
Title Insurance Records (Krebs On Security, May 24,
policy switch, Spectrum and AT&T say if you cancel
early, they’re keeping your cash (Los Angels Times, May
A Charter/Spectrum spokesman, declined to explain why the
company is dropping prorated bills. He said only that 'this is
a common approach to billing among other providers of monthly
subscription services, including wireless and video streaming
services.' Which is to say, Johnny took a cookie so I took a
cookie. Most parents will agree this isn’t a very satisfactory
defense of cookie consumption.
judge in California halts Trump’s plan to build parts of
border wall (Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2019)
Trump declared a national emergency in February after losing a
fight with the Democratic-led House over fully paying for the
wall that led to a 35-day government shutdown. Congress set
aside $1.375 billion to extend or replace existing barriers in
Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. But Trump wanted to spend $8 billion
on wall construction, so he declared the emergency to siphon
money from other government accounts.
Critics had objected to the Trump administration’s move,
saying it overstepped its authority by funneling billions of
dollars toward the president’s signature campaign promise
without authorization from Congress. In granting the
preliminary injunction to stop the work, Gilliam cited
Congress’ 'absolute' control over federal expenditures under
the Constitution, 'even when that control may frustrate the
desires of the executive branch regarding initiatives it views
Pelosi bests Trump every time and he never knows it until
it's too late (Daily KOS, May 23, 2019)
On Wednesday, he once again signed on for ownership of
governing gridlock when, in a fit of spite, he huffed out of a
meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck
Schumer, marched out to the Rose Garden, and reported back to
the American people that he wouldn't be doing any of America's
business as long as congressional Democrats continued their
investigations into him and his administration. 'You can’t do
it under these circumstances,' Trump said.
Actually, one can do it, just as President Bill Clinton piled
up signature achievements during a presidency dominated by a
sweeping four-year investigation into him, his wife, their
financial dealings, and an affair he conducted with a White
House intern that ultimately resulted in his impeachment but
not his removal from office. To be perfectly clear, Trump is
simply choosing not to do America's business. His new 2020
campaign slogan: Trump First!
Following Trump's Rose Garden rumble, Pelosi did a series of
media events. In one, she speculated that Trump had perhaps
taken a pass on doing infrastructure out of 'a lack of
confidence on his part that he couldn’t match the greatness of
the challenge before him.' Pluck. In another, she took her
impeachment comments a step further, saying Trump is
obstructing justice 'in plain sight' and 'that could be an
impeachable offense.' Pluck.
Trump is just where Pelosi wants him to be. The question is,
has he figured that out yet?
Russia Tipped Election for Trump ‘Staggering,’ Says Former
U.S. Intel Chief James Clapper (Newsweek, May 23, 2019)
Describing a report on Russian interference presented by the
intelligence community to president-elect Trump in January
2017, Clapper writes, 'I remember just how staggering the
assessment felt the first time I read it through from start to
finish, and just how specific our conclusions and evidence
were.' In the intelligence chief's view, 'We showed
unambiguously that Putin had ordered the campaign to influence
the election…and how the entire operation had begun with
attempts to undermine U.S. democracy and demean Secretary
Clinton, then shifted to promoting Mr. Trump when Russia
assessed he was a viable candidate who would serve their
Clapper warns of the threat posed by Trump’s dismissal of
inconvenient facts as fake news. 'I don’t believe our
democracy can function for long on lies, particularly when
inconvenient and difficult facts spoken by the practitioners
of truth are dismissed as fake news,' Clapper writes. 'I know
that the Intelligence Community cannot serve our nation if
facts are negotiable.'
'House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell said they would not support a bipartisan statement
that might hurt their nominee for president,' Clapper writes
in an excerpt of the book published by NPR. 'I was
disappointed but not surprised. It seemed they had decided by
then that they didn't care who their no