MONEY IS NOT WEALTH
by A. Richard Miller
Begun September 29, 2008; last updated January 21, 2020

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

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

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

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



You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that, is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.
- Rahm Emanuel (Wall Street Journal Weekend Interview, Nov. 7, 2008)

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

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

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

- Woody Guthrie, Dust Bowl Ballads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of war, corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands, and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless.
     
-- President Abraham Lincoln (1864 letter to William Fletcher Elkin), or faked in
Caldwell Remedy Company pamphlet (May 10, 1888), or...
         <http://abrahamlincolnassociation.org/Newsletters/1-1.pdf> (pp. 4-6)
        <https://americanmissive.com/2009/03/20/did-abraham-lincoln-say-that/>

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

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

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

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

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

The Fragile States Index (Fund For Peace)

US National Debt Clock, by Ed Hall

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

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

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

Calculated Risk (blog)

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

To Build A Better Ballot; an interactive guide to alternative voting systems, by Nicky Case, 2016)

OurFuture.org (Campaign for America's Future)

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

The 14 Characteristics of Fascism, by Lawrence Britt (Free Inquiry magazine, 2003)

The Market as God, by Harvey Cox (The Atlantic, 1999)
Living in the new dispensation.

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

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

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

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

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

ALEC Exposed (Center for Media and Democracy, 2011)

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

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

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

"A 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.)

The Death Of God, by Friedrich Nietzsche (1885)

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

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

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

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

Freethinkers and Libertarianism, by David Niose

EXXON: 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.

NEW: The history of volcanic eruptions since Roman times (Past Global Changes Magazine, 2015)

What's Really Warming The World? (Bloomberg, 2015)

Yale Climate Opinion Maps, U.S. 2016

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

Why Excessive Consumption Limits your Creativity (Medium, May 2016)

Scientists Are Pro-Testing (Science, 2017)

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

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

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

Kim Hill: Sustainability is Destroying the Earth: The Green Economy vs. The Planet (Deep Green Resistance News Service, May 25, 2017)
What is it we are trying to sustain? A living planet, or industrial civilization? Because we can’t have both.

Thirteen things the public sector does better than the 'free' market (Daily Kos, October 1, 2017)

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

MichaelMoore.com

Our Revolution

Angry White House Staffer

GOP Rape Advisory Chart

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

Vote Sleuth: Investigating Democracy (Los Angeles Times, 2017)

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

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

PutinTrump.org

Donald Trump (Vice)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atlas Of Utopias (Transformative Cities, 2018)

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

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

Smoking bans in private vehicles (Wikipedia)

Light Cycles, by Quinn Norton

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

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

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

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

NEW: Why read Aristotle today? (Aeon, May 29, 2018)
Modern self-help draws heavily on Stoic philosophy. But Aristotle was better at understanding real human happiness.

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

Mapped: How every part of the world has warmed – and could continue to warm (Carbon Brief, September 26, 2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Change (United Nations)

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

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

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

The Privacy Project (New York Times, 2019)

Zero Waste: Our country has a waste problem. It’s time for new solutions, and a renewed commitment to move toward zero waste. (MassPIRG, 2019)

50 Days to the Moon (Fast Company, 2019)

On Bullshit, by Harry Frankfurt (Princeton University)
I propose to begin the development of a theoretical understanding of bullshit, mainly by providing some tentative and exploratory philosophical analysis.

It’s Time to Break Up Facebook, by Chris Hughes (New York Times, May 9, 2019)
Mr. Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, is a co-chairman of the Economic Security Project and a senior adviser at the Roosevelt Institute:
"Mark Zuckerberg’s personal reputation and the reputation of Facebook have taken a nose-dive. The company’s mistakes - the sloppy privacy practices that dropped tens of millions of users’ data into a political consulting firm’s lap; the slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news; and the unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention - dominate the headlines.
Mark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government. He controls three core communications platforms - Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp - that billions of people use every day. Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares. Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.
"Mark is a good, kind person. But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks. I’m disappointed in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders. And I’m worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them. The government must hold Mark accountable."

Demand an impeachment inquiry (Common Cause, July 25, 2019)
No American, especially not the President, is above the law.

United States Of Plastic (The Guardian, August 2019)

100 Photos - The Most Influential Images of All Time (Time Magazine, 2016)
Explore the stories behind 100 images that changed the world, selected by TIME and an international team of curators.
Top 100 Photos of 2018 (Time Magazine)

Globalization Isn’t Dying, It’s Just Evolving (Bloomberg, July 23, 2019)
We are entering a new era in which data is the new shipping container and there are far more disruptive forces at work in the world economy than Trump’s tariffs. New manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing and the automation of factories are reducing the economic incentives to offshore production. The smartphones we carry with us are not just products of globalization but accelerants for it. For good or bad, we are more exposed to a global culture of ideas than we have ever been. And we are only becoming more global as a result.

The 1619 Project (The New York Times, August 14, 2019)
In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point Comfort, a coastal port in the English colony of Virginia. It carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed. In the 400th anniversary of this fateful moment, it is finally time to tell our story truthfully.

"Tending Soil", by Emma Marris (Emergence Magazine, October 2019)
In almost every culture, Earth is female: Mother Earth, Gaia, Pachamama, Terra, Prithvi - goddesses that, like the soil, have the power to create new life. The mystery of working with soil is that the best way to make it more fertile - more life-giving - is to mix in dead things. Soil is the medium through which death becomes life. It is the liminal stuff that exists after death and rot but before sprouting life, growth, and nourishment.

Millionaires Surtax: A Winning Issue In 2020 (Surtax, October 2019)

WMO Provisional Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019 (World Meteorological Association, December 3, 2019)

The Deep Sea (Neal Agarwal)

The Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report (U.S. House Intelligence Committee, December 3, 2019)

 Impeachment in the United States (Wikipedia)

President Trump House Impeachment Brief (U.S. House of Representatives, January 18, 2020)

100th Anniversary of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU, January 2020)
"So long as we have enough people in this country willing to fight for their rights, we’ll be called a democracy." - ACLU founder Roger Baldwin
When a roomful of civil liberties activists - led by Roger Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, and Albert DeSilver - formed the ACLU in 1920, the Supreme Court had yet to uphold a single free speech claim. Activists languished in jail for distributing anti-war literature. State-sanctioned violence against African-Americans was routine. Women won the right to vote only in August of that year. And constitutional rights for LGBT people were unthinkable.
The ACLU was founded to ensure the promise of the Bill of Rights and to expand its reach to people historically denied its protections. In our first year, we fought the harassment and deportation of immigrants whose activism put them at odds with the authorities. In 1939, we won in the Supreme Court the right for unions to organize. We stood almost alone in 1942 in denouncing our government's round-up and internment in concentration camps of more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans. And at times in our history when frightened civilians have been willing to give up some of their freedoms and rights in the name of national security, the ACLU has been the bulwark for liberty.



Pertinent Posts

'Constitutional Nonsense': Trump's Impeachment Defense Defies Legal Consensus. (New York Times, January 20, 2020)
The president's legal case would negate any need for witnesses. But constitutional scholars say that it's wrong.
McConnell Impeachment Rules Modify Clinton Precedent. (New York Times, January 20, 2020)
The Senate Republican leader proposed impeachment trial rules that push the 1999 precedent toward President Trump’s preferences.
Conservative States Seek Billions to Brace for Disaster. Just Don't Call It Climate Change. (New York Times, January 20, 2020)
A $16 billion federal program to help states prepare for natural disasters reflects the complicated politics of global warming in the U.S., even as officials are increasingly forced to confront its effects. States applying for funding must explain why they need the money and describe their "current and future risks." When those include flooding, states must account for "continued sea level rise," a consequence of warming.
But some conservative states have submitted proposals that mostly avoid mentioning climate change. Texas refers to "changing coastal conditions" and South Carolina talks about the "destabilizing effects and unpredictability" of three major storms in four years. One exception is Florida, whose proposal calls climate change "a key overarching challenge."
[It depends upon the percentage of their voters who will be below sea level.]
China virus prompts U.S. precautions as human-to-human transmission confirmed. (CBS News, January 20, 2020)
Richmond Gun Rally: Thousands Of Gun Owners Converge On Virginia Capitol On MLK Day. (NPR, January 20, 2020)
Beyond Monday's gun-laden march in Richmond, militias' plans for a 'civil war' look to go national. (Daily Kos, January 19, 2020)
Thanks to an encouraging tweet from Donald Trump, militias around the United States are preparing to assemble in Richmond, Va., on Monday, to protest gun-control legislation - many vowing to bring their guns, in open defiance of Gov. Ralph Northam's declaration of emergency and its accompanying ban on any kind of weaponry at the state Capitol.
On Friday, Trump tweeted an attack on Northam that aligned perfectly with far-right extremists' paranoid claims about the planned legislation: "Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia," he wrote. "That's what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away."
The violent nature of the "Boogaloo" was emphasized this week by the FBI's arrests of seven members of The Base, a neo-Nazi paramilitary group openly dedicated to training for a "race war." The first three were arrested Thursday, including Canadian fugitive Patrik Mathews; in addition to being caught with multiple weapons (including an illegal automatic rifle) and a large cache of ammunition, the men had spoken openly of attending Monday's rally in Richmond and opening fire there. Three more were arrested Friday in Georgia, charged with plotting the murders of a local antifascist couple, as well as overthrowing the local county government. A seventh member of the base - Yousef O. Barasneh, 22, of Oak Creek, Wisc. - was also arrested Friday, charged with committing civil-rights violations by vandalizing a synagogue in Racine, Wisc.
Heather Cox Richardson: Of Heroes, on Martin Luther King Day (Letters from an American, January 19, 2020)
Who's afraid of the 1619 Project? (Daily Kos, January 19, 2020)

The 1619 Project, the brainchild of New York Times staff reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones, has had an impact on the foundation of the way in which we approach American history and its intertwined Black history, which is often dusted off and separated out into a neat package for educational consumption during the month of February, languishing the rest of the year.
When the project launched, I sent my husband out, in vain, to get a copy of the launch magazine — which sold out almost instantly. I had to make do with
a download. Since that moment in August of last year, the project has continued to affect teaching, curricula, and has sparked an unlearning of what we thought we knew about enslavement and this nation.

He helped make burgers safer. Now he's petitioning USDA to ban more than two dozen strains of salmonella from meat. (Washington Post, January 19, 2020)
Leading food safety lawyer Bill Marler, who represented hundreds of Jack in the Box victims in the 1990s, wants the Department of Agriculture to ban some of the most virulent bacteria on meat.
Ukraine's President Said He'd Fight Corruption. Resistance Is Fierce. (New York Times, January 19, 2020)
For Volodymyr Zelensky, taking on the oligarchs and organized crime is a domestic test with geopolitical consequences.
Trump mocks New Yorkers, tells them to get their 'mops and buckets ready' for next Hurricane Sandy. (Daily Kos, January 19, 2020)
The object of Trump’s derision here was the building of a sea wall proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect greater New York City from the next Superstorm Sandy and the encroachment of rising sea levels caused by man-made climate change. Trump has already secured approval for two sea walls to protect his Ireland golf course from rising seas attributable to climate change.
Transcript: Republican Sen. John Cornyn on "Face the Nation," January 19, 2020. (8-min. video; CBS News, January 19, 2020)
SEN. CORNYN: [Trump has] been charged with abuse of power, which is not treason, which is not bribery, which is not a high crime and misdemeanor. So, this is the first time in history where a president has been impeached for a non-crime for events that never occurred. Ultimately, the investigation never took place and ultimately the - their aid was delivered.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about the legal brief that Democrats did submit. It included a number of things, including documents that have been revealed recently by Lev Parnas, an indicted business associate of Rudy Giuliani. Among them, a letter that says that Rudy Giuliani himself was acting with the approval and knowledge of the president when he was reaching out to the president of Ukraine. Should all of these items be admissible during trial?
SEN. CORNYN: Well, as you know, MARGARET, I was a judge for 13 years in- in state courts and in no court in America would that kind of hearsay be admissible. But having said that, I would be--
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's a letter from Rudy Giuliani.
SEN. CORNYN: Well, I would be careful before crediting the veracity of somebody who is under indictment in New York, the southern district of New York, and who's trying to get leniency from the prosecutor and who has ties to Russian oligarchs.
'Once this is over, we’ll be kings': How Lev Parnas worked his way into Trump's world - and now is rattling it. (3-min. video and others; Washington Post, January 18, 2020)
A cascade of revelations by the former associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani overshadowed the opening of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, raising a host of new questions about the Ukraine pressure campaign.
Trump's Defense Team Calls Impeachment Charges 'Brazen' as Democrats Make Legal Case. (New York Times, January 18, 2020)
In a six-page filing formally responding to the impeachment charges, President Trump's lawyers called the case against him illegitimate and the effort to remove him dangerous. The response came shortly after the House impeachment managers formally outlines their case and called his conduct "the framers' worst nightmare."
President Trump House Impeachment Brief (U.S. House of Representatives, January 18, 2020)
The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It (New York Times, January 18, 2020)
A little-known start-up, Clearview AI, helps law enforcement match photos of unknown people to their online images - and "might lead to a dystopian future or something," a backer says.
'You’re a bunch of dopes and babies': Inside Trump's stunning tirade against generals. (Washington Post, January 17, 2020)
(This article is adapted from "A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America," which will be published on Jan. 21 by Penguin Press.)
Six months into Trump's administration, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had grown alarmed by gaping holes in Trump's knowledge of history, especially the key alliances forged following World War II. Trump had dismissed allies as worthless, cozied up to authoritarian regimes in Russia and elsewhere, and advocated withdrawing troops from strategic outposts and active theaters alike.
Trump organized his unorthodox worldview under the simplistic banner of "America First," but Mattis, Tillerson, and Cohn feared his proposals were rash, barely considered, and a danger to America's superpower standing. They also felt that many of Trump's impulsive ideas stemmed from his lack of familiarity with U.S. history and, even, where countries were located. So on July 20, 2017, Mattis invited Trump to the Tank for what he, Tillerson, and Cohn had carefully organized as a tailored tutorial. What happened inside the Tank that day crystallized the commander in chief's berating, derisive and dismissive manner, foreshadowing decisions such as the one earlier this month that brought the United States to the brink of war with Iran. The Tank meeting was a turning point in Trump's presidency. Rather than getting him to appreciate America's traditional role and alliances, Trump began to tune out and eventually push away the experts who believed their duty was to protect the country by restraining his more dangerous impulses.
Dunford sought to explain that he hadn't been charged with annihilating the enemy in Afghanistan but was instead following a strategy started by the Obama administration to gradually reduce the military presence in the country in hopes of training locals to maintain a stable government so that eventually the United States could pull out. Trump shot back in more plain language. "I want to win," he said. "We don’t win any wars anymore . . . We spend $7 trillion, everybody else got the oil and we’re not winning anymore."
Trump by now was in one of his rages. He was so angry that he wasn’t taking many breaths. All morning, he had been coarse and cavalier, but the next several things he bellowed went beyond that description. They stunned nearly everyone in the room, and some vowed that they would never repeat them. Indeed, they have not been reported until now.
"I wouldn’t go to war with you people," Trump told the assembled brass. Addressing the room, the commander in chief barked, "You’re a bunch of dopes and babies."
For a president known for verbiage he euphemistically called "locker room talk," this was the gravest insult he could have delivered to these people, in this sacred space. This was a president who had been labeled a "draft dodger" for avoiding service in the Vietnam War under questionable circumstances. Trump was a young man born of privilege and in seemingly perfect health: six feet two inches with a muscular build and a flawless medical record. He played several sports, including football. Then, in 1968 at age 22, he obtained a diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels that exempted him from military service just as the United States was drafting men his age to fulfill massive troop deployments to Vietnam.
Trump's defense will be led by a 'lunatic,' 'wacko' and 'off his rocker' Ken Starr, according to Trump himself. (Washington Post, January 17, 2020)
Collins lies about Sackler contribution, won’t return Eli Lilly money. (Maine Beacon, January 16, 2020)
In a conversation with a constituent last week, U.S. Senator Susan Collins at first flatly denied she had accepted money from both the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharmaceuticals, and drug company giant Eli Lilly. The Sacklers have admitted to misleadingly pushing the addictive painkiller OxyContin and are currently being sued by Maine and other states over their role in the opioid crisis. Eli Lilly has dramatically hiked the price of insulin and faces a class action lawsuit for their alleged price gouging.
Collins has, in fact, received contributions from both sources - and at least $400,000 over her career from pharmaceutical companies.
Tweeting the Extreme Summer Down Under (NASA, January 16, 2020)
Baked by heat and drought, deluged by rain and floods, scorched by wildfire, and blanketed by dust, Australia has faced several months of extreme weather.
Why Manhattan's Skyscrapers Are Empty (The Atlantic, January 16, 2020)
Approximately half of the luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years are still unsold. The confluence of cosmopolitan capital and terrible timing has done the impossible: It's created a vacancy problem in a city where thousands of people are desperate to find places to live.
The Fog of Rudy (New York Times Magazine, January 15, 2020)
Did Rudy Giuliani change - or did America?
During his second and this time successful mayoral campaign, Giuliani's public speeches were almost comically grandiose and self-dramatizing, full of phrases like "We have a city to save." He vowed to return New York to some golden age from which he - the son of a hard-working, Italian-American tavern owner; proud product of Brooklyn's Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School; lifelong Yankee fan - had sprung. We would learn years later that Giuliani had left some key details out of this founding mythology: His father, Harold, had in fact been a collector for a loan shark and served time in prison for armed robbery.
Giuliani was among the first of a new breed, a publicity-obsessed, reality-defying master of resentment politics - that is, just the kind of figure who is now ascendant across the globe in the form of strongmen, oligarchs and even populist Tories. These are not men of vision, but men of appetites. They are typically unrefined and streetwise; they practice their populism with a knowing wink, issuing fact-indifferent, emotion-based appeals to their constituents, while focusing, with impunity, on consolidating their power, satisfying their hungers and enriching themselves.
Lev Parnas tells Maddow 'Trump knew exactly what was going on.' (1-min. video; MSNBC, January 15, 2020)
Lev Parnas breaks his silence in an interview with Rachel Maddow. He says, "President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the President. I have no intent, I have no reason to speak to any of these officials."
The TOUGHEST Question at the Iowa Democratic Debate (11-min. video; The Young Turks, January 15, 2020)
Buttigieg's toughest question was why he hasn't earned the support of Blacks.
Minnesota 'Teacher of the Year' kneels during college football championship. (The Hill, January 15, 2020)
Federal judge temporarily halts Trump administration policy allowing local governments to block refugees. (Washington Post, January 15, 2020)
State and local officials cannot block refugees from being resettled in their jurisdictions, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, finding the Trump administration's new refu­gee policy is likely to be "unlawful" and "does not appear to serve the overall public interest."
How China Obtains American Trade Secrets (New York Times, January 15, 2020)
Companies have long accused Chinese rivals of swiping or seizing valuable technology. Beijing promises to ban those practices, but enforcement could be tough.
Rand Paul threatens fellow Republicans with explosive witness votes. (Politico, January 15, 2020)
The Kentucky senator is vowing to squeeze vulnerable GOP incumbents if they side with Democrats during Trump's impeachment trial.
McConnell and his Republicans cooking up tricks to give gloss of legitimacy to impeachment trial. (Daily Kos, January 14, 2020)
Treasure Fever (Hakai Magazine, January 14, 2020)
The discovery of a legendary, lost shipwreck in North America has pitted treasure hunters and archaeologists against each other, raising questions about who should control sunken riches.
A Homecoming at Taal Volcano: 'Everything’s Gone in the Blink of an Eye.' (New York Times, January 14, 2020)
At least 30,000 people have fled since a mammoth eruption in the Philippines, and a new blast is feared. These islanders went back anyway.
Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment. (New York Times, January 13, 2020)
The timing and scale of the current attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens - the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment.
The Russian tactics are strikingly similar to what American intelligence agencies say was Russia's hacking of emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign. In that case, once they had the emails, the Russians used trolls to spread and spin the material, and built an echo chamber to widen its effect.
Paul Krugman: Trump's Plot Against Health Care Continues. (New York Times, January 13, 2020)
He is still coming for your coverage - and lying about it.
Biden's and Trump's farewell tweets to Booker show you everything you need to know about them. (Daily Kos, January 13, 2020)
Cory Booker Drops Out Of Presidential Race. (2-min. video; NPR, January 13, 2020)
"Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win - money we don't have, and money that is harder to raise because I won't be on the next debate stage and because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington."
Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories. (New York Times, January 12, 2020)
We analyzed some of the most popular social studies textbooks used in California and Texas. Here's how political divides shape what students learn about the nation's history.
The textbooks cover the same sweeping story, from the brutality of slavery to the struggle for civil rights. The self-evident truths of the founding documents to the waves of immigration that reshaped the nation. The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation’s deepest partisan divides.
Esper Says He Saw No Evidence Iran Targeted 4 Embassies, as Story Shifts Again. (New York Times, January 12, 2020)
The disparity between the defense secretary and President Trump added another twist to an ever-evolving explanation for a strike on an Iranian general that led to the brink of war.
They had to kill him because he was planning an "imminent" attack. But how imminent they could not say. Where they could not say. When they could not say. And really, it was more about what he had already done. Or actually it was to stop him from hitting an American embassy. Or four embassies. Or not.
The latest twist came today. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said he was never shown any specific piece of evidence that Iran was planning an attack on four American embassies, as Mr. Trump had claimed just two days earlier.
Iran Cracks Down as Protests Over Downing of Airliner Grow. (New York Times, January 12, 2020)
A top Iranian military commander made a rare public appeal for forgiveness on Sunday as security forces fired on protesters and outrage over the mistaken downing of a jetliner reignited opposition on the streets and stirred dissent within the government's conservative, hard-line power base.
Taiwan's president wins second term with landslide victory over pro-Beijing rival. (Washington Post, January 11, 2020)
Taiwanese voters demonstrated their overwhelming desire to distance themselves from China and to reject its proposal of living under a Hong Kong-style "one country, two systems" arrangement, returning both the presidency and the legislature to the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party.
President Tsai Ing-wen won a resounding reelection, taking 57 percent of the vote in a three-way race and a record 8 million votes.
Senator Bernie Sanders: The Challenge Of Our Time (Bernie Sanders, January 11, 2020)
The
challenge of our time is not simply to begin a war that will result in the deaths of many people - young Americans and innocent families overseas - but the real challenge of our time is to see how we can use our power in a different way to stop aggression and keep our people safe. Because if we are not successful right now, then I think all this world has to look forward to in the future for our children is war, and more war, and more war... as if we haven’t had enough war already.
It is almost beyond impossible to imagine that after nearly 17 years of war in Iraq - a war that upended the regional order of the Middle East and resulted in untold loss of life - that this administration is putting us on such a dangerous path toward more war.
This time with Iran. Apparently for some, decades of constant war is not enough.
Let us not forget that when Trump took office, we had a nuclear agreement with Iran, negotiated by the Obama administration along with our closest allies. Countries from all over the world came together to negotiate that agreement, which put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program. The wise course would have been to stick with that nuclear agreement, enforce its provisions, and use that diplomatic channel with Iran to address our other concerns with Iran, including their support of terrorism. Unfortunately, Trump followed his reckless instincts and listened to right-wing extremists, some of whom were exactly the same people that got us into the war in Iraq in the first place.
Now, as you all know, last week President Trump ordered the assassination of a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, along with the leader of an Iraqi militia. Trump justified the assassination of Soleimani by claiming that it was necessary to prevent 'imminent' attacks on U.S. forces, but his administration has offered no evidence to back that claim up, even in a classified setting.
Then he claimed that there were plans to attack U.S. embassies, again offering no evidence. And now, unbelievably, we find out that Trump himself told people he was under pressure to deal with Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate.
Once again, we see Trump making enormously consequential national security decisions for selfish reasons and without regard for the Constitution.
As a United States senator, I will do everything I can to rein in this reckless president and prevent a war with Iran.
As president, I will offer a different vision for how we exercise American power: one that is not demonstrated by our ability to blow things up, but by our ability to bring countries together and forge international consensus around shared challenges.
A test of a great nation is not how many wars we can fight or how many governments we can overthrow, but how we can use our strength to resolve international conflicts in a peaceful way.
Iran admits to downing airliner amid calls for justice, transparency. (Washington Post, January 11, 2020)
Iranian officials said that military personnel targeted the Ukraine jet as it turned toward a "sensitive military site" shortly after departing from Tehran. The General Staff of Iran's Armed Forces said it was "human error that caused the crash" of the Boeing 737-800, killing all 176 passengers on board.
Evolution of a lie: from 'imminent attack' to 'four embassies' with no facts in between (Daily Kos, January 11, 2020)
Sometimes deception generates a "tangled web," other times just a hilarious mess. But Donald Trump’s war-triggering assassination and post-drone strike rationalizations show two things: one is how clumsily Trump shifts his lies from day to day, the other is how Mike Pompeo and Fox News hurry along in Trump’s wake, trying to paper over irrational statements with a thin veneer of claims that all fall apart on even the most cursory examination.
Seven Days in January: How Trump Pushed U.S. and Iran to the Brink of War (New York Times, January 11, 2020)
The story of that week, and the secret planning in the months preceding it, ranks as the most perilous chapter so far in President Trump's three years in office.
The episode briefly gave Mr. Trump's allies something to cheer, distracting from the coming Senate impeachment trial, but now he faces questions even among Republicans about the shifting justifications for the strike that he and his national security team have offered. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initially cited the need to forestall an "imminent" attack and the president has amplified that to say four American embassies were targeted. But administration officials said they did not actually know when or where such an attack might occur and one State Department official said it was "a mistake" to use the word "imminent." And some senior military commanders were stunned that Mr. Trump picked what they considered a radical option with unforeseen consequences.
This account, based on interviews with dozens of Trump administration officials, military officers, diplomats, intelligence analysts and others in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, offers new details about what may be the most consequential seven days of the Trump presidency.
Heather Cox Richardson: Trump and
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are trying desperately to justify the assassination after the fact. (Letters from an American, January 10, 2020)
All current evidence suggests that Trump ordered the killing of General Qassem Soleimani either to please his base or to curry favor with key senators before the Senate impeachment trial. It blew up in his face, and now he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are trying desperately to justify the action after the fact.
At stake is the issue that Trump acted without advising Congress. The Constitution provides that Congress alone shall declare war, but it also makes the president the commander-in-chief. During the Nixon administration, when congress members sometimes discovered that America was militarily engaged in entirely unexpected places, Congress pushed back to reassert its role in military actions.
Plants growing around Everest as ice melts on Himalayas. (Daily Mail, January 10, 2020)
Plants are growing in new areas around Mount Everest as rising temperatures melts ice on the Himalayas, according to a new report. Increased vegetation coverage across the Himalayas could have consequences for water supply from the range on which some 1.4 billion people rely.
Trump Administration Says Obamacare Lawsuit Can Wait Until After the Election. (New York Times, January 10, 2020)
The Trump administration came into office with its top legislative priority clear: Repeal the Affordable Care Act. It failed. Then, when a group of Republican states tried to throw out Obamacare through a lawsuit, the administration agreed that a key part of the law was unconstitutional.
But now that defenders of the law have asked the Supreme Court to settle the case quickly, the president's lawyers say they are in no particular hurry.
George Conway and Neal Katyal: How Pelosi should play her impeachment cards (Washington Post, January 10, 2020)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has announced that she plans to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, but that does not mean she has lost in the seeming standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over whether to call witnesses at the Senate trial. McConnell has said "there’s no chance the president's going to be removed from office" and "there will be no difference between the president's position and our position." In response, Pelosi still has cards in her hand - if she plays them - because the House approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump.
The first article of impeachment effectively charges the president with shaking down Ukraine; the second impeaches him for his unprecedented obstruction of Congress. That gives the speaker room to maneuver. She could choose to tweak her announcement and send only the second article, on obstruction, for trial. Or she could transmit them both - along with a House-approved provision advising the Senate that if it fails to obtain adequate witnesses and documents, the House will reopen the investigation into Article I and subpoena that material itself.
Separating the two articles - our preferred approach - would make perfect sense. When it comes to the second article, all the evidence about Trump's obstruction is a matter of public record. There's nothing more to add, so the second article is ripe for trial. But as to the first, although there is plenty of evidence demonstrating Trump's guilt, his obstruction has prevented all of the evidence from coming to light.
Pelosi alerts House to be ready to send Trump impeachment articles next week. (Boston Globe, January 10, 2020)
In a letter to colleagues this morning, the speaker moved to end an impasse over the impeachment process that had left the president's fate in limbo even as he navigated escalating hostilities with Iran in recent days. She did not announce which Democrats she would name to manage the case at trial, but said the House should be ready to vote to appoint them sometime next week and to formally deliver the Senate charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Killing of top Iranian general occurred alongside a secret, failed mission in Yemen, officials say. (Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2020)
The U.S. military tried, but failed, to take out another senior Iranian commander on the same day that an American airstrike killed the Revolutionary Guard's top general, U.S. officials said Friday. The officials said a military airstrike by special operations forces targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, a high-ranking commander in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but the mission was not successful. Both Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani and Shahlai were on approved military targeting lists, which indicates a deliberate effort by the U.S. to cripple the leadership of the Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S.
Trump now claims four embassies were under threat from Iran, raising fresh questions about intelligence reports. (
Washington Post, January 10, 2020)
"I can reveal that I believe it probably would've been four embassies," Trump said.
But a senior administration official and a senior defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information, said they were only aware of vague intelligence about a plot against the embassy in Baghdad and that the information did not suggest a fully-formed plot. Neither official said there were threats against multiple embassies.
Trump angered by House ally's push to limit his authority on Iran. (Washington Post, January 10, 2020)
"Reclaiming Congressional power is the Constitutional conservative position!", Devin Murphy,
legislative director of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, wrote to all Republican offices around 11 a.m. Thursday, underlining the text.
GOP Senator Breaks Ranks to Attack Trump on Soleimani. (11-min. video; The Young Turks, January 10, 2020)
Republican Senator Mike Lee says it was an unacceptable side-stepping of the U.S. Constitution.
U.S. Intel: Iran Shot Down Plane, Then Realized Mistake.
(Daily Mail, January 9, 2020)
The Ukrainian airliner that crashed in Iran the night of the missile attacks on bases in Iraq appears to have been shot by the Iranians with a Russian-made anti-aircraft system.
Ukrainian plane crashes in Iran. (Newsweek, January 9, 2020)
The Mystery of the Trump Chaos Trades, Iran/Mar-a-Lago Edition (Vanity Fair, January 9, 2020)
Spikes in the Chicago E-mini market, and in defense stocks, preceded the announcement of the killing of Qasem Soleimani, not long after Trump reportedly told Mar-a-Lago guests he was working on a "big" response to Iran's provocations. A coincidence?
The U.S. drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani came at around 1 a.m. local time in Baghdad on Friday, January 3. That was around 5 p.m. in Washington. It took the Pentagon another five hours or so - just before 10 p.m. - before it released its official statement telling the world that Soleimani had been killed. E-minis stop trading on the CME at about 4 p.m. New York time (3 p.m. Chicago time) each day. There is then an hour of what's known as aftermarket trading. Then there is a one-hour break in trading. Night trading in E-minis begins at 6 p.m. New York time, hours before the Pentagon made its official announcement about Soleimani's killing.
For the first two and a half hours of the night trading on January 2, the volume in the E-mini market was around 1,000 contracts every 10 minutes, according to the trading records from that night made available to me. Nothing particularly remarkable.
But then, around 8:30 p.m. ET, or still some 90 minutes before the Pentagon made its announcement, trading picked up considerably. The S&P 500 index was then at 3260. Suddenly, a trader or group of traders—but most likely not a single trade or trader - began making big bets that the S&P index would fall by selling the March 2020 E-mini futures contract. At 8:30 p.m. ET, 2,250 E-mini contracts were sold; at 8:40 p.m. ET, 5,790 E-mini contracts were sold; 10 minutes later, 7,113 E-mini contracts were sold. In sum, in the 70 minutes between 8:30 p.m. ET and 9:40 p.m. ET, 76,000 E-mini contracts were sold. By then, the S&P 500 index had dropped to 3236. After the attack was announced, the S&P 500 index dropped to 3206, a drop of around 50 points. A 50-point drop in the index generates a profit of $2,500 per contract, assuming those contracts were sold short, which in this case they were. 76,000 contracts sold short, at a gain of around $2,500 per contract, equals some $190 million in profit - on paper anyway - for whomever, or group of whomevers, was clever enough or lucky enough or informed enough about the impending bombshell news out of the Pentagon that the important Iranian leader had been killed.
"Did someone or a group foresee the execution of top general of Iran?", an E-mini trader wondered in an email sent to me the other day. "…When volume goes from 1,000 every 10 minutes and jumps to as high as almost 17,000 in 10 minutes, something is going on."
Parrots Show Off Selfless Behavior. (New York Times, January 9, 2020)
A series of experiments demonstrated that African grey parrots had something like social intelligence in addition to their cleverness.
US Government-funded Android phones come preinstalled with unremovable malware. (Ars Technica, January 9, 2020)
Phones were sold to low-income people under the FCC's Lifeline Assistance program.
Why Trump revealing that the United States is developing hypersonic missiles is a very big deal. (Daily Kos, January 8, 2020)
[Another significant Trump slip, but not a surprise to the well-informed. See the Comments thread - in which we think the E.O. Wilson-paraphrased "Humans have prehistoric brains, medieval institutions, and nuclear weapons" is particularly appropriate.]
Donald Trump blames Barack Obama for giving Iran the cash to buy missiles flung at U.S. bases - as he offers to 'embrace peace' and claims Tehran is 'standing down' but warns of 'hypersonic weapons' and 'lethal and fast' attacks. (Daily Mail, January 8, 2020)
Donald Trump addresses the world about Iran. (9-min. video; NBC News, January 8, 2020)
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Iran "appears to be standing down" after its missile attack on U.S. targets in Iraq, and he vowed to keep up the pressure on Tehran with "punishing" new economic sanctions. Trump made the comments in an address to the nation Wednesday from the White House less than a day after Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at two Iraqi air bases housing U.S. forces in retaliation for the killing of a top general.
"Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good things for the world," Trump said. He added that “no American or Iraqi lives were lost” in the Iranian attacks, “because of the precautions taken, the dispersal of force and an early warning system that worked very well.”
He also said he planned to request help from NATO, an alliance he has frequently criticized, in the region.
In addition, Trump lambasted the Iran nuclear deal - from which he withdrew the U.S. in 2018 - and claimed that the financial incentives provided by the Obama administration to Iran under that deal financed the missiles used in the latest attacks. "The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for by the funds made available by the last administration," Trump said, adding that "Iran's hostilities increased" after the deal was signed in 2015. Trump also called on world powers, including the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russian and China to "break away from the remnants of" the deal.
Democrats stressed that Congress must assert its authority over declaring war even if the U.S. and Iran de-escalate tensions.
Donald Trump will address the world about Iran after Ayatollah says missile attack is 'not enough' revenge for drone strike that killed Qassem Soleimani. (Daily Mail, January 8,  2020)
Iran launched what it promised would be a 'crushing revenge' strike against the U.S. over the death of General Qassem Soleimani but succeeded only in damaging two airbases in neighboring Iraq. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq and Erbil International airport in the north in the early hours of Wednesday, but failed to kill a single US or Iraqi soldier.
Iranian television had tried to claim that 80 'American terrorists' were killed, but that figure was quickly rubbished by Iraqi and US officials.
Images showed several missiles had either failed to explode on impact or else missed their targets.  The remains of one was found near the town of Duhok, some 70 miles from Erbil air base, which was the intended target. The Iraqi military said 22 missiles were fired in total - 17 at the Asad base, two of which failed to explode, and five more that struck Erbil International Airport. US officials put the total slightly lower at 15 - ten of which hit Asad, one which hit Erbil, four which failed in flight. Iran said it had used Fatteh-110 ballistic missiles for the attack, though analysts said images of wreckage near the Aasd base also appears to show Qaim-1 ballistic missiles were used.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were spotted arriving at the White House soon after news of the strikes broke. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said on Tuesday night that the missile strikes were an 'act of war' and said Trump had all the power he needed to act. 'This is an act of war by any reasonable definition,' Graham told Fox News' Sean Hannity. 'The President has all the authority he needs under Article II to respond.'
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the Iranian Armed Forces, reportedly said Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei was personally in the control center coordinating the attacks. They also warned U.S. allies in the Middle East that they would face retaliation if America strikes back against any Iranian targets from their bases. 'We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,' they said. It also threatened Israel.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on Iranian TV shortly after the missiles were launched, described the strikes as 'a slap' and said they 'are not sufficient (for revenge)' while vowing further action to kick US troops out of the region. But foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was now 'concluded,' praising Iran's 'proportionate' response and adding: 'We do not seek escalation or war.'
It is thought Iran gave advanced warning of the strikes, after Iraq, Finland and Lithuania - which all had troops stationed at the bases which were targeted - all said they were informed in advance. America said that 'early warning systems' detected the missile launches and sirens were sounded at the Asad base, allowing soldiers to seek shelter. It is not clear whether they were also informed by Iran. Prominent analysts suggested Iran may have deliberately pulled its punches because they are fearful of the 'disproportionate' response threatened by Trump if US personnel were killed. 'With the attacks, Tehran signalled its capacity and readiness to respond to US attacks, thus saving face, and yet they have been well targeted to avoid fatalities and thus avoid provoking Trump's reaction,' said Annalisa Perteghella of the Institute for International Political Studies in Milan. The timing of the Iranian strikes - around 1:20 am local time - occurred at the same time as the US drone strike which killed Soleimani.
A procession in Tehran on Monday drew over one million people in the Iranian capital, crowding both main avenues and side streets. A stampede broke out Tuesday at Soleimani's funeral in his hometown of Kerman; at least 56 people were killed and more than 200 were injured as thousands thronged the procession, Iranian news reports said. There was no information about what set off the crush in the packed streets. Online videos showed only its aftermath: people lying apparently lifeless, their faces covered by clothing, emergency crews performing CPR on the fallen and onlookers wailing and crying out to God.
There are still fears for US forces in the region after Qais al-Khazali, a commander of Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, vowed to exact revenge for the killing of deputy-leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. 'The first Iranian response to the assassination of the martyr leader Soleimani took place,' he tweeted. 'Now is the time for the initial Iraqi response to the assassination of the martyr leader Muhandis. 'And because the Iraqis are brave and zealous, their response will not be less than the size of the Iranian response, and this is a promise.'
Britain, Australia, France, Poland, Denmark and Finland have confirmed that none of their troops stationed in Iraq were hurt in the attack, while calling for an end to hostilities and a return to talks. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen vowed the EU will 'spare no effort' in trying to save the nuclear deal that Iran signed with President Obama and was ripped up by Trump, sparking the current tensions.
China and Russia, both key Iranian allies, also warned against escalating strikes with Vladimir Dzhabarov, lawmaker with Russia's upper house of parliament, warning the conflict could easily lead to a nuclear war. The Syrian government, another key ally of Iran, has expressed full solidarity with Iran, saying Tehran has the right to defend itself 'in the face of American threats and attacks.' The foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday that Syria holds the 'American regime responsible for all the repercussions due to its reckless policy and arrogant mentality.'
Hours after the launch, a Ukrainian Airlines Boeing 737 caught fire crashed near Tehran killing all 177 passengers and crew - including 63 Canadian and three Britons - amid fears it could have been caught up in the attack. Ukraine's foreign ministry said of those killed, 82 were Iranian, 63 Canadian, 11 Ukrainian, three British, with the remainder hailing from Sweden, Afghanistan, and Germany.
NEW: Lawrence Lessig: Don’t allow McConnell to swear a false oath. (Washington Post, January 8, 2020)
Before the Senate begins its trial to determine whether the president should be convicted of the charges for which he has been impeached, the jury - the members of the Senate - must be sworn to service. The oath is mandated by the Constitution; its language, set by Senate rules, requires each senator to swear to "do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws." To swear a false oath is perjury - the crime President Bill Clinton was charged with in his impeachment.
Among the senators who will have to take an oath in the trial of President Trump is the majority leader, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Yet McConnell has openly declared that he is "not impartial about this at all." "Impeachment," the senator has opined, is a "political process. This [sic] is not anything judicial about it."
A century and a half ago, Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner said, "A false oath, taken with our knowledge, would compromise the Senate. We who consent will become parties to the falsehood."
That precedent should matter today. Any senator is privileged to object to any other senator taking an oath. The chief justice would then have to decide whether the oath can be sworn honestly. As there seems no way that Mitch McConnell's oath could be honest, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. should forbid McConnell from taking it. Whether he so rules or not, the decision could be appealed to the Senate as a whole. Should the Senate openly accept a false oath - perjury - in a proceeding to determine the president's guilt?
AOC Is Right: She and Joe Biden Should Not Be in the Same Party. (Jacobin, January 7, 2020)
The political distance between AOC and Bernie Sanders on the one hand, and Joe Biden on the other, is stunning. They’re not on the same team when it comes to their vision for America - and thank God for that.
Marine Labs on the Water’s Edge Are Threatened by Climate Change. (
New York Times, January 7, 2020)
Just 700 Speak This Language (50 in the Same Brooklyn Building). (New York Times, January 7, 2020)
Seke, one of the world’s rarest languages, is spoken by about 100 people in New York.
Russia offers Iraq S-400 air defense system to protect airspace. (Al Masdar News, January 7, 2020)
[While attempting to divert attention from its impeachment, the Trump puppet scores another goal for Putin!]
Trump Predicted Iran Attack in 2011! (The Daily Show, January 6, 2020)
Trevor Noah: "Nine years ago we received a warning from a gifted psychic."
Donald Trump (Speaking of Barak Obama in 2011): "Our president will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no power to negotiate. He's weak and he's ineffective, so the only way that he figures that he's going to get reelected - and as sure as you are sitting there - is to start a war with Iran. So I believe that he will attack Iran sometime prior to the election, because he thinks that's the only way he can get elected. Isn't it pathetic!"
[NOT psychic; that's the "gift" of projection.]
U.S. Air Force performs huge show of strength with 52 fully-armed F-35a Lightning II stealth fighters worth $4.2 BILLION taking off in a single wave. (Daily Mail, January 6, 2020)
The model is billed as the most advanced military aircraft ever sent into the skies.
Killing Suleimani Has United Iranians Like Never Before. (Foreign Policy, January 6, 2020)
Even among reformers, the fallen general was seen as a hero who stayed out of domestic politics.
Mar-a-Lago in the firing line: Iranian presidential adviser posts list of Donald Trump's properties in chilling hint of an attack on his real estate empire - after Iran put an $80-million bounty on his head. (Daily Mail, January 6, 2020)
Hesameddin Ashena linked to an article listing properties owned by Trump. It included Trump Tower in New York as well as his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. The adviser said that Tehran's 'sole problem is Trump' rather than Americans.
Iran has vowed revenge after the death of Qassem Soleimani in a drone strike. Trump has warned of 'disproportionate' retaliation including on cultural sites
Iran Fully Withdraws From Nuclear Deal and Criticizes European Response to Soleimani's Killing. (1-min. video; Newsweek, January 5, 2020)
In Era of Perpetual Conflict, a Volatile President Grabs Expanded Powers to Make War. (New York Times, January 4, 2020)
The powers of an American president to wage war have grown stronger for nearly two decades, ever since the Sept. 11 attacks led the United States into an era of perpetual conflict. Those powers are now in the hands of the most volatile president in recent memory.
President Trump's decision to authorize the killing of a top Iranian military leader could be the match that sets off a regional conflagration, or it could have only marginal geopolitical impact like so many of the targeted killings ordered by Mr. Trump and his predecessors. But it is just the latest example of the capricious way in which the president, as commander in chief, has chosen to flex his lethal powers.
Rep. Ilhan Omar sets Trump straight on the true meaning of impeachment. (Daily Kos, January 4, 2020)
As Tensions With Iran Escalated, Trump Opted for Most Extreme Measure. (New York Times, January 4, 2020)
While senior officials argue the drone strike was warranted to prevent future attacks, some in the administration remain skeptical about the rationale for the attack. The Pentagon was shocked.
Russia Says U.S. Soleimani Strike Will Damage Regional Stability, Impact Millions of People. (1-min. video; Newsweek, January 3, 2020)
Russia's Foreign Ministry has condemned the U.S. assassination of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani, warning Thursday's strike would only escalate regional tensions and make life worse for millions of people. Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told the Rossiya 24 TV channel on Friday that U.S. conduct around recent tensions in Iraq - culminating with Thursday's drone strike - was the "height of cynicism," the state-backed Tass news agency reported.
[Maybe Trump will listen to Putin.]
Suleimani's Gone, and the Iran Nuclear Deal May Be Next. (New York Times, January 3, 2019)
Trump Deutsche Bank Loans Underwritten By Russian State-Owned Bank, Whistleblower Told FBI. (Forensic News, January 3, 2020)
"The Russian state bank VTB underwrote loans to Donald Trump via Deutsche Bank. Over the course of Trump’s relationship with DB, an inordinate amount of questionable, mismanaged & risky loans approved by Deutsche Bank to Trump required his Personal Guarantee which, over time, also lost its value. Trump’s team at DB sought out creative ways to circumvent the varied protections DB’s compliance team institutionally implemented, & whether by happenstance or by design Trump’s loans became underwritten by Russia’s own VTB. I informed the FBI of this in 2019."
The Schism at the Heart of the Open-Source Movement (The Atlantic, January 3, 2019)
Developers are protesting after revelations that the source-code repository GitHub contracted with ICE. But if you restrict access to open-source code, is it still open?
California's Consumer Privacy Law Is Finally Here. Now What? (Consumer Reports, January 2, 2020)
It grants California residents powerful new privacy protections, some of which could be extended to consumers across the country. The CCPA gives Californians several basic rights:
- the right to know what personal information is being collected about them
- the right to access that data
- the right to know who it's being sold to
- the right to opt out of those sales
, and
- the right to delete data that has been collected already
Iran vows revenge after U.S. kills top general. (New York Times, January 2, 2020)
Iran’s top security and intelligence commander was killed early today in a drone strike at Baghdad International Airport that was authorized by President Trump, American officials said. It was Mr. Trump's most significant use of military force to date.
The death of the commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, was a major blow to Iran and a sharp escalation in Mr. Trump's campaign against Tehran. Here are the latest updates.
General Suleimani, who led the powerful Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed along with several officials from Iraqi militias backed by Tehran when an American MQ-9 Reaper drone fired missiles into a convoy that was leaving the airport.
General Suleimani was the architect of nearly every significant operation by Iranian intelligence and military forces over the past two decades, and his death was a staggering blow for Iran at a time of sweeping geopolitical conflict.
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for three days of public mourning and then retaliation. U.S. officials were preparing for the possibility of cyberattacks and terrorism.
Iran's Gen. Qassem Suleimani killed in U.S. airstrike at Baghdad airport, Pentagon confirms. (Los Angeles Times, January 2, 2020)
Calling the attack "decisive defensive action," the Pentagon says Suleimani "was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region."
Their deaths are a potential turning point in the Middle East and are expected to draw severe retaliation from Iran and the forces it backs in the Middle East against Israel and American interests. The developments also represent a major downturn in Iraq-U.S. relations that could further undermine U.S. influence in the region and American troops in Iraq and weaken Washington’s hand in its pressure campaign against Iran.
More Than 200 Members Of Congress Asked The Supreme Court To Consider Overturning Roe V. Wade. (BuzzFeed, January 2, 2020)
The members, including two Democrats, wrote in a brief that the national right to abortion is unworkable ahead of a major abortion rights case.
Why teachers of religion are not entitled to anti-discrimination protections (Los Angeles Times, January 2, 2020)
Why demagogues were the Founding Fathers' greatest fear (Kennebec ME Journal, January 2, 2020)
George Washington described how he was pulled out of retirement by an urgent risk to the United States. "Anarchy and confusion" were threatening the security of the American people and the rule of constitutional law. But this was only half the danger.
The deeper risk, he wrote, was that the political chaos created fertile ground for exploitation "by some aspiring demagogue who will not consult the interest of his country so much as his own ambitious views." Washington, like his peers, did not use the word "demagogue" as an insult or epithet. He did not employ it as ammunition against those he identified as his political opponents. For the steady, rational Washington, "demagogue" was a forensic term that described a well-known class of political actors, known since Greek and Roman times, who obtain power through emotional appeals to prejudice, distrust and fear. Irrespective of party affiliation, demagogues were a distinct personality type that knew no bounds of politics except fiery self-aggrandizement.
Unredacted Ukraine Documents Reveal Extent of Pentagon’s Legal Concerns. (Just Security, January 2, 2020)
"Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold." This is what Michael Duffey, associate director of national security programs at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), told Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, in an Aug. 30 email, which has only been made available in redacted form until now. It is one of many documents the Trump administration is trying to keep from the public, despite congressional oversight efforts and court orders in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation.
Why Is America So Depressed? (New York Times, January 2, 2020)
It's no coincidence that our politics and our mental health have declined so rapidly, at the same time.
Millennials support socialism because they want to make America great - but for everyone. (Think, January 1, 2020)
The word 'socialism' is becoming more and more mainstream. When Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders launched his 2016 presidential bid, only a fringe few dared to use the label. To call yourself a socialist was supposedly a political death sentence. Now, in part thanks to Sanders, many are wearing 'socialism' as a badge of pride. Dozens of socialist candidates have won seats all over the country, including two members of Congress, and membership in the Democratic Socialists of America has exploded. According to a 2019 YouGov poll, 70 percent of millennials now say they would vote for a socialist.
But what is socialism? How do you know whether you’re a socialist? Could you be one already without knowing it? In fact, it can be difficult to answer the question of what precisely socialism is, because socialists themselves disagree over it. That’s not surprising; Democrats disagree over what it means to be a Democrat, too. It’s an abstract term that describes a diverse population with a lot of conflicting ideas. One popular perception, repeated by Republican Sen. Rand Paul in “The Case Against Socialism,” is that socialism is about “government control of the means of production.” But that’s pretty clearly wrong: historically, many socialists considered themselves outright anarchists, who wanted to get rid of government altogether.
The Decade in Which Everything Was Great But Felt Terrible (The Atlantic, December 31, 2019)
In the 2010s America achieved late capitalism. This past decade was a decade without a single month of recession, when the United States grew to its wealthiest point ever - and when the middle class shrank, longevity fell, and it became clear that a whole generation was falling behind. The central economic dynamic of the 2010s was that no matter how well the market was doing, no matter how long the expansion lasted, no matter how much the economy grew, families still struggled. It was a decade that strained America’s idea of what economic growth could do, and should do, because it did so little for so many.
Mysterious drones seen in Colorado now spotted in southwest Nebraska, too. (Omaha World-Herald, December 31, 2019)
Another court ruling heightens potential for more Ukraine bombshells to drop. (Daily Kos, December 30, 2019)
Donald Trump is on course to kick off 2020 with a string of embarrassing revelations about everything from Ukraine to the Russia probe, potentially putting Senate Republicans in a horrific political bind early next year as they try to navigate a fraught impeachment trial. A Monday afternoon ruling dismissing a lawsuit filed in October by White House deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman served as a reminder that Trump's house-of-cards claim to "absolute immunity" is likely to crumble in spectacular fashion in the new year.
Biden would consider Republican for VP 'but I can't think of one right now'. (The Hill, December 30, 2019)
U.S. Population Makes Fewest Gains in Decades, Census Bureau Says. (New York Times, December 30, 2019)
A drop in immigration, fewer births and an aging population contributed to the slowdown in 2019, according to demographers.
Linux and open-source rules: 2019's five biggest stories show why. (ZDNet, December 30, 2019)
This was the year when, once and for all, it became clear that the future of technology belongs to Linux and open-source software.
A New York Times columnist set out to praise 'Jewish brilliance.' The result was another explosive controversy. (Washington Post, December 30, 2019)
[So instead of this demonstration of NON-brilliant ridicule, accusation, denial, and apology (e.g., suspension of thinking about it), why not revisit this and similar data and improve the analysis? The Comments include clear examples of both.]
A black woman faces prison because of a Jim Crow-era plan to 'protect white voters'. (The Guardian, December 29, 2019)
A prosecutor brought charges against Bratcher even though state officials said she may have illegally voted unintentionally. The decision also came after a report in which state officials recognized there were serious problems in the system in place to inform convicted felons of their voting rights.
The state's policy of banning people convicted of felonies from voting is rooted in a late 19th century effort by North Carolina Democrats to limit voting power of newly-enfranchised African Americans as whole. In 1898, the North Carolina Democratic party spoke of the need "to rescue the white people of the east from the curse of negro domination".
The discriminatory law is still at work – of 441 people investigated for possibly voting with a felony in the 2016 election, 68% were black. That high number exceeds both the percentage of African Americans registered to vote and the proportion on probation and parole. At the end of 2016, African Americans made up about 46% of convicted felons on parole or probation in the state. They made up about 22% of all registered voters.
Behind the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion (New York Times, December 29, 2019)
The inside story of President Trump’s demand to halt military assistance to an ally shows the price he was willing to pay to carry out his agenda.
Science Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their Work. (New York Times, December 28, 2019)
In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished the role of science in federal policy-making while halting or disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a transformation of the federal government whose effects, experts say, could reverberate for years.
Political appointees have shut down government studies, reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly. The administration has particularly challenged scientific findings related to the environment and public health opposed by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining. It has also impeded research around human-caused climate change, which President Trump has dismissed despite a global scientific consensus.
But the erosion of science reaches well beyond the environment and climate. "The disregard for expertise in the federal government is worse than it's ever been," said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, which has tracked more than 200 reports of Trump administration efforts to restrict or misuse science since 2017. "It's pervasive."
Hundreds of scientists, many of whom say they are dismayed at seeing their work undone, are departing.
Trump retweets - then deletes - a post naming the alleged whistleblower. (Washington Post, December 28, 2019)
President Trump retweeted and then deleted a post naming the alleged whistleblower who filed the complaint that became the catalyst for the congressional inquiry that resulted in his impeachment by the House of Representatives.
On Friday night, Trump shared a Twitter post from @surfermom77, who describes herself as “100% Trump supporter,” with his 68 million followers. That tweet prominently named the alleged whistleblower and suggested that he had committed perjury. By Saturday morning, Trump’s retweet had been deleted.
The whistleblower’s identity has been kept secret because of laws that exist to shield those who allege wrongdoing by the government. Advocates say this anonymity protects those who speak up from retaliation and encourages others to come forward.
Blumenthal: Five to ten Republicans have 'severe misgivings' about McConnell strategy. (The Hill, December 27, 2019)
Blumenthal spoke on the subject of impeachment, stating that there will be pressure on McConnell from other Republican lawmakers to employ a fair strategy for the impending impeachment trial in the upper chamber of Congress. "I've talked to five to 10 of my colleagues who have very severe misgivings about the direction that Mitch McConnell is going in denying a full, fair proceeding with witnesses and documents. My hope is that they will say publicly what Sen. Murkowski did, and really hold Mitch McConnell accountable," he said.
Earlier this month, McConnell told the press that he "is not an impartial juror. This is a political process," when it came to impeachment proceedings. He also told Fox News host Sean Hannity that he planned to coordinate with the White House counsel during the trial in the Senate.
However, McConnell's admission has garnered criticism from both the left and the right. Notably, moderate GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) said that she does not agree with McConnell about his impeachment strategy, adding that she was "disturbed" by the comments he made about his coordination with the White House.
Intelligence probe puts CIA's Gina Haspel in a bind. (Politico, December 27, 2019)
The prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Bill Barr to examine the origins of the Russia investigation is focusing much of his attention on the CIA, placing the agency's director, Gina Haspel, at the center of a politically toxic tug-of-war between the Justice Department and the intelligence community. The prosecutor, John Durham, has reportedly asked the CIA for former director John Brennan’s communications as he examines the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment that concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened in the election specifically to help Donald Trump.
Barr has been skeptical of the agency's conclusions about Putin's motivations, despite corroboration by the GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee and an adversarial review by former CIA Director Mike Pompeo. But intelligence community veterans say the Durham probe could force Haspel to choose between protecting her agency from Trump's wrath and bowing to Barr's wishes; they point to FBI chief Chris Wray, who has found himself at odds with the president in recent weeks over a watchdog report about the bureau’s conduct in the Russia probe. And they say the Barr-Durham probe represents overreach by an attorney general who seems to have already made up his mind and is bent on imposing his own skeptical view of the Russia investigation on the intelligence community.
Haspel, a veteran intelligence officer known for her fierce loyalty to the CIA and acute political antennae, has rarely made headlines during her 19-month tenure atop the nation's top spy agency, turning her focus inward on building morale and boosting recruitment. That strategy has kept her out of Trump's sights and largely protected the CIA's more than 20,000 employees from the kinds of political attacks that have hobbled the FBI.
[This too, should please Putin.]
Trump and Giuliani's conspiracy theories keep getting crazier and crazier. (Daily Kos, December 27, 2019)
NYT obtains shocking testimony against SEAL Trump pardoned: 'The guy is freaking evil.' (Daily Kos, December 27, 2019)
Donald Trump hosted convicted (and subsequently pardoned) war criminal and former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher at Mar-a-Lago recently, because he’s Trump, and war crimes are kind of his jam.
Today, The New York Times revealed more evidence showing just how questionable and likely egregious that decision was. The newspaper obtained video recordings and group texts from SEALs who had testified against Gallagher in his trial, and they’re startling to say the least.
Anguish and Anger From the Navy SEALS Who Turned In Edward Gallagher, only to have Trump pardon him (2-min. video; New York Times, December 27, 2019)
Video interviews and group texts obtained by The Times show men describing their platoon leader in grim terms. They offer the first opportunity outside the courtroom to hear directly from the men of Alpha platoon, SEAL Team 7, whose blistering testimony about their platoon chief was dismissed by President Trump when he upended the military code of justice to protect Chief Gallagher from the punishment.
"The guy is freaking evil," Special Operator Miller told investigators. "The guy was toxic," Special Operator First Class Joshua Vriens, a sniper, said in a separate interview. "You could tell he was perfectly O.K. with killing anybody that was moving," Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a medic in the platoon, told the investigators.
The Secrets of Jewish Genius (New York Times, December 27, 2019)
It's about thinking differently.
[And it's created a big flap; see Washington Post, December 30, 2019.]
The big science and environment stories of 2019 (BBC, December 26, 2019)
This year, millions of people around the world mobilised in protest to highlight the dire emergency facing our planet. Could 2019 prove to be the year when talk turned to action on the climate crisis?
In 2019, the reaction to the ongoing climate crisis switched up another gear. Inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, the climate strike movement exploded this year. Millions took part in mass protests during the course of the year in countries as diverse as Australia, Uganda, Colombia, Japan, Germany and the UK. Greta chose to make a statement when she sailed - rather than flew - to a UN climate meeting in New York. Summing up the trajectory for many who have joined popular climate movements, she told chief environment correspondent Justin Rowlatt: "I felt like I was the only one who cared about the climate and ecological crisis... it makes me feel good that I'm not alone in this fight."
Florida man visiting NYC made anti-Semitic comment and assaulted man on the first day of Hanukkah. (Daily Kos, December 26, 2019)
The attack occurred on the first day of Hanukkah, and, according to CNN, "The NYPD has reported 166 anti-Semitic incidents from January through September this year." While most crimes do not involve assault, anti-semitic incidents are the most commonly reported hate crimes in the city. Hate crimes have been on the rise since the last presidential election. Data from USAFacts shows that the number of hate crimes in the U.S. is growing. According to the data, between 2015 and 2017, anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic crimes have seen a 40% increase nationally.
Germans think Trump is more dangerous than Kim Jong Un and Putin. (Deutsche Welle, December 26, 2019)
When asked who posed the greatest threat to world peace, Germans in a recent poll overwhelmingly pointed to one person - Donald Trump. The US president beat out the leaders of North Korea, Russia, China and Iran.
The most important American politician of the decade: "Moscow Mitch" McConnell (The Week, December 26, 2019)
Not President Barack Obama, though his status as the nation's first African-American president will loom large in history. Obama's presidency would have turned out much differently if not for the opposition of McConnell - and in particular McConnell's decision to deny a Senate hearing for Merrick Garland, Obama's last Supreme Court nominee. It was a critical moment in building a conservative SCOTUS majority that could last for decades and seems positioned to transform our collective understanding of Constitutional law.
President Trump won't win this contest, either, though he will be remembered for leading the backlash against Obama's presidency, and for helping usher in an era of politics in which the notion that truth matters seems to have disappeared entirely. You can have your own opinions and your own facts, it turns out. But McConnell was smashing norms and precedents in the Senate even before Trump arrived in Washington, D.C. In the case of Trump's major accomplishments - cutting taxes and transforming the American judiciary - McConnell probably deserves the lion's share of the credit.
We Americans tend to remember historical eras through the lens of the presidency. But McConnell, more than most Senate leaders, served as a gatekeeper for what the presidents of his era have been able to accomplish - and he might be the most powerful and significant senator since Lyndon Johnson in the 1950s, and this was true despite the fact that he and his party shifted back and forth throughout the decade between opposition and majority status.
McConnell's influence was felt broadly, but particularly in three crucial areas:
1. "Party of No": One of McConnell's key acts this decade was actually set in motion a couple of years earlier, when Obama was elected in 2008. McConnell helped create a strategy of never cooperating with the new president, on the belief that voters would blame Obama - and not Republicans - for the resulting gridlock. "If he (Obama) was for it," former Ohio Sen. George Voinovich said of McConnell's strategy, "we had to be against it." They opposed Obama's $800 billion stimulus package in the middle of the Great Recession. They refused to sign on to a universal health-care program modeled on one passed by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney, in Massachusetts. "On just about every issue, from ObamaCare to climate to education reforms that conservatives supported until Obama embraced them, Republicans have embraced that strategy" of total opposition, Grunwald wrote for Politico in 2006. "Senate Republicans even turned routine judicial nominations into legislative ordeals, filibustering 20 of his district court judges - 17 more than had been filibustered under all of his predecessors."
2. Transforming the judiciary: Indeed, McConnell's singular legacy will probably be his long-term effort to give conservatives dominance of the federal judiciary. His blockade of Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court was the most famous example of that mission, but possibly not the most important. His blockade of Obama's lower-court appointments led then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to eliminate the filibuster for those offices. (McConnell would later make a similar rule change to get Trump's SCOTUS nominee, Neil Gorsuch, approved by the Senate.) After Republicans regained control of the Senate in 2014, the blockade of Obama's appointments became more pronounced. The result: Trump inherited 88 district court vacancies, along with 17 appellate court positions in need of filling. The president gets lots of publicity these days for all the judicial appointments he has made, but it was McConnell who spent the decade setting the stage. The result is a court system that for the next few decades will be less friendly to abortion, LGBT, and minority rights and the regulatory state, but friendlier to gun ownership and business interests. We haven't even scratched the surface of the Constitutional law changes that are coming thanks to McConnell's efforts.
3. From Russia with love: If Trump needed McConnell to transform the judiciary, the reverse is also true. So McConnell's role in helping Trump get elected is both notable - and, even now, shocking. The Obama administration in 2016 determined that Russia was attempting to interfere with the presidential election, and presented the evidence to congressional leaders. McConnell reportedly challenged the findings, "and made clear to the administration that he would consider any effort by the White House to challenge the Russians publicly an act of partisan politics." He refused to sign on to a joint statement warning the public about that interference, and Obama officials were hesitant to sound the alarm without his participation. Russia's efforts on Trump's behalf didn't start to get a full airing, then, until after the election. Would the election results have changed if the public had been more fully informed? That question is destined to be one of American history's great what-ifs.
McConnell spent the decade undermining one president and paving the way for another, all in support of an effort to fundamentally alter the way Constitutional law is interpreted and enforced. He is the thread that connects the shortcomings of the Obama administration to the rise of Trump, and beyond. Because of all that, he will be remembered - possibly not fondly - as the most important American politician of the decade.
Trump's base of support continues to be much softer than advertised. (Daily Kos, December 25, 2019)
How we gave away the secrets of the universe and the wealth of the world. (
Daily Kos, December 25, 2019)
Reagan's combination of tax gifts to the wealthy and lavish spending on defense generated massive deficits. Republicans were happy to overlook this issue as long as a Republican was in the White House, but, as so often seems to happen, no sooner was Bill Clinton elected than Republicans rediscovered their deep, deep concern over America's national debt.
The restructuring of the economy that began with the adoption of supply-side economics was so fundamental that the most basic graph of income inequality shows it quite clearly. It created a schism, a break in the way both democracy and capitalism had worked to that point - one that drove America from a point at which the average CEO earned dozens of times as much as workers to one at which that difference was measured in the thousands. It turned the investment class into the can't-fail class. And over the next 40 years, it split society far more effectively than any accelerator could split apart particles.
We did not make earthshaking physics discoveries, but we created a nation where Jeff Bezos could fund the entire SSC, still have $100 billion in his pocket, and simply keep any discoveries made for himself. We created an age in which private fortunes exceed the cost of the largest public works. Where a nation can’t afford an Apollo-like effort, but individuals can, and are, running such programs as a hobby.
The surprisingly complicated physics of why cats always land on their feet (Ars Technica, December 25, 2019)
Ars chats with physicist Greg Gbur about his book, Falling Felines and Fundamental Physics.
"Cats are cleverer than we think, but less clever than they think. "
Comments: "If the physics is that understood, can we make a robot cat that always lands on its feet?"
"No one has yet, according to the physicist, which I find surprising and unbelievable. It doesn’t seem like that hard of a problem, yet neither does the cat and here we are with a whole book written on it."
"Trivial robot to make. Just shape it like a piece of toast and spread butter on its feet!" :-)
Which leads to: Why does toast often land butter-side down? (BBC Science Focus)
Number of children swallowing dangerous magnets surges as industry largely polices itself. (Washington Post, December 25, 2019)
The nation's poison control centers are on track to record six times more magnet ingestions - totaling nearly 1,600 cases - this year than in 2016, when a federal court first sided with industry to lift the Consumer Product Safety Commission's four-year ban on the product. Medical researchers say the only explanation for the spike is the return of these unusually strong magnets to the market after the court ruling.
First active fault zone found on Mars. (National Geographic, December 24, 2019)
Rumbling quakes on the red planet have been traced back to Cerberus Fossae, suggesting this geologically young region is still alive and cracking.
Chuck Peddle, Maine native called 'father of the personal computer,' dies at age 82. (2-min. video; Portland ME Press Herald, December 24, 2019)
Peddle, who grew up in Augusta and graduated from the University of Maine, is credited with inventing the low-cost microprocessor used in early personal computers, such as the Commodore 64 and Apple II.
Colleges are turning students' phones into surveillance machines, tracking the locations of hundreds of thousands. (Washington Post, December 24, 2019)
Short-range phone sensors and campus-wide WiFi networks are empowering colleges across the United States to track hundreds of thousands of students more precisely than ever before. Dozens of schools now use such technology to monitor students' academic performance, analyze their conduct or assess their mental health.
But some professors and education advocates argue that the systems represent a new low in intrusive technology, breaching students' privacy on a massive scale. The tracking systems, they worry, will infantilize students in the very place where they’re expected to grow into adults, further training them to see surveillance as a normal part of living, whether they like it or not. The systems are isolating for students who don't own smartphones, coercive for students who do and unnecessary for professors, who can accomplish the task with the same pop quizzes and random checks they’ve used for decades.
This style of surveillance has become just another fact of life for many Americans. A flood of cameras, sensors and microphones, wired to an online backbone, now can measure people's activity and whereabouts with striking precision, reducing the mess of everyday living into trend lines that companies promise to help optimize.
The U.S. military loves Linux. (Fudzilla, December 23, 2019)
The US government is increasingly using open-source software as a way to roll out advanced, highly secure technology in an economical manner.  So chances are if you get hit by US munitions chances are the software is open source – which should make you feel better.
On August 8, 2016, the White House CIO released a Federal Source Code Policy that calls for new software to be built, shared, and adapted using open-source methods to capitalize on code that is "secure, reliable, and effective in furthering our national objectives."
The United States Department of Defense recognises the key benefits associated with open-source development and trusts Linux as its operating system. In fact, the US Army is the single largest installed base for Red Hat Linux and the U.S. Navy nuclear submarine fleet runs on Linux, including their sonar systems. Moreover, the Department of Defense just recently enlisted Red Hat the world's largest provider of open-source solutions, to help improve squadron operations and flight training.
Bill Of The Month: For Her Head Cold, Insurer Coughed Up $25,865. (NPR, December 23, 2019)
Trump Hosts Convicted War Criminal at Mar-a-Lago. (Slate, December 23, 2019)
Edward Gallagher certainly owes Trump some gratitude. In 2018, based on the testimony of members of his Navy SEAL unit, the platoon chief was charged with stabbing an unarmed teenage ISIS prisoner, posing for a photo with his corpse, and shooting random Iraqi civilians including an old man and a young girl. He denied the charges.
After Gallagher’s case was taken up by several of Trump’s allies in Congress and Fox News commentators, Trump repeatedly intervened in the trial. The president lambasted the prosecution, and ordered that Gallagher be moved from pretrial detention to house arrest. Gallagher was acquitted of most of the charges after a bizarre trial which included surprise testimony from a key witness who, after being granted immunity from prosecution, said he had been the one to kill the teenager.
Gallagher was convicted of posing for a photo with the detainee’s corpse and sentenced to time served. Trump then reversed a decision to demote Gallagher after the conviction and prevented the Navy from removing his Trident pin, a badge of honor for the elite SEALs. Navy secretary Richard Spencer objected to the special treatment of Gallagher and was subsequently asked to resign last month.
The Issues: The most comprehensive guide anywhere to the issues shaping the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. (Politico, December 23, 2019)
House counsel suggests Trump could be impeached again. (Politico, December 23, 2019)
A second impeachment could be necessary if the House uncovers new evidence that Trump attempted to obstruct investigations of his conduct. House Counsel Douglas Letter made the argument as part of an inquiry by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals into whether Democrats still need testimony from former White House counsel Don McGahn after the votes last week to charge Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Trump campaign plagued by groups raising tens of millions in his name. (
Politico, December 23, 2019)
Outside entities are raising huge money in Trump's name, despite disavowals from the campaign, and spending little of it on 2020.
Admiral James Stavridis: 100% Trump got played by North Korea. (3-min. video; MSNBC, December 23, 2019)
North Korea has warned it could deliver the U.S. an unwelcome Christmas gift -- if there's no progress on nuclear talks. Admiral James Stavridis reacts.
Language expert: Trump is a truly inferior person to be leading a nation. (
3-min. video; MSNBC, December 23, 2019)
Scholar and linguist John McWhorter joins to discuss what we can learn from all the President's words.
G.O.P. Lawmaker Had Visions of a Christian Alternative Government. (New York Times, December 23, 2019)
Washington State representative Matt Shea was accused of participating in the occupation of a federal wildlife refuge. Behind the scenes, he and right-wing activists were preparing for civil strife. He networked with local militia groups, talked about plans to create a 51st state called Liberty and distributed to his closest followers a "Biblical Basis for War" document that calls for the "surrender" of those who favor abortion rights, same-sex marriage, "idolatry" and communism. "If they do not yield - kill all males," it said.
Mr. Shea’s activities are part of a troubling trend: Far-right organizers have begun plying their message of civil conflict in mainstream political circles, building new networks that include elected politicians and voters who would never consider themselves part of an extremist group.
Giuliani pals leveraged GOP access to seek Ukraine gas deal. (Associated Press, December 23, 2019)
Andrew Favorov, the No. 2 at Ukraine’s state-run gas company Naftogaz, says he sat on a red leather bench seat and listened wide-eyed as the men boasted of their connections to President Donald Trump and proposed a deal to sell large quantities of liquefied natural gas from Texas to Ukraine.
But first, Favorov says, they told him they would have to remove two obstacles: Favorov’s boss and the U.S. ambassador in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. What he didn’t know as he sipped whiskey that evening was that high-ranking officials in the Ukrainian government were already taking steps to topple his boss, Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev. And two months later, Trump recalled U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, a career diplomat with a reputation as an anti-corruption crusader.
The gas deal sought by Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman never came to pass. But their efforts to profit from contacts with GOP luminaries are now part of a broad federal criminal investigation into the two men and their close associate, Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney.
Lying, cheating, and stealing are the building blocks of their American dream. (
Daily Kos, December 22, 2019)
Donald John Trump has been Impeached. The deed is done. Regardless of what else happens next in the Senate, that is a fact, and will remain true forever. It’s something that will always be connected to Trump and his career.
Of course, Trump and his rabid supporters do not accept this. They claim this is merely political, merely partisan, only a matter of personal rancor and bitter anger over his defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016. It doesn’t matter that that election was altered and influenced by the efforts of Russia to hack into the email systems of the DCCC, the DNC, and John Podesta, the chair of Clinton’s 2016 campaign. It doesn’t matter that Russia staged a campaign of active measures, using WikiLeaks and social media, intended to generate maximum impact from the hacked emails, suggesting that there was a corrupt plot between the Clinton campaign and the DNC to kneecap the campaign of Bernie Sanders, along with other conspiratorial crimes, and that she was personally corrupt and “crooked” through and through.
The truth doesn’t matter. The facts don’t matter. All that matters is winning. And the fact that that win was bought and paid for by Russia, which implemented an effective effort to cheat and steal the election, doesn’t matter. So, naturally, it doesn’t matter to them that Trump tried to use yet another foreign country to concoct a perpetual stream of false controversies about his main opponent in 2020. He was trying, yet again, to steal an election, but all they see is the anger. All they see is hate. All they see is grievance, because they know, deep down, that there’s a good reason for both.
How can Christians be Trump supporters? (Fargo ND Forum, December 22, 2019)
At this time of year when Christians are celebrating the birth of Christ, and at a time when our country is more polarized than ever, we're pondering a riddle: Should avowed Christians support President Trump? Frankly, it's difficult to conceive of a high office holder whose personal life and divisive leadership are less Christ-like than those of Trump.
Regardless of one’s faith tradition, Trump stands as a leader who has shredded norms and values and morals. He has undeniably used his office for personal gain - and for the benefit of his sons, daughter and son-in-law - yet the far-right refuses to hold him accountable. We are supposed to be a nation of laws, not of men. Our Constitution spells out separation of powers as well as checks and balances between equal branches of government.
Christianity Today receives boost in new subscriptions after calling for Trump’s removal, editor in chief says. (CNBC, December 22, 2019)
Impeachment has been a messaging disaster for the White House. Why won't the press say so? (Daily Kos, December 22, 2019)
Why is insulin so expensive? Here's what you need to know about price gouging. (Daily Kos, December 22, 2019)
The U.S. is reported to have the highest cost for insulin in the world. Spending doubled
between 2012 and 2016.
White House considers arguing that Trump wasn't impeached. (3-min. video; CBS News, December 21, 2019)
Heather Cox Richardson: A federal court struck down the central pillar of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). (Letters from an American, December 21, 2019)
The issues surrounding this decision are complicated, but at stake is whether or not the fact the court found this aspect of the law unconstitutional will lead to the entire law being declared unconstitutional.
This has a much larger meaning. It is, in fact, a question about the role of government in American society.
In the 1930s and 1940s, after the unregulated capitalism of the 1920s had sparked the Great Depression, Americans rallied around the idea that the government had a duty to keep the economic playing field level between those at the bottom of society and those at the top. Under Democratic President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the government began to regulate business, provide a basic social safety net, and promote infrastructure. It regulated our financial system to guarantee no one could game it based on whom they knew. We got new laws to regulate minimum wages and maximum hours for workers, workplace safety, Social Security and welfare relief. We got bridges and roads and schools and libraries. Under this “New Deal for the American people” as FDR put it, the nation thrived.
This way of looking at the world became known as the “liberal consensus,” and virtually all Americans thought that government intervention in the economy to keep the wealthy from abusing their workers and taking the majority of the nation’s capital, as they had done in the 1920s, was a good thing.
But not everyone agreed. Some clung to the system of the 1920s, in which businessmen had run the government. So they set out to destroy the liberal consensus. Gradually they took over the Republican Party. Now they control it.
Americans have not been able to wrap their heads around this ideological conflict.
Iowa woman said she ran over a 14-year-old girl because she 'was a Mexican,' police say. (CNN, December 21, 2019)
Al Franken: McConnell's hypocrisy like listening to Dahmer complain about dinner party etiquette. (Daily Kos, December 21, 2019)
Trump’s Mar-A-Lago Winter Vacation Pushes Taxpayer Golf Tab Above $118 million. (Huffington Post, December 21, 2019)
Trump criticized predecessor Barack Obama for spending too much time playing golf — but is on track to pass Obama’s eight-year total in just four years.
Trump's letter to Pelosi: Not 'unhinged' - but worse, from a speechwriter's perspective. (The Hill, December 21, 2019)
Americans in 2119 will find a generally well-written, coherent summary of one side of the 2019 debate. Does that mean it’s persuasive? Laced with evidence? Absolutely not. In fact, I will assign Trump’s letter to my speechwriting students at American University because I want them to see this rich compendium of the fallacies so traditional in political rhetoric, in order to avoid repeating them.
By fallacies I don’t mean the ethical problems we see in Trump’s speeches: lies, personal insults, bigotry. Instead, fallacies are the specific techniques used to deceive, sometimes by speakers who don’t even realize they’re doing so. Such fallacies are nothing new, and they’re not limited to English — Aristotle, after all, seems to have been the first person to catalogue examples — but they are easy to spot.
Here are just six examples from the president’s letter...
The less-hyped, but more realistic threats to US national security (The Hill, December 21, 2019)
While secure borders are important to our economic and physical security, recent information has disclosed alarming deficiencies in U.S. military capabilities. Other information has revealed inadequate cybersecurity requirements in our weapons systems and in other infrastructure systems.
Extolling the Virtues of the Hunter-Gatherer Lifestyle (Undark, December 20, 2019)
In “Civilized to Death,” Christopher Ryan argues that our nomadic ancestors were better off than we are today.
Poll: 52 percent majority approves of Trump's impeachment. (Politico, December 20, 2019)
The new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll also shows an identical 52 percent would approve of the Senate voting to remove Trump from office.
Heather Cox Richardson:
Trump melting down on Twitter (Letters from an American, December 20, 2019)
Today began with Trump melting down on Twitter over the editorial yesterday in Christianity Today calling for his removal from office. He called this influential paper of American evangelicals "a far left magazine," and charged it with preferring "a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your President." "The fact is, no President has ever done what I have for Evangelicals, or religion itself!" And he said something quite revealing: "No President has done more for the Evangelical community, and it’s not even close. You’ll not get anything from those Dems on stage. I won’t be reading ET again!"
Aside from the extraordinary unlikelihood that Trump ever read CT (not ET, who has gone home), these lines indicate that Trump’s view of the world as a series of transactions, made up of winners and losers, extends to governing. He thinks evangelicals owe him their votes in exchange for his anti-abortion judges, and feels betrayed at the suggestion that he has not bought their permanent allegiance. While all politicians think about keeping their supporters happy, this suggests a transactional view of politics that illuminates a lot about, for example, his payments to midwestern farmers hurt by his tariffs, or to his willingness to ask a favor of the president of Ukraine.
The latest Russia bombshell bolsters Democrats’ demand for evidence. (Washington Post, December 20, 2019)
The president’s intense resistance to the assessment of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia systematically interfered in the 2016 campaign - and the blame he cast instead on a rival country - led many of his advisers to think that Putin himself helped spur the idea of Ukraine’s culpability, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions.
The report continues: "One former senior White House official said Trump even stated so explicitly at one point, saying he knew Ukraine was the real culprit because 'Putin told me.' Two other former officials said the senior White House official described Trump's comment to them." In short, "The concern among senior White House officials that Putin helped fuel Trump’s theories about Ukraine underscores long-standing fears inside the administration about the Russian president’s ability to influence Trump’s views." Finally, "Three former senior administration officials said Trump repeatedly insisted after the G-20 summit that he believed Putin’s assurances that Russia had not interfered in the 2016 campaign. The officials said [chief of staff John] Kelly, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all tried to caution Trump not to rely on Putin’s word, and to focus on evidence to the contrary that U.S. intelligence agencies had collected."
So where are these former officials? As a preliminary matter, the thought processes of those former senior officials - who would anonymously say that Trump was a Putin puppet but refuse to come forward to provide testimony well before we even got to an impeachment proceeding, in part about Trump’s alleged betrayal of national security - boggles the mind. They have either given cover to a president who is practically a foreign asset, or they are creating unwarranted fear that he is. There could be no better example as to why the Senate must be able to subpoena former officials for the impeachment trial and obtain documents Trump has concealed under a spurious absolute immunity defense. If a former secretary of state or a defense, homeland security or senior intelligence official (e.g., director of national intelligence, head of the National Security Agency) cannot do the patriotic thing when the security of the country is at stake, then it is essential to end the Trump coverup and figure out how to force their appearance in the Senate trial.
Former prosecutor Joyce White Vance explained: "Russia’s goal has always been to disrupt our country and our way of life. Now, we’ve had more confirmation they seem to be succeeding, with confirmation of what’s been long suspected, that our president’s national security briefings come from Putin, not our own intelligence community." She cautioned: "This could form the basis for another article of impeachment - a president who doesn’t put our national security ahead of all other concerns." At the very least, it would shed additional light on the existing Article I that concerns Trump’s otherwise inexplicable obsession with debunked conspiracy theories that brought him to extort an ally at war with Russia.
As noted, on Thursday the Senate recessed, with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisting that there be no agreement on the admission of witnesses and documents in advance, but rather that these would be handled as they come up. McConnell said that is how it has always worked. However, it has never been the case that the majority leader conspired with the president or that senators declared they had no intention to be fair.
Under these circumstances, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) seems entirely justified in holding back the articles of impeachment until this can be resolved. Pelosi and other Democrats would do well to turn up the heat on Senate Republicans who present themselves as beacons of moderation and fairness. It is time for Democrats to point the finger directly at Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and others. Do they want to be part of a sham that risks leaving in place Putin’s pawn?
Maybe these Republicans will find it within their own consciences and heed the words of House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). "All of us feel a sense of loyalty to party. It’s what makes our two-party system function. . . . But party loyalty must have its limits," he said. "And as evidence of the President’s impeachable offenses has mounted, it has become increasingly clear that the limits of partisanship have been reached and passed. . . . Democrats and Republicans together face a test before our constituents, our countrymen, and our Creator." Hoyer ended: "I urge my colleagues in the House and in the Senate: look into your soul. Summon the courage to vote for our Constitution and our democracy. To do less betrays our oath and that of our Founders, who pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Let us neither turn away from the evidence, which is so clear, nor from our good conscience, which compels us to do what in our hearts we know to be right. Let us not allow the rule of law to end or for tyranny to find its toehold."
The key Republican senators can do this by ending the logjam, vowing to vote for key witnesses, including current and past national security advisers, and demanding relevant documents. If they cannot do this bare minimum, you really have to question why they bother running and serving in the Senate.
Pelosi invites Trump to deliver State of the Union on Feb. 4. (The Hill, December 20, 2019)
Pelosi's letter comes two days after the House voted almost exclusively along party lines to impeach Trump.
"In their great wisdom, our Founders crafted a Constitution based on a system of separation of powers: three co-equal branches acting as checks on each other. To ensure that balance of powers, the Constitution calls for the president to 'from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union,'" Pelosi wrote in a letter to Trump. "In the spirit of respecting our Constitution, I invite you to deliver your State of the Union address before a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 in the Chamber of the U.S. House of Representatives."

A White House aide later told The Hill that Trump had accepted.
Four Tests for Impeachment - And How the President Meets Them (National Review, December 19, 2019)
Advocates of a president’s removal from office by Congress should have to climb over four walls to reach their objective. First, they should have to show that the facts they allege are true. Second, they should show that the fact pattern amounts to an abuse of power or dereliction of duty by the president. Third, they should show that this abuse or dereliction is impeachable. And fourth, they should show that it is prudent for Congress to remove the president for this impeachable offense: that it would produce more good than evil.
If the advocates can scale all four walls, then a majority of the House and a supermajority of the Senate ought to remove the president.
1, True?: Did President Trump try to use federal policy toward Ukraine to get it to announce an investigation into Joe Biden and his son Hunter? It is pretty clear that he did, and Republican allies of Trump have put very little effort into denying it.
2. Abuse of power/Dereliction of duty? The theory about Ukrainian hacking has even less going for it. A “debunked conspiracy theory” is what Tom Bossert, a former homeland-security adviser to Trump and an opponent of impeachment, has called it. Most of Trump’s defenders have dealt with the absence of any support for this theory by changing the subject to other forms of Ukrainian “interference” with the 2016 election, prominently including an op-ed a Ukrainian official wrote. But Trump wasn’t talking about that, and U.S. officials have no legitimate interest in getting Ukraine to investigate it anyway.
3. Impeachable? Madison said that impeachment is the constitutional protection against a president who would abuse his power to pardon criminals, and that it was an appropriate remedy for “wanton removal of meritorious officers” by the president. The Constitution says Congress may impeach federal officials for bribery, treason, and “other high crimes and misdemeanors.” It is reasonable to conclude that only serious wrongs, equivalent in gravity to the first two categories, belong in the third one. We have no warrant for concluding that only violations of statutes qualify. Congress has impeached many officials for misconduct not involving statutory crimes, and included non-crimes in its efforts to impeach Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Clinton.
4. Prudent? It might be possible to regard Trump’s Ukraine misadventure as a lapse of judgment, with little harm done, if he showed any repentance or even understanding of what he has done wrong. Instead it looks more like a window into tendencies of his that are incompatible with performing the functions of his office. Assuming that the necessary level of support to remove a president from office for that offense will not be reached, should we prefer that more elected officials go on record that it is unacceptable - or that fewer do?
Conclusion: The Constitution provides for impeachment and removal to protect us from officials, including presidents, who are unable or unwilling to distinguish between the common good that government is supposed to serve and their own narrow interests. Though he has done some good things in office, Trump is just such a president. Congress should act accordingly.
Obamacare ruling voiding part of health care law as unconstitutional is a sick joke. (NBC News, December 19, 2019)
The appellate court decision handed down Wednesday on the Affordable Care Act is a joke, but the people who depend on the ACA for health insurance won’t be laughing.
The decision in Texas v. United States, which struck down the ACA’s provision regarding individual insurance coverage, often referred to as the individual mandate, features a bad legal argument and a worse one. The bad argument is that the ACA minimum-coverage provision, which the appellate court interpreted as requiring each person to have a minimal amount of coverage, is unconstitutional; the worse argument is that courts should consider invalidating the entirety of the ACA because that one provision is unconstitutional.
Two Republican-appointed judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in Texas held that the so-called mandate is unconstitutional, and that the rest of the ACA might have to be invalidated as a result. (The third judge on the panel, appointed by a Democrat, dissented.)
In making that determination, the court of appeals wrote off the fact that the Supreme Court already upheld the provision regarding individual insurance coverage in its 2012 landmark ruling National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius, written by Chief Justice John Roberts.
NEW: Why Biden’s Retro Inner Circle Is Succeeding So Far (Politico, December 19, 2019)
In 2019, there’s a tiny group of Democrats who believe the party hasn’t lurched leftward. Oh, and their boss happens to be winning the primary.
How the New Robocall Law Would Protect Consumers (Consumer Reports, December 19, 2019)
The so-called TRACED Act, which won final approval in Congress today, would make it easier for consumers to identify robocalls so that they can avoid answering them.
The legislation would require telecom carriers to implement, at no extra charge, a number-authentication system to help consumers identify who’s calling. It would also increase penalties for robocallers who flout the law. However, it didn’t clarify what constitutes consumer consent to receive the calls. It may take years to fully implement.
In the meantime, this article also lists steps you can take to protect yourself from robocalls.
NEW: The Privacy Project: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero Privacy (New York Times, December 19, 2019)

One nation, tracked. An investigation into the smartphone tracking industry.
Every minute of every day, everywhere on the planet, dozens of companies - largely unregulated, little scrutinized - are logging the movements of tens of millions of people with mobile phones and storing the information in gigantic data files. The Times Privacy Project obtained one such file, by far the largest and most sensitive ever to be reviewed by journalists. It holds more than 50 billion location pings from the phones of more than 12 million Americans as they moved through several major cities, including Washington, New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Each piece of information in this file represents the precise location of a single smartphone over a period of several months in 2016 and 2017. The data was provided to Times Opinion by sources who asked to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to share it and could face severe penalties for doing so. The sources of the information said they had grown alarmed about how it might be abused and urgently wanted to inform the public and lawmakers.
 After spending months sifting through the data, tracking the movements of people across the country and speaking with dozens of data companies, technologists, lawyers and academics who study this field, we feel the same sense of alarm. In the cities that the data file covers, it tracks people from nearly every neighborhood and block, whether they live in mobile homes in Alexandria, Va., or luxury towers in Manhattan. One search turned up more than a dozen people visiting the Playboy Mansion, some overnight. Without much effort we spotted visitors to the estates of Johnny Depp, Tiger Woods and Arnold Schwarzenegger, connecting the devices’ owners to the residences indefinitely.
If you lived in one of the cities the dataset covers and use apps that share your location — anything from weather apps to local news apps to coupon savers — you could be in there, too. If you could see the full trove, you might never use your phone the same way again.
Australia swelters through hottest day on record. (Axios, December 18, 2019)
Australia has endured its hottest day on record and worst ever spring for wildfire danger, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said in a climate statement Wednesday.
Perth, the capital of Western Australia, has already smashed its temperature record for December after three consecutive days above 40°C (104°F) at the start of the week.
The dire heat warnings come as firefighters continue to fight wildfires, known in Australia as bushfires. The Washington Post notes that blazes in New South Wales have "emitted massive amounts of greenhouse gases and choked Sydney residents beneath a blanket of smoke."
NEW: Official Statement From Mormon Women for Ethical Government on the House Impeachment Vote (MWEG, December 18, 2019)
We assert that our most sacred civic expression is the casting of an individual vote. Any president or leader who forces political support and fails to honor and protect the free and legitimate elections on which our republic rests has lost the moral right to govern. By attempting to compel Ukraine to announce investigations benefitting only his re-election efforts, President Trump forced every American taxpayer to become an unwitting contributor to his political campaign and a supporter of his re-election.
When presented to the Senate, these articles deserve a full and fair trial with impartial jurors, conducted as required by the Constitution. Even in an era of polarized partisan politics, truth is discernible and powerful. The Senate must resist all impulse to reduce this process to gamesmanship and theater and instead must pursue truth by compelling testimony from the actors at the heart of this inquiry. The president himself must honor his sworn duty to uphold the law by providing the documents Congress has subpoenaed and instructing his staff to testify. If he is innocent, their testimonies will be exculpatory. Subversion of this process, regardless of outcome, represents a subversion of justice.
At MWEG we are committed peacemakers. However, we recognize that true peace is not an absence of conflict. Rather, it requires, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught, a courageous defense of truth and justice. Some argue that an impeachment process must be bi-partisan before it is legitimate. Some say that without Congressional Republican support, investigating the president would be too divisive. We reject this argument as one devoid of moral authority. Peace cannot be purchased so cheaply. Effective leadership does not sacrifice truth and principle on the altar of consensus. Instead, it gives voice to truth and lends courage to those who are fearful. Our nation is truly indivisible only when there is liberty and justice for all.
While we speak to all of our fellow citizens and elected officials, we call specifically upon our co-religionists Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) to honor their oaths of office. We remind them that this oath qualifies them for service and was taken in the name of God. The oath of office does not require our representatives to protect the economy, their political party, their seat, their ambition, or even the president. It demands that those sworn to office will uphold the Constitution and fairly adjudicate on behalf of every citizen. We expect them to honor that oath, and we will hold them to account with our votes.
TRUMP IMPEACHED. Donald Trump is the third U.S. president to face a trial in the Senate. (Washington Post, December 18, 2019)
Trump is impeached by the House, creating an indelible mark on his presidency.
On Trump’s 1,062nd day in office, Congress brought a momentous reckoning to an un­or­tho­dox president who has tested America’s institutions with an array of unrestrained actions, including some that a collection of his own appointees and other government witnesses testified were reckless and endangered national security.
New study shows just how bad vehicle hacking has gotten. (CNet, December 18, 2019)
Automotive industry hacks have exploded since 2016, according to a new report.
Unable to Retrieve Money, Cryptocurrency Investors Want Dead Executive Exhumed. (New York Times, December 17, 2019)
Gerald W. Cotten, the C.E.O. of Quadriga CX, was the only one who knew crucial passwords, the company said. When he died, users could not recover millions in their accounts. Now they want proof he is actually dead.
Donald Trump throws the Republican Senate a boat anchor in the form of a six-page tantrum. (
Daily Kos, December 17, 2019)
In the letter, Trump attacks Pelosi for saying that she prays for him. Trump calls Pelosi a liar, unless, he says, she prays "in a negative sense." The letter continues Trump’s attack on Joe Biden, in denial of the facts, by simply stating the conspiracy theory he pressed on Ukraine as if it is fact. It then accuses Democrats of "Trump Derangement Syndrome" and "Impeachment Fever," while throwing out a massive list of adjectives and utilizing Random Capitalization wherever he wants.
And then it just lies, points fingers, and kind of screams in print. It’s like a Trump rally committed to paper. Only less coherent.
Letter from Donald Trump to Nancy Pelosi (White House, December 17, 2019)
Mike Pence deep-sixed his aide's impeachment testimony. Schiff says it 'raises profound questions'. (Daily Kos, December 17, 2019)
Rudy Giuliani doesn't care if you know about his corrupt schemes, because Trump has his back. (Daily Kos, December 17, 2019)
Rudy Giuliani flat-out confesses to more Trump corruption. (Daily Kos, December 16, 2019)
The Ukrainian Prosecutor Behind Trump’s Impeachment. (New Yorker, December 16, 2019)
How the efforts of Yuriy Lutsenko and Rudy Giuliani to smear Joe Biden led to a Presidential crisis.
Of all the names featured in the private depositions and public testimonies of the Presidential impeachment inquiry - Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani; Giuliani’s associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman; Joe Biden and his son, Hunter - that of Yuriy Lutsenko has been cited more often than almost any other. In the sworn depositions of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, Lutsenko’s name appears two hundred and thirty times, nearly twice as often as Trump’s. Lutsenko, sometimes referred to simply as "the corrupt prosecutor general" of Ukraine, has been portrayed, hardly without reason, as an unscrupulous politician prone to telling lies to further his personal ambitions. As those closely following the news have learned, Lutsenko fed information to Giuliani, which Giuliani, Trump, and their allies spun to smear the reputations of the Bidens and of Yovanovitch, whom Trump fired in April. One of the House’s star witnesses told me, of Lutsenko, "I don’t think we’d be here if not for him."
NEW: Federal Toxmap Shutters, Raising the Ire of Pollution Researchers. (Undark, December 16, 2019)
The loss of the federal pollution tracker, supporters say, will inhibit public access to data on environmental hazards.
Satellite observations reveal extreme methane leakage from a natural gas well blowout. (U.S. National Academy of Science, December 16, 2019)
Emissions from the fossil fuel industry are one of the major sources of atmospheric methane. Gas leakages due to accidents in the oil and gas sector can release large amounts of methane within short periods of time. Although these emissions are very challenging to monitor, satellite measurement platforms offer a promising approach by regularly scanning the entire globe. This study demonstrates this capability of satellite measurements by reporting atmospheric measurements of methane emission from a natural gas well blowout in Ohio in 2018. Assuming a constant emission rate during the whole event, we find the total methane emission from the 20-d blowout to be equivalent to a substantial fraction of the annual total anthropogenic emission of several European countries.

Supreme Court declines to hear case on ban against people sleeping and camping in public spaces. (Daily Kos, December 16, 2019)
On Monday, the Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal that would have allowed officers to ticket people who sleep and camp in public spaces; this is considered a major victory for people who are experiencing homelessness. Instead of hearing the case, the Supreme Court is letting a ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stand. That ruling says that homeless people have a constitutional right to sleep outside (assuming it’s public property) if no shelter space is available.
Brian Kilmeade ‘Stunned’ by Fox News Poll Differing From What ‘Fox & Friends’ Pushes About Impeachment. (Daily Beast, December 16, 2019)
The Fox host admitted he was surprised by the number because, in his corner of the world, he "thought that things were trending away."
DCCC to Consultants: Helping to Elect a Republican? Sure, We’ll Work With You. (The Intercept, December 16, 2019)
In March, House Democrats’ campaign arm formalized a policy cutting off firms working with candidates running primary challenges against incumbent Democrats. But the rule doesn’t appear to apply to consultants who get millions of dollars from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee while working for political action committees that support and elect Republicans.
An open letter to Nikki Haley from the briefly reanimated corpse of Jefferson Davis. (Daily Kos, December 15, 2019)
Dearest Ambassador Haley,
I am writing from the distant past to offer some modest thoughts about your exciting future. I understand congratulations are in order as you embark on the journey to seek the presidential nomination of the party of states' rights, nullification, and secession. (One hundred thirty years after my death, the irony is not lost on me that the Party of Abraham Lincoln is now where those sacred values reside.)
Now, I appreciate that you have not formally declared your intentions for 2024 or, if today’s abolitionists, free soilers, and civil rights crusaders of the North and West succeed in their current treachery, in 2020. But with the resumption of your defense of the flag of our Confederacy, you sent an unmistakable signal to our shared supporters that you shall pursue the highest office in the land.
An Evangelical's Antichrist Op-ed: "You foolish evangelicals, Trump has bewitched you!" (Daily Kos, December 15, 2019)
He is not the only one. There are others who are speaking out. It’s a start, even if it is a small minority. Regardless of the number, it’s important to note that some evangelicals have come to see Trump for the appalling person he really is.
NEW: 'I'm not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here': Graham predicts Trump impeachment will 'die quickly' in Senate. (CNN, December 14, 2019)
A big week in the history of this country. (Heather Cox Richardson, December 14, 2019)
The House Committee on the Judiciary voted to impeach the President for the fourth time in American history. But that was not, actually, the biggest story.
The big story was that it became clear that the leadership of today’s Republican Party, a party started in the 1850s by men like Abraham Lincoln to protect American democracy, is trying to undermine our government. I can reach no other conclusion after watching the behavior of the Republicans over the past few weeks, from their yelling and grandstanding rather than interviewing witnesses in the Intelligence Committee hearings, to the truly bizarre statements of Trump and Attorney General Barr saying the report of the Justice Department’s Inspector General about the investigation into Russian interference in 2016 concluded the opposite of what it did, to the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee making a mockery of the hearings rather than actually participating in them, and finally culminating in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announcing on Sean Hannity’s program last night that, "There’s no chance the president will be removed from office."
Killer Robots Aren’t Regulated. Yet. (19-min. video; New York Times, December 13, 2019)
A tank that drives itself, a drone that picks its own target, a machine gun with facial recognition software: Artificial intelligence is defining the next wave of warfare. Our reporters spoke with experts around the world in "Killing in the Age of Algorithms," a 19-minute documentary.
Bloomberg Just Bought CityLab - and Put Half Its Reporters Out of a Job. (Mother Jones, December 13, 2019)
As part of the sale, The Atlantic is making layoffs.
What’s Behind the GOP’s Disinformation Machine? (Washington Monthly, December 13, 2019)
Are Trump’s Republican defenders Russian assets—or just useful idiots? Veteran intelligence officials weigh in.
On impeachment, McConnell vows 'total coordination' with Team Trump. (MSN, December 13, 2019)
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) added that McConnell is "proudly announcing he is planning to rig the impeachment trial for Trump." The word "proudly" was of particular interest. The fix is in, and McConnell is in a shameless mood. He's aware of the seriousness of the scandal; he knows there's a mountain of uncontested evidence; and he knows his party's president abused the powers of his office on a historic scale. And it's against this backdrop that McConnell isn't just eager to rig the process to help the accused, he's bragging about it. The GOP leader, ignoring reality, added that the case against Trump is "darn weak," all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.
NEW: Melania Trump Thinks Greta Thunberg Had POTUS Attack Coming. (Vanity Fair, December 13, 2019)
Apparently, speaking out against climate change means the 16-year-old should expect to be mocked by world leaders.

73-year-old Trump bullies 16-year-old Thunberg on Twitter. She once again makes a fool of him. (Daily Kos, December 12, 2019)
NEW: McConnell: In 'total coordination' with White House for impeachment trial. (USA Today, December 12, 2019)
"We don't have the kind of ball control on this that a typical issue, for example, comes over from the House, if I don't like it, we don't take it up," McConnell stated about an impeachment trial. "We have no choice but to take it up, but we'll be working through this process, hopefully in a fairly short period of time, in total coordination with White House counsel's office and the people who are representing the President in the well of the Senate."
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., read part of McConnell's interview out loud during Thursday's impeachment markup, stating that: "In other words, the jury - Senate Republicans - are going to coordinate with the defendant - Donald Trump - on how exactly the kangaroo court is going to be run."
According to the rules expressed in the Constitution, during an impeachment trial of the President of the United States, the Senate takes an oath to act as impartial jurors.
NEW: ACLU Supports Impeachment of President Trump. (ACLU, December 12, 2019)
The board voted 55-2 in favor of a resolution that states:
"Having considered the ACLU’s mission and policies concerning the protection and advancement of civil liberties, nonpartisanship, and the extraordinary circumstances in which the ACLU shall take a position on the impeachment or removal of a government official,
A majority of the National Board of Directors of the ACLU believe that President Trump has indeed committed impeachable offenses and violated his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution by:
- abusing the powers of the executive office to further his personal and political interests and not the interests of the nation by withholding Congressionally-appropriated military aid to Ukraine unless that government announced an inquiry into allegations of corruption by former Vice President Biden and his son, as well as an investigation into alleged Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election; and by
- improperly invoking executive immunity and instructing government officials and agencies to refuse to testify or produce Congressionally-subpoenaed witnesses and documents, thereby improperly obstructing a Congressional investigation; and by
- obstructing an inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including by firing officials and directing others to lie about the investigation.
The Board also resolved that, over the course of his presidency, the president has abused the rule of law and violated his oath of office, including by:
- obstructing an inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election, including by firing officials and directing others to lie about the investigation; and by
- abusing the power of his office to induce Ukraine to assist him in the 2020 election; and by
- threatening public officials for performing their lawful duties; and by
- obstructing Congress’s efforts to investigate that conduct.
These acts constitute extraordinary circumstances in which President Trump’s continuation in office poses a grave and imminent threat to civil liberties, in particular an ongoing threat that he will continue to pursue illegal means to influence the 2020 election and will continue to impede lawful efforts to reveal any such wrongdoing.
The Board therefore supports the impeachment of President Donald Trump."
This is the second instance in the organization’s 99-year history that the ACLU’s National Board of Directors has voted to support impeachment of a president. The organization also supported the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.
Earliest hunting scene in prehistoric art (Nature, December 11, 2019)
The Upper Palaeolithic cave art of Europe hosts the oldest previously known images of humans and animals interacting in recognizable scenes, and of therianthropes - abstract beings that combine qualities of both people and animals, and which arguably communicated narrative fiction of some kind (folklore, religious myths, spiritual beliefs and so on). In this record of creative expression (spanning from about 40 thousand years ago (ka) until the beginning of the Holocene epoch at around 10 ka), scenes in cave art are generally rare and chronologically late (dating to about 21–14 ka), and clear representations of therianthropes are uncommon - the oldest such image is a carved figurine from Germany of a human with a feline head (dated to about 40–39 ka).
Here we describe an elaborate rock art panel from the limestone cave of Leang Bulu’ Sipong (Sulawesi, Indonesia) that portrays several figures that appear to represent therianthropes hunting wild pigs and dwarf bovids; this painting has been dated to at least 43.9 ka on the basis of uranium-series analysis of overlying speleothems. This hunting scene is - to our knowledge - currently the oldest pictorial record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in the world.
KeyWe Smart Lock has a security vulnerability that leaves homes open for attacks. (CNET, December 11, 2019)
The lock isn't able to receive updates, which means the flaw allowing hackers to break in will always be present.
The Startling Secret of an Invincible Virus (The Atlantic, December 11, 2019)
The viruses that Bondy-Denomy studies at the University of California at San Francisco don’t bother humans. Known as phages, they infect and kill bacteria instead. Bacteria can defend themselves against these assaults. They can recognize the genes of the phages that threaten them, and deploy scissorlike enzymes to slice up those genes and disable the viruses. This defense system is known as CRISPR. Billions of years before humans discovered it and used it as a tool for editing DNA, bacteria were using CRISPR to fight off phages.
But phages have their own countermeasures. In 2012, Bondy-Denomy discovered that some of these viruses are resistant to CRISPR, because they have proteins that stick to those scissorlike enzymes and blunt them. A bacterium can mount its CRISPR defense, but ultimately the virus can still force itself in and triumph. This suggested that bacteria and phages are likely locked in an arms race. The former evolve new kinds of scissor enzymes, and the latter evolve new ways of disabling them. Intrigued, Bondy-Denomy started searching for more CRISPR-resistant phages.
He soon found one that was resistant, and then some. It’s called phi-kappa-zeta (or phiKZ)—a name that it coincidentally shares with a sorority. Unusually large for a virus, phiKZ typically infects a bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Unsurprisingly, it could resist the version of CRISPR used by its host. Unexpectedly, it also resisted every other version of CRISPR that the team tried, including those from bacteria that it would never have naturally encountered. Its armor seemed to work against every possible weapon. No anti-CRISPR protein should work in such a universal way.
Stop Believing in Free Shipping. (The Atlantic, December 11, 2019)
How retailers hide the costs of delivery - and why we’re such suckers for their ploys.
It Couldn’t Be Any Clearer That Trump Serves the Kremlin. (Washington Monthly, December 11, 2019)
On the very day that the House of Representatives introduced two articles of impeachment related to Trump’s Ukraine policy, President Trump was huddling in the Oval Office privately with the foreign minister of Russia. Simple optics should preclude such a move by our president, but he obviously feels immune from congressional pressure and absolutely unable to resist directives from the Kremlin.
Lindsey Graham opens Judiciary Committee hearing with what could be the worst defense of Trump ever. Daily Kos, December 11, 2019)
Sen. Lindsey Graham opened the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz about his report on the FBI investigation into ties between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia by first tossing out a few general paragraphs - mostly about how he never makes long opening statements. That was the precursor for Graham to break into an opening statement that rambled on, and on, and on, rehashing every aspect of the Russia investigation, including things that had absolutely nothing to do with anything Horowitz was investigating. In the course of his 45-minute-plus statement, punctuated by shuffling through papers and frequent references to "smelly people," Graham went through not just the Russia investigation but tangential events, false claims, and, of course, dozens of text messages.
Notably. Graham read through a whole series of comments made months before the election of Donald Trump and complained that Strzok and Page didn’t respect their "commander in chief." It’s worth pausing for a moment to consider that, in the exact same period in which the texts were sent, Graham described Trump as "a kook" who was "unfit for office." In fact, Graham directly said that Trump is "not qualified to be commander in chief." Graham also offered the advice, "You know how to make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell." Those past comments somehow did not make it into Graham’s opening.
Heather Cox Richardson: Members of the Judiciary are "debating" the articles of impeachment. (Letters From An American,
December 11, 2019)
Even as I write this, members of the Judiciary are "debating" the articles of impeachment the committee has prepared against Trump. I put that word in quotation marks because there is no debate going on. Democrats are reiterating the surprisingly consistent facts established over the last several weeks of investigations and hearings, while Republicans, led by Doug Collins (R-GA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), and Dan Ratcliffe (R-TX) are simply yelling, once again trying to create an emotional - and false - narrative for their supporters, while sapping the energy of those who disapprove of the president.
The tone of the hearing was clear from the start. Committee chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said to his Republican colleagues: "I know you. I have worked with many of you for years. I consider you to be good and decent public servants. I know this moment must be difficult, but you still have a choice…. I hope that none of us attempt to justify behavior that we know in our heart is wrong. I hope that we are able to work together to hold this president—or any president—accountable for breaking his most basic obligations to the country and to its citizens."
Ranking Member of the Committee on the Judiciary Doug Collins (R-GA) answered by comparing Democrats to Adolf Hitler.
After bipartisan pushback, Trump ditches effort to kill major federal agency. (Washington Post, December 11, 2019)
President Trump has abandoned his administration’s faltering effort to dissolve a key federal agency, a major setback in his three-year battle to keep his campaign promise to make government leaner and more efficient.
The Office of Personnel Management will remain the human resources manager of the civilian workforce of 2.1 million employees, and its functions will not - for the foreseeable future at least - be parceled out to the White House and the General Services Administration.
Congressional Democrats and Republicans whose support was essential to disbanding the agency dismissed the plan as ill-conceived and unlikely to save money or shrink the federal workforce. A sweeping defense authorization bill that appeared to be headed for approval on Capitol Hill on Wednesday relegates the breakup to an independent study committee, a common face-saving solution for ideas that tend to be going nowhere.
Donald Trump Jr. Went to Mongolia, Got Special Treatment From the Government and Killed an Endangered Sheep. (ProPublica, December 11, 2019)
During a summer 2019 hunting trip, Donald Trump Jr. killed a rare argali sheep. The Mongolian government issued him a hunting permit retroactively and he met with the country’s president.
What the UN's COP 25 is, and why it really matters (Climate Reality Project, December 11, 2019)
From the outside, the start of the United Nations’ COP 25 climate conference in Madrid last week looked a lot like most of the 24 annual meetings that came before it. Straight-faced negotiators sitting in meeting rooms, trying to find something like consensus between nearly 200 countries on the next steps in the march to lower greenhouse gas emissions and stop rising temperatures in time to prevent global catastrophe.
But what makes this COP (short for “Conference of the Parties”) different is that this is the year that millions flooded streets of cities worldwide to demand real action now during the Global Climate Strikes.
This is the year that the publisher of the definitive guide to the English language, Oxford University Press, declared “climate emergency” as its word of the year, after use of the term spiked by nearly 10,800 percent (you read that right) from September 2018 to September 2019.
Cities are becoming critical players in the fight against the climate crisis. Natural solutions like reforestation and the health of our oceans are finally beginning to get the attention they deserve. And women’s and indigenous people’s voices are starting to gain traction on the world’s stage.
Plus, this is the year a bombshell report showed the world is way off track in reducing emissions at anything like the pace necessary to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Time names teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg as 2019 Person of the Year (USA Today, December 11, 2019)
This is the first time the magazine has honored a teenager, making the 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist the youngest person to ever be named. The record was previously held by 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh in 1927. The accolade goes to the person or persons who "most influenced the news and the world" during the past year.
Time said it named Thunberg for "sounding the alarm about humanity's predatory relationship with the only home we have, for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends background and borders" and "for showing us all what it might look like when a new generation leads."
TIME 2019 Person Of The Year is GRETA THUNBERG. (Time, December 11, 2019)
She will travel to Madrid, where the United Nations is hosting this year’s climate conference. It is the last such summit before nations commit to new plans to meet a major deadline set by the Paris Agreement. Unless they agree on transformative action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the world’s temperature rise since the Industrial Revolution will hit the 1.5°C mark - an eventuality that scientists warn will expose some 350 million additional people to drought and push roughly 120 million people into extreme poverty by 2030. For every fraction of a degree that temperatures increase, these problems will worsen. This is not fearmongering; this is science. For decades, researchers and activists have struggled to get world leaders to take the climate threat seriously. But this year, an unlikely teenager somehow got the world’s attention.
"We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow," she says. "That is all we are saying." It’s a simple truth, delivered by a teenage girl in a fateful moment.
Donald Trump Slams His Security For Being 'Politically Correct' In Ejecting Protester. (Huffington Post, December 11, 2019)
"Get her out, get her out," Trump said. "See these guys want to be so politically correct. Get her out. You see that?" Then Trump, waving his hands and moaning, taunted the security guard. "We don’t want to be politically correct," Trump said. "I don’t know who he was. He didn’t do the greatest job."
Trump’s call to not be "politically correct" harks back to other incidents at his events.
During a rally in 2016, he promised to pay the legal fees of anyone who attacks a protester. "If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you?" he said. "Seriously, OK?"
During another event, Trump complained that a protester was receiving high-fives as he left. "I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell you that," he said.
And during a winter event in 2016, Trump told security to take the protesters’ coats. "Throw them out into the cold," he said. "Don’t give them their coats. No coats! Confiscate their coats."
Windows 10 Mobile Is Dead: Last Cumulative Update Now Available for Download. (Softpedia, December 11, 2019)
Windows 10 Mobile has officially become a thing of the past, and there’s no way to go in mobile other than moving to Android or iPhone. Windows 10 Mobile is already at 0 percent market share, so only a very small number of users is likely to be impacted by this highly-anticipated end of support.

Join us on our new journey, says Wunderlist – as it vanishes down the Microsoft plughole. (The Register, December 10, 2019)
In May, Microsoft is killing off a favourite to-do app and replacing it with an inferior version that requires you to give Microsoft all your personal information.
(Try Wekan, Todoist, or OpenTodoList.)
Microsoft to Kill Off Its Free Windows 7 Antivirus Next Month (Softpedia, December 10, 2019)
Windows 7 is projected to reach the end-of-support on January 14th, but given that the 2009 operating system still controls a market share of around 25 percent, there’s a good chance many devices would still be running it when the time comes.
The first universal compulsory educational system was found in? (How-To Geek, December 10, 2019)
While other cultures prior to the 14th-Century Aztecs had elements resembling the concept—in ancient Sparta, boys were put into a strict military training system and in ancient Judea, boys were required to attend school—no country or empire had sent all their children, regardless of gender, to school in such a fashion.
National Nurses United testimony before the Subcommittee on Health of the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee - Hearing on “Proposals to Achieve Universal Health Care Coverage” (Medium, December 10, 2019)
My name is Jean Ross. I have been a registered nurse in Minnesota for 45 years, and I am President of National Nurses United, the largest union representing bedside nurses in the United States, with over 150,000 members. In my testimony today, I want to illustrate two main points:
- First, our current patchwork system of public programs and private for-profit insurers is ineffective, inefficient, and financially unsustainable.
- Second, the only way we can guarantee every person living in this country receives the health care they need is by adopting a single-payer, Medicare for All system.
Lisa Page Sues DOJ and FBI in Fed Court, DC, for Breach of Privacy Act in Release of Text Messages. (
Daily Kos, December 10, 2019)
The rather compact and well-drawn complaint, filed on her behalf by the A-List D.C. law firm of Arnold and Porter, describes some rather sleazy conduct by the Department of Justice.  It also describes knowledge of guilt, although that is not an element Ms. Page has to prove.  Hours before scheduled key Congressional testimony by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in the middle of the night, the DOJ engineered the most sordid of government leaks. The midnight nature of the disclosure to hand-picked reporters and the attempt to cover it up will undercut any effort to defend the conduct as necessary to the public interest.
As a still-quite-young lawyer with tremendous earnings capability in the private sector, Ms. Page’s damages are apt to be substantial.
ICE detained a high school sophomore. His teachers tried to send him homework so he wouldn't fall behind. (CNN, December 10, 2019)
Students later learned that Mario Aguilar, an 18-year-old who enrolled in the school last year, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers at a nearby courthouse where he'd gone to face charges after a traffic accident. It's the kind of case that unfolds frequently across the United States, but often goes unnoticed or quickly fades from view.
At Wilbur Cross, something different happened. The school where many were still getting to know Mario began fighting to bring him back.
Does Trump want to murder Democrats? (7-min. video; The Young Turks, December 10, 2019)
The latest commercial Tweeted out by the Trump campaign is an ad that features video of Trump’s face superimposed on the body of Thanos from the Marvel Avengers movies, as he snaps his fingers and wipes out the Democratic House members leading the impeachment inquiry.
In this clip Cenk points out that the choice to boost this commercial is curious, primarily because Thanos is a horrible villain responsible for the mass murder of trillions across the universe, which is presumably not the kind of thing a presidential candidate wants to be associated with. Cenk also observes that the choice of Thanos as an icon is questionable because, um - spoiler alert! - he loses.
Dems take the Impeachment plunge. (12-min. video; The Young Turks, December 10, 2019)
Trump himself has said that anyone who pleads the fifth is guilty, yet Trump has essentially done that by refusing to participate in these proceedings. Plus Republicans appear prepared to offer no positive case in the Senate trial, but rather to continue saying that up is down and black is white to muddy the waters. Which makes sense on some level, Cenk says, since Trump’s guilt is so apparent on the merits. "It's absolutely slam-dunk," he says. "If you care about the substance, the legality and the facts President Trump would definitely be convicted and removed from office on abusing his office for personal political gain alone."
Propaganda Leads to Trump: A History of the Right’s Dangerous Outrage Machine. (Daily Kos, December 10, 2019)
This diary takes a look at how the dangerous, right-wing propaganda machine has created the partisan environment and given us Trump. The information below looks at the overall history of how we got to where we are. Because of the power of propaganda, Trump and Hitler were labeled by many Christians as the "Chosen One."
They're Not Stupid, and They're Not Spineless. They're Evil. Let's Keep That Straight. (Daily Kos, December 10, 2019)
These people want unlimited, unfettered, unrestrained, unaccountable power. They want this power to enrich themselves, enrich their friends, maintain their social status, and forcibly impose their so-called “values” on everyone else. These people do not - DO NOT - believe in the principles on which a democratic republic rests. In fact, they emphatically reject them as “mob rule”. Being “conservatives” (a word the meaning of which has been utterly distorted), they advocate the same things American conservatism has always advocated: rule by a small group of wealthy white men. Because there’s a phrase in the Declaration of Independence they hate with the heat of a thousand suns:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
American conservatism has waged unrelenting, bloody, savage war on this idea for 243 years. Resisting the inclusion of entire categories of Americans from the protection of the law is the zen essence of conservatism.
Congress warns tech companies: Take action on encryption, or we will. (CNet, December 10, 2019)
US lawmakers are poised to "impose our will" if tech companies don't weaken encryption so police can access data.
Tech companies and privacy advocates have long supported encryption, noting that the privacy and security technology protects people from hackers, crooks and authoritarian governments. Law enforcement officials, however, argue that encryption blocks criminal investigations by preventing access to suspects' devices and to their communications on messaging apps.
This debate took center stage in 2016 when Apple fought an FBI order to help unlock a terrorist's iPhone, arguing that providing a master key to decrypt devices would endanger all iPhone users.
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Apple's manager of user privacy, Erik Neuenschwander, reiterated that point for lawmakers. "At this time, we've been unable to identify any way to create a backdoor that would work only for the good guys," Neuenschwander told senators. "In fact, our experience is the opposite. When we have weaknesses in our system, they're exploited by nefarious entities as well."
What Pete Buttigieg Says He Did at McKinsey. (The Atlantic, December 10, 2019)
The presidential candidate reveals the clients he worked with, what he did for them, and how the experience shaped the way he solves problems.
Houston top cop to McConnell: 'You're either here for women ... or you're here for the NRA.' (Daily Kos, December 10, 2019)
Houston Police Sgt. Christopher Brewster, 32, was shot and killed Saturday night on a domestic violence call. The man who shot him with semi-automatic pistol had a long criminal history, including domestic assault, and he had two guns with him during the assault on his girlfriend that Brewster responded to.
This week, Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo is seeing Brewster buried, and he's enraged at the men who are continuing to allow this to happen. "We all know in law enforcement that one of the biggest reasons that the Senate, Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and others are not getting into a room and having a conference committee with the House and getting the Violence Against Women Act, is because the NRA doesn't like the fact that we want to take firearms out of the hands of boyfriends that abuse their girlfriends," he said Monday morning.
New York Deepens Its Investigation Into the N.R.A. (New York Times, December 9, 2019)
The New York State attorney general has issued a new subpoena to the National Rifle Association, deepening her eight-month investigation and providing fresh clues about where it is headed, according to people with knowledge of the document. The subpoena, which was described to The New York Times, was issued last week and covers at least four areas, including campaign finance, payments made to board members and tax compliance. Because the N.R.A. is chartered in New York and the office of the attorney general, Letitia James, has a range of enforcement options, the investigation has alarmed N.R.A. officials already grappling with infighting and litigation. The same office brought a case last year that led to the shuttering of President Trump’s foundation.
Among the documents sought by the subpoena are records related to transfers among N.R.A.-controlled entities, including the N.R.A. Foundation, an affiliated charity. Recent tax filings show that the N.R.A. diverted $36 million last year from the foundation in various ways, far more than ever before, raising concerns among tax experts. The transfers came as the N.R.A. experienced financial strains and challenges from gun-control groups, which outspent the organization in the 2018 midterm elections. An earlier analysis by The Times found that the foundation had transferred more than $200 million to the N.R.A. between 2010 and 2017.
While both the N.R.A. and its foundation are tax-exempt, only donations to the foundation are tax-deductible. Tax experts say the foundation has become a back door for tax-deductible donations to the N.R.A. itself. Karl Racine, the attorney general of the District of Columbia, where the N.R.A. Foundation is chartered, is also investigating.
NEW: The massive triumph of the rich, illustrated by stunning new data (Washington Post, December 9, 2019)
The triumph of the rich, which is one of the defining stories of our time, is generally described as largely the reflection of two factors. The first, of course, is the explosion of income among top earners, in which a tiny minority has vacuumed up a ballooning share of the gains from the past few decades of economic growth.
The second factor - which will be key to the 2020 presidential race - has been the hidden decline in the progressivity of the tax code at the top, in which the wealthiest earners have over those same decades seen their effective tax rates steadily fall.
Put those two factors together, and they tell a story about soaring U.S. inequality that is in some ways even more dramatic than each is on its own.
The top-line finding: Among the bottom 50 percent of earners, average real annual income even after taxes and transfers has edged up a meager $8,000 since 1970, rising from just over $19,000 to just over $27,000 in 2018.
By contrast, among the top 1 percent of earners, average income even after taxes and transfers has tripled since 1970, rising by more than $800,000, from just over $300,000 to over $1 million in 2018. Among the top 0.1 percent, average after-tax-and-transfer income has increased fivefold, from just over $1 million in 1970 to over $5 million in 2018. And among the top .01 percent, it has increased nearly sevenfold, from just over $3.5 million to over $24 million.
The Emergence of Abraham Lincoln (Washington Monthly,
December 9, 2019)
It’s always important to know about Lincoln, and today it is urgent. As Lincoln said in his "House Divided" speech, "If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to do it."
The house divided, the incitement of demagogues, appeals to anti-immigrant nativism and racism, a reactionary Supreme Court, a dysfunctional presidency, and the breakup of the old parties—all of these Lincoln confronted in his rise to the presidency.
How America’s 16th president went from virtual obscurity to ending slavery.
Rahm Emmanuel decimated GOP Trump-Hate impeachment talking point. (
Daily Kos, December 9, 2019)
"What we have is this impeachment process has been driven in large part due to the Democrats' hatred of Donald Trump," Republican strategist Alice Stewart said. "And it lowers the standard for impeachment in a very different ..."
Emanuel would have none of that. "First of all, you can have my time back. Name me five presidents that asked a foreign government to come in here and basically do op research on a political rival," Emanuel challenged. "Name five, name all five. It's never happened."
Of course, Stewart could not.
Finland anoints Sanna Marin, 34, as world's youngest serving prime minister. (The Guardian, December 9, 2019)
Former transport minister is country’s youngest leader ever and third female PM.

CBP denies access to doctors seeking flu vaccinations for migrant children. (San Diego CA Union-Tribune, December 9, 2019)
A group of doctors, who last month pressured U.S. Customs and Border Protection to allow them to give flu vaccines to detained migrant children, have now taken their fight to the driveway of a detention facility in San Ysidro and said they are not leaving until they get approval.
Dr. Mario Mendoza, a retired anesthesiologist, said it would take less than a half an hour to administer the vaccines to more than 100 children via the free mobile flu clinic they set up directly outside the CBP facility.
"We have the team here. We have the vaccines," said Mendoza, adding that denying children the basic health care being offered was intentionally cruel and inhumane. "What I can say is we are not leaving here until they let us enter. We are doctors. We are against death and we are for humanity," he said.
NEW: Church nativity depicts Jesus, Mary and Joseph as family separated at border. (NBC News, December 8, 2019)
"What if this family sought refuge in our country today?", the Southern California church said in a Facebook post.
Pompeo asks when he’ll be "loved." Music legend Linda Ronstadt responds: when he stops 'enabling Trump’. (Daily Kos, December 8, 2019)
NEW: Seven Outright Falsehoods in GOP Staff Report on Impeachment (Just Security, December 8, 2019)
On December 2, 2019, Republican staff of the three committees overseeing the impeachment inquiry published a report prepared for the GOP Chairs: Representatives Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan, and Michael McCaul. This report, however, is not a serious examination of the evidence, nor is it intended to be. Unlike the House Intelligence Committee's Trump-Ukraine Impeachment Inquiry Report , the minority staff report makes no attempt to construct a coherent statement of facts, nor to offer its own version of events as an alternative to the one set forth in the majority's report. The point of the minority report is not to offer an explanation of what really happened, but to make what really happened seem unknowable.
Not everything in the report is a lie. In many instances, it is clear that, where possible, there was great care taken to avoid outright mistruths, through the careful phrasing of arguments to suggest a more sweeping defense than is actually offered, or through focusing on irrelevant and ambiguous witness testimony while ignoring direct and clear testimony to the contrary.
But staying within the bounds of the factual record – or even within the bounds of reasonable subjective interpretation of the record – could only get House Republican staff so far, and much of the report doesn't just dance around the truth so much as it strides into deliberate falsehood. In order to depict the events at the heart of the Trump-Ukraine impeachment inquiry in a light that could at all be construed as a defense of President Trump's conduct, it appears that some outright lies were needed.
Here is a list of the seven most damaging falsehoods included in the minority report.
NEW: Trump Is Aligning the Military with the Russian White Supremacist Criminal Syndicate. (Washington Monthly, December 7, 2019)
Now, due to purely partisan interests, the nation’s military is being warped into supporting the hostile foreign power–against our own values, geopolitical interests, and intelligence services It’s like the plot from a bad spy novel, except that it’s happening right out in the open. This is the situation as it stands between Trump, Russia, the Republican Party and Ukraine. And no one can do anything about it because the Republican Party sees itself as locked into a demographic death spiral as it sheds support from every demographic except the declining share older, white, exurban evangelicals, and is therefore willing to defend even the most abominable behavior in exchange for nominating a slew of extremist radical judges who they hope will derail any progressive priorities for the next several decades.
Trump is not just pushing the military toward favoring a rival nation-state that is actively sabotaging our own for his own personal and political benefit. He is attempting to align the military with a global white supremacist, patriarchal fossil fuel-backed mafia syndicate. It’s almost certain that he is also hoping that in a Constitutional crisis pitting Western secular liberal values against said syndicate, that the military will help overthrow democracy itself on the syndicate’s behalf.
NEW: Trump just assured his own impeachment. (Washington Post, December 7, 2019)
And he undercut two main Republican defenses in the process. Trump invited the House to move forward expeditiously with impeachment and assured that he would continue to obstruct the investigation, regardless of its length. The House has no option but to accept.
A Powerful Statement of Resistance from a College Student on Trial in Moscow. (New Yorker Magazine, December 7, 2019)
Yegor Zhukov’s message about responsibility and love, at his trial for "extremism", shows what political dissent can be and seems to describe American reality as accurately as the Russian one.
'Miracle' woman survives six-hour cardiac arrest. (CNN, December 7, 2019)
A British woman has made a full recovery after suffering a six-hour cardiac arrest caused by severe hypothermia -- a condition that doctors say also saved her life.
Thirty four-year-old Audrey Schoeman was caught in a snowstorm while hiking in the Pyrenees mountain range in Spain on November 3, and her husband Rohan called the emergency services when she passed out, according to a statement from Vall d'Hebron Hospital in Barcelona. "I thought she was dead," Rohan said in an interview with local broadcaster TV3. "I was trying to feel for a pulse... I couldn't feel a breath, I couldn't feel a heartbeat."
Schoeman was taken to Vall d'Hebron, where doctor Jordi Riera was part of the team that treated her. Riera told CNN that the human brain usually suffers irreparable damage if the heart stops beating for five minutes, and Schoeman represents a very rare case. He explained that Schoeman survived with a perfect neurological outcome because the extreme drop in body temperature that stopped her heart also slowed her brain metabolism, allowing the organ to cope better with the lack of oxygen. Schoeman's body temperature had dropped to 18 degrees Celsius (64.4 Fahrenheit) -- far lower than the normal 36.5--37.5 degrees Celsius (97.7--99.5 Fahrenheit) -- and the hospital team used an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine to keep her alive. The ECMO replaces the function of the heart and lungs, allowing doctors to oxygenate Schoeman's blood and pump it round the body.
Buttigieg Struggles to Square Transparency With Nondisclosure Agreement. (New York Times, December 7, 2019)
Mr. Buttigieg says he has no choice but to honor the  agreement he signed while working for McKinsey & Company. Critics say it undermines his image of transparency.
NEW: Virginia Democrats' voting proposals include scrapping photo ID requirement, allowing no-excuse absentee balloting. (Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 6, 2019)
Democrats - who will now control the General Assembly and the governor’s veto pen - have long supported easing the voter experience to allow more Virginians to participate. Virginia recently expanded absentee voting to seven days before an election, allowing voters to cast ballots in person without listing an excuse. Virginia became the 40th state with some form of no-excuse early voting.
Despite dramatic electoral and financial setbacks, Hester Jackson-McCray makes Mississippi legislative history (Mississippi Today, December 6, 2019)
West Virginia suspends several after corrections officer class appears to give Nazi salute in photo. (CNN, December 6, 2019)
NEW:
Is There Such a Thing as Intelligence? (Daily Kos, December 6, 2019)
The kind of intelligent you are isn’t the kind of intelligent I am. Our intelligence is shaped by our culture.
The language of a culture controls where members of that culture focus their attention. It determines what we see and hear out of a stream of information of which we couldn’t otherwise make sense. Language is logic, and thus even simple tasks like categorization are different from culture to culture.
In some ways I am brain damaged and mentally challenged. In other ways I am pretty average. However, there are a few ways in which I am  truly gifted. I have come to realize that is a near perfect description of the human condition. We just don’t see that, because we are blinded by a cultural construct called intelligence.
NEW: Trump orders toilet review: Americans are 'flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times'. (USA Today, December 6, 2019)
"We have a situation where we're looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms, where you turn the faucet on in areas where there's tremendous amounts of water, where it rushes out to sea because you could never handle it. And you don't get any water. You turn on the faucet and you don't get any water," Trump said during the White House round-table on small business and red tape reduction.
Trump also quipped that the White House would need to change out the light bulbs because the new ones "give you an orange look." He has made similar comments before and complained about the energy efficiency requirements directed under former President Barack Obama. "The new bulb is many times more expensive, and, I hate to say it, it doesn't make you look as good," Trump said. "Of course, being a vain person, that's very important to me. It gives you an orange look. I don't want an orange look. Has anyone noticed that?"
[Uh, no; we've noticed the opposite.]
Trump has been rolling back regulations since taking office, particularly taking aim at many environmental rules formed during the Obama administration.
White House laughably claims Trump 'has opposed discrimination of any kind' against trans Americans. (Daily Kos, December 6, 2019)
Throughout numerous federal agencies, the Trump administration has stomped on numerous protections for trans Americans, some based on gross, right-wing tropes. Some months after moving to reverse protections for trans people in homeless shelters, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson reportedly “repeated concerns from advocates who expressed worry in September that ‘big, hairy men’ pretending to be women would try to get into women’s shelters, The Washington Post reported.”
These are tired tropes that give permission for violence. Just as anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy has led to anti-immigrant attacks, violence committed against trans people has also ticked up compared to last year. The New York Times reports that “At least 22 transgender people have been fatally shot or killed in 2019, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Nearly all of them were black women,” like Dana Martin, Jazzaline Ware, and Ashanti Carmon.
The administration’s moves and proposals aren’t just reversal of policy, they’ve also been an express effort to erase trans people out of existence. The trans people they can’t erase they quite literally force out: Under the inhumane Migrant Protection Protocols policy, the administration has been wrongfully forcing vulnerable trans asylum-seekers to areas of Mexico where they may be at increased risk of violence. Within the U.S., federal immigration officials have jailed a record number of trans people.
Trump's Senate trial may not be the circus he is expecting. It'll probably be even worse. (Daily Kos, December 6, 2019)
While the House has been conducting public hearings to show why Donald Trump must be impeached, and House Republicans have been engaged in tactics to undermine their own authority in favor of Trump, Senate Republicans have been planning ahead. Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans have met repeatedly with Trump’s White House attorneys to plan not just Trump’s defense tactics, but how the whole trial can be structured to Trump’s benefit. Early statements from McConnell seemed to indicate that the entire Senate trial might best be described as “brief”—as in, McConnell might raise his gavel, lower it again, and call it done. But simply taking the impeachment and treating it with the same disdain the Senate Republican leader has demonstrated for over 200 pieces of legislation isn’t giving House Republicans the circus they’ve been demanding, a genuine three-ring conspiracy-theory-athon.
In Trump’s statements over the last week, both on the air and via Twitter, he seems to be nearly salivating for his chance in the Senate, the place where Republicans rule, which means the place where Trump rules. And what Trump wants is for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, the whistleblower, and everyone who ever expressed less than full-throated praise for his rule to appear on the Senate floor to dodge darts and jump through flaming hoops. It’s still likely that that’s exactly what he’ll get. Because if the impeachment inquiry has revealed anything, it’s the extent to which Republicans are unwilling to stand up to Trump.
But there are some hints, some slight indications that just maybe some Republican senators aren’t happy to see the Big Top come to town—and that some of them might even vote to tell Trump to take his act and hit the road.

White House blows off House Democrats invitation to participate in impeachment process as Trump focuses on Senate. (Washington Post, December 6, 2019)
The White House on Friday appeared to reject the latest entreaties from the House to participate in the rapidly-accelerating impeachment inquiry, calling the proceedings “completely baseless” as Democrats continued with their push to impeach the president by the end of the month.
Schiff: Pence aide provided new impeachment evidence — but VP's office classified it. (Politico, December 6, 2019)
In a letter to Pence, Schiff (D-Calif.) asked the vice president to declassify supplemental testimony from the aide, Jennifer Williams, about Pence’s Sept. 18 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, arguing that there is no “legitimate basis” to keep it secret. “The Office of the Vice President’s decision to classify ‘certain portions’ of the Sept. 18 call … cannot be justified on national security or any other legitimate grounds we can discern,” Schiff wrote to Pence, requesting a response by Dec. 11.
More than 500 law professors sign letter calling Trump actions impeachable. (The Hill, December 6, 2019)
The 520 professors said in the letter posted to Medium that impeachment does not require a crime, but rather an abuse of the public trust. "There is overwhelming evidence that President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help him distort an American election, for his personal and political benefit, at the direct expense of national security interests as determined by Congress," the professors wrote. "His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of impeachment in the Constitution."
Pelosi asks committee chairs to proceed with articles of impeachment. (Washington Post, December 5, 2019)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that President Trump’s wrongdoing strikes at the heart of the Constitution and asked House committee chairs to proceed with articles of impeachment, saying lawmakers have “no choice but to act.”
A look inside Trump’s anti-impeachment spin factory. (Washington Post, December 5, 2019)
They were celebrating a rare feat: The small team of officials in that room — pulled from the communications, legislative, digital and legal affairs departments in the White House — had just observed Trump following a talking point. That had occurred because of an effort being managed out of a bunkerlike space underneath the Oval Office by temporary White House hires Tony Sayegh and Pam Bondi. What they are running is not a traditional war room but more of an anti-impeachment talking-point factory built for an impeachment battle playing out in a frenetic news cycle that burns through half a dozen fresh revelations a day. The environment favors Trump’s approach of repeating a single catchphrase endlessly until it sinks in.
NEW: What to do with an attorney general who disdains justice (Washington Post, December 5, 2019)
It might take years to restore the Justice Department’s credibility. "It is difficult to overstate what an incredibly corrosive and bad actor Barr has turned out to be," Susan Hennessey, executive editor of the Lawfare blog, tweeted. "He will leave the Department of Justice damaged and warped in ways that will take years and years to repair."
An attorney general who thinks justice is provided only to a docile populace or that his role is to overlook both the law and the facts in service of the president has no right holding office. "Barr is doing one of the most dangerous things a prosecutor can do: He has a political narrative and is trying to investigate to get facts to fit that narrative," observed former prosecutor Mimi Rocah. "Prosecutors should investigate and follow facts and be open to conclusions being different than what they thought or want. It’s a total failure of his oath of office."
Barr’s conduct has been so egregious that in any normal administration he would have been forced to resign. Since neither that nor impeachment and removal will happen with the Trump crew, state bar authorities should examine Barr’s conduct. If nothing else, the legal profession should hold him accountable for his perversion of his office and rank dishonesty in continually spinning and misrepresenting the law and the facts in service of a corrupt president.
Black people imprisoned 5 times more often than whites - somehow, an improvement. (Daily Kos, December 5, 2019)
Where we used to be about eight times more likely than white people to end up incarcerated, black people now only end up imprisoned about five times more frequently than their white counterparts, according to a report the Council on Criminal Justice released Tuesday based on data from 2000 to 2016. Apparently, that’s something to celebrate. I’ll go ahead and hold off, though, because researchers also noted in the report that racial disparities would have decreased even more if black offenders hadn’t received tougher sentences for violent crimes than did whites.
Republican Mississippi State Rep. challenges 14-vote loss to Democrat, asks Republican-majority House to overturn election. (Mississippi Today, December 5, 2019)
(If you win, you win. If you lose, you win?)
House Democrats slam Trump admin for 'illegally withholding' Puerto Rico hurricane aid. (NBC News, December 5, 2019)
Lawmakers say HUD is breaking the law by missing a Congressionally-mandated deadline to make $10.2B available in hurricane aid to the island.
NEW: Kansas City becomes first major American city with universal fare-free public transit. (435 Magazine, December 5, 2019)
Public transit has become a focus on intense political activity in cities across the country as young climate change protestors demand investment in mass transit to help battle climate change.
While progressive Kansas City enacts universal fare-free transit, other cities, such as Portland, Oregon, are redoubling efforts to crack down on scofflaws and hiring more transit cops to deter free riders.
U.S. Rep. Steve Watkins (R-KS) involved in voter fraud scheme - unless he lives at a UPS Store. (Daily Kos, December 4, 2019)

State House Republicans hope to hang one of their own starting this January.
State House Republicans, who have been infuriated by Watkins' run in 2018 and his win in a race to become a member of US Congress, have called for state house investigations on the matter, and indicated they can recommend charges on to the state attorney. Republicans have criticized Watkins for his odd behavior and for the fact he won a very divided primary.
(This is BIG news: GOP attacking a conservative GOP Congressman!)
Saying Trump investigations have 'rendered my soul weary,' House Democrat announces retirement. (Daily Kos, December 4, 2019)
On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) unexpectedly announced he'd retire after four terms in office. In an unusually candid letter, Heck described both the many things he'd loved about serving in Congress but also admitted he'd grown "discouraged," explaining that "countless hours I have spent in the investigation of Russian election interference and the impeachment inquiry have rendered my soul weary."
"I will never understand how some of my colleagues, in many ways good people," Heck wrote, "could ignore or deny the President's unrelenting attack on a free press, his vicious character assassination of anyone who disagreed with him, and his demonstrably very distant relationship with the truth."
Fight back against Facebook disinformation. (Credo Action, December 4, 2019)
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Donald Trump had a second secret dinner during Zuckerberg's last trip to the capital, and Americans deserve to know what they discussed.
NEW: Are drone swarms the future of aerial warfare? (The Guardian, December 4, 2019)
Technology of deploying drones in squadrons is in its infancy,
NEW: Carbon dioxide emissions continue to grow amidst slowly emerging climate policies. (Nature, December 4, 2019)
Aviation is growing fast, but road transport is the elephant in the room:
- CO₂ from road transport has been growing 1.9%/yr (104Mt CO₂/yr) during the past decade.
- CO₂ from aviation has been growing at 3%/yr (25Mt CO₂/yr) during the past decade.
A failure to recognize the factors behind continued emissions growth could limit the world’s ability to shift to a pathway consistent with 1.5°C or 2°C of global warming. Continued support for low-carbon technologies needs to be combined with policies directed at phasing out the use of fossil fuels.
We constantly eat microplastics. What does that mean for our health? (New Scientist, December 4, 2019)
By some estimates, the average household generates 6 kilograms of plastic dust every year, around 700 billion fragments known as microplastics. Like snowflakes, every one is different. Every one may also be harmful. They aren’t just indoors. “They are everywhere,” says Dick Vethaak, an environmental toxicologist at the Deltares research institute in Delft, the Netherlands. “In the water, in food, in the air – you are surrounded by a cloud of them. Everything is contaminated.” More are created every day and they will be with us for centuries.
Big plastic debris has been on our radar for years. Yet this is just the start of something more insidious. Plastic waste doesn’t biodegrade but it does break down, fragmented by wind, waves and sunlight into ever-smaller pieces. They may be too small to see, but they are still there, worming their way into every nook and cranny of the environment – including our bodies.
This, in a nutshell, is the pervasive problem of microplastics. But beyond knowing that they exist and are everywhere, we are woefully ignorant about them and their potential impact on us.
NEW: Devin Nunes sues CNN for $435 million, alleging ‘false hit piece’. (Washington Post, December 4, 2019)
Nunes’s 47-page complaint accused Parnas of manufacturing a narrative that he hoped would help him negotiate a deal with federal prosecutors or obtain immunity from Congress, and it argued that it was "obvious to everyone - including disgraceful CNN - that Parnas was a fraudster and a hustler." Nunes questioned Parnas’s credibility by calling him an "indicted criminal," yet quoted Igor Fruman, Parnas’s co-defendant who faces the same charges, as evidence that Parnas’s version of events was untrue.
As the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, Nunes was the face of Trump’s defense throughout the two weeks of public hearings that preceded CNN’s November article. Since then, critics have said he should have recused himself from the impeachment inquiry months ago.
CNN is the most recent defendant in a handful of defamation suits filed by the lawmaker this year. In March, Nunes filed a $250 million lawsuit against Twitter, claiming the platform, two parody Twitter accounts and a Republican political consultant defamed him with mean tweets. He sued the McClatchy news organization, alleging defamation in August, and sued Ryan Lizza and Hearst Magazines for $77 million two months later, claiming that a story in Esquire about the Nunes family farm in Iowa defamed him.
Trump's own witness Jonathan Turley makes the case for Democrats to enforce subpoenas. (Daily Kos, December 4, 2019)
Prof. Jonathan Turley: “The House testimony is replete with references to witnesses like John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, and Mike Mulvaney who clearly hold material information.”
Agreed. And yet Trump is obstructing Congress and preventing them from testifying. Trump’s witness says they have material information. Democrats should take that as proof of the necessity of enforcing subpoeanas.
Legal scholar explains the most dangerous part of Sondland’s testimony. (Daily Kos, December 4, 2019)

Law professor Pamela Karlan offered legal advice to the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. In her opening statement in the impeachment hearings that began before the committee, Karlan said that she was not there to cater to anyone’s political talking points. She continued to dismantle every obfuscating talking point Republicans have been using to gaslight the country into forgetting what is actually at stake during the proceedings.
D
uring one exchange, Karlan asked if she could explain what about Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s impeachment hearing testimony was most alarming and damning. She pointed to Sondland explaining that Trump’s release of aid to Ukraine was based very obviously on hurting a political opponent and not at all on the general existential threat of corruption in Ukraine. “He had to announce the investigations, he didn’t actually have to do them, as I understood it,” Sondland had testified.
Mocked Abroad and Assailed at Home, Trump Returns to Face Impeachment. (New York Times, December 4, 2019)
Two days in London on the world stage provided him no respite. “Trump doesn’t just want to be in the club, he wants to be the unquestioned leader and center of attention,” said Gwenda Blair, a Trump biographer. “It had to be both humiliating and infuriating that the other heads of state who were mocking him were untouchable by tweet or insulting nickname, but no doubt he was already calculating the next round of tariffs he would send their way.”
World leaders mock Trump at NATO, Trump responds by calling Justin Trudeau 'two-faced'. (Daily Kos, December 4, 2019)

For Trump and Europe, a Surprising Role Reversal (New York Times, December 3, 2019)
President Trump has always relished throwing European leaders off balance, antagonizing allies, embracing insurgents and setting off a frantic contest for how best to deal with him. Now, as Europe undergoes dizzying political changes of its own, it is throwing Mr. Trump off balance.
In London for a NATO summit meeting, Mr. Trump was subjected to a rare tongue-lashing on trade and terrorism by President Emmanuel Macron of France, who dismissed his attempt to lighten the mood with a curt, “Let’s be serious.”
The president who once exchanged a death-grip handshake with Mr. Macron sat by wordlessly while his much-younger counterpart lectured him on the need to fight the Islamic State. Earlier in the day, Mr. Trump held his own tongue about British politics, heeding Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plea not to barge into Britain’s election at the 11th hour. The president who once threatened to pull the United States out of NATO suddenly emerged as the alliance’s defender. The president who championed Brexit and hectored Mr. Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, about her deal-making skills suddenly had nothing to say about it.
For a president who prides himself on being the Great Disrupter, it was a startling turnabout, one that underscored how Europe’s shifting landscape - with an ambitious president in France, a lame-duck leader in Germany and a breakaway populist in Britain - has scrambled the calculus for Mr. Trump.
America's humiliation continues as Trump rants, rambles, and lies in London. (Daily Kos, December 3, 2019)
Donald Trump's public behavior continues to get worse with each passing week. Whether caused by the escalating strain of an impeachment trial, a severe case of jet lag or something (cough) medical, Trump's performance in London earlier Tuesday was a spray of nonsense, bizarre claims, bullshitting, gaslighting, and possibly straight-up forgetting his own supposed policies. Pity other world leaders, forced to sit alongside a Twitter account turned real boy. Pity us, for being governed by one.
WMO Provisional Statement on the State of the Global Climate in 2019 (World Meteorological Association, December 3, 2019)
Extreme heat conditions are taking an increasing toll on human health and health systems. Greater
impacts are recorded in locations where extreme heat occurs in contexts of aging populations,
urbanization, urban heat island effects, and health inequities. In 2018, a record 220 million heatwave
exposures by vulnerable persons over the age of 65 occurred.
In addition to conflicts, insecurity and economic slowdowns and downturns, climate variability and
extreme weather events are among the key drivers of the recent rise in global hunger and one of the
leading causes of severe food crises. After a decade of steady decline, hunger is on the rise again –
over 820 million people suffered from hunger in 2018. The situation is most severe in sub-Saharan
Africa, where the number of undernourished people increased by more than 23 million between
2015 and 2018, particularly in countries affected by conflict. Among 33 countries affected by food
crises in 2018, climate variability and weather extremes were a compounding driver together with
economic shocks and conflict in 26 countries and the leading driver in 12 of the 26.
More than 10 million new internal displacements were recorded between January and June 2019. Of
these, 7 million were triggered by hydrometeorological events including Cyclone Idai in southeast
Africa, Cyclone Fani in south Asia, Hurricane Dorian in the Caribbean, and flooding in Iran, the
Philippines and Ethiopia, generating acute humanitarian and protection needs. Among natural
hazards, floods and storms have contributed the most to displacement recorded so far in 2019,
followed by droughts. Asia and the Pacific remain the regions most prone to disaster displacement
due to both sudden and slow-onset disasters. For instance, more than 2 million people were
evacuated in Bangladesh, the second most disaster-prone country in the region, due to Cyclone
Bulbul in November, and more than 2 million in China due to Typhoon Lekima in August.

The staggering millennial wealth deficit, in one chart (Washington Post, December 3, 2019)
The divide widens with each generation, data show, the byproduct of wage stagnation and income inequality.
An election day disaster in Pennsylvania raises still more concerns for 2020. (Daily Kos, December 3, 2019)
The Election Systems & Software-manufactured voting system, ExpressVoteXL, reporting wildly inaccurate vote totals: A recount of the paper backup ballots produced by the machines showed that the Democrat did not get 164 votes in the election, but 26,142. Officials don't yet know why the machines returned invalid results; we also don't know, of course, whether results in other elections in other counties and states had similar but less severe problems that were not so improbable as to spur officials to recount. It's entirely possible that elections were thrown, just in the last few years, by software error.
NEW: With border wall contract, Trump faces corruption concerns. (Rachel Maddow Show, December 3, 2019)
NEW: North Dakota company that Trump touted gets $400 million border wall contract. (Washington Post, December 2, 2019)
Why the health-care industry wants to destroy any Democratic reform (Washington Post, December 2, 2019)
Lobbyists either helped draft or made extensive revisions to opinion columns published by three state lawmakers in a way that warned against the dangers of Medicare-for-all and other government involvement in health care. Montana state Rep. Kathy Kelker (D) and Sen. Jen Gross (D) acknowledged in interviews that editorials they published separately about the single-payer health proposal included language provided by John MacDonald, a lobbyist and consultant in the state who disclosed in private emails that he worked for an unnamed client. Gross said MacDonald contacted her on behalf of the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a multimillion-dollar industry group founded in 2018 and funded by hospitals, private insurers, drug companies and other private health-care firms.

This is hardly the first time a lobbyist or representative of an interest group wrote an op-ed for a legislator, but it’s an important reminder of what’s happening with the health-care debate. On one side, you’ve got some pro-Medicare-for-all groups such as Physicians for a National Health Program, with modest budgets and small staffs. (PNHP has a staff of four.) In the middle, you have Democratic presidential candidates arguing about how far to go on health-care reform. And on the other side, you have insurers, hospitals, drug companies, device companies and other health-care interests who together wouldn’t think twice about dropping hundreds of millions of dollars to destroy Medicare-for-all and anything that resembles it. After all, there are tens of billions of dollars in profits at stake. Which is why those groups formed the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, which will be the vanguard of the war on health-care reform should a Democrat be elected president and try to get an ambitious bill passed.
Here’s one of the most important things to understand about these interests: They despise “moderate” reform as much as they do Medicare-for-all. There are reasons the kind of expansive public-option plan being offered by Joe Biden or Pete Buttigieg is more politically practical than single-payer, but opposition from industry is not one of them.
NEW: Bloomberg Is a Democrat With a History of Backing Republicans - Including In 2018. (Spectrum News, December 2, 2019)
As mayor, Bloomberg endorsed President George W. Bush for re-election over Democrat John Kerry. "The president deserves our support," he said in 2004.
Bloomberg helped Republicans maintain their slim majority in the state Senate, where they successfully blocked progressive legislation for years.
And as Democrats seek to win control of the U.S. Senate, it's notable how many Republican senators Bloomberg has backed in recent years:
    Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey
    Late-Arizona Sen. John McCain
    Maine Sen. Susan Collins
    Former Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk
    Former Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, among others.
The useful idiot from Louisiana (Washington Post, December 2, 2019)
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.) showcasing the "typical shell game" of Republicans on impeachment: Eliminate the importance of the "quid pro quo," muddy the waters of the president's motive and distort the impeachment process itself. Since then, the senator from Louisiana has taken his pro-Trump spin to a new level: repeating Russian disinformation without a care.
Whistleblower in deadly construction site collapse deported by ICE the day after Thanksgiving. (Daily Kos, December 2, 2019)
NEW: Republicans Defending Trump on Impeachment Should Fear the Judgment of History. (New Yorker Magazine, December 2, 2019)
The House Judiciary Committee began debating articles of impeachment against President Richard Milhous Nixon on the evening of July 24, 1974. In his introductory remarks, the committee chairman, Peter Rodino, a New Jersey congressman who had become a national figure during seven months of impeachment proceedings, said he had been guided throughout by “the principle that the law must deal fairly with every man.” Rodino called this “the oldest principle of democracy” and implored each member of the committee to “act with the wisdom that compels us in the end to be but decent men who seek only the truth.” Shortly afterward, Harold Donohue, a Massachusetts Democrat, moved that the committee “report to the House a resolution together with articles of impeachment, impeaching Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States.”
By this point, the members had sat through eleven weeks of closed hearings. The committee’s staff had summarized the evidence against the President in several dozen thick black notebooks. The President’s approval ratings had sagged to about twenty-five per cent, and a majority of Americans supported impeachment. Nevertheless, most Republicans on the committee refused to abandon the President. “The closer President Nixon comes to impeachment, the louder his supporters proclaim his innocence,” James Reston wrote, in the New York Times. “If you say he is innocent often enough, maybe you can make people believe it.”
Putin made Trump president. It's not the first time Russia has subverted another country's election. (Daily Kos, December 1, 2019)
I’m talking about stealthily subverting another country’s election and placing its puppet into power. That’s what Russia did to Poland-Lithuania during the 18th century. Lithuania was once the largest country in Europe? Moreover, that was before it joined with Poland to become, for a time, not only the dominant power in Eastern Europe, but also one with a significant degree of democracy.
As Eric Lohr, an American University historian specializing in Russia, summarized it, “By the early 18th century, Russia was routinely meddling in internal Polish electoral politics.” This should sound quite familiar to Americans in the era of Donald Trump.
Vladimir Putin’s Russia interfered in our elections in 2016, as U.S. intelligence agencies have clearly documented. Not only that, but Moscow has spent years denying it and deflecting blame by spreading the false rumor that Ukraine—a country that, like 18th-century Poland, it wants to weaken and ultimately dominate—was the one who did it.
What swimming in my underwear taught me about Donald Trump and getting away with it. (USA Today, December 1, 2019)
Impeachment is the atomic bomb of rebukes, a judgment that 'You are not fit to serve.' And it will distinguish Democrats from Republicans in history.
SCOTUS has the 2nd Amendment in its sights—and gun groups are thrilled. (
Quartz, November 30, 2019)
On Monday (Dec. 2), the US Supreme Court will hear one of the most anticipated and disputed cases of the term, a gun rights fight that pits New York City against the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association (NYSRPA). The matter has politicians on the left and right up in arms, inspiring unusually unfriendly amicus briefs and strange letters to the court. The case arises from a New York City gun transport ban that limited licensed gun owners’ ability to travel with firearms. The state rifle and pistol association sued the city, alleging violations of the Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms.
ARCO is taking a fight over toxic-waste cleanup to the US Supreme Court. (Quartz, November 30, 2019)
The US Supreme Court will this week hear oral arguments in a high-stakes case about corporations, hazardous waste, and paying to clean up pollution. The matter arises from a dispute between Montana landowners and the oil company Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) over the now-defunct Anaconda Smelter. The smelter was shut down in 1980, after about a century of use in refining copper ore for phone wires and power lines. In the years it was operational, its smokestacks spewed arsenic and lead over a 20,000-acre area of Big Sky Country, covering about five towns.
Atlantic-Richfield argues that this is about more than just money. The landowners’ desired further remediation efforts could undermine work done by the federal government to clean up the Superfund site, it says. More importantly, allowing such suits to go forward will wreak havoc on the national toxic waste cleanup scheme. The company contends that CERCLA bars claims like those being made by the Montana landowners and that federal law trumps local rules, and many businesses and industry groups have signed on to amicus briefs supporting this position. The federal government controls local cleanups at Superfund sites and has the final say on remediation, ARCO and its allies argue. Otherwise, different authorities all over the country could be working at counter purposes, implementing contradictory cleanup plans that could cause even more damage in vulnerable regions.
Meanwhile, environmentalists, who side with the private landowners, scoff at the corporation’s position. They say that nothing in the federal law limits landowners from seeking additional remediation to restore their property under state rules. In other words, the EPA does indeed designate Superfund sites and formulate plans for their cleanup, but those plans aren’t necessarily the sole remediation efforts that corporations must make if there are other appropriate state law claims. The landowners also argue that ARCO is being disingenuous when it says that their plan would actually damage and undermine cleanup efforts made in the region of the smelter thus far. Conceding that the EPA found their proposed plan technically difficult and expensive to implement, they contend that there’s nonetheless no evidence that it would actually be environmentally harmful as ARCO argues.
Walmart dodged US tax on $2 billion by routing cash through multiple countries, whistleblower says. (Quartz, November 29, 2019)
Walmart, the world’s biggest company, underpaid US taxes on nearly $2 billion worth of offshore cash, according to whistleblower documents filed by a former Walmart executive to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2011, and recently obtained by Quartz. The firm avoided nearly $200 million in taxes on that money and “dramatically” overstated its foreign tax credits in 2009 and 2010 by routing payments from Luxembourg to the United States via the United Kingdom and not declaring they came from a tax haven, the whistleblower wrote.
Walmart’s history of alleged tax dodging poses a challenge to the firm’s efforts to rebrand itself as an exemplar of conscious capitalism, especially as it regroups from settling a seven-year bribery investigation for $282 million in June. In September, Quartz obtained files showing the firm may owe up to $2.6 billion in US taxes, avoided by creating a “fictitious” Chinese entity. And in 2015, a report by the Americans for Tax Fairness alleged that Walmart had placed assets worth at least $76 billion in tax havens where it had no retail stores—a figure equal to 37% of the company’s total assets at the time. Walmart has contested both reports.
NEW: Free transit is just the beginning. (Briarpatch, November 29, 2019)
Public transit is one of the most powerful sites of struggle that we have in our cities, given it’s the backbone of how many people get to work, grocery stores, schools, and social activities. The physical nature of the service – requiring strangers to congregate in bus shelters and train stations, often anxious about delays and costs – represents a site of highly effective collective power if harnessed. But it’s the specific demands for free transit, through spontaneous actions of turnstile jumping and campaigns like “swipe it forward,” that knit seemingly disparate movements for climate action, anti-poverty, and prison and police abolition together into a potentially world-changing force.
Technocratic transit wonks often condescend to advocates of fare-free transit, arguing that municipalities need more funding to improve service and that calls for free transit undermine that goal. Of course it’s true that transit departments need massive amounts more money – but that shouldn’t be coming from regressive fares that increasingly benefit corporate owners like SNC-Lavalin’s botched light-rail project in Ottawa.
Instead, excellent transit systems can and should be fully funded by increasing taxes on rich households and corporations and rerouting current spending on roads and highways. Such a transition will have a huge range of benefits: boosting ridership, cutting emissions, making streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and ensuring that everyone has the ability to travel regardless of income. It’s an exceptionally straightforward policy to implement, and can serve as a clear rebuttal to the growing trend of privatization and austerity.
Will the future of work be ethical? (TechCrunch, November 28, 2019)
After generations of increasing inequality, can we teach tech leaders to love their neighbors more than algorithms and profits?
Banking Nature: The Financialization of The Planet. (87-min. video; Deep Green Resistance News Service, November 27, 2019)
In recent years, nature conservation has become a flourishing business sector where huge sums of money change hands and endangered organisms are transformed into financial products. This film exposes the corporations and non-profits banking on the monetization of the planet.
We Are On Native Land. (New Economy, November 27, 2019)
Indigenous people are -- and have always been -- at the front lines of resisting colonization. In the spirit of Truthsgiving, we want to use this space to lift up Native-led stories and resources that demonstrate that another way of life is possible.
Ilhan Omar challenger permanently suspended from Twitter. (Washington Times, November 27, 2019)
Danielle Stella, a Republican seeking to unseat Rep. Ilhan Omar, Minnesota Democrat, was suspended from Twitter after her account posted Tuesday about killing the congresswoman. Ms. Stella’s campaign account on Twitter, @2020MNCongress, was punted from the platform after posting at least twice about hanging Ms. Omar, a progressive freshman frequently the target of right-wing attacks.
Devin Nunes is trending on Twitter, and the hashtag is something to behold. (Daily Kos, November 27, 2019)
In June, Rep. Devin Nunes sued Twitter, as well as three individual Twitter accounts, for defamation. The complaint, which asked for $250,000,000 in damages and $350,000 in punitive damages, argued that, "As part of its agenda to squelch Nunes' voice, cause him extreme pain and suffering, influence the 2018 Congressional election, and distract, intimidate and interfere with Nunes' investigation into corruption and Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential Election, Twitter did absolutely nothing." What were these disparaging and defaming accounts, attacking Nunes in such a way as to warrant this lawsuit? They were Devin Nunes' Mom (@DevinNunesMom) and Devin Nunes' Cow (@DevinCow).
(Don't miss the Comments thread! :-)
Former Deutsche Bank Exec Connected to Trump Loans Dies by Hanging in Malibu. (Los Angeles Magazine, November 27, 2019)
Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank—which lent him around $2 billion after most other institutions had forsaken him for his history of defaults and bankruptcies—has come under investigation by two Congressional committees and the New York Attorney General, who are hoping the bank can shed light on Trump’s elusive finances, according to the New York Times. At one point, Bowers had a close connection to those finances.
Bowers isn’t the first Trump-connected Deutsche exec to commit suicide by hanging. In 2014, Deutsche derivatives analyst William S. Broeksmit, who reportedly had links to Trump and Russia, hung himself from a dog leash at his home in London.
During Florida rally, Trump claims he beat Obama and saved Christmas. (Daily Kos, November 27, 2019
And then he flew to the moon and single-handedly defeated 15 moon lobsters.
Donald Trump held a rally in Florida last night. We generally don't even cover these at this point: You can't even call them campaign rallies as much as "rallies Trump's staff arranges for him to give him an outlet for his megalomanic tendencies that does not involve military strikes or making Cabinet members battle to the death."
That said, there were a few moments during this one that stood out. The man is in a positively venomous mood of late—no surprise—and it is the times when he most seeks the adulation of his crowds that he turns weird and racist. Well, weirder and racist-er.
The phrase "slurring noticeably" is going to start appearing more and more frequently in the coming months, so be prepared for that. Is he out of his mind? Of course. Is he a pathological liar? Absolutely: It is both a side effect of the worst case of malignant narcissism most people will ever have the opportunity to themselves witness, and his own coping mechanism for managing a life in which he knows nothing, has instincts for nothing, and fails continuously through his own faults, propped up only by a near-boundless supply of daddy's money.
Trump posted a picture of himself as Rocky. No one knows what to make of it. (The Guardian, November 27, 2019)
This robot scientist has conducted 100,000 experiments in a year. (TechCrunch, November 27, 2019)
Science is exciting in theory, but it can also be dreadfully dull. Some experiments require hundreds or thousands of repetitions or trials — an excellent opportunity to automate. That’s just what MIT scientists have done, creating a robot that performs a certain experiment, observes the results, and plans a follow-up… and has now done so 100,000 times in the year it’s been operating.
The field of fluid dynamics involves a lot of complex and unpredictable forces, and sometimes the best way to understand them is to repeat things over and over until patterns emerge. One of the observations that needs to be performed is of “vortex-induced vibration,” a kind of disturbance that matters a lot to designing ships that travel through water efficiently. It involves close observation of an object moving through water… over, and over, and over. Turns out it’s also a perfect duty for a robot to take over. But the Intelligent Tow Tank, as they call this robotic experimentation platform, is designed not just to do the mechanical work of dragging something through the water, but to intelligently observe the results, change the setup accordingly to pursue further information, and continue doing that until it has something worth reporting.
Only a few 2020 US Presidential candidates are using a basic email security feature. (TechCrunch, November 27, 2019)
Out of the 21 presidential candidates in the race according to Reuters, only seven Democrats are using and enforcing DMARC, an email security protocol that verifies the authenticity of a sender’s email and rejects spoofed emails, which hackers often use to try to trick victims into opening malicious links from seemingly known individuals.
It’s a marked increase from April, where only Elizabeth Warren’s campaign had employed the technology. Now, the Democratic campaigns of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Michael Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard and Steve Bullock have all improved their email security. The remaining candidates, including presidential incumbent Donald Trump, are not rejecting spoofed emails. Another seven candidates are not using DMARC at all.
That, experts say, puts their campaigns at risk from foreign influence campaigns and cyberattacks.
NEW: ‘Economic engine’: Vallejo’s Mare Island megaproject envisions thousands of new homes. (San Francisco Chronicle, November 26, 2019)
In bleak report, U.N. says drastic action is only way to avoid worst effects of climate change. (
3-min. video: Washington Post, November 26, 2019)
Global greenhouse gas emissions must begin falling by 7.6 percent each year beginning 2020 — a rate currently nowhere in sight — to meet the most ambitious aims of the Paris climate accord, the report issued early Tuesday found. Its authors acknowledged that the findings are “bleak.” After all, the world has never demonstrated the ability to cut greenhouse gas emissions on such a scale.
“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions,” Inger Andersen, executive director of the U.N. Environment Program, said in a statement announcing the findings. “We need to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated.”
The sobering report comes at a critical moment, when it remains unclear whether world leaders can summon the political will to take the ambitious action scientists say is essential. So far, the answer has been no.
Impeachment: White House Budget Official Said 2 Aides Resigned Amid Ukraine Aid Freeze. Judiciary Committee invites White House to participate. (New York Times, November 26, 2019)
Mark Sandy, an official at the Office of Management and Budget, testified that two of his colleagues quit after expressing concerns about President Trump’s decision to withhold military assistance. Mr. Trump has insisted he never pressured Ukraine for the investigations or made the aid contingent upon them, and was instead withholding the money out of concern for corruption in Ukraine and a desire to have other countries pay their fair share. And his Republican allies have argued that the funding’s eventual release proves that Mr. Trump did nothing wrong.
Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the Judiciary Committee chairman, wrote a letter to the president Tuesday afternoon notifying him of the hearing and offering his lawyers a chance to question the witnesses. He asked the White House to inform him by Sunday if the president or his lawyer wants to participate in the initial hearing, and reminded Mr. Trump that House rules empower him as chairman to curtail that involvement if “you continue to refuse to make witnesses and documents available” related to the inquiry. The letter from Mr. Nadler initiated what is likely to be a high-stakes legal and political dispute between the two sides over what rights the president and his legal team should be afforded. In modern times, the Judiciary Committee has allowed presidents facing similar proceedings an active role, inviting them to recommend witnesses for testimony, conduct cross-examinations and present a defense through their lawyers. But whereas Mr. Clinton and former President Richard M. Nixon grudgingly engaged with Congress — at least to some extent — as it built impeachment cases against them, Mr. Trump’s White House has thus far responded only by declaring the House’s inquiry illegitimate and refusing to cooperate.
Ex-White House counsel McGahn must comply with House subpoena, judge rules. (Washington Post, November 26, 2019)
A federal court ruled Monday that “no one is above the law” and that top presidential advisers cannot ignore congressional demands for information. U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of Washington found no basis for a White House claim that the former counsel is “absolutely immune from compelled congressional testimony,” setting the stage for a historic separation-of-powers confrontation between the executive and legislative ­branches of the ­government.
The House Judiciary Committee went to court in August to enforce its subpoena of McGahn, whom lawmakers consider the “most important” witness in whether President Trump obstructed justice in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. Trump blocked McGahn’s appearance, saying McGahn had cooperated with Mueller’s probe, was a key presidential adviser, and could not be forced to answer questions or turn over documents. Judge Jackson disagreed, ruling that if McGahn wants to refuse to testify, such as by invoking executive privilege, he must do so in person and question by question.
The Justice Department’s claim to “unreviewable absolute testimonial immunity,” Jackson wrote
in a 118-page opinion, “is baseless, and as such, cannot be sustained.” The judge ordered McGahn to appear before the House committee and said her conclusion was “inescapable” because a subpoena demand is part of the legal system — not the political process — and “per the Constitution, no one is above the law. However busy or essential a presidential aide might be, and whatever their proximity to sensitive domestic and national-security projects, the President does not have the power to excuse him or her from taking an action that the law requires. Fifty years of say so within the Executive branch does not change that fundamental truth.”
The Bush administration’s claim of “absolute immunity from compelled congressional process for senior presidential aides is without any support in the case law,” wrote Bates, a Bush appointee, former presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and deputy independent counsel in the Whitewater probe of President Bill Clinton. The parties eventually agreed on questioning behind closed doors and release of a public transcript, mooting the case.
Judge Jackson, an Obama nominee, quoted Bates’s 2008 decision heavily, calling the administration’s immunity claim “a fiction” maintained “through force of sheer repetition,” one that has never gone through the “crucible of litigation. Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings." The assertion that a president can overrule current or former aides’ “own will to testify,” she added, “is a proposition that cannot be squared with core constitutional values, and for this reason alone, it cannot be sustained.”
Jackson did not limit her ruling to impeachment proceedings but wrote, “It is hard to imagine a more significant wound than such alleged interference with Congress’ ability to detect and deter abuses of power within the Executive branch for the protection of the People of the United States."
The White House said in a statement Monday that the decision “contradicts longstanding legal precedent established by Administrations of both political parties. We will appeal and are confident that the important constitutional principle advanced by the Administration will be vindicated.”
Schiff writes letter to House Democrats, passes impeachment inquiry on to Judiciary Committee. (Daily Kos, November 25, 2019)
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff sent a letter to House Democrats today updating them on the status of the impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. Schiff writes that his committee has "uncovered a massive amount of evidence" and that Trump "sought foreign interference in our elections for his personal and political benefit at the expense of our national interest."
NASA’s 141-foot ‘Super Guppy’ aircraft delivered the Orion spacecraft to a testing facility in Ohio ahead of 2024 mission to land the first woman and next man on the Moon. (Daily Mail, November 25, 2019)
- The Super Guppy aircraft is used by NASA to transport large cargo items.
- It was used to move parts of the Saturn V rocket during the Apollo missions.
- It was taking the Orion spacecraft to Ohio for pre-flight environmental testing.
- NASA says Orion will fly to the moon without a crew for a test flight in 2020.
- The Artemis missions will eventually see humanity return to the moon by 2024.
NYC wants a chief algorithm officer to counter bias, build transparency. (Ars Technica, November 25, 2019)
The big, black decision-making boxes could get more transparent to New Yorkers.
That Uplifting Tweet You Just Shared? A Russian Troll Sent It. (Rolling Stone, November 25, 2019)
Here’s what Russia’s 2020 disinformation operations look like, according to two experts on social media and propaganda.
Professional trolls are good at their job. They have studied us. They understand how to harness our biases (and hashtags) for their own purposes. They know what pressure points to push and how best to drive us to distrust our neighbors. The professionals know you catch more flies with honey. They don’t go to social media looking for a fight; they go looking for new best friends. And they have found them.
Professional disinformation isn’t spread by the account you disagree with — quite the opposite. Effective disinformation is embedded in an account you agree with. The professionals don’t push you away, they pull you toward them.

Disinformation operations aren’t typically fake news or outright lies. Disinformation is most often simply spin. Spin is hard to spot and easy to believe, especially if you are already inclined to do so.
The Russians know that, in political warfare, disgust is a more powerful tool than anger. Anger drives people to the polls; disgust drives countries apart.
Russian disinformation is not just about President Trump or the 2016 presidential election. Did they work to get Trump elected? Yes, diligently. Our research has shown how Russia strategically employed social media to build support on the right for Trump and lower voter turnout on the left for Clinton. But the IRA was not created to collude with the Trump campaign. They existed well before Trump rode down that escalator and announced his candidacy, and we assume they will exist in some form well after he is gone. Russia’s goals are to further widen existing divisions in the American public and decrease our faith and trust in institutions that help maintain a strong democracy. If we focus only on the past or future, we will not be prepared for the present.
The IRA generated more social media content in the year following the 2016 election than the year before it. They also moved their office into a bigger building with room to expand. Their work was never just about elections. Rather, the IRA encourages us to vilify our neighbor and amplify our differences because, if we grow incapable of compromising, there can be no meaningful democracy. Russia has dug in for a long campaign. So far, we’re helping them win.
Mitch McConnell’s Opposition to Federal Election Security Is Hitting Home. (Mother Jones, November 25, 2019)
Kentucky officials say local voting systems are “one emergency away from disaster.”
So, Why Has The U.S. Economy Not Sunk Yet? It Is Because The Fed Is Doing A Whole Lot Of Bailing. (Daily Kos, November 25, 2019)
When Trump’s really dumb tax cuts took effect starting in 2018, the Fed increased the Prime Interest Rate to prevent the extra cash influx from the tax cuts that were flowing into the U.S. economy from creating inflation. This tightening of the U.S. money supply, along with Trump’s clueless tariffs meant that the U.S. Dow Jones Industrial Average was barely higher at the end of 2018 than it was at the beginning of 2018. During this time, Donald Trump moaned about how the higher interest rates were hurting the economy. Any economist worth his or her salt could have told Trump that interest rates would have risen when his tax cuts were implemented, but instead, someone apparently told Trump that his tax cuts would magically make the stock market go crazy. You see, Donald Trump isn’t just ignorant. He’s apparently also surrounded by ignorant advisors.
Trump’s equally clueless combination of tax cuts and tariffs eventually slowed down the U.S. economy in 2018 to such a point that the Fed ended up having to lower the Prime Interest Rate again in 2019. However, just lowering interest rates has not been enough to counteract the damage that Trump’s policies have done to the U.S economy. In addition to lowering the Prime Interest rate, the Fed has also had to start a program that many would call Quantitative Easing (QE), but which the Fed has been insisting is not actually Quantitative Easing. Basically, during quantitative easing, the Fed buys a lot of assets, like bonds, and. in turn, it also acquires an equal amount of debt at the same time.
Rick Perry Calls Donald Trump The Chosen One Sent By God To Rule Over Us. (Politico, November 25, 2019)
The secretary of energy used “imperfect” Old Testament kings to make his point.
The realism of Bernie Sanders’ climate policy. (Boston Globe, November 25, 2019)
Sanders believes that as our economy rapidly shifts to renewable energy, power companies should be publicly owned and controlled, and the biggest polluters should help underwrite the costs.
NEW: Carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere reaches record high, researchers say. (NBC News, November 25, 2019)
Carbon dioxide traps heat from the sun and can linger in the atmosphere for centuries.
How New York City Found Clean Water. (Smithsonian, November 25, 2019)
For nearly 200 years after the founding of New York, the city struggled to establish a clean source of fresh water.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web Foundation: "I Invented the World Wide Web. Here’s How We Can Fix It." (New York Times, November 24, 2019)
I had hoped that 30 years from its creation, we would be using the web foremost for the purpose of serving humanity. Projects like Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap and the world of open source software are the kinds of constructive tools that I hoped would flow from the web.
However, the reality is much more complex. Communities are being ripped apart as prejudice, hate and disinformation are peddled online. Scammers use the web to steal identities, stalkers use it to harass and intimidate their victims, and bad actors subvert democracy using clever digital tactics. The use of targeted political ads in the United States’ 2020 presidential campaign and in elections elsewhere threatens once again to undermine voters’ understanding and choices.
We’re at a tipping point. How we respond to this abuse will determine whether the web lives up to its potential as a global force for good or leads us into a digital dystopia.
Tesla’s Cybertruck is ridiculous, but who wants to bet against Elon Musk? (Quartz, November 23, 2019)
It’s a Tesla. Vehicles, at least in this class, are about identity. Most pickups, it turns out, are “cowboy costumes,” an expensive way to haul air and make a statement. Only 25% of truck owners ever drive off-road or tow something. The most important features truck buyers want in their pickup? “To look good while driving, to present a tough image, to have their car act as an extension of their personality, and to stand out in a crowd.”
(And this $40-$70K super-"truck" is the ultimate pick-up.)
The Awful Truth About Impeachment:
Facts be damned is Trump’s approach, and it’s working. (The New Yorker, November 22, 2019)
After five days, twelve witnesses, lots of shouting, and dozens of angry tweets from the President, the House Intelligence Committee’s public impeachment hearings into Donald Trump’s Ukraine affair ended on Thursday with one unequivocal result: a Republican stonewall so complete that it cannot and will not be breached. The G.O.P. defense, in essence, is that facts are irrelevant, no matter how damning or inconvenient, and that Trump has the power to do whatever he wants, even if it seems inappropriate, improper, or simply wrong. Recognizing this, Democrats on Thursday evening signalled that they will move ahead with impeachment by the full House anyway, and soon. It was a grim choice, made with the knowledge that the case against Trump will likely proceed without any Republican votes, or even testimony from key Administration witnesses who have obeyed the President’s command not to appear.
'A lot of things are the matter with me': The best lines from Trump's Fox interview. (Politico, November 22. 2019)
Trump flirts with standing against a unanimous Congress and in favor of China's President Xi. (
Daily Kos, November 22, 2019)
It's up to Trump. Side with 100% of the U.S. Congress and, of course, human rights, or with another of his favorite autocrats and veto the bill? Because unanimous is definitely a veto-proof majority.
When a deep red town’s only grocery closed, city hall opened its own store. Just don’t call it ‘socialism.’ (Washington Post, November 22, 2019)
Notably, these experiments in communal ownership are taking place in deep-red parts of the country where the word “socialism” is anathema. By definition, a collectively owned, government-run enterprise like the Baldwin Market is inherently socialist. But Lynch, who has a nonpartisan position but governs a town where 68 percent of residents voted for Donald Trump in 2016, doesn’t see it that way. From his point of view, the town is just doing what it’s supposed to do: providing services to residents who already pay enough in taxes.
Coal Knew, Too. (Huffington Post, November 22, 2019)
A newly-unearthed journal from 1966 shows the coal industry, like the oil industry, was long aware of the threat of climate change.
In a 1966 copy of the industry publication Mining Congress Journal, James R. Garvey, who was the president of Bituminous Coal Research Inc., a now-defunct coal mining and processing research organization, wrote: "There is evidence that the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere is increasing rapidly as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels. If the future rate of increase continues as it is at the present, it has been predicted that, because the CO2 envelope reduces radiation, the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere will increase and that vast changes in the climates of the earth will result. Such changes in temperature will cause melting of the polar icecaps, which, in turn, would result in the inundation of many coastal cities, including New York and London."
Donald Trump Says He Wants a Trial. Here's What Needs to Happen in the House Impeachment Inquiry Before He Gets One. (Time, November 22, 2019)
In one sense, the question before Nancy Pelosi and other House leaders is straightforward: Will more hearings produce evidence that ultimately strengthens the case that President Donald Trump should be removed from office, or do they already have what they need to make the case?
But the larger question facing Pelosi and her aides is a more complicated political one. If, as polls suggest, there is no evidence that will convince Republican voters, and therefore GOP lawmakers, that Trump abused the power of the presidency, what is the best course of action for Democrats as they seek to retake the White House and the Senate, and hold on to the House?
Trump keeps making it tougher for his defenders. (The Washington Post, November 22, 2019)
Up against the wall, Donald Trump has always reached into his ready arsenal of aggressive tactics. Confronted with challenges that would make many people search for a way out, he punches back, insults those who speak against him, tosses up falsehoods and distracting stories he knows will get big play in the news media and offers frequently shifting alternative narratives.
Now, facing the likelihood that he will become only the third president ever to be impeached, Trump is deploying his full playbook — even as his statements repeatedly undercut the case Republican defenders in Congress have made on his behalf. The president’s unsupported attacks on some of the key witnesses appearing over the past two weeks before the House Intelligence Committee not only surprised many of his Republican allies but also contradicted the narrative that they had settled on to describe why Trump’s actions in the Ukraine controversy do not justify his removal from office.
“It makes it more politically difficult for us,” said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), “but it doesn’t change how we’ll vote on impeachment.”
The biggest mistake Democrats made in the impeachment hearings was not focusing on CrowdStrike. (Daily Kos, November 22, 2019)
Dr. Fiona Hill included this in her opening statement: "Based on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country—and that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves."
What Republicans did not say, and what Hill really meant, was that Donald Trump, William Barr, and every Republican on the committee are actively involved in an attempt to prove that Russia was not involved in 2016 election interference. Forget Nunes’ weak-tea report, because Republicans, Nunes included, are right now working to disprove that report themselves. What Hill was referring to was something that Trump discussed in his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Sacha Baron Cohen blasts social media giants for ‘ideological imperialism’. (Daily Kos, November 22, 2019)
Cohen focused his speech on social media and the handful of tech giants that control the world’s largest platforms, calling them “the greatest propaganda machine in history.”
Cohen outlined the rise of fascistic, racist, xenophobic, anti-Semitic conspiracy theories around the world and their breeding grounds on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. “On the internet, everything can appear equally legitimate. Breitbart resembles the BBC. The fictitious Protocols of the Elders of Zion look as valid as an ADL report. And the rantings of a lunatic seem as credible as the findings of a Nobel Prize winner. We have lost, it seems, a shared sense of the basic facts upon which democracy depends.”
Cohen said that while Facebook and Twitter and others had made small attempts to deal with these content issues, much more was needed. Specifically, he argued that Mark Zuckerberg’s defense of Facebook’s semi-hands-off approach to political ads and hate groups is disingenuous, saying, “Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach.” Cohen also argued that no one is asking Facebook to police free speech around the world, but, since it is a privately owned company, he doesn’t see why Facebook won’t stop lies from being spread.
Cohen noted that the real problem is that there are six people, whom he calls the “Silicon Six” (Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg; Google’s Sundar Pichai, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin; Susan Wojcicki at YouTube; and Jack Dorsey at Twitter), who control what the majority of the globe sees online.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife privately recommended staff hires to Pete Buttigieg. (CNB
C, November 21, 2019)
The news reveals that the Big Tech executive has played a larger role in the 2020 election than was previously known.
Sacha Baron Cohen's Keynote Address at ADL's 2019 'Never Is Now' Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate (25-min. video; Anti-Defamation League, November 21, 2019)
Remarks by Sacha Baron Cohen, Recipient of ADL's International Leadership Award.
‘I Was Teaching a Lot of Misconceptions.’ The Way American Kids Are Learning About the 'First Thanksgiving' Is Changing. (Time, November 21, 2019)
The teachers at this Nov. 9 workshop on “Rethinking Thanksgiving in Your Classroom” were there to learn a better way to teach the Thanksgiving story to their students, but first, they had some studying to do. When Gokey explained that early days of thanks celebrated the burning of a Pequot village in 1637, and the killing of Wampanoag leader Massasoit’s son, attendees gasped audibly.
NEW: Trump Reverses Navy Decision to Oust Edward Gallagher From SEALs. (
New York Times, November 21, 2019)
The president said Chief Petty Officer Gallagher, who has been at the center of a high-profile war crimes case, would not lose his membership in the elite commando force.
Key Moments From Hill and Holmes’s Testimony in the Impeachment Inquiry. (New York Times, November 21, 2019)
President Trump’s former adviser testified that the pressure campaign on Ukraine was a “domestic political errand” that diverged from U.S. foreign policy.
Mike Pence all of a sudden can't recall if he talked with Sondland about Ukraine aid being withheld. (Daily Kos, November 20, 2019)
Ken Starr, on Fox News: 'It doesn't look good for the president.' (Daily Kos, November 20, 2019)
Today, during a break in the testimony, Starr quoted Adam Schiff, saying (again, on Fox News), “There is now proof that the President committed the crime of bribery. This has been one of those bombshell days,” adding that “it doesn’t look good for the president.” Finally, he said, “I think articles of impeachment are being drawn up if they haven't already been drawn up,” the only question being whether they would be bipartisan or not.
Read Trump’s very large, very strange Sharpie notes on impeachment. (Vox, November 20, 2019)
The talking points were scrawled in all caps on an Air Force One notepad.
NEW: Eighteen Democrats, three Republicans in U.S. presidential race. (Reuters, November 20, 2019)
Here Are The Top Trump Administration Officials Implicated By Gordon Sondland. (Huffington Post, November 20, 2019)
The ambassador gave explosive testimony that named top officials as part of a quid pro quo effort with Ukraine.
The Two Most Important Sentences of the Impeachment Hearings. (The Atlantic, November 20, 2019)
Ambassador Gordon Sondland delivered a bombshell this morning: “Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.”
'It was no secret': Ambassador says quid pro quo came at 'express direction of the President'. (CNN, November 20, 2019)
US Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified Wednesday there was a quid pro quo for Ukraine to announce investigations into President Donald Trump's political opponents that came from the President's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the "express direction of the President."
What's more, Sondland provided House impeachment investigators with emails and texts showing it wasn't just him and Giuliani pushing for the investigations outside government channels — Trump's inner circle knew what was going on, too. He even said he raised concerns with Vice President Mike Pence that the freezing of $400 million in security aid to Ukraine was linked to the investigations.
Sondland's testimony is the most damning evidence to date directly implicating Trump in the quid pro quo at the heart of the impeachment inquiry. His public remarks show a link between US security aid and a White House meeting and Ukraine publicly announcing investigations that would help the President politically.
NEW: Humans placed in suspended animation for the first time. (New Scientist, November 20, 2019)
Samuel Tisherman, at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told New Scientist that his team of medics had placed at least one patient in suspended animation, calling it “a little surreal” when they first did it. He wouldn’t reveal how many people had survived as a result.
The technique, officially called emergency preservation and resuscitation (EPR), is being carried out on people who arrive at the University of Maryland Medical Centre in Baltimore with an acute trauma – such as a gunshot or stab wound – and have had a cardiac arrest. Their heart will have stopped beating and they will have lost more than half their blood. There are only minutes to operate, with a less than 5 per cent chance that they would normally survive.
EPR involves rapidly cooling a person to around 10 to 15°C by replacing all of their blood with ice-cold saline. The patient’s brain activity almost completely stops. They are then disconnected from the cooling system and their body – which would otherwise be classified as dead – is moved to the operating theatre.
A surgical team then has 2 hours to fix the person’s injuries before they are warmed up and their heart restarted. Tisherman says he hopes to be able to announce the full results of the trial by the end of 2020.
NEW: This gorgeous art was made with a surprising substance: live bacteria. (National Geographic, November 20, 2019)
Agar plates changed the way scientists cultivate tiny life in labs. Now agar is the canvas for a growing school of art.
The planet is burning. (Aeon, November 20, 2019)
Fire - wild, feral, and fossil-fuelled - lights up the globe. Is it time to declare that humans have created a Pyrocene?
NEW: Permafrost Becoming a Carbon Source Instead of a Sink. (NASA, November 19, 2019)
As global and regional warming continues, winter emissions of carbon dioxide from Arctic lands are offsetting what plants absorb in the summer.
Senate Passes Bill to Support Hong Kong Protesters, Putting Pressure on Trump. (New York Times, November 19, 2019)
The House and Senate both passed the bill with a veto-proof majority. It compels the U.S. to penalize Chinese and Hong Kong officials responsible for abuses.
Tesla will top biggest-battery record. (Seeking Alpha, November 19, 2019)
Tesla's (NASDAQ:TSLA) battery project with Neoen (OTC:NOSPF) in South Australia became "the world's largest battery" when it was completed two years ago, and now it's expanding by 50% to 150 megawatts.
The storage site has already saved more than A$50M in its first year of operation, meaning that the A$66M venture is quickly on its way to pay for itself. Australian Energy Market Operator confirmed the system is much more rapid, accurate and valuable than a conventional steam turbine.
Afraid of upsetting her NRA donors, US senator Joni Ernst blocks Violence Against Women Act. (11-min. video; The Young Turks, November 19, 2019)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is absolutely right when he calls out Ernst and says that if she wants to alter the legislation with amendments of her own, they can be debated independently, along with the amendment closing the so-called "boyfriend loophole." Except the Republicans don't want to debate the issue because they know it's a huge loser for them. Hence the obstruction.
Trump said he was quoting Nancy Pelosi on impeachment. He was actually quoting Fox News. (Daily Kos, November 19, 2019)
Even Republicans’ preferred witnesses are implicating Trump. (Washington Post, November 19, 2019)
The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday heard from two former Trump administration officials whose testimony was requested by Republicans. So it was striking that the stories they told simply added to the evidence that President Trump abused his office and twisted long-standing U.S. policy in Ukraine to serve his personal political interests.
Impeachment Hearings Live Updates: Republicans Question Vindman’s Loyalty. (New York Times, November 19, 2019)
The top Ukraine expert at the National Security Council testified that President Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president in which Mr. Trump asked for investigations of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was “inappropriate” and “a partisan play,” as Republicans raised questions about his loyalty and professionalism. Marie Yovanovitch represents something Americans are desperate for: decency. (The Guardian, November 18, 2019)
Trump calls her ‘bad news’, but the public won’t be convinced by his smear.
She rooted out Trump in the middle of the hearing as he blurted more bile. It changed the course of the impeachment hearings. It will change the course of politics. We were reminded of the redeeming power of decency, which properly resides in a healthy sense of shame that is very much alive right now. It will take down Trump and revive the Republic.
The Supreme Court May Criminalize Immigrant Advocacy. (Slate, November 18, 2019)
The case could let the government prosecute people for routine legal work or even sympathetic tweets.
Supreme Court stops Trump financial documents from going to House on Wednesday. (CNN, November 18, 2019)
President Donald Trump's financial documents won't be released Wednesday, after the Supreme Court on Monday put on hold a lower court opinion that allowed a House subpoena to go forward. The court did not set a timeline when it will rule or release the documents, but has asked for the House to respond on Thursday to Trump's request to block the subpoena.
Earlier Monday, the House said that it would endorse a 10-day delay to give the justices more time to consider legal arguments.
Trump's impeachment ire turns on Pompeo amid diplomats' starring roles. (NBC News, November 18, 2019)
Impeachment hearings have created a rift between the president and one of his staunchest allies in the administration.
Pompeo has served in the administration since its start. Trump tapped him as CIA director, then moved him to secretary of state after he fired Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson. For almost three years, Pompeo seamlessly navigated a finicky president. He’s remained, and became more influential, as Trump churned through two chiefs of staff, three national security advisers, an attorney general, and secretaries of defense, state, labor, homeland security, interior, veterans affairs and health and human services.
But in recent weeks Pompeo has been under steady fire over his role in the Ukraine scandal, as well as his handling of it. Initially when the Ukraine controversy became public, Trump wanted Pompeo to publicly defend him against the State Department bureaucracy, officials said. But the White House thought Pompeo appeared unprepared in his television interviews, and his performance only fueled the president’s frustrations, they said.
Trump has hinted publicly at tensions with Pompeo, and while the comments might go unnoticed by the untrained ear they’ve been heard loudly by people close to the president. The first was on Oct. 23, officials said, when Trump wrote on Twitter: “It would be really great if the people within the Trump Administration, all well-meaning and good (I hope!), could stop hiring Never Trumpers, who are worse than the Do Nothing Democrats. Nothing good will ever come from them!” Trump followed up with another tweet specifically calling Taylor, and his lawyer, "Never Trumpers." Two days later, Trump said Pompeo “made a mistake” in hiring Taylor.
Pompeo has faced criticism for saying, during an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” that he didn’t know anything about the July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy that is at the center of the controversy. Pompeo didn’t disclose until more than a week later that he had listened in on that call.
Like the White House, he has attempted to block State Department officials from testifying. And he has refused to turn over State Department documents related to Ukraine.
Criticism of Pompeo inside the State Department escalated when he refused to publicly defend Yovanovitch after a reconstructed transcript of the July 25 call revealed Trump disparaged Yovanovitch to Zelenskiy, administration officials have said. Pompeo’s closest aide, Ambassador Mike McKinley, resigned over the secretary’s refusal to defend Yovanovitch. Testimony from Taylor and others show Pompeo was keenly aware of the concerns his top officials had about Giuliani’s efforts and his handling of Yovanovitch.
In public testimony on Friday, Yovanovitch appeared to excoriate Pompeo for “the failure of State Department leadership to push back as foreign and corrupt interests apparently hijacked our Ukraine policy. It is the responsibility of the department's leaders to stand up for the institution and the individuals who make that institution the most effective diplomatic force in the world,” she said.
New Poll: 70% of Americans say Trump’s actions tied to Ukraine were wrong. (ABC News, November 18, 2019)
NEW: Trump Retreats From Flavor Ban for E-Cigarettes. (New York Times, November 17, 2019)
Advisers say the president pulled back from proposed restrictions intended to curb teenage vaping after he was warned of the political fallout among voters.
NEW: Know The Risks: E-Cigarettes & Young People (U.S. Surgeon-General, November 2019)
This Executive Summary is an overview of the full Surgeon General's Report and highlights the conclusions, findings, and call to action.
Birds of a feather: Why Trump wants to commute Rod Blagojevich's sentence. (Daily Kos, November 17, 2019)
Convicted former Illinois governor Blagojevich’s criminal behavior increased markedly in 2008 in a race against time. The state had passed an ethics law that was due to take effect on Jan. 1, 2009 and prohibited “any individual or entity with existing state contracts of more than $50,000 from contributing to entities like Friends of Blagojevich.” So the push was on to get as much as possible before the law kicked in, with a total goal of $2.5 million. Some $500,000 was expected to be raised by Highway Contractor 1, who wanted to supply concrete for a new toll road project. The CEO of Children’s Memorial Hospital had funding threatened over a $50,000 contribution.
But the crime for which Blagojevich will long be remembered is the attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat. It was breathtaking in its audacity. He attempted to sell it to the newly-elected president in exchange for an appointment as the secretary of the Health and Human Services Department.
NEW:  Immigration jails in Trump era are packed, but deportations are fewer than in Obama’s. (Washington Post, November 17, 2019)
It has been nearly 700 days since Bakhodir Madjitov was taken to prison in the United States. He has never been charged with a crime. Madjitov, a 38-year-old Uzbek national and father of three U.S. citizens, received a final deportation order after his applications to legally immigrate failed.
He is one of the approximately 50,000 people jailed on any given day in the past year under the authority of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the most foreigners held in immigration detention in U.S. history. The majority of those detainees, such as Madjitov, are people with no prior criminal records.
Unrelenting “ad blocker” plasters users with—you guessed it—ads. (Ars Technica, November 17, 2019)
Ads Blocker uses several tricks to covertly and constantly bombard users with ads.
Firefox’s fight for the future of the web (The Guardian, November 17, 2019)
In reality, two-thirds of us have been funnelled into using Google’s Chrome, but browser choice also hides a contest about the openness of the web and how data is collected about users. One organisation that has always put such issues to the forefront is Mozilla.
How FedEx Cut Its Tax Bill to $0. (New York Times, November 17, 2019)
The company, like much of corporate America, has not made good on its promised investment surge from President Trump’s 2017 tax cuts.
Robert Reich: Warren doesn't just frighten billionaires – she scares the whole establishment. (The Guardian, November 17, 2019)
No wonder the wealth tax turns the Gray Lady white as a sheet: it will help the needy and its author is a good bet for president.
On Thursday, the New York Times reported on a study showing that Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax (and presumably Bernie Sanders’ even more ambitious version) would reduce economic growth by nearly 0.2% a year, over the course of a decade. Under the headline “Warren Wealth Tax Could Slow the Economy, Early Analysis Finds”, the Times trumpeted the analysis, from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, as “the first attempt by an independent budget group to forecast the economic effects” of a centerpiece of the Warren and Sanders campaigns.
It sounded like a game-changer. The super rich obviously don’t like a wealth tax, but if it also slows the economy, it could harm everyone.
But wait. In order to arrive at their conclusion, the authors of the study make two bizarre leaps of economic logic.
Louisiana Democrat, Gov. John Bel Edwards, Keeps Seat Despite Trump's Opposition. (NPR, November 17, 2019)
"If this campaign has taught us anything, it's that the partisan forces in Washington, D.C. are not strong enough to break through the bonds that we share as Louisianans," Edwards said in his victory speech.
Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South and is not a typical Democrat. He's a pro-Second Amendment gun owner who signed one of the country's strictest anti-abortion bills this year.
This is the third and final gubernatorial election of 2019 and the second loss for President Trump, who campaigned for all three candidates. The president was in Louisiana this past week and framed the race as a personal referendum, urging voters to unseat Edwards. Trump traveled to Louisiana three times to support Rispone. About two weeks ago, Republican Tate Reeves won the open seat in Mississippi, but in Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear ousted Republican incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin. Edwards' second term may be a bitter pill for Trump, who had much invested in this year's elections ahead of his own election in 2020.
Louisiana's John Bel Edwards wins reelection to remain Deep South's only Democratic governor (USA Today , November 16, 2019)
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards won a second term Saturday to remain the only Democratic governor in the Deep South despite an all-out effort by President Donald Trump to flip the seat to the Republican column.
Edwards narrowly beat wealthy Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, who invested more than $14 million of his own money to finance his campaign and tied himself to Trump from start to finish.
The president told Louisiana voters the race was a symbolic referendum on his presidency, which he said is under attack by Democrats who've started impeachment hearings in the House. "You've got to give me a big win, OK?"
But in the end Trump’s coattails weren’t long enough to carry Rispone across the finish line. Edwards predicted as much during his own rally in Shreveport Thursday, expressing confidence voters wouldn’t allow the president to nationalize the election. "The voters of Louisiana are going to decide this election on Louisiana issues," Edwards said. "They don't need the president or anybody else to tell them how to vote."
'Corrupt': Congresswoman shreds The Hill for publishing conspiracy theories as 'opinion' columns. (Daily Kos, November 16, 2019)
A Washington-based reporter and Fox News personality who had until recently been working at the politics outlet The Hill, John Solomon, 52, is not well known outside conservative media. But, according to interviews and testimony, his writing and commentary helped trigger the chain of events that are now the subject of the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump. Mr. Solomon’s work has been endorsed by some of the most influential figures on the right like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and the president, who has highlighted Mr. Solomon’s articles on Twitter.
The spread of Solomon’s work, according to media experts who spoke to the Times, is a near-perfect example of how rightwing media isn’t actually an echo chamber … it’s an ecosystem. Here’s how it works.
'This whole hearing turned on a dime': The Trump catastrophe even Fox News couldn't ignore. (Daily Kos, November 16, 2019)
On Friday, as Trump lashed out at a seasoned U.S. diplomat in the midst of her sworn congressional testimony, Fox News was doing what every other actual news outlet in the nation was doing—covering the impeachment hearings. Trump's witness bullying was a bombshell most Fox anchors would have ignored on any other day. But because House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff stopped the hearing to read Trump's tweets and ask Yovanovitch if she wanted to respond, Trump's intimidation became part of a hearing Fox was already covering.
"This whole hearing turned on a dime when the president tweeted about her in real time," noted Fox anchor Brett Baier.  "That enabled Schiff to then characterize that tweet as intimidating the witness or tampering with the witness, which is a crime. Adding essentially an article of impeachment real time." In other words, Trump singlehandedly authored another article of impeachment. Wow, now that is some stunning straight talk on Fox.
5 key takeaways from testimony by former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch (ABC News, November 15, 2019)
Ex-Ukraine ambassador says "foreign corrupt interests" orchestrated ouster — live updates. (5-min. video; CBS News, November 15, 2019)
Marie "Masha" Yovanovitch appeared Friday before the House Intelligence Committee in the second public hearing in the impeachment inquiry. Over the course of more than six hours, she said she was given no reason for her abrupt removal from Kiev and did not know why she was targeted by Rudy Giuliani.
Republicans at the hearing praised her service and largely avoided casting doubt on her account, instead criticizing Democrats for their handling of the proceedings and questioning the relevance of Yovanovitch's testimony, given that she was dismissed before the events at the center of the Ukraine affair. Democrats said her experience showed that U.S. foreign policy had been co-opted by a rogue faction that was led by Giuliani and abetted by other U.S. diplomats.
As she was testifying, the president tweeted a new attack targeting her, claiming that "everywhere Yovanovitch went turned bad," seemingly blaming her for instability in dangerous foreign countries where she has been posted over her 33-year career. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the president's attacks were tantamount to witness intimidation.
"I want to let you know, ambassador, that some of us here take witness intimidation very, very seriously," Schiff said.
“Dirty trickster” Roger Stone convicted on all counts in Mueller indictment. (Ars Technica, November 15, 2019)
Former Trump campaign adviser found guilty of witness intimidation, lies, and obstruction.
After his indictment, Stone was banned by Judge Amy Berman Jackson from using social media after he posted a photo of Judge Jackson in cross-hairs on his Instagram account. Stone had been banned from Twitter after inflammatory posts in 2017. Stone violated Judge Jackson's order 11 times since February.
NEW: Secret Service Records Contradict Trump’s Claim on Doral G-7. (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, November 15, 2019)
CREW received records from the United States Secret Service that, along with emails from Doral city officials, undermine President Trump’s dubious claim that members of the Secret Service wanted the 2020 G-7 Summit to be hosted at Trump’s Doral resort in Miami. The reality appears to be quite different, with the Secret Service instead expressing reluctance, saying “the property does present[] some challenges,” followed by a redaction that implies security concerns. The records also seem to show that Doral was added for consideration at the last minute, saying “[b]y departure, they had already cut two (California and North Carolina) and added Miami on the back end.” Taken together, the records that CREW obtained call into question nearly every aspect of Trump’s justification of his choice.
Trump leaned heavily on a claim that after an exhaustive search, members of the government preferred Doral, saying “When my people came back…They went to places all over the country. And they came back and they said, ‘This [Doral] is where we would like to be.’ Now we had military people doing it. We had Secret Service people doing it.”
White House releases new Trump-Zelensky transcript revealing its initial call readout was all lies. (Daily Kos, November 15, 2019)
Burning Out (Longreads, November 15, 2019)
Search and rescue teams train for the worst conditions. But the worst conditions are getting worse. Are they ready for the next big disaster?
Ghost ships, crop circles, and soft gold: A GPS mystery in Shanghai
(MIT Technology Review, November 15, 2019)
A sophisticated new electronic warfare system is being used at the world’s busiest port. But is it sand thieves or the Chinese state behind it?
Trump tries to sell D.C. hotel, promising big profits from foreign visitors and government business. (Daily Kos, November 14, 2019)
There are still lawsuits underway which accuse Trump of violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which forbids all office holders, especially the president of the United States, from accepting gifts or other income from foreign countries while in office. What would the founders have thought about a Saudi lobbyist paying for 500 rooms at Trump’s D.C. hotel immediately after he won the election Electoral College?
Wanting to find a way out of these lawsuits might be a reason to sell, but is there more going on here? Based on recent elections and voter registration data, Donald Trump, and Republicans in general, are in danger of losing in 2020. Surely that hotel will get a lot less popular if he loses and the MAGA types lose their appetite for overpriced rooms and steaks. But there have been other recent decisions by the Trump Organization that seem to indicate something bigger might be going on here.
In its Comments thread:
- Heading for yet another bankruptcy?  Note that Trump and his organization do not actually own most of these properties.  His creditors do.  What Trump does own and where he gets most of his revenue is his brand, and that has been sharply devalued during his term of office.  When Trump and his family are finally put out of office, they may also be out of business.
- That lease for Trump’s DC Hotel was broken the day that Trump was sworn in as President. It contains a clause that states that it cannot be used by a government official for a commercial, for-profit, business. One of his first hires as head of the GSA was a guy that wrote an opinion that exonerated him from keeping that hotel even though the lease said that it was illegal. I would like to know if the GSA man is under Nancy Palosi’s radar for the House emoluments case against Trump.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the single leading source of anti-vax ads on Facebook. (Ars Technica, November 14, 2019)
Researchers dig into Facebook's ad library.
Before Chomsky, there was Lippmann: the First World War and ‘manufactured consent’. (18-min. video; Aeon, November 14, 2019)
Walter Lippman contended that, because the world is too complex for any individual to comprehend, a strong society needs people and institutions specialised in collecting data and creating the most accurate interpretations of reality possible. When used properly, this information should allow decisionmakers to ‘manufacture consent’ in the public interest. However, in one of the most damning critiques of democracy, Lippman identifies how public opinion is instead largely forged by political elites with self-serving interests – powerful people manipulating narratives to their own ends.
Finding Truth Online Is Hard Enough.
Censors Make It A Labyrinth. (New York Times Magazine, November 13, 2019)
On Saturday, April 29, 2017, Turkey banned Wikipedia. This came as a shock, even in a country with a history of banning everything from novels (Albert Camus’s “The Plague,” from public schools in 1987) to films (“Nymphomaniac,” in 2014) to entire genres of music (arabesk, from state channels in the ’70s and ’80s).
The Turks were perhaps more prepared than many to deal with two of the most bewildering new features of what is now our shared global predicament: the chaos of the internet and the populist subterfuge of one-man regimes. But in recent years, both have accelerated to a scary degree in Turkey. What was once a semi-predictable stranglehold on official information has become a chaotic, repressive race to protect Erdogan’s interests.
After so many years of censorship, who is to say what anyone really feels or believes in Turkey anymore? By what method would anyone even gather and represent those feelings? During the Istanbul mayoral election, the country surprised itself, and its citizens surprised one another. During the war in Syria, it has made sense to ask how much of the country does not reflexively support Erdogan’s foreign war. There is no way to know. A heavily censored society not only loses access to information; it ceases to know itself. The greatest loss the Turks face under Erdogan might be their knowledge of one another.
NEW: Air pollution nanoparticles linked to brain cancer for first time. (The Guardian, November 13, 2019)
Tiny particles produced by motor traffic can invade the brain and carry carcinogens.

The research analysed the medical records and pollution exposure of 1.9 million adult Canadians from 1991 to 2016. Such large studies provide strong evidence, though not a causal link. Weichenthal said the correlation seen between brain cancer and nanoparticles was "surprisingly consistent", but as this is the first study, it is important that other researchers replicate it.
The discovery of abundant toxic nanoparticles from air pollution in human brains was made in 2016. A comprehensive global review earlier in 2019 concluded that air pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually every cell in the human body. Toxic air has been linked to other effects on the brain, including huge reductions in intelligence, dementia and mental health problems in both adults and children.
NEW: Venice Suffers Worst Flooding in 50 Years, Mayor Blames Climate Change. (Live Science, November 12, 2019)
Late on Tuesday (Nov. 12), high tides from the surrounding lagoon surged onto the more than 100 islands that make up Venice, flooding 85% of the city and damaging artwork and many historic sites, Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted. Photos and videos posted on social media show the intense flood turning alleyways into rushing rivers, stranding large water taxis in public plazas, and drenching some of the city's most iconic historic sites — including St. Mark's Basilica, completed in 1092. According to the local tide monitoring center, water levels from the flood peaked at 6.1 feet (1.87 meters) last night — the highest floodwaters in more than 50 years, and the second highest ever recorded in Venice. (The tide reached 6.3 feet, or 1.94 m, in November 1966.)
Venice is susceptible to some flooding — or "aqua alta," as it's regionally known — every year when high tides mix with heavy rain and strong winds. However, Brugnaro noted, yesterday's intense surge was exceptional, and almost certainly linked to the increasingly powerful storms fueled by global warming. Of the 10 highest tides in Venice since record-keeping began in 1923, five have occurred in the last 20 years, including the current flood and one in 2018. Both events were tied to strong storm surges blowing northeastward across the Adriatic Sea (Venice is located on the northern seashore), thanks in part to changing patterns in the jet stream. These jet-stream patterns are likely to continue, leading to more frequent and intense storms, as climate change escalates
NEW: A Racial Justice Guide to Thanksgiving. (Center for Racial Justice in Education, November 12, 2019)
As we enter this holiday season, this resource is intended to support educators and families as we address the true story of Thanksgiving. This guide provides resources that range from lesson plans to narratives that uplift the perspectives and contributions of the Native American community.
Israel Kills Senior Islamic Jihad Commander in Gaza. (New York Times, November 12, 2019)
Israel described the Gaza commander, Baha Abu al-Ata, as a “ticking bomb” who was “responsible for most of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s activity in the Gaza Strip.”
Before 6 a.m., militants in Gaza began firing barrages of rockets toward southern and central Israel from the Palestinian coastal enclave. Islamic Jihad called the Israeli strike “a declaration of war against the Palestinian people” and said, “Our response to this crime will have no limits.”
Don’t Get Confused By The Ukraine Scandal: Here Are The Key Facts. (
Huffington Post, November 12, 2019)
It seems like it’s getting more complicated, but it really isn’t.
In private speech, Bolton suggests some of Trump's foreign policy decisions are guided by personal interest. (5-min. video; NBC News, November 12, 2019)
Former national security adviser John Bolton derided President Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law during a private speech last week and suggested his former boss’ approach to U.S. policy on Turkey is motivated by personal or financial interests. Bolton also questioned the merits of Trump applying his business acumen to foreign policy, saying such issues can’t be approached like the win-or-lose edict that drives real estate deals: When one deal doesn’t work, you move on to the next.
The description was part of a broader portrait Bolton outlined of a president who lacks an understanding of the interconnected nature of relationships in foreign policy and the need for consistency.
Bolton's pointed comments, at a private gathering last Wednesday at Morgan Stanley’s global investment event in Miami, painted a dark image of a president and his family whose potential personal gain is at the heart of decision-making, according to people who were present for his remarks. Bolton is a potential linchpin witness in the inquiry into Trump’s efforts to elicit help from the Ukrainian government to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, given his central role in the White House during that time. The impeachment inquiry moves to public testimony this week.
The Impeachment Of Donald Trump Is Starting. Here’s What To Know.
(Huffington Post, November 12, 2019)
The proceedings will be televised and give the most visible look yet at the effort to impeach the president.
Leaked Emails Show Stephen Miller Is Exactly Who You Think He Is. (Huffington Post, November 12, 2019)
Emails sent to Breitbart editors promoted white nationalism and xenophobia, and bemoaned opposition to Confederate symbols.
US violated Constitution by searching phones for no good reason, judge rules.
(Ars Technica, November 12, 2019)
ICE and Customs violated 4th Amendment with suspicionless searches, ruling says.
NEW: EPA pushes ahead with effort to restrict the science it uses to craft regulations. (Washington Post, November 12, 2019)
The Environmental Protection Agency is pushing forward with a policy that could limit the science the agency uses to underpin regulations, a change long sought by conservatives but derided by many scientists and public health experts as an effort to stifle reliance on research into the harmful effects of pollution on Americans.
"Vague appeals to transparency do not warrant the agency impairing its use of quality science," one critic says.
NEW: The EPA’s Move to Handcuff Scientists Will Sicken and Kill People. (Union of Concerned Scientists, November 11, 2019)
"This is a blatant removal of well-established science from the policymaking process, to the benefit of polluters and at a huge cost to the marginalized communities who face the biggest threat from pollution," said Andrew Rosenberg, Director of the UCS Center for Science and Democracy. "There’s no scientific reason or public interest to restricting the science that EPA can consider in this way - it will just make the laws that protect public health and the environment nearly impossible to carry out."
Once the rule is published, the public will have thirty days to provide comment on a narrow set of questions related to a proposal that would completely transform how the EPA makes decisions. No public hearings are scheduled, presumably because the last time they did a public hearing, scientists poked holes in every part of the proposal, essentially calling it some kind of sick joke.
The proposal comes directly from tobacco industry lobbyists, who previously, and unsuccessfully, tried to get Congress to pass similar legislation. The fatally flawed proposal is legally and scientifically indefensible. The EPA now seems poised to make it even worse.
Nearly two years after disgraced Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the proposal, the EPA is unable to identify what problem they are trying to solve. The agency is unable to provide any information about how this radical change to the use of science by the agency would affect public health. There is still no information on how much this unnecessary exercise would cost, nor who would pay for it. The EPA has no clear idea on their authority to do this.
Google’s ‘Project Nightingale’ Gathers Personal Health Data on Millions of Americans. (Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2019)
Search giant is amassing health records from Ascension facilities in 21 states; patients not yet informed.
NEW: The Unparalleled Genius of John von Neumann (Medium, November 11, 2019)
“Most mathematicians prove what they can; von Neumann proves what he wants.”
NEW:
Dan Rather: President Trump's support seems cultish. (CNN, November 11, 2019)
"Increasingly, President Trump's support seems cultish," legendary journalist Dan Rather says. "It's all about him, it's not about the policy, it's not about standards of politics." Rather expresses doubt that Senate Republicans will break with Trump, so Brian Stelter asks him if Mitch McConnell is part of the "cult."
Republican: You Can’t Impeach Trump for a Crime He Does ‘All the Time’. (New York Magazine, November 11, 2019)
“It is inappropriate for a president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival,” Thornberry conceded. Nonetheless, he argued for acquittal. Leaning hard into Republican objections to the impeachment process, Thornberry argued that the entire impeachment proceeding is null and void, however damning the evidence may be. Batting away a question about his focus on “process,” Thornberry replied: “And process — you know, you all always want to say substance, not process. There’s a reason we let murderers and robbers and rapists go free when their due process rights have been violated.”
Impeachment: how Trump's hardball tactics put the Constitution in peril. (The Guardian, November 9, 2019)
Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence committee, told reporters this week the executive branch refusal to cooperate amounted to evidence of obstruction of the inquiry, suggesting Trump, like Nixon, might face an article of impeachment along those lines. “The White House excuses keep changing,” Schiff said. “First it was: the House hasn’t held a vote. Then, a claim of immunity never upheld by a court. Now they want their lawyers to participate, which is against the rules Republicans wrote. It doesn’t add up – except as evidence of obstruction.”
Dems release testimony of White House officials who raised Ukraine alarms. (ABC News, November 8, 2019)
Transcripts of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill were made public. The two top White House officials said they were so disturbed by the Trump administration’s handling of Ukrainian policy that they reported their concerns directly to National Security Council Legal Adviser John Eisenberg, at one point relaying concerns that U.S.-Ukraine interactions were akin to a “drug deal” being cooked up by the White House chief of staff.
Trump Came SO CLOSE To Getting Ukraine To Do His Bidding. Trump Defenders Grasping At Disposable Straws.
(8-min. video: The Young Turks, November 8, 2019)
In the face of growing, and increasingly overwhelming, evidence of a quid pro quo over Ukraine, Trump’s defenders are grasping ever-more desperately at inane, bizarre and often risible justifications for the president’s actions. Case in point: South Carolina Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who recently offered up two “defenses” of Trump, each patently comical in their own way.
As Cenk and Ana discuss in this clip, Graham has chosen a - shall we say - interesting explanation for why EU ambassador Gordon Sondland has asked to revise his original testimony in front of House committees from “I wasn’t aware of any quid pro quo” to “Oh yeah, there was definitely a quid pro quo.” Sondland’s change of heart arose after many others in the administration offered damning evidence that contradicted with Sondland’s, and he clearly saw the possibility of a perjury charge in his future. But that’s not how Lindsey Graham sees it - Graham instead has floated a bizarre conspiracy that House Dems like Adam Schiff somehow “got to” Sondland. Although, as Ana notes, Graham for some reason seems to think his name is “Sunderland,” which it isn’t.
The other crazy justification may have a little more validity, at least according to Cenk. Graham told reporters that Trump couldn’t possibly have demanded a quid pro quo from Ukraine because the administration’s Ukraine policy is too incoherent. Or, as Ana puts it, “Trump is too stupid to do a quid pro quo.” Cenk loves this defense as well, wondering if this is sufficient evidence to conclusively prove that people who hang out with Trump become more stupid by osmosis, citing as another corroborating data point: Rudy Giuliani.
Someone went into Barnes & Noble and replaced the covers of Trump Jr.'s new book. (Daily Kos, November 8, 2019)
Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump. (The Hill, November 7, 2019)
Senate Republicans discover their silver impeachment bullet is backfiring. (Daily Kos, November 7, 2019)
It wasn't supposed to be like this. After House Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry, Republicans were supposed to be able to flail around wildly hurling words like "witch hunt" and "socialist" and "Soviet," at which point frenzied GOP voters would rush to the polls and deliver whopping, stinging electoral defeats to Democrats. That was the plan—and even the conventional wisdom—until Tuesday, when Democrats bested Republicans in yet another off-year election as we move toward the all-important 2020 presidential contest.
Actually, voters did go to the polls in droves but, if there was a motivating factor, it seemed more about sending Trump the signal that many, many Americans are damn sick and tired of watching him defile our republic. There is simply no other way to read the results in Virginia, where turnout surged from 29% in 2015 to nearly 40% four years later and delivered control of both legislative chambers to Democrats. Some observers wondered whether scandals that have plagued Democrats in Virginia's executive branch might offset some of the anti-Trump fervor. Nope. The issues were also clearly on the side of Democratic candidates in Virginia, but the notable spike in turnout seems to be as much a product of anti-Trump rage voting as anything else.
And in Kentucky, no amount of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin railing against impeachment and Trump begging voters to protect his reputation could save a candidate who Kentuckians despise, though Bevin has not conceded defeat to Democrat Andy Beshear yet. Turnout also surged in Kentucky to 42%, 11 points above what the secretary of state had projected.
Trump just lost his last impeachment defense: Bombshell evidence of quid pro quo. (6-min. video; The Young Turks, November 7, 2019)
Trump tax cuts hiked the deficit, now $1 trillion, so guess what Republicans want for 2020? (USA Today's Editorial Board, November 7, 2019)
The 2017 tax cuts produced only a brief sugar high for the economy. America can't afford Round 2!
Trump ordered to pay $2M after misusing his charity in 'shocking pattern of illegality'. (3-min. video; MSNBC, November 7, 2019)
President Donald Trump must pay a $2 million judgment for improperly using his Trump Foundation to further his 2016 presidential campaign, a New York state judge ruled Thursday. The order appears to bring to an end the New York attorney general's lawsuit against the president and three of his adult children over the now-shuttered foundation, which the attorney general alleged had engaged in repeated "self-dealing."
Bill Gates challenges Elizabeth Warren to discuss wealth tax, and she calls his bluff. (Daily Kos, November 7, 2019)
NEW: Taking a Different Approach to Fighting Climate Change. (New York Times, November 7, 2019)
Inequality is a big contributor to climate change.
Could the world cope if GPS stopped working? (BBC, November 6, 2019)
Knowing that you're lost is one thing; being wrongly convinced you know where you are is another problem altogether.
How terrible software design decisions led to Uber’s deadly 2018 crash. (Ars Technica, November 6, 2019)
NTSB says the system "did not include consideration for jaywalking pedestrians."
NEW: William Barr is racing to deliver a report that blows up the impeachment inquiry—and everything else. (Daily Kos, November 6, 2019)
Barr appears to have taken the results of an inspector general report that was expected to end weeks ago, rolled it together with the investigation-into-the-investigation that he launched under the nominal control of prosecutor John Durham, and capped it all with the “findings” of a world tour that included attempts to get the Australian government, the Italian government, and the U.K. government to participate in attacks on U.S. intelligence agencies. What’s going to come out the other end could be a dud, but it could launch an effort to derail the impeachment process—and more.
Election Results 2019: Democrats Take Control of Virginia Legislature. (Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2019)
Democrats now have a trifecta, giving them unified control of both chambers and governor’s office.
3 takeaways from the stunning victory for Democrats in Kentucky (maybe) and Virginia yesterday (Boston Globe, November 6, 2019)
Senate president: Kentucky governor's race could be decided by state legislature. (Louisville KY Courier Journal, November 6, 2019)
Congrats, Gov.-Elect Andy Beshear! Kentucky dumps Matt Bevin, despite Trump's selfish pleas. (Daily Kos, November 5, 2019)
New York City just became the largest place in America to adopt instant-runoff voting (also known as ranked-choice voting). (Daily Kos, November 5, 2019)
A recent special election for public advocate took place without any primary or runoff and saw the winner prevail with just 33% in a field of 17 candidates, an outcome that will no longer be possible. Given the city's prominence in the media, this switch could accelerate the adoption of instant runoffs elsewhere as more citizens become aware of how the system works.
NEW: Activists Blockade Shipment of Tar Sands Pipeline. (Portland Rising Tide, November 5, 2019)
Community members from Oregon and Washington have shut down part of the Port of Vancouver, WA to block a shipment of pipeline that is destined for the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion (TMX) project in Canada that would run from Edmonton to Vancouver, B.C. This latest action is the third in a series of actions targeting the Port of Vancouver, WA for its role in transporting dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure.
Six climbers have locked themselves to the dock where the shipment is to be off-loaded in order to prevent the pipeline pipes from making it to their final destination in Vancouver, B.C. They are supported by dozens of kayakers and other boaters who are rallying to tell the Port of Vancouver, Governor Inslee, and Prime Minister Trudeau to stop this dangerous fossil fuel project that is jeopardizing a livable future for everyone on this planet.
Kiera, a climber blocking the ship dock, said, “The hypocrisy of the Port of Vancouver is embarrassing. The Port Commissioners should be ashamed — they claim to be environmental stewards concerned about climate catastrophe, yet they are enabling the dirtiest pipeline project in the world by allowing this pipe to pass through the port.”
An activist with Portland Rising Tide, Rachel Walsh, said, “I’m here because tar sands crude transported by the Trans Mountain Expansion project would require three times more water for extracting and refining and would release 15% more greenhouse gas per gallon of gasoline when compared with conventional oil. We are also taking action in solidarity with Fort McKay First Nations who are suing the Alberta government because tar sands expansion threatens sacred land that the government promised to protect.”
When America Tried to Deport Its Radicals (New Yorker, November 4, 2019)
A hundred years ago, the Palmer Raids imperilled thousands of immigrants. Then a wily official got in the way.
Republicans Seek to Swamp Democratic Offices With Anti-Impeachment Calls. (New York Times, November 4, 2019)
The Republican National Committee’s effort was meant to tie up phone lines of congressional Democrats as part of a broader plan to defend the president.
NEW: MSNBC’s former Republican Rep. David Jolly: Today’s Republican Party Is ‘Spineless Politicians Rotten to the Core’. (2-min. video; Breitbart, November 4, 2019)
"These are, in today’s Republican party, spineless politicians, rotten to the core without virtue, without any level of human integrity, devoid of self-respect, self-reflection, without courage, and without the moral compass to recognize their own malevolence. And one day, maybe, they will have the recognition of how they failed the country and themselves in this moment, but that would be giving them credit that somewhere down deep they have the goodness to recognize how to reconcile their own failings with what is right and just in American politics—and frankly, what is right and wrong in the eyes of adults and children alike.”
A federal appeals court just demolished Trump’s claim that he is immune from criminal investigation. (Vox, November 4, 2019)
One of Trump’s most audacious legal claims had a terrible day in court.
Less than two weeks ago, President Trump’s personal attorney William Consovoy stood before a panel of federal appellate judges and told them that the president is immune from criminal investigation even if Trump shoots someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue. It didn’t take long for that panel to reject this extraordinary argument. On Monday, an unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that Trump is not immune from such investigations. The case is Trump v. Vance.
Vance arises from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s effort to secure many of Trump’s financial documents from Trump’s accounting firm, including his tax forms. Vance seeks these documents as part of a fairly broad-reaching criminal investigation that may ultimately implicate Trump himself, but that may also only wind up implicating some of Trump’s companies or his business associates.
Vance’s investigation is a state investigation and is entirely separate from the House impeachment inquiry. Indeed, Trump’s lawyers argued that one reason why Trump should be immune from this investigation is because it is being conducted by state officials and not the federal government.
Yet, as Chief Judge Robert Katzmann, a Clinton appointee, explains for his court, Trump’s immunity claim is especially weak because Vance seeks personal documents that are unrelated to Trump’s conduct in office. Though prior Supreme Court decisions establish that the president enjoys “absolute immunity from damages liability predicated on his official acts,” this case does not involve Trump’s conduct in office. Nor does it even involve an “order that compels the President himself to do anything.”
Microsoft's Hybrid 2.0 strategy: Azure Arc, Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack Edge explained (ZDNet, November 4, 2019)
At Ignite 2019, Microsoft is announcing new branding and a new strategy meant to make Azure the place IT pros will manage their edge, on-premises and multi-cloud software and services. Here's my best attempt to demystify the new hybrid announcements.
NEW: Four White House witnesses skip depositions for House impeachment inquiry. (4-min. video; MSNBC, November 4, 2019)
National Security Council Legal Advisers John Eisenberg and Michael Ellis, Senior Adviser to the Acting Chief of Staff Robert Blair, and Office of Management and Budget Staffer Brian McCormack were all scheduled to testify to the three House committees investigating an impeachment inquiry.
The White House ordered them not to testify.
White House lawyer defies House subpoena; Trump sees ‘no reason’ to summon witnesses on Ukraine call. (Washington Post, November 4, 2019)
Lawmakers wanted to question John Eisenberg, the deputy counsel on the National Security Council, about what transpired after President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Nine things we learned from the New York Times series on Trump’s Twitter habits. (Boston Globe, November 4, 2019)
Donald Trump has exploited social media like no other US president, using it as a springboard to change policy.
NEW: Gov. Newsom fires back at Trump's Twitter threat to cut off California's wildfire aid. (Daily Kos, November 3, 2019)
NYT reviewed all of Trump's tweets. Conclusion: He's a vicious, narcissistic, dictator-loving loon. (Daily Kos, November 3, 2019)
What did the paper of record find? A lot of what you’ve probably already concluded. He loves dictators, isn’t so fond of our traditional allies, likes to insult people, loves himself, hates minorities.
Nearly two-thirds of US voters say Trump has not made them better off. (Financial Times, November 3, 2019)
FT-Peterson poll casts doubt on whether economic arguments will boost president’s campaign.
White House calls claim that Jared Kushner gave Saudi ruler permission to arrest Jamal Khashoggi before journalist was killed and dismembered 'false nonsense'. (UK Daily Mail, November 3, 2019)
- White House calls claim in British conservative news magazine's gossip column  that Jared Kushner green-lighted Jamal Khashoggi's arrest.
- Article claims more whistle-blowers have come forward to Democrat-led House of Representatives with claims of wrongdoing by Trump officials.
- Report says one whistle-blower is alleging that Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, approved Saudi plans to arrest Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- According to Spectator, Turkey intercepted call between Kushner and Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and then used it to gain leverage over Trump.
- Trump agreed to remove American troops from northern Syria after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
- White House official calls report 'false nonsense'.' Spectator acknowledged of its own report, 'whether any of this is true is another matter'.
Forget the habitable exoplanets—here are some of our galaxy’s freaks. (Ars Technica, November 2, 2019)
One of these worlds is darker than coal, with an atmosphere as hot as lava.
Children were told to ‘build the wall’ at White House Halloween party. (Yahoo News, November 2, 2019)
Trump’s proposed border wall has drawn criticism for its cost and because opponents argue his rhetoric toward Latino immigrants is racist, an accusation Trump has denied. Former officials told Yahoo News they thought the “Build the Wall” display at the EEOB Halloween party was disturbing.
“To the extent the wall is just a xenophobic symbol, this is obviously a gross thing to have children do,” Ben Rohrbaugh, who worked on National Security Council on border security in the Obama administration, told Yahoo News. “To the extent it’s a representation of an actual wall on the southwest border, the kids have made nearly as much progress as the president has since 2017.”
NEW: Could Decreasing Inflammation Be the Cure for Everything? (AARP, November 1, 2019)
Managing your body's immune response is key to diseases of aging.
NEW: How Mengzi came up with something better than the Golden Rule (Aeon, November 1, 2019)
Care about me not because you can imagine what you would selfishly want if you were me. Care about me because you see how I am not really so different from others you already love.
“Floridian” Trump may not qualify, and his NY audit just got more interesting and personal. (Daily Kos, November 1, 2019)

NEW: How Daylight Saving Time Affects Health (Associated Press, November 1, 2019)
Here's what science has to say about a twice-yearly ritual affecting nearly 2 billion people worldwide.
All hands, abandon ship! I repeat all hands abandon ship as Fox News staff jump overboard. (Daily Kos, October 31, 2019)
White House Backing Off Proposed Fuel-Efficiency Freeze. (Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2019)
Trump administration plans for annual efficiency increases of 1.5%; rule likely to come by year’s end.
The DNA database used to find the Golden State Killer is a national security leak waiting to happen. (MIT Technology Review, October 29, 2019)
Here’s how spies could use a crowd-sourced genetic ancestry service to compromise your privacy—even if you’re not a member.
WhatsApp is suing the world’s top hacking company. (
MIT Technology Review, October 29, 2019)
One of the most powerful tech firms on earth takes on the Israeli cyber surveillance firm NSO Group.
New poll shows why Trump’s defenders are more focused on impeachment process than substance. (Washington Post, October 29, 2019)
Most polls have asked Americans in specific terms what they think of President Trump requesting that his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky order an investigation into Joe Biden’s son. A new national survey from Grinnell College, conducted by the respected Iowa pollster Ann Selzer, probes public attitudes in more plain language – and gets revealing results.
"Is it okay with you or not okay for political candidates in the U.S. to ask for assistance from a foreign government to help them win an election?" In response to that question, only 7 percent of U.S. adults say it’s okay. Eighty-one percent say it is not okay. More than 80 percent of self-identified Republicans, evangelicals and rural dwellers say it’s not okay for a president to ask for assistance from a foreign government to help win an election.
This helps explain why Trump defenders on Capitol Hill have fixated more on complaining about the impeachment process than offering a substantive defense of Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine or his public call for China, from the White House lawn, to investigate the Bidens. The rough transcript of the July 25 call released by Trump shows the president asking explicitly for a "favor" right after Zelensky raised the subject of military aid to Ukraine. Additional reporting, along with sworn testimony from administration officials, has established that this was part of a broader campaign to compel Kyiv to help Trump tar Democrats generally and Biden specifically.
Last week, even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the rare step of distancing himself from a tweet by Trump that likened his impeachment to "a lynching."
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) said on Monday that they will join Mitt Romney in not co-sponsoring a resolution spearheaded by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to condemn the House’s impeachment process.
Russians are meddling in the Democratic primary. Is anyone paying attention? (Washington Post, October 29, 2019)
Contrary to the aims of a traditional intelligence operation, discovery and attribution will be the point, derailing the primary with news of yet another Russian disinformation campaign and driving a wedge between the Democratic factions. As media coverage mounts, Trump will feel justified in launching an investigation, ensuring that his political rivals are not “profiting” from the efforts of a foreign power (and possibly distracting from other operations working to his own benefit.) All the old narratives will be turned on their head. It will be Democrats, not Republicans, who suffer Russia as a campaign issue, no matter how loudly they disavow the operations conducted in their name.
Although foreign interference remains the gravest threat to the future of free and fair U.S. elections, the issue of foreign interference represents a counterproductive and potentially dangerous one for the Democratic primary. Democratic campaigns must give each other the benefit of the doubt. If they use the existence of foreign influence operations to score cheap political points against fellow Democrats, it will be the party — and the country — that ultimately pays the price.
NEW: Baghdadi's death: More details emerge from US raid. (CNN, October 29, 2019)
White House Ukraine Expert Sought to Correct Transcript of Trump Call. (New York Times, October 29, 2019)
Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, who heard President Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s president and was alarmed, testified that he tried and failed to add key details to the rough transcript. The omissions, Colonel Vindman said, included Mr. Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussing Ukraine corruption, and an explicit mention by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, of Burisma Holdings, the energy company whose board employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter.
Colonel Vindman, who appeared on Capitol Hill wearing his dark blue Army dress uniform and military medals, told House impeachment investigators that he tried to change the reconstructed transcript made by the White House staff to reflect the omissions. But while some of his edits appeared to have been successful, he said, those two corrections were not made.

Sea-level rise could flood hundreds of millions more than expected. (MIT Technology Review, October 29, 2019)
Princeton researchers found that far more people are living closer to the ocean than previously believed.
Rising Seas Will Erase More Cities by 2050, New Research Shows. (
New York Times, October 29, 2019)
Some 150 million people are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by mid-century, according to scientists.
New Declaration of War (Daily Kos, October 28, 2019)
I live in Humboldt County. We’ve had our power shut off twice now, even though we’re not in a fire area. Here are my thoughts: Like all natural monopolies, the People should own the power grid. And Water. And Roads,  and Cable Internet. The people who run our utilities need to be answerable to US, not to shareholders. If WE were in charge of our utilities, we would have allocated the funds where they should have gone, instead of in someone’s pocket.
Slap anyone who asks "how are we going to pay for it?" That’s a straw man. When we want to do something — anything — like going to war, or giving tax breaks to zillionaires, we ALWAYS find the money. Always. Every single time. Remember when the Iraq war was estimated to cost $85 million. Real cost? Last I heard, CBO said $2.4 trillion. TRILLION.
I say, we "declare war" on the Climate Crisis, and spend whatever the heck it takes to win that war.
PG&E outages: Almost 2 million Californians could face blackouts Tuesday. (San Francisco Chronicle, October 28, 2019)
The warning came even as PG&E issued the all-clear Monday to start restoring power to the bulk of the 970,000 customers whose electricity was shut down over the weekend as part of the utility’s wildfire prevention efforts. As of Monday evening, PG&E had restored power to 375,000, or roughly 39% of those customers; progress varied greatly, from none in Alpine and Yuba counties to 95% in Colusa County, according to PG&E. Some people who lost power over the weekend may not have it restored until Friday.
Trump turns announcement of ISIS leader's death into disturbing rant, says U.S. will take Syrian oil. (Daily Kos, October 27, 2019)
Trump delivered his speech with such bloody glee, that clips of it could be used for any number of terrorist recruiting videos. He repeatedly returned to claims that al-Baghdadi had “screamed, cried, and whimpered,” that he had “run like a dog, like a coward.” And, according to Trump, the ISIS founder was eventually pursued into a dead-end tunnel by dogs brought to the compound by U.S. forces. He then died by setting off a suicide vest. In the process he also killed three children.
No one mourns al-Baghdadi. The level of fanaticism, intolerance, and violence he brought to ISIS was disturbing even to other terrorist leaders. However, the way that Trump painted his end, including his emphasis on the use of dogs, his calling al-Baghdadi a dog, and repeatedly talking about the ISIS leader crying and screaming … will not go down well in the Middle East. Additionally, the idea that al-Baghdadi ultimately evaded capture and died by his own hand will also be seen as a “victory” of sort by his followers.

NEW: Inside the dramatic US military raid that killed ISIS leader Baghdadi (CNN, October 27, 2019)

Trump's announcement on Sunday morning was remarkable in its own right. He teased the news on Twitter the night before, saying "something very big just happened!" And in a contrast with Obama's sober address to the nation about bin Laden, Trump's freewheeling appearance before the cameras was filled with descriptions of gruesome imagery -- "his body was mutilated by the blast" -- and he openly mocked the terror leader, saying he died "whimpering and crying and screaming all the way."
With Baghdadi in their sights, U.S. troops launched a ‘dangerous and daring nighttime raid’ (Washington Post, October 27, 2019)
As President Trump and senior advisers settled into the Situation Room on Saturday evening, elite U.S. forces more than 6,000 miles away launched one of the most significant counterterrorism operations in the campaign against the Islamic State. Taking off in eight helicopters from Iraq, the troops flew over hostile territory for hundreds of miles in the early Sunday morning darkness.
Their target, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the brutal founder and leader of the Islamic State, was holed up in a compound in northwestern Syria with family members and terrorist associates, and the United States had been watching him for days. A tip from a disaffected Islamic State militant set the operation in motion, according to a U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive operation.
What followed was what Trump called a “dangerous and daring nighttime raid” that was carried off “in grand style.” It ended, he said, with Baghdadi fleeing from advancing U.S. forces into a dead-end tunnel and detonating a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children.
Kamala Harris drops out, then rejoins an Historically Black Colleges and Universities event after Trump honor. (ABC News, October 27, 2019)
"Let’s just deal with the elephant in the room which is the events of the last 24-48 hours," Harris said. "Mayor Benjamin called me and told me that it was shifting and it was going to change ... that it was only right and a reflection of this most honorable institution that
this event would be opened to students,, that it would not be a paid event and that everyone would be able to participate," Harris said.
Fellow presidential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said, "[Trump’s] remarks were offensive. Talking about being the best president ever for black people is an offensive lie, because he’s actually doing things to hurt the African-American community."
US Army finds that the 'military could collapse within twenty years' thanks to climate breakdown. (Daily Kos, October 26, 2019)
According to a new report prepared by the US Army and, commissioned by the Pentagon, found that the next couple of decades will be so chaotic due to a warming climate that we will be unable to adapt in time. Our inability to change will be the result of years of inaction by ‘leaders' who have kicked the proverbial can of worms down the road for future generations to solve.
The report predicts that within the next twenty years, our power grid infrastructure will be unable to adapt to the expected extreme temperatures that are bearing down upon us. During this time, people will be hungry, thirsty, and unable to cope with unbearable heat. The PGE crisis provides a glimpse into the future, Millions Of Californians Brace For Power Outages As Wildfires Ravage State.
The key players in the study were NASA, the military, and defense intelligence agencies, and they warned the Pentagon 'to urgently prepare for the possibility that domestic power, water, and food systems might collapse due to the impacts of climate change as we reach mid-century.'
California: A race against time to slow Sonoma fire before monster winds return (Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2019)
The Kincade fire has burned 21,900 acres in northern Sonoma County and was only 5% contained as of Friday afternoon. The entire town of Geyserville and vineyards in the region were ordered to evacuate, though some stayed, using generators for power. Fire officials said 49 structures, including 21 homes, were destroyed, and the Geysers geothermal facilities run by Calpine Corp. reported some damage.
Tomorrow, conditions are likely to worsen. The winds are expected to head down slope, reaching urban areas as far as Oakland, San Francisco and Sacramento. These winds are what brought devastation to rural communities in the foothills of the North Bay hills when fires struck in 2017. The Tubbs fire in Sonoma and Napa counties killed 22 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes.
The return of socialism is about the political divide. (The Hill, October 26, 2019)
Young people extolling socialism have caused conservatives to sound alarms about the direction the country is going. But the reappearance of socialism is more a sign of a wide partisan divide than it is evidence that people want to change America’s economic system.
When Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning spokespeople talk about socialism — or democratic socialism — they’re not talking about changing the means of production. When your college sophomore nephew expresses some sympathy for socialism at Thanksgiving dinner, he’ll likely be talking about just expanding the social welfare programs that already exist and maybe importing others from Europe. We’ve already got a lot of this kind of socialism in America. There’s Social Security and Medicare, and states keep mandating that businesses offer paid leave to employees. When the people on the left talk glowingly of socialism, they tend to talk about a socialism that is a couple large steps down the path of bigger government.
U.S. deficit hit $984 billion in 2019, soaring during Trump era. (Washington Post, October 25, 2019)
Budget experts say it is unprecedented for America’s deficit to expand this much during relatively good economic times.
In 2013, when federal debt totaled $16.7 trillion, Trump tweeted: “Obama is the most profligate deficit & debt spender in our nation’s history.” The federal government is now more than $22 trillion in debt, according to the White House.
The U.S. government’s budget deficit ballooned to nearly $1 trillion in 2019, the Treasury Department announced Friday, as the United States’ fiscal imbalance widened for a fourth consecutive year despite a sustained run of economic growth. The deficit grew $205 billion, or 26 percent, in the past year.
The country’s worsening fiscal picture runs in sharp contrast to President Trump’s campaign promise to eliminate the federal debt within eight years. The deficit is up nearly 50 percent in the Trump era. Since taking office, Trump has endorsed big spending increases and steered most Republicans to abandon the deficit obsession they held during the Obama administration.
Scientists Were Hunting for the Next Ebola. Now the U.S. Has Cut Off Their Funding. (New York Times, October 25, 2019)
Predict, a government research program, sought to identify animal viruses that might infect humans and to head off new pandemics.
Microsoft Wins Pentagon’s $10 Billion JEDI Contract, Thwarting Amazon. (New York Times, October 25, 2019)
The decision was a surprise because Amazon had been considered the front-runner, in part because it had built cloud services for the Central Intelligence Agency. But that was before Mr. Trump became publicly hostile to Mr. Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. The president often refers to the newspaper as the “Amazon Washington Post” and has accused it of spreading “fake news.” In public, Mr. Trump said there were other “great companies” that should have a chance at the contract. But a speechwriter for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says in a book scheduled for publication next week that Mr. Trump had wanted to foil Amazon and give the contract to another company.
The issue quickly became radioactive at the Pentagon. The new defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, at first said he wanted to take several months to review the issue and then, a few days ago, recused himself from the bidding. He said he could not participate because his son worked for IBM, one of the competitors for the contract.
As recently as this month, the betting was that Microsoft would, at most, get only part of the contract and that the Pentagon would use multiple suppliers for its cloud services, as do many private companies. Microsoft was considered in the lead for other government cloud programs, including an intelligence contract; only recently has Microsoft opened enough classified server facilities to be able to handle data on the scale of the Pentagon contract.
Microsoft did not immediately have a comment. Amazon, which calls its cloud platform Amazon Web Services, or AWS, said in a statement that it was surprised by the decision. “AWS is the clear leader in cloud computing, and a detailed assessment purely on the comparative offerings clearly led to a different conclusion. We remain deeply committed to continuing to innovate for the new digital battlefield where security, efficiency, resiliency and scalability of resources can be the difference between success and failure.”
The award to Microsoft is likely to fuel suspicions that Mr. Trump may have weighed in privately as well as publicly against Amazon. Experts on federal contracting said it would be highly improper for a president to intervene in the awarding of a contract. Price Floyd, a former head of public affairs at the Pentagon who consulted briefly for Amazon, said he thought Mr. Trump’s vocal criticism of Amazon would give it ample grounds to protest the award to Microsoft. “He’s the commander in chief, and he hasn’t been subtle about his hostility toward Amazon,” Mr. Floyd said.
Microsoft’s win has implications for the cloud computing industry, in which businesses rent space on technology companies’ server computers, giving them cheap and fast access to storage and processing. Amazon has long been the dominant player, with about 45 percent of the market, trailed by Microsoft with around 25 percent.
Landing the JEDI contract puts Microsoft in a prime position to earn the roughly $40 billion that the federal government is expected to spend on cloud computing over the next several years, he said. Losing the bid is also a hit to the reputation of Amazon, which decided last year to open a large outpost in Northern Virginia that will eventually employ at least 25,000 people.
Pentagon awards controversial $10 billion cloud computing deal to Microsoft, spurning Amazon. (Washington Post, October 25, 2019)
The Pentagon awarded its controversial $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft Friday evening, spurning a bid from Amazon after President Trump expressed opposition to giving the lucrative award to a company led by Jeff Bezos, one of his longtime rivals.
Amazon was openly described by competitors and industry analysts as a clear front runner to win the massive award, due to its years of experience handling classified data for the CIA. The company this year chose to build a massive second headquarters, a few miles from the Pentagon’s campus.
After a lawsuit and bid protests from Oracle and IBM failed to block the award this summer, Amazon appeared poised to win the contract, partly because the military already had designated the company with the highest data management certification. Microsoft’s designation was below Amazon’s.
Update Complete: U.S. Nuclear Weapons No Longer Need Floppy Disks. (New York Times, October 24, 2019)
Rest easy, people of Earth: The United States’ nuclear arsenal will no longer rely on a computer system that uses eight-inch floppy disks, in an update the Defense Department has cast as a step into the future but which some observers might be surprised to learn was required at all. The system, called Strategic Automated Command and Control System, or SACCS, “is still in use today but no longer uses floppy disks,” David Faggard, a spokesman for the Air Force Global Strike Command, which manages the Air Force portion of the arsenal, said in an email. “Air Force Global Strike Command is committed to modernizing for the future.”
The update is part of a broader overhaul of the United States’ atomic weapons that began under President Barack Obama and has continued under President Trump. The move away from floppy disks was completed in June but was not widely reported at the time. It was reported last week by C4ISRNET, a website that covers military technology.
U.S. Military Could Collapse Within 20 Years Due to Climate Change, Report Commissioned By Pentagon Says. (Vice, October 24, 2019)
The report says a combination of global starvation, war, disease, drought, and a fragile power grid could have cascading, devastating effects.
We’ve officially annihilated a second strain of polio. Only one remains. (Ars Technica, October 24, 2019)
Still a tough road ahead, but we're getting closer.
Ivanka Trump tries to take credit for Kansas economy, state legislator torches her. (Daily Kos, October 24, 2019)
Ivanka Trump doesn’t bother with the facts. Instead, she points to the success of Kansas since the 2016 election. This misunderstanding of Kansas politics — which led to the election of a Democratic governor and Democratic US House members in 2018 — gets a big correction as Stephanie Clayton, once a Republican who switched parties after 2018, takes Ivanka down.
NEW: Don’t Count the Senate Out on Impeachment. (The Nation, October 24, 2019)
To convict Trump on impeachment charges, 20 GOP senators will need to break ranks. Here’s how that can happen.
‘The highest of high crimes’: Rudy Giuliani accidentally blows up Trump’s defense against impeachment on Twitter. (Raw Story, October 24, 2019)
Giuliani is contradicting himself here. He has previously described his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, the DNC, and the 2016 campaign as unrelated to his legal work. “I’m not acting as a lawyer,” Giuliani told The Atlantic last month of his activities in Ukraine. “I’m acting as someone who has devoted most of his life to straightening out government.”
But while Giuliani’s new version of events may help him if he wants to make a claim of attorney-client privilege, it actually makes Trump’s role in the scheme look even more damning than it already is. Legal experts argued that it only strengthened the case for impeachment.
“This merely confirms what was so outrageous: Giuliani wasn’t a representative or employee of the United States; his duty of loyalty was 100% to his (personal capacity) client. And yet Trump told Ukraine it had to dance to Rudy’s tune,” said Marty Lederman, a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center. “[A] a tune designed to advance Trump’s personal interests–in order to remain in the U.S.’s good graces (e.g., to secure access, aid, etc.). This is the highest of high crimes–using the leverage of his position as chief diplomat to advance his own interests.”
Fox News legal analyst surprises Fox & Friends by destroying impeachment talking points. (Daily Kos, October 24, 2019)
Andrew Napolitano: "As frustrating as it might be to have these hearings going on behind closed doors, the hearings over which Congressman Schiff is presiding, they are consistent with the rules. And when were the rules written last? In January of 2015. And who signed them? John Boehner. And who enacted them? A Republican majority.
WSJ editorial says Trump shouldn’t be impeached because he was too ‘inept’ to carry out quid pro quo. (Raw Story, October 24, 2019)

An editorial from the conservative Wall Street Journal argues that President Donald Trump does not deserve to be impeached because he was too incompetent to properly carry out a corrupt act.
In an editorial that criticizes Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for holding impeachment inquiry testimony behind closed doors so far, the editorial board argues that ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony that Trump directly tied military aid to Ukraine to investigating his political opponents shouldn’t be seen as an impeachable offense because the president got caught doing it.
Despite the Journal’s assertions that Trump cannot be impeached for bungling his attempt at extorting Ukraine, at least one Republican legal scholar believes that the president may face real legal jeopardy for his actions. Philip Zelikow, a history professor at the University of Virginia who served as an official in the George W. Bush administration, argued on Thursday that Trump may have run afoul of 18 U.S.C. § 201(b), which states that any public official who “corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for… being influenced in the performance of any official act” is breaking the law.”
Graham to introduce desperate resolution attacking Democrats' inquiry. It's an admission of failure. (Daily Kos, October 24, 2019)
Lindsey Graham is in big trouble with the orange menace in the Oval Office. Not only has Graham criticized Trump's Syria policy, but as Senate Judiciary Committee chair he has failed to hold sham hearings exploring the Biden and DNC server conspiracy theories that Trump has been counting on.
Graham's first effort to get back in Trump's good graces was hailing Trump for "thinking outside the box" on his inane plan to control Syrian oil fields by partnering with the Kurds, who Trump just completely screwed over. Days later Graham leapt to the defense of Trump's racially offensive comparison between the impeachment inquiry into him and a "lynching." Even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wouldn't defend Trump on that, but Graham stood up wholeheartedly for Trump's racially charged ignorance, claiming "this is a lynching in every sense" and assailing impeachment—a constitutionally outlined remedy—as "un-American."
Graham plans to outdo himself later Thursday, introducing a joint resolution with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “condemning the House of Representatives’ closed door, illegitimate impeachment inquiry." Because contrary to popular belief, the U.S. Constitution gave Graham and McConnell "the sole Power of Impeachment," not the House of Representatives. Graham will turn the tables on House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into Trump's shadow foreign policy by naming the inquiry "a shadow process." Clever.
So, in essence, yet another lame Republican jab at process for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to whisk off her shoulder like a pesky fly. In actuality, Graham's resolution is an admission of defeat.
Roll discredits: here are the Repubs who barged in on a CLASSIFIED hearing. (
Daily Kos, October 23, 2019)
Trump-approved House Republican disruption of impeachment testimony ends. (
Daily Kos, October 23, 2019)
The move by a group of roughly two dozen House Republicans to "storm" the House sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF, compromising the secure space by refusing to turn over private cell phones or submit to other screening, has now ended.
The extent to which the Republican action was intended purely as a pro-Trump publicity stunt can be discovered by looking at the list of participants: Twelve of those Republicans are actually on the three impeachment-relevant committees, and have had access to witness testimony from the beginning. A full 46 House Republicans sit on those committees, and all of them have heard witness testimony. (You may recall the constant presence of those members leaving each deposition to insist to assembled reporters that the testimony they were hearing was untrustworthy, or not at all damaging to Trump, or simply boring.)
The latest updates:
• Donald Trump himself reportedly approved the stunt, only the latest display of White House contempt for both the law and national security considerations.
• Also approving the stunt in advance: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy dismissed the security implications of Republican members bringing cell phones into the secure space, bafflingly telling a reporter, “These are individuals who have never been in Intel Committee before or anywhere else. So it’s nothing serious from that matter.”
• Rather than the action being an unintentional oversight, some Republicans explicitly refused to turn over their unsecured cell phones to security when entering the facility.
• Rep. Alex Mooney brazenly recorded a "report from inside" the secure space, the latest House Republican to brag about committing a national security breach.
• Rep. Matt Gaetz's office handed out expired congressional passes to uncredentialed reporters and an HBO crew in an effort to boost publicity for the event.
• Rep. Adam Schiff, who is leading the House impeachment inquiry: “Clearly the White House was devastated by yesterday’s testimony. These witnesses have been willing to defy the administration and follow the law and come testify, so the president’s allies are trying to stop them through other means.”
Republicans invade impeachment hearing, disrupt testimony, and violate security protocol. (
Daily Kos, October 23, 2019)
The impeachment inquiry isn’t just happening behind closed doors; it’s happening in a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) intended to prevent electronic eavesdropping. The purpose of this is both to protect the witnesses who come forward to speak after attempts by the White House to cut off their testimony, and to keep potential witnesses from listening in and calibrating their stories to what has already been said. But on Wednesday morning, a horde of Republican representatives let by Matt Gaetz charged into the impeachment inquiry, violating the security of a witness, and defying the ironclad rules around SCIF by bringing their cell phones into the confidential space.
Trump is now calling Republicans who oppose him 'human scum'. (Daily Kos, October 23, 2019)
The eliminationist and Nazi-like rhetoric from the White House ratcheted up dramatically on Wednesday as the ramifications of Ambassador William Taylor’s Tuesday testimony before a House Committee became public knowledge. In one tweet Trump labeled “Never Trump” Republicans—those in the GOP who are firmly and vocally opposed to his presidency—as “human scum,” noting that their numbers had been severely lessened.
Donald Trump's last defense against charges of extortion is more extortion. (Daily Kos, October 23, 2019)
On Wednesday morning, Donald Trump spent most of his early “executive time” retweeting items that, notably, had appeared before the impeachment inquiry testimony of Ambassador William Taylor on Tuesday, but eventually Trump staked out a new, fingers-clutching-the-edge-of-the-cliff position in his own defense. There can be no quid pro quo, declared Trump, because neither Taylor nor other witnesses have said that the Ukrainians knew that aid was being withheld.
Trump’s fallback position represents an extraordinary retreat. It would seem to acknowledge the indisputable fact that he was withholding military aid—a fact for which Trump has provided multiple, mutually exclusive excuses—and it would absorb the idea that Taylor and others knew that this aid was being withheld in order to gain the investigations that Trump sought.
There are only a few problems with this. First of all, of course the Ukrainians realized that the military aid had not appeared. Because it hadn’t appeared.
Phoenix officer fired after threatening to shoot parents of 4-year-old who 'stole' doll from Family Dollar. (Daily KOS, October 23, 2019)
In May, after visiting a dollar store in Phoenix, Arizona, with their young children, and heading back to an apartment complex to drop the kids at a babysitter, Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper found themselves descended upon by a swarm of police. You see their four-year-old daughter—not their other one-year-old daughter who doesn’t walk yet—had taken a doll out of the store without paying for it. After shouting Ames into his car, with the door closed, they pulled out their guns, trained them on Iesha Harper—who was holding her kids in the backseat of the car. The situation escalated with police officers treating the family and their children like they had just come out of a bank brandishing semi-automatic rifles. Expletives and threats to kill both parents were hurled by officers at the family during the arrests.
Ants are “immune” to traffic jams. (Ars Technica, October 23, 2019)
Unlike self-interested humans, ants have a common goal: The colony's survival.
NEW: We have the tools and technology to work less and live better. (Aeon, October 23, 2019)
Today’s discussions need to move beyond the old point about the marvels of technology, and truly ask: what is it all for? Without a conception of a good life, without a way to distinguish progress that’s important from that which keeps us on the hedonic treadmill, our collective inertia will mean that we never reach Keynes’s 15-hour working week.
NEW: Facebook announces steps to protect US 2020 elections; no mention of fact-checking political ads. (Medianama, October 23, 2019)
Facebook has announced a host of steps to protect US Presidential candidates for the 2020 elections and reduce foreign interference in the elections. With Facebook Protect, it will offer candidates, elected officials, federal and state departments and agencies, party committees, and their staff stronger account security protections such as two factor authentication. Facebook will also monitor accounts of people who opt-in to this service for potential hacking.
Confirmed page owner: Pages will now have a new “Organisations That Manage This Page” tab, featuring its “confirmed” owner, including the organisation’s legal name and verified city, phone number or website. If Facebook finds a Page to be concealing its ownership, it will be required to successfully complete the verification process and show more information in order to stay up.
Labelling state-sponsored media: From November 2019, the company will start labelling media outlets that are wholly or partially under the editorial control of a government as state-controlled media.
Ad-spend tracker: This transparency feature includes a U.S. presidential candidate spend tracker, more geographic spending details, information on which apps an ad appears on and programmatic access to downloads of political ad creative.
Labelling false/incorrect content: Over the next month, content across Facebook and Instagram that has been rated false or partly false by a third-party fact checker will start to be more prominently labelled. Facebook didn’t say who these third-party fact checkers are.
Banning voter-suppression ads: Facebook also said it’ll apply a wider ban on advertisements that are targeted towards voter suppression.
Reducing foreign interference in the 2020 US elections: Facebook said that it removed four foreign interference operations including one which targeted the 2020 US presidential elections. One of these networks  was likely being run by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), which was behind the attempted Russian interference in the 2016 US Presidential elections. The campaign used 50 Instagram accounts and one Facebook account with about 246,000 followers to publish nearly 75,000 posts, according to Graphika, which analysed the network for Facebook. In total, the company removed:
- 93 Facebook accounts, 17 Pages and four Instagram accounts originating from Iran and focusing primarily on the US for “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. About 7,700 accounts followed one or more of these Pages and around 145 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
- 38 Facebook accounts, 6 Pages, 4 Groups and 10 Instagram accounts originating from Iran and focusing on countries in Latin America. About 13,500 accounts followed one or more of these Pages, about 4,200 accounts joined at least one of these Groups and around 60,000 people followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
- 4 Facebook accounts, 3 Pages and 7 Instagram accounts that originated in Iran and focused mainly on the US.
These new policies come at a time when Facebook has been criticised for not fact checking political advertisements, and a leaked audio call of CEO Mark Zuckerberg talking to his employees has surfaced where he promises to fight back against any calls for breaking up the company.
NEW: The Impoundment Control Act of 1974: What Is It? Why Does It Matter? (U.S. House Committee on the Budget, October 23, 2019)
The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974 (ICA) reasserted Congress’ power of the purse. Specifically, Title X of the Act - “Impoundment Control” - established procedures to prevent the President and other government officials from unilaterally substituting their own funding decisions for those of the Congress. The Act also created the House and Senate Budget Committees and the Congressional Budget Office.
Congress passed the ICA in response to President Nixon’s executive overreach; his Administration refused to release Congressionally-appropriated funds for certain programs he opposed.
Paul Krugman: The hole elected Republicans, especially in the Senate, have dug for themselves. (New York Times, October 23, 2019)
Many — perhaps most — Republican senators have always known that Trump is morally, emotionally and intellectually unfit for high office; they’re cynics, not idiots. At first, however, they decided that it was worth supporting him anyway.
Maybe I still have too much faith in human nature, but I’d like to imagine that there are some Republicans who look at themselves in the mirror and feel self-loathing, who might yet seize a chance at redemption. But how many G.O.P. senators still have a conscience? We’re probably going to find out in a few months.
Indicted Giuliani Associate Ties Case to Trump. (New York Times, October 23, 2019)
The connection was made as two associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan. One of the two indicted associates of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, on Wednesday tied the case to the president himself, saying that some of the evidence gathered in the campaign-finance investigation could be subject to executive privilege.
The unusual argument was raised by a defense lawyer in federal court in Manhattan as the two associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, pleaded not guilty to federal charges that they had made illegal campaign contributions to political candidates in the United States in exchange for potential influence. Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman have become unexpected figures in the events at the heart of the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, having played a role in helping Mr. Giuliani’s efforts on behalf of President Trump to dig up information in Ukraine that could damage former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a prospective Democratic challenger.
New Evidence Hints at Another Justice Department Coverup. Mother Jones, October 22, 2019)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) released evidence on Tuesday that the Justice Department buried the whistle-blower complaint about President Donald Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president by failing to refer the matter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Klobuchar suggested the Justice Department violated a longstanding agreement between the agencies to share information about possible campaign finance violations for potential enforcement action.
To recap: The whistle-blower complaint at the heart of the impeachment inquiry didn’t just contain evidence that the president pressured a foreign government to help him win reelection. It also contained evidence of a potential campaign finance violation.
NEW: Sorry—organic farming is actually worse for climate change. (MIT Technology Review, October 22, 2019)
The practice cuts greenhouse-gas emissions only if you ignore the inconvenient fact that it requires a lot more land.
NEW: GPS Jammed: Russia Is Messing with America's F-35s. (National Interest, October 22, 2019)
Russian forces have been jamming GPS systems in the Middle East. The electronic-warfare campaign could affect U.S. forces gathering in the region in advance of potential strikes on Iran.
Moscow is seeing what it can do. Great powers often experiment with ways to disrupt each others' weapons systems.
In late 2018 Finland and Norway both lodged complaints with Russia over the disruptions. “Defense and civil aviation chiefs in Finland and Norway warned that the GPS jamming posed a serious risk to both military and commercial aircraft using the affected airspace in the High North,” Defense News noted.
“Russia asked (us) to give proof. We gave them the proof,” Norwegian defense minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told Arctic Today. The proof consisted of measurements showing signals had been jammed. “Russia said, ‘Thank you, we will come back when our experts review that,’” Bakke-Jensen said. “To have such an answer from Russia is a positive thing,” he said. Bakke-Jensen implied the jamming was intentional. “They were exercising very close to the border and they knew this will affect areas on the other side,” Bakke-Jensen said of the Russians.
The U.S Army is planning to test jam-resistant GPS systems in Europe as a potential step toward countering Russian electronic warfare.
Facebook 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.
Trump urges GOP to ‘get tougher and fight’ impeachment as Pelosi details his ‘shakedown’ of Ukraine. (Washington Post, October 21, 2019)
NEW: A Top DHS Staffer Who Defended The Muslim Travel Ban Now Works At Google. (BuzzFeed, October 21, 2019)
Former DHS staffer Miles Taylor once defended a “tough” but “tailored” version of Trump’s controversial travel ban and served under Kirstjen Nielsen during the implementation of the family separation policy at the US–Mexico border.
NEW: ‘People fix things. Tech doesn’t fix things.’ (TechCrunch, October 21, 2019)
At the AI Now Institute, an interdisciplinary research center at New York University, Veena Dubal was a featured speaker. The symposium is the largest annual public gathering of the NYU-affiliated research group that examines AI’s social implications. Held at NYU’s largest theater in the heart of Greenwich Village, the symposium gathered a packed crowd of 800, with hundreds more on the waiting list and several viewing parties offsite. AI Now’s symposium represented the emergence of a no-nonsense, women and people of color-led, charismatic, compassionate, and crazy knowledgeable stream of tech ethics. Which may be bad news for companies that design and hawk AI as the all-purpose, all glamorous solution to seemingly every problem, despite the fact that it’s often not even AI doing the work they tout.
As the institute’s work demonstrates, harmful AI can be found across many segments of society, such as policing, housing, the justice system, labor practices and the environmental impacts of some of our largest corporations. AI Now’s diverse and inspiring speaker lineup, however, was a testament to a growing constituency that’s starting to hold reckless tech businesses accountable. As much as the banking class may panic at the thought of a Warren or Sanders presidency, Big Tech’s irresponsible actors and utopian philosopher bros should be keeping a watchful eye on the ascendance — a rise truly based on merit and competence, rather than cheap charisma — of this next generation of critics like Crawford, Whittaker, and Dubal.
NEW: Omniviolence Is Coming and the World Isn’t Ready. (Nautilus, October 21, 2019)
Technology is, in other words, enabling criminals to target anyone anywhere and, due to democratization, increasingly at scale. Emerging bio-, nano-, and cyber-technologies are becoming more and more accessible. The political scientist Daniel Deudney has a word for what can result: “omniviolence.” The ratio of killers to killed, or “K/K ratio,” is falling. For example, computer scientist Stuart Russell has vividly described how a small group of malicious agents might engage in omniviolence: “A very, very small quadcopter, one inch in diameter can carry a one-or two-gram shaped charge,” he says. “You can order them from a drone manufacturer in China. You can program the code to say: ‘Here are thousands of photographs of the kinds of things I want to target.’ A one-gram shaped charge can punch a hole in nine millimeters of steel, so presumably you can also punch a hole in someone’s head. You can fit about three million of those in a semi-tractor-trailer. You can drive up I-95 with three trucks and have 10 million weapons attacking New York City. They don’t have to be very effective, only 5 or 10% of them have to find the target.” Manufacturers will be producing millions of these drones, available for purchase just as with guns now, Russell points out, “except millions of guns don’t matter unless you have a million soldiers. You need only three guys to write the program and launch.” In this scenario, the K/K ratio could be perhaps 3/1,000,000, assuming a 10-percent accuracy and only a single one-gram shaped charge per drone.
Civilization is an experiment. We may not get the results we’re expecting. So humanity would do well to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
How 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.”
Unsafe 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.
The Liberation of Mitt Romney (The Atlantic, October 20, 2019)
The newly rebellious senator has become an outspoken dissident in Trump’s Republican Party, just in time for the president’s impeachment trial.
John 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 slaughter.
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.”
Erdogan’s 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?
Trump 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 Irrational Hostility.”
But behind closed doors, several aides and allies said, Trump changed his mind in response to pressure and frustration from his own party.
Russian 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.
GOP panics after Graham challenger breaks fundraising record, and new poll shows 7-point gap. (Daily Kos, October 19, 2019)
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 points.
Sanders 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.
Trump’s 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.”
Hamilton pushed for impeachment powers. Trump is what he had in mind. (
Washington Post, October 19, 2019)
He wanted a strong president — and a way to get rid of the demagogic ones.
Michael Moore: Trump Is Heading For Impeachment Because Of 'High Crimes' Like We've Never Seen. (9-min. video; MSNBC, October 18, 2019)
Mitch McConnell: Withdrawing From Syria Is A Grave Mistake. (
Washington Post, October 18, 2019)
The combination of a U.S. pullback and the escalating Turkish-Kurdish hostilities is creating a strategic nightmare for our country. Even if the five-day cease-fire announced Thursday holds, events of the past week have set back the United States’ campaign against the Islamic State and other terrorists. Unless halted, our retreat will invite the brutal Assad regime in Syria and its Iranian backers to expand their influence. And we are ignoring Russia’s efforts to leverage its increasingly dominant position in Syria to amass power and influence throughout the Middle East and beyond.
As neo-isolationism rears its head on both the left and the right, we can expect to hear more talk of “endless wars.” But rhetoric cannot change the fact that wars do not just end; wars are won or lost.
Bankrupted 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.
In 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.
Republican Christians Credit God for Killing Elijah Cummings. (Daily Kos, October 17, 2019)
After flooding US with opioids, industry giants offer $50 billion settlement. (Ars Technica, October 17, 2019)
Settlement is uncertain as some plaintiffs want more details.
Press 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.

'News 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."

Full October 15th Democratic Candidates Debate (coming soon; CNN, October 16, 2019)
Mulvaney 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 Department.
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.
Former 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?"
NEW: Trump Is Winning the Online War. (New York Times, October 16, 2019)
The technical superiority and sophistication of the president’s digital campaign is a hidden advantage of incumbency.
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 financial advantage.
Never-Before-Seen 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.”
Extremists 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.
NEW: Do we possess our possessions or do they possess us? (Aeon, October 16, 2019)
In 1859, around 450 passengers on the Royal Charter, returning from the Australian goldmines to Liverpool, drowned when the steam clipper was shipwrecked off the north coast of Wales. What makes this tragic loss of life remarkable among countless other maritime disasters was that many of those on board were weighed down by the gold in their money belts that they just wouldn’t abandon so close to home. Humans have a particularly strong and, at times, irrational obsession with possessions.
NEW: Microsoft on "Linux Is a Cancer": We’re an Open-Source Company Now. (Softpedia, October 15, 2019)
"Microsoft loves Linux, Redmond says on every occasion. While Microsoft is betting big on the open-source world going forward, the "Linux is a cancer" nightmare keeps coming back occasionally, especially from customers who aren’t necessarily sure that the Redmond-based software giant expanding in this direction is the right way to go. Microsoft, on the other hand, tries to convince everyone that it loves Linux on every single occasion, and one such moment took place earlier this week at the Red Hat Forum 2019 in Melbourne.
Microsoft Australia CTO Lee HIckin took the stage and the first thing he said concerned the controversial statement made by former CEO Steve Ballmer back in 2002. "I recognise the irony of Microsoft here at an open source community event. I'm really proud to do that, and I'm humbled and privileged that we can be on the stage with Red Hat to share our story," Hickin is quoted as saying by ZDNet. Hickin insisted Microsoft is a different company now, and the long-term strategy is betting big on open-source, not as a competitor, but as a fully-committed partner. "I say that with my hand on my heart in a very serious way: We are an open source company, we are committed to open source, we're committed to Red Hat, and we're committed to continuing our engagement and our support to a broad open source community through a range of technologies, not least of which GitHub is one."
Microsoft is indeed betting big on the Linux world, and living proof are its efforts to bring together the open-source concept and Windows. Windows 10 now ships with Windows Subsystem for Linux, a platform that has already reached its second generation and which allows users to run Linux on top of Windows 10, with several large companies supporting the project, including Canonical. And Microsoft says that investing in other products, like Azure, and working together with open-source partners, is living proof it’s not all about Windows these days. "We are not the proprietary Windows company; we are the open source cloud that has a range of services across a whole bunch of tools and technologies," Hickin concluded.
October 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.
Never 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 people.
Reporter: "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)
Hysterical 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 connected children.
The 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 wrote.
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).
GOP 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 impeachment proceedings."
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 repercussions.
U.S. 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."
Trump’s 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 U.S.-led campaign.
Syrian 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.
Hobby 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.
NEW: Goodbye, Columbus. (First Nations News and Views, October 14, 2019)
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.
Biden 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 status quo?
Biden goes old. Sanders goes young. Warren is in-between. What Facebook ads reveal about 2020. (New York Times, October 14, 2019)
It's 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 malpractice.
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 media ecosystem.
Macabre 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.
Every time, it's the same long con job. (Daily Kos, October 13, 2019)
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.
Donald 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 drill.
Who's 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.
Man 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.
Activists’ 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.
Turkey’s 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’.
This 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 people.
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.
Trump's disastrous impeachment polling sends shock waves through GOP. (Daily Kos,
October 11, 2019)
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% of Republicans.
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.
Trump 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."
NEW: See Elizabeth Warren's simple response to a marriage equality question. (4-min. video; CNN, October 11, 2019)
What 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.
Extreme 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.
Massive California Power Outage Triggers Chaos in Science Labs. (
Scientific American, October 11, 2019)
Researchers without access to backup power scramble to save invaluable specimens and expensive reagents.
A mob of horny tarantulas is prowling San Francisco. (CNet, October 10, 2019)
Tarantula mating season in Northern California is extended, thanks to higher temperatures.
It’s 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 more apparent.
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.
Rudy 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.
At 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 president.
As 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.”
Republican 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 war-torn country."
The White House announced that US troops would move out the way and would not support or be involved in the operation.
Turkey 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 this commitment.”
Celebrating 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 national stage.
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 ever invented.
A 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 chemistry.
This 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.
Trump's 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.
'Coup!' 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?
Trump's Mar-a-Lago cancels hate group event, and the vilest of Trump supporters are very upset. (Daily Kos, October 8, 2019)
Trump throws fit after Minneapolis mayor sends estimated security bill in advance of campaign rally. (Daily Kos, October 8, 2019)
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.
NEW: FBI’s Use of Surveillance Database Violated Americans’ Privacy Rights, Court Found. (Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2019)
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.
The 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.
Why Everything Is Getting Louder (The Atlantic, October 8, 2019)
The tech industry is producing a rising din. Our bodies can’t adapt.
Everyone’s 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.
Dick's 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 destroy them.
'” So they did, turning $5 million of guns into scrap metal.
600,000 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 longer.
PG&E 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.
Our groundwater use is destroying freshwater ecosystems. (Ars Technica, October 7, 2019)
And the situation is set to get much, much worse.
Trump’s defiance of oversight challenges Congress’s ability to rein in the executive branch. (Washington Post, October 7, 2019)
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.
Trump 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 limits.
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.”
A federal judge takes a sledgehammer to Trump’s stonewalling. (
Washington Post, 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 impeachment battle.
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.
Trump 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.
A 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.
Trump is about to become the right-wing smear machine's biggest unintended casualty of all time. (Daily Kos, October 6, 2019)
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.
The 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.
Trump’s $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.

Microsoft's 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 mobile game.
The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine
(New Yorker, October 4, 2019)
How a conservative dark-money group that targeted Hillary Clinton in 2016 spread the discredited story that may lead to Donald Trump’s impeachment.
NEW: Worker 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.

NEW: Misery 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.
NEW: Plate 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.
75% of Iraq's internet shut down amid mass protests. (C/Net, October 3, 2019)
An internet watchdog reports the blackout started with social media.
NEW: Giuliani mocked in anonymous NYC subway ad: 'Need a lawyer? Call crazy Rudy.' (The Hill, October 3, 2019)
North 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 territory.
The test came hours after North Korea said nuclear talks with the US would resume.
IBM 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.
NEW: Hong 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 them.
NEW: Comcast lawsuit in Supreme Court could cause ‘irreparable harm’ to minority protections, NAACP warns. (Philadelphia Inquirer, October 2, 2019)
Comcast says, “This case arises from a frivolous discrimination claim that cannot detract from Comcast’s strong civil rights and diversity record or our outstanding record of supporting and fostering diverse programming from African American-owned channels.
“We have been forced to appeal this decision to defend against a meritless $20 billion claim, but have kept our argument narrowly focused. We are not seeking to roll back the civil rights laws — all we are asking is that the court apply Section 1981 in our case the same way it has been interpreted for decades across the country.”
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, called the Comcast petition “the most important civil rights case to be heard by the Supreme Court in term. A negative ruling stands to all but shut the courthouse door on a vast number of victims of discrimination all across the country.”
Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 says all people in the United States have the same rights to make and enforce contracts “enjoyed by white citizens.” It was enacted to help newly freed African Americans engage in work fairly, without laws that created conditions that “paralleled chattel slavery,” according to the Lawyers’ Committee brief. “In light of the increasing visibility of minority populations, civil rights laws like Section 1981 must be strengthened, not weakened.... Petitioner [Comcast] asks this court also to ignore its past pronouncements and allow race to play some role in contracting decisions, so long as race discrimination is not the but-for cause of a refusal to contract.”
NEW: Trump 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.
Court 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 economy.
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)
Is “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.

NEW: Trump 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 Force."
Fox News outs two Fox analysts as working 'off the books' with Trump, Giuliani to find Biden dirt. (Daily Kos, September 30, 2019)
NEW: Trump-Supporting Lawyers diGenova and Toensing Teamed Up With Giuliani to Dig Up Ukraine Dirt on Biden. (Daily Beast, September 29, 2019)
Fox News cited a U.S. official who said all three were working off the books apart from the administration, and the only person who knew "what they were doing is President Trump".
Note 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.
5 ways impeachment could play out (Politico, September 29, 2019)
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.
What 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?
No, 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.
Staring 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.
Trump 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.
Democrats 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.
Did 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 it?
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.
Greta in Canada today while Millions of Young Activists around the Planet March for Climate Action. (Daily Kos, September 27, 2019)
NRA Was 'Foreign Asset' To Russia Ahead of 2016, New Senate Report Reveals. (National Public Radio, September 27, 2019)

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.
NEW: Researchers Assembled over 100 Voting Machines. Hackers Broke Into Every Single One. (Mother Jones, September 27, 2019)
A cybersecurity exercise highlights both new and unaddressed vulnerabilities riddling US election systems.
Trump 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.
Trump told Russian officials in 2017 he wasn’t concerned about Moscow’s interference in U.S. election. (Washington Post, September 27, 2019)
Intelligence 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 months.

Barry Blitt’s “Whack Job” (The New Yorker, September 27, 2019)
When Impeachment Meets a Broken Congress (Politico, September
27, 2019)
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 divided.
Trump is in a world of trouble. (7-min. video; The Young Turks, September 26, 2019)
The 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 democracy.
Listen: Audio of Trump discussing whistleblower at private event: ‘That’s close to a spy.’ (Los Angeles Times, September 26, 2019)
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!)
Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint. (New York Times, September 26, 2019)
Whistleblower's written complaint about Trump's misconduct (Los Angeles Times, September 26, 2019)
Whistleblower 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 person wrote.
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.
NEW: Jeff 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.
How 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.”
Getting 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?
Warren 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.
‘Shut up, moron’: Rudy Giuliani lashes out at critics, defends his Ukraine involvement. (</