by A. Richard Miller
Begun September 29, 2008; last updated August 18, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Woody Guthrie, Dust Bowl Ballads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fragile States Index (Fund For Peace)

US National Debt Clock, by Ed Hall

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

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

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

Calculated Risk (blog)

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

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

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

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

NEW: 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)

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.

Yale Climate Opinion Maps, U.S. 2016

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

Scientists Are Pro-Testing (Science, 2017)

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

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

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

NEW: 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)

Our Revolution

Angry White House Staffer

GOP Rape Advisory Chart

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

Vote Sleuth: Investigating Democracyngeles Times, 2017)

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

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

Donald Trump (Vice)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atlas Of Utopias (Transformative Cities, 2018)

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

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

Smoking bans in private vehicles (Wikipedia)

Light Cycles, by Quinn Norton

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

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

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

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

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

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Change (United Nations)

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)

NEW: The Privacy Project (New York Times, 2019)

NEW: 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)

NEW: 50 Days to the Moon (Fast Company, 2019)

NEW: 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.

NEW: 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.

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

Pertinent Posts

Wind power prices now lower than the cost of natural gas (Ars Technica, August 17, 2019)
In the US, it's cheaper to build and operate wind farms than buy fossil fuels.
Trump nominates advocate of 'ethnonationalism' for judgeship (MSNBC, August 15, 2019)
Rachel Maddow shares passages from a law journal article by Donald Trump's federal court nominee Steven Menashi in which he argues democratic countries work better when everyone is the same ethnicity.
Autopsy results add to questions surrounding Epstein's death (Daily KOS, August 15, 2019)
Experts: Broken Bones in Jeffrey Epstein's Neck 'Are Common In Victims of Homicide by Strangulation' (PJ Media, August 15, 2019)
According to the official story released by the authorities, Epstein's guards fell asleep while on duty and failed to check on him for three hours, which supposedly gave him time enough to hang himself. Simultaneously, the camera system failed to work. Oh, and he magically found some tools to hang himself -- in a maximum-security prison. And then there's the fact that his cellmate was removed from his cell, meaning that Epstein was all alone, which "violated the jail's procedures."
Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out (New York Times, August 14, 2019)
She was an heiress without a cause — an indifferent student, an unhappy young bride, a miscast socialite. Her most enduring passion was for birds. But Cordelia Scaife May eventually found her life’s purpose: curbing what she perceived as the lethal threat of overpopulation by trying to shut America’s doors to immigrants.
Could Facebook become an independent state? (Boston Globe, August 14, 2019)
The assault on Facebook has been the big story of late. A month ago, “the Federal Trade Commission approved a fine of roughly $5 billion against Facebook for mishandling users’ personal information,” The New York Times reported, calling it “a landmark settlement that signals a newly aggressive stance by regulators toward the country’s most powerful technology companies.”
Facebook has responded by (1) preparing to lease vast amounts of office space in mid-town Manhattan, (2) announcing its intention to create a global cryptocurrency — Libra — that will “bank the unbanked” and completely disrupt the remittance business, and (3) declaring its intention to rebrand WhatsApp and Instagram as WhatsApp from Facebook and Instagram from Facebook.
The exploring of office space in Manhattan was an unsubtle message to Wall Street that Facebook is deadly serious about entering the financial services arena and unconcerned about competing with the incumbent banks. With about 1.6 billion daily average users, Facebook’s entrance into any business is almost automatically disruptive, because it is able to operate at almost unimaginable scale. If it takes dead aim at the endless cascade of fees on overdrafts, credit cards, remittances (and the like) that the banking business depends on, Facebook immediately poses an existential threat to those incumbent institutions.
Facebook’s entrance into the cryptocurrency arena was less an unveiling of a “Facebook Bitcoin” and more like the introduction of a sovereign currency. No less than the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, Jay Powell, took note, saying: “While the project’s sponsors hold out the possibility of public benefits, including improved financial access for consumers, Libra raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection, and financial stability. These are concerns that should be thoroughly and publicly addressed before proceeding.”
Putin had this to say two years ago: “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also [with] threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” Who is the leader in AI research at the moment? It depends on how you measure it, but the rough consensus is: The United States leads, followed by China, England, Canada, Japan, and Germany. The United States is the leader in large measure because of the research being done at Facebook and Google.
According to Machine Box CEO Aaron Edell, “80 percent of all machine learning engineers work at Google or Facebook.” What happens if Facebook and Google grow tired of what they almost certainly regard as regulatory encroachment and government overreach? What happens if Facebook and Google spin off their AI research companies and re-domicile those companies in, say, Canada? One thing that happens is that Canada becomes the world’s leading superpower, overnight, by virtue of its being the new home to the world’s two greatest AI research organizations.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink: Both an evolution and a plan for radical change (Ars Technica, August 13, 2019)
Neuralink will probably fail in interesting and worthwhile ways.
With Microsoft dumping MS Office, consider LibreOffice for your next PC office suite (ZDNet, August 13, 2019)
If you want a standalone office suite for your computer, LibreOffice may soon not just be your best choice, it will be close to your only PC-based choice.
(LibreOffice is free, it's excellent, and we use it.)
Trump delays some China tariffs to Dec. 15th to limit impact on holiday shopping (Washington Post, August 13, 2019)
The White House on Tuesday said it would delay imposing tariffs on Chinese imports of cellphones, laptop computers, video game consoles, and certain types of footwear and clothing until Dec. 15, significantly later than the Sept. 1 deadline President Trump had repeatedly threatened. The announcement ensures that Apple products and other major consumer goods would be shielded from the import tax until at least December, potentially keeping costs on these products down during the holiday shopping season. A number of companies had petitioned to the White House to exempt items they import from the new tariffs, saying the costs would be either passed along to the consumer or threaten the solvency of individual firms.
Trump told reporters that he delayed the tariffs “just in case” they would have a negative impact on U.S. shoppers this holiday season, marking the most explicit admission he’s made so far that the tariffs could have raised costs for American consumers and businesses and had a negative impact on the economy. USTR said the 10 percent tariff would still go into effect in September on some items, including many food products, gloves, coats and suits. But it said tariffs on other items would be waived completely “based on health, safety, national security and other factors.”
(Primarily, other factors like Trump overcharging his supporters and losing his re-election bid.)

Another Russian nuclear accident seems to be characterized by lies (Washington Post, August 13, 2019)
Russian village evacuation as rocket blast sparks radiation fears (
Al Jazeera, August 13, 2019)
Nyonoksa residents asked to leave within a day after last week's explosion that spiked radiation levels up to 16 times.
Russian nuclear engineers buried after 'Skyfall nuclear' blast (Al Jazeera, August 13, 2019)
Experts link the explosion to the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile touted by President Putin in March 2018.
What Happened at Russia’s Missile Test Site? (New York Times, August 12, 2019)
Don’t expect a straight answer from Vladimir Putin’s government.
University bans hamburgers 'to tackle climate change' (BBC News, August 12, 2019)
Rosie Rogers, of Greenpeace UK, said: "It's encouraging to see an institution like Goldsmiths not simply declaring a climate emergency but acting on it. From energy use, to food sales and plastic pollution - all universities and organisations with campus sites can make changes across their facilities that are better for our planet. We call on others to urgently follow suit and to include cutting all ties from fossil fuel funding in their climate-emergency response."
Arctic wildfires spew soot and smoke cloud bigger than EU (The Guardian, August 12, 2019)
Plume from unprecedented blazes forecast to reach Alaska as fires rage for third month.
The normally frozen region, which is a crucial part of the planet’s cooling system, is spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and worsening the man-made climate disruption that created the tinderbox conditions.
A spate of huge fires in northern Russia, Alaska, Greenland and Canada discharged 50 megatonnes of CO2 in June and 79 megatonnes in July, far exceeding the previous record for the Arctic. The intensity of the blazes continues with 25 megatonnes in the first 11 days of August – extending the duration beyond even the most persistent fires in the 17-year dataset of Europe’s satellite monitoring system.
Canadians are hopping mad about Trump’s drug importation plan. Some of them are trying to stop it (STAT, August 12, 2019)
“You are coming as Americans to poach our drug supply, and I don’t have any polite words for that,” said Amir Attaran, a professor at the University of Ottawa, who calls the plan “deplorable” and “atrociously unethical.” “Our drugs are not for you, period.”
‘Using the Lord’s name in vain’: Evangelicals chafe at Trump’s blasphemy (Politico, August 12, 2019)
Trump enjoys the support of the religious right — and losing the group’s support would be catastrophic for his reelection bid. About 80 percent of white evangelicals cast their ballots for Trump in 2016 and 61 percent of the broader evangelical voting bloc believes the U.S. is heading in the right direction under his administration, according to a 2018 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute.
Evangelicals are also more likely to vote than other demographic groups and gravitate toward Republican candidates when they do. And in swing states such as Florida, North Carolina and Michigan, evangelicals dominate the religious composition, eclipsing Catholics, mainline Protestants and other Christians.
The Day Jeffrey Epstein Told Me He Had Dirt on Powerful People (New York Times, August 12, 2019)

Epstein’s Death Has a Simpler Explanation (The Atlantic, August 11, 2019)
On social media yesterday, many people speculated, without evidence, about who besides Epstein might be responsible for his death. Tellingly, many criminal-justice experts pointed instead to a broader issue: Suicide has been a lingering problem in detention facilities, and systemic factors—such as inattention, understaffing, or inadequate training—generally offer a simpler explanation for a prisoner’s death than nefarious intent.

Armed man who sowed panic at Springfield, MO Walmart claimed he was testing his Second Amendment rights, police say  (
Washington Post, August 11, 2019)
New Electric Motor Design Massively Boosts Power, Torque, and Efficiency (Slashdot, August 11, 2019)
"A violation of realism": The future can change the past (Daily KOS, August 10, 2019)
It's about modern physics, not about impeaching Trump.
The administration said it was moving these agencies for efficiency. Now the truth comes out. (
Washington Post, August 10, 2019)
“What a wonderful way to streamline government,” said acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney at a gala last week, referring to the Agriculture Department’s plan to move two of its science agencies out of the D.C. area to the Kansas City region. In celebrating this controversial decision, Mr. Mulvaney laid bare the thinly-veiled motivations behind uprooting researchers: not efficiency, but to drive talented workers out.
Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide is unfathomable (Washington Post, August 10, 2019)
If any prisoner in the federal system should have been a candidate for suspicion of suicide, it was the high-profile and disgraced Epstein. All administrative and structural measures should have been in place to ensure it could not happen.
AI pioneer accused of having sex with trafficking victim on Jeffrey Epstein’s island (The Verge, August 9, 2019)
Marvin Minsky was named alongside several other prominent men.
The World’s Smartest Chimp Has Died (New York Times, August 9, 2019)
Sarah's life helped us answer the question: What do animals think about?
Increasingly frequent marine heatwaves can lead to the almost instant death of corals, scientists working on the Great Barrier Reef have found. (BBC News, August 9, 2019)
These episodes of unusually high water temperatures are - like heatwaves on land - associated with climate change.
"This is a new phenomenon that's being caused by climate change. And the impacts are even more severe than we had thought."
"This could be 'the canary in the coal mine' for these ecosystems. The findings were a strong warning that things are going wrong on some reefs around the world."
"It's hard to know just how much we have to keep saying that this is a big problem before policy-makers decide to do something about it."
Something Big Just Slammed Into Jupiter (Gizmodo, August 9, 2019)
ZAP! The Shocking Truth About ESD (Ask Bob Rankin, August 9, 2019)
White House proposal would have FCC and FTC police alleged social media censorship (CNN, August 9, 2019)
"The (existing) law that I wrote, Section 230, allows platforms to get this kind of slime and hate off the platform," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in an interview with CNN on Friday, referring to hate speech that has appeared on forums such as 8chan. By comparison, according to the summary, the White House draft order asks the FCC to restrict the government's view of the good-faith provision. Under the draft proposal, the FCC will be asked to find that social media sites do not qualify for the good-faith immunity if they remove or suppress content without notifying the user who posted the material, or if the decision is proven to be evidence of anticompetitive, unfair or deceptive practices.
Wyden, in the interview, called the proposal "horrible" and said neither the FTC nor the FCC are "exactly tripping over themselves... to carry it out. I bet you scores of conservatives are turning over in their grave right now listening to all of these big government approaches," Wyden said. "Their proposal today amounts to nothing short of a speech police."
Trump’s Trip to Dayton and El Paso: The Back Story (New York Times, August 9, 2019)
By the time President Trump arrived in El Paso on Wednesday, on the second leg of a trip to meet with people affected by mass shootings in two cities, he was frustrated that his attacks on his political adversaries had resulted in more coverage than the cheery reception he received at a hospital in Dayton, Ohio, the first stop on his trip. So he screamed at his aides to begin producing proof that in El Paso people were happy to see him.
Leading Civil Rights Lawyer Shows 20 Ways Trump Is Copying Hitler’s Early Rhetoric and Policies (Common Cause, August 9, 2019)
Burt Neuborne questions whether federal government can contain Trump and GOP power grabs.
Fresh Produce, Brought to You by Robots (Atlas Obscura, August 8, 2019)
A family-owned market in California is now selling robot-reared leafy greens.
Big Pharma is using faux generics to keep drug prices high, critics say (Ars Technica, August 8, 2019)
Drug makers have mastered gaming the system to beat generic competition. High-profile examples of "authorized generics" include Mylan’s cheaper form of its EpiPen, a life-saving epinephrine autoinjector that curbs deadly allergic reactions. In 2016, under political and public pressure to lower drug prices, Mylan introduced the authorized generic of EpiPen priced at $300 for a two-pack. That’s half the price of a two-pack of the brand-name version, which has a list price of around $600. But it’s still a staggering hike from EpiPen’s original cost of around $50 per injector in 2007. That year, Mylan bought the rights to EpiPen and then raised the price more than 400% in the years that followed. The authorized generic is essentially triple the price of what two injectors used to cost.
As of July 2019, there are nearly 1,200 authorized generics on the market in the US.
Here's the data on white supremacist terrorism the Trump administration has been 'unable or unwilling' to give to Congress (Yahoo News, August 8, 2019)
Alleged white supremacists were responsible for all race-based domestic terrorism incidents in 2018, according to a government document distributed earlier this year to state, local and federal law enforcement. The document, which has not been previously reported on, becomes public as the Trump administration’s Justice Department has been unable or unwilling to provide data to Congress on white supremacist domestic terrorism. The data in this document, titled “Domestic Terrorism in 2018,” appears to be what Congress has been asking for — and didn’t get.
ICE rounds up over 600 undocumented workers in immigration sweeps in Mississippi (CBS News, August 8, 2019)
Many children of those arrested across the state were left with nowhere to go. Children, some as young as toddlers, were relying on neighbors and even strangers to pick them up and drive them to the gym, where people tried to keep them calm. But many of them couldn't stop crying for their parents.
Julia Solórzano, a legal fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said these types of large-scale workplace operations "terrorize" and "destroy" communities, while accomplishing little for the administration. "For a lot of the cities where these raids occurred, it was the first day of school. We know from past immigration enforcement actions of this type, that there are going to be children who go home tonight and their parents will be gone. It's extremely disruptive to families. It's — in many cases — depriving the family of the primary breadwinner."
Why the El Paso shooter isn’t being charged with terrorism (Vox, August 8, 2019)
How the law defines terrorism, and what that means for the fight against white nationalist terror, explained.
Trump attacks local leaders as he visits two cities grieving from mass shootings  (Washington Post, August 8, 2019)
None of the eight patients still being treated at University Medical Center in El Paso agreed to meet with Trump when he visited the hospital. Before Trump’s visit Wednesday, however, some of the hospitalized victims accepted visits from a number of city and county elected officials, as well as Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.) and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.). And the White House version?...
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the president and first lady Melania Trump met with “victims of the tragedy while at the hospital” and were “received very warmly by not just victims and their families, but by the many members of medical staff who lined the hallways to meet them. It was a moving visit for all involved.”
(The White House says what it wants to say.)
Trump Visits Dayton and El Paso (New York Times, August 7, 2019)
The president took sharp aim at opponents even as he visited two cities in mourning after horrific mass shootings in Ohio and Texas.
The White House had signaled that Mr. Trump would play the traditional role of healer in chief on Wednesday, eschewing photo-ops in favor of private sessions with emergency and hospital workers and victims of the shootings that shocked both cities and the nation. But Mr. Trump proved unwilling to completely refrain from his usual combative style. On his way to El Paso from Dayton, he tweeted attacks on the Democratic mayor of Dayton and a Democratic senator who he said had not accurately described the closed-door sessions at a Dayton hospital earlier in the day. And earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Trump held a 20-minute session with reporters in which he unloaded many of his usual grievances, displaying little hesitation to engage in politics on a day of grief for many people around the country.
‘We don’t want him here’: Trump to face protests and skepticism as he visits El Paso and Dayton after mass shootings (Washington Post, August 7, 2019)
“He’s made this bed and he’s got to lie in it. His rhetoric has been painful for many in our community,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (D) told reporters Tuesday, adding that she supported the planned protests against Trump. “Watching the president for the past few years over the issue of guns, I don’t think he knows what he believes, frankly.”
The open repudiation of a visiting president in the aftermath of a mass tragedy was striking Tuesday as a growing chorus of critics made clear that Trump would not be universally welcome during a pair of condolence visits that will take Air Force One from the Rust Belt to the southern border.
In a statement Monday, Trump denounced “racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” without acknowledging his own rhetoric — which has at times included warnings of “an invasion” across the southern border. Trump’s language has been embraced by far-right extremists.
The president has offered several proposals for reducing gun violence but has given few specifics and has largely steered clear of anything that would restrict broader access to firearms. Instead, he pointed to “gruesome and grisly video games” and online radicalization as drivers of the kind of violence that left at least 31 people dead in back-to-back mass shootings in the span of about 13 hours last weekend.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has so far refused to allow a vote on a universal background check bill passed by the House in February, said Monday that he was willing to work with the White House and Democratic lawmakers on legislation to address mass killings. In Louisville, Ky., dozens of people upset with McConnell’s inaction on gun control and other legislation held a protest late into the night outside his house. They banged pots and drums — at times even scraping a shovel across a sidewalk. It was one of several demonstrations calling for stricter gun laws that erupted in cities across the country this week.
Why video games aren’t causing America’s gun problem, in one chart (Vox, August 7, 2019)
Trump says they are. But when we look at the top video game–consuming countries, there’s one clear outlier.
We Took a Ride on NYC’s First Self-Driving Shuttle (Futurism, August 7, 2019)
New York City just got its first autonomous vehicles. Futurism was on the scene.
Security research is not a crime (Electronic Frontier Foundation, August 7, 2019)
Ola Bini is Swedish citizen and open source developer who has worked for years to improve the security and privacy of the Internet. He was arrested in Ecuador on a warrant for a “Russian hacker.” With the most basic research, we knew that he is neither of these.
Tutanota Interviews Tim Verheyden, the Journalist Who Broke the Story on Google Employees Listening to People's Audio Recordings (Linux Journal, August 7, 2019)
How he got hold of the story, why he is now using the encrypted contact form Secure Connect by Tutanota and why the growing number of "ghost workers" in and around Silicon Valley is becoming a big issue in Tech.
Weather forecasters fear 5G wireless technology will muck up their predictions (Science Magazine, August 7, 2019)
Neil Jacobs, NOAA's acting administrator, testified to Congress in May that an internal study had found 5G-related interference could cost NOAA 77% of the water vapor data it collects at 23.8 GHz, and could degrade weather forecasts by up to 30%, to 1980 levels. "It's a critical data set for us," Jacobs said. Bridenstine has echoed Jacobs's concerns, and the Navy also worries about deteriorating forecast quality. But NOAA has not released the studies publicly or submitted them to FCC—the result, suggest some congressional sources, of pressure from the White House, which has strongly backed 5G.
NOAA's experts misunderstand 5G technology, FCC Chairman (and former Verizon lawyer) Ajit Pai said in his own congressional testimony in June.
We’ve finally gotten a look at the microbe that might have been our ancestor (Ars Technica, August 7, 2019)
A very strange cell structure hints at how complex cells originated. Welcome to Asgard.
Toni Morrison Taught Me How to Think (New York Times, August 7, 2019)
The late Toni Morrison on the Power of Language: Her Spectacular Nobel Acceptance Speech After Becoming the First African American Woman Awarded the Accolade (Brain Pickings, August 6, 2019)
The Eric Lundgren Case and Similar High-Profile Plea ‘Bargains’ - Aaron Swartz and Marcus Hutchins (
Tech Rights, August 6, 2019)
Innocence is irrelevant. This is the age of the plea bargain. Most people adjudicated in the criminal-justice system today waive the right to a trial and the host of protections that go along with one, including the right to appeal. Instead, they plead guilty. The vast majority of felony convictions are now the result of plea bargains—some 94 percent at the state level, and some 97 percent at the federal level. Estimates for misdemeanor convictions run even higher. These are astonishing statistics, and they reveal a stark new truth about the American criminal-justice system: Very few cases go to trial.
Slander and Libel From Microsoft; Demonising the Victim (Tech Rights, August 6, 2019)
Microsoft may not understand this (yet), but each time it lies it’s digging itself deeper in the electronic grave.
This Incredible Real-Time Voice Language Translator Is Also a Global WIFI Hotspot (Futurism, August 6, 2019)
The Langogo uses advanced AI to tear down barriers between 105 languages and counting.
‘Red Flag’ Gun Control Bills Pick Up Momentum With G.O.P. in Congress (New York Times, August 6, 2019)
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia already have red flag laws. But the push for them on Capitol Hill stops well short of the legislation mandating universal background checks that Democrats and gun control advocates — as well as a handful of Republicans — have been clamoring for. Already, Democrats are warning that Republicans will use Mr. Graham’s proposal to skirt the larger issue.
The mainstream media is failing to do its job (The Young Turks, August 6, 2019)
A New York Times headline read “Trump Urges Unity vs Racism,” which garnered its own share of headlines - mainly for its abysmal, Trump-favoring slant that neglected the support and cover Trump has given to white supremacists. Focusing on the few lines Trump devoted to criticizing white nationalism, while ignoring the majority of his speech and subsequent tweets attacking his political enemies and demanding stronger anti-immigrant measures, does a major disservice to readers
World Reacts to El Paso Shooting and the Hate That Fueled It (
New York Times, August 6, 2019)
After an attack targeting Latinos, international reactions depicted America’s mass shooting epidemic as violence in a country at war with itself. “White nationalist terrorism.” “America’s new civil war.” “‘Domestic terrorists’ devastate the U.S.” After two mass shootings rocked the United States last weekend, headlines from Sydney to Paris depicted the bloodshed as America battling itself.
International reactions to previous mass shootings focused on the ubiquity of guns in the United States — a culture that many people around the globe see as alien — and their role in making it the world’s most violent highly developed country.
But in the days since a gunman killed 22 people and injured dozens more at a Walmart store in El Paso, Tex., attention has shifted to the toxic mixture of racism, nationalism and terrorism — along with the easy availability of firearms — and to President Trump’s role in inflaming ethnic divisions. The horror was only compounded by a shooting hours later in Dayton, Ohio, that left nine people dead.
“People are used to the fact that in the United States, every month, a lot of people are killed by someone for no apparent reason,” said Josef Janning, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, based in Berlin. “And now it comes together with this trend in Western society of gut-feeling, tribal politics that inflames people rather than educates them.”
A Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crises (
New York Times, August 6, 2019)
 Climate change heightens the risk. As rainfall becomes more erratic, the water supply becomes less reliable. At the same time, as the days grow hotter, more water evaporates from reservoirs just as demand for water increases.
Water-stressed places are sometimes cursed by two extremes. São Paulo was ravaged by floods a year after its taps nearly ran dry. Chennai suffered fatal floods four years ago, and now its reservoirs are almost empty.
Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, is drawing groundwater so fast that the city is literally sinking. Dhaka, Bangladesh, relies so heavily on its groundwater for both its residents and its water-guzzling garment factories that it now draws water from aquifers hundreds of feet deep. Chennai’s thirsty residents, accustomed to relying on groundwater for years, are now finding there’s none left. Across India and Pakistan, farmers are draining aquifers to grow water-intensive crops like cotton and rice.
How Hot Was July? Hotter Than Ever, Global Data Shows (
New York Times, August 5, 2019)
Last month is part of a long-term trend: As human-related emissions of greenhouse gases have continued, the atmosphere has continued to warm. The past five years have been the hottest on record, including the record single year in 2016. The 10 hottest years have all occurred in the past two decades. This June was the warmest on record, and the previous five months were among the four warmest for their respective months, the climate researchers said. That puts this year on track to be in the top five, or perhaps the hottest ever.
Hours after El Paso shooting, Mitch McConnell tweeted photo of a graveyard with name of his opponent (Daily KOS, August 5, 2019)
‘A cesspool of hate’: U.S. web firm drops 8chan after El Paso shooting (
Washington Post, August 5, 2019)
Calls to de-platform the site had intensified Sunday as authorities worked to confirm that Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old suspect in the El Paso shooting, had posted a manifesto decrying a 'Hispanic invasion of Texas' to 8chan before the attack. The suspected shooters at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and a synagogue in San Diego also reportedly posted on the site before carrying out their attacks. On Sunday, some 8chan message boards celebrated the El Paso massacre.
The site’s founder, Fredrick Brennan, was among those calling for 8chan to be shut down after the El Paso shooting.
Ohio Republican facing calls from party to resign after blaming gay marriage, Obama for shootings (Daily KOS, August 5, 2019)
"Why not place the blame where it belongs," complained state Rep. Candice Keller, proceeding to point to "the breakdown of the traditional American family (thank you, transgender, homosexual marriage, and drag queen advocates)”—interestingly, no mention of a thrice-married president—“open borders,” “hatred of our veterans,” “violent video games,” “snowflakes,” “failed school policies,” and “professional athletes,” just to name a few.
There was no mention of mass killing machines, or of white supremacy, which definitely led to the killing of 22 in El Paso. Nor did Keller clarify why “open borders” led to that massacre, when it was the white supremacist who drove nine hours to terrorize this peaceful community.
America’s unique gun violence problem, explained in 16 maps and charts (Vox, August 5, 2019)
In the developed world, these levels of gun violence are a uniquely American problem. Here’s why.
Trump Condemns White Supremacy but Doesn’t Propose Gun Laws After Shootings (New York Times, August 5, 2019)
Mr. Trump stopped well short of endorsing the kind of broad gun control measures that activists and Democrats have sought for years, instead falling back on time-honored Republican remedies, calling for stronger action to address mental illness, violence in the media and in video games. He warned of “the perils of the internet and social media” with no acknowledgment of his use of those platforms to promote his brand of divisive politics.
Facebook let Trump's campaign run over 2,000 ads referring to immigration as an “invasion” (Media Matters, August 5,  2019)
At least nine other Republicans have also pushed the white supremacist, anti-immigrant talking point in Facebook ads.
‘How do you stop these people?’: Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric looms over El Paso massacre (
Washington Post, August 4, 2019)
President Trump has relentlessly used his bully pulpit to decry Latino migration as 'an invasion of our country.' He has demonized undocumented immigrants as 'thugs' and 'animals.' He has defended the detention of migrant children, hundreds of whom have been held in squalor. And he has warned that without a wall to prevent people from crossing the border from Mexico, America would no longer be America.
'How do you stop these people? You can’t,' Trump lamented at a May rally in Panama City Beach, Fla. Someone in the crowd yelled back one idea: 'Shoot them.' The audience of thousands cheered and Trump smiled. Shrugging off the suggestion, he quipped, 'Only in the Panhandle can you get away with that statement.'
On Saturday, a 21-year-old white man entered a shopping center in El Paso, according to police, and allegedly decided to 'shoot them.'
To experts in the field, the El Paso rampage was predictable. Frank Figliuzzi, a former head of counterintelligence at the FBI, wrote in a column published just four days earlier in the New York Times that Trump’s words eventually could incite bloodshed. 'The president has fallen short of calling for overt violence against minorities and immigrants, but unbalanced minds among us may fail to note the distinction,' Figliuzzi wrote. 'If a president paints people of color as the enemy, encourages them to be sent back to where they came from and implies that no humans want to live in certain American cities, he gives license to those who feel compelled to eradicate what Mr. Trump calls an infestation.'
Terror and Policy: 2 Sides of White Nationalism (New York Times, August 4, 2019)
The white supremacist terrorists and the white supremacist policymakers share the same mission.
El Paso shooting suspect could face federal hate crime charges (Washington Post, August 4, 2019)
A weekend of mass murder reflects how American violence goes viral (Washington Post, August 4, 2019)
2 cities, 13 hours, 29 dead.
NEW: Timeline: The deadliest mass shootings in the US (Al Jazeera, August 4, 2019)
Thirty people die in two mass shootings within hours, shocking the country and prompting calls for tighter gun control.
Back-to-Back Bursts of Gun Violence in El Paso and Dayton Stun Country (New York Times, August 4, 2019)
In a country that has become nearly numb to men with guns opening fire in schools, at concerts and in churches, the back-to-back bursts of gun violence in less than 24 hours were enough to leave the public stunned and shaken. The shootings ground the 2020 presidential campaign to a halt, reignited a debate on gun control and called into question the increasingly angry words directed at immigrants on the southern border in recent weeks by right-wing pundits and President Trump.

40 Ways Ohio Now Proposes Nuclear Suicide (Counterpunch, August 2, 2019)
A bought, gerrymandered Ohio Legislature has just handed a much-hated $150 million/year public bailout to two dinosaur nuke reactors primed to explode. It also bails out two filthy 50-year-old coal burners and guts programs for increased efficiency.
The Opioid and Trump Addictions: Symptoms of the Same Malaise (
Counterpunch, August 2, 2019)
'Socioeconomic conditions' account for only about two-thirds of the Trump-opioid connection - which is to say, the economic decline is not sufficient to explain it. Many equally precarious Black and Hispanic communities elsewhere in the country have neither turned massively to Trump or to opioids. Clearly there is something different about the culture of opioid country.
What is immediately different for indigent people in rural Kentucky or the Mahoning Valley of Ohio is that so far as they are concerned, they didn’t simply lose their jobs; the Blacks got them - because the Government favors Blacks.
Did you say, ‘Hey, Siri’? Apple and Amazon curtail human review of voice recordings. (Washington Post, August 2, 2019)
The tech giant is suspending the review of how its voice assistant activates after privacy concerns were raised.
Many smart-speaker owners don’t realize that Siri, Alexa and, until recently Google’s Assistant, keep recordings of everything they hear after their so-called “wake word” to help train their artificial intelligences. Google quietly changed its defaults last year, and Assistant no longer automatically records what it hears after the prompt “Hey, Google.”
Apple said it uses the data “to help Siri and dictation . . . understand you better and recognize what you say,” Apple said. But this wasn’t made clear to users in Apple’s terms and conditions.
AI system 'should be recognised as inventor' (BBC News, August 1, 2019)
(Almost as wrong as claiming that corporations are people.)
Scientists are making human-monkey hybrids in China (MIT Technology Review, August 1, 2019)
The US, China and Spain are involved in the controversial research, designed to grow human organ transplants. In the US, the National Institutes of Health says federal funds can never be used to create mixed human-monkey embryos. However, there is no such rule in China, which is probably why the research is occurring there.
China’s army just released a video showing soldiers practicing shooting protesters (Washington Post, August 1, 2019)
LightSail 2 Spacecraft Successfully Demonstrates Flight by Light (The Planetary Society, July 31, 2019)
Jeffrey Epstein Hoped to Seed Human Race With His DNA (New York Times, July 31, 2019)
Mr. Epstein, who was charged in July with the sexual trafficking of girls as young as 14, was a serial illusionist: He lied about the identities of his clients, his wealth, his financial prowess, his personal achievements. But he managed to use connections and charisma to cultivate valuable relationships with business and political leaders.
Interviews with more than a dozen of his acquaintances, as well as public documents, show that he used the same tactics to insinuate himself into an elite scientific community, thus allowing him to pursue his interests in eugenics and other fringe fields like cryonics.
NEW: Dutch cheesed off at Microsoft, call for Rexit from Office Online, Mobile apps over Redmond data slurping (The Register, July 30, 2019)
Bernie Sanders’s bold ideas are transforming Democratic politics (
Washington Post, July 30, 2019)
Sanders is shaping the race in ways that are often underappreciated by a media that often marginalizes and misrepresents him.
Drain Big Money Out of Politics. Overturn Citizens United. Pass the 28th Amendment (Newsweek, July 30,  2019)
Today, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) introduces the Democracy for All Amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and get big money out of politics.
NEW: The Turmoil at the BLM Is Threatening Public Lands (Outside, July  30, 2019)
All signs point to a massive selloff of federally managed public lands, as BLM officials defy congressional oversight.
‘Moscow Mitch’ Tag Enrages McConnell and Squeezes G.O.P. on Election Security (New York Times, July 30, 2019)
Why Mitch McConnell Won't Protect U.S. Voting (The Young Turks, July 29, 2019)
McConnell (R.-Kentucky) recently refused to bring two voting security measures that had passed the House up for a vote in the Senate. Republicans are constantly bandying conspiracy theories about tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google cheating them. And those firms have a widely reported liberal bias, so shouldn’t McConnell want to protect his GOP colleagues from digital manipulation by Silicon Valley? Cenk proposes two theories to explain McConnell’s actions - one, corruption and two, that if foreign actors are interfering in elections to help the GOP, he doesn’t want to do anything to hamper those efforts.
Then, on a completely unrelated note, John mentions that Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s company, recently removed from the sanctions list, mind you, has opted to invest millions of dollars in an aluminum plant in - get this - Kentucky. Fun to at least enjoy this wild coincidence as the integrity of our voting system disintegrates.

Capital One Data Breach Compromises Data of Over 100 Million (New York Times, July 29, 2019)
"While the breach was possible because of a security lapse by Capital One, it was aided by Ms. Thompson’s expertise.
Trump’s new intelligence pick could make Russian interference more likely (Washington Post, July 29, 2019)
"President Trump has announced that he will nominate ultraconservative Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) to be the new director of national intelligence, replacing Daniel Coats to oversee an intelligence apparatus that sprawls across 17 different federal agencies and touches the most sensitive and complex national security challenges faced by our country. It’s not because he has served on the House Intelligence Committee for six whole months. It’s because Donald Trump saw him on TV yelling about how the Russia investigation was a big witch hunt.
Trump 'richly deserves' impeachment, says House Judiciary chair (Daily KOS, July 29, 2019)
Donald Trump 'richly deserves' to be impeached, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler said on Sunday, but despite growing support, House Democrats are still holding back. Trump 'has done many impeachable offenses' and 'violated the law six ways from Sunday,' Nadler said on CNN, but 'That’s not the question. The question is, can we develop enough evidence to put before the American people?'
NEW: Tenants say 'slumlord' Jared Kushner's Maryland properties are crawling with mice and maggots - even as father-in-law Trump tweets about 'rodent infested' Baltimore (Daily Mail, July 28, 2019)
- President Trump was slammed as racist over weekend because of tweets about 'rodent infested' Baltimore
- Trump targeted House Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democrat who represents Maryland's seventh congressional district
- Baltimore County officials, however, noted that it was ironic Trump was talking about 'infestation' when his son-in-law is an accused 'slumlord'
- Jared Kushner owns thousands of rental units in Baltimore County, which tenants say are infested with mice and maggots
- Kushner's property management company has also been accused of using aggressive tactics to collect debts from tenants who move out
Trump's racism is about to have an impact (
Daily KOS, July 28, 2019)
Obama shares impassioned anti-Trump op-ed on Twitter (Daily KOS, July 27, 2019)
There is truly nothing more un-American than calling on fellow citizens to leave our country - by citing their immigrant roots, or ancestry, or their unwillingness to sit in quiet obedience while democracy is being undermined.
We refuse to sit idly by as racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia are wielded by the president and any elected official complicit in the poisoning of our democracy.
The Roots of Boeing’s 737 Max Crisis: A Regulator Relaxes Its Oversight (New York Times, July 27, 2019)
For decades, the F.A.A. relied on engineers inside Boeing to help certify aircraft. But after intense lobbying by industry, the agency adopted rules in 2005 that would give manufacturers like Boeing even more control. Previously, the agency selected the company engineers to work on its behalf; under the new regulations, Boeing could choose them.
But some F.A.A. engineers were concerned that they were no longer able to effectively monitor what was happening inside Boeing. In a PowerPoint presentation to agency managers in 2016, union representatives raised concerns about a 'brain drain' and the 'inability to hire and retain qualified personnel.' By 2018, the F.A.A. was letting the company certify 96 percent of its own work, according to an agency official. Nicole Potter, an F.A.A. propulsion and fuel systems engineer who worked on the Max, said supervisors repeatedly asked her to give up the right to approve safety documents. She often had to fight to keep the work. 'Leadership was targeting a high level of delegation,' Ms. Potter said. When F.A.A. employees didn’t have time to approve a critical document, she said, 'managers could delegate it back to Boeing.'
It was a process Mr. Bahrami championed to lawmakers. After spending more than two decades at the F.A.A., he left the agency in 2013 and took a job at the Aerospace Industries Association, a trade group that represents Boeing and other manufacturers. 'We urge the F.A.A. to allow maximum use of delegation,' Mr. Bahrami told Congress in his new lobbying role, arguing it would help American manufacturers compete.
In 2017, Mr. Bahrami returned to the F.A.A. as the head of safety.
‘It snuck up on us’: Scientists stunned by ‘city-killer’ asteroid that just missed Earth (
Washington Post, July 26, 2019)
NASA confirmed that on July 25, Asteroid 2019 OK passed about 73,000 kilometers from Earth, roughly one-fifth the distance to the Moon. What would we do if an near-Earth object (NEO) were found to be on a collision course with Earth? Could we deflect the asteroid
to prevent the impact?
Brain-eating amoeba kills again - here’s how it kills and how to avoid it (Ars Technica, July 26, 2019)
It kills more than 97% of its victims. Only four people in the US have ever survived it.
NEW: Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset (
Washington Post, July 26, 2019)
Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today. Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves.
Let’s call this what it is: unpatriotic. The Kentucky Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding.
There is a strategy behind Trump's madness, and it's already much later than you think (Daily KOS, July  26, 2019)
Supreme Court Lets Trump Proceed on Border Wall (New York Times, July 26, 2019)
Mind-boggling press malpractice (Daily KOS, July 25, 2019)
This was their do-over and their chance to make up for all those 'Attorney General Barr Says That Trump is Innocent and King' headlines. Here are the headlines that should have been out there today:
'Mueller Says Russia is DOING IT AGAIN'
'Mueller Says Trump was Untruthful in Written Answers'
'Mueller Blasts Trump’s Gleeful Encouragement of Foreign Election Interference'
'Mueller States that Numerous Members of Trump Administration Lied During Investigation, Obscuring Deeper Truths About the Trump Campaign’s Role in Assisting or Cheering Russian Interference'
'Mueller States that Trump Can Be Indicted When He Leaves Office'
'Mueller Says that DOJ Policy Prevented Indictment Against Trump'
'Republicans Devote Hearing to Debunked and Unsubstantiated Conspiracy Theories'
The IRS turned over Nixon’s tax returns the same day a congressional panel asked for them (Washington Post, July 25, 2019)
The newly released documents appear to contradict the Trump administration’s claims that House Democrats’ demands for the president’s tax returns are 'unprecedented,' and suggest a split between this administration and past IRS officials over the interpretation of the law.
NEW: Where the Trump administration is thwarting House oversight (
Washington Post, July 25, 2019)
Since taking control of the House after the 2018 midterms, Democrats have sought to exert their oversight power over the Trump administration by opening up dozens of investigations and inquiries. The White House has pushed back, refusing to provide information and challenging Congressional subpoenas in court. Here’s where the most important oversight battles stand, and which House committee chairs are making the demands.
Ilhan Omar: It Is Not Enough to Condemn Trump’s Racism (New  York Times, July 25, 2019)
The nation’s ideals are under attack, and it is up to all of us to defend them.
The reasons for weaponizing division are not mysterious. Racial fear prevents Americans from building community with one another - and community is the lifeblood of a functioning democratic society. Throughout our history, racist language has been used to turn American against American in order to benefit the wealthy elite. Every time Mr. Trump attacks refugees is a time that could be spent discussing the president’s unwillingness to raise the federal minimum wage for up to 33 million Americans. Every racist attack on four members of Congress is a moment he doesn’t have to address why his choice for labor secretary has spent his career defending Wall Street banks and Walmart at the expense of workers. When he is launching attacks on the free press, he isn’t talking about why his Environmental Protection Agency just refused to ban a pesticide linked to brain damage in children.
His efforts to pit religious minorities against one another stem from the same playbook. If working Americans are too busy fighting with one another, we will never address the very real and deep problems our country faces - from climate change to soaring inequality to lack of quality affordable health care.
An Ecstatic Homecoming for AOC (Jacobin, July 25, 2019)
At a recent town hall in Queens, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez received a rapturous reception from constituents, many of them activists who spoke out about their local organizing work. The lesson was clear: to keep up the fight, she and her Congressional colleagues will need more than applause - they’ll need a movement behind them.
U.S. Justice Department Resumes Use of Death Penalty, Schedules Five Executions (Reuters, July 25, 2019)
U.S. public support for the death penalty has declined since the 1990s, according to opinion polls, and all European Union nations have abolished it. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes the practice should not happen anywhere, spokesman Farhan Haq said.
No climate event of the last 2,000 years looks like this humanity-caused one (Ars Technica, July 25, 2019)
Warm or cool periods you may have heard of were regional affairs.
Inside Chris Hughes’s campaign to break up Facebook, the tech ‘monopoly’ he helped create (Washington Post, July 25, 2019)
Facebook’s wealth and power and massive user base have pushed it into monopoly territory, and its acquisitions of rivals have squashed competition. Co-founder Hughes, who left the social media giant in 2007 and cashed out his nearly $500 million worth of stock, has been making the rounds in the nation’s capital to press the case for breaking up the social network.

FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra's dissenting statement re Facebook case (US Federal Trade Commission, July 24, 2019)
"The case against Facebook is about more than just privacy - it is also about the power to control and manipulate. Global regulators and policymakers need to confront the dangers associated with mass surveillance and the resulting ability to control and influence us. The behavioral advertising business incentives of technology platforms spur practices that are dividing our society. The harm from this conduct is immeasurable, and regulators and policymakers must confront it.
We should reasonably assume Facebook seeks to advance its own financial gains. Here, Facebook’s behavioral advertising business model is both the company’s profit engine and arguably the root cause of its widespread and systemic problems. Behavioral advertising generates profits by turning users into products, their activity into assets, their communities into targets, and social media platforms into weapons of mass manipulation. We need to recognize the dangerous threat that this business model can pose to our democracy and economy.
(Trump appointed Chopra because FTC rules prohibit more than three members from any political party.)
Calls Mount to Ease Big Tech’s Grip on Your Data (New York Times, July 24, 2019)
"We all create valuable data points with every tap on a screen or keystroke - clicks, searches, likes, posts, purchases and more. We hand it over willingly for free services. But the biggest economic windfall goes to the tech giants like Google and Facebook. Their corporate wealth is built on harvesting and commercializing the information supplied by the online multitudes.
'Imagine if General Motors did not pay for its steel, rubber or glass - its inputs,' said Robert J. Shapiro, an economist who recently did an analysis of the value of data. 'That’s what it’s like for the big internet companies. It’s a sweet deal.'
But there is a growing collection of people seeking ways to alter that arrangement. As a disparate group of academics, economists, technologists and lawmakers, their politics range from moderately liberal to free-market conservative.
The rising calls for a better data bargain come during an intensifying backlash against Big Tech and its handling of user data. Lawmakers and regulators in several countries are investigating the companies’ market power, their role as gatekeepers of communication and their handling of data, especially in failing to protect users’ privacy.
Facebook to pay massive $5.1B fines in settlement with FTC, SEC (Housing Wire, July 24, 2019)
"Social media giant will cough up serious change for Cambridge Analytica debacle.
(But that's NOT serious change for Facebook!)
Ricardo Rosselló, Puerto Rico’s Governor, Resigns After Protests (
New York Times, July 24, 2019)
Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico announced his resignation on Wednesday night, conceding that he could no longer credibly remain in power after an extraordinary popular uprising and looming impeachment proceedings had derailed his administration. In a statement posted online just before midnight, Mr. Rosselló, 40, said he would step down on Aug. 2.
In Europe, a historic heat wave is shattering records with astonishing ease, may hasten Arctic melt (Washington Post, July 24, 2019)
Climate studies have consistently shown that heat waves are becoming more common, severe and longer-lasting as the global average surface temperature warms. In other words, heat waves are now hotter than they used to be, making it easier to set all-time records.
A published earlier this year found a record-breaking summer heat wave in Japan during 2018 'could not have happened without human-induced global warming.' And a recent rapid attribution analysis, which has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed science journal, showed that the early summer heat wave in Europe was made at least five times more likely to occur in the current climate than if human-caused warming had not occurred.
The GOP’s questions to Mueller seemed bizarre - unless you watch Fox News (Washington Post, July 24, 2019)
Treating right-wing conspiracy theories as smoking guns shows that Republicans are mostly speaking to their base.
How to Take Down Trump (New York Times, July 24, 2019)
Robert Mueller is just not good at drama. Think of him as Robert 'I’d Refer You to the Report for That' Mueller. The hearing was a miscalculation on the part of the Democrats, who were a little frustrated that Mueller’s report, although damning for Trump, did not have the kind of juicy language that makes for memorable headlines. His big quote, after all, was: 'If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so.' But you don’t have to be thrilling if you’re willing.
Robert Mueller testifies (
CNN, July 24 2019)
Here's what you need to know about Mueller's day (
CNN, July 24, 2019)
Right at the outset, Mueller clarified the most significant exchange from earlier in the day. He did not intend to say they did not indict the president because of the OLC guidance. He clarified that he meant that because of the OLC guidance there was no decision either way on whether to indict.
In clear and concise language, Mueller reminded the panel why his investigation matters: 'We spent substantial time ensuring the integrity of the report understanding that it would be our living - a message to those who come after us. But it also is a signal, a flag to those of us who have some responsibility in this area to exercise those responsibilities swiftly and don't let this problem continue to linger as it has over so many years.'
Mueller defended not subpoenaing the President because of the prolonged process to fight over it. But asked if anyone tried to stop it, Mueller made clear they could have subpoenaed if they wanted to.
Mueller condemned the behavior of the President and his son. On Trump’s WikiLeaks comments, Mueller said 'problematic is an understatement.' An exchange between Donald Trump, Jr. and WikiLeaks was 'disturbing and also subject to investigation.' At another point, he refused to weigh in on the President’s credibility. He also said he felt the president was not truthful in his written answers.
Robert Mueller sticks to the script in high-profile hearings (CNN
, July 24, 2019)
NEW: Fighting Deepfakes Gets Real (Fortune, July 24, 2019)
Like a zombie horde, they keep coming. First, there were the pixelated likenesses of actresses Gal Gadot and Scarlett Johansson brushstroked into dodgy user-generated adult films. Then a disembodied digital Barack Obama and Donald Trump appeared in clips they never agreed to, saying things the real Obama and Trump never said. And in June, a machine-learning-generated version of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg making scary comments about privacy went viral.
Welcome to the age of deepfakes, an emerging threat powered by artificial intelligence that puts words in the mouths of people in video or audio clips, conjures convincing headshots from a sea of selfies, and even puts individuals in places they’ve never been, interacting with people they’ve never met.
NEW: "Anonymous" Data Won't Protect Your Identity (Scientific American, July 23, 2019)
In the U.S., on average, if you have 15 characteristics (including age, gender or marital status), that is enough to reidentify Americans in any anonymized data set 99.98 percent of the time. Although 15 pieces of demographic information may sound like a lot, it represents a drop in the bucket in terms of what is really out there: in 2017 a marketing analytics company landed in hot water for accidentally publishing an anonymized data set that contained 248 attributes for each of 123 million American households.
NEW: LightSail 2 Unfurls, Next Step Toward Space Travel by Solar Sail (New York Times, July 23, 2019)
The ability to sail across the cosmos, powered by the energy of the sun, is finally becoming a reality. Engineers in California pressed a button on Tuesday that unfurled the sails on a satellite that can be steered around Earth, advancing long held hopes for an inexhaustible form of spaceflight and expanding the possibilities for navigating the voids between worlds.
NASA TV special coverage: 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 first steps on the Moon.
(NASA, July 20, 2019 - 10:38PM EDT)
"Replay of original Moonwalk broadcast from July 20, 1969.
Apollo 11: The final 13 minutes that took humans to the Moon (BBC,
July 20, 2019)
Are We Heading Toward Extinction? (
Huffington Post, July 20, 2019)
"The Earth’s species - plants, animals and humans, alike - are facing imminent demise. How we got here, and how to cope.
You will find yourself among the throngs of humanity who are easily distracted and amused, playing with their toys as the house burns, 'tranquilized by the trivial,' as Kierkegaard said, and speaking of the future as though it was going to go on as it has. After all, we made it this far. We have proven our superiority at figuring things out and removing obstacles to our desires. We killed off most of the large wild mammals and most of the indigenous peoples in order to take their lands. We bent nature to our will, paved over her forests and grasslands, rerouted and dammed her rivers, dug up what journalist Thom Hartmann calls her 'ancient sunlight,' and burned that dead creature goo into the atmosphere so that our vehicles could motor us around on land, sea, and air and our weapons could keep our enemies in check. And now we have given her atmosphere a high fever. But, as the old adage has it, (a phrase I first heard in the 1980s, which has informed me ever since), 'Nature bats last.'
Huge area of the United States broils on what could be the hottest weekend in U.S. history (Daily KOS, July 20, 2019)
Refineries Across America Could Create Catastrophic Acid Clouds. It Almost Happened In Philly. (Huffington Post, July 20, 2019)
Last month’s explosion at a 150-year-old oil refinery in Philadelphia could have forced 1.1 million people to evacuate.
An onslaught of pills, hundreds of thousands of deaths: Who is accountable? (Washington Post, July 20, 2019)
The origin, evolution and astonishing scale of America’s catastrophic opioid epidemic just got a lot clearer. The drug industry - the pill manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers - found it profitable to flood some of the most vulnerable communities in America with billions of painkillers. They continued to move their product, and the medical community and government agencies failed to take effective action, even when it became apparent that these pills were fueling addiction and overdoses and were getting diverted to the streets.
This has been broadly known for years, but this past week, the more precise details became public for the first time in a trove of data released after a legal challenge.
Iran seizes British tanker in Strait of Hormuz (BBC, July 20, 2019)
NEW: Ranked-Choice Voting pitched as inclusive election reform (Boston Metrowest Daily News, July 20, 2019)
Ranked choice voting would allow voters to rank multiple candidates in order of preference. If no candidate gets a majority of the vote when the election is tallied, an instant runoff occurs.
'We’re all here in this shared effort to ensure that every voter in Massachusetts has a greater voice when they go to the polls.'
At minimum, we as a Legislature, should provide an easy path forward for our towns and cities to say, ‘Yes, we want ranked choice voting for our community.'
NEW: The Great Hack: the film that goes behind the scenes of the Facebook data scandal (The Guardian, July 20, 2019)
This week, a Netflix documentary on Cambridge Analytica sheds light on one of the most complex scandals of our time. Carole Cadwalladr, who broke the story and appears in the film, looks at the fallout – and finds 'surveillance capitalism' out of control
Carroll’s doomed attempt to lift the veil from the data-industrial complex that underpinned Cambridge Analytica is the dark heart of the film. Because although he proved that the firm had illegally processed his data, ultimately his attempt to retrieve that data was thwarted by Cambridge Analytica’s decision to liquidate.
Carroll’s experience is just one of the many unknowns that still surround this story. We still know very little about what the company actually did with the data. Who was targeted? With what ads? In what locations? Carroll knows nothing about the nature of the 5,000 data points the firm claimed, in its own marketing, to have on 230 million American voters, including himself. We still have no clear picture what Cambridge Analytica did for Trump. Or what it did in any of the dozens of elections worldwide it claimed to have worked on – what Carroll calls 'subversion on an industrial scale'. All we know is that both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent the facts coming out.
The data swamp remains dark, toxic and invisible. But what the film tries to do through creative and unusual graphics is to make the invisible visible: pixels representing data bytes float off Carroll as he rides the subway – the informational exhaust fumes we give off, hundreds of thousands of data points every day, which are hoovered up and monetised by the tech monopoly giants in ways we can’t see or understand.
Trump Is Stuck In A Racist Catch-22: Saturday's Good News (
Daily KOS, July 20, 2019)
‘He always doubles down’: Inside the political crisis caused by Trump’s racist tweets  (
Washington Post, July 20, 2019)
Trump ordered an all-hands White House effort to keep the GOP caucus together. White House aides told allies on the Hill that it was okay to criticize Trump, as long as they didn’t vote with Democrats. Trump was obsessed with the vote tally and received regular briefings. Aides fed him a constant stream of lawmaker reactions and put him on the phone himself with several lawmakers. He told his team to tell any wafflers that he loves America and that they needed to pick sides.
What do ‘Lock her up’ and ‘Send her back’ have in common? It’s pretty obvious. (Washington Post, July 20, 2019)
In the Trump vernacular, any woman could become one who should be locked up or sent back. Trump asserts no one should criticize the U.S. as he resumes attacks on four legislators. ‘Send her back!’: Trump, Ilhan Omar and the complicated history of back to Africa.
Trump vows congresswomen ‘can’t get away with’ criticizing U.S. (Washington Post, July 19, 2019)
President Trump broadly declared Friday that no one should criticize the United States while he is president, part of a renewed attack on four minority congresswomen whom he has targeted as un-American. Trump also praised his supporters who chanted at a rally, 'Send her back!,' a refrain directed at one of the lawmakers, ­Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The president called the campaign crowd 'incredible patriots' - a day after saying he disagreed with the chant.
Speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, he claimed that the congresswomen have talked about 'evil Jews,' which they haven’t, and inaccurately said ­Ocasio-Cortez had called America 'garbage,' when she was actually talking about not settling for incremental policies that were '10 percent better than garbage.'”
Trump’s shift Friday was reminiscent of how he responded to the deadly clash between white nationalists and protesters in Charlottesville in August 2017. He initially denounced the bigotry and hatred, then issued a stronger statement calling the racism practiced by hate groups 'evil,' but the next day he spoke of 'very fine people on both sides.'
The lesson of Ivanka Trump’s latest reported intervention with her father  (Washington Post, July 19, 2019)
President Trump issued the subtlest of rebukes Thursday to his supporters who chanted 'send her back' about Somali American Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). He said he disagreed with the chant and that he tried to stop it. (He didn’t.)
And who reportedly advocated for that course-correction? You guessed it: his daughter, Ivanka Trump. Thursday was merely the latest time the president’s daughter has been reported to have intervened to guard against her father’s worst impulses.
Trump has already downplayed the severity of the 'send her back' chants, and if he had to be persuaded to say he disagreed with them, that shows you what he really thinks. That’s really the lesson of Ivanka Trump’s repeated, reported interventions.
DHS head says 'fewer than 1,000' kids recently separated, like it's something to be proud of (Daily KOS, July 19, 2019)
Trump Win on Health Plans Advances Effort to Undo Obamacare (Bloomberg, July 19, 2019)
Judge rejects challenge to short-term plans that flout the ACA. Trouble for Republicans is also possible in wake of 2018 vote/

Altered States of Consciousness: The Neuropsychology of How Time Perception Modulates Our Experience of Self, from Depression to Boredom to Creative Flow (Brain Pickings, July 19, 2019)
The brain does not simply represent the world in a disembodied way as an intellectual construct… Our mind is body-bound. We think, feel, and act with our body in the world. All experience is embedded in this body-related being-in-the-world.
NEW: Car parts from weeds: The future of green motoring? (BBC, July 19, 2019)
The carbon footprint of making a new car varies greatly depending on the model, but it is usually big. Some have calculated that as much carbon is emitted to manufacture a car as is emitted by driving it across its lifetime.
That's why Selena, a research group in Poland, is turning to plants that are not used in the human food chain as a potential source of eco-friendly plastics. It's called the Biomotive project and it has been awarded €15m (£13.5m) from the EU.
NEW: 'Unprecedented' Decline of Plants and Animals as Global 'Red List' Reveals Nearly One-Third of Assessed Species Under Threat (Common Dreams, July 18, 2019)
"We must act now both on biodiversity loss and climate change."
E.P.A. Won’t Ban Chlorpyrifos, Pesticide Tied to Children’s Health Problems (New York Times, July 18, 2019)
The Trump administration took a major step to weaken the regulation of toxic chemicals on Thursday when the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would not ban a widely used pesticide that its own experts have linked to serious health problems in children. The decision by Andrew R. Wheeler, the E.P.A. administrator, represents a victory for the chemical industry and for farmers who have lobbied to continue using the substance, chlorpyrifos, arguing it is necessary to protect crops.
It was the administration’s second major move this year to roll back or eliminate chemical safety rules. In April, the agency disregarded the advice of its own experts when officials issued a rule that restricted but did not ban asbestos, a known carcinogen. Agency scientists and lawyers had urged the E.P.A. to ban asbestos outright, as do most other industrialized nations.
Collins pays for allegiance to Trump, plummets further in approval ratings than any other senator (Daily KOS, July 18, 2019)
'Hot weather is dangerous and can kill:' City officials urge residents to prepare for grueling heat wave (Accuweather, July 18, 2019)
I found your data. It’s for sale. (Washington Post, July 18, 2019)
Computers using Chrome and Firefox extensions to collect your browser data are putting your privacy at risk. As many as 4 million people have Web browser extensions that sell their every click. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In total, Jadali’s research identified six suspect Chrome and Firefox extensions with more than a few users: Hover Zoom, SpeakIt!, SuperZoom, Helper, FairShare Unlock and PanelMeasurement.

(Note that these are independent extensions. Firefix is not a problem; Chrome IS.)
Microsoft will give away software to guard U.S. voting machines (NBC News, July 17, 2019)
The tech giant said it had tracked 781 cyberattacks by foreign adversaries targeting political organizations so far this election cycle.
The company said it was rolling out the free, open-source software product called ElectionGuard, which it said uses encryption to 'enable a new era of secure, verifiable voting.' The company is working with election machine vendors and local governments to deploy the system in a pilot program for the 2020 election.
Microsoft, Google and Apple clouds banned in Hesse/Germany’s schools (Sophos, July 17, 2019)
The problem is twofold, it explained. Firstly, it isn’t happy with Microsoft storing personal data (especially children’s data) in a European cloud that could be accessed by US authorities, adding, 'The digital sovereignty of state data processing must be guaranteed.'
Its other issue is with Microsoft’s data slurping. It warned: 'With the use of the Windows 10 operating system, a wealth of telemetry data is transmitted to Microsoft, whose content has not been finally clarified despite repeated inquiries to Microsoft. Such data is also transmitted when using Office 365.' HBDI is taking its lead from the Federal Office for Information Security, which posted a technical analysis of Windows 10 telemetry in November 2018 (chapters 1.2 onwards are in English).
You can’t solve this problem by asking users for consent, the HBDI added. If you can’t be certain what data Microsoft collects or how the company will use it, then you can’t give informed consent.
Although the majority of the report focused on Microsoft Office 365, HBDI explicitly called out other cloud service providers, so schools can’t use Google Docs or Apple’s iWork either: 'What is true for Microsoft is also true for the Google and Apple cloud solutions. The cloud solutions of these providers have so far not been transparent and comprehensible set out. Therefore, it is also true that for schools, privacy-compliant use is currently not possible.'

Turkey crosses “red line,” gets booted from F-35 partnership (
Ars Technica, July 17, 2019)
"Erdoğan's welcome of Russian missiles puts nail in coffin of F-35 buy.
Tesla floats fully self-driving cars as soon as this year. Many are worried about what that will unleash. (Washington Post,  July 17, 2019)
The electric-car maker said it will do that without light detection and ranging, or lidar, complex sensors that use laser lights to map the environment - technology most autonomous vehicle makers consider necessary. Even with lidar, many of those manufacturers have adopted a slow and deliberate approach to self-driving vehicles, with limited testing on public roads.
Tesla shows little sign of such caution, officials said. And because autonomous vehicles are largely self-regulated - guided by industry standards but with no clearly enforceable rules - no one can stop the automaker from moving ahead.
Elon Musk Announces Plan to 'Merge' Human Brains With AI (Vice, July 17, 2019)
Neuralink wants to start by treating brain injuries, and eventually 'achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence'.
Musk’s newest startup is venturing into a series of hard problems (Ars Technica, July 16, 2019)
Elon Musk will describe his plans for Neuralink, a brain-computer interface company.
76 billion opioid pills: Newly released federal data unmasks the epidemic (Washington Post, July 16, 2019)
America’s largest drug companies saturated the country with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills from 2006 through 2012 as the nation’s deadliest drug epidemic spun out of control, according to previously undisclosed company data released as part of the largest civil action in U.S. history. The information comes from a database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration that tracks the path of every single pain pill sold in the United States - from manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and city. The data provides an unprecedented look at the surge of legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic, which has resulted in nearly 100,000 deaths from 2006 through 2012.
Neo-Nazi troll Anglin's celebratory mood crushed by $14 million judgment against him (Daily KOS, July 16, 2019)
DuckDuckGo, A Feisty Google Adversary, Tests How Much People Care About Privacy (New York Times, July 15, 2019)
White House projects $1 trillion deficit for 2019 (The Hill, July 15, 2019)
The White House projects that the federal deficit will surpass $1 trillion this year, the only time in the nation's history the deficit has exceeded that level excluding the 5-year period following the Great Recession. As a candidate, President Trump had promised to not only wipe out the deficit, but the entire federal debt, which has surpassed $22 trillion.
Parents say Border Patrol asked migrant toddler to pick which parent got to stay with her in US (
The Hill, July 15, 2019)
‘His own fiefdom’: Mulvaney builds ‘an empire for the right wing’ as Trump’s chief of staff (
Washington Post, July 15, 2019)
He has helped install more than a dozen ideologically aligned advisers in the West Wing since his December hiring. Cabinet members are pressed weekly on what regulations they can strip from the books and have been told their performance will be judged on how many they remove. Policy and spending decisions are now made by the White House and dictated to Cabinet agencies, instead of vice versa.
Lindsey Graham’s and the GOP’s initial responses to Trump’s ‘go back’ tweets are a mess (Washington Post, July 15, 2019)
They’re all over the place, and they’re often nonsensical.
About Trump's Racist Tweets (Public Citizen, July 15, 2019)
What Pelosi Versus the Squad Really Means (New York Times, July 15, 2019)
The progressive-liberal civil war isn’t just a conflict of what’s too far left.
Liberalism loves sympathy, suspects rage and detests cruelty. Politics is inevitably a dialogue between partial truths. Compromise is a virtue, not a sign of cowardice. Moreover, means determine ends.
Many of today’s young leaders, and their older allies, don’t want to work within the established liberal system. They want to blow it up. They embrace essentialism, which is the antithesis of liberalism. Essentialism is the belief that people are defined by a single identity that never changes.
So which side will prevail? Over the short term, I’d put my money on the anti-liberals.
The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: Here's how to choose a president (The Hill, July 14, 2019)
Trump’s Tweets Prove That He Is a Raging Racist, by Charles M. Blow (
New York Times, July 14, 2019)
It is undeniably true that America’s president opposes diversity.
The central framing of this kind of thinking is that this is a white country, founded and built by white men, and destined to be maintained as a white country. For anyone to be accepted as truly American they must assimilate and acquiesce to that narrative, to bow to that heritage and bend to those customs. It sees a country from which black and brown people come as deficient - 'a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world' - because, at its base, it sees black and brown people as deficient.
It is a form of white identitarianism, which opposes multiculturalism, but refuses to deem that opposition racist.
And so, it chafes when these black and brown women from exotic-sounding places with exotic-sounding names would dare to challenge the white patriarchy in this country. Why do they not know their place? Why do they not genuflect to the gentry? Why do they not recognize - and honor - the white man’s superiority?
Start here: because the entire white supremacist ideology and ethos is a lie. America expanded much of its territory through the shedding of blood and breaking of treaties with Native Americans. It established much of its wealth through 250 years of exploiting black bodies for free labor. And, for the entire history of this country, some degree of anti-blackness has existed. Now, there is an intensifying anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant xenophobia.
America was born with a congenital illness and it has been in need of active rehabilitation ever since, although it has often rejected the curative treatments and regressed. Challenging America to own its sins and live up to its ideals isn’t a vicious attack, it’s an act of patriotism. As James Baldwin once put it, 'I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.'
And, who better to lead the charge than four women who represent the future face of America?
White people and whiteness are the center of the Trump presidency. His primary concern is to defend, protect and promote it. All that threatens it must be attacked and assaulted. Trump is bringing the force of the American presidency to the rescue of white supremacy. And, self-identified Republicans absolutely love him for it. We are watching a very dark chapter in this nation’s history unfold in real time. We are watching as a president returns naked racism to the White House. And we are watching as fellow citizens - possibly a third of them - reveal to us their open animus for us through their continued support of him.
Trump Fans the Flames of a Racial Fire (New York Times, July 14, 2019)
His Twitter harangue goading Democratic congresswomen of color to 'go back' to the country they came from, even though most of them were actually born in the United States, shocked many. But it should have surprised few who have watched the way he has governed a multicultural, multiracial country the last two and a half years. When it comes to race, Mr. Trump plays with fire like no other president in a century.
Trump Attacks Democratic Congresswomen With White Nationalist Rhetoric (New York Magazine, July 14, 2019)
President Trump launched a white nationalist–themed attack on Sunday against four Democratic congresswomen of color who have been outspoken critics of his administration’s war on immigrants and attention-earning proponents of more progressive government policies. The attack deployed one of the most obnoxious clichés of racist and xenophobic hate speech: telling an immigrant or descendent of immigrants to 'go back to your country.'
American Soccer: Where Men Are Men, and Women Are Repeat World Cup Champions (New York Times, July 13, 2019)
They are unequaled in play and unequal in pay.
Former Southwest Key leader who ran migrant child shelters for U.S. government earned $3.6 million in 2017 (
Washington Post, July 13, 2019)
Donald Trump is right about bitcoin (Market Watch, July 13, 2019)
Cryptocurrencies are a pure gamble with no discernible fundamentals whatsoever.
Goldbugs for Trump (New York Times, July 13, 2019)
They sold their principles a long time ago.
‘It works out actually better’: When Trump loses, he’s quick to tout Plan B as the real victory (Washington Post, Ju
ly 13, 2019)
"After fighting for months in court to try to get a citizenship question on the 2020 Census - and briefly overruling his own Justice Department’s legal surrender - Trump abandoned the effort in a manner that had a familiar plot twist: A surprise backup plan that, in Trump’s view, is actually better than the original plan.
Politically, for his base, he has already won. The thing Trump’s base talks about more than anything is how he 'fights.' So as long as he shows that he’s fighting, his base is happy. It’s a rare example of the process being more important than the outcome.
Following protests, hotel chains say they won't let ICE use their rooms for temporary detention (Daily KOS, July 12, 2019)
Prosecutors unlikely to charge Trump Org executives, sources say (CNN, July 12, 2019)
Trump's far-right Twitter summit: the most bizarre highlights (The Guardian, July 12, 2019)
Here are some of the ‘highlights’ from the gathering of far-right propagandists, conspiracy theorists and YouTube agitators.
This is the No. 1 most obese state in America (Market Watch, July 12, 2019)
The sad individual and societal costs of the obesity epidemic.
PFAS Contamination Crisis Grows as House Passes Critical Cleanup Bill (Environmental Working Group, July 12, 2019)
This week EWG released an updated map and analysis that shows the extent of American communities’ confirmed contamination with the highly toxic fluorinated compounds known as PFAS. The latest update adds 53 Air Force bases, five Air National Guard bases and 44 civilian airports that are also used by Air National Guard units. 'Despite knowing the risks posed by PFAS in firefighting foam, the Pentagon continued to put military families at risk for decades,' said Melanie Benesh, EWG’s legislative attorney. 'Now, when it’s time to clean up its PFAS pollution, the military is dragging its feet. It’s unconscionable.'
Billions of air pollution particles found in hearts of city dwellers (The Guardian, July 12, 2019)
Study shows associated damage to critical pumping muscles, even in children.
'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life (Vice, July 11, 2019)
It's super painful to be a human being right now at this point in history.
NEW: Thank God it’s Thursday: the four-day workweek some want to bring to the U.S. (Washington Post, July 11, 2019)
Some economists have speculated that American attitudes about work may make it particularly inhospitable for a four-day week.
We still don't know how to fight the 'big lie,' and that's what makes it truly the biggest threat (Daily KOS, July 11, 2019)
On Thursday, Donald Trump is proclaiming the victory of social media over traditional media, and using that opportunity not just to continue his assault on the press, but to launch a whole new attack on the basic nature of democracy and the judiciary branch of the government. Trump charging into the Rose Garden to declare that his name on a placard means the Supreme Court can pack up its robes may seem worthy of stop-the-presses, all-hands-on-deck, full-on emergency coverage. Because it is. But so is Trump bellowing an entire series of lies to justify a new generation of nuclear brinkmanship in the Middle East. So is Trump issuing a series of misogynistic and racist statements about a presidential candidate. So is Trump declaring his support for hate speech, violent rhetoric, and autocratic white nationalism. And all of that came in just a few hours of what has come to be an all-too-typical morning.
It’s a moment that can’t pass without us referencing this description of Hitler's psychological profile as developed by the United States Office of Strategic Services during the 1940s.
Japan’s Hayabusa2 Spacecraft Lands on Asteroid It Blasted a Hole In (
New York Times, July 11, 2019)
The robotic probe attempted to collect a sample scattered from a crater made on the surface of the space rock Ryugu in April.

Microsoft Putting Patent Traps Inside Linux While Blackmailing Companies Using Patents Associated With These Traps (TechRights, July  11, 2019)
In an effort to make exFAT (a patent trap) the ‘industry standard’, even inside Linux, Microsoft now wants exFAT inside the very heart of Linux and people are pushing back.
Font gives away false document but it’s blamed on time travel (Office Watch, July 10, 2019)
NEW: State Department Analyst Resigns After White House Blocked Climate Change Testimony (Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
Rod Schoonover was prohibited from including evidence and data supporting his assessments in testimony to House committee.
Following the Money That Undermines Climate Science (New York Times, July 10, 2019)
Ilhan Omar Responds to Tucker Carlson's Xenophobic Tirade: 'Kinda Fun Watching a Racist Fool Like This Weeping About My Presence in Congress' (Common Dreams, July 10, 2019)
‘It Could Have Been Any of Us’: Disdain for Trump Runs Among Ambassadors (New York Times, July 10, 2019)
U.S.-U.K. ‘special relationship’ is in tatters after British ambassador, under fire, resigns (
Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
President Trump saw an opportunity to embarrass the British government, already divided by Brexit, and used it to drive a wedge into another country.
Detained migrant kids describe sexual assault, verbal abuse, retaliation by border agents (Daily KOS, July 10, 2019)
Mayor: Trump’s July 4 event and related protests have bankrupted D.C. security fund (Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
The celebration cost the District $1.7 million, an amount that - combined with police expenses for related protests - has depleted a city fund used to protect the nation’s capital from terrorist threats and secure rallies and state funerals. In a letter to the president Tuesday, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) warned that the fund has now been depleted and is estimated to be running a $6 million deficit by Sept. 30. The mayor also noted that the account was never reimbursed for $7.3 million in expenses from Trump’s 2017 inauguration.
‘Outright disrespectful’: Four House women struggle as Pelosi isolates them (
Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
NEW: It Sure Looks Like Jeffrey Epstein Was a Spy - But Whose? (Observer, July 10, 2019)
The earthquakes in southern California were centered near a naval station contaminated with 'forever chemicals' (SFGate, July 9, 2019)
A report from Northeastern University and the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that the water source at the China Lake station contained PFAS levels of 8 million parts per trillion - more than 114,000 times the EPA threshold.
How Thoreau’s 19th-Century Observations Are Helping Shape Science Today (Atlas Obscura, July 9, 2019)
For one thing, they tell us that plants aren’t blooming when they used to at Walden Pond - or most anywhere else.
Steve Wozniak thinks that you should quit Facebook (Cult Of Mac, July 9, 2019)
ICE Just Quietly Opened Three New Detention Centers, Flouting Congress’ Limits (Mother Jones, July 9, 2019)
The facilities are all run by private prison companies, and one experienced a violent riot.
NEW:  Trump dossier author Steele gets 16-hour DOJ grilling (Politico, July 9, 2019)
The interview was contentious at first, according to two people familiar with the matter, but investigators ultimately found his testimony credible and even surprising.
NEW: Jeffrey Epstein Was a ‘Terrific Guy,’ Donald Trump Once Said. Now He’s ‘Not a Fan.’ (
New York Times, July 9, 2019)
It was supposed to be an exclusive party at Mar-a-Lago, Donald J. Trump’s members-only club in Palm Beach, Fla. But other than the two dozen or so women flown in to provide the entertainment, the only guests were Mr. Trump and Jeffrey Epstein.
NEW: So remember that 2018 BBC documentary alleging Trump preyed on underage models? (Daily KOS, July 8, 2019)
NEW: Jeffrey Epstein Is the Ultimate Symbol of Plutocratic Rot (New York Times, July 8, 2019)
Powerful elites enabled the financier accused of trafficking underage girls. Epstein was arrested after getting off a private flight from Paris. He has been accused of exploiting and abusing “dozens” of minor girls, some as young as 14, and conspiring with others to traffic them. Epstein’s arrest was the rare event that gratified right and left alike, both because it seemed that justice might finally be done, and because each side has reason to believe that if Epstein goes down, he could bring some of its enemies with him.
Congressional Democrats subpoena Trump’s financial, business records (Washington Post, July 8, 2019)
Congressional Democrats began issuing dozens of subpoenas Monday for financial records and other documents from President Trump’s private entities as part of an ongoing lawsuit alleging that his businesses violate the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments. 'We are seeking a targeted set of documents to obtain the information that we need to ensure that the President can no longer shirk his constitutional responsibility,' Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement.
The Constitution’s emoluments provision - barring payments or gifts from foreign governments without prior approval from Congress - was designed to prevent undue influence over the nation’s leaders. Attorneys for the lawmakers say Trump is violating the ban when his businesses accept payments and other benefits from foreign governments. Democrats are seeking information related to not only the president’s hotels but office buildings, trademarks and the trust in which Trump is storing his business interests while in office. Three properties - the two hotels and Mar-a-Lago - have hosted foreign governments or large foreign delegations since Trump entered office. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has booked blocks of rooms at both hotels, and the D.C. hotel has hosted the governments of Kuwait, Bahrain and Malaysia, among others.
The demands for detailed information about the president’s closely held finances came on the same day the Trump administration asked an appeals court in Washington to halt the lawsuit and block the subpoenas, saying the case is based on 'novel and flawed constitutional premises.'
For massive new plants, Formosa wants OK to double amount of chemicals released into St. James Parish air (The Advocate/Baton Rouge LA, July 8, 2019)
FBI, ICE find state driver’s license photos are a gold mine for facial-recognition searches (Washington Post, July 7, 2019)
A cache of records shared with The Washington Post reveals that agents are scanning millions of Americans’ faces without their knowledge or consent.
Water quality forum in Harvard, Mass.: Many PFAS questions, few answers (The Harvard Press, July 6, 2019)
At a June 19 water quality forum held in Town Hall, the only thing that was clear was that Harvard’s PFAS story is still being written. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) officials revealed new test results on three public water supplies in Harvard that showed PFAS levels in the Ayer Road Properties water are significantly higher than those from previous tests, and two new PFAS compounds were detected.
Trump and Barr are crossing another line (Washington Post, July 5, 2019)
From his very first day in office, President Trump has had a strange and, at times, strained relationship with the U.S. intelligence community. The president and his political aides have often challenged the honesty and integrity of the community, damaging morale, undercutting its mission and making the already difficult challenge of uncovering threats to our nation even harder.
But, by putting the CIA’s analytic judgment (that one of Russia’s objectives in interfering in the 2016 election was to help then-candidate Trump) into the crosshairs of the Justice Department, as reported by several news organizations, the president and Attorney General William P. Barr are crossing another line. A Justice-led review of the quality of intelligence analysis represents yet another weakening of the intelligence community as an institution. The country could be paying for these kinds of decisions for years to come.
DOJ Is Still Looking For ‘New’ Reason To Add Citizenship Question To Census (Talking Points Memo, July 5, 2019)
BUT... "Judge Hazel ordered discovery to begin in a letter issued less than two hours after the DOJ asked for it to be delayed. 'Plaintiffs’ remaining claims are based on the premise that the genesis of the citizenship question was steeped in discriminatory motive,' Hazel wrote. 'Regardless of the justification Defendants may now find for a 'new' decision, discovery related to the origins of the question will remain relevant.' Hazel has been trying to keep the new round of discovery on a tight 45-day schedule and has expressed dismay with a confusing series of statements by DOJ lawyers and President Trump this week.
Per an earlier injunction, census forms will continue to be printed without the question, the government assured U.S. District Judge George Hazel in the Friday filing.
Donald Trump’s "Inoffensive" War on Reality (New Yorker, July 5, 2019)
Donald Trump’s Fourth of July address was most remarkable for the things it did not contain. Immediately afterward, commentators noted that Trump didn’t use the opportunity to attack the Democratic Party, to issue explicit campaign slogans, or, it would appear, make any impromptu additions (with the possible exception of the claim that American troops commandeered enemy airports during the Revolutionary War). Campaign slogans and glaring Trumpisms were not the only things absent from the speech. Immigrants were missing. Trump has retired the myth of America as a nation of immigrants because he staked his election campaign and his legitimacy as president on the demonization of immigrants - and on mobilizing Americans for a war against immigrants.
Two days before the July 4th celebration, the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General issued an urgent report on the conditions in migrant detention facilities in the Rio Grande Valley. Photographs in the report showed children and adults in crowded cages. Other pictures showed people in extremely crowded holding rooms raising up signs in windows, apparently attempting to attract the attention of government inspectors. The document reported 'serious overcrowding' and prolonged detention that violated federal guidelines. Children had no access to showers and hadn’t been provided with hot meals. At one facility, the report said, adults were held in standing-room-only conditions. The report left no doubt that 'concentration camps' was an accurate term for the facilities it described. On the eve of Independence Day, the media reported the story, which looked obscene among other stories. How could we read, write, or talk about anything else?
The President responded in a series of tweets in which he blamed the Democrats and the immigrants themselves. 'If Illegal Immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved!,' he tweeted. Most of Trump’s tweeting day, though, was spent on other issues: railing against the Supreme Court’s decision not to allow a citizenship question on the census, for example, and hyping expectations for his Fourth of July extravaganza. In the Trumpian universe, immigrants pose a superhuman threat but are themselves of subhuman significance. Through his tweets, his attacks on the media, and his lying, Trump has been waging a battle to define reality to the exclusion of documented facts. In Trump’s reality, it’s not just that the Administration refuses to be held accountable for running concentration camps - it’s that the camps, and the suffering in them, do not exist.
Following his speech, Trump kept retweeting images of his own limo leaving the White House, of fighter jets flying, of the red stage and a strange cross-like formation of red elevated platforms, and of himself speaking. In these pictures, Trump is the supreme ruler of the mightiest military empire in the history of the world and his people are with him in the public square. Nothing else exists.
A common maxim of the Trump era has it that two Americas exist, each with its own media and consequently limited view of the world. In fact, though, in one America there is only Trump, his tanks and planes and ships. In the America that a majority of us inhabit, however, there are concentration camps - and Trump with his flyovers.
In less than three years, as our senses were dulled by the crudeness of the tweets, the speed of the news cycle, the blatant quality of the lies, and the brutality of official rhetoric, Trump has reframed America, stripping it of its ideals, dumbing it down, and reducing it to a nation at war against people who want to join it.
Anchorage, Alaska, Shatters All-Time Heat Record, And It Could Get Hotter Still (Huffington Post, July 5, 2019)
Temperatures spiked to 90 degrees for the first time in the city’s history.
Biggest earthquake in years rattles Southern California (Los Angeles Times, July 5, 2019)
The largest earthquake in two decades rattled Southern California on Thursday morning, shaking communities from Las Vegas to Long Beach and ending a quiet period in the state’s seismic history. Striking at 10:33 a.m., the magnitude 6.4 temblor was centered about 125 miles northeast of Los Angeles in the remote Searles Valley area near where Inyo, San Bernardino and Kern counties meet. It was felt as far away as Ensenada and Mexicali in Mexico, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Reno and Chico, Calif. A 5.4 magnitude aftershock awoke many Friday morning.
Russian submarine hit by deadly fire is nuclear-powered, Putin confirms (CBS News, July 4, 2019)
U.K. National Trust plans to dump fossil fuel shares (BBC News, July 4, 2019)
The National Trust is Europe's largest conservation charity. That same goal was also adopted by the Church of England in 2015. A year ago, the Church's General Synod voted to withdraw investment from companies that do not meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement by 2023. And last month, the Norwegian parliament approved plans for the country's sovereign wealth fund, which manages $1tn (£786bn) of the country's assets, to sell coal and oil investments worth $13bn and invest in renewable energy projects instead.

Justin Amash: Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s why I’m leaving the GOP. (
Washington Post, July 4, 2019)
Rep. Justin Amash, the only Republican in Congress to have accused President Trump of impeachable acts, said Thursday that he is leaving the GOP and becoming an independent, bemoaning that 'modern politics is trapped in a partisan death spiral, but there is an escape.' In an op-ed in The Washington Post, the Michigan congressman described himself as a lifelong Republican who has grown disenchanted with party politics and frightened by a two-party system that has 'evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.' Citing the warnings in George Washington’s farewell address, Amash said Americans 'have allowed government officials, under assertions of expediency and party unity, to ignore the most basic tenets of our constitutional order: separation of powers, federalism and the rule of law.'
(One Republican knew how to celebrate Independence Day! Read his - and George Washington's - warning. Also see May 20, 2019.)
Where a citizenship question could cause the census to miss millions of Hispanics (
Washington Post, July 4, 2019)
And why that’s a big deal. The data that forms the census are the foundation for the relative functioning of the U.S. economy and government at all levels. Census and its derived data provides the most accurate and reliable demographic, housing and economic data.
The data is a tool for local governments in decisions including budgeting, disaster response, land-use planning, and measuring economic or environmental impacts. Researchers rely on it to study topics as divergent as the spread of diseases and gentrification. For businesses, the data helps decide where to set up shop, who their prospective customers are, what products to launch and how to market them.
Members within all of those groups have voiced concern over the inclusion of a citizenship question and the potential undercount. The current Supreme Court case was brought, in part, by New York state, 16 other states, seven cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Friend-of-the-court briefings have been filed by research and business groups alike, including the American Statistical Association, polling firm Nielsen and ride-hailing company Uber.
Trump’s Fourth of July speech inserts politics and protests into national celebration (Los Angeles Times, July 4, 2019)
With tanks on the streets of the nation’s capital, military jet flyovers and a presidential address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, President Trump injected his trademark over-the-top style - as well as his divisive personality - into the traditional fireworks display at the National Mall. While most presidents have steered clear of Fourth of July festivities to avoid politicizing the day, Trump has been personally involved in the details of the planning - much to the frustration of local officials and residents in the predominantly liberal city.
Ever since Trump’s 2017 visit to watch France’s Bastille Day celebration, he has pressed for a similar event at home. He initially tried to organize a military parade on Veterans Day, but plans fell apart amid opposition from the local government and estimates that the costs would run into the tens of millions of dollars. Even some Pentagon officials bristled at such an overt public display of American military power. The Trump administration has still not repaid the city for the nearly $7 million it spent to help fund his inauguration in January 2017.
Trump’s Fourth of July celebration thrills supporters, angers opponents (
Washington Post, July 4, 2019)
Americans gathered in Washington on Thursday as one nation, feeling a little divisible, struggling to maintain unity on the Fourth of July, a summer ritual that normally brings a day-long pause to partisan hostilities. But that was before President Trump updated the day with his unique stamp - speaking of 'one people chasing one dream and one magnificent destiny' from a Lincoln Memorial flanked by armored vehicles, with military jets passing overhead - his presence thrilling supporters, angering opponents and creating near-parallel celebrations of the country’s 243rd birthday.
Scenes From Trump’s Fourth of July Celebration (New York Times, July 4, 2019)
President Trump added flyovers, a display of tanks and a program in front of the Lincoln Memorial to the traditional lineup of festivities.
Inside the effort to build suspense - and crowds - for Trump’s Fourth of July  (Washington Post, July 3, 2019)
Trump says his generals are ‘thrilled’ with his Fourth of July salute. Their silence suggests otherwise. (Washington Post, July 3, 2019)
More than any president in modern history, Trump has ignored norms intended to keep the armed forces out of partisan fights. He has dispatched U.S. troops to the southern border and even suggested that it would be acceptable for them to open fire on unarmed migrants - a violation of the laws of war. He has tweeted orders at top generals in a brazen end run around the traditional chain of command and regularly refers to America’s fighting forces as 'my military.' His speeches to military audiences, such as at service academy graduations, have been filled with partisan broadsides and false statements. Trump’s July 4 celebration, which he’s calling 'Salute to America,' has elevated his norm-defying behavior.
Some former military officials said that if Trump’s speech devolves into an attack on his political enemies, the top brass should quietly step off the stage. 'The generals think they are adhering to norms and doing their duty” when they stand by the president. “What they don’t realize is that they’re paving the groundwork for further abuse. They are making it harder for the next guy to make the right call.'
3 Reasons Not to Worry About Trump’s Fourth of July - and 1 Big Reason to Worry (Politico, July 3, 2019))
Other presidents have celebrated the Fourth. It's hard to think of one who has less sense of what it's about.
Trump has been obsessed by the idea of a massive military parade ever since attending the Bastille Day celebration in Paris two years ago, first ordering up a Veterans Day parade for 2018 that was canceled only after the price tag proved embarrassingly high. For someone who literally cannot grasp the possibility that more people voted for his opponent than him, or that fewer people came to his inaugural than his predecessor’s, it is not much of a reach to imagine that in the president’s mind he will see the flyovers and the fireworks as a nation paying tribute to the greatness of a man, rather than the other way around.
It is true that, on some public occasions, Trump has been able to subordinate this vanity to a sense of occasion, at least in his literal words. He has delivered State of the Union speeches without describing Democrats in the House chamber as treasonous, or the media in the press sections as enemies of the people. What remains unsettling, however, is the thoroughly reasonable conviction that when the president delivers such homilies, he has no real connection to those words. At any moment, it’s plausible to expect that the id will drive the superego from the podium, and the explosion of grievance, self-pity and rage will erupt - dominating a day that has in recent times been free of political division.
NEW: New York attorney general claps back after Trump attacks her on Twitter: 'My name is Letitia James' (Daily KOS, July 3, 2019)
Sorry for not responding to your tweet earlier, Mr. President. We were a little busy standing up for the true values of our nation, and fighting for liberty & justice for all.
We’re glad the 2020 Census will begin printing without a citizenship question.
Neanderthals’ history is as complicated as ours (Ars Technica, July 3, 2019)
New study hints at Neanderthal population turnover in Siberia 90,000-120,000 years ago.
Bitcoin's energy consumption 'equals that of Switzerland' (BBC News, July 3, 2019)
NEW: ‘Fingerprinting’ to Track Us Online Is on the Rise. Here’s What to Do. (New York Times, July 3, 2019)
Advertisers are increasingly turning to an invisible method that pulls together information about your device to pinpoint your identity.
NEW: It’s Time to Rethink What Counts as a Voter Turnout Strategy (Behavioral Scientist, July 3, 2019)
Efforts to alleviate poverty and give people health care are critical priorities—and perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that improving access to basic needs increases the value people see in voting, or that it enables more people to cast a ballot. But this new evidence suggests that poverty alleviation and health care provision have the potential to improve the health of our democracy too.
Trump denies administration’s retreat on census citizenship question (The Globe and Mail, July 3, 2019)
'The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE! We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question,' Trump wrote on Twitter.
White House and Commerce Department officials had no immediate comment on Trump’s tweet.
'There’s nothing fake about the Department of Justice writing us saying printing is starting without the citizenship question,' the American Civil Liberties Union, which had challenged the citizenship question in court, wrote on Twitter.

Trump administration drops citizenship question from 2020 census (The Hill, July 2, 2019)
"The Trump administration said Tuesday it was dropping a citizenship question from the 2020 census, days after the Supreme Court ruled against the question’s inclusion.
President Trump had initially said that he wanted to delay the decennial census as his administration continued to push for the question to be included in the 2020 survey. But that effort appears to be over.

House Files Lawsuit Seeking Disclosure of Trump Tax Returns (New York Times, July 2, 2019)
In Tuesday’s filing, the House argued that the administration’s defiance of its request amounted to 'an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the I.R.S. and the tax laws on behalf of the American people.' It asked a judge to order the defendants to comply.
Government Watchdog Finds Squalid Conditions in Border Centers (
New York Times, July 2, 2019)
Overcrowded, squalid conditions are more widespread at migrant centers along the southern border than initially revealed, the Department of Homeland Security’s independent watchdog said Tuesday. Its report describes standing-room-only cells, children without showers and hot meals, and detainees clamoring desperately for release.
'The inspector general’s report provides a shocking window into the dangerous and dehumanizing conditions that the Trump administration is inflicting on children and families at the border,' Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. 'This report is even more troubling after the discovery of the vile, crude comments made on social media by some of those in C.B.P. responsible for caring for migrant families and children. The inhumanity at the border is a challenge to the conscience of America.'
While senior Department of Homeland Security officials have for months sounded the alarm over a record number of Central American families crossing the southwestern border, officials in recent weeks have disputed the descriptions of the conditions of detained migrants. Mr. McAleenan last week described the allegations at the Clint facility as 'unsubstantiated' and called it 'clean and well managed.' But the government’s own report backed up the Democrats’ descriptions.
National Park Service diverts $2.5 million for Trump’s July 4 extravaganza (Washington Post, July 2, 2019)
The agency will dip into entrance and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks across the country, according to two individuals familiar with the arrangement. Trump administration officials have consistently refused to say how much taxpayers will have to pay for the expanded celebration on the Mall this year, which the president has dubbed 'Salute to America'.
Is There Earth-Friendly Disposable Dishware? (Sierra Club, June 2, 2019)
Not paper, not styrofoam and most plastics. When in doubt, avoid single-use items.
New Maps Show How Groundwater Affects Lakes and Rivers (
Sierra Club, July 2, 2019)
100 years of pumping has reduced stream flows by 50 percent in some areas.
Climate Change Denialists Dubbed Auto Makers the ‘Opposition’ in Fight Over Trump’s Emissions Rollback (New York Times, July 2, 2019)
Automakers have balked at the Trump administration’s plan, which in its most extreme scenario proposes to substantially weaken Obama-era standards that would have doubled the fuel economy requirement of new cars by 2025. Last month, 17 automakers asked Mr. Trump to soften his approach, saying his plan threatened to hurt their profits and produce 'untenable' instability given that California and 13 other states, as well as Canada, are expected to stick with the stricter standards - raising the specter of a national auto market split in two, and a nasty legal battle.
Hailstorm leaves Mexican city looking like dead of winter in middle of summer (Accuweather, July 1, 2019)
In a tweet, Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramirez said 'I witnessed scenes that I had never seen before' after surveying the results of the extreme weather on Sunday morning, and attributed the freak amount of hail to the effects of climate change. He added on Twitter, 'Hail more than a meter high, and then we wonder if climate change exists.'
‘It Is Our Fault’: El Salvador’s President Takes Blame for Migrant Deaths in Rio Grande (New York Times, July 1, 2019)
This Trump critic’s cartoon went viral and, within hours, he lost his contract. He says that’s no coincidence. (Washington Post, July 1, 2019)
The American Medical Association Is Taking a More Aggressive Approach on Abortion Legislation (Time, July 1, 2019)
The AMA is suing North Dakota to block two abortion-related laws, the latest signal the doctors’ group is shifting to a more aggressive stance as the Donald Trump administration and state conservatives ratchet up efforts to eliminate legal abortion.
Republican congressman offers amazing excuse for campaign money spent on extramarital affairs (Daily KOS, July 1, 2019)
Hunter is on trial for having spent campaign money for personal reasons, including not just affairs but vacations, clothes, and video games. His expenditures on affairs, then, are entirely relevant to the charges he faces. But! Hunter carried on these affairs with three lobbyists, a staffer in his own office, and a Republican National Committee official. So his lawyers are arguing that the money he spent in the course of having affairs with them should count as a legitimate political expenditure.
NEW: The Moochers of Middle America, by Paul Krugman (New York Times, July 1, 2019)
The Democrats aren’t radical, but Republicans are.
In what sense are the Dems moving too far left? What I’m seeing are three fairly distinct claims. First, that the party is endangering its electoral prospects. Second, that the party is being fiscally or economically irresponsible. Third, that Democrats are unfairly proposing to redistribute income from those who create wealth to those who don’t.
So you should know that the first claim is probably wrong, the second is definitely wrong, and the third ignores the extent to which we already do a lot of redistribution in this country - with Republican voters some of the biggest beneficiaries.
The new GOP attacks on Mueller will backfire on Trump - bigly. (Washington Post, July 1, 2019)
If Mueller’s investigation exonerated Trump, you would think the best strategy for Trump’s allies would be to simply sit back while Mueller describes his findings in as detailed and unvarnished way as possible. Oddly enough, that’s not what they’re planning on doing.
The monumental absurdity at the core of this disconnect is the reason this strategy is likely to backfire on Trump. Yet, at the same time, the very existence of this strategy, despite its obvious ridiculousness, opens a window on how the Trump propaganda network wields disinformation, and how in certain respects, it does serve his ends.
The Welcome Humiliation of John Bolton (New York Times, July 1, 2019)
A warmonger is the latest to lose his dignity to Donald Trump. Say this for Donald Trump. He may be transforming American politics into a kleptocratic fascist reality show and turning our once-great country into a global laughingstock, but as least he’s humiliating John Bolton in the process.
Ivanka Trump tried to talk to world leaders at G-20 Summit. The video is hard to watch (Daily KOS, June 30, 2019)
AOC: It may be shocking to some, but being someone’s daughter actually isn’t a career qualification. The US needs our President working the G20. Bringing a qualified diplomat couldn’t hurt either.
NEW: What The Hell Is Nancy Pelosi Doing? (Huffington Post, June 30, 2019)
House Democrats have lost their moral compass.
The Democrats agree with Trump in a surprising way (Washington Post, June 30, 2019)
The rich have way outperformed everyone else, exacerbating inequality and leaving many people feeling left behind. Economic disruption and dizzying technological changes have many parents doubting that their children will prosper. Student debt, rising drug prices, affordable-housing shortages, racist policing, fear of deportation, opioid abuse - these are all-consuming facts of life for many people.
President Trump has not solved these problems, and he has made some of them worse. In fact, he rejects solutions - on immigration, first and foremost - rather than give up his reelection platform of anger and hate. More, he is a major reason for the gloom. It is hard for many Americans to have faith in democracy when their elected leader is dishonest, malicious and incompetent. His lies and inaction on climate change intensify a sense of apocalyptic foreboding.
The Rule of Outlaws (WhoWhatWhy, June 30, 2019)
'Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions,' special counsel Henry Kerner said in a June 12 letter to Trump. 'Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system - the rule of law.'
In the letter, OSC suggested that Conway should be fired. The president, again, did nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true, because the White House attacked OSC and suggested it was 'influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations.'
The House Oversight Committee then invited Conway to testify on the issue and, after she did not show up, voted to subpoena her on Wednesday.
The problem with all of this is apparent - and maybe it is just a symptom of something that has been festering for a while: It’s really no longer accurate to say the US is governed by the rule of law.
The president is a crook, his staff brazenly disregards laws, he dangles pardons in front of indicted former associates, and is considering pardoning war criminals. And while many companies are not breaking the law, they don’t have to because they helped write them, which means they no longer pay their fair share of taxes - if they pay any at all. And they don’t have to comply with regulations, e.g. to protect the environment, because those are being dismantled.
At the same time, the vast majority of Americans are at the mercy of a justice system that is stacked against them.
Pennsylvania Senate Session Descends Into Screaming Match Over Poverty Assistance Program (Time, June 29, 2019)
The Pennsylvania senate’s state budget negotiations descended into chaos on Wednesday when lawmakers and activists clashed over the elimination of a cash assistance program for the state’s neediest people. The PA General Assistance Program, which the house voted to end last week, provided roughly $200 a month to about 11,095 of the state’s poorest residents, including many who don’t qualify for other assistance programs or are waiting for approval.
Trump Consultant Is Trolling Democrats With Biden Site That Isn’t Biden’s (New York Times, June 29, 2019)
Armed with bogus websites that mock leading candidates, a Trump campaign worker is exploiting tensions on the left with Russian-style disinformation. His targets have included former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Kamala Harris.
All the site says about its creator is buried in the fine print at the bottom of the page. The site, it says, is a political parody built and paid for 'BY AN American citizen FOR American citizens,' and not the work of any campaign or political action committee.
There is indeed an American behind the website. But he is very much a political player, and a Republican one at that. His name is Patrick Mauldin, and he makes videos and other digital content for President’s Trump’s re-election campaign.
Judge Stops President Trump From Using $2.5 Billion in Military Funding to Build Border Wall (Time, June 29, 2019)
At issue is President Donald Trump’s February declaration of a national emergency so that he could divert $6.7 billion from military and other sources to begin construction of the wall, which could have begun as early as Monday. Trump declared the emergency after losing a fight with the Democratic-led House that led to a 35-day government shutdown.
Donald Trump Uses Stock Models To Act As His Supporters In Campaign Videos (Design Taxi, June 28, 2019)
Judd Legum, creator of political newsletter Popular Information, has revealed in a Twitter thread that the Trump committee has been coughing up 'significant resources on a highly manipulative online ad campaign' by using stock footage rather than recordings of real supporters.
Donald Trump Says Huawei Can Buy American Products Again (Softpedia, June 29, 2019)
The policy hasn't been implemented, it's just a statement.
Wearable technology started by tracking steps. Soon, it may allow your boss to track your performance. (Washington Post, June 28, 2019)
Researchers says they have developed a system that assesses worker performance with 80 percent accuracy. 'I can’t really look into a crystal ball, but I’m hopeful this passive sensing technology will be used to empower the workforce rather than used against them.'"
France Suffers Through Hottest Day In Its History - 113 Degrees Fahrenheit (NPR, June 28, 2019)
The European Environmental Agency says that as rising greenhouse gas emissions have warmed the climate, Europe's number of warm days doubled between 1960 and 2018. The continent is projected to have similar or worse heat waves as often as every two years in the second half of the 21st century, in the highest emission scenario of four scenarios used by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Microbes hold the balance in climate crisis (Climate News Network, June 28, 2019)
It is not as if climate researchers are unaware of the microbial connection: there is evidence of the powerful role microscopic life plays in ocean warming and on land. But the consensus statement says it documents the central role and global importance of micro-organisms in climate change biology. It also puts humanity on notice that the impact of climate change will depend heavily on the responses of micro-organisms, which are essential for achieving an environmentally sustainable future.
The scientists want to see more research, closer attention to the microbial underpinning of climate change, and more education. They point out that 90% of the mass of living things in the ocean is microbial. Marine phytoplankton take light energy from the sun, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide the basis of the ocean’s life support system. A warming world could mean a diminished ocean food web.
On land, microbes are powerful agencies in both agriculture and disease. Farming ruminant animals releases vast quantities of methane from the microbes living in their rumen – so decisions about global farming practices need to consider these consequences.
And lastly, climate change worsens the impact of pathogenic microbes on animals (including humans) − that’s because climate change is stressing native life, making it easier for pathogens to cause disease.
Renewable electricity beat out coal for the first time in April (Ars Technica, June 28, 2019)
Seasonal shifts helped, but long-term changes underlie the record.
Frederick Douglass would be outraged at Trump’s Fourth of July self-celebration (
Washington Post, June 28, 2019)
Conscientious Objectors (ACLU, June 28, 2019)
The 100-years-old American Civil Liberties Union was born out of World War I and the repression that resulted when the U.S. joined the fight. In one of the most consequential speeches in U.S. history, President Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war that would take the country into the Great War’s killing fields in Europe. During his address that night, President Wilson called Americans to arms with the memorable pledge that 'the world must be made safe for democracy.'  Most Americans today are familiar with the phrase, or misinterpretations of it, such as 'a war to end all wars.' Few people, however, are familiar with what Wilson said next: 'If there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with a firm hand of stern repression.'”
Trump joking with Putin over eliminating journalists is a betrayal of America. So is ignoring it. (Washington Post, June 28, 2019)
According to Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs, who was traveling with the president to the G-20 summit in Osaka, Trump 'bonded with Putin' over his scorn for journalists. She quoted their exchange in a tweet:
'Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it?' Trump said. 'You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.'
'We also have,' Putin answered, in English. 'It’s the same.'
They then 'shared a chuckle,' she reported.
That this happened on the first anniversary of the massacre of five employees of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis probably never occurred to him - nor would his staff remind him of something as apparently inconsequential to the administration as that horror.
NEW: House Passes Senate Border Bill in Striking Defeat for Pelosi (New York Times, June 27, 2019)
Congress sent President Trump a $4.6 billion humanitarian aid package on Thursday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi capitulated to Republicans and Democratic moderates and dropped her insistence on stronger protections for migrant children in overcrowded border shelters. The vote came after a striking display of Democratic disunity and was a setback for Ms. Pelosi.
NEW: Op-Ed: The Supreme Court just abdicated its most important role: enforcing the Constitution (Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019)
In a 5-4 decision, split along ideological lines, the court’s conservative majority acknowledged that partisan gerrymandering is 'incompatible with democratic principles,' but it nonetheless said that the issue should be regarded as a 'political question' and that federal courts thus lack jurisdiction to hear cases challenging it.
Supreme Court undermines free and fair elections by refusing to limit partisan gerrymandering (
Daily KOS, June 27, 2019)
On Thursday, the Supreme Court dealt a historic defeat to redistricting reformers when it ruled 5-4 along ideological lines that challenges to partisan gerrymandering could not be adjudicated under the U.S. Constitution, pushing the next battles over these maps to the states. The two cases under review dealt with congressional maps from a pair of states: a Democratic gerrymander in Maryland and a Republican gerrymander in North Carolina. Holding that there was no workable standard to determine when such maps go too far, the Supreme Court’s partisan Republican majority overturned two lower court decisions that had thrown out both maps last year.
Western intelligence hacked 'Russia's Google' Yandex to spy on accounts - sources (Reuters, June 27, 2019)
The malware, called Regin, is known to be used by the 'Five Eyes' intelligence-sharing alliance of the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the sources said. Intelligence agencies in those countries declined to comment. Western cyberattacks against Russia are seldom acknowledged or spoken about in public. It could not be determined which of the five countries was behind the attack on Yandex, said sources in Russia and elsewhere, three of whom had direct knowledge of the hack. The breach took place between October and November 2018.
NEW: Trump officials weigh encryption crackdown (Politico, June 27, 2019)
A ban on end-to-end-encryption would make it easier for law enforcement and intelligence agents to access suspects' data. But such a measure would also make it easier for hackers and spies to steal Americans' private data, by creating loopholes in encryption that are designed for the government but accessible to anyone who reverse-engineers them. Watering down encryption would also endanger people who rely on scrambled communications to hide from stalkers and abusive ex-spouses.
The DOJ and the FBI argue that catching criminals and terrorists should be the top priority, even if watered-down encryption creates hacking risks. The Commerce and State Departments disagree, pointing to the economic, security and diplomatic consequences of mandating encryption 'backdoors.' DHS is internally divided. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency knows the importance of encrypting sensitive data, especially in critical infrastructure operations, but ICE and the Secret Service regularly run into encryption roadblocks during their investigations.
(And nobody's mentioning infringement of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment
guarantee of privacy?)
NEW: It turns out planes are even worse for the climate than we thought (NewScientist, June 27, 2019)
Their non-CO2 warming effect is set to triple by 2050, according to a study by Ulrike Burkhardt and Lisa Bock at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Germany. Altogether, flying is responsible for around 5 per cent of global warming, the team says, so this figure will soar even higher – and no meaningful actions are being taken to prevent this.
NEW: NASA's Dragonfly Will Fly Around Titan Looking for Origins, Signs of Life (NASA, June 27, 2019)
NASA has announced that our next destination in the solar system is the unique, richly organic world Titan. Advancing our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites around Saturn’s icy moon. Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and arrive in 2034. The rotorcraft will fly to dozens of promising locations on Titan looking for prebiotic chemical processes common on both Titan and Earth. Dragonfly marks the first time NASA will fly a multi-rotor vehicle for science on another planet; it has eight rotors and flies like a large drone. It will take advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere – four times denser than Earth’s – to become the first vehicle ever to fly its entire science payload to new places for repeatable and targeted access to surface materials.
Twitter says it will label tweets from Trump and other leaders that break its rules (CNN,  June 27, 2019)
Twitter plans to place a disclaimer on future tweets from world leaders that break its rules but which Twitter decides are in the public interest, the company said in a blog post Thursday. This policy change could face its most prominent test in President Trump. Trump has repeatedly tested Twitter's community standards with his regular tirades on the platform and some of the president's tweets have run afoul of Twitter's rules.
Trump claims Mueller a criminal, is 'very happy' McCain is dead, and Fed chief is 'a pu— ' (Daily KOS, June 26, 2019)
In an interview today with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo, Donald Trump went on an extended rant that included repeating claims that his campaign was spied on, claiming that Robert Mueller 'illegally terminated the emails,' and declaring that the Federal Reserve chair isn’t a tough guy but … something not so tough. And then Trump moved to the stage at a meeting of the Christian organization Faith and Freedom Coalition and informed the Christian crowd that, if he hadn’t won in 2016, Iran would have conquered the entire Middle East. And, most Christian of all, he expressed his hope that John McCain is in hell.

The Republican Party has evolved into an American version of Europe's far-right neo-fascists (
Daily KOS, June 26, 2019)
"According to its 2016 manifesto, the Republican Party lies far from the Conservative Party in Britain and the Christian Democratic Union in Germany - mainstream right-leaning parties - and closer to far-right parties like Alternative for Germany, whose platform contains plainly xenophobic, anti-Muslim statements. In fact, the only significant difference between the U.S. Republican party and the far-right neo-fascists is that the Republican platform does not directly and explicitly espouse bigotry as policy. Instead, it uses culturally-coded 'dog whistles.'

Elizabeth Warren Just Released a Plan to Protect American Elections (Mother Jones, June 25, 2019)
A $20 billion effort would require audits and offer bonuses for high voter turnout. "Our elections should be as secure as Fort Knox," Warren wrote. 'But instead, they’re less secure than your Amazon account.'
NEW: Please Tax Us More, 19 U.S. Billionaires Plead In Letter To Presidential Candidates (Huffington Post, June 25, 2019)
We 'enjoy uncommon fortunes, but each of us wants to live in an America that solves the biggest challenges of our common future,' notes the plea.
NEW: 3M admits to unlawful release of PFAS in Alabama
(Chemical & Engineering News, June 25, 2019)
"US EPA barred company from discharging two substances to water.
A Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then Trump Became President. (New York Times, June 25, 2019)
The project’s reversal of fortunes has angered environmentalists and focused attention on an unusual connection between a Chilean billionaire and President Trump’s family.
Justice is what they deserve, justice is what we can deliver: Let's pay contractors back wages, by Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. (
The Hill, June 25, 2019)
It’s been nearly six months since the longest government shutdown in our country’s history, and while federal government employees rightfully received backpay for the time they couldn’t go to work, thousands of government contractors have yet to be made whole for the wages lost over the course of the shutdown. Government contractors perform essential jobs that keep our government operating - janitors, security officers and food service workers who work diligently day in and day out, oftentimes on an hourly basis and at low wages, to keep our government buildings across the country safe and clean. We’ve made historic progress toward securing the back pay these contract workers are owed, but unless and until we do, these workers and their families will continue to struggle to catch up.
FedEx sues US over mandate to monitor Huawei shipments (Engadget, June 25, 2019)

"It says it can't monitor packages on the scale the government wants.
NEW: What’s wrong with the North Pole? (New Scientist, June 25, 2019)
"It isn’t just that your compass can be thrown off by local quirks in the magnetic field. The north pole itself isn’t what it used to be. In 1900, the pole was in Canada. A century later, it was near Greenland. In the past 18 years, it has raced eastwards at about 40 kilometres per year, and is currently heading for Siberia.
The weird behaviour of Earth’s magnetic field doesn’t end there. It also occasionally reverses its polarity: there were times in our planet’s history when a compass needle would have pointed to what we call south. Even now, there are spots under the surface where a compass would point the wrong way. What is going on? The mystery has deep implications for technology and the future of our planet.
With a Poof, Mars Methane Is Gone (New York Times, June 25, 2019)
Last week, NASA’s Curiosity rover detected a belch of natural gas on the red planet. The gas has since dissipated, leaving only a mystery.
Raspberry Pi used to steal data from NASA lab (BBC, June 24, 2019)
An audit report reveals the gadget was used to take about 500MB of data. It said two of the files that were taken dealt with the international transfer of restricted military and space technology. The attacker who used the device to hack the network went undetected for about 10 months.
NEW: The power of Ravelry’s stance against white supremacy reaches beyond the knitting community (TechCrunch, June 23, 2019)
We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.
You can still participate if you do in fact support the administration, you just can’t talk about it here.
NEW: Agriculture Department buries studies showing dangers of climate change (Politico, June 23, 2019)
The Trump administration has stopped promoting government-funded research into how higher temperatures can damage crops and pose health risks. It has refused to publicize dozens of government-funded studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change, defying a longstanding practice of touting such findings by the Agriculture Department’s acclaimed in-house scientists. The studies range from a groundbreaking discovery that rice loses vitamins in a carbon-rich environment — a potentially serious health concern for the 600 million people world-wide whose diet consists mostly of rice — to a finding that climate change could exacerbate allergy seasons to a warning to farmers about the reduction in quality of grasses important for raising cattle.
All of these studies were peer-reviewed by scientists and cleared through the non-partisan Agricultural Research Service, one of the world’s leading sources of scientific information for farmers and consumers. None of the studies were focused on the causes of global warming – an often politically charged issue. Rather, the research examined the wide-ranging effects of rising carbon dioxide, increasing temperatures and volatile weather.
The administration, researchers said, appears to be trying to limit the circulation of evidence of climate change and avoid press coverage that may raise questions about the administration’s stance on the issue. “The intent is to try to suppress a message — in this case, the increasing danger of human-caused climate change,” said Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. “Who loses out? The people, who are already suffering the impacts of sea level rise and unprecedented super storms, droughts, wildfires and heat waves.”
High-stakes legal fight looms over Trump pollution rule (The Hill, June 23, 2019)
At least nine attorneys general have criticized the new rule and are expected to file lawsuits soon. 'The coal lobbyists and climate deniers running the Trump Administration wrote every word of this unjustifiable and illegal rule that will pollute the air, explode emissions, and cost thousands of lives,' Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) said in a statement. 'Massachusetts is committed to addressing the climate crisis and the public health impacts on our residents, and we will be suing to stand up for science and federal law.'
Biden is the least electable candidate - here's why (The Hill, June 23, 2019)
Automation and robotics are bigger threats to American jobs than outsourcing (Daily KOS, June 23, 2019)
We will see wholesale job losses, and world economies flipped upside down. This will not happen overnight, but it could very well happen in my lifetime.
NEW: NASA Rover on Mars Detects Puff of Gas That Hints at Possibility of Life (New York Times, June 22, 2019)
The Curiosity mission’s scientists picked up the signal this week, and are seeking additional readings from the red planet.
Scientists have discovered a sea of fresh water under the ocean (Quartz, June 22, 2019)
Scientists from Columbia University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution spent 10 days on a research ship towing electromagnetic sensors from New Jersey to Massachusetts. By measuring the way electromagnetic waves traveled through fresh and saline water, researchers mapped out fresh-water reservoirs for the first time.
It turns out the subterranean pools stretch for at least 50 miles off the US Atlantic coast, containing vast stores of low-salinity groundwater, about twice the volume of Lake Ontario. The deposits begin about 600 ft (183 m) below the seafloor and stretch for hundreds of miles. That rivals the size of even the largest terrestrial aquifers. The size and extent of the freshwater deposits suggest they are also being fed by modern-day runoff from land - and may exist elsewhere with similar topography.
Trump approved cyber-strikes against Iran’s missile systems (Washington Post, June 22, 2019)
The cyberstrikes, launched Thursday night by personnel with U.S. Cyber Command, were in the works for weeks if not months, according to two of these people, who said the Pentagon proposed launching them after Iran’s alleged attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this month. The strike against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was coordinated with U.S. Central Command, the military organization with purview of activity throughout the Middle East. Though crippling to Iran’s military command and control systems, the operation did not involve a loss of life or civilian casualties - a contrast to conventional strikes, which the president said he called back Thursday because they would not be 'proportionate.'
The administration on Saturday warned industry officials to be alert for cyberattacks originating from Iran.
Pompeo, a Steadfast Hawk, Coaxes a Hesitant Trump on Iran (New York Times, June 22, 2019)
In April, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Bolton pushed Mr. Trump to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, even though Pentagon and C.I.A. officials opposed the action, saying it could provoke attacks. Mr. Pompeo then announced the end of permission for eight governments, including American allies, to bypass sanctions in buying oil from Iran. Those moves, analysts say, have led to the current crisis.
In recent classified briefings to Congress and in public declarations, Mr. Pompeo has discussed ties between Iran and Al Qaeda. Democratic and some Republican lawmakers say that is a blatant attempt to lay the groundwork for bypassing the need for new congressional war authorization if Mr. Trump decides to strike Iran.
Lawmakers also question Mr. Pompeo’s role in stalled policy on other signature Trump issues, such as Venezuela and North Korea. The North, unlike Iran, actually has a nuclear arsenal.
And lawmakers have grilled Mr. Pompeo on his unwavering support of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, who American intelligence officials say was responsible for the killing of the columnist Jamal Khashoggi and who is leading an air war in Yemen that has resulted in a humanitarian disaster. Legislators are also furious that Mr. Pompeo has sought to circumvent the congressional approval process for arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Critics say that growing scrutiny of Mr. Pompeo is warranted given his unrelenting attacks on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi hearings when he was a congressman - and given the potential threats to the United States resulting from the administration’s foreign policy.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were lost on the Moon. Really. (Fast Company, June 22, 2019)
Neither NASA nor the Apollo 11 astronauts knew exactly where they were when they landed on the Moon. Yet it didn’t impede the mission.
Mysterious glowing light on Mars captured by NASA's Curiosity probe (Independent, June 21, 2019)
Could it be a huge pile of aliens driving past? Probably not.
Green Bank: The Land Where the Internet Ends (New York Times, June 21, 2019)
To find real solitude, you have to go out of range. But every year that’s harder to do, as America’s off-the-grid places disappear.
Google Chrome has become surveillance software. It’s time to switch. (Washington Post, June 21, 2019)
Our latest privacy experiment found Chrome ushered more than 11,000 tracker cookies into our browser - in a single week. Having the world’s biggest advertising company make the most popular Web browser is about as smart as letting kids run a candy shop. Here’s why Firefox is better.
Trump reverses his earlier claim that he stopped Iran action on the brink of the attack (Daily KOS, June 21, 2019)
It’s not clear that Trump’s statement about planes not being in the air in advance of the attack is a lie, or plain ignorance. What is clear is that Trump’s earlier claim to have stopped the mission just ten minutes away from hitting Iranian targets was an out-and-out fabrication designed to add some fake drama to the situation. Trump cancelled the operation on Thursday evening before 7PM D.C. time, which was still several hours before the scheduled operation in Iran.
Trump’s claim that he got a last minute estimate of potential casualties is also a clear lie, both because Trump has dressed the tale up with all the knee-scrapping honorifics he usually adds when relating such stories, and because the Pentagon would have certainly made the results of such a strike clear before it was authorized. But there is another reason he might have changed his mind - Nancy Pelosi told him no.
But of course, Trump has been pretty good at not just ignoring Congress, but actively working to diminish congressional authority over everything. So … maybe it was some other warning he heeded. A warning like, 'I will say it straight, it would be a catastrophe, at a minimum for the region,' said Vladimir Putin.
Trump says he doesn't want war with Iran, but there will be 'obliteration' if it comes (NBC News, June 21, 2019)
Trump also discussed his decision-making process that led him to halt strikes on Iran on Thursday night, saying that he hadn't given final approval to any attack and adding that no planes were in the air.
Strikes on Iran Approved by Trump, Then Abruptly Pulled Back (New York Times, June 20, 2019)
As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.
Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries. The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down.
The strike was set to take place just before dawn Friday in Iran to minimize risk to the Iranian military and civilians.
The abrupt reversal put a halt to what would have been the president’s third military action against targets in the Middle East. Mr. Trump had struck twice at targets in Syria, in 2017 and 2018.
The retaliation plan was intended as a response to the shooting down of the RQ-4 Global Hawk, an
unmanned, $130 million surveillance drone made by Northrop Grumman, which was struck Thursday morning by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Iran’s ability to target and destroy the high-altitude American drone, which was developed to evade the very surface-to-air missiles used to bring it down, surprised some Defense Department officials, who interpreted it as a show of how difficult Tehran can make things for the United States as it deploys more troops and steps up surveillance in the region.
Microsoft Still
Is Attempting to Destroy the Careers of Its Critics, Including Free Software Proponents (TechRights, June 20, 2019)
It’s very important to understand what Microsoft is up to: it’s not a friend, it’s just getting closer for the purpose of causing damage (from the inside). Earlier this month Dina Bass wrote a widely-syndicated (dozens of news sites) piece pretending that Microsoft was reaching for peace and had already appeased its biggest critics. It’s a lie, but if the media keeps repeating this lie, then more and more people will believe it. To appease the Linux Foundation and OSI, Microsoft just had to dump some money on them; that’s not about trust, it’s about corrupting people using money - not the same thing!
Scientists warn that climate change could hinge on microbes (MSN, June 20, 2019)
More than 30 microbiologists signed a statement published in Nature Reviews Microbiology yesterday (June 19) intended to put 'humanity on notice' about the risk of ignoring these tiny creatures. In the statement, titled 'Scientists’ warning to humanity: microorganisms and climate change,' they write that 'the microscopic majority can no longer be the unseen elephant in the room.'
NEW: DNA Microscope Sees ‘Through the Eyes of the Cell’ (New York Times, June 20, 2019)
A new imaging tool works more like Google Maps than a traditional microscope.
Printing vaccines at the pharmacy or at home will be the way of the future (Ars Technica, June 20, 2019)
Our current model of manufacturing stockpiles won't work against bioterror or superbugs.
The Himalayas Are in Even Worse Shape Than We Thought (Outside, June 19, 2019)
New research shows just how much global warming is eating away at the glaciers on the world’s highest peaks.
NEW: More Bad Buzz For Bees: Record Number Of Honeybee Colonies Died Last Winter (NPR, June 19, 2019)
Varroa mites are the number one concern around wintertime. They've become harder to control because some of the tools that beekeepers have been using - chemical strips that attract and kill mites, essential oils and organic acids - are losing their efficacy.
Pollinators are responsible for one of every three bites of food we take, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Most of these pollinators are domesticated honeybees.
Maryann Frazier, a retired senior extension associate for the College of Agricultural Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, says the results are troubling, if unsurprising. Stressed, sick bees in close proximity are likely to die during the winter months. And bees face increasing levels of stress. Until all parties work together to address the sources of that stress, she says, steep winter die-offs will continue. 'I don't expect to see a change in losses over time for this reason. There's been no significant effort to correct what's causing the decline,' she says.
Take pesticides, she says. 'There's a huge amount of data [and] research showing pesticides are a significant player in the decline of honeybees and other insect species. And yet there's been so little done to make a change on that front. The EPA has been incredibly ineffective.'
She says that pesticide industry leaders often try to shift blame for bee declines solely onto Varroa mites and viruses when in fact, she says, 'there is so much evidence that pesticides are a major player in the decline of honeybees. And these things are synergistic,' she adds. Pesticides can compromise immune systems, so when a mite or other pest hits a bee compromised by pesticides, it's a downward spiral. Other sources of stress, like changing landscapes, have not been corrected.
Engineering superbugs, accidentally or otherwise (Ars Technica, June
19, 2019)
Synthetic biology and hacking viruses sounds great until you wipe out humanity.
We should create a global DNA threat-detection network to fight future pathogens (
Ars Technica, June 19, 2019)
eneticist George Church talks about early detection and surveillance.
Slack Wants to Replace Email. Is That What We Want? (New York Times, June 19, 2019)
As the office chat start-up prepares to go public, some of us are still figuring out how available we want to be - and whether it’s O.K. to ping the C.E.O.
The rise of the only child: How America is coming around to the idea of ‘just one’ (Washington Post, June 19, 2019)
The proportion of mothers who had one child at the end of their childbearing years doubled from 11 percent in 1976 to 22 percent in 2015, according to Pew Research Center, and census data show the trend continuing to tick steadily upward.
Alphabet shareholder meeting draws protests over antitrust, human rights (CNet, June 19, 2019)
Google’s recent scandals take center stage at its parent company’s annual gathering of investors.
Activists urge Google to break up before regulators force it to. (Reuters, June 19, 2019)
The proposal and 13 other shareholder measures opposed by the company were voted down on Wednesday, according to its preliminary tally. Alphabet’s top two executives, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, hold 51.3 percent of shareholder votes.
Nevertheless, it shows a growing focus on the prospect of antitrust action against Alphabet and other big technology firms such as Facebook Inc and Inc as they face a political and public backlash over privacy issues and the power they now wield over the world’s information.
Scary Fast (Center for Public Integrity, June 19, 2019)
Hypersonic missiles are a revolutionary new type of weapon, one that would have the unprecedented ability to maneuver and then to strike almost any target in the world within a matter of minutes. Capable of traveling at more than 15 times the speed of sound, hypersonic missiles arrive at their targets in a blinding, destructive flash, before any sonic booms or other meaningful warning. So far, there are no surefire defenses. Fast, effective, precise and unstoppable - these are rare but highly desired characteristics on the modern battlefield. And the missiles are being developed not only by the United States but also by China, Russia and other countries.
How Not To Prevent a Cyberwar With Russia (Wired, June 18, 2019)
Since 2017, Trump has been elevating Cyber Command's authority and reversing Obama administration rules that required other agencies' sign-off before it launched an offensive hacking operation. But former White House cybersecurity officials caution against that cyberwar hawkishness. 'The idea that we can use cyber offense capabilities to impose sabotage-like effects, and to do so in increasingly large scale and costly ways until they get it through their head that they can’t win, I don’t think that's going to work,' says Tom Bossert, who served as White House homeland security advisor and the president's most senior cybersecurity-focused official until April of last year. 'I want to make sure we don’t end up in an escalatory cyber exchange where we lose more than they do.'
In many respects the US economy and infrastructure is far more reliant on digitization and automation than Russia's, giving the Kremlin an inherent advantage in any future no-holds-barred cyberwar. He paraphrases former secretary of defense Ash Carter: 'If you're doused in gasoline, don't start a match-throwing contest.'
Trump's plan to deport 'millions' likely not feasible  (ABC News, June 18, 2019)
President Donald Trump’s promise on the eve of a campaign rally to begin deporting next week 'millions' of people living in the U.S. illegally is raising the issue of how the administration could feasibly launch such a massive operation because it's out of space to hold them. Also in question would be whether the administration would further abandon its past focus of deporting undocumented migrants convicted of crimes in order to deport families, which at least one top official said was inevitable. Another concern would be that families could be separated, possibly leaving thousands of young children in limbo without guardians.
Quinnipiac Poll: Trump Losing Florida to Warren, Sanders, and Biden (Daily KOS, June 18, 2019)
A Quinnipiac University poll released today shows all Democratic candidates lead Donald Trump or are in a statistical dead heat in the swing state of Florida.Among Independent Florida voters, Sanders does the best, winning that group by 17% (51%-34%). But all the Democratic candidates beat Trump by at least 6% among Independents.
Quinnipiac follows other polls that show Trump in trouble in many battleground states. A leaked internal Republican poll from March showed Trump ahead in only 2 of 17 battleground states surveyed.
Orlando wants money upfront after Trump stiffs cities on campaign rally bills (Daily KOS, June 18, 2019)
Trump’s campaign has been doing what any Trump organization does - not paying its bills. In this case, it includes bills accrued for local law enforcement assistance at Trump campaign events, requested by the Secret Service. Looking through municipal records, the Center for Public Integrity found that Trump’s campaign still owes around $841,219, dating as far back as 2016, to at least nine city governments.
Our Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump | Editorial (Orlando FL Sentinel, June 18. 2019)
Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign. We’re here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we’re not endorsing: Donald Trump.
Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent. Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump. After 2½ years we’ve seen enough.
Trump was ready to ‘blow up everything’: Biographer Michael Wolff on why Mueller didn’t indict (Raw Story, June 18, 2019)
If Mueller had pushed Donald Trump into a corner he would blow up everything. Donald Trump would take the country’s political institutions down with him. Trump would take down the Department of Justice. Trump would not care. For somebody like Robert Mueller, this was a reality he had to confront. Mueller was likely thinking to himself, 'I have to deal with the fact that somebody who has as much power as I do, or more, can use this power in a way that could harm everybody in a much greater way.' Robert Mueller decided it was much better to let Donald Trump just run out the clock than to give Trump the opportunity and the cause to destroy everything, the country’s political institutions.
Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted. (The Guardian, June 18, 2019)
Ice blocks frozen solid for thousands of years destabilized. The climate is now warmer than at any time in last 5,000 years.
Photograph lays bare reality of melting Greenland sea ice (
The Guardian, June 18, 2019)
Research teams traversing partially melted fjord to retrieve weather equipment release startling picture.
Egypt's ousted President Morsi buried after courtroom death (Associated Press, June 18, 2019)
What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane (The Atlantic, June 17, 2019)
Five years ago, Flight MH370 vanished into the Indian Ocean. Officials on land know more about why than they dare to say.
Undocumented immigrants fired from Trump golf clubs to crash his 2020 campaign kickoff in Florida (NY Daily News, June 17, 2019)
'No one knows better than Trump himself that immigrants are hardworking individuals who support a multitude of industries across the country, including his restaurants, golf courses, wineries and hotels,' said Romero, who represents 44 undocumented immigrants who used to work at Trump properties. 'And no one knows better than the undocumented workers who worked for Trump, how urgent it is for Congress to pass humane and sensible immigration laws so that immigrants can continue contributing to their communities and to our nation, just like they did for Trump and his family.'
Where does your plastic go? Global investigation reveals America's dirty secret (
The Guardian, June 17, 2019)
A Guardian report from 11 countries tracks how US waste makes its way across the world – and overwhelms the poorest nations.
China is harvesting organs from detainees, tribunal concludes (The Guardian, June 17, 2019)
An independent tribunal sitting in London has concluded that the killing of detainees in China for organ transplants is continuing, and victims include imprisoned followers of the Falun Gong movement.
Mysterious Clouds on Mars Formed by ‘Meteoric Smoke,’ Study Says (Vice, June 17, 2019)
Scientists have identified a kind of cloud on Mars that has been neglected in past climate models.
Why are fervid Googlers making ad-blocker-breaking changes to Chrome? Because they created a monster – and are fighting to secure it. (The Register, June 17, 2019)
We said engineers made the API too powerful. We weren't wrong.
(Just use Firefox - with DuckDuckGo.)
Supreme Court dismisses challenge to findings of racial gerrymandering in Virginia districts (Washington Post, June 17, 2019)
The decision could give an advantage to the state’s Democrats. All 140 seats in the state legislature are on the ballot this fall, and the GOP holds two-seat majorities in both the House and the Senate.
We still have questions about whether Russia meddled in North Carolina. That’s a bad sign. (
Washington Post, June 17, 2019)
Trump campaign cutting ties with three members of polling team after grim numbers leaked (
Washington Post, June 17, 2019)
Privately, the president was livid that the numbers leaked out, according to White House and campaign officials. 'He is madder that the numbers are out than that the numbers exist,' said one senior administration official.
Trump’s 'kill the messenger' strategy in response to the leaked polling data reflects his desire to show strength at all times, even in the face of less-than-favorable news from within his own campaign. On Monday morning, Trump seemingly continued to deny the authenticity of the numbers.
Trump lost an escape route. SCOTUS: States & Feds can prosecute for similar behavior. (Daily KOS, June 17, 2019)
Jon Stewart takes on Stonewalling McConnell (
Daily KOS, June 16, 2019)
- for turning 9/11 Responder’s Health problems, into just another GOP bargaining chip.  Mitch McConnell always holds out to the last minute before funding another few years of support for our nation's Heroes - and then always in exchange for some GOP Agenda item - before he ultimately 'lets' the GOP do the right thing.

Sharia court orders jail for rape victim unless kids handed to rapist. No, wait. That was in Alabama. (Daily KOS, June 16, 2019)
"In Alabama, a rapist is entitled to visitation rights to children resulting from his crimes, and can even sue for custody. Alabama is one of only two states that allow this. However, this horror takes on new meaning in Alabama, because last month the state passed a law outlawing the destruction of embryos for all victims of sexual assault. The law even prescribes jail for doctors who perform abortions.
U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid (New York Times, June 15, 2019)
Power grids have been a low-intensity battleground for years. Since at least 2012, current and former officials say, the United States has put reconnaissance probes into the control systems of the Russian electric grid.
But now the American strategy has shifted more toward offense, officials say, with the placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before. It is intended partly as a warning, and partly to be poised to conduct cyberstrikes if a major conflict broke out between Washington and Moscow.
Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place 'implants' - software code that can be used for surveillance or attack - inside the Russian grid. Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction - and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.

2020 Democrats shine: Bernie on the meaning of freedom, Warren on the wealth gap, and more (Daily KOS, June 15, 2019)

Trump makes it clear he can't speak under oath because he just can't stop lying (Daily KOS, June 14, 2019)
Lying is what Donald Trump does. And in his ABC interview Thursday, Trump admitted straight up that that’s why he didn’t want to answer questions for Robert Mueller.
'If you answer these questions to me now,' asked host George Stephanopoulos, 'why not answer them to Robert Mueller under oath?'
'Because they were looking to get us for lies or slight misstatements,' replied Trump. 'I looked at what happened to people, and it was very unfair. Very, very unfair. Very unfair.'
Trump could not have laid it out more neatly: It’s just dandy to lie to the public and the press because … what are they going to do about it? But lying under oath has consequences. So he won’t speak under oath.
DC may review Trump hotel's liquor license over challenge to President's 'good character' (CNN, June 14, 2019)
An attorney who is representing the group challenging the license renewal told CNN on Friday that the board's order is 'a solid victory for the rule of law. Despite Trump's efforts to silence the public and hold himself above the law, the board correctly denied his motion to dismiss and found that the public can protest the owner's character on renewal of their liquor license.'
President Donald Trump says it 'doesn't matter' what former White House counsel Don McGahn told Mueller (
ABC News, June 14, 2019)
President Trump’s internal polling data from March showed him far behind Joe Biden in key battleground states (ABC News, June 14, 2019)
‘Flying Object’ Struck Tanker in Gulf of Oman, Operator Says, Not a Mine (
New York Times, June 14, 2019)
Trump rejects Iran’s denials that it attacked tankers, citing video released by US Central Command (Washington Post, June 14, 2019)
President Trump cited a video released by the U.S. military that it said showed Iranian vessels retrieving a mine from one of the damaged ships. Earlier, Iran accused the Trump administration of sabotage and 'economic terrorism.'
Google: We're not killing ad blockers. Translation: We made them too powerful, we'll cram this genie back in its bottle
(The Register, June 13, 2019)
We want to make Chrome safer... by taking away the API we used to race Firefox.
CERN Ditches Microsoft to ‘Take Back Control’ with Open Source Software (OMG! Ubuntu!, June 13, 2019)
While the Microsoft Alternatives project (MAlt) is ambitious, it’s also a unique opportunity for CERN to demonstrate that building core services can be done without vendor and data lock-in, that the next generation of services can be tailored to the community’s needs and finally that CERN can inspire its partners by collaborating around a new range of products.
Chinese Cyberattack Hits Telegram, App Used by Hong Kong Protesters (
New York Times, June 13, 2019)
A network of computers in China bombarded Telegram, a secure messaging app used by many of the protesters, with a huge volume of traffic that disrupted service. The app’s founder, Pavel Durov, said the attack coincided with the Hong Kong protests, a phenomenon that Telegram had seen before.
The Hong Kong police made their own move to limit digital communications. On Tuesday night, as demonstrators gathered near Hong Kong’s legislative building, the authorities arrested the administrator of a Telegram chat group with 20,000 members, even though he was at his home miles from the protest site. 'I never thought that just speaking on the internet, just sharing information, could be regarded as a speech crime,' the chat leader, Ivan Ip, 22, said in an interview.
Past the tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray, the Hong Kong protests are also unfolding on a largely invisible, digital front. Protesters and police officers alike have brought a new technological savvy to the standoff.
Demonstrators are using today’s networking tools to muster their ranks, share safety tips and organize caches of food and water, even as they take steps to hide their identities.
The Hong Kong authorities are responding by tracking the protesters in the digital places where they plan their moves, suggesting they are taking cues from the ways China polices the internet.
Big businesses paying even less than expected under GOP tax law (Politico, June  13, 2019)
Though profits remain up and the economy is strong, total corporate taxes are at the lowest levels seen in more than 50 years.
Mitch McConnell, Too, Welcomes Russian Interference (New York Times, June 13, 2019)
Or at least he won’t let Congress do anything to stop it.

‘He’s just a psychotic’: Letterman looks back with regret on his dozens of Trump interviews (Washington Post, June 13, 2019)
"'I had no sense that he was the soulless bastard that he’s turned into,' Letterman said on the podcast. Letterman and others like Stern beamed Trump to the masses for entertainment. For Letterman, it’s not funny anymore. 'He used to be kind of like the boob of New York that pretended to be wealthy, or we thought was wealthy, and now he’s just a psychotic.'
'Everybody in the country should be totally appalled' by Trump comments on foreign interference: Pelosi (
ABC News, June 13, 2019)
Trump claimed he’s never called the FBI. He has - when he wanted its help. (Washington Post, June 13, 2019)
'You don’t call the FBI,' Trump said. 'Life doesn’t work that way.' Except it did for Trump.
'I think I’d take it': In exclusive interview, Trump says he would listen if foreigners offered dirt on opponents (ABC News, June 12, 2019)
President Donald Trump may not alert the FBI if foreign governments offered damaging information against his 2020 rivals during the upcoming presidential race, he said, despite the deluge of investigations stemming from his campaign's interactions with Russians during the 2016 campaign. Trump disputed the idea that if a foreign government provided information on a political opponent, it would be considered interference in our election process.
NEW: 3M Knew About PFAS Food Contamination in 2001 (The Intercept, June 12, 2019)
Last week, we learned that the Food and Drug Administration had detected PFAS compounds in pineapple, sweet potato, meat, and chocolate cake. The presence of the industrial compounds in our food was made public by the Environmental Working Group after a staff member of the Environmental Defense Fund took photos of the research at a scientific conference in Europe.
While the FDA fields questions about why it didn’t present this information to the public itself (the agency released the data along with a statement on Tuesday), it has become clear that 3M, the company that originally developed PFOS and PFOA, had known for a very long time that these toxic and persistent chemicals were in our food. According to a 2001 study sponsored by 3M, 12 samples of food from around the country - including ground beef, bread, apples, and green beans - tested positive for either PFOA or PFOS. One piece of bread had 14,700 parts per trillion of PFOA, though the report noted that the sample was considered 'suspect.'
The Environmental Protection Agency has known about the study for years, but it is not clear if the FDA was aware of the research. The Environmental Working Group mentioned the 3M study in a 2002 report on PFAS chemicals and alerted the Centers for Disease Control.
NEW: How citizen sleuths cracked the Wolverine tannery pollution case (MLive, June 12, 2019)
Top AI researchers race to detect ‘deepfake’ videos: ‘We are outgunned’ (Washington Post, June 12, 2019)
The threat of deepfakes, named for the 'deep learning' AI techniques used to create them, has become a personal one on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers believe the videos could threaten national security, the voting process - and, potentially, their reputations. The House Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing Thursday in which AI experts are expected to discuss how deepfakes could evade detection and leave an 'enduring psychological impact.' Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who chairs the committee, said Thursday, 'I don’t think we’re well prepared at all. And I don’t think the public is aware of what’s coming.'
A disinformation campaign using deepfake videos probably would catch fire because of the reward structure of the modern Web, in which shocking material drives bigger audiences - and can spread further and faster than the truth.
We Read 150 Privacy Policies. They Were an Incomprehensible Disaster. (New York Times, June 12, 2019)
Most privacy policies are verbose and full of legal jargon - and opaquely establish companies’ justifications for collecting and selling your data. The data market has become the engine of the internet, and these privacy policies we agree to but don't fully understand help fuel it.
Voting machine password leak in North Carolina grows murkier the more we learn (Daily KOS, June 11, 2019)
Hopefully, the silver lining to this incident’s dark cloud will prove to be the shaming of DHS into upping its game (which is my personal interest in reporting this story). Because if DHS isn’t at least as good as Vickery at finding the chinks in our electoral armor, it sure as hell isn’t as good as Russia’s GRU.
Perhaps DHS and the state Board of Elections might even consider enlisting Vickery’s help, rather than vilifying his efforts.
NEW: What worries the world - May 2019 (Ipsos, June 11, 2019)
Top five global issues: Unemployment (33%), Poverty/Social Inequality (32%). Financial/ Political corruption (31%), Crime & Violence (30%), Healthcare (25%)
The World Is a Mess. We Need Fully Automated Luxury Communism. (New York Times, June 11, 2019)
Asteroid mining. Gene editing. Synthetic meat. We could provide for the needs of everyone, in style. It just takes some imagination.
NEW: PFAS Nation: Toxic Discharges Suspected From Almost 500 Industrial Facilities Across U.S. (Environmental Working Group, June 11, 2019)
Calls to break up Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple get louder (CNet, June 11, 2019)
Regulators are gearing up to investigate Big Tech. But are breakups of these companies on the horizon?
Chinese Cash That Powered Silicon Valley Is Suddenly Toxic (Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2019)
As U.S. startups reject their money, Chinese venture-capital firms in U.S. are dialing back investments, structuring deals to avoid regulators or shutting down."
Money laundering and crypto-coin legislation could hurt open-source ecosystem – activists (The Register, June 11, 2019)
Rights groups slam's customer due diligence plans.
Trump Cared About His Campaign Spending When It Was His Money - Not Anymore (New York Magazine, June 11, 2019)
For his 2020 bid, Trump is eagerly taking advantage of the big donors he once scorned. Super-PACs, which he’s called a 'scam' and 'very unfair,' are now supporting him with hundreds of millions of dollars. And his campaign has collected gobs of cash, bringing in $30 million in the first quarter of 2019. The shift in how the money has come in is also affecting how it’s going out. In 2016, Trump had a skeleton staff and routinely stiffed vendors, including a group of little girls who sang at his rallies. But that’s when he was spending his own money. Now he’s spending other people’s money, and according to the New York Times, he doesn’t care where it goes.
It’s not surprising that Trump, who managed to convince millions of people that he could spend Mexico’s money on a border wall, is careless with money that isn’t his. He’s openly eager to spend other people’s money, as he admitted on the campaign trail in 2016. 'It’s called OPM. I do that all the time in business,' he said. 'It’s called other people’s money. There’s nothing like doing things with other people’s money.'
Democratic Presidential Debates Could Reignite Warren-Biden Bankruptcy Fight (National Public Radio, June 11, 2019)
Warren advised Hillary Clinton to vote against the bankruptcy bill that Joe Biden supported, and talked about her disappointment in a 2004 interview with journalist Bill Moyers:
WARREN: She voted in favor of it.
WARREN: As Sen. Clinton, the pressures are very different. It's a well-financed industry. You know, a lot of people don't realize that the industry that gave the most money to Washington over the past few years was not the oil industry. It was not pharmaceuticals. It was consumer credit products. Credit card companies have been giving money, and they have influence.
MOYERS: And Mrs. Clinton was one of them as senator.
WARREN: She has taken money from the groups, and more to the point, she worries about them as a constituency.
'If you talk to many independent voters, they worry that both parties are funded by the same corporate interests,' said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has endorsed Warren ahead of 2020. 'Elizabeth Warren has been part of the solution trying to re-brand the Democratic Party as being of the people. The credit card fight was just one chapter of that ongoing struggle.'
US border cops confirm: Maker of America's license-plate, driver recognition tech hacked, camera images swiped (
The Register, June 10, 2019)
That story we broke in May? It is still true – and perhaps even worse than first thought.
IBM raising axe for 'significant workforce balancing in Europe', says staffer rep council (The Register, June 10, 2019)
GTS to shoulder third of cuts, with UK and DACH hit hardest.
Former White House counsel Dean describes parallels between Trump and Nixon (Washington Post, June 10, 2019)
'In many ways the Mueller report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate roadmap … was to President Richard Nixon,' said Dean, whose congressional testimony in 1973 ultimately led to the resignation of Nixon. 'Special counsel Mueller has provided this committee with a roadmap.' Dean highlighted similarities he saw between the two presidents, particularly on the matter of pardons and whether they were used to obstruct justice. Mueller identified 10 potential cases of obstruction of justice by Trump in his report.
Mexico denies Trump's claim of secret concessions in deal (CTPost, June 10, 2019)

‘He needs some victories’: Trump lashes out over his Mexico deal (Politico, June 10, 2019)
"As Trump's presidency reaches the 2.5-year mark, he is more aggrieved than ever, telling advisers that he believes he’ll never get fair treatment.
NEW: Trump Needs a Target to Stay Interested in His Campaign. For Now, It’s Biden. (New York Times, June 10, 2019)
"After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win, even though he is also trailing in public polls from key states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And when top-line details of the polling leaked, including numbers showing the president lagging in a cluster of critical Rust Belt states, Mr. Trump instructed aides to say publicly that other data showed him doing well.
Trump’s latest rage-threat gives Democrats a big opening. One just took it. (
Washington Post, June 10, 2019)
Beto O’Rourke used this situation as a window into a much broader indictment of Trump’s nationalist agenda. He stressed that the threat of tariffs against Mexico is only serving to 'jeopardize' our 'most important trading relationship'; that this places at risk markets that our farmers have cultivated; and that they are already taking a beating from Trump’s trade wars with China. Importantly, O’Rourke made the case that precisely the opposite approach - strengthened, reality-based international integration - is the answer both on trade and on immigration. O’Rourke called for trade arrangements in farmers’ and workers’ interests and for increased investments in Central America 'to ensure that no family has to make that 2,000-mile journey.'
Republicans peddle grotesque abortion-slavery comparison (
Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
State-sanctioned slavery justified by a dogma of religious paternalism is a monstrous crime unequaled in American history. All of which is why analogizing any political controversy to slavery isn’t merely wrong, but obscene. Nevertheless, today’s Republicans routinely compare slavery to Obamacare, gun control, the national debt, the social safety net, and just about any other political development they hate. And as their wave of draconian bans in Georgia, Ohio, Alabama, Missouri and other states shows, the Republicans equation of abortion to slavery is the most insidious of them of all.
Trump administration denied requests to fly pride flags. These U.S. embassies are still flying them (
Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
The Trump administration has made big changes in the way it is approaching pride. Last year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the approval process a whole lot harder. In past years, embassy staffers could submit their requests directly to the ambassador, who could approve them. Under Pompeo’s rules, every embassy has to submit requests to fly the pride flag to the State Department.
This year, the State Department rejected every single request.

Climate Crisis Comes Home to Roost in the Midwest (Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
"As of June 2 only 33 percent of Ohio’s corn acreage and 18 percent of the state’s soybean acreage had been planted. By this time of year, at least 90 percent of corn should have been planted, and 79 percent of soybeans should have been planted. And that’s based only on the most recent five-year average. Years ago, plantings were made much earlier in the spring.
Pretty hate machine: bot nation threatens our national discourse (
Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
"While 2016 is behind us, the work on behalf of bot networks for 2020 is already underway, and so is the influence that bot networks have on our political discussions. Despite Donald Trump’s pronouncements, the overwhelming majority of fake news shares, according to studies, were conservative. How much impact these bot networks have through faked articles and shared content is difficult to say, but the bans at Facebook hint that much bigger problems may be lurking.
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have fought hard against any real oversight of how their businesses may be manipulated by armies of imaginary accounts. It is time for the U.S. House to begin asking serious questions of Facebook and Twitter, about their advertisement policies, reporting policies, data services, and what plans, if any, they have to prevent online hordes from overwhelming any real discussion of issues in 2020.
Caleb Cain was a college dropout looking for direction. He turned to YouTube. (New York Times, June 8, 2019)
"Mr. Cain, 26, recently swore off the alt-right nearly five years after discovering it, and has become a vocal critic of the movement. He is scarred by his experience of being radicalized by what he calls a 'decentralized cult' of far-right YouTube personalities, who convinced him that Western civilization was under threat from Muslim immigrants and cultural Marxists, that innate I.Q. differences explained racial disparities, and that feminism was a dangerous ideology. 'I just kept falling deeper and deeper into this, and it appealed to me because it made me feel a sense of belonging,' he said. 'I was brainwashed.'
YouTube has inadvertently created a dangerous on-ramp to extremism by combining two things: a business model that rewards provocative videos with exposure and advertising dollars, and an algorithm that guides users down personalized paths meant to keep them glued to their screens.
The Linux Foundation in 2019: Over 100 Million Dollars in Income, But Cannot Maintain (TechRights, June 8, 2019)
The Linux Foundation isn’t what it seems; it isn’t even what it’s called. Our readers and guests often urge us to investigate further, getting to the bottom of what goes on at this relatively secretive nonprofit. Without going too deep into the 2017 IRS filing, one can easily see that it’s not a nonprofit and it’s totally out of control. It’s more like a corporate PAC or pressure group. There are aspects to it that we weren’t aware of before. And readers be forewarned… it’s not pretty, to say the least.
University of Alabama robs students of $26.5 million because the donor spoke out for women's rights (Daily KOS, June 8, 2019)
Culverhouse said, 'My love for Alabama is exactly why I was so horrified to watch its lawmakers trample over the Constitution last month. The ban on abortion they passed wasn’t just an attack against women, it was an affront to the rule of law itself. Part of being an American is engaging in public debate, and we can disagree over this issue. But the courts settled this matter a long time ago: Abortion is legal. So it was shocking to see legislators ignore this and pass a bill that turned women and health professionals into criminals, and it felt important to say so publicly.'
But the punishment that Culverhouse is getting for this is … no punishment at all. He’s getting his money back. The people being punished are the University of Alabama students who are being deprived of the facilities and staff that money would have supported; the students who will now have to open their own wallets, or take out more loans, to make up the difference.
NEW: Trump’s EPA Is Letting “Forever Chemicals” Into Our Food, Experts Say (Truthout, June 7, 2019)
A growing chorus of environmental groups and public health experts are slamming the Trump administration for its milquetoast response to the widespread problem of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a family of toxic 'forever chemicals' that are linked to serious diseases and have contaminated food products and drinking water across the country.
83 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump (New York Times, June 7, 2019)
A New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School and other sources, counts more than 80 environmental rules and regulations on the way out under Mr. Trump. Our list represents two types of policy changes: rules that were officially reversed and rollbacks still in progress. The Trump administration has released an aggressive schedule to try to finalize many of these rollbacks this year.
All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality every year, according to a recent report prepared by New York University Law School's State Energy and Environmental Impact Center.
The Climate Rebellion Inside Amazon (Huffington Post, June 7, 2019)
'It’s so easy to just say, oh, we’re building some new solar panels here, but at the same time we haven’t actually reduced our emissions,' said an Amazon engineer.
Bloomberg to put $500M into closing all remaining coal plants by 2030 (CBS News, June 7, 2019)
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is plunging $500 million into an effort to close all of the nation's remaining coal plants by 2030 and put the United States on track toward a 100% clean energy economy. The billionaire Bloomberg's investment in the Beyond Carbon initiative marks the largest ever philanthropic effort to combat climate change, according to the mayor's foundation. The organization will bypass the federal government and instead seek to pass climate and clean energy policies, as well as back political candidates, at the state and local level.
'We're in a race against time with climate change, and yet there is virtually no hope of bold federal action on this issue for at least another two years. Mother Nature is not waiting on our political calendar, and neither can we,' Bloomberg said.
Real life Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr. launches climate change coalition to clean up the world with technology (Good Morning America, June 5, 2019)
Downey's new venture, called the Footprint Coalition, will launch in April 2020. 'Between robotics and nanotechnology, we could clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10 years,' Downey said.
Corporations say they'll lose nearly $1 trillion to climate change (
CBS News, June 5, 2019)
215 of the world's largest companies predict they stand to lose $970 billion to climate-change-related disruptions over the next seven years. Risks include paying more for insurance, writing off facilities in threatened locations and customers shifting to more environmentally friendly companies. The same companies say they could make $2 trillion from adapting to climate change.
Health-care worker shortages would be even worse without immigrants (Washington Post, June 5, 2019)
The study finds more than one-fourth of direct care workers and 30.3 percent of nursing home housekeeping and maintenance workers are immigrants, underscoring their key role as the U.S. population ages. They make up 18.2 percent of the total health-care workforce at more than 3 million people.

Software vendor may have opened a gap for hackers in 2016 swing state (Politico, June 5, 2019)
"A Florida election software company targeted by Russians in 2016 inadvertently opened a potential pathway for hackers to tamper with voter records in North Carolina on the eve of the presidential election, according to a document reviewed by Politico and a person with knowledge of the episode. VR Systems, based in Tallahassee but with customers in eight states, used what’s known as remote-access software to connect for several hours to a central computer in Durham County, N.C., to troubleshoot problems with the company's voter list management tool, the person said. The software distributes voter lists to so-called electronic poll books, which poll workers use to check in voters and verify their eligibility to cast a ballot.
Last year, top voting machine maker Election Systems & Software admitted that for years it had installed and used remote access software on election-management systems it sold to counties, after initially denying it. Election-management systems are even more critical to elections because they are used first to program voting machines and then to tally the results. The revelation about VR Systems, however, indicates that the practice of remotely accessing critical election infrastructure is more widespread than previously believed.

The Linux Foundation Fires All Staff and Editors at Future Uncertain. (TechRights, June 5, 2019)
Carla Schroder, author, former editor of Linux Today and so many other things (also a technical writer in spoke out less than an hour ago in response to our article about the Linux Foundation. In her own words, 'The Linux Foundation sucks. Remember when they took over and promised to be good stewards? In short order they made it a corporate shill site, and then in April laid off all writers and editors without so much as a word of thanks or explanation. All along they’ve been paying lip service to community, while bending over for their corporate members. The individual membership was discontinued years ago. @linuxfoundation needs a housecleaning at the top, and some real leadership.'
I Want to Live in Elizabeth Warren’s America (New York Times, June 5, 2019)
The Massachusetts senator is proposing something radical: a country in which adults discuss serious ideas seriously."
Joe Biden's long evolution on abortion rights still holds surprises (NBC News, June 5, 2019)
As a senator from Delaware, he once supported stripping exceptions for rape and incest from federal funding.
Let’s Ditch MitchMcConnell (New York Times, June 5, 2019)
The Senate majority leader comes out of his shell.
State Dept. Forces Out Official Who Worked on Plan That Led to Ex-Employer’s Arms Deals (Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2019)
Ex-Raytheon outside lobbyist took part in department’s decision to fast-track sales, according to current and former U.S. officials.
Here are dozens of hilarious images from the British resistance during Trump's London visit (Daily KOS, June 4, 2019)
Also, 'Kids in cages have heartbeats, too.'
NEW: Donald Trump tells Prince Charles US has 'clean climate' (The Guardian, June 5, 2019)
President blames other countries for environmental crisis, in long talk with prince.

London's mayor compared President Trump to an 11-year-old child (CNN, June 4, 2019)
NBC’s Richard Engel: Trump’s London Fanfare Claim Is ‘Delusional,’ ‘Deeply Disturbing’ (Huffington Post, June 4, 2019)
'There were thousands of people on the streets. They were protesting Trump, not celebrating his arrival,' the journalist said.
GOP support for Trump has moved from transactional to fanatical (Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2019)
Support for Trump is coming to define what it means to be a conservative. One reason Trump has become a conservative litmus test is that there’s a policy vacuum on the right and Trump’s personality is filling the void. Another is the GOP voter base, which has imposed a binary choice of its own: You’re either with the president or you’re with 'the left.'
Republicans have internalized Trumpism so deeply that they now see the world through his eyes. It’s perfectly 'reasonable' for a White House staffer to think the commander in chief should be shielded from even the name of his late adversary because Trump’s feelings are all that matter.
After a biblically wet spring, this is the week that could break the Corn Belt (Washington Post, June 4, 2019)
In recent years, corn plants have typically emerged on about 84 percent of planned corn acres by this point. This year, it is at 46 percent. Illinois (32 percent) and Indiana (18 percent) are even farther behind. And the acres remaining to plant were always going to be the hardest. The farmers have already planted all their driest fields - the ones that are left are the ones that become most challenging in wet conditions. Some acres just won’t get planted.
For many farmers, the clock has run out on corn for 2019. Even if they work around the clock under optimal conditions, there just are not enough hours to finish planting. About 10 million acres will either go unplanted for insurance purposes or be switched to soybeans. For perspective, that lost acreage would have been the third largest corn state this year, behind the predicted totals for Iowa and Illinois.
Farmers could switch to soybeans, but then they would find themselves even more exposed to President Trump’s trade war with China, the world’s largest soybean market. And beans face many of the same planting issues as corn. For many farmers, the alternative is to bow out and collect crop insurance. As more farmers give up on 2019, alarmed traders will probably bid up prices on corn and soybeans, making costs soar for ethanol producers, hog farmers and others who are already caught in the president’s escalating two-front trade war.
(As Trump sows, so shall we reap.)

NEW: Climate change could pose 'existential threat' by 2050: report (CNN, June 4, 2019)
"Twenty days of lethal heat per year. Collapsed ecosystems. And more than 1 billion people displaced. Those are all probable scenarios that could devastate societies by 2050 if swift and dramatic action isn't taken to curb climate change.

More mangroves? Economies recover faster after tropical cyclones (Ars Technica, June 4, 2019)
Analysis measures economic losses with satellite images of nighttime lights.
Firefox starts blocking third-party cookies by default (Venture Beat, June 4, 2019)
A Brief History of How Your Privacy Was Stolen (New York Times, June 3, 2019)
Google and Facebook took our data - and made a ton of money from it. We must fight back.
Windows 10 Apps Serving Malicious Ads Warning of Virus Infections (Softpedia News, June 3, 2019)
Ads bundled into Windows 10 apps available for users from the Microsoft Store point users to deceptive campaigns eventually trying to deploy malware on their devices.

NEW: A Key Cog in Charles Koch’s Master Plan (Public Citizen, June 3, 2019)
"How the Purportedly Unbiased George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center Advances an Agenda to Deregulate America.
GM and Fiat Chrysler Unmasked as Tesla's Secret Source of Cash (Bloomberg, June 3, 2019)
"Detroit carmakers disclose deals to buy regulatory credits. GM says it’s hedging against ‘future regulatory uncertainties.’ These are the first acknowledgments from carmakers that they’re turning to Tesla for help to comply with intensifying U.S. environmental regulations.
Surprise inspection finds 900 people crammed into Border Patrol facility meant to detain 125 (Daily KOS, June 3, 2019)
ICE Detainee Deaths Were Preventable: Document (The Young Turks, June 3, 2019)
One ICE official told TYT the problem is 'systemic.' 'IHSC [ICE’s Health Services Corps] is severely dysfunctional and unfortunately preventable harm and death to detainees has occurred.'
Campaign Money Helping Make Up For Tenant Shortage At Trump Tower (Huffington Post, June 3, 2019)
As commercial renters flee, Trump keeps spending $37,500 a month in campaign funds at his own building - even though much of the Republican Party’s leased space in Virginia is going unused.
NEW: Southeast Asia Doesn't Want to Be the World's Dumping Ground. Here's How Some Countries Are Pushing Back (Time, June 3, 2019)
The global trash trade has reached a turning point; wealthier nations have long shipped their plastic waste to the developing world to be processed, but in recent months, some nations in Southeast Asia have begun sending the exports - much of it contaminated plastic and trash that is unrecyclable - back to where it came from.
The pushback comes as containers of trash continue to accumulate on the shores of countries like Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, which are increasingly worried that the environmental costs are greater than the income they bring in from importing the waste.
NEW: Google and Amazon Are at the Center of a Storm Brewing Over Big Tech (New York Times, June 2, 2019)
The Justice Department is exploring an investigation of Google, underlining a major shift in the United States’ attitude toward the big technology companies.
Pelosi promises 'ironclad case' against Trump (The Hill, June 1, 2019)
In his report, special counsel Mueller warned us in the starkest terms that there was an attack on our election and an attack on our democracy. Why won't the president defend us from this attack? What is the president covering up? We must investigate the president's welcoming of the assault on our democracy.
Trump's evolving remarks on Russian election interference (The Hill, June 1, 2019)
NEW: For the U.S. and China, it’s not a trade war anymore - it’s something worse (Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2019)
Beneath the surface, a new tone has begun to emerge since trade talks broke down in early May and Trump ratcheted up tariffs on imported goods from China, an action met with retaliatory duties from Beijing. Officials on both sides of the Pacific have begun to portray the U.S.-China relationship in nationalistic and emotion-charged terms that suggest a much deeper conflict.
President Lopez Obrador of Mexico responds to Trump's tariff threat & it’s a beautiful thing (Daily KOS, May 31, 2019)
Russian trolls fueled anti-vaccination debate in U.S. by spreading misinformation on Twitter, study finds (CBS News, May 31, 2019)
Russian Twitter trolls have attempted to fuel the anti-vaccination debate in the U.S., posting about the issue far more than the average Twitter user last year, a study out of George Washington University has found. The "sophisticated" bots shared opinions from both sides of the anti-vaxxer debate, which took the U.S. by storm and prompted tech companies to crack down on the spread of misinformation surrounding vaccinations.
NEW: Abortion Rights Are More Popular Than You Think (Jacobin, May 31, 2019)
Don't let the slate of new anti-abortion bills fool you - support for abortion rights has actually increased in the last decade. Defeating these draconian measures will mean defeating the elite minority that imposes them.
Swedish Startup To Bring Pogo Sticks To San Francisco As E-Scooter Alternative (SF CBS, May 31, 2019)
(A sure sign of massive traffic congestion?)
Ohio lawmakers pass bill to cut renewable requirement, help nuclear and coal (Ars Technica, May 31, 2019)
Critics say the bill unnecessarily bails out nuclear, coal owner FirstEnergy Solutions.
Meteorologist says there's 'no doubt' climate change impacts tornadoes (The Hill, May 31, 2019)
Microsoft issues second warning about patching BlueKeep as PoC code goes public (ZDNet, May 31, 2019)
Time's running out on patching older systems against the BlueKeep vulnerability. An exploit exists for this vulnerability, and if recent reports are accurate, nearly one million computers connected directly to the internet are still vulnerable.
Russian military moves closer to replacing Windows with Astra Linux (
ZDNet, May 31, 2019)
The Chinese military is also working on a similar plan to replace Windows with a custom OS.
Huawei a key beneficiary of China subsidies that US wants ended (
Agence France Presse, May 30, 2019)
A replica of the Palace of Versailles, medieval turrets, and spires rise across Huawei's new campus in southern China, a monument to the telecom giant's growing fortune - and the benefits of state aid. The fairytale-like facilities rest on land that was sold by the local government at cut-rate prices to woo and bolster a strategic, high-tech company like Huawei.
Export Restrictions, Membership Organizations and Huawei (Consortium Info, May 30, 2019)
New U.S. sanctions against Huawei in the escalating U.S.–China trade war have thrown another wrench into the gears of global commerce. But how do these sanctions affect standards organizations and open source development? The high level answer is that the impact will be significant for most standards organizations, and negligible for most open source projects. The major differentiator will be the degree of transparency of the organization in question.
NEW: Google Chrome May Block Ad Blockers: What This Means for You (Tom's Guide, May 30, 2019)
NEW: Twitter Still Has A White Nationalist Problem (Huffington Post, May 30, 2019)
Almost 18 months after Twitter promised to crack down on hate, the platform teems with racist extremists.
White House USS McCain cover-up story gets even more embarrassing for Trump, if that's possible (Daily KOS, May 30, 2019)
NEW: Deceased G.O.P. Strategist’s Hard Drives Reveal New Details on the Census Citizenship Question (New York Times, May 30, 2019)
Thomas B. Hofeller, a leading Republican strategist, died in August and left a trove of computer files containing evidence that could now be relevant in a Supreme Court. Files on those drives showed that he wrote a study in 2015 concluding that adding a citizenship question to the census would allow Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to stymie Democrats. And months after urging President Trump’s transition team to tack the question onto the census, he wrote the key portion of a draft Justice Department letter claiming the question was needed to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act - the rationale the administration later used to justify its decision. In nearly 230 years, the census has never asked all respondents whether they are American citizens. But while adding such a question might appear uncontroversial on its face, opponents have argued that it is actually central to a Republican strategy to skew political boundaries to their advantage when redistricting begins in 2021.
Trump Tweets, and Then Retracts, Statement That Russia Helped Him Get Elected (New York Times, May 30, 2019)
Mueller says his investigation did not exonerate Trump (Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2019)
In his first and perhaps last public comments on the Russia investigation, outgoing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III pointedly refused Wednesday to clear President Trump of a possible crime, while urging Americans to confront foreign interference in U.S. elections. Appearing at the Justice Department, Mueller sought to put a capstone on his nearly two-year investigation, reading a statement but taking no questions from reporters. He did not definitively rule out testifying to Congress but said he would not go beyond the redacted 448-page report released six weeks ago.
He stopped far short of Trump’s claims, and those of Atty. Gen. William Barr, that the investigation found no obstruction of justice by the president and 'no collusion' between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. Mueller said Justice Department guidelines prevented indicting a sitting president, a remark that suggested it was the rules, not the lack of evidence, that spared Trump from criminal charges. 'If we had confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so.'
'There were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our [2016] election,' Mueller said. 'And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.'
Bannon described Trump Organization as 'criminal enterprise', Michael Wolff book claims (The Guardian, May 29, 2019)
The former White House adviser Steve Bannon has described the Trump Organization as a criminal entity and predicted that investigations into the president’s finances will lead to his political downfall, when he is revealed to be 'not the billionaire he said he was, just another scumbag.'
The Department of Energy Is Now Calling Fossil Fuels “Molecules of Freedom” and “Freedom Gas” (Slate, May 29, 2019)
The Trump administration loves fossil fuels, but apparently has decided that they need some rebranding.
Renewable Energy Costs Take Another Tumble, Making Fossil Fuels Look More Expensive Than Ever (Forbes, May 29, 2019)
Almost every source of green energy can now compete on cost with oil, coal and gas-fired power plants, according to new data released today.
How the 1919 Solar Eclipse Made Einstein the World's Most Famous Scientist (Discover Magazine, May 29, 2019)
Heaven and earth moved to make Albert Einstein a star, a century ago today.
"We believe the internet can be better," Mozilla to the International Grand Committee (Mozilla, May 29, 2019)
'We believe the internet can be better. And to build an internet that is both innovative and worthy of people’s trust, we will need better technology and better policy,' said Alan. In his testimony Alan Davidson, Vice President of Global Policy, Trust and Security focused on the need for better product design to protect privacy; getting privacy policy and regulation right; and the complexities of content policy issues. Against the backdrop of tech’s numerous missteps over the last year, our mission-driven work is a clear alternative to much of what is wrong with the web today.
Professor: Dems need to impeach Trump to win 2020 (2-min. video; CNN, May 29, 2019)
NEW: Study Finds Trump Tax Cuts Failed to Do Anything But Give Rich People Money (New York Magazine, May 29, 2019)
Supporters of the Trump tax cuts insisted not only that they would promote growth, but that they would promote so much growth the measure would pay for itself. Even moderates like Susan Collins repeated assurances by the party’s pseudo-economists that the plan would not increase the deficit. So far, the growth feedback from the tax cuts has made up about 5 percent of the plan’s revenue loss, a mere 95 percent shy of the predictions. The passage of the plan was met with a coordinated wave of corporate public-relations announcements of worker bonuses. But the paper finds no widespread increase in bonuses or worker compensation.
When assessing these arguments, keep a close eye on the number of Republican officials or conservative policy-makers who revise their position on the Trump tax cuts in light of the data. If their true primary goal was to increase business investment, then the complete failure of a highly expensive program to achieve its stated goal would lead them to question their support. Why not cancel the Trump tax cuts and use the couple trillion dollars in lost revenue to fund a more effective growth-promoting policy?
So far, the number of Republicans reassessing their support for the Trump tax cuts is, give or take, zero. What this suggests is that the alleged growth-incentivizing secondary effects of the plan were rationales, and the primary effect - giving business owners more money - was the hidden main goal all along.
A devastating analysis of the tax cut shows it’s done virtually no economic good (Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2019)
You may remember all the glowing predictions made for the December 2017 tax cuts by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration: Wages would soar for the rank-and-file, corporate investments would surge, and the cuts would pay for themselves.
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has just published a deep dive into the economic impact of the cuts in their first year, and emerges from the water with a different picture. The CRS finds that the cuts have had virtually no effect on wages, haven’t contributed to a surge in investment, and haven’t come close to paying for themselves. Nor have they delivered a cut to the average taxpayer. The negligible (at best) economic impact of the cuts shouldn’t surprise anyone, the CRS says. 'Much of the tax cut was directed at businesses and higher-income individuals who are less likely to spend,' its analysts write. 'Fiscal stimulus is limited in an economy that is at or near full employment.'
Mueller drew up obstruction indictment against Trump, Michael Wolff book says (The Guardian, May 28, 2019)
A new book from Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff says special counsel Robert Mueller drew up a three-count obstruction of justice indictment against Donald Trump before deciding to shelve it a year later – an explosive claim which a spokesman for Mueller flatly denied.
According to a document seen by the Guardian, the first count, under Title 18, United States code, Section 1505, charged the president with corruptly – or by threats of force or threatening communication – influencing, obstructing or impeding a pending proceeding before a department or agency of the United States.
The second count, under section 1512, charged the president with tampering with a witness, victim or informant.
The third count, under section 1513, charged the president with retaliating against a witness, victim or informant.
Trying Not To Ruin The World By Visiting It (Wisconsin Public Radio, May 28, 2019)
How We Might Make Tourism More Ethical.
NEW: Government researchers sound alarm over spraying antibiotics on FL citrus (Florida Phoenix, May 28, 2019)
The Trump administration in December gave the go-ahead for agricultural operations to spray antibiotic pesticides on nearly a half-million acres of Florida citrus, despite warnings from scientists and government health officials that it could increase the problem of antibiotic resistance in people and in the air, water, and soil. Antibiotic pesticides have been sprayed in Florida before, but this scale is unprecedented.
Now, newly uncovered documents show that researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control – the federal agency that deals with America’s public health and disease outbreaks – concluded two years ago that spraying streptomycin and oxytetracycline is tied to antibiotic resistance in bacteria that cause serious health threats – including the MRSA, CRE and VRE infections. The most alarming finding of the Centers for Disease Control’s study is that when antibiotic pesticides are sprayed on bacteria (in soil, water, air and on trees and fruit), the bacteria can pass the resistance to other bacteria, and then that resistance can adapt to “one or more unrelated antibiotics used to treat infections.”
The Military Is Locked in a Power Struggle With Wind Farms (Wired, May 28, 2019)
A 2018 Pentagon-commissioned study by researchers at MIT found that the 104 turbines at Amazon’s North Carolina wind farm did not interfere with a local Naval radar facility, despite claims by state legislators. The greatest threat to the viability of military facilities in eastern North Carolina is not wind farms, it’s the encroachment of houses and homes on the training area.
Still, politicians in some rural areas seem convinced that the military has a stronger argument. Texas legislators removed tax breaks for wind farms near military bases and are debating further cuts to federal and state incentives.
Some Texas observers note that anti-wind legislators in Texas are supported by groups that also deny climate change, such as the Texas Public Policy Foundation that works to support oil and gas interests at the statehouse. 'This is nothing but pure politics,' says Fred Beach, assistant director for policy studies at the University of Texas Energy Institute and a former naval aviator. 'People don’t want the wind turbines for whatever reason, and they raise this false issue to scare people.'
Alabama 4channer with body armor guns down three police officers, one fatally (Daily KOS, May 27, 2019)
Three police officers were shot, one of them fatally, when they responded to a domestic disturbance call in Auburn on Sunday night. The man arrested shortly afterward, it soon emerged - Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, a veteran from Auburn - was fond of posting memes from the alt-right online gathering spot 4chan, most of them mock humor about guns, white nationalist trolling signals, and encouragement for Proud Boys-style violence against left-wing protesters, who he described as 'leftist scum.'
NEW: Trump Administration Hardens Its Attack on Climate Science (New York Times, May 27, 2019)
The attack on science is underway throughout the government. In the most recent example, the White House-appointed director of the United States Geological Survey, James Reilly, a former astronaut and petroleum geologist, has ordered that scientific assessments produced by that office use only computer-generated climate models that project the impact of climate change through 2040, rather than through the end of the century, as had been done previously.
Scientists say that would give a misleading picture because the biggest effects of current emissions will be felt after 2040. Models show that the planet will most likely warm at about the same rate through about 2050. From that point until the end of the century, however, the rate of warming differs significantly with an increase or decrease in carbon emissions.
'What we have here is a pretty blatant attempt to politicize the science - to push the science in a direction that’s consistent with their politics,' said Philip B. Duffy, the president of the Woods Hole Research Center, who served on a National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed the government’s most recent National Climate Assessment. 'It reminds me of the Soviet Union.'
Lawmakers, Trump agencies set for clash over chemicals in water (The Hill, May 27, 2019)
PFAS has been linked with kidney and thyroid cancer along with high cholesterol and other illnesses. Contamination has spread to 43 states, and a 2015 study found 98 percent of Americans tested now have the chemical in their blood.
Britain’s main parties hammered in E.U. elections - voters opt for those with clearer stances on Brexit (Washington Post, May 27, 2019)
Nigel Farage’s single-issue Brexit Party was the clear winner of the elections, with the potential to impact the race over who becomes the next British prime minister.  The pro-E.U. Liberal Democrats and the Greens - who also have a simple message on Brexit: stop it - made significant gains as well. Overall, support for all the parties that are unabashedly pro-European was slightly higher than those that are pushing for a hard Brexit.  In other words, Britain is as divided as ever.
European Election Results Show Growing Split Over Union’s Future (
New York Times, May 26, 2019)
Populists and nationalists who want to chip away at the European Union’s powers increased their share in Europe’s Parliament after four days of continent-wide elections, but it was not the deluge that many traditionalists had feared. When the vote counting is done, the populists are expected to get around 25 percent of the 751 seats, up from 20 percent five years ago, figures released by the European Union showed on Sunday. But a higher than usual turnout suggested that pro-European voters were also more motivated than before.

‘Wow, What Is That?’ Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects (New York Times, May 26, 2019)
In Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen N.S.A. Tool Wreaks Havoc (New York Times, May 25, 2019)
Since 2017, when the N.S.A. lost control of the tool, EternalBlue, it has been picked up by state hackers in North Korea, Russia and, more recently, China, to cut a path of destruction around the world, leaving billions of dollars in damage. But over the past year, the cyberweapon has boomeranged back and is now showing up in the N.S.A.’s own backyard.
Before it leaked, EternalBlue was one of the most useful exploits in the N.S.A.’s cyberarsenal. According to three former N.S.A. operators who spoke on the condition of anonymity, analysts spent almost a year finding a flaw in Microsoft’s software and writing the code to target it. Initially, they referred to it as EternalBluescreen because it often crashed computers - a risk that could tip off their targets. But it went on to become a reliable tool used in countless intelligence-gathering and counterterrorism missions. EternalBlue was so valuable, former N.S.A. employees said, that the agency never seriously considered alerting Microsoft about the vulnerabilities, and held on to it for more than five years before the breach forced its hand.
Trump’s allies insist he is winning in feud with Pelosi. Her backers say she showed up the president. (Washington Post, May 25, 2019)
Taking stock of the feud, each side insisted they got the upper hand in a fight that shows no sign of waning 18 months before the 2020 elections, with implications for the economy as the budget and federal borrowing limit remain unresolved while the dispute regarding oversight between the White House and Congress rages.
Pelosi’s allies said she showed up the president and reinforced an image of a chief executive behaving so badly and childishly that he is unfit for office - a clear message to voters next year. But to Trump’s backers, the president succeeded in highlighting that an already unpopular politician is struggling not only with the far-left liberals in the Democratic ranks, but even some on her leadership team.
(Focus. Which one stomped out of his conference?)
Theresa May announces she will resign on 7 June (The Guardian, May 24, 2019)
Prime minister to leave Downing Street, drawing three-year tenure to a close. May’s announcement came after a meeting with Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench Tory 1922 Committee, which was prepared to trigger a second vote of no confidence in her leadership if she refused to resign. Her fate was sealed after a 10-point 'new Brexit deal', announced in a speech on Tuesday, infuriated Tory backbenchers and many of her own cabinet – while falling flat with the Labour MPs it was meant to persuade. The leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, resigned on Wednesday, rather than present the Brexit bill to parliament.
First American Financial Corp. Leaked Hundreds of Millions of Title Insurance Records (Krebs On Security, May 24, 2019)
In policy switch, Spectrum and AT&T say if you cancel early, they’re keeping your cash (Los Angels Times, May 23, 2019)
A Charter/Spectrum spokesman, declined to explain why the company is dropping prorated bills. He said only that 'this is a common approach to billing among other providers of monthly subscription services, including wireless and video streaming services.' Which is to say, Johnny took a cookie so I took a cookie. Most parents will agree this isn’t a very satisfactory defense of cookie consumption.
Federal judge in California halts Trump’s plan to build parts of border wall (Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2019)
Trump declared a national emergency in February after losing a fight with the Democratic-led House over fully paying for the wall that led to a 35-day government shutdown. Congress set aside $1.375 billion to extend or replace existing barriers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. But Trump wanted to spend $8 billion on wall construction, so he declared the emergency to siphon money from other government accounts.
Critics had objected to the Trump administration’s move, saying it overstepped its authority by funneling billions of dollars toward the president’s signature campaign promise without authorization from Congress. In granting the preliminary injunction to stop the work, Gilliam cited Congress’ 'absolute' control over federal expenditures under the Constitution, 'even when that control may frustrate the desires of the executive branch regarding initiatives it views as important.'
Maestro Pelosi bests Trump every time and he never knows it until it's too late (Daily KOS, May 23, 2019)
On Wednesday, he once again signed on for ownership of governing gridlock when, in a fit of spite, he huffed out of a meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, marched out to the Rose Garden, and reported back to the American people that he wouldn't be doing any of America's business as long as congressional Democrats continued their investigations into him and his administration. 'You can’t do it under these circumstances,' Trump said.
Actually, one can do it, just as President Bill Clinton piled up signature achievements during a presidency dominated by a sweeping four-year investigation into him, his wife, their financial dealings, and an affair he conducted with a White House intern that ultimately resulted in his impeachment but not his removal from office. To be perfectly clear, Trump is simply choosing not to do America's business. His new 2020 campaign slogan: Trump First!
Following Trump's Rose Garden rumble, Pelosi did a series of media events. In one, she speculated that Trump had perhaps taken a pass on doing infrastructure out of 'a lack of confidence on his part that he couldn’t match the greatness of the challenge before him.' Pluck. In another, she took her impeachment comments a step further, saying Trump is obstructing justice 'in plain sight' and 'that could be an impeachable offense.' Pluck.
Trump is just where Pelosi wants him to be. The question is, has he figured that out yet?
Evidence Russia Tipped Election for Trump ‘Staggering,’ Says Former U.S. Intel Chief James Clapper (Newsweek, May 23, 2019)
Describing a report on Russian interference presented by the intelligence community to president-elect Trump in January 2017, Clapper writes, 'I remember just how staggering the assessment felt the first time I read it through from start to finish, and just how specific our conclusions and evidence were.' In the intelligence chief's view, 'We showed unambiguously that Putin had ordered the campaign to influence the election…and how the entire operation had begun with attempts to undermine U.S. democracy and demean Secretary Clinton, then shifted to promoting Mr. Trump when Russia assessed he was a viable candidate who would serve their strategic goals.'
Clapper warns of the threat posed by Trump’s dismissal of inconvenient facts as fake news. 'I don’t believe our democracy can function for long on lies, particularly when inconvenient and difficult facts spoken by the practitioners of truth are dismissed as fake news,' Clapper writes. 'I know that the Intelligence Community cannot serve our nation if facts are negotiable.'
'House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they would not support a bipartisan statement that might hurt their nominee for president,' Clapper writes in an excerpt of the book published by NPR. 'I was disappointed but not surprised. It seemed they had decided by then that they didn't care who their nominee was, how he got elected or what effects having a foreign power influence our election would have on the nation, as long as they won.'
NEW: UK says it warned 16 NATO allies of Russian hacking activities over the last 18 months. (ZDNet, May 23, 2019)
UK warns of Russian global hacking campaign targeting critical infrastructure and government networks.
NEW: The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich (Bloomberg, May 23, 2019)
Thirty-two-year-old French economist Gabriel Zucman scours spreadsheets to find secret offshore accounts.
Zucman sees ominous signs in the rise of the far right - the threat that has preoccupied him since he was a teenager on the streets of Paris. Inequality, he says, paves the way for demagogues. The causes he’s identified for the widening gap in the U.S. are a host of policy changes that started in the 1980s: lower taxes on the wealthy, weaker labor protections, lax antitrust enforcement, runaway education and health-care costs, and a stagnant minimum wage. America’s skyrocketing wealth disparity, he says, reflects that 'it’s also the country where the policy changes have been the most extreme.'
The actual effect of lower taxes on the rich, he argues, isn’t to stimulate the economy but to further enrich the rich and further incentivize greed.
NEW: EPA Plan on Rocket Fuel in Drinking Water Will Make You Sick (Natural Resources Defence Fund, May 23, 2019)
As a result, millions of Americans will be at risk of exposure to dangerous levels of this toxic chemical in their drinking water.  Fetuses and infants are especially vulnerable to harm from perchlorate. EPA has more than tripled the amount of perchlorate it now recommends allowing in water.  Scientists recommend a limit that is 10 to more than 50 times lower than what the agency is proposing.  This is another Trump administration gift to polluters and water utilities that have lobbied to be off the hook for cleaning up the problem.
NEW: Senate passes bill cracking down on robocalls (CNN, May 23, 2019)
The legislation would impose stiffer fines of as much as $10,000 per call on robocallers who knowingly flout the rules on calls and would increase the statute of limitations to three years, up from one year. It also instructs the Federal Communications Commission to develop further regulations that could shield consumers from unwanted calls.
Net Neutrality: Comcast does so much lobbying that it says disclosing it all is too hard (Ars Technica, May 23, 2019)
Shareholders say Comcast should stop being secretive about lobbying activity.
NEW: We’re Controlling The Wrong Bodies. Why are women’s bodies always up for discussion and control? (Scary Mommy, May 22, 2019)
If a woman has sex with 100 random men in a year, she can still only produce one full term pregnancy. If a guy has sex with 100 random women in a year, he can produce 100 full term pregnancies. So why exactly are we only talking about regulating women?' This tweet is going viral right now. It has over a half a million 'likes' and nearly 200k retweets. We seem to know at our cores that men are the ones predominantly responsible for pregnancies, but it’s something that remains unspoken.
Mississippi GOP Rep. Accused Of Punching Wife In The Face For Undressing Too Slowly For Sex (Talking Points Memo, May 22, 2019)
Senior military officers rebel against Trump plan to pardon troops accused of war crimes (Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2019)
Aides to President Trump have been examining high-profile war crimes cases from Iraq and Afghanistan, preparing paperwork so Trump could issue pardons during Memorial Day commemorations next week, according to two senior U.S. officials.
But the possibility that Trump could issue pardons has brought a flood of opposition from current and former high-ranking officers, who say it would encourage misconduct by showing that violations of laws prohibiting attacks on civilians and prisoners of war will be treated with leniency.
A 10-year-old migrant girl died last year in government care, officials acknowledge (CBS News, May 22, 2019)
In an interview with CBS News Wednesday, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, accused the administration of concealing the girl's death. 'I have not seen any indication that the Trump administration disclosed the death of this young girl to the public or even to Congress,' Castro said. 'And if that's the case, they covered up her death for eight months, even though we were actively asking the question about whether any child had died or been seriously injured. We began asking that question last fall.'
She was the first of six migrant children to die in U.S. custody - or soon after being released - in the past eight months.
Trump’s fight with Huawei could threaten internet access in rural areas (
Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2019)
Rural broadband carriers could be forced to rip out and replace entire networks because they wouldn’t be able to import spare parts or software updates to maintain infrastructure, said Roger Entner, a telecom analyst at Recon Analytics. 'If something breaks, what are you going to tell your customer? "I’m sorry you have an outage. We don’t know when we are going to fix it because it’s Huawei equipment. Until then, sorry. No internet for you." 'You don’t want to tell that to a customer.'
Google allows Huawei to keep using Android until August (UPI, May 21, 2019)
After U.S. officials gave a 90-day reprieve to Huawei, Google said Tuesday it will suspend a plan to quit providing its Android operating system to the Chinese smartphone maker.
Huawei Considers Rivals to Google's Android After U.S. Ban (Bloomberg, May 21, 2019)
Should Google’s system no longer be available, "then the alternative option will naturally come out - either from Huawei or someone else,' Abraham Liu, Huawei’s representative to the European Union institutions, said at an event in Brussels on Tuesday. Liu said Huawei had been working on its own operating system but that he didn’t have the details about when this would be ready. Huawei would do everything in its power to mitigate the impact of the U.S. decisions, Liu said.
The Trump administration late last week signed an order that could restrict Huawei - which it says is obliged to support Beijing spying - from selling equipment in the U.S. Washington also put Huawei on a blacklist, threatening its supply of American components from semiconductors to the Google apps that run on its smartphones.
Google suspends some business with Huawei after Trump blacklist (Reuters, May 19, 2019)
Alphabet Inc’s Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday, in a blow to the Chinese technology company and third largest smartphone manufacturer that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world.
WannaCry? Hundreds of US schools still haven’t patched servers (Ars Technica, May 21 2019)
A dive into vulnerability data shows even big districts' servers still offering up SMB v. 1.
X-rays reveal the colors of a 3 million-year-old fossil mouse (Ars Technica, May 21, 2019)
We can now see the Neogene period in color. Thanks to new imaging methods and a better understanding of the chemistry behind pigment in animal fur and feathers, we now know that it had reddish-brown fur with a white underbelly. Paleontologists have had the tools to detect patterns of light and dark coloring in fossil feathers for a few years, but this is their first real glimpse of a colored pigment.
Natural cycles had little to do with 20th-century temperature trends (
Ars Technica, May 21, 2019)
Humans, volcanoes, and the Sun can cover it; ocean cycles need not apply.
Moondust Could Cloud Our Lunar Ambitions (Wired, May 20, 2019)
In the public imagination, the American astronauts who landed on the moon five decades ago were square-jawed superhumans, not the types to worry about something as banal as housekeeping. But they did, obsessively. Each time they got back to the Apollo Lunar Module after a moonwalk, they were shocked at how much dust they'd tracked in and how hard it was to banish. This was no earthly grime; it was preternaturally sticky and abrasive, scratching the visors on the astronauts' helmets, weakening the seals on their pressure suits, irritating their eyes, and giving some of them sinus trouble.
We Are Tenants on Our Own Devices (Wired, May 20, 2019)
Today, we may think we own things because we paid for them and brought them home, but as long as they run software or have digital connectivity, the sellers continue to have control over the product. We are renters of our own objects, there by the grace of the true owner. Connectivity and embedded intelligence are being used by large corporations to increase their profits and to exercise as much control as they can get away with.
Your Car Knows When You Gain Weight (New York Times, May 20, 2019)
Vehicles collect a lot of unusual data. But who owns it?
Cars produced today are essentially smartphones with wheels. For drivers, this has meant many new features: automatic braking, turn-by-turn directions, infotainment. But for all the things we’re getting out of our connected vehicles, carmakers are getting much, much more: They’re constantly collecting data from our vehicles. Today’s cars are equipped with telematics, in the form of an always-on wireless transmitter that constantly sends vehicle performance and maintenance data to the manufacturer. Modern cars collect as much as 25 gigabytes of data per hour, and it’s about much more than performance and maintenance.
Susan Collins just voted to put another forced birther judge on an important court (Daily KOS, May 21, 2019)
There are two nominally pro-choice women in the Senate Republican conference: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine. Both voted Tuesday to confirm an aggressively anti-choice nominee to the 9th Circuit, Daniel Collins. That's the federal appeals court that's been most crucial in stopping Donald Trump's actions, and it's about to flip in his favor.
One of those senators, Susan Collins, is up for re-election in 2020. Apparently she's more worried about fending off a primary opponent that standing up for what used to be her principles, or for the people who have helped get her elected all these years. In fact, this is at least her ninth vote for an anti-choice nominee, with Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh topping the list.
Susan Collins (R. - Maine) on new abortion laws: 'I’m not sure exactly why we're seeing this happen' (Daily KOS, May 20, 2019)
(Because you supported Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, that's why.)
Russian Oil Sales to U.S. ‘on Steroids’ Amid Venezuela Sanctions (Bloomberg, May 20, 2019)
Monthly Russian crude oil deliveries to U.S. may triple soon. Venezuela and Iran sanctions, OPEC+ cuts curb crude supply.
Republicans may never forgive Justin Amash. The nation should thank him. (Washington Post, May 20, 2019)
"Justin Amash finally said out loud what many other Republicans know but will only whisper: 'President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.' Amash’s party may never forgive him. His nation ought to thank him. The Michigan congressman on Saturday became the first significant GOP official to acknowledge the clear implication of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.

Deutsche Bank employees reportedly flagged suspicious transactions involving Trump and Kushner (NBC News, May 19, 2019)
Over the past few years, Deutsche Bank has been punished by both U.S. and European authorities for its role in money laundering schemes, paying hundreds of millions in fines as a result. The bank has a substantial relationship with Trump, as it was the only major financial institution to continue lending to Trump after he went through a financial downturn in the 1990s. Deutsche Bank lent Trump and his businesses more than $2.5 billion and, when he became president, the bank held more than $300 million in Trump's debt.
Deutsche Bank Staff Saw Suspicious Activity in Trump and Kushner Accounts (New York Times, May 19, 2019)
Former Deutsche Bank employees said the decision not to report the Trump and Kushner transactions reflected the bank’s generally lax approach to money laundering laws. The employees - most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve their ability to work in the industry - said it was part of a pattern of the bank’s executives rejecting valid reports to protect relationships with lucrative clients.
Deutsche Bank’s decision not to report the transactions is the latest twist in Mr. Trump’s long, complicated relationship with the German bank - the only mainstream financial institution consistently willing to do business with the real estate developer. Congressional and state authorities are investigating that relationship and have demanded the bank’s records related to the president, his family and their companies. Subpoenas from two House committees seek, among other things, documents related to any suspicious activities detected in Mr. Trump’s personal and business bank accounts since 2010, according to a copy of a subpoena included in a federal court filing.
Ted Lieu shames Trump over plan to pardon war criminals: 'You never served' (Daily KOS, May 19, 2019)
First GOP lawmaker says Trump’s conduct meets ‘threshold for impeachment’ (Washington Post, May 18, 2019)
Representative Justin Amash (Republican, Michigan) wrote that after reading the 448-page report, he had concluded that not only did Mueller’s team show Trump attempting to obstruct justice, but that Attorney General William P. Barr had 'deliberately misrepresented' the findings. He added that 'few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report. Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.'
Amash, a libertarian, considers himself a strict constitutionalist and in February was the lone Republican to join a Democratic bill to stop Trump from declaring a national emergency to fund his border wall. 'From the time the president was elected, I was urging them to remain independent and to be willing to push back against the president where they thought he was wrong,' Amash told CNN in March. 'They’ve decided to stick with the president time and again, even where they disagree with him privately.
When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law - the foundation of liberty - crumbles.'
After Barr Billbarrs, Trump Tweets (Twitter, May 17, 2019)
(See the Comments thread.)
Barr Again Casts Doubt on Russia Inquiry’s Origins, Aligning With Trump’s Attacks (New York Times, May 17, 2019)
AG Bill Barr doesn’t bother with the pretense of propriety (Rachel Maddow Show, May 17, 2019)
Last October, when the fate of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was uncertain, the conservative jurist scrambled to find his political footing. To that end, Kavanaugh adopted a specific media strategy, doing an interview with Fox News and writing a piece for the Wall Street Journal. The choices were not accidental. Fox News, of course, is closely aligned with Republican politics, and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is arguably the most GOP-friendly space in all of major American print media.
Seven months later, Attorney General Bill Barr is under fire for a series of abuses, which yesterday led him to turn to - you guessed it - Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.
These 19 undocumented immigrants worked for Trump (CNN, May 17, 2019)
CNN interviewed 19 undocumented immigrants who say they worked for the Trump Organization and that Donald Trump had to have known they were undocumented during their employment. CNN's Randi Kaye reports.
Google uses Gmail to track a history of things you buy - and it’s hard to delete (CNBC, May 17, 2019)
Google tracks a lot of what you buy, even if you purchased it elsewhere, like in a store or from Amazon.
Last week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote a New York Times op-ed that said 'privacy cannot be a luxury good.' But behind the scenes, Google is still collecting a lot of personal information from the services you use, such as Gmail, and some of it can’t be easily deleted.
C.E.O. Pay, America’s Economic ‘Miracle’
  (New York Times, May 17, 2019)
"No matter how their companies do, the top bosses do better.
Citrus Farmers Facing Deadly Bacteria Turn to Antibiotics, Alarming Health Officials (New York Times, May 17, 2019)
"In its decision to approve two drugs for orange and grapefruit trees, the E.P.A. largely ignored objections from the C.D.C. and the F.D.A., which fear that expanding their use in cash crops could fuel antibiotic resistance in humans.
The European Union has banned the agricultural use of both streptomycin and oxytetracycline. So, too, has Brazil, where orange growers are battling the same bacterial scourge, called huanglongbing, also commonly known as citrus greening disease. 'To allow such a massive increase of these drugs in agriculture is a recipe for disaster,' said Steven Roach, a senior analyst for the advocacy group Keep Antibiotics Working. 'It’s putting the needs of the citrus industry ahead of human health.'
AOC Calls Out GOP on Abortion Bans: "a creepy theological order led by a mad king. (Daily KOS, May 18, 2019)
Rick Wiles: ‘We Are Going to Impose Christian Rule in this Country’ (Right Wing Watch, May 17, 2019)
"On Wednesday night’s episode of his 'TruNews' program, during which he praised Alabama’s radical new anti-abortion law and warned that those who support reproductive rights will spend eternity being 'aborted continuously forever' by demons in Hell, End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles also found time to blame Jews for the legalization of abortion in this nation in the first place, declaring that 'we would not have abortion in America if it was not for powerful, influential rich Jews in America.'
Some court decisions deserve to be overruled. Roe vs. Wade isn’t one of them (Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2019)
"Writing for himself and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that needlessly overturning previous decisions threatens the stability of the law. He warned his colleagues that the court should cast aside previous rulings 'only when the circumstances demand it.' Breyer’s dissent has created a minor sensation, but not because of his comments about the importance of consistency in the law. Conservative justices have said similar things. It’s what appears between the lines that has attracted attention: an implicit plea to the court’s conservatives not to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion.
What happened to the Trump counterintelligence investigation? House investigators don’t know. (Washington Post, May 16, 2019)
"But not for lack of asking.

Mark Morgan, Trump’s pick for ICE director: 'I can tell which migrant children will become gang members by looking into their eyes' (Politico, May 16, 2019)

How Fox News Anointed Mark Morgan, Trump’s Pick For ICE Chief (Huffington Post, May 15, 2019)
"Making at least 80 appearances there to praise the president on immigration breathed new life into Mark Morgan’s career.
NEW: Women Are Using #YouKnowMe To Tell Their Abortion Stories (Scary Mommy, May 15, 2019)
"In the wake of terrifying abortion laws being enacted in multiple states, women are rightly infuriated and scared at what looks like the crumbling of reproductive rights as we’ve long known them. It’s prompting women to share stories about their own abortions using #YouKnowMe.
No bill that criminalizes abortion will stop anyone from making this incredibly personal choice, but these laws will put more women at risk. Every woman deserves compassion and care, not judgment and interference when it comes to their own bodies. The statistic is that one in four women will have an abortion before age 45.
'If men got pregnant, you could get an abortion at an ATM.' --Selina Meyer, from HBO's Veep
NEW: Every Single Vote For Alabama’s Abortion Ban Came From A Man (
Scary Mommy, May 15, 2019)
"White men who will never, ever know what it’s like to have a woman’s reproductive system are banning people with uteruses from making their own decisions about their uteruses. It’s barbaric, it’s irresponsible in a million ways, and it proves the entire abortion “debate” isn’t about when life begins - it’s about making sure women are treated unequally and inhumanely in the eyes of the law.
The Republican party won’t regulate guns in order to prevent the loss of human lives - not even children’s lives - yet they purport themselves as “champions” of embryos. They are seizing our reproductive freedom, one state at a time.
In addition to banning abortion access throughout the entire state, Alabama would also be able to punish doctors who perform abortions on patients - even in cases of rape and incest - with a prison sentence of up to 99 years. Which is a more severe punishment than rapists receive in Alabama. Oh, and if you’re wondering: no, there isn’t any consequence for a man who impregnates a woman who has no desire to carry a fetus to term. Other than an obligation to pay child support - in some cases.
In response to the bill, Alabama state senator Vivian Davis Figures filed an amendment to the bill that would make it a felony for a man to have a vasectomy. Predictably, it failed.
NEW: New York Rejects Keystone-Like Pipeline in Fierce Battle Over the State’s Energy Future (New York Times, May 15, 2019)
"Regulators denied an application for a $1 billion natural gas pipeline that environmentalists said would set back the fight against climate change.
In a major victory for environmental activists, New York regulators on Wednesday rejected the construction of a heavily disputed, nearly $1 billion natural gas pipeline, even as business leaders and energy companies warned that the decision could devastate the state’s economy and bring a gas moratorium to New York City and Long Island. The pipeline was planned to run 37 miles, connecting natural gas fields in Pennsylvania to New Jersey and New York. Its operator, the Oklahoma-based Williams Companies, pitched it as a crucial addition to the region’s energy infrastructure, one that would deliver enough fuel to satisfy New York’s booming energy needs and stave off a looming shortage.
But environmental groups said Williams was manufacturing a crisis to justify a project that would rip apart fragile ecosystems, handcuff New York to fossil fuels and hobble the state’s march toward renewable resources.
NEW: 6 facts about U.S. political independents (Pew Research Center, May 15, 2019)
"Though about four-in-ten Americans call themselves ‘independents,’ few are truly independent.
The 3.5% Rule: How A Small Minority Can Change The World (BBC, May 14, 2019)
"Overall, nonviolent campaigns were twice as likely to succeed as violent campaigns: they led to political change 53% of the time compared to 26% for the violent protests. This was partly the result of strength in numbers. Chenoweth argues that nonviolent campaigns are more likely to succeed because they can recruit many more participants from a much broader demographic, which can cause severe disruption that paralyses normal urban life and the functioning of society.
New Jersey's AG and DEP Announce Suit Against 3M, DuPont, Others for Making, Selling Toxic Chemicals in Firefighting Foam Product State of New Jersey, May 14, 2019)
At issue in the State’s lawsuit is the manufacture, advertising, and sale in New Jersey of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) products that contain - or break down into when released into the environment – chemicals known as PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). The State’s complaint names the following manufacturers and sellers as defendants: The 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products LP, Chemguard, Inc., Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, Kidde-Fenwal, Inc., National Foam, Inc., E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, and The Chemours Company.
'The corporations we’re suing today knew full well the health and environmental risks associated with this foam, and yet they sold it to New Jersey’s firefighters anyway,' said Attorney General Grewal. 'Their conduct was unconscionable, and we’re going to hold these companies accountable.'
'To protect our environment and ensure the restoration of damaged natural resources, we must hold responsible the manufacturers who knew of the dangers of these products,' said DEP Commissioner McCabe.
NRA Board Members Say Its New President Lied About Disclosing Financial Troubles (Huffington Post, May 14, 2019)
Leaked documents reveal the National Rifle Association is drowning in legal fees. Board members say they didn’t know.
Trump's across-the-board legal stonewalling appears poised to backfire big time (Daily KOS, May 14, 2019)
If Tuesday's first fight over Trump's financial records turns out to represent a trend in how judges approach these cases, Trump's attorneys will likely be facing an expedited schedule of hearings in which they are armed with exceedingly weak legal rationales. And Democrats don't have to win every subpoena battle being mounted; they only have to win most of them in order to gain access to critical information. Indeed, many pressing issues regarding presidential matters have been adjudicated quickly by the courts. The constitutional fight between George W. Bush and Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election wrapped up in just over a month - 36 days - and that included two trips to the Supreme Court.
How Gerrymandering Leads to Radical Abortion Laws (The New Republic, May 14, 2019)
Georgia's 'fetal heartbeat' bill never would have passed if the state legislature truly reflected the voters' political preferences.
5G likely to mess with weather forecasts, but FCC auctions spectrum anyway
(Ars Technica, May 14, 2019)
"A US Navy memo warns that 5G mobile networks are likely to interfere with weather satellites, and senators are urging the Federal Communications Commission to avoid issuing new spectrum licenses to wireless carriers until changes are made to prevent harms to weather forecasting.
The FCC has already begun an auction of 24GHz spectrum that would be used in 5G networks. But Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) today wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, asking him to avoid issuing licenses to winning bidders 'until the FCC approves the passive band protection limits that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determine are necessary to protect critical satellite‐based measurements of atmospheric water vapor needed to forecast the weather.' Wyden and Cantwell said that the 'ongoing sale of wireless airwaves could damage the effectiveness of US weather satellites and harm forecasts and predictions relied on to protect safety, property, and national security.' They chided the FCC for beginning the auction 'over the objections of NASA, NOAA, and members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). These entities all argued that out-of-band emissions from future commercial broadband transmissions in the 24GHz band would disrupt the ability to collect water-vapor data measured in a neighboring frequency band (23.6 to 24GHZ) that meteorologists rely on to forecast the weather.'
The internal Navy memo on the topic, written on March 27 by Capt. Marc Eckardt, a Naval oceanographer, was made public by Wyden and Cantwell today.
Fourth-largest coal producer in the US files for bankruptcy (Ars Technica, May 14, 2019)
Cloud Peak Energy staved off bankruptcy for years but continued to face lean markets.
Wettest 12-month period on record leaves US nearly drought-free amid rampant flooding (AccuWeather, May 14, 2019)
It was 84 degrees near the Arctic Ocean this weekend as carbon dioxide hit its highest level in human history (Washington Post, May 14, 2019)
Over the weekend, the climate system sounded simultaneous alarms. Near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia, the temperature surged to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celsius). Meanwhile, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eclipsed 415 parts per million for the first time in human history. By themselves, these are just data points. But taken together with so many indicators of an altered atmosphere and rising temperatures, they blend into the unmistakable portrait of human-induced climate change.
There is more CO2 in the atmosphere today than any point since the evolution of humans (CNN, May 13, 2019)
This is the first time in human history our planet's atmosphere has had more than 415ppm CO2. Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago. We don't know a planet like this.
Intel Discloses Four New Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) Vulnerabilities (Softpedia, May 14, 2019)
Security researchers have publicly disclosed today a series of potential security vulnerabilities affecting various Intel microprocessors, which may allow information disclosure on users' machines.
It’s Almost Impossible to Tell if Your iPhone Has Been Hacked (Vice, May 14, 2019)
A recent vulnerability in WhatsApp shows that there’s little defenders can do to detect and analyze iPhone hacks.
As of today, there is no specific tool that an iPhone user can download to analyze their phone and figure out if it has been compromised. In 2016, Apple took down an app made by Esser that was specifically designed to detect malicious jailbreaks. Moreover, iOS is so locked down that without hacking or jailbreaking it first, even a talented security researcher can do very little analysis on it.
'These security controls have made mobile devices extremely difficult to inspect, especially remotely, and particularly for those of us working in human rights organizations lacking access to adequate forensics technology. Because of this, we are rarely able to confirm infections of those who we even already suspect being targeted. Quite frankly, we are on the losing side of a disheartening asymmetry of capabilities that favors attackers over us, defenders.'
It's 2019 and a WhatsApp call can hack a phone: Zero-day exploit infects mobiles with spyware (The Register, May 14, 2019)
A security flaw in WhatsApp can be, and has been, exploited to inject spyware into victims' smartphones: all a snoop needs to do is make a booby-trapped voice call to a target's number, and they're in. The victim doesn't need to do a thing other than leave their phone on.
A Cisco Router Bug Has Massive Global Implications (Wired, May 13, 2019)
Researchers have found a way to break Cisco's secure boot process, which could affect millions of devices around the world.
Could abortion become illegal in America? All signs point to yes (The Guardian, May 14, 2019)
America is facing a full-frontal attack on Roe v Wade. There is no guarantee that the supreme court will protect the right to terminate a pregnancy.
These 25 Republicans – all white men – just voted to ban abortion in Alabama (The Guardian, May 14, 2019)
Legislation makes abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy, with the only exception for a serious threat to the health of the woman.

Bill Nye explains climate change with John Oliver (0.5-min. video; YouTube, May 13, 2019)
Poll says that 56% of Americans don't want kids taught Arabic numerals. We have some bad news. (Daily KOS, May 13, 2019)
China announces tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods, vows to ‘never surrender’ (Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2019)
'I say openly to President Xi [Jinping] & all of my many friends in China that China will be hurt very badly if you don’t make a deal because companies will be forced to leave China for other countries. Too expensive to buy in China. You had a great deal, almost completed, & you backed out!' he said in another tweet.
Beijing’s new tariff action was expected after trade talks in Washington broke off Friday and the Trump administration went ahead and hiked taxes on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods to 25% from 10%.
NEW: Before Trump’s purge at DHS, top officials challenged plan for mass family arrests (Washington Post, May 13, 2019)
In the weeks before they were ousted last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello challenged a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities. According to seven current and former Department of Homeland Security officials, the administration wanted to target the crush of families that had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border after the president’s failed 'zero tolerance' prosecution push in early 2018. The ultimate purpose, the officials said, was a show of force to send the message that the United States was going to get tough by swiftly moving to detain and deport recent immigrants - including families with children.
Sen. Lindsey Graham tells Don Jr. to obstruct justice, says the Senate has his back (Daily KOS, May 13, 2019)
Supreme Court’s conservatives overturn precedent as liberals ask ‘which cases the court will overrule next’ (Washington Post, May 13, 2019)
The issue in Monday’s 5 to 4 ruling was one of limited impact: whether states have sovereign immunity from private lawsuits in the courts of other states. In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled that there is no constitutional right to such immunity, although states are free to extend it to one another and often do. But the court’s conservative majority overruled that decision, saying there was an implied right in the Constitution that means states 'could not be haled involuntarily before each other’s courts,' in the words of Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote Monday’s decision. Thomas acknowledged the departure from the legal doctrine of stare decisis, in which courts are to abide by settled law without a compelling reason to overrule the decision.
Dear Delta Air Lines: video games and beer cannot compete with joining a union (The Guardian, May 11, 2019)
The airline is telling employees that unions take money they could spend on entertainment instead. Will anyone really fall for that anti-union tactic?
Leaked Documents: NRA Racked Up $24 Million in Legal Bills (Daily Beast, May 11, 2019)
Docs show former president Oliver North warning that legal fees 'pose an existential threat to the financial stability of the National Rifle Association.'
Internal documents show 3M hid PFAS dangers for decades (Detroit Free Press, May 11, 2019)
A 3M environmental specialist, in a scathing resignation letter, accused company officials of being 'unethical' and more 'concerned with markets, legal defensibility and image over environmental safety' when it came to PFOS, the emerging contaminant causing a potential crisis throughout Michigan and the country. PFOS, one of 3M's chief PFAS products, 'is the most insidious pollutant since PCB,' Richard Purdy stated in his March 28, 1999, resignation letter, referring to a compound used in 3M's ScotchGard stain-protection product line, among other uses. 'It is probably more damaging than PCB because it does not degrade, whereas PCB does; it is more toxic to wildlife,' he stated, adding that PFOS's end point in the environment appeared to be plants and animals, not soil and sediment like PCB.
NEW: Plant and animal species are disappearing faster than at any time in recorded history. We know who is to blame. (New York Times, May 11, 2019)
Humanity’s culpability in what many scientists believe to be a planetary emergency has now been reaffirmed by a detailed and depressing report compiled by hundreds of international experts and based on thousands of scientific studies. A summary was released last Monday in Paris, and the full 1,500-page report will be available later in the year. Its findings are grim. 'Biodiversity' - a word encompassing all living flora and fauna - 'is declining faster than at any time in human history,' it says, estimating that 'around 1 million species already face extinction, many within decades,' unless the world takes transformative action to save natural systems.
When a reporter would not betray his source, police came to his home with guns and a sledgehammer (Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2019)
Carmody, 49, said he has not shared the name of his source with anyone, and no markings on the document could be traced to the person who provided it. Fellow journalists in the Bay Area and beyond were outraged by the search of Carmody’s home and office. And the incident provided a new wrinkle into the evolving aftermath of the unexpected death of Adachi, who left behind a legacy of championing civil rights. Initial reports said the 59-year-old public defender had been traveling when he suddenly had a heart attack.
How the creators of a database are stamping out all-male panels (Nature, May 10, 2019)
Developers of ‘Request a Woman Scientist’ hope that its 10,000 participants can help to boost gender diversity in scientific talks and in the media.
Europe 'takes too much of Earth resources' (BBC News, May 10, 2019)
A new report for the green group WWF and the Global Footprint Network says that Europeans contribute disproportionately to depleting resources.
It says Europeans emit too much carbon, eat too much food, use large amounts of timber and occupy too much built space.
Here’s Why It Matters That Airlines Are Starting To Run ‘Zero-Waste’ Flights (UPROXX, May 10, 2019)
The FBI is investigating whether Florida spa owner funneled money from China to the Trump campaign (Daily KOS, May 10, 2019)
Who could’ve ever guessed New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft getting arrested for soliciting prostitution would lead to the FBI investigating whether the Chinese have been funneling money to the Trump re-election campaign? But, here we are.
To recap, after Kraft was arrested, the Miami Herald noted the spa’s founder, Cindy Yang, was a frequent guest at Mar-a-Lago and had been photographed with Donald Trump at the private club on several occasions. She used these photos to prove she had access to the president and others could as well, for a price. The grift began from the moment Donald Trump took office. Yang hosted an event at Trump’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., and those funds have never been accounted for to this day.
James Comey on why he isn't Republican anymore: ‘You cannot have a president who is a chronic liar' (Daily KOS, May 10, 2019)
You cannot have a president who is a chronic liar. I don’t care what your passions about tax cuts, or regulations, or immigration - I respect difference there. But the President of the United States cannot be someone who lies constantly. I thought the Republicans agreed with that. It’s one of the reasons I am no longer a Republican.
I hope the American people will realize we have to start at that values level, no matter what our political background, and answer that question first. And if that's a close question in an election, then get to the important policy differences.
Americans' support for impeaching Trump rises: Reuters/Ipsos poll (Reuters, May 9, 2019)
The number of Americans who said President Donald Trump should be impeached rose 5 percentage points to 45 percent since mid-April, while more than half said multiple congressional probes of Trump interfered with important government business, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday."
Pelosi's delay in bringing Barr's contempt vote to the House floor isn't weakness - it's a plan (Daily KOS, May 9, 2019)
The House Judiciary Committee voted on a resolution to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, but Barr is not in contempt. He won’t be until that resolution is brought to the floor and a citation of contempt is issued by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. And, according to Roll Call, that may not happen anytime soon. On Thursday, Pelosi suggested that there may be a delay before any vote is held on Barr.
But that delay doesn’t represent disinterest on Pelosi’s part, or an intention to keep Democrats from moving down a path that could lead to impeachment. Instead, her actions seem to be part of a plan that Democrats have been discussing over the last few days, one that involves bringing multiple instances of Donald Trump blocking access to information to the courts at the same time.
Is This the Official Trump Constitutional Crisis? (New Yorker Magazine, May 9, 2019)
Washington has been bracing for a full-blown constitutional crisis since the first day of the Trump Presidency, and during the last two and a half years each new boundary-pushing move by the boundary-pushing President has been greeted with fresh warnings that this time is really it.
This is not just a fight about getting William Barr to testify or hand over the unredacted parts of the Mueller report or its underlying evidence. In recent weeks, Trump has ordered his Administration to take a maximally defiant attitude toward Congress as it pursues an array of investigations of him and his Administration. The President, essentially, is arguing that his Democratic tormenters in the House have no right at all to pursue information and testimony related to him.
Politically, Trump seems to be trying to goad the Democrats into taking further action against him. Perhaps he is even looking to push them into a partisan impeachment fight. There’s no question that Trump, for all his bullying, actually loves to play the victim. Whatever he is after, the President has adopted a far more aggressive legal strategy than that of his predecessors, ordering his Administration to carry out a 'true structural assault on the idea of congressional subpoena power,' Stephen Vladeck, a legal professor at the University of Texas, told me. 'Even at the height of Watergate, I don’t think we ever heard Richard Nixon make such a categorical claim.'
Right after the Democrats won the House in last fall’s midterm elections, Vladeck wrote a prescient piece in the Washington Post, anticipating just this scenario of 'serious conflict and, perhaps, even a slow-motion constitutional crisis' between a Democratic House bent on investigations and Trump. He correctly foresaw that Trump was likely to trigger the fight by refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena and also that, though fighting him would take time, the courts were likely to side with Democrats in any such argument. Will Trump defy a court order against him? That would be a crisis. Will he set a new standard for future Presidents eroding Congress’s previously 'extremely broad and encompassing' authority to investigate? That, too, would be a crisis.
But there’s another possibility, and it is an unsettling one. Many of President Trump’s assertions of sweeping executive authority, and also his defiance of Congress, may well be legal, if highly confrontational. In area after area during the past few years, Trump has taken advantage of decades of congressional inaction or has flouted norms that were long assumed but not explicitly enshrined in law. That’s what happens when a President is willing to defy convention in the way that Trump is. There’s no law requiring him to hold a regular White House press briefing, any more than there is a law explicitly saying that 'because I don’t want to' is not a proper reason for refusing a legitimate congressional inquiry. In the past, the presumed blowback acted as a constraint on Presidents. (Though, of course, many of them, long before Trump, sought to expand their executive authority.) What’s different now is that Trump acts as though he is immune from the political pressure to operate within the accepted system that his predecessors felt. 'To me, that is what has broken down over the last thirty months, that those constraints have proved utterly ineffective,' Vladeck said. 'All of these are of a piece, where we have a President and an Administration that is absolutely shameless when it comes to bleeding every legal authority it has for every ounce of support it can drain.'
Which is how we ended up with a President who deliberately keeps Cabinet positions open for months at a time rather than have Senate-confirmed officials there. It’s how we got a state of national 'emergency' at the southern border, so that Trump could spend military money on the border wall that Congress refused to give him. And it’s why there’s a fight now over Congress even being allowed to see the Mueller report and its underlying evidence, although Mueller explicitly envisioned that Congress would use that evidence to determine whether to accuse Trump of obstructing justice. In Washington, the scandal is often what’s legal - and that was true before Donald Trump was President and will almost certainly be the case long after he is gone.
Sarah Sanders purges reporters she doesn't like from the White House (ShareBlue Media, May 9, 2019)
Sarah Huckabee Sanders instituted new rules that effectively deem the entire White House press corps unqualified to possess permanent press passes.
NEW: Facebook’s co-founder: ‘It’s time to break up Facebook’ (Washington Post, May  9, 2019)
Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, is calling for the breakup of the social media juggernaut, citing the threat of the platform’s unchecked power and that of its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg.
NEW: It’s Time to Break Up Facebook, by Chris Hughes (
New York Times, May 9, 2019)
Mr. Hughes, a 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.'
F.T.C. Commissioners Back Privacy Law to Regulate Tech Companies (
New York Times, May 8, 2019)
Lawmakers are considering a national privacy law to regulate the collection and handling of user data, the most valuable currency of the internet economy. The idea has won the support of some Silicon Valley executives, and drew Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, to meet with lawmakers this week. But progress has stalled over disagreements on the details of such a law, putting the United States far behind nations in Europe and beyond that have led a global charge to curb the growing power of big tech companies.
'We urge Congress to enact privacy and data security legislation, enforceable by the F.T.C.,' Joseph Simons, the agency’s chairman, said at the hearing.
Henry Waxman: Congress should act now to ensure a free and open internet (Los Angeles Times, May 8, 2019)
"Since the rise of the internet, there have been concerns that the dominance of a relatively small number of internet service providers could potentially threaten its open nature. I sought to prevent that outcome during my time in Congress by writing principles of net neutrality into law. Under net neutrality, ISPs would be prohibited from blocking, throttling and allowing for paid prioritization of content. In other words, they could not prevent subscribers from accessing websites, slow down or speed up websites, or receive payment from content providers seeking to put particular websites or content 'first in line.' While we have come close to this goal, we have not yet achieved it. Instead, for more than 15 years, policymakers have been locked in an epic arm-wrestling match over net neutrality.

For a Split Second, a Quantum Computer Made History Go Backward (New York Times, May 8, 2019)
"A team of quantum physicists reported earlier this year that they had succeeded in creating a computer algorithm that acts like the Fountain of Youth. Using an IBM quantum computer, they managed to undo the aging of a single, simulated elementary particle by one millionth of a second. But it was a Pyrrhic victory at best, requiring manipulations so unlikely to occur naturally that it only reinforced the notion that we are helplessly trapped in the flow of time.
'We demonstrate that time-reversing even ONE quantum particle is an unsurmountable task for nature alone. The system comprising two particles is even more irreversible, let alone the eggs - comprising billions of particles - we break to prepare an omelet.'
Climate Activists Are Rebelling. Are Politicians Finally Listening? (Sierra Club, May 8, 2019)
Extinction Rebellion's bold antics seem to be getting results.
E.P.A. Leaders Disregarded Agency’s Experts in Issuing Asbestos Rule, Memos Show (New York Times, May 8, 2019)
Senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency disregarded the advice of their own scientists and lawyers in April when the agency issued a rule that restricted but did not ban asbestos, according to two internal memos. Because of its fiber strength and resistance to heat, asbestos has long been used in insulation and construction materials. It is also is a known carcinogen.
Last month’s rule kept open a way for manufacturers to adopt new uses for asbestos, or return to certain older uses, but only with E.P.A. approval. Andrew Wheeler, the E.P.A. administrator, said when the rule was issued that it would significantly strengthen public health protections. But in the memos, dated Aug. 10, more than a dozen of E.P.A.’s own experts urged the agency to ban asbestos outright, as do most other industrialized nations.
Young Turks' Uygur: Nancy Pelosi is not a progressive (The Hill, May 8, 2019)
Why did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) not defend Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) by name recently when she was attacked by President Trump? Why did Speaker Pelosi attend a dinner with Democratic donors where they discussed how to thwart Senator Sanders, arguably the most progressive person in Congress? Why did Pelosi minimize the progressives in Congress by saying there are just five of them?
I’ll solve the big mystery for you: She isn't a progressive. Not even close. In fact, she works against every progressive priority in Congress.
A ‘democratic socialist’ agenda is appealing. No wonder Trump attacks it. (Washington Post, May 8, 2019)
Through much of this spring, President Trump has made a big deal out of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) calling themselves democratic socialists. He likens them to Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro. But no one in the United States is advocating a government takeover of coal mines or oil fields - not Ocasio-Cortez, not Sanders, not anybody. Trump is merely engaging in an old-fashioned smear campaign, hoping to turn voters against democratic socialism by conflating ideas.
I prefer another name, 'progressive capitalism,' to describe the agenda of curbing the excesses of markets; restoring a balance among markets, government and civil society; and ensuring that all Americans can attain a middle-class life. The term emphasizes that markets with private enterprise are at the core of any successful economy, but it also recognizes that unfettered markets are not efficient, stable or fair.
HHS Finalizes Rule Requiring Manufacturers Disclose Drug Prices in TV Ads to Increase Drug Pricing Transparency (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, May 8, 2019)
On Wednesday, Health and Human Services announced a final rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that will require direct-to-consumer television advertisements for prescription pharmaceuticals covered by Medicare or Medicaid to include the list price – the Wholesale Acquisition Cost – if that price is equal to or greater than $35 for a month’s supply or the usual course of therapy.
Mnuchin defies the law by withholding Trump tax returns. Congress can't let this stand. (USA Today, May 8, 2019)
The law in this case is unambiguous. It clearly states that the Secretary of Treasury 'shall furnish . . . any return or return information' requested in writing by the House Ways and Means Committee. Instead of complying with this requirement, the secretary asserted that he was not fulfilling the request on the grounds that he had determined that the 'request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.'
This is not a determination the secretary is empowered to make, and it is also not correct.This need is particularly acute in the case of a president who has decided, unlike every president before him, to retain a large network of privately-held business interests that expose him to corruption risks all over the world. The public record alone discloses more than 1,400 points of contact during Trump's first two years in office involving the government, those trying to influence it, and the Trump Organization.
Particularly troubling facts specific to Trump provide additional compelling justifications for congressional oversight. News reporting suggests that the Trump family, including the president, engaged in an elaborate, decades-long scheme to minimize tax liability. Trump’s sister, a former federal judge, retired from the bench just 10 days after a judicial panel began an inquiry into her role in the scheme; her retirement ended that inquiry. In addition, as we recently discovered, the current head of the IRS has earned as much as $1 million in income from a rental property he owns - at a Trump-branded development. Only willful blindness would allow Congress to simply assume all is well.
Trump denies access to full Mueller report; Barr’s contempt vote clears House panel (Washington Post, May 8, 2019)
President Trump asserted executive privilege, a rare presidential prerogative, to deny congressional Democrats the unredacted version of the report.
Democrats could vote as early as next week on holding William P. Barr in contempt, according to an individual familiar with internal discussions.
The Subpoena and Contempt Fight Between Trump and Congress, Explained (New York Times, May 8, 2019)
President Trump invoked executive privilege for the first time in his presidency on Wednesday to justify shielding the full Mueller report from Congress, even as the House Judiciary Committee considered whether to recommend holding Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt for defying its subpoena for the document.
The clash brings to a head the first of a series of fights over the scope and limits of Congress’s power to obtain information that the president wants to keep secret from lawmakers. More are coming: Mr. Trump has has vowed to resist 'all' subpoenas issued by House Democrats in their oversight investigations. And Mr. Trump has sued his banks and the House Oversight Committee to block subpoenas for his financial records held by his accountants and financial firms.
The strategy of unabashedly stonewalling Democrats’ oversight investigations raises the question of what lawmakers can do about it - and whether, even if they ultimately prevail, the court fight will take so long that the Trump team will run out the clock before the next election. 'We are now in a constitutional crisis,'
said Representative Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
White House asserts executive privilege over Mueller report in latest confrontation with Congress (Washington Post, May 8, 2019)
"Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote in a letter to Congress that Trump had 'asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials.' Boyd wrote that Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s push to hold Barr in contempt had 'terminated' their negotiations over what materials lawmakers would be allowed to view from Mueller’s investigation. 'As we have repeatedly explained, the Attorney General could not comply with your subpoena in its current form without violating the law, court rules, and court orders, and without threatening the independence of the Department of Justice’s prosecutorial functions,' Boyd wrote.
'The attorney general of the United States refused to provide information that is not privilege and is subject to a subpoena,” said .
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) responded, 'There is no privilege for this information. Executive privilege is not a cloak of secrecy that drapes across Washington.'
(Q: How many facts can a con man hide, if a con man can hide facts?
 A: Ten years' worth less than yesterday.)
Decade in the Red: Trump Tax Figures Show Over $1 Billion in Business Losses (New York Times, May 7, 2019)
"By the time his master-of-the-universe memoir 'Trump: The Art of the Deal' hit bookstores in 1987, Donald J. Trump was already in deep financial distress, losing tens of millions of dollars on troubled business deals, according to previously unrevealed figures from his federal income tax returns. Mr. Trump was propelled to the presidency, in part, by a self-spun narrative of business success and of setbacks triumphantly overcome. He has attributed his first run of reversals and bankruptcies to the recession that took hold in 1990. But 10 years of tax information obtained by The New York Times paints a different, and far bleaker, picture of his deal-making abilities and financial condition.
The data - printouts from Mr. Trump’s official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, with the figures from his federal tax form, the 1040, for the years 1985 to 1994 - represents the fullest and most detailed look to date at the president’s taxes, information he has kept from public view. Though the information does not cover the tax years at the center of an escalating battle between the Trump administration and Congress, it traces the most tumultuous chapter in a long business career - an era of fevered acquisition and spectacular collapse.
Mueller reportedly about to leave DOJ in 'coming days' - and derail efforts to derail his testimony (Daily KOS, May 7, 2019)
"Earlier today, White House Press Secretary/Information Minister/Princess of Lies Sarah Huckabee Sanders hinted loudly that her boss could potentially block Robert Mueller from testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. Under this scenario, Trump could tell Attorney General William Barr to order Mueller not to testify. Since Mueller is still employed by the Department of Justice, Barr at least on paper would have the right to give such an order.
But there’s just one problem. In a few days, that order could just be hot air. Mueller is reportedly about to leave the federal government.
Doc Searls: We Need to Save What Made Linux and FOSS Possible (Linux Journal, May 8, 2019)
"If we take freedom and openness for granted, we'll lose both. That's already happening, and we need to fight back. The question is how.
Bad News! Windows 10 Will Soon Have a Real Linux Kernel (It's FOSS, May 7, 2019)
Microsoft is infamous for its Embrace, Extend, Extinguish policy. It has started ‘loving’ open source and Linux in the last few years, but before that Linux was cancer. The so-called ‘love for Linux’ seems more like ‘lust for Linux’ to me. The Linux community is behaving like a teen-aged girl madly in love with a brute. Who benefits from this Microsoft-Linux relationship? Clearly, Microsoft has more to gain here. WSL
(Windows Subsystem for Linux) has the capacity of shrinking (desktop) Linux to a mere desktop app in this partnership.
WSL is a Linux kernel compatibility layer for Windows. It allows many Linux programs (mainly the command line ones) to run inside Windows. This feature is also called ‘bash on Windows’. To use WSL, you can install bash on Windows through Ubuntu, Kali Linux and OpenSUSE. These Linux distributions are available in Windows 10 Store. Instead of a slow virtual machine, the WSL allows you to natively run the Linux commands on Windows - up to 20x faster!
In WSL 2, the Linux kernel compatibility layer has been replaced by the real Linux kernel. By bringing Linux kernel to Windows 10 desktop, programmers and software developers will be able to use Linux for setting up programming environments and use tools like Docker for deployment. They won’t have to leave the Windows ecosystem or use a virtual machine or log in to a remote Linux system through Putty or other SSH clients. In the coming years, a significant population of future generation of programmers won’t even bother to try Linux desktop because they’ll get everything right in their systems that come pre-installed with Windows. The Linux kernel will continue to grow in the IT infrastructure, thanks to the efforts of the Linux Foundation backed by the enterprise giants for their own interests.
Desktop Linux will unfortunately see a decline. The Linux Foundation already doesn’t care about desktop Linux. Out of the millions it gets, literally nothing goes for the development of desktop Linux (as far as I know). Linux Foundation doesn’t make any effort to support desktop Linux - probably because it doesn’t generate any money.
Microsoft Will Have You Sued for Not Hosting GNU/Linux on Azure (Paying Rents) (TechRights, May 7, 2019)
In order for 'Microsoft Azure IP Advantage' to be sell-able (or become a selling point), Microsoft must ensure that many FOSS users get attacked by patent trolls.

NEW: Google CEO Sundar Pichai: Privacy Should Not Be a Luxury Good (New York Times, May 7, 2019)
"Yes, we use data to make products more helpful for everyone. But we also protect your information.
(Or, maybe not.)
French man arrives in Caribbean after crossing Atlantic in giant barrel (CNN, May 7, 2019)
"Jean-Jacques Savin set off from the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa, on December 26, 2018 - heading west in a barrel-shaped capsule he'd built himself. Savin, 71 at the time of his departure, spent the first four months of 2019 inside his barrel, traveling at about two miles an hour with no engine, and relying entirely on the ocean current to guide his journey.The septuagenarian traveled alone in his handmade vessel, which measures about 10 feet long and seven feet wide and includes a small kitchen and bed, and space for storage. He fed himself on fish caught from the ocean.
The trip was not Savin's first major adventure. He previously worked as a military paratrooper and a private pilot, and climbed Mont Blanc in 2015, according to his project's website.
Scientists discover a game-changing way to remove salt from water (CNET, May 7, 2019)
Temperature Swing Solvent Extraction te
chnology could have massive implications for the future of our drinking water.
UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’ (United Nations, May 6, 2019)
The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.
To increase the policy-relevance of the Report, the assessment’s authors have ranked, for the first time at this scale and based on a thorough analysis of the available evidence, the five direct drivers of change in nature with the largest relative global impacts so far. These culprits are, in descending order: (1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species.
The Report notes that, since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius – with climate change already impacting nature from the level of ecosystems to that of genetics – impacts expected to increase over the coming decades, in some cases surpassing the impact of land and sea use change and other drivers.
NEW: Five things we've learned from nature crisis study (BBC News, May 6, 2019)
One in four species are at risk of extinction. Some ecologists argue that a financial definition is very damaging for nature, allowing it to be commodified and treated as just another good.
Forget the Anthropocene: we’ve entered the Synthetic Age (Aeon, May 6, 2019)
We are changing how the planet works. It is not just that human activities have stained every corner of the entire planet. The simultaneous arrival of a range of powerful new technologies are starting to signal a potential takeover of Earth’s most basic operations by its most audacious species. From this time forward, technologies such as the gene-editing technique CRISPR and climate engineering will transform an already tainted planet into an increasingly synthetic whole.
Trump move raises pressure on Barr (The Hill, May 6, 2019)
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are angling to bring Mueller in to testify on May 15 and are said to be negotiating directly with the special counsel. Mueller is still employed at the Justice Department, meaning Barr would need to sign off on his testimony and could in theory block him from appearing. Mueller is also expected to leave the Justice Department soon, which could leave the administration with little control over his actions as a private citizen.
House panel sets Wednesday vote to hold Barr in contempt after DOJ doesn't turn over Mueller report (CNN, May 6, 2019)
The vote to hold Barr in contempt marks the first time that House Democrats are moving to punish a Trump administration official for defying a congressional subpoena and represents a dramatic escalation in tensions between Democrats and the White House.
STATEMENT BY OVER 700 FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTORS (U.S. Dept. of Justice Alumni Statement) (Medium, May 6, 2019)
We are former federal prosecutors. We served under both Republican and Democratic administrations at different levels of the federal system: as line attorneys, supervisors, special prosecutors, United States Attorneys, and senior officials at the Department of Justice. The offices in which we served were small, medium, and large; urban, suburban, and rural; and located in all parts of our country.
Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.
The Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming. These include:
· The President’s efforts to fire Mueller and to falsify evidence about that effort;
· The President’s efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation to exclude his conduct; and
· The President’s efforts to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign.
Attempts to fire Mueller and then create false evidence:
Despite being advised by then-White House Counsel Don McGahn that he could face legal jeopardy for doing so, Trump directed McGahn on multiple occasions to fire Mueller or to gin up false conflicts of interest as a pretext for getting rid of the Special Counsel. When these acts began to come into public view, Trump made 'repeated efforts to have McGahn deny the story' - going so far as to tell McGahn to write a letter 'for our files' falsely denying that Trump had directed Mueller’s termination.
Firing Mueller would have seriously impeded the investigation of the President and his associates - obstruction in its most literal sense. Directing the creation of false government records in order to prevent or discredit truthful testimony is similarly unlawful. The Special Counsel’s report states: 'Substantial evidence indicates that in repeatedly urging McGahn to dispute that he was ordered to have the Special Counsel terminated, the President acted for the purpose of influencing McGahn’s account in order to deflect or prevent scrutiny of the President’s conduct toward the investigation.'
Attempts to limit the Mueller investigation:
The report describes multiple efforts by the president to curtail the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation.
First, the President repeatedly pressured then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his legally-mandated decision to recuse himself from the investigation. The President’s stated reason was that he wanted an attorney general who would 'protect' him, including from the Special Counsel investigation. He also directed then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to fire Sessions and Priebus refused.
Second, after McGahn told the President that he could not contact Sessions himself to discuss the investigation, Trump went outside the White House, instructing his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to carry a demand to Sessions to direct Mueller to confine his investigation to future elections. Lewandowski tried and failed to contact Sessions in private. After a second meeting with Trump, Lewandowski passed Trump’s message to senior White House official Rick Dearborn, who Lewandowski thought would be a better messenger because of his prior relationship with Sessions. Dearborn did not pass along Trump’s message.
As the report explains, 'substantial evidence indicates that the President’s effort to have Sessions limit the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation to future election interference was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the President’s and his campaign’s conduct' - in other words, the President employed a private citizen to try to get the Attorney General to limit the scope of an ongoing investigation into the President and his associates.
All of this conduct - trying to control and impede the investigation against the President by leveraging his authority over others - is similar to conduct we have seen charged against other public officials and people in powerful positions.
Witness tampering and intimidation:
The Special Counsel’s report establishes that the President tried to influence the decisions of both Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort with regard to cooperating with investigators. Some of this tampering and intimidation, including the dangling of pardons, was done in plain sight via tweets and public statements; other such behavior was done via private messages through private attorneys, such as Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani’s message to Cohen’s lawyer that Cohen should 'sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places.'
Of course, these aren’t the only acts of potential obstruction detailed by the Special Counsel. It would be well within the purview of normal prosecutorial judgment also to charge other acts detailed in the report.
We emphasize that these are not matters of close professional judgment. Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments that could be raised in response to an indictment of the nature we describe here. In our system, every accused person is presumed innocent and it is always the government’s burden to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. But, to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice - the standard set out in Principles of Federal Prosecution - runs counter to logic and our experience.
As former federal prosecutors, we recognize that prosecuting obstruction of justice cases is critical because unchecked obstruction - which allows intentional interference with criminal investigations to go unpunished - puts our whole system of justice at risk. We believe strongly that, but for the OLC memo, the overwhelming weight of professional judgment would come down in favor of prosecution for the conduct outlined in the Mueller Report.
We’ll be looking at an entirely different political landscape before this day is over (Palmer Report, May 6, 2019)
Two of Donald Trump’s most notorious cabinet members are facing hard deadlines today, and we’re finally about to get a look at what House Democrats have up their sleeve in terms of consequences. That means today was already going to be a huge day, even before Robert Mueller and Donald Trump each decided to interject themselves into the timeline. Now we’re facing an entirely different political landscape before sundown.
If Trump’s first 2 years don’t count, here’s everything he did that can be cancelled (ThinkProgress, May 6, 2019)
The president re-tweeted a demand from Jerry Falwell Jr. that his term be extended by two years to make up for the Russia investigation.
Trump Keeps Alluding to Extending His Presidency. Does He Mean It? (Fortune, May 6, 2019)
The president made similar comments last year in a speech to Republican donors at Mar-A-Lago, where he praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for consolidating his power and doing away with term limits. 'He’s now president for life. President for life. And he’s great,' Trump said. 'I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.'
Trump says Mueller shouldn’t testify to Congress, escalating fight with Democrats (Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2019)
House Democrats have said they have a tentative deal for Mueller to testify on May 15, and Atty. Gen. William Barr previously told Congress that he had no objection to Mueller testifying.
Scott Walker has a new job (Daily KOS, May 5, 2019)
Scott Walker, a man who has never worked a day in his life, has a new job that fits his grifting ways. He is now the honorary chair of The Center for State-led National Debt Solutions. In other words, he is pushing for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
A balanced budget amendment is an utterly bad idea that the American Right has been pushing for years. It is an idea that ignores the reality that a national budget is not the same thing as a family budget.
The Civil War At Fox News Is About To Get Much Worse (5-min. video; The Young Turks, May 5, 2019)
Tensions behind the scenes at Fox News are reaching a boiling point as more and more advertisers flee and shareholders are starting to see their profits fall. People like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham are scaring away the ad dollars in spite of their high ratings, and executives don’t know if they should be placating the on-air hosts or the people who actually pay their bills. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins explains what’s happening.
U.S. Air Force Says It Has Successfully Shot Down Multiple Missiles Using a Laser Prototype (Gizmodo, May 5, 2019)
The U.S. military has been interested in lasers essentially since they were invented. But one key hindrance has been the miniaturizing the technologies necessary to create a powerful enough beam to destroy anything quickly - and previous failures include a $5 billion project involving a Boeing 747 retrofitted to carry a laser that failed in 2012. A photograph released by the Air Force shows the current surrogate being used in testing is really, really big.
Japanese government to create and maintain defensive malware (ZDnet, May 5, 2019)
The Japanese government plans to expand its military's reach into "cyber," which NATO formally declared as an official battlefield in June 2016, next to air, ground, and sea. Japan becomes just the latest country to formally recognize that it owns and develops cyber-weapons. The others include the US, the UK, and Germany.
Global Meat-Eating Is On the Rise, Bringing Surprising Benefits (Slashdot, May 5, 2019)
Almost four-fifths of all agricultural land is dedicated to feeding livestock, if you count not just pasture but also cropland used to grow animal feed. The shift from pork to beef in China, the world's most populous country, is bad news for the environment. Because pigs require no pasture, and are efficient at converting feed into flesh, pork is among the greenest of meats. Cattle are usually much less efficient, although they can be farmed in different ways. And because cows are ruminants, they belch methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. A study of American farm data in 2014 estimated that, calorie for calorie, beef production requires three times as much animal feed as pork production and produces almost five times as much greenhouse gases. Other estimates suggest it uses two and a half times as much water.
Saving my Schwinn... and other stuff (Daily KOS, May 4, 2019)
Bike lanes need physical protection from car traffic, study shows (Ars Technica, May 4, 2019)
Drivers left bikes less room in the presence of parked cars and painted bike lanes.
Trumpers beware: Remember who you were and what you stood for - before it's too late (Los Angeles Times, May 4, 2019)
At the very least, Trumpites seem to recognize that they will need to atone. Even Trump’s mouthpiece lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani may see the writing on the wall. He told a reporter, 'I am afraid it will be on my gravestone: Rudy Giuliani, he lied for Trump.'
To all Trumpites - rank-and-file or highly public - who likewise may be starting to grapple with what will happen to them when they meet their makers, Cohen, Comey and McHugh offer guidance: Remember who you were and what you stood for - before Donald and before it’s too late. For you and the nation.
NEW: Pelosi Warns Democrats: Stay in the Center or Trump May Contest Election Results (New York Times, May 4, 2019)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not believe President Trump can be removed through impeachment - the only way to do it, she said this week, is to defeat him in 2020 by a margin so 'big' he cannot challenge the legitimacy of a Democratic victory.
NEW: The Intercept’s ‘Bodies in the Borderland’ Documents Criminalization of Arizona Humanitarian Aid Worker (The Intercept, May 4,
"In the borderlands separating Arizona from the Sonora desert in Mexico, activist Scott Warren worked to provide transiting migrants with water and shelter, and to account for the bodies of those who died trying to get into the U.S. Because of this, the U.S. government wants to put him in prison.

Guam: DOD contractor that spilled jet fuel, contaminated water pays off tiny fine (KUAM News, May 3, 2019)
The Guam Environmental Protection Agency is about to close the book on a DOD contractor that spilled jet fuel and contaminated water, forcing the removal of tons of soil in 2017. The federal contractor is worth billions, but the local agency reduced its fine to a virtual slap on the wrist.
Trump gives oil companies $1.5B gift by removing regulations that protect against oil spills (Daily KOS, May 3, 2019)
When the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded in April 2010, it not only immediately killed 11 workers; it also spilled an eventual total of more than three million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. That record spill destroyed the fishing and tourism industry in the area for years, and left an environmental scar that’s still visible. It took more than three months to cap the well and staunch the flow.
Following that disaster, President Obama directed the Interior Department to develop new guidelines for oil companies conducting drilling for oil under deep water. Which seems reasonable. But as the Associated Press reports, Donald Trump is 'easing' those regulations. As in, removing them.
The Interior Department will give oil companies 'flexibility' that allows them to take any approach they want to drilling so long as they maintain safety levels. If that sounds like permission for drilling companies to select their own level of risk and walk away with fat profits - so long as disaster doesn’t hit - it’s because that’s what it is.
Court strikes down Ohio gerrymander: GOP maps 'so skewed' they 'predetermined' election results (Daily KOS, May 3, 2019)
On Friday, a federal district court delivered a major win against Republican gerrymandering when it struck down Ohio's congressional map for violating the constitutional rights of Democratic voters. The court ordered legislators to devise a new map by June 14 for the 2020 elections that would be much fairer than the existing lines. If lawmakers don't pass a new map, or if the Republicans - who have total control over state government - simply pass a new replacement gerrymander, the court itself could draw its own districts.
This ruling could also have major consequences for redistricting after the 2020 census, when Ohio, like every other state, was already set to draw a new map beginning with the 2022 elections. Although Ohio legislators passed a "compromise" constitutional amendment in 2018 to reform congressional redistricting in an ostensibly bipartisan manner, that supposed reform was actually a cunning Republican scheme to thwart a 2018 ballot initiative effort at the time that was aiming to create a more independent and fairer process.
NEW: This City Has A Radical Plan To Get Rid Of Bosses (Huffington Post, May 3, 2019)
As the baby boomers retire, Berkeley, California, wants them to sell their businesses to their workers.
NEW: Measles-stricken cruise ship quarantined, reportedly owned by Scientologists (Ars Technica, May 2, 2019)
Passengers are not allowed to disembark in St. Lucia, which eliminated measles in 2016.
NEW: Climate change: UK 'can cut emissions to nearly zero' by 2050 (BBC, May 2, 2019)
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) maintains this can be done at no added cost from previous estimates. Its report says that if other countries follow the UK, there’s a 50-50 chance of staying below the recommended 1.5C temperature rise by 2100. A 1.5C rise is considered the threshold for dangerous climate change.
Machine learning reveals links between climate misinformation and philanthropy (Physics World, May 2, 2019)
Over the 20 years to 2017, the network of actors spreading scientific misinformation about climate change has been increasingly integrated into US political philanthropy. That’s according to a study that used natural language processing to analyse connections between the two fields.
Farrell employed novel machine learning capabilities to recognize and classify repeating themes and links in lists of attendees and speakers at philanthropic meetings, millions of words of written materials, and lists of board members and lifetime achievement award winners.
(You've been out-spending sanity 20:1; but now, Little Brother is watching you.)
A homeless Oakland couple moved into a $4 million Piedmont home. Then came the calls to police (San Francisco Chronicle, May 2, 2019)
I asked McGrath why he’d let people off the street live with him. 'It’s helped bring me back to my roots as a young kid,' he said. 'I cannot avoid the responsibility I have to life around me. I have a personal obligation to take responsibility when I see injustices. And to me, this is a clear injustice.'
How Mass Surveillance Works in Xinjiang, China (Human Rights Watch, May 1, 2019)
Reverse-Engineering a Police App Reveals Invasive Profiling and Monitoring Strategies.
A new vision for neuroscience (Science Daily, May 1, 2019)
How live recordings of neural electricity could revolutionize how we see the brain.
Cousins, once removed - Finally, a Denisovan specimen from somewhere beyond Denisova Cave (Ars Technica, May 1, 2019)
The 160,000-year-old jawbone is the first Denisovan fossil found outside Siberia.
Human influence on drought started a century ago (Ars Technica, May 1, 2019)
Aerosol pollution from the '50s to the '70s may have complicated the picture.
The alleged synagogue shooter was a churchgoer who talked Christian theology, raising tough questions for evangelical pastors (Washington Post, May 1, 2019)
Before he allegedly walked into a synagogue in Poway, Calif., and opened fire, John Earnest appears to have written a seven-page letter spelling out his core beliefs: that Jewish people, guilty in his view of faults ranging from killing Jesus to controlling the media, deserved to die. That his intention to kill Jews would glorify God.
Days later, the Rev. Mika Edmondson read those words and was stunned. 'It certainly calls for a good amount of soul-searching, said Edmondson, a pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a small evangelical denomination founded to counter liberalism in mainline Presbyterianism. Earnest, 19, was a member of an OPC congregation. His father was an elder. He attended regularly. And in the manifesto, the writer spewed not only invective against Jews and racial minorities but also cogent Christian theology he heard in the pews. So the pastor read those seven pages, trying to understand. 'We can’t pretend as though we didn’t have some responsibility for him. He was radicalized into white nationalism from within the very midst of our church.'
California’s population growth is the slowest in recorded history (Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2019)
The overall profile of immigrants to California is higher education, which correlates to lower fertility. With native-born, we see a long-running trend throughout the U.S where fertility has been trending downward.
Perhaps the biggest force behind the change is higher education rates among women. That broader trend historically has been masked by high immigration from Latin America, but that is no longer the case. More education of women translates into later marriage, later childbirth and then fewer children.
Barr reminds Mueller: If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog (Washington Post, May 1, 2019)
Now, just weeks on the job as President Trump’s attorney general, William Barr has disgraced himself. The speed with which Barr trashed a reputation built over decades is stunning, even by Trump administration standards. Before, Barr was known as the attorney general to President George H.W. Bush and an éminence grise of the Washington legal community. Now he is known for betraying a friend, lying to Congress and misrepresenting the Mueller report in a way that excused the president’s misbehavior and let Russia off the hook.
Repeatedly, Barr said it didn’t matter that Trump had deceived the public. 'I’m not in the business of determining when lies are told to the American people,' he said. But now Barr, by misrepresenting his dealings with Mueller, has gotten himself into the business of lying to the American people.
NEW: Today in Tech – 1964 - BASIC programming language developers John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz launched a time-sharing system at Dartmouth College (SourceForge, May 1, 2019)
Confronting linguistic bias: The case for an open human language (Open Source, April 30, 2019)
Just as computer languages shape our models, our choice of spoken languages impacts research and pedagogy. Do scholars need an open human language, too? Esperanto has provided this globally for more than a century.
The NRA's troubles stem from its total war mentality (Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2019)
The National Rifle Association has big troubles. It’s wildly in debt. The attorney general of New York - where the NRA was founded in 1871 and where it remains incorporated - is investigating the tax-exempt status of what she has called a 'terrorist organization.' The NRA’s longtime chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, is in a bitter feud with its outgoing president Oliver North. Accusations are flying, including of attempted extortion and misuse of perhaps millions of dollars.
Mueller’s complaints show Barr has a whole lot of explaining to do (Washington Post, April 30, 2019)
Attorney General William P. Barr’s handling of the Mueller report was already controversial. Tonight, it became a whole lot more controversial. We knew based upon previous reporting that members of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team were concerned about Barr’s characterization of their report ahead of its release. But now we know Mueller himself shared in the concerns - and spoke up. The Post’s Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky report that Mueller went so far as to send a letter to the Justice Department after Barr summarized Mueller’s principal conclusions in late March.
NEW: Trump EPA insists Monsanto's Roundup is safe, despite cancer cases (The Guardian, April 30, 2019)
Administration to keep weedkiller on the market after landmark court rulings and concerns over food.
White supremacists invade D.C. bookstore, chant 'This land is our land' during race discussion (Daily KOS, April 30, 2019)
Troubling portrait of synagogue shooting suspect emerges: ‘Attracted to such darkness’ (Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2019)
As John T. Earnest was charged in the Poway synagogue attack Monday, a clearer portrait began to emerge of a troubled 19-year-old consumed by hate.
'To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries,' the man’s family said in an open letter. 'How our son was attracted to such darkness is a terrifying mystery to us.'

L.A. terror plot thwarted: Army vet planned ‘mass casualties,’ FBI says (Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2019)
"A U.S. Army veteran who wanted revenge for attacks on Muslims around the globe was planning to detonate a bomb at a Long Beach rally this past weekend before he was intercepted by law enforcement officials, authorities said Monday. Mark Steven Domingo, 26, was arrested Friday night after he took delivery of what he thought was an improvised explosive device from an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a bomb-maker, officials said. He was charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and, if convicted, could face up to 15 years in prison. According to a federal affidavit, Domingo considered 'various attacks - including targeting Jews, churches and police officers' before he decided 'to detonate an IED at a rally scheduled to take place in Long Beach this past weekend.'
NEW: President Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims (Washington Post, April 29, 2019)
"It took President Trump 601 days to top 5,000 false and misleading claims in The Fact Checker’s database, an average of eight claims a day. But on April 26, just 226 days later, the president crossed the 10,000 mark - an average of nearly 23 claims a day in this seven-month period, which included the many rallies he held before the midterm elections, the partial government shutdown over his promised border wall, and the release of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the presidential election.
Trump Sues Deutsche Bank and Capital One to Block Compliance With Subpoenas (New York Times, April 29, 2019)
The House’s Intelligence and Financial Services Committees issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank, a longtime lender to Mr. Trump’s real estate company, and other financial institutions two weeks ago, seeking a long list of documents and other materials related to Deutsche Bank’s history of lending and providing accounts to Mr. Trump and his family. People with knowledge of the investigation said it related to possible money laundering by people in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Representative Maxine Waters of California, the chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee, and Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, called the lawsuit 'meritless' in a joint statement, and said it demonstrated 'the depths to which President Trump will go to obstruct Congress’s constitutional oversight authority. As a private businessman, Trump routinely used his well-known litigiousness and the threat of lawsuits to intimidate others, but he will find that Congress will not be deterred from carrying out its constitutional responsibilities. This lawsuit is not designed to succeed; it is only designed to put off meaningful accountability as long as possible.'
As security officials prepare for Russian attack on 2020 presidential race, Trump and aides play down threat  (Washington Post, April 29, 2019)
Officials insist that they have made progress since 2016 in hardening defenses. And top security officials, including the director of national intelligence, say the president has given them 'full support' in their efforts to counter malign activities. But some analysts worry that by not sending a clear, public signal that he understands the threat foreign interference poses, Trump is inviting more of it.
In the past week, Justice Department prosecutors indicated that Russia’s efforts to disrupt the 2016 election are part of a long-term strategy that the United States continues to confront.
For more than two years, however, Trump has recoiled when aides broached Russia’s 2016 theft and dissemination of Democratic emails and its ma­nipu­la­tion of social media  in an effort to sway the election. 'It’s a goddamn hoax,' Trump said in one meeting with advisers in 2017 when they tried to discuss what the government should do to deter Russian operations. People who were present or were briefed about the meeting and other administration discussions spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Last week, some of Trump’s top advisers echoed his sentiments. Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, dismissed the significance of the 2016 interference as Russia 'buying some Facebook ads.' And former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers, implied that future Kremlin assistance might even be welcome when he told CNN that 'there’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.'
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) on 'Face the Nation' strongly disputed Kushner’s analysis. 'I like Jared a lot, but . . . this is a big deal. It’s not just a few Facebook ads. They were very successful in pitting one American against the other . . . and they actually got into the campaign email system of the Democratic Party. An attack on one party is an attack on all.'
Homeland Security Used a Private Intelligence Firm to Monitor Family Separation Protests (The Intercept, April 29, 2019)
Jess Morales Rocketto, co-chair of Families Belong Together and a lead organizer of last year’s protests, condemned the monitoring of the demonstrations. 'Those protests represented the best of democracy,' she told The Intercept. 'It’s especially concerning given that these protests were basically thousands of moms and their kids, thousands of families, and that the Trump administration’s response to that was to put them on a watch list.'
The emails confirming the protest surveillance were released in an ongoing freedom of information battle that the American Immigration Council, or AIC - in collaboration with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, the National Immigrant Justice Center, Kids in Need of Defense, Women’s Refugee Commission, and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP - is waging to pry documents surrounding family separation from the government. 'We’ve been getting them in drips,' Emily Creighton, deputy legal director at the AIC, said of the documents beginning to surface as a result of the litigation. 'We have been told in litigation that ICE, DHS, and CBP have hundreds of thousands of responsive records.'
New York State investigating National Rifle Association's finances (Business Insider, April 29, 2019)
uring her campaign last year, the NY Attorney-General, a Democrat, promised to investigate the NRA's not-for-profit status if elected.
The NRA has clashed repeatedly with New York elected officials aiming to curb the organization's influence. The group filed a last year against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials after New York fined insurance broker Lockton Cos. LLC $7 million for underwriting an NRA-branded insurance program called Carry Guard.
(Also see NRA problems on August 4, 2018 and April 11, 2018, below.)
Here are all the current members of Congress who have doubted or denied climate change (Business Insider, April 29, 2019)
- Over 97% of scientists agree that human activity has contributed to the steady warming of the Earth's climate.
- Legislation that hopes to mitigate the potentially disastrous effects of climate change is dependent on the curbing human activity that has a large carbon footprint.
- Despite the consensus among scientists about the urgent need to curb emissions, there are more than 100 current members of Congress who have expressed skepticism about the role humans have played in climate change and the value of limiting our emissions.  The climate change deniers in Congress are overwhelmingly Republican.
Boys, the wealthy, and Canadians (?) talk the most BS (Ars Technica, April 28, 2019)
Students were asked how well they've mastered math concepts that don't exist.
5 persistent myths about the Mueller report (Washington Post, April 27, 2019)
No matter how damaging the evidence, Mueller decided it wasn’t his place to accuse the president of crimes; he could only clear him of crimes. And if you look more closely, there are five different events on which Mueller seems to have found evidence of the three key criteria required for an obstruction charge.
The GOP war on itself and the USA for 150 years (Daily KOS, April 27, 2019)
Shirkey: GOP won’t rule out Nessel impeachment (Detroit News, April 27, 2019)
Michigan’s Republican-led Senate appears to be putting the squeeze on Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel and is not ruling out the possibility of pursuing impeachment if she refuses to enforce state laws to which she objects. A 2020 budget unveiled this week by the Senate GOP proposes a 10% 'administrative reduction' for Nessel’s office and other language attempting to limit her discretion in lawsuits. It also proposes funding cuts for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office to pay for the creation of a new independent redistricting commission voters approved last fall.
NEW: ‘I like giving the gift of time’: Time banks build economies - and communities - without the almighty dollar. (Washington Post, April 26, 2019)
Though some communities have experimented with local currency, most time banks offer an alternative, powered by 21st-century technology, to the U.S. dollar. About 70 exist across the country - some with a few members, others with hundreds - to give value to work that members say often goes uncompensated in a traditional market economy.
NEW: Global 5G wireless networks threaten weather forecasts (Nature, April 26, 2019)
The US government has begun auctioning off blocks of wireless radio frequencies to be used for the next-generation mobile communications network known as 5G. But some of these frequencies lie close to those that satellites use for crucial Earth observations - and meteorologists are worried that 5G transmissions from cellphones and other equipment could interfere with their data collection.
Unless regulators or telecommunications companies take steps to reduce the risk of interference, Earth-observing satellites flying over areas of the United States with 5G wireless coverage won’t be able to detect concentrations of water vapour in the atmosphere accurately. Meteorologists in the United States and other countries rely on those data to feed into their models; without that information, weather forecasts worldwide are likely to suffer." 
NEW: Stung by Trump’s Trade Wars, Wisconsin’s Milk Farmers Face Extinction (New York Times, April 26, 2019)
The flagship industry in a pivotal swing state faces a Trump-trade-war and GOP-encouraged-overproduction economic crisis.
Biden leads Trump by 6 points in first post-announcement poll (The Hill, April 26, 2019)
Poll: Majority in U.S. opposes impeaching Trump but believes he lied to the public. (Washington Post, April 26, 2019)
A Post-ABC poll finds agreement across partisan lines that the Mueller report was fair - but there is a partisan divide over what it concluded.
Mueller Prosecutors: Trump Did Obstruct Justice (New York Review of Books, April 26, 2019)
Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded last year that they had sufficient evidence to seek criminal charges against President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice over the president’s alleged pressuring of then FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to shut down an FBI investigation of the president’s then national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Privately, the two prosecutors, who were then employed in the special counsel’s office, told other Justice Department officials that had it not been for the unique nature of the case - the investigation of a sitting president of the United States, and one who tried to use the powers of his office to thwart and even close down the special counsel’s investigation - they would have advocated that he face federal criminal charges.
Trump says he made Obama wiretapping accusation on 'a little bit of a hunch' (Daily KOS, April 26, 2019)
On Thursday night, Trump finally admitted during a 45-minute interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity that he made the allegation based on 'a little bit of a hunch.' Trump also expressed surprise at how his baseless accusation had blown up 'like you’ve never seen.'
Trump insists there was ‘an attempted overthrow’ of US government (Rachel Maddow Show, April 26, 2019)
He added, 'This was a coup. This wasn’t stealing information from an office in the Watergate apartments. This was an attempted coup. And it’s like a third world country – and inconceivable.'
I can appreciate the fact that we’ve all grown quite inured to Donald Trump appearing on Fox News and saying strange things. It’s an understandable reaction. But it’s worth pausing to appreciate just how extraordinary the circumstances are. For the first time in our history, the sitting American president has told the world that there was 'an attempted overthrow of the United States government' – a declaration that has been greeted with widespread shrugs, as if it were a routine Thursday night.
Because, by and large, it was. This is our life now. When a leader of dubious legitimacy makes up claims of attempted coups, that is, in fact, 'like a third-world country.' As of last night, it also happens to be our country.
Seven alternative spires for Notre-Dame Cathedral (Dezeen, April 25, 2019)
Since the fire devastated Notre-Dame Cathedral and the French prime minister announced a competition to replace its spire, a flurry of designers have offered alternative proposals.
10 electric cars unveiled by Chinese car companies at Auto Shanghai 2019 (Dezeen, April 25, 2019)
China, the world's largest car market, is heavily pushing for zero-emissions vehicles to combat its pollution issues, so this year's Auto Shanghai is packed with electric cars. Here are ten of the best made by Chinese companies.
Bernie Sanders is the new No. 1 in our 2020 Democrat rankings (CNN, April 25, 2019)
Why? Well, lots of reasons. But here are a few:
- That national organization built over the last four years and assiduously maintained by Sanders and his political allies is more robust than anything any other candidates in the race - including Joe Biden, who officially announced on Thursday - have at the moment.
- Sanders is likely to raise the most money of anyone in the field. He brought in north of $18 million in the first three months of 2019, with 84% of those contributions coming in at under $200. That was the biggest total of any 2020 Democrat. And there's every reason to think he can keep it up; he raised $237 million for his 2016 race against Clinton.
- His path to the nomination is the easiest to see, with Iowa's caucuses dominated by liberals and his geographic proximity to New Hampshire.
- Sanders' liberalism - once considered radical - is now very much en vogue within the party. And he's been in that space for a very long time.
US voters’ capacity for being appalled by Trump is waning (Irish Times, April 25, 2019)
A relaxation of civic mores is a deadlier threat to democracy than the president. If US president Donald Trump is not brought down for his alleged wrongdoing, it will not be because his inquisitor, Robert Mueller, lacked thoroughness or because his political enemy, the Democratic Party, lacked nerve. It is because not quite enough voters minded quite enough. If they did, the pressure would tell on Democrats to seek his impeachment and on Republicans to at least consider voting for it, on pain of electoral rout. In the absence of such an incentive, it is only rational for them to demur.
ACLU Of Massachusetts: Charges against state judge have more to do with politics than justice (ACLUM, April 25, 2019)
The Department of Justice’s decision to bring this case is preposterous, ironic, and deeply damaging to the rule of law.
In contrast to Attorney General William Barr’s famously narrow view of what constitutes obstruction of justice - at least when it comes to President Trump - the Department of Justice has now charged a state judge and court security officer based on a theory of obstruction that is shockingly aggressive. In this case, like so many others across Massachusetts, an ICE officer staked out a state court and made it difficult for court officials to do their job, which is to ensure that people in state court have access to justice. But instead of rethinking its own awful behavior, the federal government has now charged a judge and a court officer with crimes. This decision seems to have little to do with the actual facts, and everything to do with enforcing the president’s anti-immigrant agenda.
This prosecution is nothing less than an assault on justice in Massachusetts courts, and it will further undermine community trust and safety. If Attorney General Barr really meant what he said about obstruction of justice when he held his press conference about President Trump - and even if he didn’t mean a word of it - he should immediately order that this case be dropped.”
Rosenstein fires back at critics over Mueller report (Washington Post, April 25, 2019)
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein hit back hard against politicians and the press Thursday night, and warned that hacking and social media ma­nipu­la­tion are 'only the tip of the iceberg' when it comes to Russian efforts to influence American elections. Speaking at the Public Servants Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association, Rosenstein unleashed his sharpest critique yet of those who have attacked his handling of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigative report into Russian election interference and President Trump’s conduct.
EPA administrator asked to back up climate claims made on TV with science (Ars Technica, April 24, 2019)
Freedom of Information Act seems to be latest weapon to fight climate misinformation.
Trump Throws a Tantrum Over Twitter Followers and Tests the Power of Congress (7-min. video; The Daily Show, April 24, 2019)
Donald Trump launches attacks against Twitter’s bot purge, the U.S. Constitution, congressional Democrats and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
As usual, a brutal and brilliant takedown by Trevor Noah. But when you step back from the laughter for a minute and think objectively about what you just heard, it is shocking and not a little frightening, to see the state of the US Presidency today.
Trump declares that if Democrats try to impeach, he'll 'head to the U.S. Supreme Court' (Daily KOS, April 24, 2019)
When the first question being asked of potential candidates for 2020 is 'Do you support impeachment right now?' it seems like a good distraction is in order. Over the last few days, Trump has tried playing his hand with the same kind of blowhard bluster that has seen him through most occasions, even lecturing the kids who came to the White House Easter Egg Roll about how he had made the economy just ... the best. But with his poll numbers on a slide and the impeachment discussion moving from 'if' to 'when,' Trump clearly needs bigger, better distractions.
So on Wednesday morning, he ran through accusing the U.K. of spying on him, threatening war on Mexico, and promising to use the Supreme Court to solidify his position as a literally unimpeachable dictator. All of which the major media will now report as if it’s a partisan scuffle. Pass the popcorn.
Trump never makes clear just why he would head for the Supreme Court, but his position seems to be that since Barr gave him a waiver on obstruction and obstruction, and those precious DOJ rules spared him a charge of conspiracy, he could run to the court and it would tell the Democrats no, they are not allowed to impeach Trump. This would be counter to a 1993 ruling that declared impeachment a political matter in which the court had no say. But since the court is now full of 'traditionalists' who are willing to throw out every precedent, it’s not at all clear that that ruling or other past positions would keep Kavanaugh and Co. from declaring that Trump is literally unimpeachable.
Don McGahn vs. Lying Donald (Jamie Dupree, April 24, 2019)
When the President tweets today, 'I never told then White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller,' there is a lot of evidence to the contrary in the Mueller Report.
Giuliani destroys Trump’s repeated excuse for hiding tax returns (Think Progress, April 24, 2019)
Donald Trump has promised time and again that he'll release his taxes after the IRS's 'routine audit.' Guiliani says that's completed.
Every other modern president has voluntarily released his tax returns - and during his 2016 campaign for the presidency, Trump initially promised to do so as well. But Trump hasn’t followed through, repeatedly claiming that he cannot be transparent with the American people until the conclusion of what he calls a 'routine audit' by the Internal Revenue Service. (The IRS has stated that no law prohibits releasing a tax return that is under audit, and Trump has never offered any evidence to back up his audit claim.)
Corruption, Gerrymandering, and Voter Suppression: How North Carolina’s GOP Made a Great Big Mess (Mother Jones, April 24, 2019)
The argument over gerrymandering North Carolina began when its electoral maps were redrawn following the 2010 census. Those were eventually thrown out as racial gerrymanders, and the replacement maps are being challenged as partisan by a local voting rights group. The state map is headed for trial in July in the Superior Court Division of Wake County; the federal map is before the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in late March. That means that every electoral map used since 2010 has basically been declared illegal, in one sense or another. All of these different bits and pieces of the election apparatus in North Carolina have been bent in the favor of entrenchment of one party at the expense of everything else.
NEW: Twitter CEO Gently Tells Trump: Your ‘Lost’ Followers Are Bots and Spam Accounts (Daily Beast, April 23, 2019)
Jack Dorsey may have wanted to use Tuesday’s meeting to talk up Twitter’s efforts to fight the opioid epidemic, but the president had more important things on his mind. Trump has repeatedly griped to associates about how Obama has had more Twitter followers than he has, even though - by Trump’s own assessment - he is so much better at Twitter than Obama is.
NEW: ‘Very Unsettling’: Facial Recognition Technology at Airports Sparks Privacy Concerns (NBC New York, April 23, 2019)
In new Delta and JetBlue test installations at some US airports, U.S. Customs and Border Protection verifies identities using facial scans at the gate, then cross-checks the scans with travelers’ passport photos, which are already on file.
The information from the scan is only supposed to be used once. Airlines say it’s deleted out of the system within a few hours. In a tweet, JetBlue said the photos are 'securely transmitted to the Customs and Border Protection database,' noting that the airline 'does not have direct access to the photos and doesn’t store them.'
CBP plans to rolls out systems at the nation’s 20 biggest airports by the end of 2020.
NEW: Did the Romans build seismic invisibility cloaks? (Physics World, April 23, 2019)
Brûlé reckons that the ancient Romans may have got there first – although unwittingly. He was on holiday looking at archaeological remains in the town of Autun in central France when he saw an aerial photograph showing the foundations of a Gallo-Roman theatre buried under a field just up the road. Although barely discernable, the markings in the field showed the outline of the first century AD building and he reckoned the semi-circular structure bore an uncanny resemblance to one half of an invisibility cloak.
It’s Complicated: Mozilla’s 2019 Internet Health Report (Mozilla, April 23, 2019)
Our annual open-source report examines how humanity and the internet intersect.
Sri Lanka blasts were retaliation for New Zealand shootings, official says (Washington Post, April 23, 2019)
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombings that killed at least 321 people. Sri Lanka’s defense minister said investigations show the attacks were carried out in response to deadly shootings at mosques in Christchurch last month.
In a statement carried Tuesday by the Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency, the extremist group said Sunday’s attacks targeted Christians and 'coalition countries' and were carried out by fighters from its organization. The claim could not immediately be confirmed, and the group has been known to make opportunistic claims of responsibility for previous attacks conducted without its involvement.
Stop & Shop Strike Ends With Union Claiming Victory on Pay and Health Care (New York Times, April 22, 2019)
After more than three months of negotiations and 11 days on strike, over 30,000 Stop & Shop workers have reached a tentative agreement with the supermarket chain that they said met their demands for better pay and health care coverage. The employees, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union at more than 240 Stop & Shops across Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, returned to work on Monday morning after reaching the deal on Sunday.
The union said that t
he new contract does satisfy the different points of contention; it preserves health care and retirement benefits, provides wage increases, and maintains time-and-a-half pay on Sunday for current members.
During negotiations, Stop & Shop employees argued that the chain’s parent company, Ahold Delhaize, reported profits of more than $2 billion to its shareholders last year and, instead of cutting benefits, could afford to compensate workers better. The strike drew support from several likely and current Democratic presidential candidates, including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., as well as Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whose campaign staff is represented by a unit of the U.F.C.W.
NEW: The N.R.A.’s Financial Mess (New Yorker Magazine, April 22, 2019)
Last March, Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.’s top executive, sent a fund-raising letter to his members—an urgent plea for money. He described an unprecedented attack on the Second Amendment. But, in reality, what threatens the N.R.A. isn’t constitutional law; it’s destructive business relationships that have damaged the organization financially and put it in legal jeopardy.
Searching through N.R.A. tax forms, charity records, contracts, and internal communications, the reporter Mike Spies discovered that 'a small group of N.R.A. executives, contractors, and venders have extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from the nonprofit’s budget, enriching themselves in the process.' Although the organization is quick to lay blame on its political opponents, Spies says, it is questionable financial practices that have weakened it from the inside.
With the White House Easter celebration as a backdrop, Sarah Sanders delivers a whopper of a lie (Daily KOS, April 22, 2019)
(Interesting Comments thread, re SHS over-reacting to a euphemism while ignoring her own lies, and ignoring separation of children at the border.)
Sri Lanka’s social media shutdown illustrates global discontent with Silicon Valley (Washington Post, April 22, 2019)
Authoritarian-leaning countries have long worked to rein in social media when it challenged their ability to control information. But over the past year, more democratic governments have started to target social media sites, considering new regulations to stamp out disinformation during elections and to prevent their use as rallying points for hatred and extremism.
Islamist group believed responsible for Sri Lanka attacks (Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2019)
The coordinated Easter Sunday bombings were carried out by seven suicide bombers from a domestic militant group named National Thowfeek Jamaath, a government official said. All the suicide bombers were local. An investigation would determine whether the bombers acted with support from international jihadist organizations to carry out the attacks, which were unprecedented in the South Asian nation’s history.
(Except for its Buddhist attacks on Muslims during March 2018; see article at April 21, 2019, below.)
Authorities have arrested 24 people. No group has claimed responsibility.
Sri Lanka attacks: More than 200 killed as churches and hotels targeted (BBC, April 21, 2019)
Sunday's attacks are the deadliest seen in Sri Lanka since the end of the country's civil war in 2009. The civil war ended with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, who had fought for 26 years for an independent homeland for the minority ethnic Tamils. The war is thought to have killed between 70,000 and 80,000 people.
The nation has seen sporadic violence since. In March 2018 a state of emergency was declared after members of the majority Buddhist Sinhala community attacked mosques and Muslim-owned properties.

After the Barr hoax, press has no reason to ever believe Trump team again (Daily KOS, April 21, 2019)
"The Trump White House's habitual lying isn't going to change. But it's long past time for the press to break its habit of believing administration utterances - of treating its statements as remotely factual, even when it comes to extraordinary issues such as colluding with a foreign government and obstructing justice. I realize that's an extreme premise for the Beltway press to adopt, since it often prefers to cling to “Both Sides” journalism in order to prove it's not liberally biased and deflect allegations that it's out to 'get' Trump.
But here's the bottom line: Barr embarrassed the press corps and made them look foolish when he issued a four-page press release in March supposedly summarizing Mueller's 448-page (!) report. Reporters and editors then ran with it, on the assumption that Barr was being honest and factual, which we now know was a huge mistake.
Professor Who Scanned All of Notre Dame Died Months Before Fire (Daily Beast, April 20, 2019)
The late Vassar professor Andrew Tallon had one obsession: Notre Dame
de Paris. And luckily he made documenting every inch of the Gothic cathedral his life’s work.
Donald Trump is no Richard Nixon. He’s worse. (Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2019)
Nothing in Nixon’s presidency became him like the leaving it. For two generations, his downfall served as a cautionary tale for subsequent presidents who might be tempted to interfere with a federal investigation for personal or political reasons. Firing a special prosecutor, in particular, was almost universally understood to be political suicide. As Watergate showed, the American people simply would not stand for a president who sought to place himself above the law. This broadly shared understanding served as a crucial safeguard against the abuse of presidential power.
Then came Trump. After smashing through dozens of other deeply rooted norms of American politics to win the presidency, he treated the post-Watergate consensus with similar contempt. Just weeks after he took the oath of office, as the Mueller report details, Trump asked FBI Director James B. Comey to drop the investigation of national security advisor Michael Flynn. Before making this request, the president cleared the room, strongly suggesting that he knew his actions were improper. Requesting that the FBI drop an investigation of his friends is exactly what Nixon was caught doing on the famous “smoking gun” tape that sealed his fate.
Yet for Trump, this was just the beginning.
How living on the wrong side of a time zone can be hazardous to your health (Washington Post, April 19, 2019)
People on the late side of sunset across U.S. time zones were 11 percent more likely, on average, to be overweight and 21 percent more likely to be obese. Diabetes was more prevalent, and the risk of heart attack increased by 19 percent. Breast cancer rates were slightly elevated, too - about 5 percent higher than average.
NEW: Cartoonists skewer Barr and Trump amid release of Mueller report (
Washington Post, April 19, 2019)
What Attorney General Barr said vs. what the Mueller report said (
Washington Post, April 19, 2019)
"Before the special counsel’s report on Russia and President Trump was released to the public, Attorney General William P. Barr made several statements about what was in its 448 pages. Barr received special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report last month and outlined its principal conclusions in a letter dated March 24. Barr then held a news conference on Thursday, shortly before releasing a redacted version of Mueller’s report.
As it turns out, in some cases, Barr’s characterizations were incomplete or misleading. The Mueller report is more damning of Trump than the attorney general indicated.
NEW: Through email leaks and propaganda, Russians sought to elect Trump, Mueller finds (Washington Post, April 18, 2019)
"The special counsel’s investigation shows the Trump campaign tried to turn Russia’s election interference to its advantage. In what will stand as among the most definitive public accounts of the Kremlin’s attack on the American political system, the report of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation laid out in precise, chronological detail how 'the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.'
The Russians’ goal, Mueller emphasized at several points, was to assist Donald Trump’s run for the White House and to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. And the Republican candidate took notice, looking for ways to turn leaks of stolen emails to his advantage and even telling campaign associates to find people who might get their hands on Clinton’s personal emails.
BBC One: Climate Change - The Facts (BBC, April 18, 2019)
After one of the hottest years on record, Sir David Attenborough looks at the science of climate change and potential solutions to this global threat. Interviews with some of the world’s leading climate scientists explore recent extreme weather conditions such as unprecedented storms and catastrophic wildfires. They also reveal what dangerous levels of climate change could mean for both human populations and the natural world in the future.
How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer (IEEE Spectrum, April 18, 2019)
Design shortcuts meant to make a new plane seem like an old, familiar one are to blame.
Militia in New Mexico Detains Asylum Seekers at Gunpoint (New York Times, April 18, 2019)
A right-wing militia group operating in southern New Mexico has begun stopping groups of migrant families and detaining them at gunpoint before handing them over to Border Patrol agents, raising tension over the tactics of armed vigilantes along the border between the United States and Mexico. Members of the group, which calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots, filmed several of their actions in recent days, including the detention this week of a group of about 200 migrants who had recently crossed the border near Sunland Park, N.M., with the intention of seeking asylum. They uploaded videos to social media of exhausted looking migrant families, blinking in the darkness in the glare of what appeared to be the militia’s spotlights.
Professed militias have long operated along the border with attempts to curb the flow of undocumented migrants into the United States. But targeting the recent influx of families, who are legally allowed to request asylum and often quickly surrender to Border Patrol agents, is raising tension with human rights activists in this part of the West.
The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the militia’s actions in a letter on Thursday that asked New Mexico’s governor and attorney general to investigate the group. The A.C.L.U. said the militia had no legal authority under New Mexico or federal law to detain or arrest migrants in the United States: 'We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum.'
Remember when Mitch McConnell covered up Putin's interference to elect Trump? (
Daily KOS, April 18, 2019)
Remember that in 2016, when it became clear (after Trump had secured the nomination) that Russia was interfering, and the nation's intelligence agencies had that information and presented it to congressional leadership, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell covered it up. He and then Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid were told that Putin was overseeing an operation to disrupt the election and to help Trump. McConnell's reaction, in the words of Washington Post reporter Greg Miller, who initially broke this story: McConnell is basically telling [the CIA], 'You're telling us that Russia is trying to help elect Trump. If you try to come forward with this, I'm not going to sign onto any sort of public statement that would condemn Russian interference. But I will condemn you and the Obama administration for trying to mess up this election.'
Mueller explains why his family left Trump's golf club (CNN, April 18, 2019)
Special counsel Robert Mueller explained for the first time why he and his family left President Donald Trump's Virginia golf club in the redacted version of his report released on Thursday. The footnote on pages 80 and 81 of the redacted report released by the Justice Department on Thursday was one of the only times Mueller defended himself against criticism from the President. Trump had previously used the fact that Mueller and his family left the club to claim that he had a conflict of interest.
Mueller made an impeachment referral, and Steny Hoyer had best figure that out or step down (Daily KOS, April 18, 2019)
The redacted Mueller report is damning in so many ways, and even a partial brief summary of what we know of Mueller’s conclusions would include the following:
1. Trump obstructed justice, but because of DOJ guidelines on indicting a sitting president he can't be prosecuted while in office.
. It's Congress's job to provide justice.
. The extensive and assiduous cover-up had a purpose, and hid something far more serious.
. The cover-up largely succeeded.
. There were many more criminal referrals to other jurisdictions, about most of which we as yet know nothing.
. Given Barr's obstruction and the GOP's full complicity, this is a Constitutional crisis. Right now.
And this is Steny Hoyer, House Majority 'Leader':
'Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgement.'
Very frankly, if this level of criminality and complicity isn’t fully investigated by Congress, and there isn’t at least an attempt to provide the justice that Mueller clearly indicates is Congress’s sole responsibility, there’s no reason to believe there will be a fair election in 18 months.
Read Mueller’s (REDACTED-by-White-House) Report Here (Common Cause, April 18, 2019)
...and then sign our petition to demand full transparency.
(Or, read it on the U.S. Dept. of Justice website.)
NEW: Russia’s Gas Web Ensnares Europe (Foreign Policy, April 17, 2019)
As Washington readies itself for a diminished role in the Middle East, Moscow is laying the groundwork for a significant long-term presence. Russia already supplies 35 percent of Europe’s total gas imports, and it has long worked to head off any European efforts to diversify energy supplies. By acquiring pipelines and exploration rights in Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria, Russia is building a land bridge to Europe through the Middle East. In doing so, it will cement its role as Europe’s primary gas supplier and expand its influence in the Middle East, posing serious risks to U.S. and European interests.
Russia’s plans could also diminish U.S. influence in a region where Washington has historically been the prime security guarantor. As Washington is disengaging from the Middle East, Moscow is doing the opposite, using energy projects to buy clout with regional governments. Russia already supports a rogues’ gallery of dictators across the region, including Assad, Libya’s Khalifa Haftar, and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Moscow’s political backing for dictatorial, anti-American regimes will intensify as it builds up its regional presence. Moreover, Russia is not likely to share U.S. concerns about proliferation and human rights violations when selling lethal drones and other advanced weaponry to Middle Eastern states.
Is Trump Paranoid? Of Course He Is, Except Maybe Not Today. (Daily KOS, April 17, 2019)
The first area of concern would be his base. Since day one, Trump has been monolithic about his rabid base of Trombies. Everything he says or does is geared to keep them revved up and slavish. Trump’s base is to his ego what a double bacon cheeseburger is to his stomach. But there could be cause for concern there.
But equally concerning, and even more immediately pressing, is the softening of his support in the GOP caucus on the hill. Through thick and thin, they have stuck through Trump through all of his shit, and a lot of that shit has ended up sticking to them. But, slowly and incrementally, that tide has started to turn. I personally think that the results of the 2018 midterms were a cold slap in the face as to the extent of Trump’s ability to control and turn out his base.
And look what has happened since the midterms. First, they publicly split with him over his decision to shutter the government over funding for his wall. Then they stiffed him of border wall funding in the new budget, and forced him to swallow it.Then they clipped him across the chops over the Saudi governments involvement in the death of journalist Jamal Khoshoggi. They followed that up in cuffing him around again over his declaration of a national emergency to bypass congress to allocate funds for his stupid vanity wall. And only a week or so, they voted to end funding for his war in Yemen, requiring him to obtain a new declaration from congress, and forcing him to issue his second veto in as many months.Even his toadying Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, told him to shut  up about healthcare before the next election.
Nikola Motor Company shows off two real trucks and… a new jet ski? (Ars Technica, April 17, 2019)
The Tesla competitor had a very Tesla kind of product reveal.
Microsoft didn't want to sell its facial recognition tech to California police (Engadget, April 17, 2019)
The tech giant recently turned down a request from law enforcement to equip officers' cars and body cameras with face recognition tech. The California department apparently wanted to run a scan every time an officer pulls anyone over.
Smith said Microsoft rejected the contract due to human rights concerns - it believes the technology's use for that particular purpose could lead a disproportionately large number of women and minorities being held for questioning. Face recognition systems still struggle with gender and race bias, because they're mostly trained on photos of white male subjects. As a result, they're more likely to misidentify women and persons of color.
T-Mobile, Comcast launch anti-robocalling feature, claim industry's first (Reuters, April 17, 2019)
T-Mobile said its new feature identifies authentic calls across the networks with the sign “Caller Verified” appearing on phone screens.
Robocalls, automated telephone calls that deliver a recorded message, typically on behalf of a political party or telemarketing company, are on the rise. Last month, 5.2 billion robocalls were placed, an average of 168.8 million per day, according to YouMail, a robocall management company that tracks the volume of calls. Scams make up about 40 percent of all robocalls.
The wave of domain hijackings besetting the Internet is worse than we thought (Ars Technica, April 17, 2019)
Despite widespread attention since January, DNS campaign shows no signs of abating. A new report says state-sponsored actors have continued to brazenly target key infrastructure despite growing awareness of the operation.
Scammers May Be Using DNA Testing to Defraud Medicare and Steal Identities (Bloomberg, April 17, 2019)
State authorities warn that DNA testers have targeted poor neighborhoods and senior communities.
ACLU asks judge to reject Trump admin claim it could take two years to identify separated families (Daily KOS, April 17, 2019)
Failed economist tells Fox audience that recession was caused by Obama, and now it's Bernie's fault (Daily KOS, April 16, 2019)
Anti-vax moms sue NYC as US heads toward record measles spread
(Ars Technica, April 17, 2019)
2019 is set to be the worst year for measles in the US this century.
In the lawsuit, the mothers claim that the outbreak does not constitute a dangerous epidemic (though the virus can cause severe complications and even death) and that the city's orders for vaccination are 'arbitrary and capricious.' Moreover, they allege that the MMR vaccine has significant safety concerns (this is false; side effects beyond mild, temporary discomfort are exceedingly rare) and that the order violates their religious freedom.
NEW: How Industries Use Technology to Protect Consumer Data (AARP, April 16, 2019)
During a recent six-month period, Facebook removed 1.5 billion bogus accounts. 'Artificial intelligence is extraordinarily important. It allows us to move faster to identify things we need to review, though there will always be the need for human review of certain content before removing it.'
Biggest U.S. Health Insurer Slams Democrats’ ‘Medicare for All’ Proposals (Bloomberg, April 16, 2019)
The U.S.’s biggest health insurer sharply criticized the “Medicare for All” proposals being debated by Democrats, wading into a heated Washington political debate that’s likely to dominate the 2020 presidential race and the conversation about the future of private health plans in America. For months, health insurers have kept mostly quiet about the proposal, the most-ambitious versions of which would replace privately financed health coverage with Medicare, the government program that covers about 60 million mostly elderly Americans. On Tuesday, UnitedHealth Group Inc.’s chief executive officer said such proposals would amount to a 'wholesale disruption of American health care.'
As a source of coverage, UnitedHealth is almost as large as Medicare itself. It provides health-insurance services to 49.7 million people, and last year recorded revenue of $226.2 billion. Along with insurance, it operates physician practices, sells consulting and data services, and administers drug benefits. It also covers millions of people in the private-sector versions of Medicare and Medicaid.
(And their executives might have to take a pay cut and, oh, right, it would bring all American citizens up to First-World standards.)
‘Sexual Playthings’: #MeToo Moment for Anadarko’s Denver Office (Bloomberg, April 16, 2019)
Chevron agreed last week to buy Anadarko for $33 billion. Pre-sale harassment complaints prompt action at oil-drilling firm.
Notre Dame Alarm Raised 23 Minutes Before Blaze Was Detected (Daily Beast, April 16, 2019)
An alarm was raised at Notre Dame at 6:20 p.m. on Monday night - 23 minutes before the structure was engulfed in flames- but officials found no sign of a fire. Firefighters who responded to a second alert raced to the scene but were then unable to tame an inferno that ripped through the 12th century cathedral for the next 9 hours. Doubts still remain about the integrity of the Gothic stone building. Two-thirds of the timber roof is gone - it had been crafted from more than 13,000 oak trees, an entire forest reduced to kindling.
The investigation is going to be long and complex. Investigators have identified and interviewed some of the construction crew who had been working on the €6 million ($6.8 million), four-year renovation project, which began last April. The restoration of the spire, which crumbled within the first hour of the blaze, was the first phase of a larger, 20-year renovation project on the rest of the cathedral. Some five different construction companies were involved in the ongoing restoration of the cathedral’s iconic spire. The work was being overseen by Le Bras Frères, which specializes in the restoration of historic monuments. Prior to the start of the Notre Dame project, the company had already worked on several of France’s historical churches, including those in Amiens, Reims, and Poitiers.
When the devastating fire broke out, firefighters and employees of French Culture Ministry formed a human chain to rescue as many of the cathedral's priceless artifacts and treasures as possible. Their efforts paid off, and several iconic artifacts, including the Crown of Thorns purported to have been worn by Jesus Christ during the crucifixion - along with what is believed to be portion of the cross and an original nail - were safely evacuated from the building. The blessed sacrament, a tunic worn by Louis the 13th, and several paintings, including a 17th-century work by French painter, Lubin Baugin, were rescued. The artifacts were first transported to a safe place in the city’s nearby Hôtel de Ville, then later moved to the Louvre Museum for safe-keeping.
The Rose Windows – the immense round stained glass windows over Notre Dame's three principal portals – also escaped the flames without major damage. The building’s legendary twin bell towers survived as well, as did Nicolas Coutou's 18th-century marble masterpiece ‘La Pieta’ sculpture behind the church’s main altar. Sixteen bronze statues surrounding the collapsed spire are still intact thanks to miraculous timing rather than divine intervention. The figures, depicting the 12 apostles and four evangelists, were removed from the roof just days before the fire as part of the extensive renovation.
Still, not everything escaped the fire. A number of large oil paintings that could not be removed from the high walls sustained damage and will be restored at the Louvre, according to Le Monde. Other religious treasures, including a separate piece of the Crown of Thorns, as well as relics of Saint-Denis and Saint-Geneviève are gone forever. All three were stored inside the copper Gallic rooster that crowned the spire that collapsed about an hour into the inferno.
Notre-Dame fire: Cathedral 'was 15 minutes from destruction' say officials as Macron pledges to rebuild it in five years (Telegraph, April 16, 2019)
Notre-Dame cathedral was just minutes away from being totally consumed by the huge fire that destroyed its roof and spire, the French government said on Monday night.
Notre Dame fire: Crews assess damage as donations flow in (Washington Post, April 16, 2019)
French authorities investigating the inferno at the cathedral said early indications suggest it started by accident. Officials also warned that parts of the building may still have gravely dangerous vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, donations poured in to restore the church, an effort that one expert said could take decades. The roof was burned away. Char and smoke marks licked portions of the walls. Wooden roof beams that seemed eternal now looked like used matchsticks.
'The preliminary investigation suggests an accidental hypothesis,' said Paris Prosecutor Rémy Heitz, adding that there were no indications that the blaze was started deliberately. He made clear that the investigation was just beginning, as officials gingerly made their way into the devastated interior of the chapel. The fire appears to have started under the scaffolding that encased the exterior of the church’s nave, which was under renovation.
Notre Dame fire: Macron promises to rebuild, but Paris monument suffers 'colossal damage' (Washington Post
, April 15, 2019)
PARIS - The spine-tingling, soul-lifting spire and roof of Notre Dame Cathedral were reduced to ash Monday, as a catastrophic fire spread through a building that has embodied the heart of Paris for more than 800 years. The fire, which came during Christianity's holiest week and was apparently accidental, left a smoldering stone shell where there had once been a peerless work of architecture, engineering and craftsmanship. The building, the cornerstone of which was laid in 1163, is the most visited monument in Paris, with more than 12 million people coming each year - nearly double the people who visit the Eiffel Tower. Its intricate stone gargoyles, spires, stained glass and flying buttresses have made it one of the great masterpieces of architecture, and it housed many ther.
Initial reports in the French press suggested that many of those pieces had already been removed last week during the renovations, and the cathedral's collection of sacred items, kept in the sacristy, were likely unharmed. Officials later confirmed that two of the cathedral's most precious relics survived the flames: a tunic worn by Saint Louis, a 13th-century French king, and the crown of thorns that Jesus Christ is said to have worn before his crucifixion.
The spire that collapsed on Monday is not an original component of the cathedral. It was added in the 19th century, when tastes veered toward a Gothic revival, by the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. The gargoyles - immortalized in Victor Hugo's classic novel 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame' - were likewise added in the 19th century.
Notre Dame fire: Paris cathedral devastated by ferocious blaze (The Guardian, April 15, 2019)
Spire of centuries-old landmark destroyed after flames burst through the roof. An investigation has been opened by the prosecutor’s office, but police said it began accidentally and may be linked to building work at the cathedral. The 850-year-old gothic masterpiece had been undergoing restoration work.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, attended the scene and later gave a speech in which he vowed that the cathedral would be rebuilt, as fire crews said the landmark’s rectangular bell towers and structure of the building had been saved.
Notre-Dame de Paris brûle dans la nuit (Paris Match, April 15, 2019)
New scientific device creates electricity from snowfall (UCLA, April 15, 2019)
The first-of-its-kind nanogenerator designed by UCLA researchers and colleagues also acts as a weather station.
Editorial: How to jump-start America (Boston Globe, April 15, 2019)
How breakthrough science can revive economic
growth and the American Dream.
NEW: How 16-Year-Old Greta Thunberg Is Leading a Global Climate Movement (8-min. YouTube, April 15, 2019)
NEW: Ruben Diaz Sr., one of the worst Democrats in America, is seeking one of the bluest seats in America - and he can win (Daily KOS, April 15, 2019)
Why the High Hopes for Trump’s Tax Returns Are Misplaced (The WhoWhatWhy Blog, April 14, 2019)
Instead of a silver bullet, it’s more likely that the tax returns will be a relative dud, and here is why: There is simply no way that they are complete and accurate. As we and others have documented - and anybody with an open mind must surely realize - Trump is a crook and a charlatan. It’s not just that he is lining his own pockets in myriad ways as president (along with his band of fellow grifters), or that his 'foundation' was forced to dissolve because it was caught self-dealing, or that he engaged in a pattern of stiffing people who worked for him, or that he set up a fraudulent 'university.'
All of that is small potatoes compared to the pattern of 'dubious tax schemes' that the New York Times uncovered (Oct. 2, 2018) in an excellent article. These practices - some of which, experts believe, were downright fraudulent - resulted in Trump’s father, Fred, evading taxes and gifting his son hundreds of millions of dollars.

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

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

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

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

Trump Tells Grand Rapids Rally: ‘The Russian Hoax Is Finally Dead’ (New York Times, March 28, 2019)
"President Trump, fresh off what he claims was “total vindication” in the special counsel’s Russia investigation, told supporters here Thursday he had vanquished a corrupt cabal of Democrats, the news media and the Washington elite, who tried to nullify his historic election victory by painting him as an agent of Russia. 'After three years of lies and smears and slander, the Russia hoax is finally dead,' Mr. Trump declared. 'The collusion delusion is over.' It was a calculated show of outrage by a president who has decided to seize on the Russia investigation to frame his ordeal as a conspiracy by his rivals to delegitimize him and diminish his achievements.
Mr. Trump has always peppered his speeches with 'hells' and 'damns,' but on Thursday, he crossed the line into cruder language. 'The Democrats need to decide whether they will continue to defraud the public with ridiculous bullshit,' the president said.
In vilifying his opponents, Mr. Trump was not troubled by the fact that the 300-plus-page report by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, has yet to be released, or that Attorney General William P. Barr, in his summary of Mr. Mueller’s findings, stipulated that the report did not exonerate the president, even if it did not find him guilty of conspiracy or of obstructing justice.
In many ways, the speech was a return to first principles for Mr. Trump, reviving an insurgent theme that had fueled his campaign in 2016. He said the Russia investigation underlined the need to “drain the swamp,” and he celebrated his cheering supporters over what he described as the faithless elites in Washington. “I’m president and they’re not,” he said. “They came, and they didn’t even know these people existed,” Mr. Trump said of the elites. “I have a better education than them. I’m smarter than them. I went to better schools than them,” he added. “Much more beautiful house. Much more beautiful everything.”
On Sunday evening, after Mr. Barr delivered his summary of the Mueller report, the president, who was in Palm Beach, Fla., was urged by his aides to avoid a tone of triumphalism in his reaction. That lasted for about an hour, until he delivered an angry denunciation of those behind the investigation before he returned to Washington. As the days wore on, Mr. Trump took aim at news organizations and demanded the resignation of Democrats like Mr. Schiff, whom he accused of lying repeatedly in discussing potential collusion between Mr. Trump and the Russians.
Mr. Trump has long savored his victory in Michigan. But the state could be more of an uphill struggle in 2020. Democrats made significant gains in the 2018 midterm elections, including winning the governorship.
Trump just gave a huge gift to an alleged billion dollar Medicare fraudster (Think Progress, March 28, 2019)
Perhaps he should have listened to lawyers who actually know what they are talking about.
After Republican calls for his resignation, Rep. Adam Schiff hits back hard with investigation details (Daily KOS, March 28, 2019)
After Donald Trump’s hand-picked attorney general (brought into the fold by Lindsey Graham to end the investigation) neatly summarized a two-year investigation in a few paragraphs, while still refusing to release the full report or even let the public know how many pages the report even was, Trump and others quickly began to call for Rep. Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, to resign. Schiff, a former prosecutor, is still overseeing the House investigation into the Trump campaign and its Russian activities, and it makes sense they would love to shove him out of the way. He’s been a vocal critic of Trump and his campaign’s extensive contacts with Russians, especially those with known Russian intelligence ties.
Rep. Schiff addressed his colleagues at a House Intelligence Committee meeting this morning after all nine Republicans on the committee signed a letter calling for his resignation, and he not only remained unapologetic, but he doubled down and ticked off the list of known instances of collusion and the numerous attempts to conceal those meetings and communications.
How Donald Trump inflated his net worth to lenders and investors (Washington Post, March 28, 2019)
When Donald Trump wanted to make a good impression - on a lender, a business partner, or a journalist - he sometimes sent them official-looking documents called 'Statements of Financial Condition.' These documents sometimes ran up to 20 pages. They were full of numbers, laying out Trump’s properties, debts and multibillion-dollar net worth. But, for someone trying to get a true picture of Trump’s net worth, the documents were deeply flawed. Some simply omitted properties that carried big debts. Some assets were overvalued. And some key numbers were wrong.
Now, investigators on Capitol Hill and in New York are homing in on these unusual documents in an apparent attempt to determine whether Trump’s familiar habit of bragging about his wealth ever crossed a line into fraud.
Icelandic budget airline WOW Air ceases operations (Boston Globe, March 28, 2019)
Wow Air has gone out of business, stranding thousands of passengers and creating potentially huge risks for Iceland’s tiny economy and its growing reliance on tourism. The discount carrier is the eighth European airline to have failed since the summer as margins are pinched by fluctuating fuel costs and over-capacity that’s sparked a continent-wide fare war.
‘Sleep is critical to human existence’: Judge orders county jail to stop constantly waking up female inmates (Washington Post, March 28, 2019)
In his preliminary injunction order, U.S. District Judge James Donato questioned how handing out medication 'in the dead of night' and eating breakfast at 4 a.m. served any legitimate purpose. Sleep, Donato wrote, 'is critical to human existence.' Sleep deprivation has already been found to be cruel and unusual punishment for those duly convicted of crimes, Donato noted. The plaintiffs, the judge stressed, have not even had their day in court.
HUD charges Facebook with housing discrimination (Los Angeles Times, March 28, 2019)
The housing agency claims that Facebook mines users' extensive personal data and uses characteristics protected by law - race, color, national origin, religion, familiar status, sex and disability - to determine who can view housing ads. 'Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live. Using a computer to limit a person's housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone's face.'

NEW: Facebook says it is banning white nationalism. Here are some places it can start. (Media Matters, March 28, 2019)
NEW: Facebook Bans White Nationalism and White Separatism (Vice, March 27, 2019)
After a civil rights backlash, Facebook will now treat white nationalism and separatism the same as white supremacy, and will direct users who try to post that content to a nonprofit that helps people leave hate groups.

AOC: Climate Change "Not An Elitist Issue (3-min. video; YouTube, March 27, 2019)
Jury awards $80 million to man who said Roundup weedkiller caused his cancer (Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2019)
Monsanto developed glyphosate in the 1970s, and the weedkiller is now sold in more than 160 countries and widely used in the United States. The herbicide came under increasing scrutiny after the France-based International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organization, classified it as a 'probable human carcinogen' in 2015. Lawsuits against Monsanto followed, and thousands are now pending nationwide.
Germany halted all arms exports to Saudi Arabia. It worked too well, and now Berlin is looking for a way out. (Washington Post, March 27, 2019)
When international outrage mounted over the Saudi-led war in Yemen and the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi in fall 2018, Germany was the only major country to halt all arms exports to the kingdom. Human rights advocates praised the decision. At the time it was seen as a symbolic move, since other countries exported a great deal more arms to Saudi Arabia. But as it turns out, the intertwined nature of European industry meant that the German export ban had a great deal more effect than expected. The chief executive of Airbus - a company in which Germany owns shares - offered a scathing response to the German exports halt, telling Reuters in February: 'It has been driving us crazy at Airbus for years that when there is even just a tiny German part involved in, for example, helicopters, the German side gives itself the right to, for example, block the sale of a French helicopter.'
Germany and France’s very different responses to Saudi aggression abroad show that there is not a cross-European consensus on what constitutes an unacceptable human rights violation that would make a nation ineligible for exports.
India shoots down satellite in test of space defense (Washington Post, March 27, 2019)
Joining the select space club of United States, Russia and China, India became the fourth country in the world to shoot down a low-orbit satellite with a missile.
Trevor Noah: Who Is Pete Buttigieg and Why Is He Killing It in the Polls? (6-min. video; The Daily Show, March 27, 2019)
His last name is pronounced "Buddha" + "Judge", as in only Buddha can judge him because he's perfect!
Barbara Bush: Did she still consider herself a Republican? 'I'd probably say no today.' (USA Today, March 27, 2019)
How did she think things were going in the USA in the Age of Trump? 'I'm trying not to think about it,' she said in an interview as the first anniversary of Trump's election approached. 'We're a strong country, and I think it will all work out.' Even so, she was dismayed by the nation’s divisions and by the direction of the party she had worked for, and for so long.
Did she still consider herself a Republican? In an interview with me in October 2017, she answered that question yes. When I asked her again four months later, in February 2018, she said, 'I'd probably say no today.' That was a stunning acknowledgment. Barbara Bush had been one of the most recognizable faces of the Republican Party through two presidencies. She was the matriarch of one of the GOP’s leading families. But after Trump’s rise, she saw it as a party she could not continue to support, a party she no longer recognized.
Neil Gorsuch says no-one can sue to stop government establishing religion (Daily KOS, March 27, 2019)
One inherent danger of allowing a religious minority to install a puppet controlled by religious fanatics in the White House is the now unfolding threat of government officially establishing religion – the Christian religion. Any American’s confidence that the U.S. Constitution is a protection against government establishing religion is grossly misplaced; that belief is about to be disabused by the current religious conservatives responsible for adjudicating the law of the land.
NEW: ‘Extreme Partisan Gerrymandering Is a Real Problem,’ Says Kavanaugh. He’s Right. (New York Times, March 27, 2019)
The Supreme Court could make history by erecting a constitutional barrier to electoral maps that put party over country.
Mueller's finding on conspiracy is no excuse to pardon Trump's campaign aides (Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2019)
Comey: Imagine if it were Obama and Iran, not Trump and Russia (Politico, March 27, 2019)
Trump has decried the FBI’s and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election as 'presidential harassment' and the promotion of a 'hoax.' Though Mueller’s long-awaited report supposedly did not establish evidence of any collusion between Trump and Russia, investigators have determined there were concerted Russian efforts to sway the election in Trump’s favor. During an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt aired Wednesday night, Former FBI Director James Comey turned the scenario around, suggesting that if the president had been Barack Obama and the interfering foreign power had been Iran, there would be no question that a thorough investigation would be necessary.
CNN poll: Majority of Americans find no exoneration for Trump on collusion (Daily KOS, March 27,  2019)
However great Trump might feel, the Barr report doesn't seem to have moved the needle of public opinion at all. Some 40 percent of Americans are in the Trump camp, and another 56-57 percent are not in his camp. In fact, 56-57 percent is exactly the number of people who have already pledged to vote against Trump in 2020 in two separate polls in the last several months.
'Let's see, a bunch of Republicans investigating a bunch of Republicans produce a 'secret report' (never to be released to the public) but explained to us by a hand picked loyalist Republican who openly argues 'a sitting president cannot be indicted.' Gee, I wonder how we got that claim of exoneration?'
'Trump and company know their Mueller Report response failed to sway public opinion to the degree required to move on, so you get redirection on one side with Obamacare repeal, and you get the full court press of attacks from the Trump Administration on the enemies that threaten them and that have landed blows in the past. I would imagine that the Trump Administration, and its attendants in the media, are more panicked now than prior to the Barr Letter’s release. And one point I will hammer on again, the Trump Administration knows, in theory, they should be the only ones in possession of the Mueller Report … but they can’t be 100% confident of that. If the Mueller Report is damaging to Trump and his cohorts, you can bet Trump will demand it to be rewritten to praise him before it is released. The guy’s a malignant narcissist, and that would be his instinct. But if anyone tampers with the contents of the Mueller Report prior to release, and the actual report is in the possession of individuals outside the DoJ and Trump World, that’s BIG TIME obstruction of justice, and a case for impeachment that can’t be ignored. So, no, no victory lap for Trump, just more frustration for Team Trump because people refuse to be as stupid as they need them to be.'

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

‘Undoubtedly there is collusion’: Trump antagonist Adam Schiff doubles down after Mueller finds no conspiracy (Washington Post, March 26, 2019)
President Trump, emboldened by the special counsel’s determination he was not part of a criminal conspiracy to sway the 2016 election, has an early target as he seeks recompense from his critics: Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, who maintains he’s seen evidence Trump colluded with Russia.
Batteries and Gas: Frenemies of the Power World Face Off (Bloomberg News, March 26, 2019)
It was only three years ago that natural gas overtook coal to become king of America’s power mix, and its throne is already being challenged - by batteries. As battery costs fall, solar farms are increasingly installing storage systems, allowing them to sock away cheap electricity by day and pump it onto grids at night. Solar-storage projects are already cheaper than gas plants to build in the U.S. Southwest. And that’s bound to spread, some analysts and executives said Tuesday at the BNEF summit in New York.
McDonald's halts lobbying against minimum wage hikes (Politico, March 26, 2019)
Fast-food giant McDonald's boosted congressional Democrats' efforts to hike the minimum wage Tuesday by telling the National Restaurant Association that it will no longer participate in lobby efforts against minimum-wage hikes at the federal, state or local level.
Trump surprises Republicans - and pleases Democrats - with push to revive health-care battle (Washington Post, March 26, 2019)
In a new court filing, the Justice Department argued that the ACA, also known as Obamacare, should be thrown out in its entirety, including provisions protecting millions of Americans with preexisting health conditions and allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health-care plans. President Trump praised the move during a lunch with Senate Republicans, and suggested the GOP should embrace a new congressional battle over health-care policy ahead of the 2020 elections.
NEW: Georgia State Senate Passes Law That Would Ban Abortion Before Women Even Know They’re Pregnant (with  14-min. video of Georgia Sen. Jen Jordan; Blue Delaware, March  26, 2019)
And cruelest of all, to demand that a victim of incest file a police report before being able to terminate a pregnancy at its earliest stages is horrifying. Or that of a victim of rape. Each of you sits here in judgment of a situation that you could never comprehend, and dictate what a woman can and cannot do with her body, with her life.
“But this bill takes it much, much further. For the first time, this state will make Georgia women criminals for seeking basic reproductive care. This bill subjects both the doctor and the woman to prosecution and imprisonment for up to 10 years.
“Any woman who suffers a miscarriage could be subject to scrutiny regarding whether or not she intentionally acted to cause that miscarriage.
NEW: We Drew Congressional Maps for Partisan Advantage. That Was the Point. (The Atlantic, March 25, 2019)
'I propose that we draw the maps to give a partisan advantage to 10 Republicans and three Democrats, because I do not believe it’s possible to draw a map with 11 Republicans and two Democrats,' one of us said in 2016, as the North Carolina legislature drew new congressional maps. It’s a made-for-headlines statement, an apparent gaffe that reveals what everybody knows but nobody says. And on Tuesday, as the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the landmark partisan gerrymandering case Rucho v. Common Cause, it will likely take center stage again.
Politics is a legal consideration, while race sometimes is not.
The Trump Administration Now Thinks the Entire Affordable Care Act Should Fall (The Incidental Economist, March 25, 2019)
The Trump administration has now committed itself to a legal position that would inflict untold damage on the American public. And for what? Every reputable commentator - on both the left and the right - thinks that Judge O’Connor’s decision invalidating the entire ACA is a joke. To my knowledge, not one has defended it. This is not a 'reasonable minds can differ' sort of case. It is insanity in print.
Trump campaign urges networks to challenge top Trump detractors (Politico, March 25, 2019)
President Donald Trump’s campaign on Monday urged major news networks to not allow on their shows several people, including Democratic lawmakers, who have been critical of the president, adding that the networks should report the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report as a 'complete vindication' of Trump.
The Trump campaign letter comes a day after Attorney General William Barr released a 4-page summary of Mueller’s report indicating that there was no conspiracy or coordination between Russia and the president’s campaign. In addition, Barr’s summary also said he did not believe there was enough evidence that Trump obstructed justice. 'The only way to interpret these conclusions is as a total and complete vindication of President Trump,' Murtaugh wrote - even though Barr’s summary quoted Mueller’s submission as saying that 'while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.'
The already-infamous "Barr Letter" is a deeply dishonest and misleading document that richly deserves methodical public evisceration by committed journalists. (Seth Abramson, March 25, 2019)

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

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

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

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

Ireland's openly gay prime minister met with Mike Pence and he had a special message just for him (Daily KOS, March 14, 2019)
'I stand here leader of my country,' Varadkar said to the audience assembled at the residence, 'flawed and human, but judged by my political actions and not by my sexual orientation, my skin tone, gender or religious beliefs.' Pence was sitting to Varadkar’s immediate right, just feet away. 'I don’t believe my country is the only one in the world where this story is possible,' he continued. 'It is found in every country where freedom and liberty are cherished. We are after all, all god’s children. That’s true of the United States as well, the land and home of the brave and free.' But it’s also true that the vice president’s wife works at a school that bans people like Varadkar and his partner, Matt Barrett.
The strongmen strike back (Washington Post, March 14, 2019)
Today, authoritarianism has emerged as the greatest challenge facing the liberal democratic world — a profound ideological, as well as strategic, challenge. Or, more accurately, it has reemerged, for authoritarianism has always posed the most potent and enduring challenge to liberalism, since the birth of the liberal idea itself. Authoritarianism has now returned as a geopolitical force, with strong nations such as China and Russia championing anti-liberalism as an alternative to a teetering liberal hegemony. It has returned as an ideological force, offering the age-old critique of liberalism, and just at the moment when the liberal world is suffering its greatest crisis of confidence since the 1930s. It has returned armed with new and hitherto unimaginable tools of social control and disruption that are shoring up authoritarian rule at home, spreading it abroad and reaching into the very heart of liberal societies to undermine them from within.
Trump's 'emergency' is already doing serious harm. Courts must end it if Congress can't. (USA Today, March 14, 2019)
Trump failed to convince Congress that something was urgently needed. This is not an 'emergency.' The facts must at some point make a difference.
Senate votes to reject Trump’s emergency declaration, setting up president’s first veto (Washington Post, March 14, 2019)
The Senate passed a resolution Thursday to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border, with 12 Republicans joining all Democrats to deliver a bipartisan rebuke to the president. The disapproval resolution passed the House last month, so the 59-41 Senate vote will send the measure to Trump’s desk. Trump has promised to use the first veto of his presidency to strike it down, and Congress does not have the votes to override the veto.
'VETO!', Trump tweeted moments after the vote.
Still, the Senate vote stood as a rare instance of Republicans breaking with Trump in significant numbers on an issue central to his presidency - the construction of a wall along the southern border.
For weeks Trump had sought to frame the debate in terms of immigration, arguing that Republican senators who supported border security should back him up on the emergency declaration. But for many GOP lawmakers, it was about a bigger issue: The Constitution itself, which grants Congress - not the president - control over government spending. By declaring a national emergency in order to bypass Congress to get money for his wall, Trump was violating the separation of powers and setting a potentially dangerous precedent, these senators argued.
NEW: House Votes, 420-to-0, to Demand Public Release of Mueller Report (New York Times, March 14, 2019)
Senate Rejects Trump’s Border Emergency Declaration, Setting Up First Veto (New York Times, March 14, 2019)
The Senate on Thursday easily voted to overturn President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the southwestern border, delivering a bipartisan rebuke to what lawmakers in both parties deemed executive overreach by a president determined to build his border wall over Congress’s objections. The 59-41 vote on the House-passed measure sets up the first veto of Mr. Trump’s presidency. It was not overwhelming enough to override Mr. Trump’s promised veto, but Congress has now voted to block a presidential emergency declaration for the first time - and on one of the core promises that animated Mr. Trump’s political rise, the vow to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.
US official reveals Atlantic drilling plan while hailing Trump’s ability to distract public (The Guardian, March 14,  2019)
'One of the things that I have found absolutely thrilling in working for this administration,' said Balash, 'is the president has a knack for keeping the attention of the media and the public focused somewhere else while we do all the work that needs to be done on behalf of the American people.' Already the Trump administration is moving to permit a handful of private companies to start using seismic surveys in the Atlantic, a controversial practice in which air guns shoot loud blasts into ocean waters to identify oil deposits. Some scientific studies suggest that seismic surveys can harm or potentially kill marine creatures, including dolphins, whales, fish and zooplankton.
NEW: GOP lawmaker: Green New Deal 'tantamount to genocide' (Politico, March 14, 2019)
'It’s no longer enough to say Republicans aren’t taking climate change seriously,' Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) said. 'These stunts are getting more desperate and disconnected from reality.'
NEW: Facebook Fine Could Total Billions if F.T.C. Talks Lead to a Deal (New York Times, March 14, 2019)
The F.T.C. began its investigation into Facebook’s mishandling of data after The New York Times reported in March 2018 that the information of 87 million users had been harvested by a British political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, without their permission.
Facebook confirmed the negotiations with the F.T.C., which could still break down and lead to litigation. The discussions were first reported by The Washington Post. Facebook’s 2011 consent decree requires the company to seek permission from users for plans to share their data with third parties. The trade commission also requires Facebook to notify it when third parties misuse this data.
Some F.T.C. officials have pressed for maximum penalties because of several new reports of potential privacy breaches since the start of the investigation. The agency can seek up to $41,000 for each violation found by the agency. In the case of Cambridge Analytica, 87 million people were affected. The highest financial penalty imposed by the F.T.C. so far was a $22.5 million fine on Google for violating an agreement to protect consumer data.
NEW: Judge Declines ExxonMobil's Motion To Dismiss Case Set To Put Climate Change And Corporate Responsibility On Trial (WBUR News, March 13, 2019)
Airlines rethink Boeing 737 orders after second crash in five months (Los Angeles Times, March 13, 2019)
The 737, which first entered service in the late 1960s, is the aviation industry’s bestselling model and Boeing’s top earner. The re-engined Max version has racked up more than 5,000 orders worth in excess of $600 billion. 'With extensive grounding of the 737 Max, near term news could get worse for Boeing before it improves,' Cai von Rumohr, an analyst at Cowen & Co., said in a note. However, he added, because the company is readying an update to its flight-control software, 'we don’t see meaningful long-term risk.' Indeed, the only real rival to Boeing is European planemaker Airbus, whose production line for the A320neo is full well into the next decade.
Elizabeth Warren interview: "You can't be both the umpire and the team owner. (Daily KOS, March 13, 2019)
While I don’t discount the notion that large corporations regularly abuse their market share to influence public policies to increase their bottom line, I’m afraid that Warren’s opponents will just use this to amplify their 'socialism is bad' rhetoric despite the fact that she’s talking about malignant capitalism.
Trump and Dems destroy GOP effort to escape national emergency bind (Politico,
March 13, 2019)
The president told Senate Republicans he would not agree to curtail his powers in order to stem defections on the disapproval vote.
Dem, Republican join in effort to control how Trump grants, revokes security clearances (NBC News, March 13, 2019)
Trump reportedly ordered that Jared Kushner be granted a security clearance, and revoked the clearance of ex-CIA Director John Brennan, a frequent critic. President Trump in August said he revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan, an NBC News contributor who was a career CIA officer before joining the Obama administration. Brennan is a frequent critic of Trump.
Trump ordered that a Top Secret clearance be granted to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, despite flags in his FBI and CIA background checks. NBC News first reported that career White House security specialists had been overruled in the Kushner matter. That was one of about 30 occasions during the early days of the Trump administration during which career officials were overruled and security clearances were granted to White House officials despite concerns, sources familiar with the process told NBC News.
Trump also intervened in the case of his daughter, Ivanka Trump, who faced hurdles related to concerns about her husband's foreign business ties, among other issues.
NEW: What Is the Dunning-Kruger Effect? (Very Well Mind, March 13, 2019)
The Dunning-Kruger effect is a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. Essentially, low ability people do not possess the skills needed to recognize their own incompetence. The combination of poor self-awareness and low cognitive ability leads them to overestimate their own capabilities.
The term lends a scientific name and explanation to a problem that many people immediately recognize - that fools are blind to their own foolishness. As Charles Darwin wrote in his book The Descent of Man, 'Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.'
Turning the hot lights on a religious right pastor who has gone full anti-Semite (Daily KOS, March 13, 2019)
You may know Rick Wiles as the loon from TruNews who irately demanded that Obama be overthrown by military force and called for Democrats to be purged en masse in the wake of the Alexandria shooting. But lately, his commentary has taken on a distinct anti-Semitic tinge. Last month, for instance, he claimed that the White House push to decriminalize homosexuality around the world was a Jewish plot.
The web in 30 years? It'll be beyond our imagination, says Tim Berners-Lee (ZDNet, March 13, 2019)
Working out where the web will go next is hard. But figuring out where we would like it to go is a little easier, says the inventor of the world wide web.
NEW: Facebook’s Data Deals Are Under Criminal Investigation (New York Times, March 13, 2019)
Federal prosecutors are conducting a criminal investigation into data deals Facebook struck with some of the world’s largest technology companies, intensifying scrutiny of the social media giant’s business practices as it seeks to rebound from a year of scandal and setbacks.
A grand jury in New York has subpoenaed records from at least two prominent makers of smartphones and other devices, according to two people who were familiar with the requests and who insisted on anonymity to discuss confidential legal matters. Both companies had entered into partnerships with Facebook, gaining broad access to the personal information of hundreds of millions of its users. The companies were among more than 150, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Sony, that had cut sharing deals with the world’s dominant social media platform. The agreements, previously reported in The New York Times, let the companies see users’ friends, contact information and other data, sometimes without consent.
NEW: Psychiatrist: Trump Pre-Dementia and Cognitive Decline Are Getting Worse (15-min. video; David Pakman Show, March 12, 2019)
Dr. John Gartner, psychiatrist, founder of Duty to Warn, and co-editor of the book 'Rocket Man: Nuclear Madness and the Mind of Donald Trump,' joins David to update us on what he sees are the accelerating cognitive decline and mental state of Donald Trump.
Comment: Americans are so funny. When Henry VI, King of England went mad, he was relieved of his duties. 700 years later, the proud US of A can't even remove a demented public servant of his Presidency, which is just a temporal post. You should have thought twice before dumping that tea into Boston Harbor.
NEW: Agent Orange Contamination Persists In Vietnam, Study Shows
(Asian Scientist Magazine, March 12, 2019)
During the Vietnam War, US aircraft sprayed more than 20 million gallons of herbicides, including dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange, on the country’s rain forests, wetlands and croplands. Agent Orange defoliated the thick jungle vegetation concealing Viet Cong fighters and destroyed a portion of the country’s food crops, but it was primarily the dioxin contaminant that harmed so many Vietnamese and US military personnel. In this study, scientists at the University of Illinois (UI) and Iowa State University documented the environmental legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam, including hotspots where dioxin continues to enter the food supply.
Dioxin TCDD-contaminated sediment was - and still is - ingested by bottom-feeding fish and shrimp, accumulating in fatty tissue of those animals and up the food chain into many of the fish that form the basis of the Vietnamese diet, the researchers noted. Even though fishing is now banned from most contaminated sites, bans have been difficult to enforce and, as a result, dioxin TCDD is still entering the human food supply 50 years later.

The First Green Terawatt Was the Hardest (Daily KOS, March 12, 2019)
We need something like 16 TW worldwide. More for EVs and economic growth in the poorest countries, less with improved efficiency and conservation, and so on.
Ethiopian Airlines crash came after US shutdown delayed Boeing 737 Max fixes (Quartz, March 12, 2019)
Straightforward safety upgrades to the jets’ software to fix the automated safety feature, were originally expected in January according to multiple reports. But they were delayed until April, the Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 10, because of 'engineering challenges,' 'differences of opinion' between federal and Boeing officials, and the 35-day government shutdown, during  which 'consideration of the fixes was suspended.'
House Democrats are laying the groundwork for impeachment, beginning with the Cohen hearing (Daily KOS, March 12, 2019)
That path includes building public support for initiating such proceedings, which currently sits at only about a third of the nation. But public testimony like
former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's is all part of the process. Not only did the public find Cohen more believable than Trump (50-35 percent), but a strong majority of voters (58 percent) told Quinnipiac that Congress should do more to investigate Cohen's claims concerning Trump's 'unethical and illegal behavior.'
What to Expect When You’re Expecting (the Mueller Report) (New York Times, March 12, 2019)
A conversation with Representative Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, about how Congress is preparing for the results of the special counsel investigation.
No, President Trump, America’s Jews will not be joining you in the GOP (Washington Post, March 12, 2019)
American Jews aren’t liberals by accident or out of some collective delusion, but because of a set of values that grows from their history and that gets passed from generation to generation. This is the liberal legacy of Judaism, that the experience of oppression and exclusion makes Jews sympathize with the oppressed and the excluded. That’s not to say there aren’t Jewish conservatives, because there are. But when a politician like Trump comes along, encouraging people to direct all their resentments and anger at immigrants, Jews know that, at other times and in other places, they were the ones that demagogues like him told people to hate.
The Making of the Fox News White House (New Yorker, March 11, 2019)
After members of the press pool got out of vans and headed over to where the President was about to speak, they noticed that Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, was already on location. Unlike them, he hadn’t been confined by the Secret Service, and was mingling with Administration officials, at one point hugging Kirstjen Nielsen, the Secretary of Homeland Security. The pool report noted that Hannity was seen 'huddling' with the White House communications director, Bill Shine. After the photo op, Hannity had an exclusive on-air interview with Trump. Politico later reported that it was Hannity’s seventh interview with the President, and Fox’s forty-second. Since then, Trump has given Fox two more. He has granted only ten to the three other main television networks combined, and none to CNN, which he denounces as 'fake news'.
Hannity was treated in Texas like a member of the Administration because he virtually is one. The same can be said of Fox’s chairman, Rupert Murdoch. Fox has long been a bane of liberals, but in the past two years many people who watch the network closely, including some Fox alumni, say that it has evolved into something that hasn’t existed before in the United States. It’s the closest we’ve come to having state TV.
New York Attorney General Opens Investigation of Trump Projects (New York Times, March 11, 2019)
The new inquiry, by the office of the attorney general, Letitia James, was prompted by the congressional testimony last month of Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, the person briefed on the subpoenas said. Mr. Cohen testified under oath that Mr. Trump had inflated his assets in financial statements, and Mr. Cohen provided copies of statements he said had been submitted to Deutsche Bank.
John Oliver robocalls Ajit Pai and Trump's FCC every 90 minutes, telling them to end robocalls (Daily KOS, March 11, 2019)
In March 2018, Trump-appointed Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai lauded a federal court’s decision to strike down an anti-robocall bit of consumer protections that took effect under President Barack Obama. At the time, Pai promised to find “consumer friendly” ways to stop robocalls.
Robocalls are getting worse, and projected by some experts to become half of all calls over the next year.
Steve Bannon gave documentarian behind-the-scenes access to him, and "The Brink" sounds like a doozy (Daily KOS, March 11, 2019)
Variety calls the documentary a 'fly-on-the-wall, rise-and-fall-and-rise-of-a-white-nationalist documentary,' pointing to sequences where Bannon, not unlike his orange-headed friend Trump, sets up what he clearly thinks are cinematic moments that will ingratiate himself to the audience, only to end up accentuating how much of a creep he really is. The example given is him telling a story of going to visit Auschwitz and Birkenau, which were concentration camps and are now museums to the Holocaust. Through the telling of his experience there, the viewer, according to Variety, gets the distinct impression that Bannon doesn’t really have sympathy for the Jewish people murdered by the Nazis so much as he is amazed by the Nazis.
Fast-Growth Chickens Produce New Industry Woe: ‘Spaghetti Meat’ (Washington Post, March 10, 2019)
Chicken companies are adding an estimated $200 million in annual costs to divert breast fillets that are too squishy or tough."
Ethiopian Airlines flight bound for Nairobi crashes, all 157 on board killed (Washington Post, March 10, 2019)
The recently acquired aircraft was the same Boeing 737 Max 8 model that was involved in a crash in Indonesia in October. Preliminary investigation into that accident focused on a malfunctioning sensor and computer system that pushed the plane’s nose down.
Data from the Ethio­pian Airlines crash appears to show a similar erratic flight path as that in the Indonesia crash, with the plane first ascending, then descending, then ascending sharply before it fell from the sky.
(From last November: "Boeing’s latest airliners lack a common override feature that, in some dangerous circumstances, allows pilots to reliably pull planes out of nosedives and avert crashes such as last month’s fatal plunge by Lion Air Flight 610, aeronautics experts and pilot groups say. The state-of-the-art 737 MAX 8 airplanes do not have this feature, yet the company failed to prominently warn pilots of the change even as airlines worldwide began taking delivery of the new jets last year, pilots say.")
NEW: Jeanine Pirro: Ilhan Omar’s Hijab May Be ‘Antithetical’ To The Constitution (Huffington Post, March 10, 2019)
The Fox News host, who used to be a judge, neglected to mention the First Amendment when attacking the Muslim congresswoman’s dress.
Want the GOP to stop using the word 'socialist' to scare off Democrats? Make 'capitalism' a bad word. (Daily KOS, March 10, 2019)
I believe in having an economic system that works for everyone. It must be Democratic. The best one is a hybrid featuring free enterprise and a robust safety net, a system unable to hoard capital, which is a detriment to the economy as a whole.
The Pros and Cons of Impeaching Trump (New Yorker, March 10, 2019)
Real and reasonable arguments among congressional Democrats - and, indeed, among the public - range from the practical to the procedural.
Just how dumb do they think we are? (Daily KOS, March 10, 2019)
During my lifetime, I have seen and heard some amazing things. I have seen a president resign in disgrace. I have seen a president lose his shot at a second term because he was too honest. I have seen a president who likely had dementia act his way through two terms, and set the stage for the nation we have today. I have seen a so-so president lead us into war, and his successor impeached for lying about getting a blowjob. Then we had a president elected by the slimmest of margins in an election decided by the Supreme Court, then eight years of war and incompetence. That was followed by eight years of an intelligent, wise president who was dogged by a hostile opposition party that stole a Supreme Court seat from him.
I thought I had seen it all - but then along came Trump. Now, I have said this before, but it bears repeating: If Trump ran as a Democrat and agreed with me on every position, I would not have voted for him. He is a vile man who cheats on his spouses and has gone bankrupt running a casino, a business that is literally a license to print money.
The 10 personas of Donald Trump in a single speech (Washington Post, March 9, 2019)
He lambasted and lampooned his rivals. He exaggerated and ballyhooed his record. He riddled his remarks with contradictions, shoddy statistics and falsehoods. And he embroidered it all with a fake Southern accent, curse words and bouts of extravagant pantomime. For two hours and five minutes last weekend, President Trump dazzled his supporters and appalled his critics with a mind-spinning, free-associating performance that neatly encapsulated his singular standing as a polarizing cultural figure.
Even for a politician who never seems to stop talking, the tour-de-force performance at the Conservative Political Action Conference - the longest speech of Trump’s presidency - stands apart as a road map to understanding the 45th president’s id. It also offers a preview of the cacophonous 2020 campaign to come.
Mueller vs Barr, and the battle to indict Trump (Spectator US, March 9, 2019)
Mueller wants to indict the President but Barr doesn’t – while the two men agree that Trump’s children should be charged.
A Florida Massage Parlor Owner Has Been Selling Chinese Execs Access to Trump at Mar-a-Lago (Mother Jones, March 9, 2019)
The strange, swampy saga of Trump donor Li Yang.
Thank A House Plant: Hydrogen-Based Energy Storage Inspired By Mother Nature (Clean Technica, March 9, 2019)
NEW: The Roundup row: is the world’s most popular weedkiller carcinogenic? (The Guardian, March 9, 2019)
Producer Monsanto is facing thousands of lawsuits from customers who now have cancer.
NEW: Norway's $1 trillion fund to cut oil and gas investments (BBC News, March 8, 2019)
The advice follows a report from Norway's central bank in 2017 that dropping oil and gas investment would be a good economic move - even though Norway is western Europe's biggest oil and gas producer and its sovereign wealth fund, known officially as the Government Pension Fund, is used to invest the proceeds of the country's oil industry. The government still owns 67% of Equinor, formerly known as Statoil, which is an oil and gas company which pumps the equivalent of two million barrels of oil per day. The company is diversifying into wind and solar energy.
If We Blow Up an Asteroid, It Might Put Itself Back Together (New York Times, March 8, 2019)
Despite what Hollywood tells us, stopping an asteroid from creating an extinction-level event by blowing it up may not work.
House Passes the Most Significant Democracy Reform Bill in a Generation (Mother Jones, March 8, 2019)
The Democratic measure would expand voting rights and crack down on gerrymandering and dark money. Every House Democrat present voted for the bill and every House Republican voted no. Its prospects are far dimmer in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declared his opposition to the bill, calling it 'the Democrat Politician Protection Act.' The Trump administration has also stated its opposition.
NEW:  In another blow to Trump, judge rules in favor of ACLU in family separations case  (Washington Post, March 8, 2019)
In a legal blow to the Trump administration, a federal judge ruled Friday that all migrant families separated during the government’s border crackdown should be included in a class-action lawsuit. But he stopped short of immediately ordering the Justice Department to track them all down.
U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw in California said the universe of separated families should extend beyond the 2,700-plus children taken from their parents last spring, and include families forced apart as early as July 1, 2017, and the months afterward, when the Trump administration was denying that it had a policy of separating families. Sabraw said a government watchdog report in January that potentially thousands more families were separated than the Trump administration had admitted publicly compelled the court to look into the matter.
'The hallmark of a civilized society is measured by how it treats its people and those within its borders,' he wrote in a 14-page ruling. 'That Defendants may have to change course and undertake additional effort to address these issues does not render modification of the class definition unfair; it only serves to underscore the unquestionable importance of the effort and why it is necessary (and worthwhile).' The ruling dramatically expands the scope of the class-action lawsuit that compelled the Trump administration to reunite the separated families and prolongs a political tangle for the president that had been nearing its end.
White House Source Leaks Ivanka/Jared Clearance Docs to House Dems: Report (Daily Beast, March 8, 2019)
... after the Trump administration refused to hand over the paperwork."
All the Legal Trouble in Trumpworld (Foreign Policy, March 8, 2019)
Robert Mueller may be the least of the president’s worries.
A Trump official said seismic air gun tests don’t hurt whales. So a congressman blasted him with an air horn. (Washington Post, March 7, 2019)
Rep. Joe Cunningham’s stunt made a bang in a subcommittee hearing that questioned the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s decision to permit seismic testing, which harms whales.
Beware the Ides of Trump (Spectator US, March 7, 2019)
The Special Counsel may hand in his report on Friday – word is that it will make the case for collusion.
Who’s Running for President in 2020? (New York Times, March 7, 2019)
NEW: EU food agency must release glyphosate studies: court (Reuters,