by A. Richard Miller
Begun September 29, 2008; last updated June 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."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Death Of God, by Friedrich Nietzsche (1885)

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

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

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

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

Freethinkers and Libertarianism, by David Niose

Yale Climate Opinion Maps, U.S. 2016

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

Scientists Are Pro-Testing (Science, 2017)

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

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

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

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

Our Revolution

Angry White House Staffer

GOP Rape Advisory Chart

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

Vote Sleuth: Investigating Democracyngeles Times, 2017)

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

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

Donald Trump (Vice)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atlas Of Utopias (Transformative Cities, 2018)

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

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

Smoking bans in private vehicles (Wikipedia)

Light Cycles, by Quinn Norton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Change (United Nations)

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)

Pertinent Posts

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)
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."

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."
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."
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."
'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."
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."
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."
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.
    MOYERS: Why?
    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."
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.'"
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.'"
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."

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."
White House USS McCain cover-up story gets even more embarrassing for Trump, if that's possible (Daily KOS, May 30, 2019)
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.'"
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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.'"
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."
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."
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: 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: 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.'"
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."
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, March 7, 2019)
"Judges annulled two decisions by EFSA that denied access to details of the studies into the substance (Monsanto's Roundup), which campaigners say should be banned. The two cases were brought by Green members of the European Parliament among others.
'EFSA welcomes the decision,' the agency’s spokesman said in a statement. 'This case, and the Court’s ruling, is important because it provides orientation for EFSA and others charged with interpreting EU legislation on public access to documents.'"
NEW: I Quit My Job to Protest My Company’s Work on Building Killer Robots (ACLU, March 6, 2019)
"In 2014, Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk led an effort with thousands of AI researchers to collectively pledge never to contribute research to the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems - weapons that could seek out a target and end a life without a human in the decision-making loop. The researchers argued that the technology to create such weapons was just around the corner and would be disastrous for humanity."
NEW: An Oxford researcher says there are seven moral rules that unite humanity (Quartz, March 6, 2019)
"The team found that these seven cooperative behaviors were considered morally good in 99.9% of cases across cultures. Curry is careful to note that people around the world differ hugely in how they prioritize different cooperative behaviors. But he said the evidence was overwhelming in widespread adherence to those moral values."
RICO, the racketeering statute used to bring down mob bosses, might ultimately seal Trump's fate (Daily KOS, March 6, 2019)
NEW: In the Middle of His Official Business, Trump Took the Time to Send Checks to Michael Cohen (New York Times, March 5, 2019)

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

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

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

How To Keep Facebook from Tracking Your Location When You're Not Using the App (Gadget Hacks, February 22, 2019)
"When you think of companies that represent pillars like "privacy" or "security," Facebook is pretty far from the top of that list. However, the social media empire is making strides - small strides - to win trust with how it handles your user data. One of those efforts involves a way to prevent Facebook from tracking your iPhone or Android phone's location when you're not using the app."
Donald Trump tried to reward a Mar-a-Lago member with billions extorted from Qatar (Daily KOS, February 22, 2019)
"In April of 2018, Donald Trump pushed the Qatari sovereign wealth fund - the same fund that had recently bailed out Jared Kushner - to engage in a risky deal involving a nuclear power plant. The reason doesn’t seem to have anything to do with a need for nuclear power, and it certainly wasn’t done to help the Qataris. Instead, it appears to have been Trump using his leverage over the tiny nation of Qatar to help a billionaire speculator who just happens to be a Mar-a-Lago member and who plowed $1 million into Trump’s controversial Inaugural fund."
(Yes, the same nuclear plant and Franklin Haney that appear down below on February 19th.)
Federal Judge Shuts Down Trump Administration’s Discrimination Against Children of Same-Sex Couples (Slate, February 22, 2019)
"The Trump administration’s attempt to deny citizenship to the children of binational same-sex couples suffered a setback on Thursday when a federal court ruled these children are American citizens. U.S. District Judge John F. Walter of California rejected the State Department’s startling assertion that a married gay couple’s son was born “out of wedlock” and thus is ineligible for citizenship. But his decision applies only to these plaintiffs - meaning Secretary of State Mike Pompeo may continue to enforce an anti-gay policy on other binational couples. Somehow, nearly two years after the U.S. Supreme Court guaranteed equal rights to same-sex parents, the U.S. government is still trying to discriminate against their children under immigration law.
What’s most remarkable about Walter’s ruling is how brief and straightforward it is. At first glance, this case might seem complex, sitting at the intersection of surrogacy and immigration law. But the reality is that the Dvash-Banks’ sexual orientation should not actually complicate matters at all. The 9th Circuit previously found that the “presumption of legitimacy” applies to opposite-sex couples here, even when there is evidence that one parent had no biological relation. Why shouldn’t that presumption apply equally to same-sex couples? The answer, according to Walter (and the Supreme Court), is that it must."
NEW: Facebook will shut down its spyware VPN app Onavo (TechCrunch, February 21, 2019)
"Facebook will end its unpaid market research programs and proactively take its Onavo VPN app off the Google Play store in the wake of backlash following TechCrunch’s investigation about Onavo code being used in a Facebook Research app that sucked up data about teens. The Onavo Protect app will eventually shut down, and will immediately cease pulling in data from users for market research, though it will continue operating as a Virtual Private Network in the short-term to allow users to find a replacement.
Facebook has also ceased to recruit new users for the Facebook Research app that still runs on Android but was forced off of iOS by Apple after we reported that it violated Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program for employee-only apps. Existing Facebook Research app studies will continue to run, though.
To preempt any more scandals around Onavo and the Facebook Research app and avoid Google stepping in to forcibly block the apps, Facebook is now taking Onavo off the Play Store and stopping recruitment of Research testers. That’s a surprising voluntary move that perhaps shows Facebook is finally getting in tune with the public perception of its shady actions. [Voluntary? See italics, above. - ARM] The company has repeatedly misread how users would react to its product launches and privacy invasions, leading to near constant gaffes and an unending news cycle chronicling its blunders."
McCabe's 'masterful chess move' may have cemented Mueller's appointment and Trump's fate (Daily KOS, February 21, 2019)
"McCabe added the president to the already predicated, already long existing case on Russian meddling with the campaign. The obstruction case was not separate either. He added that to the existing [counterintelligence] case, so anyone trying to close that is closing an obstruction case on the president. The way McCabe decided to structure the cases had both practical impact and, in retrospect, symbolic importance."
NEW: The Supreme Court Just Struck a Huge, Unanimous Blow Against Policing for Profit (Slate, February 20, 2019)
"Its unanimous decision for the first time prohibits all 50 states from imposing excessive fines, including the seizure of property, on people accused or convicted of a crime. Rarely does the court hand down a ruling of such constitutional magnitude - and seldom do all nine justices agree to restrict the power that police and prosecutors exert over individuals. The landmark decision represents a broad agreement on the Supreme Court that law enforcement’s legalized theft has gone too far."
Your phone and TV are tracking you, and political campaigns are listening in (Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2019)
"Welcome to the new frontier of campaign tech - a loosely regulated world in which simply downloading a weather app or game, connecting to Wi-Fi at a coffee shop or powering up a home router can allow a data broker to monitor your movements with ease, then compile the location information and sell it to a political candidate who can use it to surround you with messages."
Disgusted by Brexit hard-liners, three lawmakers abandon Theresa May's Conservative Party (Washington Post, February 20, 2019)
"With Britain's chaotic departure from the European Union just weeks away, three prominent lawmakers abruptly resigned Wednesday from Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party, saying the government has surrendered control to reckless, hard-line Brexiteers who are endangering the country's future. The Conservative members of Parliament who resigned will join a new 'Independent Group' of lawmakers formed earlier this week by eight legislators who quit the opposition Labour Party. The creation of a small but potentially powerful independent bloc of 11 - now composed of moderate rebels from both parties - suggests that seismic forces are at work in British politics."
'America first' increasingly looks like America alone (Los Angeles Times, February 20, 2019)
"Germany's outgoing chancellor, Angela Merkel, finally said what she thinks of President Trump. Without using Trump's name, she described his 'America first' foreign policy as one of ignoring allies and promoting nationalism - and noted that Germany tried that before World War II with catastrophic results. 'Pieces of the classic, familiar order … are falling apart,' she said. 'We cannot just smash it. We need to cooperate.' The best course, she said, is to 'stick with multilateralism - which was the lesson of the Second World War.'
The mostly European audience gave her a standing ovation. Ivanka Trump, who listened stone-faced, did not stand."
NEW: $32 to cross the Golden Gate Bridge? Settlement with Hertz puts an end to that (Los Angeles Times, February 19, 2019)
"Those who drove a Hertz rental car across the Golden Gate Bridge and then discovered that the company charged them as much as $32 for the pleasure won’t face that kind of bill anymore after a $3.65-million settlement with the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office, announced Tuesday. The suit, filed in March 2017, stemmed from the use of PlatePass, a device included in some Hertz rental cars that allows tolls to be assessed electronically. Consumers often had sticker shock when they returned the car because using one toll road triggered a use fee for each day the car was rented, not just the days on which a toll road was driven. Service fees were often added."
Google says the built-in microphone it never told Nest users about was 'never supposed to be a secret' (Business Insider, February 19, 2019)
"For Google, the revelation is particularly problematic and brings to mind previous privacy controversies, such as the 2010 incident in which the company acknowledged that its fleet of Street View cars 'accidentally' collected personal data transmitted over consumers' unsecured WiFi networks, including emails."
The Wall Street Journal argues Trump may have committed too many crimes to be investigated (Daily KOS, February 19, 2019)
"There are few sources of hypocrisy as constant and resilient as the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal. While that publication’s news division is among the world’s best, its opinion and editorial pages are nearly always drawn from the darkest cesspool of the American right wing. Their function, through careful, constant repetition, is to convince the Journal’s upscale, self-regarding readership that the American left poses a serious and mortal threat to their continued, uninterrupted accumulation of wealth."
Inside a long-shot plan to buy a never-opened nuclear plant and sell its power to a single customer (Daily Memphian, February 19, 2019)
"Employing a business model he would replicate to enormous success throughout the South, Franklin Haney convinced the government to finance his construction with tax-free bonds. As owner of the office complex, he rented it back to the government at enormous profit.
The businessman snickers as he recalls how the IRS eventually amended its rules to terminate the use of tax-free financing for private buildings leased to the government – the 'Haney Rule,' he calls it. He remains unapologetic about his uncanny vision to find profit in government work. 'If you’re not rich when you’re born you’ve got to either steal it, marry it or get a government lease.'"
The Secret Economic Genius Behind the Green New Deal. (The Atlantic, February 19, 2019)
"He’s a precocious New Yorker with immigrant roots: Alexander Hamilton."
Flynn pushed to share nuclear tech with Saudis, report says (Associated Press, February 19, 2019)
"Senior White House officials pushed a project to share nuclear power technology with Saudi Arabia despite the objections of ethics and national security officials, according to a new congressional report citing whistle-blowers within the administration. Lawmakers from both parties have expressed concerns that Saudi Arabia could develop nuclear weapons if the U.S. technology were transferred without proper safeguards.
The Democratic-led House oversight committee opened an investigation Tuesday into the claims by several unnamed whistle-blowers who said they witnessed 'abnormal acts' in the White House regarding the proposal to build dozens of nuclear reactors across the Middle Eastern kingdom. The report raises concerns about whether some in a White House marked by 'chaos, dysfunction and backbiting' sought to circumvent national security procedures to push a Saudi deal that could financially benefit close supporters of the president."
NEW: Republicans knew that Trump was being investigated as Russian agent in 2017 - and no one complained (Daily KOS, February 19, 2019)
"Congressional Republicans - including Mitch McConnell, Devin Nunes, Richard Burr, and Paul Ryan - knew that a counterintelligence operation had been opened to determine whether or not Donald Trump was an agent of the Russian government working against the interests of the United States. And none of them objected.
As shocked as Republicans are now pretending to be about the considerations that were going on inside the Justice Department, the truth is they knew as far back as early 2017 that the FBI suspected Trump of acting for a foreign power, and none of them tried to stop it. In fact, since Nunes was acting as an open conduit to the White House, it’s all but certain that Trump knew about the counter-intelligence operation within days of it being launched."
Andrew McCabe Couldn’t Believe the Things Trump Said About Putin (The Atlantic, February 19, 2019)
"The former deputy director of the FBI explains why the bureau felt obligated to investigate the president - and how the Mueller probe might end."
Ivanka Sits In Stunned Silence As Angela Merkel Shreds Daddy's Trade War With Europe (Daily KOS, February 18, 2019)
"Apparently, the American secretary of trade says German cars are a threat to America's national security. We're proud of our automotive industry, and, I think we can be, we're proud of our cars. They are built in the United States of America. South Carolina is one of the largest, it's actually the largest BMW plant. Not in Bavaria. South Carolina is supplying China.
So when these cars that, because they're built in South Carolina, are not becoming less threatening, rather than the ones that are built in Bavaria, are supposed to be a threat to the national security of America, it's a bit of a shock to us."
The Republican Party has become a cult (Daily KOS, February 18, 2019)
"One of the chief characteristics of a cult is their insistence on rejecting the research of scientists, investigative journalists and other experts, preferring to embrace the unsupported (and often illogical) proclamations of their cult leaders. Even when their cult leaders proclamations directly contradict what they said yesterday, the cult followers somehow manage to embrace the cult leaders new talking points without questioning how they could have changed so dramatically from one hour to the next."
Bring It On: Trump Flunky Lindsey Graham's Proposed Hearings Could Backfire, Proving Trump's Treason (Daily KOS, February 18, 2019)
"The hypnotic effects of cult worship have never been so clearly displayed as with Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. In short order he went from a virulent opponent of Donald Trump to his most devoted sycophant in Congress. He literally described Trump as a 'kook' who is 'crazy' and 'unfit for office.' But after chugging what must have been gallons of Kool-Aid, Graham reversed himself with those very same words in the opposite context.
Now Graham is the newly installed chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a brand new compulsion to protect Trump from any and all criticism, while slandering those he perceives as the President's foes. That puts former FBI Acting Director Andrew McCabe in Graham's crosshairs."
Lawmakers launch new probe into 'complex web' of alleged ties between NRA, Russians (ABC News, February 18, 2019)
"House Democrats are launching a new probe of what they called the 'complex web of relationships' between members of the National Rifle Association and Russian individuals with close ties to the Kremlin."
Former acting FBI director ordered Russia investigation due to 'concern of national security threat' (Daily KOS, February 18, 2019)
"What a bonkers two years the world has endured since Donald Trump landed in the White House, despite losing the popular vote by millions of votes. Who could forget James Comey releasing his extremely inappropriate letter to the public, alerting voters that the FBI was taking a fresh look at old emails from Hillary Clinton associates, emails that turned out to be a big nothing burger, while at the same time never revealing that Donald Trump’s campaign was under investigation for colluding with foreign enemy No. 1, Russia. Without a doubt, those actions impacted the 2016 election."
Ex-FBI official: 'Crime may have been committed' by Trump (Associated Press, February 18, 2019)
"Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe said in an interview that aired Sunday that a 'crime may have been committed' when President Donald Trump fired the head of the FBI and tried to publicly undermine an investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia. McCabe also said in the interview with '60 Minutes' that the FBI had good reason to open a counterintelligence investigation into whether Trump was in league with Russia, and therefore a possible national security threat, following the May 2017 firing of then-FBI Director James Comey."
Are we a democracy or are we a monarchy? (Daily KOS, February 17, 2019)
"Trump wants to get that wall. Trump needs to get that wall. And he's willing to destroy our democracy in order to do it."
Coalition of states sues Trump over national emergency to build border wall (Washington Post, February 17, 2019)
"The lawsuit, brought by 16 states, seeks a preliminary injunction that would prevent President Trump from acting on his declaration of a national emergency while the case plays out in the courts. The complaint immediately becomes the heavyweight among an outpouring of opposition to the declaration."
Mueller questions Cambridge Analytica director Brittany Kaiser (The Guardian, February 17, 2019)
"Damian Collins, chairman of UK parliament’s inquiry into fake news, said it was 'no surprise' that Kaiser was under scrutiny by Mueller because 'her work connected her to WikiLeaks, Cambridge Analytica and [its parent company] SCL, the Trump campaign, Leave.EU and Arron Banks'. He said it was now vital Britain had its own inquiry into foreign interference: 'We should not be leaving this to the Americans.'"
Republicans Hope to Sway Voters With Labels That Demonize Democrats (New York Times, February 17, 2019)
"In the 116th Congress, if you’re a Democrat, you're either a socialist, a baby killer or an anti-Semite. That, at least, is what Republicans want voters to think, as they seek to demonize Democrats well in advance of the 2020 elections by painting them as left-wing crazies who will destroy the American economy, murder newborn babies and turn a blind eye to bigotry against Jews.
The unusually aggressive assault, which Republican officials and strategists outlined in interviews last week, is meant to strangle the new Democratic majority in its infancy. It was set in motion this month by President Trump, who used his State of the Union address to rail against 'new calls to adopt socialism in our country' and mischaracterize legislation backed by Democrats in New York and Virginia as allowing 'a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments before birth.'"
Trump goes full dictator again, calls for "retribution" against Saturday Night Live (Daily KOS, February 17, 2019)
"I had to read this twice to believe it. The president of the United States has called for 'retribution' against a media outlet for daring to criticize him. Let there be no mistake about it - Trump has announced in capital letters that he does not believe in the First Amendment."
We must methodically take our wealth back from the super-rich - before it's too late (Daily KOS, February 17, 2019)
"Many think that when anyone criticizes the super rich - specifically the multimillionaires and the billionaires - that it stems from nothing more than wealth envy. While that may be true for a few who themselves were unable to attain that feat, for most it is about equity and fairness."
Pope Defrocks Theodore McCarrick, Ex-Cardinal Accused of Sexual Abuse (New York Times, February 16, 2019)
"The move appears to be the first time any cardinal has been defrocked for sexual abuse - marking a critical moment in the Vatican’s handling of a scandal that has gripped the church. It is also the first time an American cardinal has been removed from the priesthood."
Noam Chomsky: Those who failed to recognize Trump as the greater evil made ‘a bad mistake’ (Raw Story, February 16, 2019)
Democrats on ‘reassurance tour’ for European allies worried about Trump (Washington Post, February 16, 2019)
"Even Graham, a security hawk in line with McCain, has become a close ally of Trump in the past year. He has cheered on some actions - such as the national emergency declaration to try to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall - that traditionalist conservatives have rejected as a power grab.
It’s left a sense of confusion in Europe. On Friday, as he began his remarks in Munich, Vice President Pence said: 'I bring greetings' from Trump. The audience just remained silent, not cheering, not jeering.
All that has made the Democratic voices, from the chairmen to the newcomers, a sought-after commodity for understanding what course the United States is charting."
Trump’s Attempt to Circumvent Congress Leaves Uneasy Senate Republicans With Hard Choice (New York Times, February 16, 2019)
"On Friday, President Trump mounted one of the most serious executive branch challenges to congressional authority in decades, circumventing Congress with an emergency declaration. It would allow him to unilaterally divert billions of dollars to a border wall and presented his Republican allies on Capitol Hill, who labored on a legislative compromise, with the excruciating choice of either defending their institution or bowing to his whims.
The president’s move left Senate Republicans sharply divided, and it remains to be seen whether they will act collectively to try to stop Mr. Trump or how far into uncharted territory they are willing to follow a headstrong president operating with no road map beyond his own demands."
The War That Wasn’t: Trump Claims Obama Was Ready to Strike North Korea (New York Times, February 16, 2019)
"Wait a minute - don’t remember Mr. Obama’s near-war with North Korea? Neither do the people who were working for Mr. Obama at the time. But President Trump has been telling audiences lately that his predecessor was on the precipice of an all-out confrontation with the nuclear-armed maverick state."
A fuming Trump told aides to find a way to fund wall without Congress (Washington Post, February 16, 2019)
"The emergency declaration followed months of intense internal deliberations between the White House Counsel’s Office, Justice Department, Office of Management and Budget, lawmakers and the president."
NEW: Trump is finally figuring out that he's a loser (Daily KOS, February 15, 2019)
Fact-checking President Donald Trump's claims about a national emergency (Politifact, February 15, 2019)
"Highly-distorted to outright false."
Donald Trump's rambling emergency announcement was an hour of absolute insanity (Daily KOS, February 15, 2019)
"Trump stumbled out of the White House, apparently breathless and confused, and opened by fumbling around about trade negotiations in China, but had nothing really to report on those other than 'who knows' if anything would actually be done. Then he wandered around the world, talking about the UK, Syria, North Korea … anything but getting to the point. And then, without any transition, he began talking about the border, then the economy, then the stock market, then the border again. Then he smiled and chuckled over the joys of his El Paso rally, then he zigged to Israel, then he genuinely fell into his fantasy of women, 'three, four women,' being tied up in the back of a van with tape over their mouths. Yes, Trump's emergency declaration included his women-with-tape-on-their-mouths fantasy, and Trump insisted that 'Nancy knows, and Chuck knows' that these women won't be coming through ports of entry. Finally, in words that will surely ring through history, Trump declared, 'So, I’m going to be signing a national emergency, it's been signed many times before,' before going on to claim that it was no big deal, and nothing to make a fuss about."
NEW: Vital Signs: Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School Students - United States, 2011–2018 (CDC, February 15, 2019)
"Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States; nearly all tobacco product use begins during youth and young adulthood.
In 2018, 4.04 million high school students and 840,000 middle school students currently used any tobacco product; e-cigarettes were the most commonly used product. Driven by an increase in e-cigarette use, current tobacco product use significantly increased among high school and middle school students during 2017–2018, erasing the decline in tobacco product use among youths that occurred in previous years."
NEW: Weedkiller 'raises risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41%' (The Guardian, February 14, 2019)
"Study says evidence ‘supports link’ between exposure to glyphosate and increased risk."
Trump ripped his 'national emergency' move straight from the playbook of dictator Ferdinand Marcos (Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2019)
"As fellow narcissists risking constitutional showdowns for personal political advantage, their similarities are alarming enough to justify a closer look."
‘Off the rails’: Inside Trump’s attempt to claim victory in his border wall defeat (Washington Post, February 14, 2019)
"Several top White House officials said they were hoping to keep whatever emerged from Congress as a congressional product and something the president could later dismiss as inadequate as he seeks to rally his core voters for his 2020 reelection campaign, as he did Monday at a rally in El Paso. 'There's power in that,' said Marc Short, Trump’s former White House legislative affairs director. 'It's under-reported how being able to run against D.C. and Congress as an outsider helped him in 2016, and he can make that case again.'"
Trump's 'national emergency' just played the Democrats for suckers (Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2019)
Congress passes bill to avert shutdown as Trump vows to declare national emergency to build wall (Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2019)
NEW: Andrew G. McCabe: Every Day Is a New Low in Trump's White House (The Atlantic, February 14, 2019)
"The president steps over bright ethical and moral lines wherever he encounters them. Everyone in America saw it when he fired my boss. But I saw it firsthand time and time again.
People do not appreciate how far we have fallen from normal standards of presidential accountability. Today we have a president who is willing not only to comment prejudicially on criminal prosecutions but to comment on ones that potentially affect him. He does both of these things almost daily. He is not just sounding a dog whistle. He is lobbying for a result. Every day brings a new low, with the president exposing himself as a deliberate liar who will say whatever he pleases to get whatever he wants."
NEW: Fact-checking claim that Mitch McConnell's 'biggest donor' is sanctioned Russian oligarch (Politifact, February 14, 2019)
NEW: Why Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s lesson in dark money is the most-watched political video (The Guardian, February 14, 2019)
"A clip in which the congresswoman asks ethics experts about government corruption has been viewed 40 million times."
Anti-Semitism has spread through the Islamic world like a cancer (Washington Post, February 14, 2019)
"In 2014, the Anti-Defamation League did a survey in more than 100 countries of attitudes toward Jews and found that anti-Semitism was twice as common among Muslims than among Christians, and it’s far more prevalent in the Middle East than the Americas. It has sometimes tragically gone beyond feelings, morphing into terrorist attacks against Jews, even children, in countries such as France.
It might surprise people to know that it wasn’t always this way. In fact, through much of history, the Muslim Middle East was hospitable to Jews when Christian Europe was killing or expelling them. The great historian Bernard Lewis once said to me, 'People often note that in the late 1940s and 1950s, hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Arab countries. They rarely ask why so many Jews were living in those lands in the first place.'"
Beto O'Rourke's Full Speech at the February 11th Celebration of El Paso (YouTube, February 13, 2019)
"10,000 residents rally against Trump's border-wall visit."
NEW: NASA's InSight Prepares to Take Mars' Temperature (NASA, February 13, 2019)
"Equipped with a self-hammering spike, the instrument will burrow up to 16 feet (5 meters) below the surface, deeper than any previous mission to the Red Planet. For comparison, NASA's Viking 1 lander scooped 8.6 inches (22 centimeters) down. The agency's Phoenix lander, a cousin of InSight, scooped 7 inches (18 centimeters) down."
Heaviest rain, strongest wind and coldest temperature: Snow in Hawaii follows a year of extreme weather (Washington Post, February 12, 2019)
"Highlighting the state’s year of wild weather: A U.S. rainfall record, nearly 50 inches in 24 hours."
If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set. (Democratic Underground, February 12, 2019)
"In Britain, we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist. Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that. He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat. He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.
And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully. That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a sniveling sidekick, instead."
(There's more. Also see the US version.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trump is ignoring the law to keep the shutdown from causing him political pain ()Washington Post, January 15, 2019)
"In past shutdowns, more of the government ceased operating. Since the Constitution says the government can spend only money that has been appropriated by Congress, there’s only so much that can legally be done during a shutdown to mitigate harm. The government provides a wide range of important services, and when it has no funding, most of those services must stop, and the people who provide them cannot get their paychecks. The law limits what activities can continue during a shutdown: those necessary to protect life or property, to carry out the president’s core constitutional responsibilities, and to operate programs that Congress has said should continue in the absence of funding.
But Trump has shunted aside legal and programmatic considerations in favor of two imperatives: keeping bad press to a minimum and keeping influential supporters happy."
Dahr Jamail, "We Can't Undo This" (Tom Dispatch, January 15, 2019)
"Dahr Jamail’s just-published book, The End of Ice, focuses on climate change. TomDispatch author and naturalist William DeBuys has this to say about it: 'In a sane world, The End of Ice would be the end of lame excuses that climate change is too abstract to get worked up about. From the Arctic to the Amazon, from doomed Miami to the Great Barrier Reef, Dahr Jamail brings every frontier in our ongoing calamity into close focus. The losses are tangible. And so is the grief. This is more than a good book. It is a wise one.'"
NEW: Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’ (The Guardian, January 15, 2019)
"Scientist Brad Lister returned to Puerto Rican rainforest after 35 years to find 98% of ground insects had vanished."
Flowers can hear buzzing bees - and it makes their nectar sweeter. (National Geographic, January 15, 2019)
"I’d like people to understand that hearing is not only for ears."
IBM, Which Will Soon be Buying Red Hat, is Promoting Software Patents in Europe (Techrights, January 15, 2019)
This obscure company is doing more to destroy a free press in America than Trump (Philadelphia Inquirer, January 15, 2019)
"The newspaper’s shrinkage was the direct result of a distant Wall Street hedge fund that - through its investment vehicle with the Orwellian-like dishonest name of Digital First Media - had since 2013 been sucking money in full vampire-squid mode out of the Daily Camera’s newsroom revenue stream. Much of the cash that formerly paid reporters, editors and photojournalists instead went into the pocket of billionaire Randall Smith as Smith added to his collection of multi-million-dollar mansions around Palm Beach and the Hamptons (said at one point to be 18 - that’s not a typo - and counting).
For America’s news consumers, reality is probably about to get even worse. Digital First Media, a sister firm called MNG and their hedge-fund parent - the Smith-led Alden Global Capital - have launched a hostile takeover bid to gain control of America’s other biggest owner of daily newspapers, Gannett."
Why Doesn’t Donald Trump’s Cozy Relationship With Vladimir Putin Worry His Supporters? Jefferson Davis’s Treason Case Holds a Clue. (The Intercept, January 15, 2019)
(And President Andrew Johnson was a bad role model, too.)
William Barr carefully distances himself from Trump on key issues (Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2019)
NEW: Evidence-based strategies to combat scientific misinformation (Nature, January 14, 2019)
"Nowhere has the impact of scientific misinformation been more profound than on the issue of climate change in the United States. Effective responses to this multifaceted problem have been slow to develop, in large part because many experts have not only underestimated its impact, but have also overlooked the underlying institutional structure, organizational power and financial roots of misinformation. Fortunately, a growing body of sophisticated research has emerged that can help us to better understand these dynamics and provide the basis for developing a coordinated set of strategies across four related areas (public inoculation, legal strategies, political mechanisms and financial transparency) to thwart large-scale misinformation campaigns before they begin, or after they have taken root."           
'Do As I Say, Not As I Do:' Rand 'Socialized-Medicine-Is-Slavery' Paul Headed to Canada for Some Surgery (Common Dreams, January 14, 2019)
"When a 'libertarian' goes for some socialized medicine..."
Passenger gets gun through TSA checkpoint on Atlanta to Tokyo flight, two agents fired (NBC News, January 14, 2019)
"The agency said in a statement that the security breach was not due to the partial government shutdown."
NEW: It's not a shutdown as a means to an end; the shutdown is its own end. (Sarah Kendzior, January 14, 2019)
"Once again, people are relying on norms and expectations that do not apply to Trump. There is no leverage in poll numbers; this is not about the base. This is not about the wall. This is about the end. 
The GOP ideology of the 2013 shutdown -- weaken government, deem federal services unnecessary, and ultimately privatize and profit -- has merged with the kleptocratic agenda of a Russian asset who wants to not only destroy federal services, but destroy the US itself."
Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia (New York Times, January 14, 2019)
"There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years. Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States."
Even FOX News Can't Avoid How Badly the Trump Shutdown is Going Over with the American People (Daily KOS, January 14, 2019)
"At least six polls show that America blames Trump for the shutdown and opposes his exploitation of it for a stupid vanity wall. Trump is also fielding questions about whether he is a Russian asset. And it's been discovered that he has been suppressing information about his private meetings with Vladimir Putin. If Trump isn't a Russian asset, he's doing an awfully good imitation of one."
Trump, on shutdown’s 24th day, says he’s ‘not looking’ to call national emergency (Los Angeles Times, January 14, 2019)
"Speaking as he departed for New Orleans, where he will address a convention of farmers, Trump claimed of Democrats that many of them are calling and saying, ‘We agree with you,’ although he offered no names. He added, 'Many of them are calling and many of them are breaking. The Republicans are rock solid.' In reality, the Democrats have stood firm behind their leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.
Republicans, however, are showing splits. Some politically vulnerable Senate Republicans have stated publicly that they would prefer to end the shutdown and fight separately for additional border security funding, including a wall. (And remember that BOTH Chambers unanimously approved that action, before Trump vetoed it!) But hard-line conservatives tell the president that would be tantamount to accepting defeat and would disappoint his supporters."
The horrifying purpose of Special Atomic Demolition Munition units: 'We all knew it was a one-way mission, a suicide mission.' (Army Times, January 14, 2019)
"The hand-carried nukes evolved out of even smaller nuclear weapons that had been developed in the 1950s. Those included the Davy Crockett nuclear warheads that could be fired from bazookas and even recoilless rifles. The problem was, the blast range was larger than the trajectory."
Donald Trump, the Kremlin and the ghost of Alger Hiss (Spectator USA, January 14, 2019)
"The anti-Trump 'Resistance' ought to prepare itself for disappointment, since the unclassified version of the Mueller report will be lacking in detail."
NEW: Trump's call-in to Fox News backfires, and he may have committed a felony in the process (Daily KOS, January 14, 2019)
Ajit Pai Refuses to Brief Congress About Why Bounty Hunters Can Buy Cell Phone Location Data (Vice, January 14, 2019)
"The Chairman's staff said the selling of location data is not a 'threat to the safety of human life or property that the FCC will address during the Trump shutdown.'"
Judge blocks Trump birth control rules in 13 states and D.C. (NBC News, January 13, 2019)
"The new rules, allowing more employers to opt out of providing free birth control under Obamacare, are set to take effect elsewhere on Monday."
Federal worker with diabetes says she can’t afford to pay for insulin during shutdown (The Hill, January 13, 2019)
Trump concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration (Washington Post, January 13, 2019)
"The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries. As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference."
Mueller investigation isn't only probing Trump's role as a conspirator, but as a closet Chekist (Daily KOS, January 12, 2019)
All signs point the same way: Vladimir Putin has compromising information on Donald Trump (USA Today, January 13, 2019)
"The existence of the counterintelligence investigation is not a scandal. Indeed, it would be scandal if we had found out today that the FBI had not launched an investigation. Trump’s behavior regarding Russia has always presented a serious security concern. But when Trump fires the director of the FBI, and then brags about it to actual Russians, only the most stupid or craven law enforcement agency would decline to investigate what to any counterintelligence officer would be the brightest of dozens of flashing red lights."
'This is the biggest political story ever' - experts react to the Trump-Russia FBI investigation (Daily KOS, January 12, 2019)
NEW: Cambridge Analytica, DARPA , Watson = Political Psyops (Karol Cummins, January 12, 2019)
"We will learn a great deal when the indictments fall on the witting American assets who conspired with RU to psyops/influence USA & EU voters with military precision. Here are a few clues."
How Trump’s border wall would fit with previous national emergency declarations (Washington Post, January 12, 2019)
"Trump has said repeatedly that he has the power to declare the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border a national emergency, calling the law '100 percent on my side.' But with the number of apprehensions far down from 2000, he may have a difficult time making that justification politically."
National park visitors cut down protected Joshua trees during partial government shutdown (CNN, January 12, 2019)
D.C. Laughing Because WH Water Bill Past Due, Trump Plans To Mis-Appropriate Funds To Build Wall (Daily KOS, January 12, 2019)
"Seeing the knowledge level demonstrated by White House staff, in this case Kellyanne Conway, I am thankful that she is pushing that the emergency escape hatch for the Republicans of Donald taking control of the budget. One has to wonder if she is aware that declaring a National Emergency immediately allows the House to vote as to the legitimacy of the 'Emergency' and should they declare it a Phony Emergency, the Senate MUST hold a vote of the House’s action? No refusal to bring it to the floor of the Senate or hide it in a committee. ​​​​​​​That’s not my definition of a escape hatch, more likely giving us even more fodder for 2020 knowing each and everyone one of them MUST show whether this is legit.
Don isn’t mentally ill. He is an Adderall drug addict and been one for a long time. What we are seeing is the advanced stages of Illegal (snorting) Adderall use. Megalomania. Irrationality. Self delusion. Persecution complex. Detachment from reality. Unable to control self. Reacting emotionally. Unable to focus. Nuts."
TSA workers can expect a paycheck this week as their boss gives them a bonus (Washington Post, January 12, 2019)
Air traffic controllers sue Trump for being forced to work with no pay (Washington Post, January 11, 2019)
Trump sold $35 million in real estate in 2018 - over half came from a deal requiring HUD approval (Daily KOS, January 11, 2019)
Trump administration official knows what women need: magic semen and life at home with the kids (Daily KOS, January 11, 2019)
One day our sun will solidify into a giant crystal orb (Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2019)
Will the Media Be Trump's Accomplice Again in 2020? (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
"We have a second chance. Let’s not blow it."
If Trump declares a national emergency, Nancy Pelosi can immediately force a vote on rolling it back (Daily KOS, January 11, 2019)
"As soon as Trump declares an emergency, Nancy Pelosi can force a vote over whether or not that emergency continues."
Trump prepares to declare a unitary government, as Republicans cheer him on (Daily KOS, January 11, 2019)
"When the executive wants something and can’t get it through Congress, the answer is … no. You don’t get it. When President Obama was negotiating for health care, it took repeated, drastic compromises and counter offers to secure the bare majority that saw the Affordable Care Act go through on a narrow majority. At no point did Obama say, 'Screw this, the public option is so vital, I’m going to declare a national emergency and just implement it anyway.' And he could have. Health care represented a much, much, much larger problem than anything that’s happening on the southern border. So does the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. So do any number of other issues. Republicans aren’t just opening the door to Trump bypassing Congress to get his wall; they’re making it clear that he always has an out. That Congress is not allowed to say no to Trump."
Voters to Trump: Knock it off (Washington Post, January 11, 2019)
"Polling continues to show the shutdown is a loser with voters, and Trump is to blame. A new NPR/Ipsos polls tells us that three-quarters of Americans say the government shutdown, now tied for the longest in U.S. history, is 'embarrassing for the country,' including a majority of Republicans. . . . [and] about 7 in 10 in the NPR/Ipsos poll also say the government shutdown is going to hurt the country, that it will hurt the economy and that Congress should pass a bill to reopen the government now while budget talks continue. Contrary to Trump’s strategy, 'Just 3 in 10 believe the government should remain closed until there is funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.'"
F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.
The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice. Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. But the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.
The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, took over the inquiry into Mr. Trump when he was appointed, days after F.B.I. officials opened it. That inquiry is part of Mr. Mueller’s broader examination of how Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with them.
Fact Check of the Day: The Many Ways Trump Has Said Mexico Will Pay for the Wall (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
T.S.A. Agents Refuse to Work During Shutdown, Raising Fears of Airport Turmoil (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
Trump's Shutdown could cost the economy $13 billion a month (MSN, January 11, 2019)
1958 TV Show Had Conman ‘Trump’ Selling Mystical ‘Wall’ To Hysterical Townspeople (Talking Points Memo, January 10, 2019)
FBI Agents Complain To Trump That Shutdown Undermines The Bureau - Maybe That's The Plan? (Daily KOS, January 10, 2019)
Air traffic controllers get their first shutdown pay stub: $0.00 (Washington Post, January 10, 2019)
(We're glad we flew home cross-country early this week!)
Trump’s ‘forrest’ mismanagement threats are as disturbingly uninformed as they are authoritarian (Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2019)
EPA backs down from plan that could have allowed youth farmworkers to handle pesticides (Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2019)
Trump could take billions from disaster areas to fund wall (NBC News, January 10, 2019)
"Under the proposal, Trump could dip into money set aside to fund civil works projects all over the country including storm-damaged areas of Puerto Rico.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., said the Democrats would fight 'with every ounce of energy we have' to stop the president from using Army Corps funds to build a southern border wall. 'It would be beyond appalling for the president to take money from places like P