MONEY IS NOT WEALTH
by A. Richard
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
two-step) public welfare program for wealthy people who
game the system. But the problem remains.
What, exactly, went - and continues to go - wrong? What ARE
reasonable goals, what are NOT, and how might a more populist
government reach good ones?
Jill and I searched, asked friends, and found part of the
discussion in the mainline U.S. Press. It is dominated by large
corporations, and is quickly becoming
a large corporation that reports with bias and too-often avoids
reporting. We find the parts they don't want us to find -
overseas, in The New York
Times and The
Washington Post, and in the Alternative Press. Some favorites are: Alternet,
Campaign for America's
KOS, Demand Progress,
The Huffington Post,
Nation of Change,
Dan Rather's News&Guts, Politico, The Raw Story,
Russ Baker's WhoWhatWhy.org.
But we keep a sense of perspective; know which news is
biased, and how.
The more we read, the more we realize that - as much as we
want our money back - that is only one of many ways our country
is becoming impoverished. Often by corporations, which most
definitely are NOT people! (For one thing, these rapacious
corporations have no shame.)
You never want a serious
crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that, is an opportunity to
do things that you think you could not do before.
- Rahm Emanuel (Wall
Street Journal Weekend Interview, Nov. 7, 2008)
Never waste the opportunities
offered by a good crisis.
- Niccolo Machiavelli (Fifteenth Cent. Florentine
writer and statesman)
Yes, as through this world
I've seen lots of funny
Some will rob you with a
And some with a
And as through your life
Yes, as through your
life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from
- Woody Guthrie, Dust
What is the robbing of a
bank compared to the founding of a bank?
- Bertolt Brecht
Yes, We're Corrupt.
List of Politicians Admitting That Money Controls Politics
Too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and
consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one
does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning
things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for
- Jimmy Carter (1979, as U.S. President)
It is not particularly
easy for one to climb up out of the working-class - especially
if he is handicapped by the possession of ideals and
- What Life
Means to Me, by Jack London (1905)
... peace was not in the
interest of a stable society, that even if lasting peace
"could be achieved, it would almost certainly not be in the
best interests of society to achieve it." War was a part of
the economy. Therefore, it was necessary to conceive a state
of war for a stable economy. The government, the group
theorized, would not exist without war, and nation states
existed in order to wage war. War served the vital function of
diverting collective aggression. They recommended "credible
substitutes" and paying a "blood price" to emulate the
economic functions of war. Prospective government-devised
alternatives to war included reports of alien life-forms, the
reintroduction of a "euphemized form" of slavery "consistent
with modern technology and political processes", and - one
deemed particularly promising in gaining the attention of the
malleable masses - the threat of "gross pollution of the
- Wikipedia's summary of The
Report From Iron Mountain (1967)
Every gun that is made,
every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the
final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed,
those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is
not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its
laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its
children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.
Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of
- U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower (April 16, 1953)
There is nothing which I
dread so much as a division of the republic into two great
parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting
measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble
apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil
under our Constitution.
- John Adams, letter to Jonathan Jackson (2 October 1780), The
Works of John Adams, vol 9, p.511.
I see in the near future a crisis
approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for
the safety of my country. As a result of war, corporations
have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places
will follow, and the money power of the country will
endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices
of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands,
and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more
anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even
in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove
-- President Abraham
Lincoln (1864 letter to William Fletcher Elkin), or faked in Caldwell Remedy Company pamphlet (May 10, 1888),
What is this you call
property? It cannot be the earth. For the land is our mother,
nourishing all her children, beasts, birds, fish, and all men.
The woods, the streams, everything on it belongs to everybody
and is for the use of all. How can one man say it belongs to
Only when the last tree
has been cut down, only when the last river has been poisoned,
only when the last fish has been caught, only then will you
realize your money cannot be eaten.
- an old Cree saying? Maybe
not; but good.
The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people
tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it
becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in
its essence, is fascism.
- U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1938
Train communities through all their grades, beginning
with individuals and ending there again, to rule themselves.
This planet has -- or rather
had -- a problem, which was this: most of the people living on
it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were
suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely
concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper,
which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green
pieces of paper that were unhappy.
- Walt Whitman
- Douglas Adams, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (1979)
Fragile States Index (Fund For Peace)
National Debt Clock, by Ed Hall
The Freecycle Network (Good. A grassroots and
entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting)
stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. It's all
about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.)
Time Trade Circle
(Good. Time Banking in eastern Massachusetts.)
Buy Nothing Project
(See its Person-to-Person
section - on Facebook - and then see Corporate
Surveillance in Everyday Life , below).
of a Liberal (NY Times blog by Paul Krugman)
To Build A Better Ballot;
an interactive guide to alternative voting systems, by
Nicky Case, 2016)
for America's Future)
Thought Reform, (ca. 1997; Changing Minds)
"Milieu control, mystical manipulation, confession,
self-sanctification through purity, aura of sacred science,
loaded language, doctrine over person, dispensed existence."
Strange Disappearance of Cooperation in America, by Peter
Turchin (Cliodynamica, 2013)
Surveillance in Everyday Life (Institute for
Critical Digital Culture, 2018)
"Every click on a website and every swipe on a
smartphone may trigger a wide variety of hidden
data sharing mechanisms distributed across several
companies and, as a result, directly affect a
person’s available choices. Digital tracking and
profiling, in combination with personalization,
are not only used to monitor, but also to influence
peoples’ behavior. ...
"Facebook uses at least 52,000 personal attributes to
sort and categorize its 1.9 billion users by,
for example, their political views, ethnicity, and
income. In order to do so, the platform
analyzes their posts, likes, shares, friends, photos,
movements, and many other kinds of behaviors.
"In addition, Facebook acquires data on its users from
other companies. In 2013, the platform
began its partnership with the four data brokers
Acxiom, Epsilon, Datalogix and BlueKai, the latter
two of which were subsequently acquired by the IT
giant Oracle. These companies help Facebook track
and profile its users even better than it already does
by providing it with data collected from
beyond its platform."
Us Cure Online Publishing of Its Addiction to
Personal Data, by Doc Searls (Linux Journal,
March 14, 2018)
Big Datastillery that targets YOU)
Official: Watching Fox Makes You Stupider (The Nation,
True Facts Guaranteed to Short-Circuit Republican Brains
(Daily KOS, 2012)
Grief, and Ours: Paul Ryan's nasty ideal of self-reliance
(New Republic, 2012)
All Built This Great Nation Together: Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan, and
the Myth of Radical Individualism (Nick Gier)
Foul Reigh Of Emerson's "Self-Reliance" (New York Times,
Death Of God, by Friedrich Nietzsche (1885)
my religion for equality (Jimmy Carter, 2009)
"The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still
have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or
subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends,
overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice
provides the foundation or justification for much of the
pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.
This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the
Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of
other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and
equitable treatment of all the children of God."
What It Was For; What Went Wrong; How To Fix It, by
Populism (Campaign for America's Future, 2014)
Republicans: The Non-Cooperator's Dilemma (Daily KOS,
"To create More and Better Democrats means to increase
cooperation. Punishing cooperation is the declared Republican
mission. 'The Evolution of Cooperation', by Robert Axelrod,
proposes a theory that says they lose, and recommends particular
political strategies to make it happen faster."
and Libertarianism, by David Niose
Climate Opinion Maps, U.S. 2016
of the First 15 Years of the 21st Century (4-min. video;
NOAA, December 2, 2016)
Are Pro-Testing (Science, 2017)
World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income? (Freakonomics,
Gerasimov Doctrine (Politico, 2017)
"It’s Russia’s new chaos theory of political warfare. And it’s
probably being used on you."
All Want Healthcare To Cost Much Less - But We Are Asking
The Wrong Question, by Joe Flowers (Medium, 2017)
"Imagine this: Healthcare - the whole system - for half as
much. Better, more effective. No rationing. Everybody in."
Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International
Comparisons Suggest An Answer. (New York Times,
November 7, 2017)
White House Staffer
GOP Rape Advisory
Loneliness of Donald Trump; On the Corrosive Privilege of the
Most Mocked Man in the World, by Rebecca Solnit
Vote Sleuth: Investigating
Democracyngeles Times, 2017)
Donald Trump is handling his job as president (Gallup
Poll Daily Data)
am I? Why am I here?" (#25thAmendmentNow)
thread of Trump not knowing where he is, how he got there, or
the appropriate response to give in the moment."
101: Here's what you need to know (Los Angeles Times,
Duty To Warn (Duty
To Warn, 2017)
"Duty To Warn is an association of mental health professionals
and other concerned citizens who advocate Trump’s removal
under the 25th Amendment on the grounds that he is
way Donald Trump is handling his job as president
(Gallup Poll Daily Data)
am I? Why am I here?" (#25thAmendmentNow)
thread of Trump not knowing where he is, how he got there, or
the appropriate response to give in the moment. Some mental
health professionals are concerned that he may be exhibiting
signs of Alzheimer's, but he might just be an idiot."
Hamilton 68 Dashboard tracks Russian
influence operations on Twitter.
(Hosted by the Alliance
for Securing Democracy.)
Facebook’s destructive ethos
imperils democracy (The
Guardian, March 17, 2018)
Of Utopias (Transformative
SCORECARD; Congressional Civil
Liberties Record in the Trump Era
The percentage of women and men in
each profession (Boston Globe)
bans in private vehicles
Cycles, by Quinn
"If the US has
will look back
on as the
make the Obama
as he possibly
could. As with
the US has
than in the
and his tactic
to a narrow
may lead to
check on the
as well as the
of 2018 and
2020 will be
erosion of an
judiciary as a
of a free
press and the
either has won
poised to win
created a new
of his closest
the form of
Fox News and
media not only
ability to be
a serial liar
his base. A
does not have
it can be
women and the
in the United
States in 2017
(ADL Center on
"Over the past
for at least
of these, 274
one type or
Hate: A Year
May 7, 2018)
The Future Of Electric Cars
that future is
country is on
track to sell
more than 1
as much as the
rest of the
with tens of
build up an
(and tens of
on the way),
China is not
letting up in
its pace to
Great Filter -
a cave wall,
crumbs from a
meal: the new
of the Real
"If the FBI
and Dept. of
our mission to
"On a daily
page with the
Since The Last
Signs Of The
Up the Carbon
country has a
It’s time for
and a renewed
Court dismisses challenge to findings of racial
gerrymandering in Virginia districts (Washington Post,
June 17, 2019)
"The decision could give an advantage to the state’s
Democrats. All 140 seats in the state legislature are on the
ballot this fall, and the GOP holds two-seat majorities in
both the House and the Senate."
still have questions about whether Russia meddled in North
Carolina. That’s a bad sign. (Washington Post, June 17, 2019)
campaign cutting ties with three members of polling team
after grim numbers leaked (Washington Post, June 17, 2019)
"Privately, the president was livid that the numbers leaked
out, according to White House and campaign officials. 'He is
madder that the numbers are out than that the numbers exist,'
said one senior administration official.
Trump’s 'kill the messenger' strategy in response to the
leaked polling data reflects his desire to show strength at
all times, even in the face of less-than-favorable news from
within his own campaign. On Monday morning, Trump seemingly
continued to deny the authenticity of the numbers."
lost an escape route. SCOTUS: States & Feds can
prosecute for similar behavior. (Daily KOS, June 17,
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
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
Democrats shine: Bernie on the meaning of freedom, Warren
on the wealth gap, and more (Daily KOS, June 15, 2019)
makes it clear he can't speak under oath because he just
can't stop lying (Daily KOS, June 14, 2019)
"Lying is what Donald Trump does. And in his ABC interview
Thursday, Trump admitted straight up that that’s why he didn’t
want to answer questions for Robert Mueller.
'If you answer these questions to me now,' asked host George
Stephanopoulos, 'why not answer them to Robert Mueller under
'Because they were looking to get us for lies or slight
misstatements,' replied Trump. 'I looked at what happened to
people, and it was very unfair. Very, very unfair. Very
Trump could not have laid it out more neatly: It’s just dandy
to lie to the public and the press because … what are they
going to do about it? But lying under oath has consequences.
So he won’t speak under oath."
may review Trump hotel's liquor license over challenge to
President's 'good character' (CNN, June 14, 2019)
"An attorney who is representing the group challenging the
license renewal told CNN on Friday that the board's order is
'a solid victory for the rule of law. Despite Trump's efforts
to silence the public and hold himself above the law, the
board correctly denied his motion to dismiss and found that
the public can protest the owner's character on renewal of
their liquor license.'"
Donald Trump says it 'doesn't matter' what former White
House counsel Don McGahn told Mueller (ABC News, June 14, 2019)
Trump’s internal polling data from March showed him far
behind Joe Biden in key battleground states (ABC News,
June 14, 2019)
Object’ Struck Tanker in Gulf of Oman, Operator Says, Not a
Mine (New York Times, June 14, 2019)
rejects Iran’s denials that it attacked tankers, citing
video released by US Central Command (Washington Post,
June 14, 2019)
"President Trump cited a video released by the U.S. military
that it said showed Iranian vessels retrieving a mine from one
of the damaged ships. Earlier, Iran accused the Trump
administration of sabotage and 'economic terrorism.'"
We're not killing ad blockers. Translation: We made them too
powerful, we'll cram this genie back in its bottle (The Register, June 13, 2019)
"We want to make Chrome safer... by taking away the API we
used to race Firefox."
Cyberattack Hits Telegram, App Used by Hong Kong Protesters
(New York Times, June
"A network of computers in China bombarded Telegram, a secure
messaging app used by many of the protesters, with a huge
volume of traffic that disrupted service. The app’s founder,
Pavel Durov, said the attack coincided with the Hong Kong
protests, a phenomenon that Telegram had seen before.
The Hong Kong police made their own move to limit digital
communications. On Tuesday night, as demonstrators gathered
near Hong Kong’s legislative building, the authorities
arrested the administrator of a Telegram chat group with
20,000 members, even though he was at his home miles from the
protest site. 'I never thought that just speaking on the
internet, just sharing information, could be regarded as a
speech crime,' the chat leader, Ivan Ip, 22, said in an
Past the tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray, the Hong
Kong protests are also unfolding on a largely invisible,
digital front. Protesters and police officers alike have
brought a new technological savvy to the standoff.
Demonstrators are using today’s networking tools to muster
their ranks, share safety tips and organize caches of food and
water, even as they take steps to hide their identities.
The Hong Kong authorities are responding by tracking the
protesters in the digital places where they plan their moves,
suggesting they are taking cues from the ways China polices
businesses paying even less than expected under GOP tax law
(Politico, June 13, 2019)
"Though profits remain up and the economy is strong, total
corporate taxes are at the lowest levels seen in more than 50
McConnell, Too, Welcomes Russian Interference (New York
Times, June 13, 2019)
"Or at least he won’t let Congress do anything to stop it."
in the country should be totally appalled' by Trump comments
on foreign interference: Pelosi (ABC News, June 13, 2019)
claimed he’s never called the FBI. He has - when he wanted
its help. (Washington Post, June 13, 2019)
"'You don’t call the FBI,' Trump said. 'Life doesn’t work that
way.' Except it did for Trump."
think I’d take it': In exclusive interview, Trump says he
would listen if foreigners offered dirt on opponents
(ABC News, June 12, 2019)
"President Donald Trump may not alert the FBI if foreign
governments offered damaging information against his 2020
rivals during the upcoming presidential race, he said, despite
the deluge of investigations stemming from his campaign's
interactions with Russians during the 2016 campaign. Trump
disputed the idea that if a foreign government provided
information on a political opponent, it would be considered
interference in our election process."
AI researchers race to detect ‘deepfake’ videos: ‘We are
outgunned’ (Washington Post, June 12, 2019)
"The threat of deepfakes, named for the 'deep learning' AI
techniques used to create them, has become a personal one on
Capitol Hill, where lawmakers believe the videos could
threaten national security, the voting process - and,
potentially, their reputations. The House Intelligence
Committee will hold a hearing Thursday in which AI experts are
expected to discuss how deepfakes could evade detection and
leave an 'enduring psychological impact.' Rep. Adam B. Schiff
(D-Calif.), who chairs the committee, said Thursday, 'I don’t
think we’re well prepared at all. And I don’t think the public
is aware of what’s coming.'
A disinformation campaign using deepfake videos probably would
catch fire because of the reward structure of the modern Web,
in which shocking material drives bigger audiences - and can
spread further and faster than the truth."
Read 150 Privacy Policies. They Were an Incomprehensible
Disaster. (New York Times, June 12, 2019)
"Most privacy policies are verbose and full of legal jargon -
and opaquely establish companies’ justifications for
collecting and selling your data. The data market has become
the engine of the internet, and these privacy policies we
agree to but don't fully understand help fuel it."
machine password leak in North Carolina grows murkier the
more we learn (Daily KOS, June 11, 2019)
"Hopefully, the silver lining to this incident’s dark cloud
will prove to be the shaming of DHS into upping its game
(which is my personal interest in reporting this story).
Because if DHS isn’t at least as good as Vickery at finding
the chinks in our electoral armor, it sure as hell isn’t as
good as Russia’s GRU.
Perhaps DHS and the state Board of Elections might even
consider enlisting Vickery’s help, rather than vilifying his
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
to break up Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple get louder
(CNet, June 11, 2019)
"Regulators are gearing up to investigate Big Tech. But are
breakups of these companies on the horizon?"
Cash That Powered Silicon Valley Is Suddenly Toxic (Wall
Street Journal, June 11, 2019)
"As U.S. startups reject their money, Chinese venture-capital
firms in U.S. are dialing back investments, structuring deals
to avoid regulators or shutting down."
laundering and crypto-coin legislation could hurt
open-source ecosystem – activists (The Register, June
"Rights groups slam UK.gov's customer due diligence plans."
Cared About His Campaign Spending When It Was His Money -
Not Anymore (New York Magazine, June 11, 2019)
"For his 2020 bid, Trump is eagerly taking advantage of the
big donors he once scorned. Super-PACs, which he’s called a
'scam' and 'very unfair,' are now supporting him with hundreds
of millions of dollars. And his campaign has collected gobs of
cash, bringing in $30 million in the first quarter of 2019.
The shift in how the money has come in is also affecting how
it’s going out. In 2016, Trump had a skeleton staff and
routinely stiffed vendors, including a group of little girls
who sang at his rallies. But that’s when he was spending his
own money. Now he’s spending other people’s money, and
according to the New York Times, he doesn’t care where it
It’s not surprising that Trump, who managed to convince
millions of people that he could spend Mexico’s money on a
border wall, is careless with money that isn’t his. He’s
openly eager to spend other people’s money, as he admitted on
the campaign trail in 2016. 'It’s called OPM. I do that all
the time in business,' he said. 'It’s called other people’s
money. There’s nothing like doing things with other people’s
Presidential Debates Could Reignite Warren-Biden Bankruptcy
Fight (National Public Radio, June 11, 2019)
"Warren advised Hillary Clinton to vote against the bankruptcy
bill that Joe Biden supported, and talked about her
disappointment in a 2004 interview with journalist Bill
WARREN: She voted in favor of it.
WARREN: As Sen. Clinton, the pressures are
very different. It's a well-financed industry. You know, a lot
of people don't realize that the industry that gave the most
money to Washington over the past few years was not the oil
industry. It was not pharmaceuticals. It was consumer credit
products. Credit card companies have been giving money, and
they have influence.
MOYERS: And Mrs. Clinton was one of them as
WARREN: She has taken money from the
groups, and more to the point, she worries about them as a
'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.'"
border cops confirm: Maker of America's license-plate,
driver recognition tech hacked, camera images swiped (The Register, June 10, 2019)
"That story we broke in May? It is still true – and perhaps
even worse than first thought."
raising axe for 'significant workforce balancing in Europe',
says staffer rep council (The Register, June 10, 2019)
"GTS to shoulder third of cuts, with UK and DACH hit hardest."
White House counsel Dean describes parallels between Trump
and Nixon (Washington Post, June 10, 2019)
"'In many ways the Mueller report is to President Trump what
the so-called Watergate roadmap … was to President Richard
Nixon,' said Dean, whose congressional testimony in 1973
ultimately led to the resignation of Nixon. 'Special counsel
Mueller has provided this committee with a roadmap.' Dean
highlighted similarities he saw between the two presidents,
particularly on the matter of pardons and whether they were
used to obstruct justice. Mueller identified 10 potential
cases of obstruction of justice by Trump in his report."
denies Trump's claim of secret concessions in deal
(CTPost, June 10, 2019)
needs some victories’: Trump lashes out over his Mexico
deal (Politico, June 10, 2019)
"As Trump's presidency reaches the 2.5-year mark, he is more
aggrieved than ever, telling advisers that he believes he’ll
never get fair treatment."
Needs a Target to Stay Interested in His Campaign. For
Now, It’s Biden. (New York Times, June 10, 2019)
"After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll
conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump
told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him
trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win,
even though he is also trailing in public polls from key
states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And when
top-line details of the polling leaked, including numbers
showing the president lagging in a cluster of critical Rust
Belt states, Mr. Trump instructed aides to say publicly that
other data showed him doing well."
latest rage-threat gives Democrats a big opening. One just
took it. (Washington
Post, June 10, 2019)
"Beto O’Rourke used this situation as a window into a much
broader indictment of Trump’s nationalist agenda. He stressed
that the threat of tariffs against Mexico is only serving to
'jeopardize' our 'most important trading relationship'; that
this places at risk markets that our farmers have cultivated;
and that they are already taking a beating from Trump’s trade
wars with China. Importantly, O’Rourke made the case that
precisely the opposite approach - strengthened, reality-based
international integration - is the answer both on trade and on
immigration. O’Rourke called for trade arrangements in
farmers’ and workers’ interests and for increased investments
in Central America 'to ensure that no family has to make that
peddle grotesque abortion-slavery comparison (Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
"State-sanctioned slavery justified by a dogma of religious
paternalism is a monstrous crime unequaled in American
history. All of which is why analogizing any political
controversy to slavery isn’t merely wrong, but obscene.
Nevertheless, today’s Republicans routinely compare slavery to
Obamacare, gun control, the national debt, the social safety
net, and just about any other political development they hate.
And as their wave of draconian bans in Georgia, Ohio, Alabama,
Missouri and other states shows, the Republicans equation of
abortion to slavery is the most insidious of them of all."
administration denied requests to fly pride flags. These
U.S. embassies are still flying them (Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
"The Trump administration has made big changes in the way it
is approaching pride. Last year, Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo made the approval process a whole lot harder. In past
years, embassy staffers could submit their requests directly
to the ambassador, who could approve them. Under Pompeo’s
rules, every embassy has to submit requests to fly the pride
flag to the State Department.
This year, the State Department rejected every single
Crisis Comes Home to Roost in the Midwest (Daily KOS,
June 9, 2019)
"As of June 2 only 33 percent of Ohio’s corn acreage and 18
percent of the state’s soybean acreage had been planted. By
this time of year, at least 90 percent of corn should have
been planted, and 79 percent of soybeans should have been
planted. And that’s based only on the most recent five-year
average. Years ago, plantings were made much earlier in the
hate machine: bot nation threatens our national discourse
(Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
"While 2016 is behind us, the work on behalf of bot networks
for 2020 is already underway, and so is the influence that
bot networks have on our political discussions. Despite
Donald Trump’s pronouncements, the overwhelming majority of
fake news shares, according to studies, were conservative.
How much impact these bot networks have through faked
articles and shared content is difficult to say, but the
bans at Facebook hint that much bigger problems may be
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have
fought hard against any real oversight of how their
businesses may be manipulated by armies of imaginary
accounts. It is time for the U.S. House to begin asking
serious questions of Facebook and Twitter, about their
advertisement policies, reporting policies, data services,
and what plans, if any, they have to prevent online hordes
from overwhelming any real discussion of issues in 2020."
Cain was a college dropout looking for direction. He
turned to YouTube. (New York Times, June 8, 2019)
"Mr. Cain, 26, recently swore off the alt-right nearly five
years after discovering it, and has become a vocal critic of
the movement. He is scarred by his experience of being
radicalized by what he calls a 'decentralized cult' of
far-right YouTube personalities, who convinced him that
Western civilization was under threat from Muslim immigrants
and cultural Marxists, that innate I.Q. differences
explained racial disparities, and that feminism was a
dangerous ideology. 'I just kept falling deeper and deeper
into this, and it appealed to me because it made me feel a
sense of belonging,' he said. 'I was brainwashed.'
YouTube has inadvertently created a dangerous on-ramp to
extremism by combining two things: a business model that
rewards provocative videos with exposure and advertising
dollars, and an algorithm that guides users down
personalized paths meant to keep them glued to their
Linux Foundation in 2019: Over 100 Million Dollars in
Income, But Cannot Maintain Linux.com? (TechRights, June
"The Linux Foundation isn’t what it seems; it isn’t even what
it’s called. Our readers and guests often urge us to
investigate further, getting to the bottom of what goes on at
this relatively secretive nonprofit. Without going too deep
into the 2017 IRS filing, one can easily see that it’s not a
nonprofit and it’s totally out of control. It’s more like a
corporate PAC or pressure group. There are aspects to it that
we weren’t aware of before. And readers be forewarned… it’s
not pretty, to say the least."
of Alabama robs students of $26.5 million because the donor
spoke out for women's rights (Daily KOS, June 8, 2019)
"Culverhouse said, 'My love for Alabama is exactly why I was
so horrified to watch its lawmakers trample over the
Constitution last month. The ban on abortion they passed
wasn’t just an attack against women, it was an affront to the
rule of law itself. Part of being an American is engaging in
public debate, and we can disagree over this issue. But the
courts settled this matter a long time ago: Abortion is legal.
So it was shocking to see legislators ignore this and pass a
bill that turned women and health professionals into
criminals, and it felt important to say so publicly.'
But the punishment that Culverhouse is getting for this is …
no punishment at all. He’s getting his money back. The people
being punished are the University of Alabama students who are
being deprived of the facilities and staff that money would
have supported; the students who will now have to open their
own wallets, or take out more loans, to make up the
Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump (New
York Times, June 7, 2019)
"A New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law
School, Columbia Law School and other sources, counts more
than 80 environmental rules and regulations on the way out
under Mr. Trump. Our list represents two types of policy
changes: rules that were officially reversed and rollbacks
still in progress. The Trump administration has released an
aggressive schedule to try to finalize many of these rollbacks
All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks
could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead
to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality every year,
according to a recent report prepared by New York University
Law School's State Energy and Environmental Impact Center."
Climate Rebellion Inside Amazon (Huffington Post, June
"'It’s so easy to just say, oh, we’re building some new solar
panels here, but at the same time we haven’t actually reduced
our emissions,' said an Amazon engineer."
to put $500M into closing all remaining coal plants by 2030
(CBS News, June 7, 2019)
"Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is plunging $500
million into an effort to close all of the nation's remaining
coal plants by 2030 and put the United States on track toward
a 100% clean energy economy. The billionaire Bloomberg's
investment in the Beyond Carbon initiative marks the largest
ever philanthropic effort to combat climate change, according
to the mayor's foundation. The organization will bypass the
federal government and instead seek to pass climate and clean
energy policies, as well as back political candidates, at the
state and local level.
'We're in a race against time with climate change, and yet
there is virtually no hope of bold federal action on this
issue for at least another two years. Mother Nature is not
waiting on our political calendar, and neither can we,'
life Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr. launches climate change
coalition to clean up the world with technology (Good
Morning America, June 5, 2019)
"Downey's new venture, called the Footprint Coalition, will
launch in April 2020. 'Between robotics and nanotechnology, we
could clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10
years,' Downey said."
say they'll lose nearly $1 trillion to climate change (CBS News, June 5, 2019)
"215 of the world's largest companies predict they stand to
lose $970 billion to climate-change-related disruptions over
the next seven years. Risks include paying more for insurance,
writing off facilities in threatened locations and customers
shifting to more environmentally friendly companies. The same
companies say they could make $2 trillion from adapting to
worker shortages would be even worse without immigrants
(Washington Post, June 5, 2019)
"The study finds more than one-fourth of direct care workers
and 30.3 percent of nursing home housekeeping and maintenance
workers are immigrants, underscoring their key role as the
U.S. population ages. They make up 18.2 percent of the total
health-care workforce at more than 3 million people."
vendor may have opened a gap for hackers in 2016 swing
state (Politico, June 5, 2019)
"A Florida election software company targeted by Russians in
2016 inadvertently opened a potential pathway for hackers to
tamper with voter records in North Carolina on the eve of
the presidential election, according to a document reviewed
by Politico and a person with knowledge of the episode. VR
Systems, based in Tallahassee but with customers in eight
states, used what’s known as remote-access software to
connect for several hours to a central computer in Durham
County, N.C., to troubleshoot problems with the company's
voter list management tool, the person said. The software
distributes voter lists to so-called electronic poll books,
which poll workers use to check in voters and verify their
eligibility to cast a ballot.
Last year, top voting machine maker Election Systems &
Software admitted that for years it had installed and used
remote access software on election-management systems it
sold to counties, after initially denying it.
Election-management systems are even more critical to
elections because they are used first to program voting
machines and then to tally the results. The revelation about
VR Systems, however, indicates that the practice of remotely
accessing critical election infrastructure is more
widespread than previously believed."
Linux Foundation Fires All Staff and Editors at Linux.com.
Future Uncertain. (TechRights, June 5, 2019)
"Carla Schroder, author, former editor of Linux Today and so
many other things (also a technical writer in Linux.com) spoke
out less than an hour ago in response to our article about the
Linux Foundation. In her own words, 'The Linux Foundation
sucks. Remember when they took over http://Linux.com and
promised to be good stewards? In short order they made it a
corporate shill site, and then in April laid off all writers
and editors without so much as a word of thanks or
explanation. All along they’ve been paying lip service to
community, while bending over for their corporate members. The
individual membership was discontinued years ago.
@linuxfoundation needs a housecleaning at the top, and some
Biden's long evolution on abortion rights still holds
surprises (NBC News, June 5, 2019)
"As a senator from Delaware, he once supported stripping
exceptions for rape and incest from federal funding."
Ditch MitchMcConnell (New York Times, June 5, 2019)
"The Senate majority leader comes out of his shell."
Dept. Forces Out Official Who Worked on Plan That Led to
Ex-Employer’s Arms Deals (Wall Street Journal, June 5,
"Ex-Raytheon outside lobbyist took part in department’s
decision to fast-track sales, according to current and former
are dozens of hilarious images from the British resistance
during Trump's London visit (Daily KOS, June 4, 2019)
"Also, 'Kids in cages have heartbeats, too.'"
mayor compared President Trump to an 11-year-old child
(CNN, June 4, 2019)
Richard Engel: Trump’s London Fanfare Claim Is ‘Delusional,’
‘Deeply Disturbing’ (Huffington Post, June 4, 2019)
"'There were thousands of people on the streets. They were
protesting Trump, not celebrating his arrival,' the journalist
support for Trump has moved from transactional to fanatical
(Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2019)
"Support for Trump is coming to define what it means to be a
conservative. One reason Trump has become a conservative
litmus test is that there’s a policy vacuum on the right and
Trump’s personality is filling the void. Another is the GOP
voter base, which has imposed a binary choice of its own:
You’re either with the president or you’re with 'the left.'
Republicans have internalized Trumpism so deeply that they now
see the world through his eyes. It’s perfectly 'reasonable'
for a White House staffer to think the commander in chief
should be shielded from even the name of his late adversary
because Trump’s feelings are all that matter."
a biblically wet spring, this is the week that could break
the Corn Belt (Washington Post, June 4, 2019)
"In recent years, corn plants have typically emerged on about
84 percent of planned corn acres by this point. This year, it
is at 46 percent. Illinois (32 percent) and Indiana (18
percent) are even farther behind. And the acres remaining to
plant were always going to be the hardest. The farmers have
already planted all their driest fields - the ones that are
left are the ones that become most challenging in wet
conditions. Some acres just won’t get planted.
For many farmers, the clock has run out on corn for 2019. Even
if they work around the clock under optimal conditions, there
just are not enough hours to finish planting. About 10 million
acres will either go unplanted for insurance purposes or be
switched to soybeans. For perspective, that lost acreage would
have been the third largest corn state this year, behind the
predicted totals for Iowa and Illinois.
Farmers could switch to soybeans, but then they would find
themselves even more exposed to President Trump’s trade war
with China, the world’s largest soybean market. And beans face
many of the same planting issues as corn. For many farmers,
the alternative is to bow out and collect crop insurance. As
more farmers give up on 2019, alarmed traders will probably
bid up prices on corn and soybeans, making costs soar for
ethanol producers, hog farmers and others who are already
caught in the president’s escalating two-front trade war."
(As Trump sows, so shall we reap.)
change could pose 'existential threat' by 2050: report
(CNN, June 4, 2019)
"Twenty days of lethal heat per year. Collapsed ecosystems.
And more than 1 billion people displaced. Those are all
probable scenarios that could devastate societies by 2050 if
swift and dramatic action isn't taken to curb climate
mangroves? Economies recover faster after tropical cyclones
(Ars Technica, June 4, 2019)
"Analysis measures economic losses with satellite images of
starts blocking third-party cookies by default (Venture
Beat, June 4, 2019)
Brief History of How Your Privacy Was Stolen (New York
Times, June 3, 2019)
"Google and Facebook took our data - and made a ton of money
from it. We must fight back."
10 Apps Serving Malicious Ads Warning of Virus Infections
(Softpedia News, June 3, 2019)
"Ads bundled into Windows 10 apps available for users from the
Microsoft Store point users to deceptive campaigns eventually
trying to deploy malware on their devices."
and Fiat Chrysler Unmasked as Tesla's Secret Source of
Cash (Bloomberg, June 3, 2019)
"Detroit carmakers disclose deals to buy regulatory credits.
GM says it’s hedging against ‘future regulatory
uncertainties.’ These are the first acknowledgments from
carmakers that they’re turning to Tesla for help to comply
with intensifying U.S. environmental regulations."
inspection finds 900 people crammed into Border Patrol
facility meant to detain 125 (Daily KOS, June 3, 2019)
Detainee Deaths Were Preventable: Document (The Young
Turks, June 3, 2019)
"One ICE official told TYT the problem is 'systemic.' 'IHSC
[ICE’s Health Services Corps] is severely dysfunctional and
unfortunately preventable harm and death to detainees has
Money Helping Make Up For Tenant Shortage At Trump Tower
(Huffington Post, June 3, 2019)
"As commercial renters flee, Trump keeps spending $37,500 a
month in campaign funds at his own building - even though much
of the Republican Party’s leased space in Virginia is going
Asia Doesn't Want to Be the World's Dumping Ground. Here's
How Some Countries Are Pushing Back (Time, June 3, 2019)
"The global trash trade has reached a turning point; wealthier
nations have long shipped their plastic waste to the
developing world to be processed, but in recent months, some
nations in Southeast Asia have begun sending the exports -
much of it contaminated plastic and trash that is unrecyclable
- back to where it came from.
The pushback comes as containers of trash continue to
accumulate on the shores of countries like Malaysia, Thailand
and the Philippines, which are increasingly worried that the
environmental costs are greater than the income they bring in
from importing the waste."
and Amazon Are at the Center of a Storm Brewing Over Big
Tech (New York Times, June 2, 2019)
"The Justice Department is exploring an investigation of
Google, underlining a major shift in the United States’
attitude toward the big technology companies."
promises 'ironclad case' against Trump (The Hill, June
"In his report, special counsel Mueller warned us in the
starkest terms that there was an attack on our election and an
attack on our democracy. Why won't the president defend us
from this attack? What is the president covering up? We must
investigate the president's welcoming of the assault on our
evolving remarks on Russian election interference (The
Hill, June 1, 2019)
the U.S. and China, it’s not a trade war anymore - it’s
something worse (Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2019)
"Beneath the surface, a new tone has begun to emerge since
trade talks broke down in early May and Trump ratcheted up
tariffs on imported goods from China, an action met with
retaliatory duties from Beijing. Officials on both sides of
the Pacific have begun to portray the U.S.-China relationship
in nationalistic and emotion-charged terms that suggest a much
Lopez Obrador of Mexico responds to Trump's tariff threat
& it’s a beautiful thing (Daily KOS, May 31, 2019)
trolls fueled anti-vaccination debate in U.S. by spreading
misinformation on Twitter, study finds (CBS News, May
"Russian Twitter trolls have attempted to fuel the
anti-vaccination debate in the U.S., posting about the issue
far more than the average Twitter user last year, a
study out of George Washington University has found. The
"sophisticated" bots shared opinions from both sides of the
anti-vaxxer debate, which took the U.S. by storm and prompted
tech companies to crack down on the spread of misinformation
Rights Are More Popular Than You Think (Jacobin, May 31,
"Don't let the slate of new anti-abortion bills fool you -
support for abortion rights has actually increased in the last
decade. Defeating these draconian measures will mean defeating
the elite minority that imposes them."
Startup To Bring Pogo Sticks To San Francisco As E-Scooter
Alternative (SF CBS, May 31, 2019)
(A sure sign of massive traffic congestion?)
lawmakers pass bill to cut renewable requirement, help
nuclear and coal (Ars Technica, May 31, 2019)
"Critics say the bill unnecessarily bails out nuclear, coal
owner FirstEnergy Solutions."
says there's 'no doubt' climate change impacts tornadoes
(The Hill, May 31, 2019)
issues second warning about patching BlueKeep as PoC code
goes public (ZDNet, May 31, 2019)
"Time's running out on patching older systems against the
BlueKeep vulnerability. An exploit exists for this
vulnerability, and if recent reports are accurate, nearly one
million computers connected directly to the internet are still
military moves closer to replacing Windows with Astra Linux
(ZDNet, May 31, 2019)
"The Chinese military is also working on a similar plan to
replace Windows with a custom OS."
a key beneficiary of China subsidies that US wants ended
(Agence France Presse,
May 30, 2019)
"A replica of the Palace of Versailles, medieval turrets, and
spires rise across Huawei's new campus in southern China, a
monument to the telecom giant's growing fortune - and the
benefits of state aid. The fairytale-like facilities rest on
land that was sold by the local government at cut-rate prices
to woo and bolster a strategic, high-tech company like
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."
House USS McCain cover-up story gets even more embarrassing
for Trump, if that's possible (Daily KOS, May 30, 2019)
Tweets, and Then Retracts, Statement That Russia Helped Him
Get Elected (New York Times, May 30, 2019)
says his investigation did not exonerate Trump (Los
Angeles Times, May 29, 2019)
"In his first and perhaps last public comments on the Russia
investigation, outgoing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III
pointedly refused Wednesday to clear President Trump of a
possible crime, while urging Americans to confront foreign
interference in U.S. elections. Appearing at the Justice
Department, Mueller sought to put a capstone on his nearly
two-year investigation, reading a statement but taking no
questions from reporters. He did not definitively rule out
testifying to Congress but said he would not go beyond the
redacted 448-page report released six weeks ago.
He stopped far short of Trump’s claims, and those of Atty.
Gen. William Barr, that the investigation found no obstruction
of justice by the president and 'no collusion' between Trump’s
campaign and Russian operatives. Mueller said Justice
Department guidelines prevented indicting a sitting president,
a remark that suggested it was the rules, not the lack of
evidence, that spared Trump from criminal charges. 'If we had
confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would
have said so.'
'There were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our
 election,' Mueller said. 'And that allegation deserves
the attention of every American.'"
described Trump Organization as 'criminal enterprise',
Michael Wolff book claims (The Guardian, May 29, 2019)
"The former White House adviser Steve Bannon has described the
Trump Organization as a criminal entity and predicted that
investigations into the president’s finances will lead to his
political downfall, when he is revealed to be 'not the
billionaire he said he was, just another scumbag.'"
Department of Energy Is Now Calling Fossil Fuels “Molecules
of Freedom” and “Freedom Gas” (Slate, May 29, 2019)
"The Trump administration loves fossil fuels, but apparently
has decided that they need some rebranding."
Energy Costs Take Another Tumble, Making Fossil Fuels Look
More Expensive Than Ever (Forbes, May 29, 2019)
"Almost every source of green energy can now compete on cost
with oil, coal and gas-fired power plants, according to new
data released today."
NEW: How the 1919 Solar Eclipse Made Einstein the
World's Most Famous Scientist (Discover
Magazine, May 29, 2019)
"Heaven and earth moved to make Albert Einstein a star, a
century ago today."
believe the internet can be better," Mozilla to the
International Grand Committee (Mozilla, May 29, 2019)
"'We believe the internet can be better. And to build an
internet that is both innovative and worthy of people’s trust,
we will need better technology and better policy,' said Alan.
In his testimony Alan Davidson, Vice President of Global
Policy, Trust and Security focused on the need for better
regulation right; and the complexities of content policy
issues. Against the backdrop of tech’s numerous missteps over
the last year, our mission-driven work is a clear alternative
to much of what is wrong with the web today."
Dems need to impeach Trump to win 2020 (2-min. video;
CNN, May 29, 2019)
Finds Trump Tax Cuts Failed to Do Anything But Give Rich
People Money (New York Magazine, May 29, 2019)
"Supporters of the Trump tax cuts insisted not only that they
would promote growth, but that they would promote so much
growth the measure would pay for itself. Even moderates like
Susan Collins repeated assurances by the party’s
pseudo-economists that the plan would not increase the
deficit. So far, the growth feedback from the tax cuts has
made up about 5 percent of the plan’s revenue loss, a mere 95
percent shy of the predictions. The passage of the plan was
met with a coordinated wave of corporate public-relations
announcements of worker bonuses. But the paper finds no
widespread increase in bonuses or worker compensation.
When assessing these arguments, keep a close eye on the number
of Republican officials or conservative policy-makers who
revise their position on the Trump tax cuts in light of the
data. If their true primary goal was to increase business
investment, then the complete failure of a highly expensive
program to achieve its stated goal would lead them to question
their support. Why not cancel the Trump tax cuts and use the
couple trillion dollars in lost revenue to fund a more
effective growth-promoting policy?
So far, the number of Republicans reassessing their support
for the Trump tax cuts is, give or take, zero. What this
suggests is that the alleged growth-incentivizing secondary
effects of the plan were rationales, and the primary effect -
giving business owners more money - was the hidden main goal
devastating analysis of the tax cut shows it’s done
virtually no economic good (Los Angeles Times, May 29,
"You may remember all the glowing predictions made for the
December 2017 tax cuts by congressional Republicans and the
Trump administration: Wages would soar for the rank-and-file,
corporate investments would surge, and the cuts would pay for
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has just
published a deep dive into the economic impact of the cuts in
their first year, and emerges from the water with a different
picture. The CRS finds that the cuts have had virtually no
effect on wages, haven’t contributed to a surge in investment,
and haven’t come close to paying for themselves. Nor have they
delivered a cut to the average taxpayer. The negligible (at
best) economic impact of the cuts shouldn’t surprise anyone,
the CRS says. 'Much of the tax cut was directed at businesses
and higher-income individuals who are less likely to spend,'
its analysts write. 'Fiscal stimulus is limited in an economy
that is at or near full employment.'"
drew up obstruction indictment against Trump, Michael Wolff
book says (The Guardian, May 28, 2019)
"A new book from Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff
says special counsel Robert Mueller drew up a three-count
obstruction of justice indictment against Donald Trump before
deciding to shelve it a year later – an explosive claim which
a spokesman for Mueller flatly denied.
According to a document seen by the Guardian, the first count,
under Title 18, United States code, Section 1505, charged the
president with corruptly – or by threats of force or
threatening communication – influencing, obstructing or
impeding a pending proceeding before a department or agency of
the United States.
The second count, under section 1512, charged the president
with tampering with a witness, victim or informant.
The third count, under section 1513, charged the president
with retaliating against a witness, victim or informant."
Not To Ruin The World By Visiting It (Wisconsin Public
Radio, May 28, 2019)
"How We Might Make Tourism More Ethical."
researchers sound alarm over spraying antibiotics on FL
citrus (Florida Phoenix, May 28, 2019)
"The Trump administration in December gave the go-ahead for
agricultural operations to spray antibiotic pesticides on
nearly a half-million acres of Florida citrus, despite
warnings from scientists and government health officials that
it could increase the problem of antibiotic resistance in
people and in the air, water, and soil. Antibiotic pesticides
have been sprayed in Florida before, but this scale is
Now, newly uncovered documents show that researchers at the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control – the federal agency that
deals with America’s public health and disease outbreaks –
concluded two years ago that spraying streptomycin and
oxytetracycline is tied to antibiotic resistance in bacteria
that cause serious health threats – including the MRSA, CRE
and VRE infections. The most alarming finding of the Centers
for Disease Control’s study is that when antibiotic pesticides
are sprayed on bacteria (in soil, water, air and on trees and
fruit), the bacteria can pass the resistance to other
bacteria, and then that resistance can adapt to “one or more
unrelated antibiotics used to treat infections.”"
Military Is Locked in a Power Struggle With Wind Farms
(Wired, May 28, 2019)
"A 2018 Pentagon-commissioned study by researchers at MIT
found that the 104 turbines at Amazon’s North Carolina wind
farm did not interfere with a local Naval radar facility,
despite claims by state legislators. The greatest threat to
the viability of military facilities in eastern North Carolina
is not wind farms, it’s the encroachment of houses and homes
on the training area.
Still, politicians in some rural areas seem convinced that the
military has a stronger argument. Texas legislators removed
tax breaks for wind farms near military bases and are debating
further cuts to federal and state incentives.
Some Texas observers note that anti-wind legislators in Texas
are supported by groups that also deny climate change, such as
the Texas Public Policy Foundation that works to support oil
and gas interests at the statehouse. 'This is nothing but pure
politics,' says Fred Beach, assistant director for policy
studies at the University of Texas Energy Institute and a
former naval aviator. 'People don’t want the wind turbines for
whatever reason, and they raise this false issue to scare
4channer with body armor guns down three police officers,
one fatally (Daily KOS, May 27, 2019)
"Three police officers were shot, one of them fatally, when
they responded to a domestic disturbance call in Auburn on
Sunday night. The man arrested shortly afterward, it soon
emerged - Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, a veteran from Auburn - was
fond of posting memes from the alt-right online gathering spot
4chan, most of them mock humor about guns, white nationalist
trolling signals, and encouragement for Proud Boys-style
violence against left-wing protesters, who he described as
Trump agencies set for clash over chemicals in water
(The Hill, May 27, 2019)
"PFAS has been linked with kidney and thyroid cancer along
with high cholesterol and other illnesses. Contamination has
spread to 43 states, and a 2015 study found 98
percent of Americans tested now have the chemical in
main parties hammered in E.U. elections - voters opt for
those with clearer stances on Brexit (Washington Post,
May 27, 2019)
"Nigel Farage’s single-issue Brexit Party was the clear winner
of the elections, with the potential to impact the race over
who becomes the next British prime minister. The
pro-E.U. Liberal Democrats and the Greens - who also have a
simple message on Brexit: stop it - made significant gains as
well. Overall, support for all the parties that are
unabashedly pro-European was slightly higher than those that
are pushing for a hard Brexit. In other words, Britain
is as divided as ever."
Election Results Show Growing Split Over Union’s Future
(New York Times, May
"Populists and nationalists who want to chip away at the
European Union’s powers increased their share in Europe’s
Parliament after four days of continent-wide elections, but it
was not the deluge that many traditionalists had feared. When
the vote counting is done, the populists are expected to get
around 25 percent of the 751 seats, up from 20 percent five
years ago, figures released by the European Union showed on
Sunday. But a higher than usual turnout suggested that
pro-European voters were also more motivated than before."
What Is That?’ Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying
Objects (New York Times, May 26, 2019)
Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen N.S.A. Tool Wreaks Havoc
(New York Times, May 25, 2019)
"Since 2017, when the N.S.A. lost control of the tool,
EternalBlue, it has been picked up by state hackers in North
Korea, Russia and, more recently, China, to cut a path of
destruction around the world, leaving billions of dollars in
damage. But over the past year, the cyberweapon has
boomeranged back and is now showing up in the N.S.A.’s own
Before it leaked, EternalBlue was one of the most useful
exploits in the N.S.A.’s cyberarsenal. According to three
former N.S.A. operators who spoke on the condition of
anonymity, analysts spent almost a year finding a flaw in
Microsoft’s software and writing the code to target it.
Initially, they referred to it as EternalBluescreen because it
often crashed computers - a risk that could tip off their
targets. But it went on to become a reliable tool used in
countless intelligence-gathering and counterterrorism
missions. EternalBlue was so valuable, former N.S.A. employees
said, that the agency never seriously considered alerting
Microsoft about the vulnerabilities, and held on to it for
more than five years before the breach forced its hand."
allies insist he is winning in feud with Pelosi. Her backers
say she showed up the president. (Washington Post, May
"Taking stock of the feud, each side insisted they got the
upper hand in a fight that shows no sign of waning 18 months
before the 2020 elections, with implications for the economy
as the budget and federal borrowing limit remain unresolved
while the dispute regarding oversight between the White House
and Congress rages.
Pelosi’s allies said she showed up the president and
reinforced an image of a chief executive behaving so badly and
childishly that he is unfit for office - a clear message to
voters next year. But to Trump’s backers, the president
succeeded in highlighting that an already unpopular politician
is struggling not only with the far-left liberals in the
Democratic ranks, but even some on her leadership team."
(Focus. Which one stomped out of his conference?)
May announces she will resign on 7 June (The Guardian,
May 24, 2019)
"Prime minister to leave Downing Street, drawing three-year
tenure to a close. May’s announcement came after a meeting
with Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench Tory 1922
Committee, which was prepared to trigger a second vote of no
confidence in her leadership if she refused to resign. Her
fate was sealed after a 10-point 'new Brexit deal', announced
in a speech on Tuesday, infuriated Tory backbenchers and many
of her own cabinet – while falling flat with the Labour MPs it
was meant to persuade. The leader of the House of Commons,
Andrea Leadsom, resigned on Wednesday, rather than present the
Brexit bill to parliament."
American Financial Corp. Leaked Hundreds of Millions of
Title Insurance Records (Krebs On Security, May 24,
policy switch, Spectrum and AT&T say if you cancel
early, they’re keeping your cash (Los Angels Times, May
"A Charter/Spectrum spokesman, declined to explain why the
company is dropping prorated bills. He said only that 'this is
a common approach to billing among other providers of monthly
subscription services, including wireless and video streaming
services.' Which is to say, Johnny took a cookie so I took a
cookie. Most parents will agree this isn’t a very satisfactory
defense of cookie consumption."
judge in California halts Trump’s plan to build parts of
border wall (Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2019)
"Trump declared a national emergency in February after losing
a fight with the Democratic-led House over fully paying for
the wall that led to a 35-day government shutdown. Congress
set aside $1.375 billion to extend or replace existing
barriers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. But Trump wanted to
spend $8 billion on wall construction, so he declared the
emergency to siphon money from other government accounts.
Critics had objected to the Trump administration’s move,
saying it overstepped its authority by funneling billions of
dollars toward the president’s signature campaign promise
without authorization from Congress. In granting the
preliminary injunction to stop the work, Gilliam cited
Congress’ 'absolute' control over federal expenditures under
the Constitution, 'even when that control may frustrate the
desires of the executive branch regarding initiatives it views
Pelosi bests Trump every time and he never knows it until
it's too late (Daily KOS, May 23, 2019)
"On Wednesday, he once again signed on for ownership of
governing gridlock when, in a fit of spite, he huffed out of a
meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck
Schumer, marched out to the Rose Garden, and reported back to
the American people that he wouldn't be doing any of America's
business as long as congressional Democrats continued their
investigations into him and his administration. 'You can’t do
it under these circumstances,' Trump said.
Actually, one can do it, just as President Bill Clinton piled
up signature achievements during a presidency dominated by a
sweeping four-year investigation into him, his wife, their
financial dealings, and an affair he conducted with a White
House intern that ultimately resulted in his impeachment but
not his removal from office. To be perfectly clear, Trump is
simply choosing not to do America's business. His new 2020
campaign slogan: Trump First!
Following Trump's Rose Garden rumble, Pelosi did a series of
media events. In one, she speculated that Trump had perhaps
taken a pass on doing infrastructure out of 'a lack of
confidence on his part that he couldn’t match the greatness of
the challenge before him.' Pluck. In another, she took her
impeachment comments a step further, saying Trump is
obstructing justice 'in plain sight' and 'that could be an
impeachable offense.' Pluck.
Trump is just where Pelosi wants him to be. The question is,
has he figured that out yet?"
Russia Tipped Election for Trump ‘Staggering,’ Says Former
U.S. Intel Chief James Clapper (Newsweek, May 23, 2019)
"Describing a report on Russian interference presented by the
intelligence community to president-elect Trump in January
2017, Clapper writes, 'I remember just how staggering the
assessment felt the first time I read it through from start to
finish, and just how specific our conclusions and evidence
were.' In the intelligence chief's view, 'We showed
unambiguously that Putin had ordered the campaign to influence
the election…and how the entire operation had begun with
attempts to undermine U.S. democracy and demean Secretary
Clinton, then shifted to promoting Mr. Trump when Russia
assessed he was a viable candidate who would serve their
Clapper warns of the threat posed by Trump’s dismissal of
inconvenient facts as fake news. 'I don’t believe our
democracy can function for long on lies, particularly when
inconvenient and difficult facts spoken by the practitioners
of truth are dismissed as fake news,' Clapper writes. 'I know
that the Intelligence Community cannot serve our nation if
facts are negotiable.'
'House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell said they would not support a bipartisan statement
that might hurt their nominee for president,' Clapper writes
in an excerpt of the book published by NPR. 'I was
disappointed but not surprised. It seemed they had decided by
then that they didn't care who their 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.'"
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."
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."
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."
passes bill cracking down on robocalls (CNN, May 23,
"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."
Neutrality: Comcast does so much lobbying that it says
disclosing it all is too hard (Ars Technica, May 23,
"Shareholders say Comcast should stop being secretive about
Controlling The Wrong Bodies. Why are women’s bodies always
up for discussion and control? (Scary Mommy, May 22,
"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
GOP Rep. Accused Of Punching Wife In The Face For Undressing
Too Slowly For Sex (Talking Points Memo, May 22, 2019)
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."
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
fight with Huawei could threaten internet access in rural
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.'"
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
cycles had little to do with 20th-century temperature trends
(Ars Technica, May 21,
"Humans, volcanoes, and the Sun can cover it; ocean cycles
need not apply."
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."
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."
Car Knows When You Gain Weight (New York Times, May 20,
"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."
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."
Collins (R. - Maine) on new abortion laws: 'I’m not sure
exactly why we're seeing this happen' (Daily KOS, May
(Because you supported Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, that's
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."
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."
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."
Lieu shames Trump over plan to pardon war criminals: 'You
never served' (Daily KOS, May 19, 2019)
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.'"
Barr Billbarrs, Trump Tweets (Twitter, May 17, 2019)
(See the Comments thread.)
Again Casts Doubt on Russia Inquiry’s Origins, Aligning With
Trump’s Attacks (New York Times, May 17, 2019)
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."
19 undocumented immigrants worked for Trump (CNN, May
"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."
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."
Pay, America’s Economic ‘Miracle’ (New York Times, May 17, 2019)
"No matter how their companies do, the top bosses do
Farmers Facing Deadly Bacteria Turn to Antibiotics,
Alarming Health Officials (New York Times, May 17,
"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
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.'"
Calls Out GOP on Abortion Bans: "a creepy theological
order led by a mad king." (Daily KOS, May 18, 2019)
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.'"
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."
happened to the Trump counterintelligence investigation?
House investigators don’t know. (Washington Post, May
"But not for lack of asking."
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)
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
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"
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
York Rejects Keystone-Like Pipeline in Fierce Battle Over
the State’s Energy Future (New York Times, May 15,
"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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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
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."
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."
12-month period on record leaves US nearly drought-free amid
rampant flooding (AccuWeather, May 14, 2019)
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."
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
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
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.'"
2019 and a WhatsApp call can hack a phone: Zero-day exploit
infects mobiles with spyware (The Register, May 14,
"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."
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
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."
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
Nye explains climate change with John Oliver (0.5-min.
video; YouTube, May 13, 2019)
says that 56% of Americans don't want kids taught Arabic
numerals. We have some bad news. (Daily KOS, May 13,
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%."
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."
Lindsey Graham tells Don Jr. to obstruct justice, says the
Senate has his back (Daily KOS, May 13, 2019)
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."
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?"
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.'"
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."
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."
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."
'takes too much of Earth resources' (BBC News, May 10,
"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."
Why It Matters That Airlines Are Starting To Run
‘Zero-Waste’ Flights (UPROXX, May 10, 2019)
FBI is investigating whether Florida spa owner funneled
money from China to the Trump campaign (Daily KOS, May
"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
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."
Comey on why he isn't Republican anymore: ‘You cannot have a
president who is a chronic liar' (Daily KOS, May 10,
"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."
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."
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
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."
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
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
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."
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."
Commissioners Back Privacy Law to Regulate Tech Companies
(New York Times, May 8,
"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."
Activists Are Rebelling. Are Politicians Finally Listening?
(Sierra Club, May 8, 2019)
"Extinction Rebellion's bold antics seem to be getting
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."
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."
‘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."
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."
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.'"
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."
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."
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
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."
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
(Q: How many facts can a con man hide, if a con man can
A: Ten years' worth less than yesterday.)
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
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
"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."
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."
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
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."
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."
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."
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
discover a game-changing way to remove salt from water
(CNET, May 7, 2019)
Swing Solvent Extraction technology could have massive
implications for the future of our drinking water."
Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species
Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’ (United Nations, May 6,
"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
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
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."
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."
panel sets Wednesday vote to hold Barr in contempt after DOJ
doesn't turn over Mueller report (CNN, May 6, 2019)
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."
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
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
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
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."
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."
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
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.'"
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
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
my Schwinn... and other stuff (Daily KOS, May 4, 2019)
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."
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
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."
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
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."
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
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."
strikes down Ohio gerrymander: GOP maps 'so skewed' they
'predetermined' election results (Daily KOS, May 3,
"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
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."
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."
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
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.)
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.'"
Mass Surveillance Works in Xinjiang, China (Human Rights
Watch, May 1, 2019)
"Reverse-Engineering a Police App Reveals Invasive Profiling
and Monitoring Strategies."
new vision for neuroscience (Science Daily, May 1, 2019)
"How live recordings of neural electricity could revolutionize
how we see the brain."
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."
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."
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.'"
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
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."
in Tech – 1964 - BASIC programming language developers John
Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz launched a time-sharing system at
Dartmouth College (SourceForge, May 1, 2019)
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."
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
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."
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."
supremacists invade D.C. bookstore, chant 'This land is our
land' during race discussion (Daily KOS, April 30, 2019)
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.'"
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.'"
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."
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
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
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
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
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.'"
York State investigating National Rifle Association's
finances (Business Insider, April 29, 2019)
"During her campaign
last year, the NY Attorney-General, a Democrat,
promised to investigate the NRA's not-for-profit status if
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,
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
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."
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
GOP war on itself and the USA for 150 years (Daily KOS,
April 27, 2019)
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."
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."
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
leads Trump by 6 points in first post-announcement poll
(The Hill, April 26, 2019)
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."
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
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.'"
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
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
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."
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."
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."
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."
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.
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
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
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."
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
Throws a Tantrum Over Twitter Followers and Tests the Power
of Congress (7-min. video; The Daily Show, April 24,
"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
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."
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."
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
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.)"
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
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."
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
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."
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."
Complicated: Mozilla’s 2019 Internet Health Report
(Mozilla, April 23, 2019)
"Our annual open-source report examines how humanity and the
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
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."
& 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 the
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."
N.R.A.’s Financial Mess (New Yorker Magazine, April 22,
"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
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 White House Easter celebration as a backdrop, Sarah
Sanders delivers a whopper of a lie (Daily KOS, April
(Interesting Comments thread, re SHS over-reacting to a
euphemism while ignoring her own lies, and ignoring separation
of children at the border.)
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."
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
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
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
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."
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."
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."
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."
skewer Barr and Trump amid release of Mueller report (Washington Post,
April 19, 2019)
Attorney General Barr said vs. what the Mueller report said
(Washington Post, April
"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
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."
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
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."
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."
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."
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.'"
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
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."
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
Congress's job to provide justice.
3. The extensive
and assiduous cover-up had a purpose, and hid something far
4. The cover-up
5. There were
many more criminal referrals to other jurisdictions, about
most of which we as yet know nothing.
6. 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."
Mueller’s (REDACTED-by-White-House) Report Here (Common
Cause, April 18, 2019)
"...and then sign our petition to demand full transparency."
it on the U.S. Dept. of Justice website.)
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
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."
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
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."
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
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."
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
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."
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."
asks judge to reject Trump admin claim it could take two
years to identify separated families (Daily KOS, April
economist tells Fox audience that recession was caused by
Obama, and now it's Bernie's fault (Daily KOS, April 16,
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."
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
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
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
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
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."
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. "
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."
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
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."
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
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."
de Paris brûle dans la nuit (Paris Match, April 15,
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."
How to jump-start America (Boston Globe, April 15, 2019)
breakthrough science can revive economic growth and the American Dream."
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)
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
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."
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."
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.)
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."
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
on the Hill, the Pew Research Center poll, January 3,
Pounds of Trash Killed a Sperm Whale in Spain, Scientists
Say (New York Times, April 12, 2019)
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
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
'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
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,'
'Yeah, but there weren’t human beings. That was a different
world, folks,' Kerry said."
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
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.'"
$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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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.'"
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."
University researchers use electricity to restore youthful
memory function in old brains (Daily KOS, April 10,
"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."
The House of Representatives Passes Net Neutrality
Protections (Electronic Freedom Foundation, April 10,
"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
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."
doesn’t know if Mueller backs his summary (Associated
Press, April 10, 2019)
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
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.'"
Donald hates it when you laugh at him (Daily KOS, April
"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."
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
(Also, see today's Elle article in the Black Humor
section of this web page.)
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
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."
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."
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
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."
University team revived working memory in older adults by
synchronizing rhythmic brain circuits (Nature, April 8,
"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
crowd-sourced, social media swarm that is betting Tesla will
crash and burn (Los
Angeles Times, April 8, 2019)
falsely accused a stranger of trying to abduct her child,
police say. Social media may be to blame. (Washington Post, April 8, 2019)
unintentionally contradicts White House claims that Congress
can’t see Trump tax returns. (ThinkProgress, April 8,
"The senior GOP senator and finance committee chair
acknowledged the law gives Congress the power to get anyone's
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
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
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."
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
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."
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
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."
China turned a city into a prison (New York Times, April
"A survellance state reaches new heights; Kashgar becomes the
Communist Party's vision of automated authoritarianism."
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."
software problem detected in Boeing 737 Max flight control
system, officials say (Washington Post, April 4, 2019)
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."
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."
information Barr has shared about Russia investigation
frustrated some on Mueller’s team (Washington Post,
April 4, 2019)
on Mueller’s Team Say Report Was More Damaging Than Barr
Revealed (New York Times, April 3, 2019)
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."
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."
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
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.'"
Trump birther conspiracy debunked with a birth certificate.
This time: His father. (Washington Post, April 3, 2019)
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."
Is Found Dead in Italy With 48 Pounds of Plastic in Its
Stomach (New York Times, April 2, 2019)
Carlson Blows Up at Rutger Bregman in Unaired Fox News
Interview (8-min. video; 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
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'
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."
in an exceptional earthquake drought. When will it end?
(Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2019)
massive fire at famous civil rights center, officials found
a ‘white power’ symbol nearby (Washington Post, April 2,
"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
Virginia cops minimize woman’s gun-waving and lies that
resulted in arrest of Egyptian citizen (Daily KOS, April
"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
Why? Because he patted a 5-year-old girl on the head, and
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."
Carolina Republican Party chair indicted for role in alleged
bribery scheme (Daily KOS, April 2, 2019)
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.'"
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
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
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."
White House does or doesn’t have a health-care plan that is
or isn’t better than Obamacare (Washington Post, April
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.'"
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez perfectly sums up our current wage
system (Daily KOS, April 1, 2019)
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,
Noah artfully steers 'white reparations' question back to
conversations we should be having (Daily KOS, March 31,
"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
win two Louisiana state elections - in districts that Trump
won by big margins in 2016 (Daily KOS, March 31, 2019)
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."
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
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
recognition of an Israeli Golan Heights draws little
enthusiasm from those who live there (Los Angeles Times,
March 30, 2019)
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.'"
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."
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."
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."
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
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.'"
report will be delivered by ‘mid-April, if not sooner,’
attorney general tells Congress (Washington Post, March
"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
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
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”
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."
the Report "Exonerates" Trump, Then They have Nothing to
Worry about. Show us the "Exoneration" (Daily KOS, March
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
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."
‘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
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
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
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.'"
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.)
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."
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."
Republican calls for his resignation, Rep. Adam Schiff hits
back hard with investigation details (Daily KOS, March
"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
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."
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."
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."
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.'"
Climate Change "Not An Elitist Issue" (3-min. video;
YouTube, March 27, 2019)
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."
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."
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."
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!"
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
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
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
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
finding on conspiracy is no excuse to pardon Trump's
campaign aides (Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2019)
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."
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
'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
'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
Noah: Democrats Demand Mueller’s Full Report and
Republicans Seek Revenge (7-min. video; The Daily
Show, March 26, 2019)
Colbert evens 'the Trump Score' in only the way that
Stephen can do (16-min. video; Daily KOS, March 26,
"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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
surprises Republicans - and pleases Democrats - with push to
revive health-care battle (Washington Post, March 26,
"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
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
“Any woman who suffers a miscarriage could be subject to
scrutiny regarding whether or not she intentionally acted to
cause that miscarriage."
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
Trump Administration Now Thinks the Entire Affordable Care
Act Should Fall (The Incidental Economist, March 25,
"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."
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.'"
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)
Army Backs Down on FOIA, Waives $300K Fee for PFAS
Contamination Data (Environmental Working Group, March
"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.'"
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."
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."
parent paid $6.5 million to get kids into top universities
as part of admissions scandal (Los Angeles Times, March
"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."
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
proof that William Barr is taking Robert Mueller’s report
out of context (Palmer
Report, March 24, 2019)
Democrats confirm the Mueller report does NOT exonerate
Donald Trump (Palmer Report, March 24, 2019)
"As horrific as this president is, he is a symptom of much
deeper problems" (Daily KOS, March 24, 2019)
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
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."
general: Mueller does not find that Trump campaign
conspired with Russia (Washington Post, March 24,
"Special counsel 'did not draw a conclusion . . . as to
whether the examined conduct constituted obstruction', Barr
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."
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
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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
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."
veteran demands Trump show his bone spurs (CNN, March
"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!'"
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
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."
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)
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."
Then Prayer, in Cockpit of Lion Air's Doomed Boeing 737 Max
jet (New York Times, March 20, 2019)
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."
judge demands Trump administration reveal how its drilling
plans will fuel climate change (Washington Post, March
"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."
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."
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."
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?"
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
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."
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
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
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."
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
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
This is you, Republican Party. This is what you still stand
Club’s Massachusetts climate leadership summit focuses on
push for change (Boston's Metrowest Daily News, March
"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."
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."
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
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
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."
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."
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
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
Fox News reporter will now testify to Congress despite
nondisclosure agreement with network (Daily KOS, March
Party’s anti-immigrant tweets anger Portland mayor – and
Republican senators (Portland ME Press Herald, March 15,
"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. "
Republican proposes law forcing to own an AR-15
semi-automatic rifle (Daily KOS, March 15, 2019)
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."
moving statement from Australian news anchor Waleed Aly on
Christchurch (5-min. video; Daily KOS, March 15, 2019)
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."
Zealand shooter called Donald Trump 'a symbol of white
identity' as he murdered 49 people (Daily KOS, March 15,
"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
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."
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."
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."
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."
'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."
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
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
Votes, 420-to-0, to Demand Public Release of Mueller Report
(New York Times, March 14, 2019)
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."
official reveals Atlantic drilling plan while hailing
Trump’s ability to distract public (The Guardian, March
"'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."
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.'"
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."
Declines ExxonMobil's Motion To Dismiss Case Set To Put
Climate Change And Corporate Responsibility On Trial
(WBUR News, March 13, 2019)
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
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."
and Dems destroy GOP effort to escape national emergency
bind (Politico, March
"The president told Senate Republicans he would not agree to
curtail his powers in order to stem defections on the
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."
Is the Dunning-Kruger Effect? (Very Well Mind, March 13,
"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.'"
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."
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."
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."
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
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."
First Green Terawatt Was the Hardest (Daily KOS, March
"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."
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
Democrats are laying the groundwork for impeachment,
beginning with the Cohen hearing (Daily KOS, March 12,
"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.'"
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
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."
Making of the Fox News White House (New Yorker, March
"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
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."
Oliver robocalls Ajit Pai and Trump's FCC every 90 minutes,
telling them to end robocalls (Daily KOS, March 11,
"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 are getting worse, and projected by some experts to
become half of all calls over the next year."
Bannon gave documentarian behind-the-scenes access to him,
and "The Brink" sounds like a doozy (Daily KOS, March
"Variety calls the documentary a 'fly-on-the-wall,
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."
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
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."
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.")
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
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."
Pros and Cons of Impeaching Trump (New Yorker, March 10,
"Real and reasonable arguments among congressional Democrats -
and, indeed, among the public - range from the practical to
how dumb do they think we are? (Daily KOS, March 10,
"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
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."
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
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
Florida Massage Parlor Owner Has Been Selling Chinese Execs
Access to Trump at Mar-a-Lago (Mother Jones, March 9,
"The strange, swampy saga of Trump donor Li Yang."
A House Plant: Hydrogen-Based Energy Storage Inspired By
Mother Nature (Clean Technica, March 9, 2019)
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."
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
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
another blow to Trump, judge rules in favor of ACLU in
family separations case (Washington Post, March 8,
"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."
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
the Legal Trouble in Trumpworld (Foreign Policy, March
"Robert Mueller may be the least of the president’s worries."
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
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."
Running for President in 2020? (New York Times, March 7,
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
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
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."
the racketeering statute used to bring down mob bosses,
might ultimately seal Trump's fate (Daily KOS, March 6,
the Middle of His Official Business, Trump Took the Time to
Send Checks to Michael Cohen (New York Times, March 5,
Origins: The Domestication of Fire (Daily KOS, March
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."
man becomes head of neo-Nazi group he intends to destroy
(CNN, March 2, 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."
a Bear Think in the Woods? (Sierra Club, February 26,
"Turns out animal intelligence is not so different from our
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."
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."
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.'"
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."
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."
- 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
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."
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."
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."
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.'"
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."
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.)
Judge Shuts Down Trump Administration’s Discrimination
Against Children of Same-Sex Couples (Slate, February
"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."
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,
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
'masterful chess move' may have cemented Mueller's
appointment and Trump's fate (Daily KOS, February 21,
"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."
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
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
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."
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
The mostly European audience gave her a standing ovation.
Ivanka Trump, who listened stone-faced, did not stand."
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
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
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."
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.'"
Secret Economic Genius Behind the Green New Deal. (The
Atlantic, February 19, 2019)
"He’s a precocious New Yorker with immigrant roots: Alexander
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
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."
knew that Trump was being investigated as Russian agent in
2017 - and no one complained (Daily KOS, February 19,
"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."
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."
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
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
Republican Party has become a cult (Daily KOS, February
"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."
It On: Trump Flunky Lindsey Graham's Proposed Hearings Could
Backfire, Proving Trump's Treason (Daily KOS, February
"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."
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."
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."
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."
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."
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
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.'"
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
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."
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."
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."
Chomsky: Those who failed to recognize Trump as the greater
evil made ‘a bad mistake’ (Raw Story, February 16, 2019)
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."
Attempt to Circumvent Congress Leaves Uneasy Senate
Republicans With Hard Choice (New York Times, February
"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."
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
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."
is finally figuring out that he's a loser (Daily KOS,
February 15, 2019)
President Donald Trump's claims about a national emergency
(Politifact, February 15, 2019)
"Highly-distorted to outright false."
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."
Signs: Tobacco Product Use Among Middle and High School
Students - United States, 2011–2018 (CDC, February 15,
"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."
'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."
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."
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.'"
'national emergency' just played the Democrats for suckers
(Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2019)
passes bill to avert shutdown as Trump vows to declare
national emergency to build wall (Los Angeles Times,
February 14, 2019)
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."
claim that Mitch McConnell's 'biggest donor' is sanctioned
Russian oligarch (Politifact, February 14, 2019)
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s lesson in dark money is the
most-watched political video (The Guardian, February 14,
"A clip in which the congresswoman asks ethics experts about
government corruption has been viewed 40 million times."
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
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."
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."
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."
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,
(There's more. Also see the
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."
says Senate will vote on ‘Green New Deal’ as he seeks to
portray Democrats as radical (Washington Post, February
"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
Senate just passed the decade’s biggest public lands
package. Here’s what’s in it. (Washington Post, February
"The bipartisan measure would create more than 1.3 million
acres of wilderness out West, add three national park units
and expand eight others."
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
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."
woman tells black cop he’ll get a visit from the KKK after
he busts her for drunk driving (Raw Story, February 11,
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
happens when billionaires battle gossipmongers? Prepare for
explosions. (Washington Post, February 9, 2019)
"Theirs is a tale of two billionaires - Jeffrey P. Bezos of
Amazon.com 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."
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."
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."
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
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."
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."
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
(The article's Comments thread makes great reading, too.)
Bezos (Amazon): 'No thank you, Mr. Pecker' (National
Enquirer) (Medium, February 7, 2019)
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."
keeps complaining about ‘presidential harassment’ - which is
actually just ‘oversight’ (Washington Post, February 7,
go bold on economic plans, a deliberate contrast to 2016
(Los Angeles Times, February 7, 2019)
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."
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."
delivered the Eddie Haskell State of the Union (E.J.
Dionne, February 6, 2019)
Checking the State of the Union (Fact Check, February
"The president strayed from the facts, mainly on immigration
and the economy."
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
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."
State of the Union gave us the same old polarizing
demagoguery - at great length (Washington Post, February
"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."
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."
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."
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."
inaugural committee suspected of conspiracy to defraud the
United States, wire fraud and money laundering, subpoena
indicates (Yahoo, February 5, 2019)
chief charged with pulling gun on Boy Scout who had placed
flyer on South Whitehall home (Morning Call PA, February
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."
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."
wall bulldozers have arrived at Texas' National Butterfly
Center (Daily KOS, February 4, 2019)
signs of border wall construction spotted at National
Butterfly Center (San Antonio TX Express-News, February
"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
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."
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."
'willful ignorance' towards his intelligence community
(MSNBC, February 4, 2019)
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'."
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."
Trump likely erased protections from the legal definitions
of domestic violence/sexual assault (Daily KOS, February
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."
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."
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."
the shutdown didn’t tank the January jobs report
(Washington Post, February 1, 2019)
company is planning a 20% fee hike for local channels as
pay-TV customers dwindle (Los Angeles Times, February 1,
"'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."
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
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."
colonisation of the Americas killed 10% of world population
and caused global cooling (The Conversation, January 31,
"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
fascinating backstory of the periodic table, which is about
to turn 150 years old (Los Angeles Times, January 31,
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
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."
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
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."
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.
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."
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."
Weather Plunges into North America (NASA, January 29,
in a Generation (Washington Post, January 29, 2019)
"Across America, climate change is already disrupting lives."
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."
files for bankruptcy. Electricity prices are likely to rise
for millions of Californians (Los Angeles Times, January
"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
2020 presidential contest is wide open as danger mounts for
Trump, new poll shows (Washington Post, January 29,
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."
Black Players Refused to Accept Donald Trump’s Invitation to
the McCookout (The Root, January 29, 2019)
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."
Secrets of Lyndon Johnson’s Archives (New Yorker,
January 28, 2018)
"On a Presidential paper trail."
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."
Schultz Gets Shouted Down At Book Event: ‘Don’t Help Elect
Trump!’ (Daily Beast, January 28, 2019)
brags that he goaded Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz into
running for president because it will 'help him' (Raw
Story, January 28, 2019)
Schultz Blames Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for His Decision to
Run as Independent (Daily Beast, January 28, 2019)
(Because she would tax his $3.4Billon...)
McConnell reportedly linked to Putin, Russian oligarch Oleg
Deripaska and Russian companies (Daily KOS, January 28,
case against Roger Stone is open and shut (Daily KOS,
January 28, 2019)
Fox News knives come out for Ann Coulter after her
disastrous order to shut down the government (Daily KOS,
January 28, 2019)
senators all disclaim shutdown as a really bad idea that
totally wasn't their fault (Daily KOS, January 28, 2019)
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."
Patrol urgently seeking evidence that Trump's mouth-tape
fantasy is grounded in reality (Daily KOS, January 28,
"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:
Approach to Governing? A Utah man nails it accurately!
(Daily KOS, January 27, 2019)
Canadian Jets Scrambled To Escort Russian Bombers Away From
North American Coastline (Radio Free Europe, January 27,
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."
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
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."
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.
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."
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
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."
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."
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."
of visiting White House during DC trip, Warriors meet with
Barack Obama (San Francisco Chronicle, January 25, 2019)
Warren’s wealth tax proposal is constitutional, experts say
- and necessary (Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2019)
CIA Director Brennan: Indictments with names 'quite familiar
to the average American' are coming (Daily KOS, January
"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
been charged in Mueller-linked probes, and why
(Washington Post, January 25, 2019)
Investigation Summary/Mueller Probe Overview: Documents
Filed (Teri Kanefield, January 25, 2019)
Important Points About Today’s Stone Indictment (Daily
KOS, January 25, 2019)
indicts Roger Stone, says he was coordinating with Trump
officials about WikiLeaks' stolen emails (CNN, January
has ruined two of the GOP's strongest messages (Daily
KOS, January 25, 2019)
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."
Snaps at Tillis. Johnson Blames Yurtle. GOP in Disarray
Prior to Votes to End Shutdown. (Daily KOS, January 25,
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."
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."
humanity at the border and the farce of the national
emergency (Daily KOS, January 24, 2019)
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)
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."
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."
free software evangelist Richard Stallman is haunted by
Stalin’s dream (in India, January 23, 2019)
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.)"
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.'"
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."
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
Gaga stops concert to pummel Mike Pence's Christianity and
Trump's shutdown - the crowd goes wild (Daily KOS,
January 22, 2019)
garde! 'Cyber-war has begun' – and France will hack first,
its defence sec declares. (The Register, January 22,
"Parly-vous cyber-security? No plan to surrender, military bug
and ESA will attempt to knock an asteroid out of orbit for
the first time in 2022 (Business Insider, January 22,
"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
Just Got Lab-Made Evidence of Stephen Hawking's Greatest
Prediction About Black Holes (Science Alert, January 21,
"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."
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
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."
losing the shutdown showdown but can't admit it (Daily
KOS, January 21, 2019)
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
NEW: (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."
the subprime mortgage mess? $1.2 trillion in risky corporate
debt is flashing similar warning signs (Los Angeles
Times, January 20, 2019)
elected official suspended by DeSantis and replaced with
republican, cuz that's a thing now (Daily KOS, January
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."
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
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."
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
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."
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."
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."
Pelosi is winning in her battle with Trump. Here's why.
(Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2019)
takes aim at Pelosi amid stalled shutdown negotiations
(Washington Post, January 20, 2019)
#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."
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 rebuked 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."
Trump supporter yells 'Go back to Puerto Rico!' at Dem rep.
Turns out it was a GOP congressman. (Daily KOS, January
"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."
reckoning for political journalism (Axios, January 19,
"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."
House of Representatives: Delivery of the State Of The Union
Speech (H.R. Archives, reported January 18, 2019)
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
G. Drives Bus over Trump Campaigners, and They Noticed. Now
it's Circular-Firing-Squad-Time (Daily KOS, January 18,
"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
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."
is Not a Self-Made Billionaire (Daily KOS, January 18,
"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."
blocks Trump’s evangelical assault on women in 13 states
(Daily KOS, January 18, 2019)
McConnell calls House Democrats' anti-corruption bill a
'power grab' (Vox, January 18, 2019)
"McConnell just outlined his opposition to HR 1 in scathing
collusion, conspiracy, and the constant game of redefining
what Trump can get away with (Daily KOS, January 17,
"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.'"
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."
Cohen Paid A Tech Firm Owned By Jerry Falwell To Manipulate
Online Polls In Trump's Favor (Daily KOS, January 17,
More Migrant Children Were Probably Taken From Families Than
Reported (New York Times, January 17, 2019)
does a Ford SUV = a T-Rex? (Sierra Club, January 17,
Senator Mazie Hirono calls Trump child, apologizes to
children (Daily KOS, January 17, 2019)
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.'"
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
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?'"
Attack In Syria Kills 19 Including 4 Americans, Raising New
Worries About Troop Withdrawal (New York Times, January
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
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
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."
"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.'"
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."
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
Which Will Soon be Buying Red Hat, is Promoting Software
Patents in Europe (Techrights, January 15, 2019)
obscure company is doing more to destroy a free press in
America than Trump (Philadelphia Inquirer, January 15,
"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
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."
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.)
Barr carefully distances himself from Trump on key issues
(Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2019)
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
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..."
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."
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."
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."
FOX News Can't Avoid How Badly the Trump Shutdown is Going
Over with the American People (Daily KOS, January 14,
"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."
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."
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."
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."
call-in to Fox News backfires, and he may have committed a
felony in the process (Daily KOS, January 14, 2019)
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.'"
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."
worker with diabetes says she can’t afford to pay for
insulin during shutdown (The Hill, January 13, 2019)
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
investigation isn't only probing Trump's role as a
conspirator, but as a closet Chekist (Daily KOS, January
signs point the same way: Vladimir Putin has compromising
information on Donald Trump (USA Today, January 13,
"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."
is the biggest political story ever' - experts react to the
Trump-Russia FBI investigation (Daily KOS, January 12,
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."
Trump’s border wall would fit with previous national
emergency declarations (Washington Post, January 12,
"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."
park visitors cut down protected Joshua trees during partial
government shutdown (CNN, January 12, 2019)
Laughing Because WH Water Bill Past Due, Trump Plans To
Mis-Appropriate Funds To Build Wall (Daily KOS, January
"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."
workers can expect a paycheck this week as their boss gives
them a bonus (Washington Post, January 12, 2019)
traffic controllers sue Trump for being forced to work with
no pay (Washington Post, January 11, 2019)
sold $35 million in real estate in 2018 - over half came
from a deal requiring HUD approval (Daily KOS, January
administration official knows what women need: magic semen
and life at home with the kids (Daily KOS, January 11,
day our sun will solidify into a giant crystal orb (Los
Angeles Times, January 11, 2019)
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."
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."
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."
to Trump: Knock it off (Washington Post, January 11,
"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
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.
Check of the Day: The Many Ways Trump Has Said Mexico Will
Pay for the Wall (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
Agents Refuse to Work During Shutdown, Raising Fears of
Airport Turmoil (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
Shutdown could cost the economy $13 billion a month
(MSN, January 11, 2019)
TV Show Had Conman ‘Trump’ Selling Mystical ‘Wall’ To
Hysterical Townspeople (Talking Points Memo, January 10,
Agents Complain To Trump That Shutdown Undermines The Bureau
- Maybe That's The Plan? (Daily KOS, January 10, 2019)
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!)
‘forrest’ mismanagement threats are as disturbingly
uninformed as they are authoritarian (Los Angeles Times,
January 10, 2019)
backs down from plan that could have allowed youth
farmworkers to handle pesticides (Los Angeles Times,
January 10, 2019)
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