MONEY IS NOT WEALTH
by A. Richard
Begun September 29,
2008; last updated January 21, 2020
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On the eve of USA's November 2008 national election, an
urgent proposal for an unsecured $700-Billion, maybe
$800-Billion loan to mismanaged banks and stockbrokers was
generating understandable controversy. In its initial form the
Bush Buddies Bailout was one more Weapon of Mass Deception, a
two-step) public welfare program for wealthy people who
game the system. But the problem remains.
What, exactly, went - and continues to go - wrong? What ARE
reasonable goals, what are NOT, and how might a more populist
government reach good ones?
Jill and I searched, asked friends, and found part of the
discussion in the mainline U.S. Press. It is dominated by large
corporations, and is quickly becoming
a large corporation that reports with bias and too-often avoids
reporting. We find the parts they don't want us to find -
overseas, in The New York
Times and The
Washington Post, and in the Alternative Press. Some favorites are: Alternet,
Campaign for America's
KOS, Demand Progress,
The Huffington Post,
Nation of Change,
Dan Rather's News&Guts, Politico, The Raw Story,
Russ Baker's WhoWhatWhy.org.
But we keep a
sense of perspective; know
which news is biased, and how.
The more we read, the more we realize that - as much as we
want our money back - that is only one of many ways our country
is becoming impoverished. Often by corporations, which most
definitely are NOT people! (For one thing, these rapacious
corporations have no shame.)
You never want a serious
crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that, is an opportunity to
do things that you think you could not do before.
- Rahm Emanuel (Wall
Street Journal Weekend Interview, Nov. 7, 2008)
Never waste the opportunities
offered by a good crisis.
- Niccolo Machiavelli (Fifteenth Cent. Florentine
writer and statesman)
Yes, as through this world
I've seen lots of funny
Some will rob you with a
And some with a
And as through your life
Yes, as through your
life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from
- Woody Guthrie, Dust
What is the robbing of a
bank compared to the founding of a bank?
- Bertolt Brecht
Yes, We're Corrupt.
List of Politicians Admitting That Money Controls Politics
Too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and
consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one
does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning
things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for
- Jimmy Carter (1979, as U.S. President)
It is not particularly
easy for one to climb up out of the working-class - especially
if he is handicapped by the possession of ideals and
- What Life
Means to Me, by Jack London (1905)
... peace was not in the
interest of a stable society, that even if lasting peace
"could be achieved, it would almost certainly not be in the
best interests of society to achieve it." War was a part of
the economy. Therefore, it was necessary to conceive a state
of war for a stable economy. The government, the group
theorized, would not exist without war, and nation states
existed in order to wage war. War served the vital function of
diverting collective aggression. They recommended "credible
substitutes" and paying a "blood price" to emulate the
economic functions of war. Prospective government-devised
alternatives to war included reports of alien life-forms, the
reintroduction of a "euphemized form" of slavery "consistent
with modern technology and political processes", and - one
deemed particularly promising in gaining the attention of the
malleable masses - the threat of "gross pollution of the
- Wikipedia's summary of The
Report From Iron Mountain (1967)
Every gun that is made,
every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the
final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed,
those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is
not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its
laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its
children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.
Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of
- U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower (April 16, 1953)
There is nothing which I
dread so much as a division of the republic into two great
parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting
measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble
apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil
under our Constitution.
- John Adams, letter to Jonathan Jackson (2 October 1780), The
Works of John Adams, vol 9, p.511.
I see in the near future a crisis
approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for
the safety of my country. As a result of war, corporations
have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places
will follow, and the money power of the country will
endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices
of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands,
and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more
anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even
in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove
-- President Abraham
Lincoln (1864 letter to William Fletcher Elkin), or faked in Caldwell Remedy Company pamphlet (May 10, 1888),
What is this you call
property? It cannot be the earth. For the land is our mother,
nourishing all her children, beasts, birds, fish, and all men.
The woods, the streams, everything on it belongs to everybody
and is for the use of all. How can one man say it belongs to
Only when the last tree
has been cut down, only when the last river has been poisoned,
only when the last fish has been caught, only then will you
realize your money cannot be eaten.
- an old Cree saying? Maybe
not; but good.
The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people
tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it
becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in
its essence, is fascism.
- U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1938
Train communities through all their grades, beginning
with individuals and ending there again, to rule themselves.
This planet has -- or rather
had -- a problem, which was this: most of the people living on
it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were
suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely
concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper,
which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green
pieces of paper that were unhappy.
- Walt Whitman
- Douglas Adams, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (1979)
Fragile States Index (Fund For Peace)
National Debt Clock, by Ed Hall
The Freecycle Network (Good. A grassroots and
entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting)
stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. It's all
about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.)
Time Trade Circle
(Good. Time Banking in eastern Massachusetts.)
Buy Nothing Project
(See its Person-to-Person
section - on Facebook - and then see Corporate
Surveillance in Everyday Life , below).
of a Liberal (NY Times blog by Paul Krugman)
To Build A Better Ballot;
an interactive guide to alternative voting systems, by
Nicky Case, 2016)
for America's Future)
Thought Reform, (ca. 1997; Changing Minds)
Milieu control, mystical manipulation, confession,
self-sanctification through purity, aura of sacred science,
loaded language, doctrine over person, dispensed existence.
14 Characteristics of Fascism, by Lawrence Britt (Free
Inquiry magazine, 2003)
Market as God, by Harvey Cox (The Atlantic, 1999)
Living in the new dispensation.
Strange Disappearance of Cooperation in America, by Peter
Turchin (Cliodynamica, 2013)
Surveillance in Everyday Life (Institute for
Critical Digital Culture, 2018)
Every click on a website and every swipe on a
smartphone may trigger a wide variety of hidden
data sharing mechanisms distributed across several
companies and, as a result, directly affect a
person’s available choices. Digital tracking and
profiling, in combination with personalization,
are not only used to monitor, but also to influence
peoples’ behavior. ...
"Facebook uses at least 52,000 personal attributes to
sort and categorize its 1.9 billion users by,
for example, their political views, ethnicity, and
income. In order to do so, the platform
analyzes their posts, likes, shares, friends, photos,
movements, and many other kinds of behaviors.
"In addition, Facebook acquires data on its users from
other companies. In 2013, the platform
began its partnership with the four data brokers
Acxiom, Epsilon, Datalogix and BlueKai, the latter
two of which were subsequently acquired by the IT
giant Oracle. These companies help Facebook track
and profile its users even better than it already does
by providing it with data collected from
beyond its platform.
Us Cure Online Publishing of Its Addiction to
Personal Data, by Doc Searls (Linux Journal,
March 14, 2018)
Big Datastillery that targets YOU)
Official: Watching Fox Makes You Stupider (The Nation,
True Facts Guaranteed to Short-Circuit Republican Brains
(Daily Kos, 2012)
Exposed (Center for Media and Democracy, 2011)
Grief, and Ours: Paul Ryan's nasty ideal of self-reliance
(New Republic, 2012)
All Built This Great Nation Together: Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan, and
the Myth of Radical Individualism (Nick Gier)
Foul Reign Of Emerson's "Self-Reliance (New York Times,
Declaration of Conscience, June 1, 1950 speech by U.S.
Senator Margaret Chase Smith (U.S. Senate, 1950)
(The beginning of the end for Senator Joe McCarthy but,
unfortunately, not for McCarthyism.)
Death Of God, by Friedrich Nietzsche (1885)
my religion for equality (Jimmy Carter, 2009)
"The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still
have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or
subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends,
overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice
provides the foundation or justification for much of the
pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.
This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the
Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of
other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and
equitable treatment of all the children of God."
What It Was For; What Went Wrong; How To Fix It, by
Populism (Campaign for America's Future, 2014)
Republicans: The Non-Cooperator's Dilemma (Daily Kos,
"To create More and Better Democrats means to increase
cooperation. Punishing cooperation is the declared Republican
mission. 'The Evolution of Cooperation', by Robert Axelrod,
proposes a theory that says they lose, and recommends particular
political strategies to make it happen faster.
and Libertarianism, by David Niose
The Road Not Taken (Inside Climate News, 2015)
"This multi-part series describes how Exxon conducted
cutting-edge climate research decades ago and then, without
revealing all that it had learned, worked at the forefront of
climate denial, manufacturing doubt about the scientific
consensus that its own scientists had confirmed.
history of volcanic eruptions since Roman times (Past
Global Changes Magazine, 2015)
Really Warming The World? (Bloomberg, 2015)
Climate Opinion Maps, U.S. 2016
of the First 15 Years of the 21st Century (4-min. video;
NOAA, December 2, 2016)
Excessive Consumption Limits your Creativity (Medium, May
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.
Hill: Sustainability is Destroying the Earth: The
Green Economy vs. The Planet (Deep Green
Resistance News Service, May 25, 2017)
What is it we are trying to sustain? A living
planet, or industrial civilization? Because we can’t
things the public sector does better than the
'free' market (Daily Kos, October 1, 2017)
Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International
Comparisons Suggest An Answer. (New York Times,
November 7, 2017)
White House Staffer
GOP Rape Advisory
Loneliness of Donald Trump; On the Corrosive Privilege of the
Most Mocked Man in the World, by Rebecca Solnit
Vote Sleuth: Investigating
Democracy (Los Angeles Times, 2017)
Donald Trump is handling his job as president (Gallup
Poll Daily Data)
am I? Why am I here? (#25thAmendmentNow)
A running thread
of Trump not knowing where he is, how he got there, or the
appropriate response to give in the moment.
101: Here's what you need to know (Los Angeles Times,
Duty To Warn (Duty
To Warn, 2017)
Duty To Warn is an association of mental health professionals
and other concerned citizens who advocate Trump’s removal
under the 25th Amendment on the grounds that he is
way Donald Trump is handling his job as president
(Gallup Poll Daily Data)
am I? Why am I here? (#25thAmendmentNow)
A running thread
of Trump not knowing where he is, how he got there, or the
appropriate response to give in the moment. Some mental health
professionals are concerned that he may be exhibiting signs of
Alzheimer's, but he might just be an idiot.
Hamilton 68 Dashboard tracks Russian
influence operations on Twitter.
(Hosted by the Alliance
for Securing Democracy.)
Facebook’s destructive ethos
imperils democracy (The
Guardian, March 17, 2018)
Of Utopias (Transformative
SCORECARD; Congressional Civil
Liberties Record in the Trump Era
The percentage of women and men in
each profession (Boston Globe)
bans in private vehicles
Cycles, by Quinn
If the US has
will look back
on as the
make the Obama
as he possibly
could. As with
the US has
than in the
and his tactic
to a narrow
may lead to
check on the
as well as the
of 2018 and
2020 will be
erosion of an
judiciary as a
of a free
press and the
either has won
poised to win
created a new
of his closest
the form of
Fox News and
media not only
ability to be
a serial liar
his base. A
does not have
it can be
women and the
in the United
States in 2017
(ADL Center on
Over the past
for at least
of these, 274
one type or
Hate: A Year
May 7, 2018)
(Aeon, May 29,
was better at
How every part
of the world
has warmed –
that future is
country is on
track to sell
more than 1
as much as the
rest of the
with tens of
build up an
(and tens of
on the way),
China is not
letting up in
its pace to
Great Filter -
of the Real
If the FBI and
our mission to
On a daily
page with the
a cave wall,
crumbs from a
meal: the new
Since The Last
Signs Of The
Up the Carbon
country has a
It’s time for
and a renewed
Days to the
I propose to
Time to Break
May 9, 2019)
Facebook, is a
Project and a
have taken a
mistakes - the
of millions of
fake news; and
more of our
that of anyone
else in the
of people use
more like an
Mark alone can
decide how to
people see in
can use and
sets the rules
for how to
he can choose
to shut down a
"Mark is a
I’m angry that
his focus on
growth led him
in myself and
about how the
that Mark has
himself with a
must hold Mark
July 25, 2019)
is above the
Photos - The
Images of All
TIME and an
100 Photos of
July 23, 2019)
entering a new
era in which
data is the
there are far
forces at work
in the world
such as 3D
carry with us
are not just
for it. For
good or bad,
we are more
exposed to a
of ideas than
we have ever
been. And we
global as a
1619 Project (The New York Times, August 14, 2019)
In August of 1619, a ship appeared on this horizon, near Point
Comfort, a coastal port in the English colony of Virginia. It
carried more than 20 enslaved Africans, who were sold to the
colonists. No aspect of the country that would be formed here
has been untouched by the years of slavery that followed. In the
400th anniversary of this fateful moment, it is finally time to
tell our story truthfully.
Soil", by Emma Marris (Emergence Magazine, October 2019)
In almost every culture, Earth is female: Mother Earth, Gaia,
Pachamama, Terra, Prithvi - goddesses that, like the soil, have
the power to create new life. The mystery of working with soil
is that the best way to make it more fertile - more life-giving
- is to mix in dead things. Soil is the medium through which
death becomes life. It is the liminal stuff that exists after
death and rot but before sprouting life, growth, and
the State of
in the United
Trump House Impeachment Brief (U.S. House of
Representatives, January 18, 2020)
Anniversary of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU,
"So long as we have enough people in this country willing to
fight for their rights, we’ll be called a democracy." - ACLU
founder Roger Baldwin
When a roomful of civil liberties activists - led by Roger
Baldwin, Crystal Eastman, and Albert DeSilver - formed the ACLU
in 1920, the Supreme Court had yet to uphold a single free
speech claim. Activists languished in jail for distributing
anti-war literature. State-sanctioned violence against
African-Americans was routine. Women won the right to vote only
in August of that year. And constitutional rights for LGBT
people were unthinkable.
The ACLU was founded to ensure the promise of the Bill of Rights
and to expand its reach to people historically denied its
protections. In our first year, we fought the harassment and
deportation of immigrants whose activism put them at odds with
the authorities. In 1939, we won in the Supreme Court the right
for unions to organize. We stood almost alone in 1942 in
denouncing our government's round-up and internment in
concentration camps of more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans. And
at times in our history when frightened civilians have been
willing to give up some of their freedoms and rights in the name
of national security, the ACLU has been the bulwark for liberty.
Nonsense': Trump's Impeachment Defense Defies Legal
Consensus. (New York Times, January 20, 2020)
The president's legal case would negate any need for
witnesses. But constitutional scholars say that it's wrong.
Impeachment Rules Modify Clinton Precedent. (New York
Times, January 20, 2020)
The Senate Republican leader proposed impeachment trial rules
that push the 1999 precedent toward President Trump’s
States Seek Billions to Brace for Disaster. Just Don't Call
It Climate Change. (New York Times, January 20, 2020)
A $16 billion federal program to help states prepare for
natural disasters reflects the complicated politics of global
warming in the U.S., even as officials are increasingly forced
to confront its effects. States applying for funding must
explain why they need the money and describe their "current
and future risks." When those include flooding, states must
account for "continued sea level rise," a consequence of
But some conservative states have submitted proposals that
mostly avoid mentioning climate change. Texas refers to
"changing coastal conditions" and South Carolina talks about
the "destabilizing effects and unpredictability" of three
major storms in four years. One exception is Florida, whose
proposal calls climate change "a key overarching challenge."
[It depends upon the percentage of their voters who will be
below sea level.]
virus prompts U.S. precautions as human-to-human
transmission confirmed. (CBS News, January 20, 2020)
Gun Rally: Thousands Of Gun Owners Converge On Virginia
Capitol On MLK Day. (NPR, January 20, 2020)
Monday's gun-laden march in Richmond, militias' plans for a
'civil war' look to go national. (Daily Kos, January 19,
Thanks to an encouraging tweet from Donald Trump, militias
around the United States are preparing to assemble in
Richmond, Va., on Monday, to protest gun-control legislation -
many vowing to bring their guns, in open defiance of Gov.
Ralph Northam's declaration of emergency and its accompanying
ban on any kind of weaponry at the state Capitol.
On Friday, Trump tweeted an attack on Northam that aligned
perfectly with far-right extremists' paranoid claims about the
planned legislation: "Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious
attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia," he wrote.
"That's what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will
take your guns away."
The violent nature of the "Boogaloo" was emphasized this week
by the FBI's arrests of seven members of The Base, a neo-Nazi
paramilitary group openly dedicated to training for a "race
war." The first three were arrested Thursday, including
Canadian fugitive Patrik Mathews; in addition to being caught
with multiple weapons (including an illegal automatic rifle)
and a large cache of ammunition, the men had spoken openly of
attending Monday's rally in Richmond and opening fire there.
Three more were arrested Friday in Georgia, charged with
plotting the murders of a local antifascist couple, as well as
overthrowing the local county government. A seventh member of
the base - Yousef O. Barasneh, 22, of Oak Creek, Wisc. - was
also arrested Friday, charged with committing civil-rights
violations by vandalizing a synagogue in Racine, Wisc.
Cox Richardson: Of Heroes, on Martin Luther King Day
(Letters from an American, January 19, 2020)
afraid of the 1619 Project? (Daily Kos, January 19,
1619 Project, the brainchild of New
York Times staff reporter Nikole
Hannah-Jones, has had an impact on the foundation
of the way in which we approach American history and its
intertwined Black history, which is often dusted off and
separated out into a neat package for educational
consumption during the month of February, languishing the
rest of the year.
When the project launched, I sent my husband out, in vain,
to get a copy of the launch magazine — which sold out almost
instantly. I had to make do with
a download. Since that moment in August of last
year, the project has continued to affect teaching,
curricula, and has sparked an unlearning of
what we thought we knew about enslavement and this nation.
helped make burgers safer. Now he's petitioning USDA to ban
more than two dozen strains of salmonella from meat.
(Washington Post, January 19, 2020)
Leading food safety lawyer Bill Marler, who represented
hundreds of Jack in the Box victims in the 1990s, wants the
Department of Agriculture to ban some of the most virulent
bacteria on meat.
President Said He'd Fight Corruption. Resistance Is Fierce.
(New York Times, January 19, 2020)
For Volodymyr Zelensky, taking on the oligarchs and organized
crime is a domestic test with geopolitical consequences.
mocks New Yorkers, tells them to get their 'mops and buckets
ready' for next Hurricane Sandy. (Daily Kos, January 19,
The object of Trump’s derision here was the building of a sea
wall proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect
greater New York City from the next Superstorm Sandy and the
encroachment of rising sea levels caused by man-made climate
change. Trump has already secured approval for two sea walls
to protect his Ireland golf course from rising seas
attributable to climate change.
Republican Sen. John Cornyn on "Face the Nation," January
19, 2020. (8-min. video; CBS News, January 19, 2020)
SEN. CORNYN: [Trump
has] been charged with abuse of power, which is not treason,
which is not bribery, which is not a high crime and
misdemeanor. So, this is the first time in history where a
president has been impeached for a non-crime for events that
never occurred. Ultimately, the investigation never took place
and ultimately the - their aid was delivered.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I
want to ask you about the legal brief that Democrats did
submit. It included a number of things, including documents
that have been revealed recently by Lev Parnas, an indicted
business associate of Rudy Giuliani. Among them, a letter that
says that Rudy Giuliani himself was acting with the approval
and knowledge of the president when he was reaching out to the
president of Ukraine. Should all of these items be admissible
SEN. CORNYN: Well, as you know, MARGARET, I was a judge for 13
years in- in state courts and in no court in America would
that kind of hearsay be admissible. But having said that, I
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's a letter from Rudy Giuliani.
SEN. CORNYN: Well, I would be careful before crediting the
veracity of somebody who is under indictment in New York, the
southern district of New York, and who's trying to get
leniency from the prosecutor and who has ties to Russian
this is over, we’ll be kings': How Lev Parnas worked his way
into Trump's world - and now is rattling it. (3-min.
video and others; Washington Post, January 18, 2020)
A cascade of revelations by the former associate of Rudolph W.
Giuliani overshadowed the opening of the third presidential
impeachment trial in U.S. history, raising a host of new
questions about the Ukraine pressure campaign.
Defense Team Calls Impeachment Charges 'Brazen' as Democrats
Make Legal Case. (New York Times, January 18, 2020)
In a six-page filing formally responding to the impeachment
charges, President Trump's lawyers called the case against him
illegitimate and the effort to remove him dangerous. The
response came shortly after the House impeachment managers
formally outlines their case and called his conduct "the
framers' worst nightmare."
Trump House Impeachment Brief (U.S. House of
Representatives, January 18, 2020)
Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It
(New York Times, January 18, 2020)
A little-known start-up, Clearview AI, helps law enforcement
match photos of unknown people to their online images - and
"might lead to a dystopian future or something," a backer
a bunch of dopes and babies': Inside Trump's stunning tirade
against generals. (Washington Post, January 17, 2020)
(This article is adapted from "A Very Stable Genius: Donald J.
Trump's Testing of America," which will be published on Jan.
21 by Penguin Press.)
Six months into Trump's administration, Secretary of Defense
Jim Mattis, Director of the National Economic Council Gary
Cohn, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had grown alarmed
by gaping holes in Trump's knowledge of history, especially
the key alliances forged following World War II. Trump had
dismissed allies as worthless, cozied up to authoritarian
regimes in Russia and elsewhere, and advocated withdrawing
troops from strategic outposts and active theaters alike.
Trump organized his unorthodox worldview under the simplistic
banner of "America First," but Mattis, Tillerson, and Cohn
feared his proposals were rash, barely considered, and a
danger to America's superpower standing. They also felt that
many of Trump's impulsive ideas stemmed from his lack of
familiarity with U.S. history and, even, where countries were
located. So on July 20, 2017, Mattis invited Trump to the Tank
for what he, Tillerson, and Cohn had carefully organized as a
tailored tutorial. What happened inside the Tank that day
crystallized the commander in chief's berating, derisive and
dismissive manner, foreshadowing decisions such as the one
earlier this month that brought the United States to the brink
of war with Iran. The Tank meeting was a turning point in
Trump's presidency. Rather than getting him to appreciate
America's traditional role and alliances, Trump began to tune
out and eventually push away the experts who believed their
duty was to protect the country by restraining his more
Dunford sought to explain that he hadn't been charged with
annihilating the enemy in Afghanistan but was instead
following a strategy started by the Obama administration to
gradually reduce the military presence in the country in hopes
of training locals to maintain a stable government so that
eventually the United States could pull out. Trump shot back
in more plain language. "I want to win," he said. "We don’t
win any wars anymore . . . We spend $7 trillion, everybody
else got the oil and we’re not winning anymore."
Trump by now was in one of his rages. He was so angry that he
wasn’t taking many breaths. All morning, he had been coarse
and cavalier, but the next several things he bellowed went
beyond that description. They stunned nearly everyone in the
room, and some vowed that they would never repeat them.
Indeed, they have not been reported until now.
"I wouldn’t go to war with you people," Trump told the
assembled brass. Addressing the room, the commander in chief
barked, "You’re a bunch of dopes and babies."
For a president known for verbiage he euphemistically called
"locker room talk," this was the gravest insult he could have
delivered to these people, in this sacred space. This was a
president who had been labeled a "draft dodger" for avoiding
service in the Vietnam War under questionable circumstances.
Trump was a young man born of privilege and in seemingly
perfect health: six feet two inches with a muscular build and
a flawless medical record. He played several sports, including
football. Then, in 1968 at age 22, he obtained a diagnosis of
bone spurs in his heels that exempted him from military
service just as the United States was drafting men his age to
fulfill massive troop deployments to Vietnam.
defense will be led by a 'lunatic,' 'wacko' and 'off his
rocker' Ken Starr, according to Trump himself.
(Washington Post, January 17, 2020)
lies about Sackler contribution, won’t return Eli Lilly
money. (Maine Beacon, January 16, 2020)
In a conversation with a constituent last week, U.S. Senator
Susan Collins at first flatly denied she had accepted money
from both the Sackler family, owners of Purdue
Pharmaceuticals, and drug company giant Eli Lilly. The
Sacklers have admitted to misleadingly pushing the addictive
painkiller OxyContin and are currently being sued by Maine and
other states over their role in the opioid crisis. Eli Lilly
has dramatically hiked the price of insulin and faces a class
action lawsuit for their alleged price gouging.
Collins has, in fact, received contributions from both sources
- and at least $400,000 over her career from pharmaceutical
the Extreme Summer Down Under (NASA, January 16, 2020)
Baked by heat and drought, deluged by rain and floods,
scorched by wildfire, and blanketed by dust, Australia has
faced several months of extreme weather.
Manhattan's Skyscrapers Are Empty (The Atlantic, January
Approximately half of the luxury-condo units that have come
onto the market in the past five years are still unsold. The
confluence of cosmopolitan capital and terrible timing has
done the impossible: It's created a vacancy problem in a city
where thousands of people are desperate to find places to
Fog of Rudy (New York Times Magazine, January 15, 2020)
Did Rudy Giuliani change - or did America?
During his second and this time successful mayoral campaign,
Giuliani's public speeches were almost comically grandiose and
self-dramatizing, full of phrases like "We have a city to
save." He vowed to return New York to some golden age from
which he - the son of a hard-working, Italian-American tavern
owner; proud product of Brooklyn's Bishop Loughlin Memorial
High School; lifelong Yankee fan - had sprung. We would learn
years later that Giuliani had left some key details out of
this founding mythology: His father, Harold, had in fact been
a collector for a loan shark and served time in prison for
Giuliani was among the first of a new breed, a
publicity-obsessed, reality-defying master of resentment
politics - that is, just the kind of figure who is now
ascendant across the globe in the form of strongmen, oligarchs
and even populist Tories. These are not men of vision, but men
of appetites. They are typically unrefined and streetwise;
they practice their populism with a knowing wink, issuing
fact-indifferent, emotion-based appeals to their constituents,
while focusing, with impunity, on consolidating their power,
satisfying their hungers and enriching themselves.
Parnas tells Maddow 'Trump knew exactly what was going on.'
(1-min. video; MSNBC, January 15, 2020)
Lev Parnas breaks his silence in an interview with Rachel
Maddow. He says, "President Trump knew exactly what was going
on. He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn't do anything
without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the President. I have
no intent, I have no reason to speak to any of these
TOUGHEST Question at the Iowa Democratic Debate (11-min.
video; The Young Turks, January 15, 2020)
Buttigieg's toughest question was why he hasn't earned the
support of Blacks.
'Teacher of the Year' kneels during college football
championship. (The Hill, January 15, 2020)
judge temporarily halts Trump administration policy allowing
local governments to block refugees. (Washington Post,
January 15, 2020)
State and local officials cannot block refugees from being
resettled in their jurisdictions, a federal judge ruled
Wednesday, finding the Trump administration's new refugee
policy is likely to be "unlawful" and "does not appear to
serve the overall public interest."
China Obtains American Trade Secrets (New York Times,
January 15, 2020)
Companies have long accused Chinese rivals of swiping or
seizing valuable technology. Beijing promises to ban those
practices, but enforcement could be tough.
Paul threatens fellow Republicans with explosive witness
votes. (Politico, January 15, 2020)
The Kentucky senator is vowing to squeeze vulnerable GOP
incumbents if they side with Democrats during Trump's
and his Republicans cooking up tricks to give gloss of
legitimacy to impeachment trial. (Daily Kos, January 14,
Fever (Hakai Magazine, January 14, 2020)
The discovery of a legendary, lost shipwreck in North America
has pitted treasure hunters and archaeologists against each
other, raising questions about who should control sunken
Homecoming at Taal Volcano: 'Everything’s Gone in the Blink
of an Eye.' (New York Times, January 14, 2020)
At least 30,000 people have fled since a mammoth eruption in
the Philippines, and a new blast is feared. These islanders
went back anyway.
Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment.
(New York Times, January 13, 2020)
The timing and scale of the current attacks suggest that the
Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing
material on the Bidens - the same kind of information that Mr.
Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation
of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that
led to his impeachment.
The Russian tactics are strikingly similar to what American
intelligence agencies say was Russia's hacking of emails from
Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman and the Democratic
National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign. In
that case, once they had the emails, the Russians used trolls
to spread and spin the material, and built an echo chamber to
widen its effect.
Krugman: Trump's Plot Against Health Care Continues.
(New York Times, January 13, 2020)
He is still coming for your coverage - and lying about it.
and Trump's farewell tweets to Booker show you everything
you need to know about them. (Daily Kos, January 13,
Booker Drops Out Of Presidential Race. (2-min. video;
NPR, January 13, 2020)
"Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money
to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win -
money we don't have, and money that is harder to raise because
I won't be on the next debate stage and because the urgent
business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in
States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories. (New York
Times, January 12, 2020)
We analyzed some of the most popular social studies textbooks
used in California and Texas. Here's how political divides
shape what students learn about the nation's history.
The textbooks cover the same sweeping story, from the
brutality of slavery to the struggle for civil rights. The
self-evident truths of the founding documents to the waves of
immigration that reshaped the nation. The books have the same
publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are
customized for students in different states, and their
contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation’s
deepest partisan divides.
Says He Saw No Evidence Iran Targeted 4 Embassies, as Story
Shifts Again. (New York Times, January 12, 2020)
The disparity between the defense secretary and President
Trump added another twist to an ever-evolving explanation for
a strike on an Iranian general that led to the brink of war.
They had to kill him because he was planning an "imminent"
attack. But how imminent they could not say. Where they could
not say. When they could not say. And really, it was more
about what he had already done. Or actually it was to stop him
from hitting an American embassy. Or four embassies. Or not.
The latest twist came today. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper
said he was never shown any specific piece of evidence that
Iran was planning an attack on four American embassies, as Mr.
Trump had claimed just two days earlier.
Cracks Down as Protests Over Downing of Airliner Grow.
(New York Times, January 12, 2020)
A top Iranian military commander made a rare public appeal for
forgiveness on Sunday as security forces fired on protesters
and outrage over the mistaken downing of a jetliner reignited
opposition on the streets and stirred dissent within the
government's conservative, hard-line power base.
president wins second term with landslide victory over
pro-Beijing rival. (Washington Post, January 11, 2020)
Taiwanese voters demonstrated their overwhelming desire to
distance themselves from China and to reject its proposal of
living under a Hong Kong-style "one country, two systems"
arrangement, returning both the presidency and the legislature
to the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party.
President Tsai Ing-wen won a resounding reelection, taking
57 percent of the vote in a three-way race and a record
8 million votes.
Sanders: The Challenge Of Our Time (Bernie Sanders,
January 11, 2020)
The challenge of our
time is not simply to begin a war that will result
in the deaths of many people - young Americans and innocent
families overseas - but the real challenge of our time is to
see how we can use our power in a different way to stop
aggression and keep our people safe. Because if we are not
successful right now, then I think all this world has to look
forward to in the future for our children is war, and more
war, and more war... as if we haven’t had enough war already.
It is almost beyond impossible to imagine that after nearly 17
years of war in Iraq - a war that upended the regional order
of the Middle East and resulted in untold loss of life - that
this administration is putting us on such a dangerous path
toward more war.
This time with Iran. Apparently for some, decades of constant
war is not enough.
Let us not forget that when Trump took office, we had a
nuclear agreement with Iran, negotiated by the Obama
administration along with our closest allies. Countries from
all over the world came together to negotiate that agreement,
which put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program. The wise course
would have been to stick with that nuclear agreement, enforce
its provisions, and use that diplomatic channel with Iran to
address our other concerns with Iran, including their support
of terrorism. Unfortunately, Trump followed his reckless
instincts and listened to right-wing extremists, some of whom
were exactly the same people that got us into the war in Iraq
in the first place.
Now, as you all know, last week President Trump ordered the
assassination of a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani in
Iraq, along with the leader of an Iraqi militia. Trump
justified the assassination of Soleimani by claiming that it
was necessary to prevent 'imminent' attacks on U.S. forces,
but his administration has offered no evidence to back that
claim up, even in a classified setting.
Then he claimed that there were plans to attack U.S.
embassies, again offering no evidence. And now, unbelievably,
we find out that Trump himself told people he was under
pressure to deal with Soleimani from GOP senators he views as
important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the
Once again, we see Trump making enormously consequential
national security decisions for selfish reasons and without
regard for the Constitution.
As a United States senator, I will do everything I can to rein
in this reckless president and prevent a war with Iran.
As president, I will offer a different vision for how we
exercise American power: one that is not demonstrated by our
ability to blow things up, but by our ability to bring
countries together and forge international consensus around
A test of a great nation is not how many wars we can fight or
how many governments we can overthrow, but how we can use our
strength to resolve international conflicts in a peaceful way.
admits to downing airliner amid calls for justice,
transparency. (Washington Post, January 11, 2020)
Iranian officials said that military personnel targeted the
Ukraine jet as it turned toward a "sensitive military site"
shortly after departing from Tehran. The General Staff of
Iran's Armed Forces said it was "human error that caused the
crash" of the Boeing 737-800, killing all 176 passengers on
of a lie: from 'imminent attack' to 'four embassies' with no
facts in between (Daily Kos, January 11, 2020)
Sometimes deception generates a "tangled web," other times
just a hilarious mess. But Donald Trump’s war-triggering
assassination and post-drone strike rationalizations show two
things: one is how clumsily Trump shifts his lies from day to
day, the other is how Mike Pompeo and Fox News hurry along in
Trump’s wake, trying to paper over irrational statements with
a thin veneer of claims that all fall apart on even the most
Days in January: How Trump Pushed U.S. and Iran to the Brink
of War (New York Times, January 11, 2020)
The story of that week, and the secret planning in the months
preceding it, ranks as the most perilous chapter so far in
President Trump's three years in office.
The episode briefly gave Mr. Trump's allies something to
cheer, distracting from the coming Senate impeachment trial,
but now he faces questions even among Republicans about the
shifting justifications for the strike that he and his
national security team have offered. Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo initially cited the need to forestall an "imminent"
attack and the president has amplified that to say four
American embassies were targeted. But administration officials
said they did not actually know when or where such an attack
might occur and one State Department official said it was "a
mistake" to use the word "imminent." And some senior military
commanders were stunned that Mr. Trump picked what they
considered a radical option with unforeseen consequences.
This account, based on interviews with dozens of Trump
administration officials, military officers, diplomats,
intelligence analysts and others in the United States, Europe
and the Middle East, offers new details about what may be the
most consequential seven days of the Trump presidency.
Cox Richardson: Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are trying
desperately to justify the assassination after the fact.
(Letters from an American, January 10, 2020)
All current evidence suggests that Trump ordered the killing
of General Qassem Soleimani either to please his base or to
curry favor with key senators before the Senate impeachment
trial. It blew up in his face, and now he and Secretary of
State Mike Pompeo are trying desperately to justify the action
after the fact.
At stake is the issue that Trump acted without advising
Congress. The Constitution provides that Congress alone shall
declare war, but it also makes the president the
commander-in-chief. During the Nixon administration, when
congress members sometimes discovered that America was
militarily engaged in entirely unexpected places, Congress
pushed back to reassert its role in military actions.
growing around Everest as ice melts on Himalayas. (Daily
Mail, January 10, 2020)
Plants are growing in new areas around Mount Everest as rising
temperatures melts ice on the Himalayas, according to a new
report. Increased vegetation coverage across the Himalayas
could have consequences for water supply from the range on
which some 1.4 billion people rely.
Administration Says Obamacare Lawsuit Can Wait Until After
the Election. (New York Times, January 10, 2020)
The Trump administration came into office with its top
legislative priority clear: Repeal the Affordable Care Act. It
failed. Then, when a group of Republican states tried to throw
out Obamacare through a lawsuit, the administration agreed
that a key part of the law was unconstitutional.
But now that defenders of the law have asked the Supreme Court
to settle the case quickly, the president's lawyers say they
are in no particular hurry.
Conway and Neal Katyal: How Pelosi should play her
impeachment cards (Washington Post, January 10, 2020)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has announced that she
plans to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate,
but that does not mean she has lost in the seeming standoff
with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over
whether to call witnesses at the Senate trial. McConnell has
said "there’s no chance the president's going to be removed
from office" and "there will be no difference between the
president's position and our position." In response, Pelosi
still has cards in her hand - if she plays them - because the
House approved two articles of impeachment against President
The first article of impeachment effectively charges the
president with shaking down Ukraine; the second impeaches him
for his unprecedented obstruction of Congress. That gives the
speaker room to maneuver. She could choose to tweak her
announcement and send only the second article, on obstruction,
for trial. Or she could transmit them both - along with a
House-approved provision advising the Senate that if it fails
to obtain adequate witnesses and documents, the House will
reopen the investigation into Article I and subpoena that
Separating the two articles - our preferred approach - would
make perfect sense. When it comes to the second article, all
the evidence about Trump's obstruction is a matter of public
record. There's nothing more to add, so the second article is
ripe for trial. But as to the first, although there is plenty
of evidence demonstrating Trump's guilt, his obstruction has
prevented all of the evidence from coming to light.
alerts House to be ready to send Trump impeachment articles
next week. (Boston Globe, January 10, 2020)
In a letter to colleagues this morning, the speaker moved to
end an impasse over the impeachment process that had left the
president's fate in limbo even as he navigated escalating
hostilities with Iran in recent days. She did not announce
which Democrats she would name to manage the case at trial,
but said the House should be ready to vote to appoint them
sometime next week and to formally deliver the Senate charges
of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
of top Iranian general occurred alongside a secret, failed
mission in Yemen, officials say. (Los Angeles Times,
January 10, 2020)
The U.S. military tried, but failed, to take out another
senior Iranian commander on the same day that an American
airstrike killed the Revolutionary Guard's top general, U.S.
officials said Friday. The officials said a military airstrike
by special operations forces targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, a
high-ranking commander in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard
Corps, but the mission was not successful. Both Iranian Gen.
Qassem Suleimani and Shahlai were on approved military
targeting lists, which indicates a deliberate effort by the
U.S. to cripple the leadership of the Revolutionary Guard's
Quds Force, which has been designated a terrorist organization
by the U.S.
now claims four embassies were under threat from Iran,
raising fresh questions about intelligence reports. (Washington Post, January 10, 2020)
"I can reveal that I believe it probably would've been four
embassies," Trump said.
But a senior administration official and a senior defense
official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss
classified information, said they were only aware of vague
intelligence about a plot against the embassy in Baghdad and
that the information did not suggest a fully-formed plot.
Neither official said there were threats against multiple
angered by House ally's push to limit his authority on Iran.
(Washington Post, January 10, 2020)
"Reclaiming Congressional power is the Constitutional
conservative position!", Devin Murphy, legislative director of Florida Rep. Matt
Gaetz, wrote to all Republican offices around 11 a.m.
Thursday, underlining the text.
Senator Breaks Ranks to Attack Trump on Soleimani.
(11-min. video; The Young Turks, January 10, 2020)
Republican Senator Mike Lee says it was an unacceptable
side-stepping of the U.S. Constitution.
Intel: Iran Shot Down Plane, Then Realized Mistake. (Daily Mail, January 9, 2020)
The Ukrainian airliner that crashed in Iran the night of the
missile attacks on bases in Iraq appears to have been shot by
the Iranians with a Russian-made anti-aircraft system.
plane crashes in Iran. (Newsweek, January 9, 2020)
Mystery of the Trump Chaos Trades, Iran/Mar-a-Lago Edition
(Vanity Fair, January 9, 2020)
Spikes in the Chicago E-mini market, and in defense stocks,
preceded the announcement of the killing of Qasem Soleimani,
not long after Trump reportedly told Mar-a-Lago guests he was
working on a "big" response to Iran's provocations. A
The U.S. drone strike that killed Qasem Soleimani came at
around 1 a.m. local time in Baghdad on Friday, January 3. That
was around 5 p.m. in Washington. It took the Pentagon another
five hours or so - just before 10 p.m. - before it released
its official statement telling the world that Soleimani had
been killed. E-minis stop trading on the CME at about 4 p.m.
New York time (3 p.m. Chicago time) each day. There is then an
hour of what's known as aftermarket trading. Then there is a
one-hour break in trading. Night trading in E-minis begins at
6 p.m. New York time, hours before the Pentagon made its
official announcement about Soleimani's killing.
For the first two and a half hours of the night trading on
January 2, the volume in the E-mini market was around 1,000
contracts every 10 minutes, according to the trading records
from that night made available to me. Nothing particularly
But then, around 8:30 p.m. ET, or still some 90 minutes before
the Pentagon made its announcement, trading picked up
considerably. The S&P 500 index was then at 3260.
Suddenly, a trader or group of traders—but most likely not a
single trade or trader - began making big bets that the
S&P index would fall by selling the March 2020 E-mini
futures contract. At 8:30 p.m. ET, 2,250 E-mini contracts were
sold; at 8:40 p.m. ET, 5,790 E-mini contracts were sold; 10
minutes later, 7,113 E-mini contracts were sold. In sum, in
the 70 minutes between 8:30 p.m. ET and 9:40 p.m. ET, 76,000
E-mini contracts were sold. By then, the S&P 500 index had
dropped to 3236. After the attack was announced, the S&P
500 index dropped to 3206, a drop of around 50 points. A
50-point drop in the index generates a profit of $2,500 per
contract, assuming those contracts were sold short, which in
this case they were. 76,000 contracts sold short, at a gain of
around $2,500 per contract, equals some $190 million in profit
- on paper anyway - for whomever, or group of whomevers, was
clever enough or lucky enough or informed enough about the
impending bombshell news out of the Pentagon that the
important Iranian leader had been killed.
"Did someone or a group foresee the execution of top general
of Iran?", an E-mini trader wondered in an email sent to me
the other day. "…When volume goes from 1,000 every 10 minutes
and jumps to as high as almost 17,000 in 10 minutes, something
is going on."
Show Off Selfless Behavior. (New York Times, January 9,
A series of experiments demonstrated that African grey parrots
had something like social intelligence in addition to their
Government-funded Android phones come preinstalled with
unremovable malware. (Ars Technica, January 9, 2020)
Phones were sold to low-income people under the FCC's Lifeline
Trump revealing that the United States is developing
hypersonic missiles is a very big deal. (Daily Kos,
January 8, 2020)
[Another significant Trump slip, but not a surprise to the
well-informed. See the Comments thread - in which we think the
E.O. Wilson-paraphrased "Humans have prehistoric brains,
medieval institutions, and nuclear weapons" is particularly
Trump blames Barack Obama for giving Iran the cash to buy
missiles flung at U.S. bases - as he offers to 'embrace
peace' and claims Tehran is 'standing down' but warns of
'hypersonic weapons' and 'lethal and fast' attacks.
(Daily Mail, January 8, 2020)
Trump addresses the world about Iran. (9-min. video; NBC
News, January 8, 2020)
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Iran "appears to
be standing down" after its missile attack on U.S. targets in
Iraq, and he vowed to keep up the pressure on Tehran with
"punishing" new economic sanctions. Trump made the comments in
an address to the nation Wednesday from the White House less
than a day after Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic
missiles at two Iraqi air bases housing U.S. forces in
retaliation for the killing of a top general.
"Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for
all parties concerned and a very good things for the world,"
Trump said. He added that “no American or Iraqi lives were
lost” in the Iranian attacks, “because of the precautions
taken, the dispersal of force and an early warning system that
worked very well.”
He also said he planned to request help from NATO, an alliance
he has frequently criticized, in the region.
In addition, Trump lambasted the Iran nuclear deal - from
which he withdrew the U.S. in 2018 - and claimed that the
financial incentives provided by the Obama administration to
Iran under that deal financed the missiles used in the latest
attacks. "The missiles fired last night at us and our allies
were paid for by the funds made available by the last
administration," Trump said, adding that "Iran's hostilities
increased" after the deal was signed in 2015. Trump also
called on world powers, including the United Kingdom, Germany,
France, Russian and China to "break away from the remnants of"
Democrats stressed that Congress must assert its authority
over declaring war even if the U.S. and Iran de-escalate
Trump will address the world about Iran after Ayatollah says
missile attack is 'not enough' revenge for drone strike that
killed Qassem Soleimani. (Daily Mail, January 8,
Iran launched what it promised would be a 'crushing revenge'
strike against the U.S. over the death of General Qassem
Soleimani but succeeded only in damaging two airbases in
neighboring Iraq. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps fired
ballistic missiles at the Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq
and Erbil International airport in the north in the early
hours of Wednesday, but failed to kill a single US or Iraqi
Iranian television had
tried to claim that 80 'American terrorists' were killed,
but that figure was quickly rubbished by Iraqi and US
Images showed several missiles had either failed to explode
on impact or else missed their targets. The remains of
one was found near the town of Duhok, some 70 miles from
Erbil air base, which was the intended target. The Iraqi
military said 22 missiles were fired in total - 17 at the
Asad base, two of which failed to explode, and five more
that struck Erbil International Airport. US officials put
the total slightly lower at 15 - ten of which hit Asad, one
which hit Erbil, four which failed in flight. Iran said it
had used Fatteh-110 ballistic missiles for the attack,
though analysts said images of wreckage near the Aasd base
also appears to show Qaim-1 ballistic missiles were used.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike
Pompeo were spotted arriving at the White House soon after
news of the strikes broke. South Carolina Senator Lindsey
Graham said on Tuesday night that the missile strikes were
an 'act of war' and said Trump had all the power he needed
to act. 'This is an act of war by any reasonable
definition,' Graham told Fox News' Sean Hannity. 'The
President has all the authority he needs under Article II to
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a branch of the
Iranian Armed Forces, reportedly said Iran's supreme leader
Ayatollah Khamenei was personally in the control center
coordinating the attacks. They also warned U.S. allies in
the Middle East that they would face retaliation if America
strikes back against any Iranian targets from their bases.
'We are warning all American allies, who gave their bases to
its terrorist army, that any territory that is the starting
point of aggressive acts against Iran will be targeted,'
they said. It also threatened Israel.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on Iranian TV shortly
after the missiles were launched, described the strikes as 'a
slap' and said they 'are not sufficient (for revenge)' while
vowing further action to kick US troops out of the region. But
foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the attack was now
'concluded,' praising Iran's 'proportionate' response and
adding: 'We do not seek escalation or war.'
It is thought Iran gave advanced warning of the strikes, after
Iraq, Finland and Lithuania - which all had troops stationed
at the bases which were targeted - all said they were informed
in advance. America said that 'early warning systems' detected
the missile launches and sirens were sounded at the Asad base,
allowing soldiers to seek shelter. It is not clear whether
they were also informed by Iran. Prominent analysts suggested
Iran may have deliberately pulled its punches because they are
fearful of the 'disproportionate' response threatened by Trump
if US personnel were killed. 'With the attacks, Tehran
signalled its capacity and readiness to respond to US attacks,
thus saving face, and yet they have been well targeted to
avoid fatalities and thus avoid provoking Trump's reaction,'
said Annalisa Perteghella of the Institute for International
Political Studies in Milan. The timing of the Iranian strikes
- around 1:20 am local time - occurred at the same time as the
US drone strike which killed Soleimani.
A procession in Tehran on
Monday drew over one million people in the Iranian capital,
crowding both main avenues and side streets. A
stampede broke out Tuesday at Soleimani's funeral in his
hometown of Kerman; at least 56 people were killed and more
than 200 were injured as thousands thronged the procession,
Iranian news reports said. There was no information about what
set off the crush in the packed streets. Online videos showed
only its aftermath: people lying apparently lifeless, their
faces covered by clothing, emergency crews performing CPR on
the fallen and onlookers wailing and crying out to God.
There are still fears for US forces in the region after Qais
al-Khazali, a commander of Iran-backed Popular Mobilization
Forces in Iraq, vowed to exact revenge for the killing of
deputy-leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. 'The first Iranian
response to the assassination of the martyr leader Soleimani
took place,' he tweeted. 'Now is the time for the initial
Iraqi response to the assassination of the martyr leader
Muhandis. 'And because the Iraqis are brave and zealous, their
response will not be less than the size of the Iranian
response, and this is a promise.'
Britain, Australia, France, Poland, Denmark and Finland have
confirmed that none of their troops stationed in Iraq were
hurt in the attack, while calling for an end to hostilities
and a return to talks. European Commission President Ursula
von der Leyen vowed the EU will 'spare no effort' in trying to
save the nuclear deal that Iran signed with President Obama
and was ripped up by Trump, sparking the current tensions.
China and Russia, both key Iranian allies, also warned against
escalating strikes with Vladimir Dzhabarov, lawmaker with
Russia's upper house of parliament, warning the conflict could
easily lead to a nuclear war. The Syrian government, another
key ally of Iran, has expressed full solidarity with Iran,
saying Tehran has the right to defend itself 'in the face of
American threats and attacks.' The foreign ministry said in a
statement Wednesday that Syria holds the 'American regime
responsible for all the repercussions due to its reckless
policy and arrogant mentality.'
Hours after the launch, a Ukrainian Airlines Boeing 737 caught
fire crashed near Tehran killing all 177 passengers and crew -
including 63 Canadian and three Britons - amid fears it could
have been caught up in the attack. Ukraine's foreign ministry
said of those killed, 82 were Iranian, 63 Canadian, 11
Ukrainian, three British, with the remainder hailing from
Sweden, Afghanistan, and Germany.
Lessig: Don’t allow McConnell to swear a false oath.
(Washington Post, January 8, 2020)
Before the Senate begins its trial to determine whether the
president should be convicted of the charges for which he has
been impeached, the jury - the members of the Senate - must be
sworn to service. The oath is mandated by the Constitution;
its language, set by Senate rules, requires each senator to
swear to "do impartial justice according to the Constitution
and laws." To swear a false oath is perjury - the crime
President Bill Clinton was charged with in his impeachment.
Among the senators who will have to take an oath in the trial
of President Trump is the majority leader, Sen. Mitch
McConnell (R-Ky.). Yet McConnell has openly declared that he
is "not impartial about this at all." "Impeachment," the
senator has opined, is a "political process. This [sic] is not
anything judicial about it."
A century and a half ago, Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner
said, "A false oath, taken with our knowledge, would
compromise the Senate. We who consent will become parties to
That precedent should matter today. Any senator is privileged
to object to any other senator taking an oath. The chief
justice would then have to decide whether the oath can be
sworn honestly. As there seems no way that Mitch McConnell's
oath could be honest, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. should
forbid McConnell from taking it. Whether he so rules or not,
the decision could be appealed to the Senate as a whole.
Should the Senate openly accept a false oath - perjury - in a
proceeding to determine the president's guilt?
Is Right: She and Joe Biden Should Not Be in the Same Party.
(Jacobin, January 7, 2020)
The political distance between AOC and Bernie Sanders on the
one hand, and Joe Biden on the other, is stunning. They’re not
on the same team when it comes to their vision for America -
and thank God for that.
Labs on the Water’s Edge Are Threatened by Climate Change.
(New York Times,
January 7, 2020)
700 Speak This Language (50 in the Same Brooklyn Building).
(New York Times, January 7, 2020)
Seke, one of the world’s rarest languages, is spoken by about
100 people in New York.
offers Iraq S-400 air defense system to protect airspace.
(Al Masdar News, January 7, 2020)
[While attempting to divert attention from its impeachment,
the Trump puppet scores another goal for Putin!]
Predicted Iran Attack in 2011! (The Daily Show, January
Trevor Noah: "Nine years ago we received a warning from a
Donald Trump (Speaking of Barak Obama in 2011): "Our president
will start a war with Iran because he has absolutely no power
to negotiate. He's weak and he's ineffective, so the only way
that he figures that he's going to get reelected - and as sure
as you are sitting there - is to start a war with Iran. So I
believe that he will attack Iran sometime prior to the
election, because he thinks that's the only way he can get
elected. Isn't it pathetic!"
[NOT psychic; that's the "gift" of projection.]
Air Force performs huge show of strength with 52
fully-armed F-35a Lightning II stealth fighters worth
$4.2 BILLION taking off in a single wave. (Daily Mail, January 6, 2020)
The model is billed as the most advanced military
aircraft ever sent into the skies.
Suleimani Has United Iranians Like Never Before.
(Foreign Policy, January 6, 2020)
Even among reformers, the fallen general was seen as a
hero who stayed out of domestic politics.
in the firing line: Iranian presidential adviser posts
list of Donald Trump's properties in chilling hint of
an attack on his real estate empire - after Iran put
an $80-million bounty on his head. (Daily Mail,
January 6, 2020)
Hesameddin Ashena linked to an article listing
properties owned by Trump. It included Trump Tower in
New York as well as his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
The adviser said that Tehran's 'sole problem is Trump'
rather than Americans.
Iran has vowed revenge after the death of Qassem
Soleimani in a drone strike. Trump has warned of
'disproportionate' retaliation including on cultural
Fully Withdraws From Nuclear Deal and Criticizes
European Response to Soleimani's Killing. (1-min.
video; Newsweek, January 5, 2020)
Era of Perpetual Conflict, a Volatile President Grabs
Expanded Powers to Make War. (New York Times, January 4,
The powers of an American president to wage war have
grown stronger for nearly two decades, ever since the
Sept. 11 attacks led the United States into an era of
perpetual conflict. Those powers are now in the hands of
the most volatile president in recent memory.
President Trump's decision to authorize the killing of a
top Iranian military leader could be the match that sets
off a regional conflagration, or it could have only
marginal geopolitical impact like so many of the
targeted killings ordered by Mr. Trump and his
predecessors. But it is just the latest example of the
capricious way in which the president, as commander in
chief, has chosen to flex his lethal powers.
Ilhan Omar sets Trump straight on the true meaning of
impeachment. (Daily Kos, January 4, 2020)
Tensions With Iran Escalated, Trump Opted for Most Extreme
Measure. (New York Times, January 4, 2020)
While senior officials argue the drone strike was warranted
to prevent future attacks, some in the administration remain
skeptical about the rationale for the attack. The Pentagon
Says U.S. Soleimani Strike Will Damage Regional Stability,
Impact Millions of People. (1-min. video; Newsweek,
January 3, 2020)
Russia's Foreign Ministry has condemned the U.S. assassination
of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem
Soleimani, warning Thursday's strike would only escalate
regional tensions and make life worse for millions of people.
Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova told the Rossiya 24 TV
channel on Friday that U.S. conduct around recent tensions in
Iraq - culminating with Thursday's drone strike - was the
"height of cynicism," the state-backed Tass news agency
[Maybe Trump will listen to Putin.]
Gone, and the Iran Nuclear Deal May Be Next. (New York
Times, January 3, 2019)
Deutsche Bank Loans Underwritten By Russian State-Owned
Bank, Whistleblower Told FBI. (Forensic News, January 3,
"The Russian state bank VTB underwrote loans to Donald Trump
via Deutsche Bank. Over the course of Trump’s relationship
with DB, an inordinate amount of questionable, mismanaged
& risky loans approved by Deutsche Bank to Trump required
his Personal Guarantee which, over time, also lost its value.
Trump’s team at DB sought out creative ways to circumvent the
varied protections DB’s compliance team institutionally
implemented, & whether by happenstance or by design
Trump’s loans became underwritten by Russia’s own VTB. I
informed the FBI of this in 2019."
Schism at the Heart of the Open-Source Movement (The
Atlantic, January 3, 2019)
Developers are protesting
after revelations that the source-code repository GitHub
contracted with ICE. But if you restrict access to
open-source code, is it still open?
Consumer Privacy Law Is Finally Here. Now What?
(Consumer Reports, January 2, 2020)
It grants California residents powerful new privacy
protections, some of which could be extended to consumers
across the country. The CCPA gives Californians several
- the right to know what personal information is being
collected about them
- the right to access that data
- the right to know who it's being sold to
- the right to opt out of those sales, and
- the right to delete data that has been collected
Iran’s top security and intelligence commander
was killed early today in a drone strike at Baghdad
International Airport that was authorized by President Trump,
American officials said. It was Mr. Trump's most significant
use of military force to date.
The death of the commander, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, was a
major blow to Iran and a sharp escalation in Mr. Trump's
campaign against Tehran. Here are the latest updates.
General Suleimani, who led the powerful Quds Force of the
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, was killed along with
several officials from Iraqi militias backed by Tehran when an
American MQ-9 Reaper drone fired missiles into a convoy that
was leaving the airport.
General Suleimani was the architect of nearly every
significant operation by Iranian intelligence and military
forces over the past two decades, and his death was a
staggering blow for Iran at a time of sweeping geopolitical
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called for
three days of public mourning and then retaliation. U.S.
officials were preparing for the possibility of cyberattacks
Gen. Qassem Suleimani killed in U.S. airstrike at Baghdad
airport, Pentagon confirms. (Los Angeles Times, January
Calling the attack "decisive defensive action," the Pentagon
says Suleimani "was actively developing plans to attack
American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout
Their deaths are a potential turning point in the Middle East
and are expected to draw severe retaliation from Iran and the
forces it backs in the Middle East against Israel and American
interests. The developments also represent a major downturn in
Iraq-U.S. relations that could further undermine U.S.
influence in the region and American troops in Iraq and weaken
Washington’s hand in its pressure campaign against Iran.
Than 200 Members Of Congress Asked The Supreme Court To
Consider Overturning Roe V. Wade. (BuzzFeed, January 2,
The members, including two Democrats, wrote in a brief that
the national right to abortion is unworkable ahead of a major
abortion rights case.
teachers of religion are not entitled to
anti-discrimination protections (Los Angeles Times,
January 2, 2020)
demagogues were the Founding Fathers' greatest fear
(Kennebec ME Journal, January 2, 2020)
George Washington described how he was pulled out of
retirement by an urgent risk to the United States. "Anarchy
and confusion" were threatening the security of the American
people and the rule of constitutional law. But this was only
half the danger.
The deeper risk, he wrote, was that the political chaos
created fertile ground for exploitation "by some aspiring
demagogue who will not consult the interest of his country so
much as his own ambitious views." Washington, like his peers,
did not use the word "demagogue" as an insult or epithet. He
did not employ it as ammunition against those he identified as
his political opponents. For the steady, rational Washington,
"demagogue" was a forensic term that described a well-known
class of political actors, known since Greek and Roman times,
who obtain power through emotional appeals to prejudice,
distrust and fear. Irrespective of party affiliation,
demagogues were a distinct personality type that knew no
bounds of politics except fiery self-aggrandizement.
Ukraine Documents Reveal Extent of Pentagon’s Legal
Concerns. (Just Security, January 2, 2020)
"Clear direction from POTUS to continue to hold." This is what
Michael Duffey, associate director of national security
programs at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), told
Elaine McCusker, the acting Pentagon comptroller, in an Aug.
30 email, which has only been made available in redacted form
until now. It is one of many documents the Trump
administration is trying to keep from the public, despite
congressional oversight efforts and court orders in Freedom of
Information Act (FOIA) litigation.
Is America So Depressed? (New York Times, January 2,
It's no coincidence that our politics and our mental health
have declined so rapidly, at the same time.
support socialism because they want to make America great -
but for everyone. (Think, January 1, 2020)
The word 'socialism' is becoming more and more mainstream.
When Democratic Sen. Bernie Sanders launched his 2016
presidential bid, only a fringe few dared to use the label. To
call yourself a socialist was supposedly a political death
sentence. Now, in part thanks to Sanders, many are wearing
'socialism' as a badge of pride. Dozens of socialist
candidates have won seats all over the country, including two
members of Congress, and membership in the Democratic
Socialists of America has exploded. According to a 2019 YouGov
poll, 70 percent of millennials now say they would vote for a
But what is socialism? How do you know whether you’re a
socialist? Could you be one already without knowing it? In
fact, it can be difficult to answer the question of what
precisely socialism is, because socialists themselves disagree
over it. That’s not surprising; Democrats disagree over what
it means to be a Democrat, too. It’s an abstract term that
describes a diverse population with a lot of conflicting
ideas. One popular perception, repeated by Republican Sen.
Rand Paul in “The Case Against Socialism,” is that socialism
is about “government control of the means of production.” But
that’s pretty clearly wrong: historically, many socialists
considered themselves outright anarchists, who wanted to get
rid of government altogether.
Decade in Which Everything Was Great But Felt Terrible
(The Atlantic, December 31, 2019)
In the 2010s America achieved late capitalism. This past
decade was a decade without a single month of recession, when
the United States grew to its wealthiest point ever - and when
the middle class shrank, longevity fell, and it became clear
that a whole generation was falling behind. The central
economic dynamic of the 2010s was that no matter how well the
market was doing, no matter how long the expansion lasted, no
matter how much the economy grew, families still struggled. It
was a decade that strained America’s idea of what economic
growth could do, and should do, because it did so little for
drones seen in Colorado now spotted in southwest Nebraska,
too. (Omaha World-Herald, December 31, 2019)
court ruling heightens potential for more Ukraine bombshells
to drop. (Daily Kos, December 30, 2019)
Donald Trump is on course to kick off 2020 with a string of
embarrassing revelations about everything from Ukraine to the
Russia probe, potentially putting Senate Republicans in a
horrific political bind early next year as they try to
navigate a fraught impeachment trial. A Monday afternoon
ruling dismissing a lawsuit filed in October by White House
deputy national security adviser Charles Kupperman served as a
reminder that Trump's house-of-cards claim to "absolute
immunity" is likely to crumble in spectacular fashion in the
would consider Republican for VP 'but I can't think of one
right now'. (The Hill, December 30, 2019)
Population Makes Fewest Gains in Decades, Census Bureau
Says. (New York Times, December 30, 2019)
A drop in immigration, fewer births and an aging population
contributed to the slowdown in 2019, according to
and open-source rules: 2019's five biggest stories show why.
(ZDNet, December 30, 2019)
This was the year when, once and for all, it became clear that
the future of technology belongs to Linux and open-source
New York Times columnist set out to praise 'Jewish
brilliance.' The result was another explosive controversy.
(Washington Post, December 30, 2019)
[So instead of this demonstration of NON-brilliant ridicule,
accusation, denial, and apology (e.g., suspension of thinking
about it), why not revisit this and similar data and improve
the analysis? The Comments include clear examples of both.]
black woman faces prison because of a Jim Crow-era plan to
'protect white voters'. (The Guardian, December 29,
A prosecutor brought charges against Bratcher even though
state officials said she may have illegally voted
unintentionally. The decision also came after a report in
which state officials recognized there were serious problems
in the system in place to inform convicted felons of their
The state's policy of banning people convicted of felonies
from voting is rooted in a late 19th century effort by North
Carolina Democrats to limit voting power of newly-enfranchised
African Americans as whole. In 1898, the North Carolina
Democratic party spoke of the need "to rescue the white people
of the east from the curse of negro domination".
The discriminatory law is still at work – of 441 people
investigated for possibly voting with a felony in the 2016
election, 68% were black. That high number exceeds both the
percentage of African Americans registered to vote and the
proportion on probation and parole. At the end of 2016,
African Americans made up about 46% of convicted felons on
parole or probation in the state. They made up about 22% of
all registered voters.
the Ukraine Aid Freeze: 84 Days of Conflict and Confusion
(New York Times, December 29, 2019)
The inside story of President Trump’s demand to halt military
assistance to an ally shows the price he was willing to pay to
carry out his agenda.
Under Attack: How Trump Is Sidelining Researchers and Their
Work. (New York Times, December 28, 2019)
In just three years, the Trump administration has diminished
the role of science in federal policy-making while halting or
disrupting research projects nationwide, marking a
transformation of the federal government whose effects,
experts say, could reverberate for years.
Political appointees have shut down government studies,
reduced the influence of scientists over regulatory decisions
and in some cases pressured researchers not to speak publicly.
The administration has particularly challenged scientific
findings related to the environment and public health opposed
by industries such as oil drilling and coal mining. It has
also impeded research around human-caused climate change,
which President Trump has dismissed despite a global
But the erosion of science reaches well beyond the environment
and climate. "The disregard for expertise in the federal
government is worse than it's ever been," said Michael
Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
at Columbia University, which has tracked more than 200
reports of Trump administration efforts to restrict or misuse
science since 2017. "It's pervasive."
Hundreds of scientists, many of whom say they are dismayed at
seeing their work undone, are departing.
retweets - then deletes - a post naming the alleged
whistleblower. (Washington Post, December 28, 2019)
President Trump retweeted and then deleted a post naming the
alleged whistleblower who filed the complaint that became the
catalyst for the congressional inquiry that resulted in his
impeachment by the House of Representatives.
On Friday night, Trump shared a Twitter post from
@surfermom77, who describes herself as “100% Trump supporter,”
with his 68 million followers. That tweet prominently named
the alleged whistleblower and suggested that he had committed
perjury. By Saturday morning, Trump’s retweet had been
The whistleblower’s identity has been kept secret because of
laws that exist to shield those who allege wrongdoing by the
government. Advocates say this anonymity protects those who
speak up from retaliation and encourages others to come
Five to ten Republicans have 'severe misgivings' about
McConnell strategy. (The Hill, December 27, 2019)
Blumenthal spoke on the subject of impeachment, stating that
there will be pressure on McConnell from other Republican
lawmakers to employ a fair strategy for the impending
impeachment trial in the upper chamber of Congress. "I've
talked to five to 10 of my colleagues who have very severe
misgivings about the direction that Mitch McConnell is going
in denying a full, fair proceeding with witnesses and
documents. My hope is that they will say publicly what Sen.
Murkowski did, and really hold Mitch McConnell accountable,"
Earlier this month, McConnell told the press that he "is not
an impartial juror. This is a political process," when it came
to impeachment proceedings. He also told Fox News host Sean
Hannity that he planned to coordinate with the White House
counsel during the trial in the Senate.
However, McConnell's admission has garnered criticism from
both the left and the right. Notably, moderate GOP Sen. Lisa
Murkowski (Alaska) said that she does not agree with McConnell
about his impeachment strategy, adding that she was
"disturbed" by the comments he made about his coordination
with the White House.
probe puts CIA's Gina Haspel in a bind. (Politico,
December 27, 2019)
The prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Bill Barr to
examine the origins of the Russia investigation is focusing
much of his attention on the CIA, placing the agency's
director, Gina Haspel, at the center of a politically toxic
tug-of-war between the Justice Department and the intelligence
community. The prosecutor, John Durham, has reportedly asked
the CIA for former director John Brennan’s communications as
he examines the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment
that concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened in
the election specifically to help Donald Trump.
Barr has been skeptical of the agency's conclusions about
Putin's motivations, despite corroboration by the GOP-led
Senate Intelligence Committee and an adversarial review by
former CIA Director Mike Pompeo. But intelligence community
veterans say the Durham probe could force Haspel to choose
between protecting her agency from Trump's wrath and bowing to
Barr's wishes; they point to FBI chief Chris Wray, who has
found himself at odds with the president in recent weeks over
a watchdog report about the bureau’s conduct in the Russia
probe. And they say the Barr-Durham probe represents overreach
by an attorney general who seems to have already made up his
mind and is bent on imposing his own skeptical view of the
Russia investigation on the intelligence community.
Haspel, a veteran intelligence officer known for her fierce
loyalty to the CIA and acute political antennae, has rarely
made headlines during her 19-month tenure atop the nation's
top spy agency, turning her focus inward on building morale
and boosting recruitment. That strategy has kept her out of
Trump's sights and largely protected the CIA's more than
20,000 employees from the kinds of political attacks that have
hobbled the FBI.
[This too, should please Putin.]
and Giuliani's conspiracy theories keep getting crazier and
crazier. (Daily Kos, December 27, 2019)
obtains shocking testimony against SEAL Trump pardoned: 'The
guy is freaking evil.' (Daily Kos, December 27, 2019)
Donald Trump hosted convicted (and subsequently pardoned) war
criminal and former Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher at Mar-a-Lago
recently, because he’s Trump, and war crimes are kind of his
Today, The New York Times revealed more evidence showing just
how questionable and likely egregious that decision was. The
newspaper obtained video recordings and group texts from SEALs
who had testified against Gallagher in his trial, and they’re
startling to say the least.
and Anger From the Navy SEALS Who Turned In Edward
Gallagher, only to have Trump pardon him (2-min. video;
New York Times, December 27, 2019)
Video interviews and group texts obtained by The Times show
men describing their platoon leader in grim terms. They offer
the first opportunity outside the courtroom to hear directly
from the men of Alpha platoon, SEAL Team 7, whose blistering
testimony about their platoon chief was dismissed by President
Trump when he upended the military code of justice to protect
Chief Gallagher from the punishment.
"The guy is freaking evil," Special Operator Miller told
investigators. "The guy was toxic," Special Operator First
Class Joshua Vriens, a sniper, said in a separate interview.
"You could tell he was perfectly O.K. with killing anybody
that was moving," Special Operator First Class Corey Scott, a
medic in the platoon, told the investigators.
Secrets of Jewish Genius (New York Times, December 27,
It's about thinking differently.
[And it's created a big flap; see Washington
Post, December 30, 2019.]
big science and environment stories of 2019 (BBC,
December 26, 2019)
This year, millions of people around the world mobilised in
protest to highlight the dire emergency facing our planet.
Could 2019 prove to be the year when talk turned to action on
the climate crisis?
In 2019, the reaction to the ongoing climate crisis switched
up another gear. Inspired by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg,
the climate strike movement exploded this year. Millions took
part in mass protests during the course of the year in
countries as diverse as Australia, Uganda, Colombia, Japan,
Germany and the UK. Greta chose to make a statement when she
sailed - rather than flew - to a UN climate meeting in New
York. Summing up the trajectory for many who have joined
popular climate movements, she told chief environment
correspondent Justin Rowlatt: "I felt like I was the only one
who cared about the climate and ecological crisis... it makes
me feel good that I'm not alone in this fight."
man visiting NYC made anti-Semitic comment and assaulted man
on the first day of Hanukkah. (Daily Kos, December 26,
The attack occurred on the first day of Hanukkah, and,
according to CNN, "The NYPD has reported 166 anti-Semitic
incidents from January through September this year." While
most crimes do not involve assault, anti-semitic incidents are
the most commonly reported hate crimes in the city. Hate
crimes have been on the rise since the last presidential
election. Data from USAFacts shows that the number of hate
crimes in the U.S. is growing. According to the data, between
2015 and 2017, anti-Jewish or anti-Semitic crimes have seen a
40% increase nationally.
think Trump is more dangerous than Kim Jong Un and Putin.
(Deutsche Welle, December 26, 2019)
When asked who posed the greatest threat to world peace,
Germans in a recent poll overwhelmingly pointed to one person
- Donald Trump. The US president beat out the leaders of North
Korea, Russia, China and Iran.
most important American politician of the decade: "Moscow
Mitch" McConnell (The Week, December 26, 2019)
Not President Barack Obama, though his status as the nation's
first African-American president will loom large in history.
Obama's presidency would have turned out much differently if
not for the opposition of McConnell - and in particular
McConnell's decision to deny a Senate hearing for Merrick
Garland, Obama's last Supreme Court nominee. It was a critical
moment in building a conservative SCOTUS majority that could
last for decades and seems positioned to transform our
collective understanding of Constitutional law.
President Trump won't win this contest, either, though he will
be remembered for leading the backlash against Obama's
presidency, and for helping usher in an era of politics in
which the notion that truth matters seems to have disappeared
entirely. You can have your own opinions and your own facts,
it turns out. But McConnell was smashing norms and precedents
in the Senate even before Trump arrived in Washington, D.C. In
the case of Trump's major accomplishments - cutting taxes and
transforming the American judiciary - McConnell probably
deserves the lion's share of the credit.
We Americans tend to remember historical eras through the lens
of the presidency. But McConnell, more than most Senate
leaders, served as a gatekeeper for what the presidents of his
era have been able to accomplish - and he might be the most
powerful and significant senator since Lyndon Johnson in the
1950s, and this was true despite the fact that he and his
party shifted back and forth throughout the decade between
opposition and majority status.
McConnell's influence was felt broadly, but particularly in
three crucial areas:
1. "Party of No": One of McConnell's key acts this decade was
actually set in motion a couple of years earlier, when Obama
was elected in 2008. McConnell helped create a strategy of
never cooperating with the new president, on the belief that
voters would blame Obama - and not Republicans - for the
resulting gridlock. "If he (Obama) was for it," former Ohio
Sen. George Voinovich said of McConnell's strategy, "we had to
be against it." They opposed Obama's $800 billion stimulus
package in the middle of the Great Recession. They refused to
sign on to a universal health-care program modeled on one
passed by a Republican governor, Mitt Romney, in
Massachusetts. "On just about every issue, from ObamaCare to
climate to education reforms that conservatives supported
until Obama embraced them, Republicans have embraced that
strategy" of total opposition, Grunwald wrote for Politico in
2006. "Senate Republicans even turned routine judicial
nominations into legislative ordeals, filibustering 20 of his
district court judges - 17 more than had been filibustered
under all of his predecessors."
2. Transforming the judiciary: Indeed, McConnell's singular
legacy will probably be his long-term effort to give
conservatives dominance of the federal judiciary. His blockade
of Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court was the most
famous example of that mission, but possibly not the most
important. His blockade of Obama's lower-court appointments
led then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to
eliminate the filibuster for those offices. (McConnell would
later make a similar rule change to get Trump's SCOTUS
nominee, Neil Gorsuch, approved by the Senate.) After
Republicans regained control of the Senate in 2014, the
blockade of Obama's appointments became more pronounced. The
result: Trump inherited 88 district court vacancies, along
with 17 appellate court positions in need of filling. The
president gets lots of publicity these days for all the
judicial appointments he has made, but it was McConnell who
spent the decade setting the stage. The result is a court
system that for the next few decades will be less friendly to
abortion, LGBT, and minority rights and the regulatory state,
but friendlier to gun ownership and business interests. We
haven't even scratched the surface of the Constitutional law
changes that are coming thanks to McConnell's efforts.
3. From Russia with love: If Trump needed McConnell to
transform the judiciary, the reverse is also true. So
McConnell's role in helping Trump get elected is both notable
- and, even now, shocking. The Obama administration in 2016
determined that Russia was attempting to interfere with the
presidential election, and presented the evidence to
congressional leaders. McConnell reportedly challenged the
findings, "and made clear to the administration that he would
consider any effort by the White House to challenge the
Russians publicly an act of partisan politics." He refused to
sign on to a joint statement warning the public about that
interference, and Obama officials were hesitant to sound the
alarm without his participation. Russia's efforts on Trump's
behalf didn't start to get a full airing, then, until after
the election. Would the election results have changed if the
public had been more fully informed? That question is destined
to be one of American history's great what-ifs.
McConnell spent the decade undermining one president and
paving the way for another, all in support of an effort to
fundamentally alter the way Constitutional law is interpreted
and enforced. He is the thread that connects the shortcomings
of the Obama administration to the rise of Trump, and beyond.
Because of all that, he will be remembered - possibly not
fondly - as the most important American politician of the
base of support continues to be much softer than advertised.
(Daily Kos, December 25, 2019)
we gave away the secrets of the universe and the wealth of
the world. (Daily
Kos, December 25, 2019)
Reagan's combination of tax gifts to the wealthy and lavish
spending on defense generated massive deficits. Republicans
were happy to overlook this issue as long as a Republican was
in the White House, but, as so often seems to happen, no
sooner was Bill Clinton elected than Republicans rediscovered
their deep, deep concern over America's national debt.
The restructuring of the economy that began with the adoption
of supply-side economics was so fundamental that the most
basic graph of income inequality shows it quite clearly. It
created a schism, a break in the way both democracy and
capitalism had worked to that point - one that drove America
from a point at which the average CEO earned dozens of times
as much as workers to one at which that difference was
measured in the thousands. It turned the investment class into
the can't-fail class. And over the next 40 years, it split
society far more effectively than any accelerator could split
We did not make earthshaking physics discoveries, but we
created a nation where Jeff Bezos could fund the entire SSC,
still have $100 billion in his pocket, and simply keep any
discoveries made for himself. We created an age in which
private fortunes exceed the cost of the largest public works.
Where a nation can’t afford an Apollo-like effort, but
individuals can, and are, running such programs as a hobby.
surprisingly complicated physics of why cats always land on
their feet (Ars Technica, December 25, 2019)
Ars chats with physicist Greg Gbur about his book, Falling
Felines and Fundamental Physics.
"Cats are cleverer than we think, but less clever than they
Comments: "If the physics is that understood, can we make a
robot cat that always lands on its feet?"
"No one has yet, according to the physicist, which I find
surprising and unbelievable. It doesn’t seem like that hard of
a problem, yet neither does the cat and here we are with a
whole book written on it."
"Trivial robot to make. Just shape it like a piece of toast
and spread butter on its feet!" :-)
Which leads to: Why
does toast often land butter-side down? (BBC Science
of children swallowing dangerous magnets surges as industry
largely polices itself. (Washington Post, December 25,
The nation's poison control centers are on track to record six
times more magnet ingestions - totaling nearly 1,600 cases -
this year than in 2016, when a federal court first sided with
industry to lift the Consumer Product Safety Commission's
four-year ban on the product. Medical researchers say the only
explanation for the spike is the return of these unusually
strong magnets to the market after the court ruling.
active fault zone found on Mars. (National Geographic,
December 24, 2019)
Rumbling quakes on the red planet have been traced back to
Cerberus Fossae, suggesting this geologically young region is
still alive and cracking.
Peddle, Maine native called 'father of the personal
computer,' dies at age 82. (2-min. video; Portland ME
Press Herald, December 24, 2019)
Peddle, who grew up in Augusta and graduated from the
University of Maine, is credited with inventing the low-cost
microprocessor used in early personal computers, such as the
Commodore 64 and Apple II.
are turning students' phones into surveillance machines,
tracking the locations of hundreds of thousands.
(Washington Post, December 24, 2019)
Short-range phone sensors and campus-wide WiFi networks are
empowering colleges across the United States to track hundreds
of thousands of students more precisely than ever before.
Dozens of schools now use such technology to monitor students'
academic performance, analyze their conduct or assess their
But some professors and education advocates argue that the
systems represent a new low in intrusive technology, breaching
students' privacy on a massive scale. The tracking systems,
they worry, will infantilize students in the very place where
they’re expected to grow into adults, further training them to
see surveillance as a normal part of living, whether they like
it or not. The systems are isolating for students who don't
own smartphones, coercive for students who do and unnecessary
for professors, who can accomplish the task with the same pop
quizzes and random checks they’ve used for decades.
This style of surveillance has become just another fact of
life for many Americans. A flood of cameras, sensors and
microphones, wired to an online backbone, now can measure
people's activity and whereabouts with striking precision,
reducing the mess of everyday living into trend lines that
companies promise to help optimize.
U.S. military loves Linux. (Fudzilla, December 23, 2019)
The US government is increasingly using open-source software
as a way to roll out advanced, highly secure technology in an
economical manner. So chances are if you get hit by US
munitions chances are the software is open source – which
should make you feel better.
On August 8, 2016, the White House CIO released a Federal
Source Code Policy that calls for new software to be built,
shared, and adapted using open-source methods to capitalize on
code that is "secure, reliable, and effective in furthering
our national objectives."
The United States Department of Defense recognises the key
benefits associated with open-source development and trusts
Linux as its operating system. In fact, the US Army is the
single largest installed base for Red Hat Linux and the U.S.
Navy nuclear submarine fleet runs on Linux, including their
sonar systems. Moreover, the Department of Defense just
recently enlisted Red Hat the world's largest provider of
open-source solutions, to help improve squadron operations and
Of The Month: For Her Head Cold, Insurer Coughed Up $25,865.
(NPR, December 23, 2019)
Hosts Convicted War Criminal at Mar-a-Lago. (Slate,
December 23, 2019)
Edward Gallagher certainly owes Trump some gratitude. In 2018,
based on the testimony of members of his Navy SEAL unit, the
platoon chief was charged with stabbing an unarmed teenage
ISIS prisoner, posing for a photo with his corpse, and
shooting random Iraqi civilians including an old man and a
young girl. He denied the charges.
After Gallagher’s case was taken up by several of Trump’s
allies in Congress and Fox News commentators, Trump repeatedly
intervened in the trial. The president lambasted the
prosecution, and ordered that Gallagher be moved from pretrial
detention to house arrest. Gallagher was acquitted of most of
the charges after a bizarre trial which included surprise
testimony from a key witness who, after being granted immunity
from prosecution, said he had been the one to kill the
Gallagher was convicted of posing for a photo with the
detainee’s corpse and sentenced to time served. Trump then
reversed a decision to demote Gallagher after the conviction
and prevented the Navy from removing his Trident pin, a badge
of honor for the elite SEALs. Navy secretary Richard Spencer
objected to the special treatment of Gallagher and was
subsequently asked to resign last month.
Issues: The most comprehensive guide anywhere to the issues
shaping the 2020 Democratic presidential primary.
(Politico, December 23, 2019)
counsel suggests Trump could be impeached again.
(Politico, December 23, 2019)
A second impeachment could be necessary if the House uncovers
new evidence that Trump attempted to obstruct investigations
of his conduct. House Counsel Douglas Letter made the argument
as part of an inquiry by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals
into whether Democrats still need testimony from former White
House counsel Don McGahn after the votes last week to charge
Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
campaign plagued by groups raising tens of millions in his
December 23, 2019)
Outside entities are raising huge money in Trump's name,
despite disavowals from the campaign, and spending little of
it on 2020.
James Stavridis: 100% Trump got played by North Korea.
(3-min. video; MSNBC, December 23, 2019)
North Korea has warned it could deliver the U.S. an unwelcome
Christmas gift -- if there's no progress on nuclear talks.
Admiral James Stavridis reacts.
expert: Trump is a truly inferior person to be leading a
video; MSNBC, December 23, 2019)
Scholar and linguist John McWhorter joins to discuss what we
can learn from all the President's words.
Lawmaker Had Visions of a Christian Alternative Government.
(New York Times, December 23, 2019)
Washington State representative Matt Shea was accused of
participating in the occupation of a federal wildlife refuge.
Behind the scenes, he and right-wing activists were preparing
for civil strife. He networked with local militia groups,
talked about plans to create a 51st state called Liberty and
distributed to his closest followers a "Biblical Basis for
War" document that calls for the "surrender" of those who
favor abortion rights, same-sex marriage, "idolatry" and
communism. "If they do not yield - kill all males," it said.
Mr. Shea’s activities are part of a troubling trend: Far-right
organizers have begun plying their message of civil conflict
in mainstream political circles, building new networks that
include elected politicians and voters who would never
consider themselves part of an extremist group.
pals leveraged GOP access to seek Ukraine gas deal.
(Associated Press, December 23, 2019)
Andrew Favorov, the No. 2 at Ukraine’s state-run gas company
Naftogaz, says he sat on a red leather bench seat and listened
wide-eyed as the men boasted of their connections to President
Donald Trump and proposed a deal to sell large quantities of
liquefied natural gas from Texas to Ukraine.
But first, Favorov says, they told him they would have to
remove two obstacles: Favorov’s boss and the U.S. ambassador
in Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital. What he didn’t know as he
sipped whiskey that evening was that high-ranking officials in
the Ukrainian government were already taking steps to topple
his boss, Naftogaz CEO Andriy Kobolyev. And two months later,
Trump recalled U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch, a career
diplomat with a reputation as an anti-corruption crusader.
The gas deal sought by Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman never came
to pass. But their efforts to profit from contacts with GOP
luminaries are now part of a broad federal criminal
investigation into the two men and their close associate, Rudy
Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney.
cheating, and stealing are the building blocks of their
American dream. (Daily
Kos, December 22, 2019)
Donald John Trump has been Impeached. The deed is done.
Regardless of what else happens next in the Senate, that is a
fact, and will remain true forever. It’s something that will
always be connected to Trump and his career.
Of course, Trump and his rabid supporters do not accept this.
They claim this is merely political, merely partisan, only a
matter of personal rancor and bitter anger over his defeat of
Hillary Clinton in 2016. It doesn’t matter that that election
was altered and influenced by the efforts of Russia to hack
into the email systems of the DCCC, the DNC, and John Podesta,
the chair of Clinton’s 2016 campaign. It doesn’t matter that
Russia staged a campaign of active measures, using WikiLeaks
and social media, intended to generate maximum impact from the
hacked emails, suggesting that there was a corrupt plot
between the Clinton campaign and the DNC to kneecap the
campaign of Bernie Sanders, along with other conspiratorial
crimes, and that she was personally corrupt and “crooked”
through and through.
The truth doesn’t matter. The facts don’t matter. All that
matters is winning. And the fact that that win was bought and
paid for by Russia, which implemented an effective effort to
cheat and steal the election, doesn’t matter. So, naturally,
it doesn’t matter to them that Trump tried to use yet another
foreign country to concoct a perpetual stream of false
controversies about his main opponent in 2020. He was trying,
yet again, to steal an election, but all they see is the
anger. All they see is hate. All they see is grievance,
because they know, deep down, that there’s a good reason for
can Christians be Trump supporters? (Fargo ND Forum,
December 22, 2019)
At this time of year when Christians are celebrating the birth
of Christ, and at a time when our country is more polarized
than ever, we're pondering a riddle: Should avowed Christians
support President Trump? Frankly, it's difficult to conceive
of a high office holder whose personal life and divisive
leadership are less Christ-like than those of Trump.
Regardless of one’s faith tradition, Trump stands as a leader
who has shredded norms and values and morals. He has
undeniably used his office for personal gain - and for the
benefit of his sons, daughter and son-in-law - yet the
far-right refuses to hold him accountable. We are supposed to
be a nation of laws, not of men. Our Constitution spells out
separation of powers as well as checks and balances between
equal branches of government.
Today receives boost in new subscriptions after calling for
Trump’s removal, editor in chief says. (CNBC, December
has been a messaging disaster for the White House. Why won't
the press say so? (Daily Kos, December 22, 2019)
is insulin so expensive? Here's what you need to know about
price gouging. (Daily Kos, December 22, 2019)
The U.S. is reported to have the highest cost for insulin in
the world. Spending doubled between 2012 and 2016.
House considers arguing that Trump wasn't impeached.
(3-min. video; CBS News, December 21, 2019)
Cox Richardson: A federal court struck down the central
pillar of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). (Letters
from an American, December 21, 2019)
The issues surrounding this decision are complicated, but at
stake is whether or not the fact the court found this aspect
of the law unconstitutional will lead to the entire law being
This has a much larger meaning. It is, in fact, a question
about the role of government in American society.
In the 1930s and 1940s, after the unregulated capitalism of
the 1920s had sparked the Great Depression, Americans rallied
around the idea that the government had a duty to keep the
economic playing field level between those at the bottom of
society and those at the top. Under Democratic President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the government began to regulate
business, provide a basic social safety net, and promote
infrastructure. It regulated our financial system to guarantee
no one could game it based on whom they knew. We got new laws
to regulate minimum wages and maximum hours for workers,
workplace safety, Social Security and welfare relief. We got
bridges and roads and schools and libraries. Under this “New
Deal for the American people” as FDR put it, the nation
This way of looking at the world became known as the “liberal
consensus,” and virtually all Americans thought that
government intervention in the economy to keep the wealthy
from abusing their workers and taking the majority of the
nation’s capital, as they had done in the 1920s, was a good
But not everyone agreed. Some clung to the system of the
1920s, in which businessmen had run the government. So they
set out to destroy the liberal consensus. Gradually they took
over the Republican Party. Now they control it.
Americans have not been able to wrap their heads around this
woman said she ran over a 14-year-old girl because she 'was
a Mexican,' police say. (CNN, December 21, 2019)
Franken: McConnell's hypocrisy like listening to Dahmer
complain about dinner party etiquette. (Daily Kos,
December 21, 2019)
Mar-A-Lago Winter Vacation Pushes Taxpayer Golf Tab Above
$118 million. (Huffington Post, December 21, 2019)
Trump criticized predecessor Barack Obama for spending too
much time playing golf — but is on track to pass Obama’s
eight-year total in just four years.
letter to Pelosi: Not 'unhinged' - but worse, from a
speechwriter's perspective. (The Hill, December 21,
Americans in 2119 will find a generally well-written, coherent
summary of one side of the 2019 debate. Does that mean it’s
persuasive? Laced with evidence? Absolutely not. In fact, I
will assign Trump’s letter to my speechwriting students at
American University because I want them to see this rich
compendium of the fallacies so traditional in political
rhetoric, in order to avoid repeating them.
By fallacies I don’t mean the ethical problems we see in
Trump’s speeches: lies, personal insults, bigotry. Instead,
fallacies are the specific techniques used to deceive,
sometimes by speakers who don’t even realize they’re doing so.
Such fallacies are nothing new, and they’re not limited to
English — Aristotle, after all, seems to have been the first
person to catalogue examples — but they are easy to spot.
Here are just six examples from the president’s letter...
less-hyped, but more realistic threats to US national
security (The Hill, December 21, 2019)
While secure borders are important to our economic and
physical security, recent information has disclosed alarming
deficiencies in U.S. military capabilities. Other information
has revealed inadequate cybersecurity requirements in our
weapons systems and in other infrastructure systems.
the Virtues of the Hunter-Gatherer Lifestyle (Undark,
December 20, 2019)
In “Civilized to Death,” Christopher Ryan argues that our
nomadic ancestors were better off than we are today.
52 percent majority approves of Trump's impeachment.
(Politico, December 20, 2019)
The new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll also shows an identical
52 percent would approve of the Senate voting to remove Trump
Cox Richardson: Trump melting down on Twitter
(Letters from an American, December 20, 2019)
Today began with Trump melting down on Twitter over the
editorial yesterday in Christianity Today calling for his
removal from office. He called this influential paper of
American evangelicals "a far left magazine," and charged it
with preferring "a Radical Left nonbeliever, who wants to take
your religion & your guns, than Donald Trump as your
President." "The fact is, no President has ever done what I
have for Evangelicals, or religion itself!" And he said
something quite revealing: "No President has done more for the
Evangelical community, and it’s not even close. You’ll not get
anything from those Dems on stage. I won’t be reading ET
Aside from the extraordinary unlikelihood that Trump ever read
CT (not ET, who has gone home), these lines indicate that
Trump’s view of the world as a series of transactions, made up
of winners and losers, extends to governing. He thinks
evangelicals owe him their votes in exchange for his
anti-abortion judges, and feels betrayed at the suggestion
that he has not bought their permanent allegiance. While all
politicians think about keeping their supporters happy, this
suggests a transactional view of politics that illuminates a
lot about, for example, his payments to midwestern farmers
hurt by his tariffs, or to his willingness to ask a favor of
the president of Ukraine.
latest Russia bombshell bolsters Democrats’ demand for
evidence. (Washington Post, December 20, 2019)
The president’s intense resistance to the assessment of U.S.
intelligence agencies that Russia systematically interfered in
the 2016 campaign - and the blame he cast instead on a rival
country - led many of his advisers to think that Putin himself
helped spur the idea of Ukraine’s culpability, said the
officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe
The report continues: "One former senior White House official
said Trump even stated so explicitly at one point, saying he
knew Ukraine was the real culprit because 'Putin told me.' Two
other former officials said the senior White House official
described Trump's comment to them." In short, "The concern
among senior White House officials that Putin helped fuel
Trump’s theories about Ukraine underscores long-standing fears
inside the administration about the Russian president’s
ability to influence Trump’s views." Finally, "Three former
senior administration officials said Trump repeatedly insisted
after the G-20 summit that he believed Putin’s assurances that
Russia had not interfered in the 2016 campaign. The officials
said [chief of staff John] Kelly, national security adviser
H.R. McMaster and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson all tried
to caution Trump not to rely on Putin’s word, and to focus on
evidence to the contrary that U.S. intelligence agencies had
So where are these former officials? As a preliminary matter,
the thought processes of those former senior officials - who
would anonymously say that Trump was a Putin puppet but refuse
to come forward to provide testimony well before we even got
to an impeachment proceeding, in part about Trump’s alleged
betrayal of national security - boggles the mind. They have
either given cover to a president who is practically a foreign
asset, or they are creating unwarranted fear that he is. There
could be no better example as to why the Senate must be able
to subpoena former officials for the impeachment trial and
obtain documents Trump has concealed under a spurious absolute
immunity defense. If a former secretary of state or a defense,
homeland security or senior intelligence official (e.g.,
director of national intelligence, head of the National
Security Agency) cannot do the patriotic thing when the
security of the country is at stake, then it is essential to
end the Trump coverup and figure out how to force their
appearance in the Senate trial.
Former prosecutor Joyce White Vance explained: "Russia’s goal
has always been to disrupt our country and our way of life.
Now, we’ve had more confirmation they seem to be succeeding,
with confirmation of what’s been long suspected, that our
president’s national security briefings come from Putin, not
our own intelligence community." She cautioned: "This could
form the basis for another article of impeachment - a
president who doesn’t put our national security ahead of all
other concerns." At the very least, it would shed additional
light on the existing Article I that concerns Trump’s
otherwise inexplicable obsession with debunked conspiracy
theories that brought him to extort an ally at war with
As noted, on Thursday the Senate recessed, with Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) insisting that there be no
agreement on the admission of witnesses and documents in
advance, but rather that these would be handled as they come
up. McConnell said that is how it has always worked. However,
it has never been the case that the majority leader conspired
with the president or that senators declared they had no
intention to be fair.
Under these circumstances, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
(D-Calif.) seems entirely justified in holding back the
articles of impeachment until this can be resolved. Pelosi and
other Democrats would do well to turn up the heat on Senate
Republicans who present themselves as beacons of moderation
and fairness. It is time for Democrats to point the finger
directly at Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski
(R-Alaska), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Lamar Alexander
(R-Tenn.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and others. Do they want to
be part of a sham that risks leaving in place Putin’s pawn?
Maybe these Republicans will find it within their own
consciences and heed the words of House Majority Leader Steny
H. Hoyer (D-Md.). "All of us feel a sense of loyalty to party.
It’s what makes our two-party system function. . . . But party
loyalty must have its limits," he said. "And as evidence of
the President’s impeachable offenses has mounted, it has
become increasingly clear that the limits of partisanship have
been reached and passed. . . . Democrats and Republicans
together face a test before our constituents, our countrymen,
and our Creator." Hoyer ended: "I urge my colleagues in the
House and in the Senate: look into your soul. Summon the
courage to vote for our Constitution and our democracy. To do
less betrays our oath and that of our Founders, who pledged
their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. Let us
neither turn away from the evidence, which is so clear, nor
from our good conscience, which compels us to do what in our
hearts we know to be right. Let us not allow the rule of law
to end or for tyranny to find its toehold."
The key Republican senators can do this by ending the logjam,
vowing to vote for key witnesses, including current and past
national security advisers, and demanding relevant documents.
If they cannot do this bare minimum, you really have to
question why they bother running and serving in the Senate.
invites Trump to deliver State of the Union on Feb. 4.
(The Hill, December 20, 2019)
Pelosi's letter comes two days after the House voted almost
exclusively along party lines to impeach Trump.
"In their great wisdom, our Founders crafted a Constitution
based on a system of separation of powers: three co-equal
branches acting as checks on each other. To ensure that
balance of powers, the Constitution calls for the president to
'from time to time give to the Congress Information of the
State of the Union,'" Pelosi wrote in a letter to Trump. "In
the spirit of respecting our Constitution, I invite you to
deliver your State of the Union address before a Joint Session
of Congress on Tuesday, February 4, 2020 in the Chamber of the
U.S. House of Representatives."
A White House aide later told
The Hill that Trump had accepted.
Tests for Impeachment - And How the President Meets Them
(National Review, December 19, 2019)
Advocates of a president’s removal from office by Congress
should have to climb over four walls to reach their objective.
First, they should have to show that the facts they allege are
true. Second, they should show that the fact pattern amounts
to an abuse of power or dereliction of duty by the president.
Third, they should show that this abuse or dereliction is
impeachable. And fourth, they should show that it is prudent
for Congress to remove the president for this impeachable
offense: that it would produce more good than evil.
If the advocates can scale all four walls, then a majority of
the House and a supermajority of the Senate ought to remove
1, True?: Did President Trump try to use federal policy toward
Ukraine to get it to announce an investigation into Joe Biden
and his son Hunter? It is pretty clear that he did, and
Republican allies of Trump have put very little effort into
2. Abuse of power/Dereliction of duty? The theory about
Ukrainian hacking has even less going for it. A “debunked
conspiracy theory” is what Tom Bossert, a former
homeland-security adviser to Trump and an opponent of
impeachment, has called it. Most of Trump’s defenders have
dealt with the absence of any support for this theory by
changing the subject to other forms of Ukrainian
“interference” with the 2016 election, prominently including
an op-ed a Ukrainian official wrote. But Trump wasn’t talking
about that, and U.S. officials have no legitimate interest in
getting Ukraine to investigate it anyway.
3. Impeachable? Madison said that impeachment is the
constitutional protection against a president who would abuse
his power to pardon criminals, and that it was an appropriate
remedy for “wanton removal of meritorious officers” by the
president. The Constitution says Congress may impeach federal
officials for bribery, treason, and “other high crimes and
misdemeanors.” It is reasonable to conclude that only serious
wrongs, equivalent in gravity to the first two categories,
belong in the third one. We have no warrant for concluding
that only violations of statutes qualify. Congress has
impeached many officials for misconduct not involving
statutory crimes, and included non-crimes in its efforts to
impeach Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Clinton.
4. Prudent? It might be possible to regard Trump’s Ukraine
misadventure as a lapse of judgment, with little harm done, if
he showed any repentance or even understanding of what he has
done wrong. Instead it looks more like a window into
tendencies of his that are incompatible with performing the
functions of his office. Assuming that the necessary level of
support to remove a president from office for that offense
will not be reached, should we prefer that more elected
officials go on record that it is unacceptable - or that fewer
Conclusion: The Constitution provides for impeachment and
removal to protect us from officials, including presidents,
who are unable or unwilling to distinguish between the common
good that government is supposed to serve and their own narrow
interests. Though he has done some good things in office,
Trump is just such a president. Congress should act
ruling voiding part of health care law as unconstitutional
is a sick joke. (NBC News, December 19, 2019)
The appellate court decision handed down Wednesday on the
Affordable Care Act is a joke, but the people who depend on
the ACA for health insurance won’t be laughing.
The decision in Texas v. United States, which struck down the
ACA’s provision regarding individual insurance coverage, often
referred to as the individual mandate, features a bad legal
argument and a worse one. The bad argument is that the ACA
minimum-coverage provision, which the appellate court
interpreted as requiring each person to have a minimal amount
of coverage, is unconstitutional; the worse argument is that
courts should consider invalidating the entirety of the ACA
because that one provision is unconstitutional.
Two Republican-appointed judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals
for the Fifth Circuit in Texas held that the so-called mandate
is unconstitutional, and that the rest of the ACA might have
to be invalidated as a result. (The third judge on the panel,
appointed by a Democrat, dissented.)
In making that determination, the court of appeals wrote off
the fact that the Supreme Court already upheld the provision
regarding individual insurance coverage in its 2012 landmark
ruling National Federation of Independent Businesses v.
Sebelius, written by Chief Justice John Roberts.
Biden’s Retro Inner Circle Is Succeeding So Far
(Politico, December 19, 2019)
In 2019, there’s a tiny group of Democrats who believe the
party hasn’t lurched leftward. Oh, and their boss happens to
be winning the primary.
the New Robocall Law Would Protect Consumers (Consumer
Reports, December 19, 2019)
The so-called TRACED Act, which won final approval in Congress
today, would make it easier for consumers to identify
robocalls so that they can avoid answering them.
The legislation would require telecom carriers to implement,
at no extra charge, a number-authentication system to help
consumers identify who’s calling. It would also increase
penalties for robocallers who flout the law. However, it
didn’t clarify what constitutes consumer consent to receive
the calls. It may take years to fully implement.
In the meantime, this article also lists steps you can take to
protect yourself from robocalls.
Privacy Project: Twelve Million Phones, One Dataset, Zero
Privacy (New York Times, December 19, 2019)
One nation, tracked. An investigation into the smartphone
Every minute of every day, everywhere on the planet,
dozens of companies - largely unregulated, little scrutinized
- are logging the movements of tens of millions of people with
mobile phones and storing the information in gigantic data
files. The Times Privacy Project obtained one such file, by
far the largest and most sensitive ever to be reviewed by
journalists. It holds more than 50 billion location pings from
the phones of more than 12 million Americans as they moved
through several major cities, including Washington, New York,
San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Each piece of information in this file represents the precise
location of a single smartphone over a period of several
months in 2016 and 2017. The data was provided to Times
Opinion by sources who asked to remain anonymous because they
were not authorized to share it and could face severe
penalties for doing so. The sources of the information said
they had grown alarmed about how it might be abused and
urgently wanted to inform the public and lawmakers.
After spending months sifting through the data, tracking
the movements of people across the country and speaking with
dozens of data companies, technologists, lawyers and academics
who study this field, we feel the same sense of alarm. In the
cities that the data file covers, it tracks people from nearly
every neighborhood and block, whether they live in mobile
homes in Alexandria, Va., or luxury towers in Manhattan. One
search turned up more than a dozen people visiting the Playboy
Mansion, some overnight. Without much effort we spotted
visitors to the estates of Johnny Depp, Tiger Woods and Arnold
Schwarzenegger, connecting the devices’ owners to the
If you lived in one of the cities the dataset covers and use
apps that share your location — anything from weather apps to
local news apps to coupon savers — you could be in there, too.
If you could see the full trove, you might never use your
phone the same way again.
swelters through hottest day on record. (Axios, December
Australia has endured its hottest day on record and worst ever
spring for wildfire danger, the Australian Bureau of
Meteorology (BOM) said in a climate statement Wednesday.
Perth, the capital of Western Australia, has already smashed
its temperature record for December after three consecutive
days above 40°C (104°F) at the start of the week.
The dire heat warnings come as firefighters continue to fight
wildfires, known in Australia as bushfires. The Washington
Post notes that blazes in New South Wales have "emitted
massive amounts of greenhouse gases and choked Sydney
residents beneath a blanket of smoke."
Statement From Mormon Women for Ethical Government on the
House Impeachment Vote (MWEG, December 18, 2019)
We assert that our most sacred civic expression is the casting
of an individual vote. Any president or leader who forces
political support and fails to honor and protect the free and
legitimate elections on which our republic rests has lost the
moral right to govern. By attempting to compel Ukraine to
announce investigations benefitting only his re-election
efforts, President Trump forced every American taxpayer to
become an unwitting contributor to his political campaign and
a supporter of his re-election.
When presented to the Senate, these articles deserve a full
and fair trial with impartial jurors, conducted as required by
the Constitution. Even in an era of polarized partisan
politics, truth is discernible and powerful. The Senate must
resist all impulse to reduce this process to gamesmanship and
theater and instead must pursue truth by compelling testimony
from the actors at the heart of this inquiry. The president
himself must honor his sworn duty to uphold the law by
providing the documents Congress has subpoenaed and
instructing his staff to testify. If he is innocent, their
testimonies will be exculpatory. Subversion of this process,
regardless of outcome, represents a subversion of justice.
At MWEG we are committed peacemakers. However, we recognize
that true peace is not an absence of conflict. Rather, it
requires, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. taught, a courageous
defense of truth and justice. Some argue that an impeachment
process must be bi-partisan before it is legitimate. Some say
that without Congressional Republican support, investigating
the president would be too divisive. We reject this argument
as one devoid of moral authority. Peace cannot be purchased so
cheaply. Effective leadership does not sacrifice truth and
principle on the altar of consensus. Instead, it gives voice
to truth and lends courage to those who are fearful. Our
nation is truly indivisible only when there is liberty and
justice for all.
While we speak to all of our fellow citizens and elected
officials, we call specifically upon our co-religionists
Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Mike Crapo
(R-Idaho), and Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) to honor their oaths
of office. We remind them that this oath qualifies them for
service and was taken in the name of God. The oath of office
does not require our representatives to protect the economy,
their political party, their seat, their ambition, or even the
president. It demands that those sworn to office will uphold
the Constitution and fairly adjudicate on behalf of every
citizen. We expect them to honor that oath, and we will hold
them to account with our votes.
IMPEACHED. Donald Trump is the third U.S. president to
face a trial in the Senate. (Washington Post, December
Trump is impeached by the House, creating an indelible mark
on his presidency.
On Trump’s 1,062nd day in office, Congress brought a
momentous reckoning to an unorthodox president who has
tested America’s institutions with an array of unrestrained
actions, including some that a collection of his own
appointees and other government witnesses testified were
reckless and endangered national security.
study shows just how bad vehicle hacking has gotten.
(CNet, December 18, 2019)
Automotive industry hacks have exploded since 2016, according
to a new report.
to Retrieve Money, Cryptocurrency Investors Want Dead
Executive Exhumed. (New York Times, December 17, 2019)
Gerald W. Cotten, the C.E.O. of Quadriga CX, was the only one
who knew crucial passwords, the company said. When he died,
users could not recover millions in their accounts. Now they
want proof he is actually dead.
Trump throws the Republican Senate a boat anchor in the form
of a six-page tantrum. (Daily Kos, December 17, 2019)
In the letter, Trump attacks Pelosi for saying that she prays
for him. Trump calls Pelosi a liar, unless, he says, she prays
"in a negative sense." The letter continues Trump’s attack on
Joe Biden, in denial of the facts, by simply stating the
conspiracy theory he pressed on Ukraine as if it is fact. It
then accuses Democrats of "Trump Derangement Syndrome" and
"Impeachment Fever," while throwing out a massive list of
adjectives and utilizing Random Capitalization wherever he
And then it just lies, points fingers, and kind of screams in
print. It’s like a Trump rally committed to paper. Only less
from Donald Trump to Nancy Pelosi (White House, December
Pence deep-sixed his aide's impeachment testimony. Schiff
says it 'raises profound questions'. (Daily Kos,
December 17, 2019)
Giuliani doesn't care if you know about his corrupt schemes,
because Trump has his back. (Daily Kos, December 17,
Giuliani flat-out confesses to more Trump corruption.
(Daily Kos, December 16, 2019)
Ukrainian Prosecutor Behind Trump’s Impeachment. (New
Yorker, December 16, 2019)
How the efforts of Yuriy Lutsenko and Rudy Giuliani to smear
Joe Biden led to a Presidential crisis.
Of all the names featured in the private depositions and
public testimonies of the Presidential impeachment inquiry -
Donald Trump and his personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani; Giuliani’s
associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman; Joe Biden and his son,
Hunter - that of Yuriy Lutsenko has been cited more often than
almost any other. In the sworn depositions of Marie
Yovanovitch, the former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, and Deputy
Assistant Secretary of State George Kent, Lutsenko’s name
appears two hundred and thirty times, nearly twice as often as
Trump’s. Lutsenko, sometimes referred to simply as "the
corrupt prosecutor general" of Ukraine, has been portrayed,
hardly without reason, as an unscrupulous politician prone to
telling lies to further his personal ambitions. As those
closely following the news have learned, Lutsenko fed
information to Giuliani, which Giuliani, Trump, and their
allies spun to smear the reputations of the Bidens and of
Yovanovitch, whom Trump fired in April. One of the House’s
star witnesses told me, of Lutsenko, "I don’t think we’d be
here if not for him."
Toxmap Shutters, Raising the Ire of Pollution Researchers.
(Undark, December 16, 2019)
The loss of the federal pollution tracker, supporters say,
will inhibit public access to data on environmental hazards.
observations reveal extreme methane leakage from a natural
gas well blowout. (U.S. National Academy of Science,
December 16, 2019)
Emissions from the fossil fuel industry are one of the major
sources of atmospheric methane. Gas leakages due to accidents
in the oil and gas sector can release large amounts of methane
within short periods of time. Although these emissions are
very challenging to monitor, satellite measurement platforms
offer a promising approach by regularly scanning the entire
globe. This study demonstrates this capability of satellite
measurements by reporting atmospheric measurements of methane
emission from a natural gas well blowout in Ohio in 2018.
Assuming a constant emission rate during the whole event, we
find the total methane emission from the 20-d blowout to be
equivalent to a substantial fraction of the annual total
anthropogenic emission of several European countries.
Court declines to hear case on ban against people sleeping
and camping in public spaces. (Daily Kos, December 16,
On Monday, the Supreme Court decided not to hear an appeal
that would have allowed officers to ticket people who sleep
and camp in public spaces; this is considered a major
victory for people who are experiencing homelessness.
Instead of hearing the case, the Supreme Court is letting a
ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stand. That
ruling says that homeless people have a constitutional right
to sleep outside (assuming it’s public property) if no
shelter space is available.
Kilmeade ‘Stunned’ by Fox News Poll Differing From What ‘Fox
& Friends’ Pushes About Impeachment. (Daily Beast,
December 16, 2019)
The Fox host admitted he was surprised by the number because,
in his corner of the world, he "thought that things were
to Consultants: Helping to Elect a Republican? Sure, We’ll
Work With You. (The Intercept, December 16, 2019)
In March, House Democrats’ campaign arm formalized a policy
cutting off firms working with candidates running primary
challenges against incumbent Democrats. But the rule doesn’t
appear to apply to consultants who get millions of dollars
from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee while
working for political action committees that support and elect
open letter to Nikki Haley from the briefly reanimated
corpse of Jefferson Davis. (Daily Kos, December 15,
Dearest Ambassador Haley,
I am writing from the distant past to offer some modest
thoughts about your exciting future. I understand
congratulations are in order as you embark on the journey to
seek the presidential nomination of the party of states'
rights, nullification, and secession. (One hundred thirty
years after my death, the irony is not lost on me that the
Party of Abraham Lincoln is now where those sacred values
Now, I appreciate that you have not formally declared your
intentions for 2024 or, if today’s abolitionists, free
soilers, and civil rights crusaders of the North and West
succeed in their current treachery, in 2020. But with the
resumption of your defense of the flag of our Confederacy, you
sent an unmistakable signal to our shared supporters that you
shall pursue the highest office in the land.
Evangelical's Antichrist Op-ed: "You foolish evangelicals,
Trump has bewitched you!" (Daily Kos, December 15, 2019)
He is not the only one. There are others who are speaking out.
It’s a start, even if it is a small minority. Regardless of
the number, it’s important to note that some evangelicals have
come to see Trump for the appalling person he really is.
not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here': Graham
predicts Trump impeachment will 'die quickly' in Senate.
(CNN, December 14, 2019)
big week in the history of this country. (Heather Cox
Richardson, December 14, 2019)
The House Committee on the Judiciary voted to impeach the
President for the fourth time in American history. But that
was not, actually, the biggest story.
The big story was that it became clear that the leadership of
today’s Republican Party, a party started in the 1850s by men
like Abraham Lincoln to protect American democracy, is trying
to undermine our government. I can reach no other conclusion
after watching the behavior of the Republicans over the past
few weeks, from their yelling and grandstanding rather than
interviewing witnesses in the Intelligence Committee hearings,
to the truly bizarre statements of Trump and Attorney General
Barr saying the report of the Justice Department’s Inspector
General about the investigation into Russian interference in
2016 concluded the opposite of what it did, to the Republican
members of the Judiciary Committee making a mockery of the
hearings rather than actually participating in them, and
finally culminating in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
announcing on Sean Hannity’s program last night that, "There’s
no chance the president will be removed from office."
Robots Aren’t Regulated. Yet. (19-min. video; New York
Times, December 13, 2019)
A tank that drives itself, a drone that picks its own target,
a machine gun with facial recognition software: Artificial
intelligence is defining the next wave of warfare. Our
reporters spoke with experts around the world in "Killing in
the Age of Algorithms," a 19-minute documentary.
Just Bought CityLab - and Put Half Its Reporters Out of a
Job. (Mother Jones, December 13, 2019)
As part of the sale, The Atlantic is making layoffs.
Behind the GOP’s Disinformation Machine? (Washington
Monthly, December 13, 2019)
Are Trump’s Republican defenders Russian assets—or just useful
idiots? Veteran intelligence officials weigh in.
impeachment, McConnell vows 'total coordination' with Team
Trump. (MSN, December 13, 2019)
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) added that McConnell is "proudly
announcing he is planning to rig the impeachment trial for
Trump." The word "proudly" was of particular interest. The fix
is in, and McConnell is in a shameless mood. He's aware of the
seriousness of the scandal; he knows there's a mountain of
uncontested evidence; and he knows his party's president
abused the powers of his office on a historic scale. And it's
against this backdrop that McConnell isn't just eager to rig
the process to help the accused, he's bragging about it. The
GOP leader, ignoring reality, added that the case against
Trump is "darn weak," all evidence to the contrary
Trump Thinks Greta Thunberg Had POTUS Attack Coming.
(Vanity Fair, December 13, 2019)
Apparently, speaking out against climate change means the
16-year-old should expect to be mocked by world leaders.
Trump bullies 16-year-old Thunberg on Twitter. She once
again makes a fool of him. (Daily Kos, December 12,
In 'total coordination' with White House for impeachment
trial. (USA Today, December 12, 2019)
"We don't have the kind of ball control on this that a typical
issue, for example, comes over from the House, if I don't like
it, we don't take it up," McConnell stated about an
impeachment trial. "We have no choice but to take it up, but
we'll be working through this process, hopefully in a fairly
short period of time, in total coordination with White House
counsel's office and the people who are representing the
President in the well of the Senate."
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., read part of McConnell's
interview out loud during Thursday's impeachment markup,
stating that: "In other words, the jury - Senate Republicans -
are going to coordinate with the defendant - Donald Trump - on
how exactly the kangaroo court is going to be run."
According to the rules expressed in the Constitution, during
an impeachment trial of the President of the United States,
the Senate takes an oath to act as impartial jurors.
Supports Impeachment of President Trump. (ACLU, December
The board voted 55-2 in favor of a resolution that states:
"Having considered the ACLU’s mission and policies concerning
the protection and advancement of civil liberties,
nonpartisanship, and the extraordinary circumstances in which
the ACLU shall take a position on the impeachment or removal
of a government official,
A majority of the National Board of Directors of the ACLU
believe that President Trump has indeed committed impeachable
offenses and violated his oath to preserve, protect, and
defend the Constitution by:
- abusing the powers of the executive office to further his
personal and political interests and not the interests of the
nation by withholding Congressionally-appropriated military
aid to Ukraine unless that government announced an inquiry
into allegations of corruption by former Vice President Biden
and his son, as well as an investigation into alleged
Ukrainian involvement in the 2016 election; and by
- improperly invoking executive immunity and instructing
government officials and agencies to refuse to testify or
produce Congressionally-subpoenaed witnesses and documents,
thereby improperly obstructing a Congressional investigation;
- obstructing an inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016
election, including by firing officials and directing others
to lie about the investigation.
The Board also resolved that, over the course of his
presidency, the president has abused the rule of law and
violated his oath of office, including by:
- obstructing an inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016
election, including by firing officials and directing others
to lie about the investigation; and by
- abusing the power of his office to induce Ukraine to assist
him in the 2020 election; and by
- threatening public officials for performing their lawful
duties; and by
- obstructing Congress’s efforts to investigate that conduct.
These acts constitute extraordinary circumstances in which
President Trump’s continuation in office poses a grave and
imminent threat to civil liberties, in particular an ongoing
threat that he will continue to pursue illegal means to
influence the 2020 election and will continue to impede lawful
efforts to reveal any such wrongdoing.
The Board therefore supports the impeachment of President
This is the second instance in the organization’s 99-year
history that the ACLU’s National Board of Directors has voted
to support impeachment of a president. The organization also
supported the impeachment of President Richard Nixon.
hunting scene in prehistoric art (Nature, December 11,
The Upper Palaeolithic cave art of Europe hosts the oldest
previously known images of humans and animals interacting in
recognizable scenes, and of therianthropes - abstract beings
that combine qualities of both people and animals, and which
arguably communicated narrative fiction of some kind
(folklore, religious myths, spiritual beliefs and so on). In
this record of creative expression (spanning from about 40
thousand years ago (ka) until the beginning of the Holocene
epoch at around 10 ka), scenes in cave art are generally rare
and chronologically late (dating to about 21–14 ka), and clear
representations of therianthropes are uncommon - the oldest
such image is a carved figurine from Germany of a human with a
feline head (dated to about 40–39 ka).
Here we describe an elaborate rock art panel from the
limestone cave of Leang Bulu’ Sipong (Sulawesi, Indonesia)
that portrays several figures that appear to represent
therianthropes hunting wild pigs and dwarf bovids; this
painting has been dated to at least 43.9 ka on the basis of
uranium-series analysis of overlying speleothems. This hunting
scene is - to our knowledge - currently the oldest pictorial
record of storytelling and the earliest figurative artwork in
Smart Lock has a security vulnerability that leaves homes
open for attacks. (CNET, December 11, 2019)
The lock isn't able to receive updates, which means the flaw
allowing hackers to break in will always be present.
Startling Secret of an Invincible Virus (The Atlantic,
December 11, 2019)
The viruses that Bondy-Denomy studies at the University of
California at San Francisco don’t bother humans. Known as
phages, they infect and kill bacteria instead. Bacteria can
defend themselves against these assaults. They can recognize
the genes of the phages that threaten them, and deploy
scissorlike enzymes to slice up those genes and disable the
viruses. This defense system is known as CRISPR. Billions of
years before humans discovered it and used it as a tool for
editing DNA, bacteria were using CRISPR to fight off phages.
But phages have their own countermeasures. In 2012,
Bondy-Denomy discovered that some of these viruses are
resistant to CRISPR, because they have proteins that stick to
those scissorlike enzymes and blunt them. A bacterium can
mount its CRISPR defense, but ultimately the virus can still
force itself in and triumph. This suggested that bacteria and
phages are likely locked in an arms race. The former evolve
new kinds of scissor enzymes, and the latter evolve new ways
of disabling them. Intrigued, Bondy-Denomy started searching
for more CRISPR-resistant phages.
He soon found one that was resistant, and then some. It’s
called phi-kappa-zeta (or phiKZ)—a name that it coincidentally
shares with a sorority. Unusually large for a virus, phiKZ
typically infects a bacterium called Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
Unsurprisingly, it could resist the version of CRISPR used by
its host. Unexpectedly, it also resisted every other version
of CRISPR that the team tried, including those from bacteria
that it would never have naturally encountered. Its armor
seemed to work against every possible weapon. No anti-CRISPR
protein should work in such a universal way.
Believing in Free Shipping. (The Atlantic, December 11,
How retailers hide the costs of delivery - and why we’re such
suckers for their ploys.
Couldn’t Be Any Clearer That Trump Serves the Kremlin.
(Washington Monthly, December 11, 2019)
On the very day that the House of Representatives introduced
two articles of impeachment related to Trump’s Ukraine policy,
President Trump was huddling in the Oval Office privately with
the foreign minister of Russia. Simple optics should preclude
such a move by our president, but he obviously feels immune
from congressional pressure and absolutely unable to resist
directives from the Kremlin.
Graham opens Judiciary Committee hearing with what could be
the worst defense of Trump ever. Daily Kos, December 11,
Sen. Lindsey Graham opened the Senate Judiciary Committee
hearing with Justice Department inspector general Michael
Horowitz about his report on the FBI investigation into ties
between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia by first tossing
out a few general paragraphs - mostly about how he never makes
long opening statements. That was the precursor for Graham to
break into an opening statement that rambled on, and on, and
on, rehashing every aspect of the Russia investigation,
including things that had absolutely nothing to do with
anything Horowitz was investigating. In the course of his
45-minute-plus statement, punctuated by shuffling through
papers and frequent references to "smelly people," Graham went
through not just the Russia investigation but tangential
events, false claims, and, of course, dozens of text messages.
Notably. Graham read through a whole series of comments made
months before the election of Donald Trump and complained that
Strzok and Page didn’t respect their "commander in chief."
It’s worth pausing for a moment to consider that, in the exact
same period in which the texts were sent, Graham described
Trump as "a kook" who was "unfit for office." In fact, Graham
directly said that Trump is "not qualified to be commander in
chief." Graham also offered the advice, "You know how to make
America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell." Those
past comments somehow did not make it into Graham’s opening.
Cox Richardson: Members of the Judiciary are "debating" the
articles of impeachment. (Letters From An American, December 11, 2019)
Even as I write this, members of the Judiciary are
"debating" the articles of impeachment the committee has
prepared against Trump. I put that word in quotation marks
because there is no debate going on. Democrats are
reiterating the surprisingly consistent facts established
over the last several weeks of investigations and hearings,
while Republicans, led by Doug Collins (R-GA), Jim Jordan
(R-OH), and Dan Ratcliffe (R-TX) are simply yelling, once
again trying to create an emotional - and false - narrative
for their supporters, while sapping the energy of those who
disapprove of the president.
The tone of the hearing was clear from the start. Committee
chair Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said to his Republican
colleagues: "I know you. I have worked with many of you for
years. I consider you to be good and decent public servants.
I know this moment must be difficult, but you still have a
choice…. I hope that none of us attempt to justify behavior
that we know in our heart is wrong. I hope that we are able
to work together to hold this president—or any
president—accountable for breaking his most basic
obligations to the country and to its citizens."
Ranking Member of the Committee on the Judiciary Doug
Collins (R-GA) answered by comparing Democrats to Adolf
bipartisan pushback, Trump ditches effort to kill major
federal agency. (Washington Post, December 11, 2019)
President Trump has abandoned his administration’s faltering
effort to dissolve a key federal agency, a major setback in
his three-year battle to keep his campaign promise to make
government leaner and more efficient.
The Office of Personnel Management will remain the human
resources manager of the civilian workforce of 2.1 million
employees, and its functions will not - for the foreseeable
future at least - be parceled out to the White House and the
General Services Administration.
Congressional Democrats and Republicans whose support was
essential to disbanding the agency dismissed the plan as
ill-conceived and unlikely to save money or shrink the
federal workforce. A sweeping defense authorization bill
that appeared to be headed for approval on Capitol Hill on
Wednesday relegates the breakup to an independent study
committee, a common face-saving solution for ideas that tend
to be going nowhere.
Trump Jr. Went to Mongolia, Got Special Treatment From the
Government and Killed an Endangered Sheep.
(ProPublica, December 11, 2019)
During a summer 2019 hunting trip, Donald Trump Jr. killed a
rare argali sheep. The Mongolian government issued him a
hunting permit retroactively and he met with the country’s
the UN's COP 25 is, and why it really matters (Climate
Reality Project, December 11, 2019)
From the outside, the start of the United Nations’ COP 25
climate conference in Madrid last week looked a lot like most
of the 24 annual meetings that came before it. Straight-faced
negotiators sitting in meeting rooms, trying to find something
like consensus between nearly 200 countries on the next steps
in the march to lower greenhouse gas emissions and stop rising
temperatures in time to prevent global catastrophe.
But what makes this COP (short for “Conference of the
Parties”) different is that this is the year that millions
flooded streets of cities worldwide to demand real action now
during the Global Climate Strikes.
This is the year that the publisher of the definitive guide to
the English language, Oxford University Press, declared
“climate emergency” as its word of the year, after use of the
term spiked by nearly 10,800 percent (you read that right)
from September 2018 to September 2019.
Cities are becoming critical players in the fight against the
climate crisis. Natural solutions like reforestation and the
health of our oceans are finally beginning to get the
attention they deserve. And women’s and indigenous people’s
voices are starting to gain traction on the world’s stage.
Plus, this is the year a bombshell report showed the world is
way off track in reducing emissions at anything like the pace
necessary to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global
warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
names teen climate change activist Greta Thunberg as 2019
Person of the Year (USA Today, December 11, 2019)
This is the first time the magazine has honored a teenager,
making the 16-year-old Swedish climate change activist the
youngest person to ever be named. The record was previously
held by 25-year-old Charles Lindbergh in 1927. The accolade
goes to the person or persons who "most influenced the news
and the world" during the past year.
Time said it named Thunberg for "sounding the alarm about
humanity's predatory relationship with the only home we have,
for bringing to a fragmented world a voice that transcends
background and borders" and "for showing us all what it might
look like when a new generation leads."
2019 Person Of The Year is GRETA THUNBERG. (Time,
December 11, 2019)
She will travel to Madrid, where the United Nations is hosting
this year’s climate conference. It is the last such summit
before nations commit to new plans to meet a major deadline
set by the Paris Agreement. Unless they agree on
transformative action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the
world’s temperature rise since the Industrial Revolution will
hit the 1.5°C mark - an eventuality that scientists warn will
expose some 350 million additional people to drought and push
roughly 120 million people into extreme poverty by 2030. For
every fraction of a degree that temperatures increase, these
problems will worsen. This is not fearmongering; this is
science. For decades, researchers and activists have struggled
to get world leaders to take the climate threat seriously. But
this year, an unlikely teenager somehow got the world’s
"We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow,
because there is a tomorrow," she says. "That is all we are
saying." It’s a simple truth, delivered by a teenage girl in a
Trump Slams His Security For Being 'Politically Correct' In
Ejecting Protester. (Huffington Post, December 11, 2019)
"Get her out, get her out," Trump said. "See these guys want
to be so politically correct. Get her out. You see that?" Then
Trump, waving his hands and moaning, taunted the security
guard. "We don’t want to be politically correct," Trump said.
"I don’t know who he was. He didn’t do the greatest job."
Trump’s call to not be "politically correct" harks back to
other incidents at his events.
During a rally in 2016, he promised to pay the legal fees of
anyone who attacks a protester. "If you see somebody getting
ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would
you?" he said. "Seriously, OK?"
During another event, Trump complained that a protester was
receiving high-fives as he left. "I’d like to punch him in the
face, I’ll tell you that," he said.
And during a winter event in 2016, Trump told security to take
the protesters’ coats. "Throw them out into the cold," he
said. "Don’t give them their coats. No coats! Confiscate their
10 Mobile Is Dead: Last Cumulative Update Now Available
for Download. (Softpedia, December 11, 2019)
Windows 10 Mobile has officially become a thing of the past,
and there’s no way to go in mobile other than moving to
Android or iPhone. Windows 10 Mobile is already at 0 percent
market share, so only a very small number of users is likely
to be impacted by this highly-anticipated end of support.
us on our new journey, says Wunderlist – as it vanishes
down the Microsoft plughole. (The Register, December 10, 2019)
In May, Microsoft is killing off a favourite to-do app and
replacing it with an inferior version that requires you to
give Microsoft all your personal information.
Todoist, or OpenTodoList.)
to Kill Off Its Free Windows 7 Antivirus Next Month
(Softpedia, December 10, 2019)
Windows 7 is projected to reach the end-of-support on
January 14th, but given that the 2009 operating system still
controls a market share of around 25 percent, there’s a good
chance many devices would still be running it when the time
first universal compulsory educational system was found in?
(How-To Geek, December 10, 2019)
While other cultures prior to the 14th-Century Aztecs had
elements resembling the concept—in ancient Sparta, boys were
put into a strict military training system and in ancient
Judea, boys were required to attend school—no country or
empire had sent all their children, regardless of gender, to
school in such a fashion.
Nurses United testimony before the Subcommittee on Health of
the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee - Hearing on
“Proposals to Achieve Universal Health Care Coverage”
(Medium, December 10, 2019)
My name is Jean Ross. I have been a registered nurse in
Minnesota for 45 years, and I am President of National Nurses
United, the largest union representing bedside nurses in the
United States, with over 150,000 members. In my testimony
today, I want to illustrate two main points:
- First, our current patchwork system of public programs and
private for-profit insurers is ineffective, inefficient, and
- Second, the only way we can guarantee every person living in
this country receives the health care they need is by adopting
a single-payer, Medicare for All system.
Page Sues DOJ and FBI in Fed Court, DC, for Breach of
Privacy Act in Release of Text Messages. (Daily Kos, December 10, 2019)
The rather compact and well-drawn complaint, filed on her
behalf by the A-List D.C. law firm of Arnold and Porter,
describes some rather sleazy conduct by the Department of
Justice. It also describes knowledge of guilt, although
that is not an element Ms. Page has to prove. Hours
before scheduled key Congressional testimony by Deputy
Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in the middle of the night,
the DOJ engineered the most sordid of government leaks. The
midnight nature of the disclosure to hand-picked reporters and
the attempt to cover it up will undercut any effort to defend
the conduct as necessary to the public interest.
As a still-quite-young lawyer with tremendous earnings
capability in the private sector, Ms. Page’s damages are apt
to be substantial.
detained a high school sophomore. His teachers tried to send
him homework so he wouldn't fall behind. (CNN, December
Students later learned that Mario Aguilar, an 18-year-old who
enrolled in the school last year, was arrested by Immigration
and Customs Enforcement officers at a nearby courthouse where
he'd gone to face charges after a traffic accident. It's the
kind of case that unfolds frequently across the United States,
but often goes unnoticed or quickly fades from view.
At Wilbur Cross, something different happened. The school
where many were still getting to know Mario began fighting to
bring him back.
Trump want to murder Democrats? (7-min. video; The Young
Turks, December 10, 2019)
The latest commercial Tweeted out by the Trump campaign is an
ad that features video of Trump’s face superimposed on the
body of Thanos from the Marvel Avengers movies, as he snaps
his fingers and wipes out the Democratic House members leading
the impeachment inquiry.
In this clip Cenk points out that the choice to boost this
commercial is curious, primarily because Thanos is a horrible
villain responsible for the mass murder of trillions across
the universe, which is presumably not the kind of thing a
presidential candidate wants to be associated with. Cenk also
observes that the choice of Thanos as an icon is questionable
because, um - spoiler alert! - he loses.
take the Impeachment plunge. (12-min. video; The Young
Turks, December 10, 2019)
Trump himself has said that anyone who pleads the fifth is
guilty, yet Trump has essentially done that by refusing to
participate in these proceedings. Plus Republicans appear
prepared to offer no positive case in the Senate trial, but
rather to continue saying that up is down and black is white
to muddy the waters. Which makes sense on some level, Cenk
says, since Trump’s guilt is so apparent on the merits.
"It's absolutely slam-dunk," he says. "If you care about the
substance, the legality and the facts President Trump would
definitely be convicted and removed from office on abusing
his office for personal political gain alone."
Leads to Trump: A History of the Right’s Dangerous Outrage
Machine. (Daily Kos, December 10, 2019)
This diary takes a look at how the dangerous, right-wing
propaganda machine has created the partisan environment and
given us Trump. The information below looks at the overall
history of how we got to where we are. Because of the power
of propaganda, Trump and Hitler were labeled by many
Christians as the "Chosen One."
Not Stupid, and They're Not Spineless. They're Evil. Let's
Keep That Straight. (Daily Kos, December 10, 2019)
These people want unlimited, unfettered, unrestrained,
unaccountable power. They want this power to enrich
themselves, enrich their friends, maintain their social
status, and forcibly impose their so-called “values” on
everyone else. These people do not - DO NOT - believe in the
principles on which a democratic republic rests. In fact, they
emphatically reject them as “mob rule”. Being “conservatives”
(a word the meaning of which has been utterly distorted), they
advocate the same things American conservatism has always
advocated: rule by a small group of wealthy white men. Because
there’s a phrase in the Declaration of Independence they hate
with the heat of a thousand suns:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
American conservatism has waged unrelenting, bloody, savage
war on this idea for 243 years. Resisting the inclusion of
entire categories of Americans from the protection of the law
is the zen essence of conservatism.
warns tech companies: Take action on encryption, or we will.
(CNet, December 10, 2019)
US lawmakers are poised to "impose our will" if tech companies
don't weaken encryption so police can access data.
Tech companies and privacy advocates have long supported
encryption, noting that the privacy and security technology
protects people from hackers, crooks and authoritarian
governments. Law enforcement officials, however, argue that
encryption blocks criminal investigations by preventing access
to suspects' devices and to their communications on messaging
This debate took center stage in 2016 when Apple fought an FBI
order to help unlock a terrorist's iPhone, arguing that
providing a master key to decrypt devices would endanger all
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Apple's
manager of user privacy, Erik Neuenschwander, reiterated that
point for lawmakers. "At this time, we've been unable to
identify any way to create a backdoor that would work only for
the good guys," Neuenschwander told senators. "In fact, our
experience is the opposite. When we have weaknesses in our
system, they're exploited by nefarious entities as well."
Pete Buttigieg Says He Did at McKinsey. (The Atlantic,
December 10, 2019)
The presidential candidate reveals the clients he worked with,
what he did for them, and how the experience shaped the way he
top cop to McConnell: 'You're either here for women ... or
you're here for the NRA.' (Daily Kos, December 10, 2019)
Houston Police Sgt. Christopher Brewster, 32, was shot and
killed Saturday night on a domestic violence call. The man who
shot him with semi-automatic pistol had a long criminal
history, including domestic assault, and he had two guns with
him during the assault on his girlfriend that Brewster
This week, Houston Police Department Chief Art Acevedo is
seeing Brewster buried, and he's enraged at the men who are
continuing to allow this to happen. "We all know in law
enforcement that one of the biggest reasons that the Senate,
Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn and Ted Cruz and others are
not getting into a room and having a conference committee with
the House and getting the Violence Against Women Act, is
because the NRA doesn't like the fact that we want to take
firearms out of the hands of boyfriends that abuse their
girlfriends," he said Monday morning.
York Deepens Its Investigation Into the N.R.A. (New York
Times, December 9, 2019)
The New York State attorney general has issued a new subpoena
to the National Rifle Association, deepening her eight-month
investigation and providing fresh clues about where it is
headed, according to people with knowledge of the document.
The subpoena, which was described to The New York Times, was
issued last week and covers at least four areas, including
campaign finance, payments made to board members and tax
compliance. Because the N.R.A. is chartered in New York and
the office of the attorney general, Letitia James, has a range
of enforcement options, the investigation has alarmed N.R.A.
officials already grappling with infighting and litigation.
The same office brought a case last year that led to the
shuttering of President Trump’s foundation.
Among the documents sought by the subpoena are records related
to transfers among N.R.A.-controlled entities, including the
N.R.A. Foundation, an affiliated charity. Recent tax filings
show that the N.R.A. diverted $36 million last year from the
foundation in various ways, far more than ever before, raising
concerns among tax experts. The transfers came as the N.R.A.
experienced financial strains and challenges from gun-control
groups, which outspent the organization in the 2018 midterm
elections. An earlier analysis by The Times found that the
foundation had transferred more than $200 million to the
N.R.A. between 2010 and 2017.
While both the N.R.A. and its foundation are tax-exempt, only
donations to the foundation are tax-deductible. Tax experts
say the foundation has become a back door for tax-deductible
donations to the N.R.A. itself. Karl Racine, the attorney
general of the District of Columbia, where the N.R.A.
Foundation is chartered, is also investigating.
massive triumph of the rich, illustrated by stunning new
data (Washington Post, December 9, 2019)
The triumph of the rich, which is one of the defining stories
of our time, is generally described as largely the reflection
of two factors. The first, of course, is the explosion of
income among top earners, in which a tiny minority has
vacuumed up a ballooning share of the gains from the past few
decades of economic growth.
The second factor - which will be key to the 2020 presidential
race - has been the hidden decline in the progressivity of the
tax code at the top, in which the wealthiest earners have over
those same decades seen their effective tax rates steadily
Put those two factors together, and they tell a story about
soaring U.S. inequality that is in some ways even more
dramatic than each is on its own.
The top-line finding: Among the bottom 50 percent of earners,
average real annual income even after taxes and transfers has
edged up a meager $8,000 since 1970, rising from just over
$19,000 to just over $27,000 in 2018.
By contrast, among the top 1 percent of earners, average
income even after taxes and transfers has tripled since 1970,
rising by more than $800,000, from just over $300,000 to over
$1 million in 2018. Among the top 0.1 percent, average
after-tax-and-transfer income has increased fivefold, from
just over $1 million in 1970 to over $5 million in 2018. And
among the top .01 percent, it has increased nearly sevenfold,
from just over $3.5 million to over $24 million.
Emergence of Abraham Lincoln (Washington Monthly, December 9, 2019)
It’s always important to know about Lincoln, and today it is
urgent. As Lincoln said in his "House Divided" speech, "If
we could first know where we are, and whither we are
tending, we could then better judge what to do, and how to
The house divided, the incitement of demagogues, appeals to
anti-immigrant nativism and racism, a reactionary Supreme
Court, a dysfunctional presidency, and the breakup of the
old parties—all of these Lincoln confronted in his rise to
How America’s 16th president went from virtual
obscurity to ending slavery.
Emmanuel decimated GOP Trump-Hate impeachment talking point.
(Daily Kos, December 9,
"What we have is this impeachment process has been driven in
large part due to the Democrats' hatred of Donald Trump,"
Republican strategist Alice Stewart said. "And it lowers the
standard for impeachment in a very different ..."
Emanuel would have none of that. "First of all, you can have
my time back. Name me five presidents that asked a foreign
government to come in here and basically do op research on a
political rival," Emanuel challenged. "Name five, name all
five. It's never happened."
Of course, Stewart could not.
anoints Sanna Marin, 34, as world's youngest serving prime
minister. (The Guardian, December 9, 2019)
Former transport minister is country’s youngest leader ever
and third female PM.
denies access to doctors seeking flu vaccinations for
migrant children. (San Diego CA Union-Tribune,
December 9, 2019)
A group of doctors, who last month pressured U.S. Customs
and Border Protection to allow them to give flu vaccines to
detained migrant children, have now taken their fight to the
driveway of a detention facility in San Ysidro and said they
are not leaving until they get approval.
Dr. Mario Mendoza, a retired anesthesiologist, said it would
take less than a half an hour to administer the vaccines to
more than 100 children via the free mobile flu clinic they
set up directly outside the CBP facility.
"We have the team here. We have the vaccines," said Mendoza,
adding that denying children the basic health care being
offered was intentionally cruel and inhumane. "What I can
say is we are not leaving here until they let us enter. We
are doctors. We are against death and we are for humanity,"
nativity depicts Jesus, Mary and Joseph as family separated
at border. (NBC News, December 8, 2019)
"What if this family sought refuge in our country today?", the
Southern California church said in a Facebook post.
asks when he’ll be "loved." Music legend Linda Ronstadt
responds: when he stops 'enabling Trump’. (Daily Kos,
December 8, 2019)
Outright Falsehoods in GOP Staff Report on Impeachment
(Just Security, December 8, 2019)
On December 2, 2019, Republican staff of the three committees
overseeing the impeachment inquiry published a report prepared
for the GOP Chairs: Representatives Devin Nunes, Jim Jordan,
and Michael McCaul. This report, however, is not a serious
examination of the evidence, nor is it intended to be. Unlike
the House Intelligence Committee's Trump-Ukraine Impeachment
Inquiry Report , the minority staff report makes no attempt to
construct a coherent statement of facts, nor to offer its own
version of events as an alternative to the one set forth in
the majority's report. The point of the minority report is not
to offer an explanation of what really happened, but to make
what really happened seem unknowable.
Not everything in the report is a lie. In many instances, it
is clear that, where possible, there was great care taken to
avoid outright mistruths, through the careful phrasing of
arguments to suggest a more sweeping defense than is actually
offered, or through focusing on irrelevant and ambiguous
witness testimony while ignoring direct and clear testimony to
But staying within the bounds of the factual record – or even
within the bounds of reasonable subjective interpretation of
the record – could only get House Republican staff so far, and
much of the report doesn't just dance around the truth so much
as it strides into deliberate falsehood. In order to depict
the events at the heart of the Trump-Ukraine impeachment
inquiry in a light that could at all be construed as a defense
of President Trump's conduct, it appears that some outright
lies were needed.
Here is a list of the seven most damaging falsehoods included
in the minority report.
Is Aligning the Military with the Russian White Supremacist
Criminal Syndicate. (Washington Monthly, December 7,
Now, due to purely partisan interests, the nation’s military
is being warped into supporting the hostile foreign
power–against our own values, geopolitical interests, and
intelligence services It’s like the plot from a bad spy novel,
except that it’s happening right out in the open. This is the
situation as it stands between Trump, Russia, the Republican
Party and Ukraine. And no one can do anything about it because
the Republican Party sees itself as locked into a demographic
death spiral as it sheds support from every demographic except
the declining share older, white, exurban evangelicals, and is
therefore willing to defend even the most abominable behavior
in exchange for nominating a slew of extremist radical judges
who they hope will derail any progressive priorities for the
next several decades.
Trump is not just pushing the military toward favoring a rival
nation-state that is actively sabotaging our own for his own
personal and political benefit. He is attempting to align the
military with a global white supremacist, patriarchal fossil
fuel-backed mafia syndicate. It’s almost certain that he is
also hoping that in a Constitutional crisis pitting Western
secular liberal values against said syndicate, that the
military will help overthrow democracy itself on the
just assured his own impeachment. (Washington Post,
December 7, 2019)
And he undercut two main Republican defenses in the process.
Trump invited the House to move forward expeditiously with
impeachment and assured that he would continue to obstruct the
investigation, regardless of its length. The House has no
option but to accept.
Powerful Statement of Resistance from a College Student on
Trial in Moscow. (New Yorker Magazine, December 7,
Yegor Zhukov’s message about responsibility and love, at his
trial for "extremism", shows what political dissent can be
and seems to describe American reality as accurately as the
woman survives six-hour cardiac arrest. (CNN, December
A British woman has made a full recovery after suffering a
six-hour cardiac arrest caused by severe hypothermia -- a
condition that doctors say also saved her life.
Thirty four-year-old Audrey Schoeman was caught in a snowstorm
while hiking in the Pyrenees mountain range in Spain on
November 3, and her husband Rohan called the emergency
services when she passed out, according to a statement from
Vall d'Hebron Hospital in Barcelona. "I thought she was dead,"
Rohan said in an interview with local broadcaster TV3. "I was
trying to feel for a pulse... I couldn't feel a breath, I
couldn't feel a heartbeat."
Schoeman was taken to Vall d'Hebron, where doctor Jordi Riera
was part of the team that treated her. Riera told CNN that the
human brain usually suffers irreparable damage if the heart
stops beating for five minutes, and Schoeman represents a very
rare case. He explained that Schoeman survived with a perfect
neurological outcome because the extreme drop in body
temperature that stopped her heart also slowed her brain
metabolism, allowing the organ to cope better with the lack of
oxygen. Schoeman's body temperature had dropped to 18 degrees
Celsius (64.4 Fahrenheit) -- far lower than the normal
36.5--37.5 degrees Celsius (97.7--99.5 Fahrenheit) -- and the
hospital team used an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
(ECMO) machine to keep her alive. The ECMO replaces the
function of the heart and lungs, allowing doctors to oxygenate
Schoeman's blood and pump it round the body.
Struggles to Square Transparency With Nondisclosure
Agreement. (New York Times, December 7, 2019)
Mr. Buttigieg says he has no choice but to honor the
agreement he signed while working for McKinsey & Company.
Critics say it undermines his image of transparency.
Democrats' voting proposals include scrapping photo ID
requirement, allowing no-excuse absentee balloting.
(Richmond Times-Dispatch, December 6, 2019)
Democrats - who will now control the General Assembly and the
governor’s veto pen - have long supported easing the voter
experience to allow more Virginians to participate. Virginia
recently expanded absentee voting to seven days before an
election, allowing voters to cast ballots in person without
listing an excuse. Virginia became the 40th state with some
form of no-excuse early voting.
dramatic electoral and financial setbacks, Hester
Jackson-McCray makes Mississippi legislative history
(Mississippi Today, December 6, 2019)
Virginia suspends several after corrections officer class
appears to give Nazi salute in photo. (CNN, December 6,
There Such a Thing as Intelligence? (Daily Kos,
December 6, 2019)
The kind of intelligent you are isn’t the kind of
intelligent I am. Our intelligence is shaped by our culture.
The language of a culture controls where members of that
culture focus their attention. It determines what we see and
hear out of a stream of information of which we couldn’t
otherwise make sense. Language is logic, and thus even
simple tasks like categorization are different from culture
In some ways I am brain damaged and mentally challenged. In
other ways I am pretty average. However, there are a few
ways in which I am truly gifted. I have come to
realize that is a near perfect description of the human
condition. We just don’t see that, because we are blinded by
a cultural construct called intelligence.
orders toilet review: Americans are 'flushing toilets 10
times, 15 times'. (USA Today, December 6, 2019)
"We have a situation where we're looking very strongly at
sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms, where you
turn the faucet on in areas where there's tremendous amounts
of water, where it rushes out to sea because you could never
handle it. And you don't get any water. You turn on the
faucet and you don't get any water," Trump said during the
White House round-table on small business and red tape
Trump also quipped that the White House would need to change
out the light bulbs because the new ones "give you an orange
look." He has made similar comments before and complained
about the energy efficiency requirements directed under
former President Barack Obama. "The new bulb is many times
more expensive, and, I hate to say it, it doesn't make you
look as good," Trump said. "Of course, being a vain person,
that's very important to me. It gives you an orange look. I
don't want an orange look. Has anyone noticed that?"
[Uh, no; we've noticed the opposite.]
Trump has been rolling back regulations since taking office,
particularly taking aim at many environmental rules formed
during the Obama administration.
House laughably claims Trump 'has opposed discrimination of
any kind' against trans Americans. (Daily Kos, December
Throughout numerous federal agencies, the Trump administration
has stomped on numerous protections for trans Americans, some
based on gross, right-wing tropes. Some months after moving to
reverse protections for trans people in homeless shelters,
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson reportedly
“repeated concerns from advocates who expressed worry in
September that ‘big, hairy men’ pretending to be women would
try to get into women’s shelters, The Washington Post
These are tired tropes that give permission for violence. Just
as anti-immigrant rhetoric and policy has led to
anti-immigrant attacks, violence committed against trans
people has also ticked up compared to last year. The New York
Times reports that “At least 22 transgender people have been
fatally shot or killed in 2019, according to the Human Rights
Campaign. Nearly all of them were black women,” like Dana
Martin, Jazzaline Ware, and Ashanti Carmon.
The administration’s moves and proposals aren’t just reversal
of policy, they’ve also been an express effort to erase trans
people out of existence. The trans people they can’t erase
they quite literally force out: Under the inhumane Migrant
Protection Protocols policy, the administration has been
wrongfully forcing vulnerable trans asylum-seekers to areas of
Mexico where they may be at increased risk of violence. Within
the U.S., federal immigration officials have jailed a record
number of trans people.
Senate trial may not be the circus he is expecting. It'll
probably be even worse. (Daily Kos, December 6, 2019)
While the House has been conducting public hearings to show
why Donald Trump must be impeached, and House Republicans have
been engaged in tactics to undermine their own authority in
favor of Trump, Senate Republicans have been planning ahead.
Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans have met
repeatedly with Trump’s White House attorneys to plan not just
Trump’s defense tactics, but how the whole trial can be
structured to Trump’s benefit. Early statements from McConnell
seemed to indicate that the entire Senate trial might best be
described as “brief”—as in, McConnell might raise his gavel,
lower it again, and call it done. But simply taking the
impeachment and treating it with the same disdain the Senate
Republican leader has demonstrated for over 200 pieces of
legislation isn’t giving House Republicans the circus they’ve
been demanding, a genuine three-ring conspiracy-theory-athon.
In Trump’s statements over the last week, both on the air and
via Twitter, he seems to be nearly salivating for his chance
in the Senate, the place where Republicans rule, which means
the place where Trump rules. And what Trump wants is for House
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam
Schiff, the whistleblower, and everyone who ever expressed
less than full-throated praise for his rule to appear on the
Senate floor to dodge darts and jump through flaming hoops.
It’s still likely that that’s exactly what he’ll get. Because
if the impeachment inquiry has revealed anything, it’s the
extent to which Republicans are unwilling to stand up to
But there are some hints, some slight indications that just
maybe some Republican senators aren’t happy to see the Big Top
come to town—and that some of them might even vote to tell
Trump to take his act and hit the road.
House blows off House Democrats invitation to participate
in impeachment process as Trump focuses on Senate.
(Washington Post, December 6, 2019)
The White House on Friday appeared to reject the latest
entreaties from the House to participate in the
rapidly-accelerating impeachment inquiry, calling the
proceedings “completely baseless” as Democrats continued
with their push to impeach the president by the end of the
Pence aide provided new impeachment evidence — but VP's
office classified it. (Politico, December 6, 2019)
In a letter to Pence, Schiff (D-Calif.) asked the vice
president to declassify supplemental testimony from the
aide, Jennifer Williams, about Pence’s Sept. 18 phone call
with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, arguing that
there is no “legitimate basis” to keep it secret. “The
Office of the Vice President’s decision to classify ‘certain
portions’ of the Sept. 18 call … cannot be justified on
national security or any other legitimate grounds we can
discern,” Schiff wrote to Pence, requesting a response by
than 500 law professors sign letter calling Trump actions
impeachable. (The Hill, December 6, 2019)
The 520 professors said in the letter posted to Medium that
impeachment does not require a crime, but rather an abuse of
the public trust. "There is overwhelming evidence that
President Trump betrayed his oath of office by seeking to use
presidential power to pressure a foreign government to help
him distort an American election, for his personal and
political benefit, at the direct expense of national security
interests as determined by Congress," the professors wrote.
"His conduct is precisely the type of threat to our democracy
that the Founders feared when they included the remedy of
impeachment in the Constitution."
asks committee chairs to proceed with articles of
Post, December 5, 2019)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that President Trump’s
wrongdoing strikes at the heart of the Constitution and asked
House committee chairs to proceed with articles of
impeachment, saying lawmakers have “no choice but to act.”
look inside Trump’s anti-impeachment spin factory.
(Washington Post, December 5, 2019)
They were celebrating a rare feat: The small team of officials
in that room — pulled from the communications, legislative,
digital and legal affairs departments in the White House — had
just observed Trump following a talking point. That had
occurred because of an effort being managed out of a
bunkerlike space underneath the Oval Office by temporary White
House hires Tony Sayegh and Pam Bondi. What they are running
is not a traditional war room but more of an anti-impeachment
talking-point factory built for an impeachment battle playing
out in a frenetic news cycle that burns through half a dozen
fresh revelations a day. The environment favors Trump’s
approach of repeating a single catchphrase endlessly until it
to do with an attorney general who disdains justice
(Washington Post, December 5, 2019)
It might take years to restore the Justice Department’s
credibility. "It is difficult to overstate what an incredibly
corrosive and bad actor Barr has turned out to be," Susan
Hennessey, executive editor of the Lawfare blog, tweeted. "He
will leave the Department of Justice damaged and warped in
ways that will take years and years to repair."
An attorney general who thinks justice is provided only to a
docile populace or that his role is to overlook both the law
and the facts in service of the president has no right holding
office. "Barr is doing one of the most dangerous things a
prosecutor can do: He has a political narrative and is trying
to investigate to get facts to fit that narrative," observed
former prosecutor Mimi Rocah. "Prosecutors should investigate
and follow facts and be open to conclusions being different
than what they thought or want. It’s a total failure of his
oath of office."
Barr’s conduct has been so egregious that in any normal
administration he would have been forced to resign. Since
neither that nor impeachment and removal will happen with the
Trump crew, state bar authorities should examine Barr’s
conduct. If nothing else, the legal profession should hold him
accountable for his perversion of his office and rank
dishonesty in continually spinning and misrepresenting the law
and the facts in service of a corrupt president.
people imprisoned 5 times more often than whites - somehow,
an improvement. (Daily Kos, December 5, 2019)
Where we used to be about eight times more likely than white
people to end up incarcerated, black people now only end up
imprisoned about five times more frequently than their white
counterparts, according to a report the Council on Criminal
Justice released Tuesday based on data from 2000 to 2016.
Apparently, that’s something to celebrate. I’ll go ahead and
hold off, though, because researchers also noted in the report
that racial disparities would have decreased even more if
black offenders hadn’t received tougher sentences for violent
crimes than did whites.
Republican Mississippi State Rep.
challenges 14-vote loss to Democrat, asks
Republican-majority House to overturn election.
(Mississippi Today, December 5, 2019)
(If you win, you win. If you lose, you win?)
Democrats slam Trump admin for 'illegally withholding'
Puerto Rico hurricane aid. (NBC News, December 5, 2019)
Lawmakers say HUD is breaking the law by missing a
Congressionally-mandated deadline to make $10.2B available in
hurricane aid to the island.
City becomes first major American city with universal
fare-free public transit. (435 Magazine, December 5,
Public transit has become a focus on intense political
activity in cities across the country as young climate change
protestors demand investment in mass transit to help battle
While progressive Kansas City enacts universal fare-free
transit, other cities, such as Portland, Oregon, are
redoubling efforts to crack down on scofflaws and hiring more
transit cops to deter free riders.
Rep. Steve Watkins (R-KS) involved in voter fraud scheme -
unless he lives at a UPS Store. (Daily Kos, December 4,
State House Republicans hope to hang one of their own
starting this January. State House Republicans, who
have been infuriated by Watkins' run in 2018 and his win in a
race to become a member of US Congress, have called for state
house investigations on the matter, and indicated they can
recommend charges on to the state attorney. Republicans have
criticized Watkins for his odd behavior and for the fact he
won a very divided primary.
(This is BIG news: GOP attacking a conservative GOP
Trump investigations have 'rendered my soul weary,' House
Democrat announces retirement. (Daily Kos, December 4,
On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Denny Heck (D-WA) unexpectedly
announced he'd retire after four terms in office. In an
unusually candid letter, Heck described both the many things
he'd loved about serving in Congress but also admitted he'd
grown "discouraged," explaining that "countless hours I have
spent in the investigation of Russian election interference
and the impeachment inquiry have rendered my soul weary."
"I will never understand how some of my colleagues, in many
ways good people," Heck wrote, "could ignore or deny the
President's unrelenting attack on a free press, his vicious
character assassination of anyone who disagreed with him, and
his demonstrably very distant relationship with the truth."
back against Facebook disinformation. (Credo Action,
December 4, 2019)
Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Donald Trump had a second
secret dinner during Zuckerberg's last trip to the capital,
and Americans deserve to know what they discussed.
drone swarms the future of aerial warfare? (The
Guardian, December 4, 2019)
Technology of deploying drones in squadrons is in its infancy,
dioxide emissions continue to grow amidst slowly emerging
climate policies. (Nature, December 4, 2019)
Aviation is growing fast, but road transport is the elephant
in the room:
- CO₂ from road transport has been growing 1.9%/yr (104Mt
CO₂/yr) during the past decade.
- CO₂ from aviation has been growing at 3%/yr (25Mt CO₂/yr)
during the past decade.
A failure to recognize the factors behind continued
emissions growth could limit the world’s ability to shift to
a pathway consistent with 1.5°C or 2°C of global warming.
Continued support for low-carbon technologies needs to be
combined with policies directed at phasing out the use of
constantly eat microplastics. What does that mean for our
health? (New Scientist, December 4, 2019)
By some estimates, the average household generates 6 kilograms
of plastic dust every year, around 700 billion fragments known
as microplastics. Like snowflakes, every one is different.
Every one may also be harmful. They aren’t just indoors. “They
are everywhere,” says Dick Vethaak, an environmental
toxicologist at the Deltares research institute in Delft, the
Netherlands. “In the water, in food, in the air – you are
surrounded by a cloud of them. Everything is contaminated.”
More are created every day and they will be with us for
Big plastic debris has been on our radar for years. Yet this
is just the start of something more insidious. Plastic waste
doesn’t biodegrade but it does break down, fragmented by wind,
waves and sunlight into ever-smaller pieces. They may be too
small to see, but they are still there, worming their way into
every nook and cranny of the environment – including our
This, in a nutshell, is the pervasive problem of
microplastics. But beyond knowing that they exist and are
everywhere, we are woefully ignorant about them and their
potential impact on us.
Nunes sues CNN for $435 million, alleging ‘false hit piece’.
(Washington Post, December 4, 2019)
Nunes’s 47-page complaint accused Parnas of manufacturing a
narrative that he hoped would help him negotiate a deal with
federal prosecutors or obtain immunity from Congress, and it
argued that it was "obvious to everyone - including
disgraceful CNN - that Parnas was a fraudster and a hustler."
Nunes questioned Parnas’s credibility by calling him an
"indicted criminal," yet quoted Igor Fruman, Parnas’s
co-defendant who faces the same charges, as evidence that
Parnas’s version of events was untrue.
As the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee,
Nunes was the face of Trump’s defense throughout the two weeks
of public hearings that preceded CNN’s November article. Since
then, critics have said he should have recused himself from
the impeachment inquiry months ago.
CNN is the most recent defendant in a handful of defamation
suits filed by the lawmaker this year. In March, Nunes filed a
$250 million lawsuit against Twitter, claiming the platform,
two parody Twitter accounts and a Republican political
consultant defamed him with mean tweets. He sued the McClatchy
news organization, alleging defamation in August, and sued
Ryan Lizza and Hearst Magazines for $77 million two months
later, claiming that a story in Esquire about the Nunes family
farm in Iowa defamed him.
own witness Jonathan Turley makes the case for Democrats to
enforce subpoenas. (Daily Kos, December 4, 2019)
Prof. Jonathan Turley: “The House testimony is replete with
references to witnesses like John Bolton, Rudy Giuliani, and
Mike Mulvaney who clearly hold material information.”
Agreed. And yet Trump is obstructing Congress and preventing
them from testifying. Trump’s witness says they have material
information. Democrats should take that as proof of the
necessity of enforcing subpoeanas.
scholar explains the most dangerous part of Sondland’s
testimony. (Daily Kos, December 4, 2019)
Law professor Pamela Karlan offered legal advice to the
House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. In her opening
statement in the impeachment hearings that began before the
committee, Karlan said that she was not there to cater to
anyone’s political talking points. She continued to
dismantle every obfuscating talking point Republicans have
been using to gaslight the country into forgetting what is
actually at stake during the proceedings.
During one exchange, Karlan asked if she could
explain what about Ambassador Gordon Sondland’s impeachment
hearing testimony was most alarming and damning. She pointed
to Sondland explaining that Trump’s release of aid to Ukraine
was based very obviously on hurting a political opponent and
not at all on the general existential threat of corruption in
Ukraine. “He had to announce the investigations, he didn’t
actually have to do them, as I understood it,” Sondland had
Abroad and Assailed at Home, Trump Returns to Face
Impeachment. (New York Times, December 4, 2019)
Two days in London on the world stage provided him no respite.
“Trump doesn’t just want to be in the club, he wants to be the
unquestioned leader and center of attention,” said Gwenda
Blair, a Trump biographer. “It had to be both humiliating and
infuriating that the other heads of state who were mocking him
were untouchable by tweet or insulting nickname, but no doubt
he was already calculating the next round of tariffs he would
send their way.”
leaders mock Trump at NATO, Trump responds by calling Justin
Trudeau 'two-faced'. (Daily Kos, December 4, 2019)
Trump and Europe, a Surprising Role Reversal (New York
Times, December 3, 2019)
President Trump has always relished throwing European
leaders off balance, antagonizing allies, embracing
insurgents and setting off a frantic contest for how best to
deal with him. Now, as Europe undergoes dizzying political
changes of its own, it is throwing Mr. Trump off balance.
In London for a NATO summit meeting, Mr. Trump was subjected
to a rare tongue-lashing on trade and terrorism by President
Emmanuel Macron of France, who dismissed his attempt to
lighten the mood with a curt, “Let’s be serious.” The president who once exchanged
a death-grip handshake with Mr. Macron sat by wordlessly
while his much-younger counterpart lectured him on the
need to fight the Islamic State. Earlier in the
day, Mr. Trump held his own tongue about British politics,
heeding Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plea not to barge
into Britain’s election at the 11th hour. The president who
once threatened to pull the United States out of NATO
suddenly emerged as the alliance’s defender. The president
who championed Brexit and hectored Mr. Johnson’s
predecessor, Theresa May, about her deal-making skills
suddenly had nothing to say about it.
For a president who prides himself on being the Great
Disrupter, it was a startling turnabout, one that
underscored how Europe’s shifting landscape - with an
ambitious president in France, a lame-duck leader in Germany
and a breakaway populist in Britain - has scrambled the
calculus for Mr. Trump.
humiliation continues as Trump rants, rambles, and lies in
London. (Daily Kos, December 3, 2019)
Donald Trump's public behavior continues to get worse with
each passing week. Whether caused by the escalating strain
of an impeachment trial, a severe case of jet lag or
something (cough) medical, Trump's performance in London
earlier Tuesday was a spray of nonsense, bizarre claims,
bullshitting, gaslighting, and possibly straight-up
forgetting his own supposed policies. Pity other world
leaders, forced to sit alongside a Twitter account turned
real boy. Pity us, for being governed by one.
Provisional Statement on the State of the Global Climate in
2019 (World Meteorological Association, December 3,
Extreme heat conditions are taking an increasing toll on human
health and health systems. Greater
impacts are recorded in locations where extreme heat occurs in
contexts of aging populations,
urbanization, urban heat island effects, and health
inequities. In 2018, a record 220 million heatwave
exposures by vulnerable persons over the age of 65 occurred.
In addition to conflicts, insecurity and economic slowdowns
and downturns, climate variability and
extreme weather events are among the key drivers of the recent
rise in global hunger and one of the
leading causes of severe food crises. After a decade of steady
decline, hunger is on the rise again –
over 820 million people suffered from hunger in 2018. The
situation is most severe in sub-Saharan
Africa, where the number of undernourished people increased by
more than 23 million between
2015 and 2018, particularly in countries affected by conflict.
Among 33 countries affected by food
crises in 2018, climate variability and weather extremes were
a compounding driver together with
economic shocks and conflict in 26 countries and the leading
driver in 12 of the 26.
More than 10 million new internal displacements were recorded
between January and June 2019. Of
these, 7 million were triggered by hydrometeorological events
including Cyclone Idai in southeast
Africa, Cyclone Fani in south Asia, Hurricane Dorian in the
Caribbean, and flooding in Iran, the
Philippines and Ethiopia, generating acute humanitarian and
protection needs. Among natural
hazards, floods and storms have contributed the most to
displacement recorded so far in 2019,
followed by droughts. Asia and the Pacific remain the regions
most prone to disaster displacement
due to both sudden and slow-onset disasters. For instance,
more than 2 million people were
evacuated in Bangladesh, the second most disaster-prone
country in the region, due to Cyclone
Bulbul in November, and more than 2 million in China due to
Typhoon Lekima in August.
staggering millennial wealth deficit, in one chart
(Washington Post, December 3, 2019)
The divide widens with each generation, data show, the
byproduct of wage stagnation and income inequality.
election day disaster in Pennsylvania raises still more
concerns for 2020. (Daily Kos, December 3, 2019)
The Election Systems & Software-manufactured voting
system, ExpressVoteXL, reporting wildly inaccurate vote
totals: A recount of the paper backup ballots produced by the
machines showed that the Democrat did not get 164 votes in the
election, but 26,142. Officials don't yet know why the
machines returned invalid results; we also don't know, of
course, whether results in other elections in other counties
and states had similar but less severe problems that were not
so improbable as to spur officials to recount. It's entirely
possible that elections were thrown, just in the last few
years, by software error.
border wall contract, Trump faces corruption concerns.
(Rachel Maddow Show, December 3, 2019)
Dakota company that Trump touted gets $400 million border
wall contract. (Washington Post, December 2, 2019)
the health-care industry wants to destroy any Democratic
reform (Washington Post, December 2, 2019)
Lobbyists either helped draft or made extensive revisions to
opinion columns published by three state lawmakers in a way
that warned against the dangers of Medicare-for-all and other
government involvement in health care. Montana state Rep.
Kathy Kelker (D) and Sen. Jen Gross (D) acknowledged in
interviews that editorials they published separately about the
single-payer health proposal included language provided by
John MacDonald, a lobbyist and consultant in the state who
disclosed in private emails that he worked for an unnamed
client. Gross said MacDonald contacted her on behalf of the
Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, a
multimillion-dollar industry group founded in 2018 and funded
by hospitals, private insurers, drug companies and other
private health-care firms.
This is hardly the first time a lobbyist or
representative of an interest group wrote an op-ed for a
legislator, but it’s an important reminder of what’s happening
with the health-care debate. On one side, you’ve got some
pro-Medicare-for-all groups such as Physicians for a National
Health Program, with modest budgets and small staffs. (PNHP
has a staff of four.) In the middle, you have Democratic
presidential candidates arguing about how far to go on
health-care reform. And on the other side, you have insurers,
hospitals, drug companies, device companies and other
health-care interests who together wouldn’t think twice about
dropping hundreds of millions of dollars to destroy
Medicare-for-all and anything that resembles it. After all,
there are tens of billions of dollars in profits at stake.
Which is why those groups formed the Partnership for America’s
Health Care Future, which will be the vanguard of the war on
health-care reform should a Democrat be elected president and
try to get an ambitious bill passed.
Here’s one of the most important things to understand about
these interests: They despise “moderate” reform as much as
they do Medicare-for-all. There are reasons the kind of
expansive public-option plan being offered by Joe Biden or
Pete Buttigieg is more politically practical than
single-payer, but opposition from industry is not one of them.
Is a Democrat With a History of Backing Republicans -
Including In 2018. (Spectrum News, December 2, 2019)
As mayor, Bloomberg endorsed President George W. Bush for
re-election over Democrat John Kerry. "The president deserves
our support," he said in 2004.
Bloomberg helped Republicans maintain their slim majority in
the state Senate, where they successfully blocked progressive
legislation for years.
And as Democrats seek to win control of the U.S. Senate, it's
notable how many Republican senators Bloomberg has backed in
Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey
Late-Arizona Sen. John McCain
Maine Sen. Susan Collins
Former Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk
Former Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, among others.
useful idiot from Louisiana (Washington Post, December
A few weeks ago, I wrote about Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.)
showcasing the "typical shell game" of Republicans on
impeachment: Eliminate the importance of the "quid pro quo,"
muddy the waters of the president's motive and distort the
impeachment process itself. Since then, the senator from
Louisiana has taken his pro-Trump spin to a new level:
repeating Russian disinformation without a care.
in deadly construction site collapse deported by ICE the day
after Thanksgiving. (Daily Kos, December 2, 2019)
Defending Trump on Impeachment Should Fear the Judgment of
History. (New Yorker Magazine, December 2, 2019)
The House Judiciary Committee began debating articles of
impeachment against President Richard Milhous Nixon on the
evening of July 24, 1974. In his introductory remarks, the
committee chairman, Peter Rodino, a New Jersey congressman who
had become a national figure during seven months of
impeachment proceedings, said he had been guided throughout by
“the principle that the law must deal fairly with every man.”
Rodino called this “the oldest principle of democracy” and
implored each member of the committee to “act with the wisdom
that compels us in the end to be but decent men who seek only
the truth.” Shortly afterward, Harold Donohue, a Massachusetts
Democrat, moved that the committee “report to the House a
resolution together with articles of impeachment, impeaching
Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States.”
By this point, the members had sat through eleven weeks of
closed hearings. The committee’s staff had summarized the
evidence against the President in several dozen thick black
notebooks. The President’s approval ratings had sagged to
about twenty-five per cent, and a majority of Americans
supported impeachment. Nevertheless, most Republicans on the
committee refused to abandon the President. “The closer
President Nixon comes to impeachment, the louder his
supporters proclaim his innocence,” James Reston wrote, in the
New York Times. “If you say he is innocent often enough, maybe
you can make people believe it.”
made Trump president. It's not the first time Russia has
subverted another country's election. (Daily Kos,
December 1, 2019)
I’m talking about stealthily subverting another country’s
election and placing its puppet into power. That’s what Russia
did to Poland-Lithuania during the 18th century. Lithuania was
once the largest country in Europe? Moreover, that was before
it joined with Poland to become, for a time, not only the
dominant power in Eastern Europe, but also one with a
significant degree of democracy.
As Eric Lohr, an American University historian specializing in
Russia, summarized it, “By the early 18th century, Russia was
routinely meddling in internal Polish electoral politics.”
This should sound quite familiar to Americans in the era of
Vladimir Putin’s Russia interfered in our elections in 2016,
as U.S. intelligence agencies have clearly documented. Not
only that, but Moscow has spent years denying it and
deflecting blame by spreading the false rumor that Ukraine—a
country that, like 18th-century Poland, it wants to weaken and
ultimately dominate—was the one who did it.
swimming in my underwear taught me about Donald Trump and
getting away with it. (USA Today, December 1, 2019)
Impeachment is the atomic bomb of rebukes, a judgment that
'You are not fit to serve.' And it will distinguish Democrats
from Republicans in history.
has the 2nd Amendment in its sights—and gun groups are
November 30, 2019)
On Monday (Dec. 2), the US Supreme Court will hear one of the
most anticipated and disputed cases of the term, a gun rights
fight that pits New York City against the New York State Rifle
and Pistol Association (NYSRPA). The matter has politicians on
the left and right up in arms, inspiring unusually unfriendly
amicus briefs and strange letters to the court. The case
arises from a New York City gun transport ban that limited
licensed gun owners’ ability to travel with firearms. The
state rifle and pistol association sued the city, alleging
violations of the Constitution’s Second Amendment right to
is taking a fight over toxic-waste cleanup to the US Supreme
Court. (Quartz, November 30, 2019)
The US Supreme Court will this week hear oral arguments in a
high-stakes case about corporations, hazardous waste, and
paying to clean up pollution. The matter arises from a dispute
between Montana landowners and the oil company Atlantic
Richfield Co. (ARCO) over the now-defunct Anaconda Smelter.
The smelter was shut down in 1980, after about a century of
use in refining copper ore for phone wires and power lines. In
the years it was operational, its smokestacks spewed arsenic
and lead over a 20,000-acre area of Big Sky Country, covering
about five towns.
Atlantic-Richfield argues that this is about more than just
money. The landowners’ desired further remediation efforts
could undermine work done by the federal government to clean
up the Superfund site, it says. More importantly, allowing
such suits to go forward will wreak havoc on the national
toxic waste cleanup scheme. The company contends that CERCLA
bars claims like those being made by the Montana landowners
and that federal law trumps local rules, and many businesses
and industry groups have signed on to amicus briefs supporting
this position. The federal government controls local cleanups
at Superfund sites and has the final say on remediation, ARCO
and its allies argue. Otherwise, different authorities all
over the country could be working at counter purposes,
implementing contradictory cleanup plans that could cause even
more damage in vulnerable regions.
Meanwhile, environmentalists, who side with the private
landowners, scoff at the corporation’s position. They say that
nothing in the federal law limits landowners from seeking
additional remediation to restore their property under state
rules. In other words, the EPA does indeed designate Superfund
sites and formulate plans for their cleanup, but those plans
aren’t necessarily the sole remediation efforts that
corporations must make if there are other appropriate state
law claims. The landowners also argue that ARCO is being
disingenuous when it says that their plan would actually
damage and undermine cleanup efforts made in the region of the
smelter thus far. Conceding that the EPA found their proposed
plan technically difficult and expensive to implement, they
contend that there’s nonetheless no evidence that it would
actually be environmentally harmful as ARCO argues.
dodged US tax on $2 billion by routing cash through multiple
countries, whistleblower says. (Quartz, November 29,
Walmart, the world’s biggest company, underpaid US taxes on
nearly $2 billion worth of offshore cash, according to
whistleblower documents filed by a former Walmart executive to
the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in 2011, and recently
obtained by Quartz. The firm avoided nearly $200 million in
taxes on that money and “dramatically” overstated its foreign
tax credits in 2009 and 2010 by routing payments from
Luxembourg to the United States via the United Kingdom and not
declaring they came from a tax haven, the whistleblower wrote.
Walmart’s history of alleged tax dodging poses a challenge to
the firm’s efforts to rebrand itself as an exemplar of
conscious capitalism, especially as it regroups from settling
a seven-year bribery investigation for $282 million in June.
In September, Quartz obtained files showing the firm may owe
up to $2.6 billion in US taxes, avoided by creating a
“fictitious” Chinese entity. And in 2015, a report by the
Americans for Tax Fairness alleged that Walmart had placed
assets worth at least $76 billion in tax havens where it had
no retail stores—a figure equal to 37% of the company’s total
assets at the time. Walmart has contested both reports.
transit is just the beginning. (Briarpatch, November 29,
Public transit is one of the most powerful sites of struggle
that we have in our cities, given it’s the backbone of how
many people get to work, grocery stores, schools, and social
activities. The physical nature of the service – requiring
strangers to congregate in bus shelters and train stations,
often anxious about delays and costs – represents a site of
highly effective collective power if harnessed. But it’s the
specific demands for free transit, through spontaneous actions
of turnstile jumping and campaigns like “swipe it forward,”
that knit seemingly disparate movements for climate action,
anti-poverty, and prison and police abolition together into a
potentially world-changing force.
Technocratic transit wonks often condescend to advocates of
fare-free transit, arguing that municipalities need more
funding to improve service and that calls for free transit
undermine that goal. Of course it’s true that transit
departments need massive amounts more money – but that
shouldn’t be coming from regressive fares that increasingly
benefit corporate owners like SNC-Lavalin’s botched light-rail
project in Ottawa.
Instead, excellent transit systems can and should be fully
funded by increasing taxes on rich households and corporations
and rerouting current spending on roads and highways. Such a
transition will have a huge range of benefits: boosting
ridership, cutting emissions, making streets safer for
pedestrians and cyclists, and ensuring that everyone has the
ability to travel regardless of income. It’s an exceptionally
straightforward policy to implement, and can serve as a clear
rebuttal to the growing trend of privatization and austerity.
the future of work be ethical? (TechCrunch, November 28,
After generations of increasing inequality, can we teach tech
leaders to love their neighbors more than algorithms and
Nature: The Financialization of The Planet. (87-min.
video; Deep Green Resistance News Service, November 27, 2019)
In recent years, nature conservation has become a flourishing
business sector where huge sums of money change hands and
endangered organisms are transformed into financial products.
This film exposes the corporations and non-profits banking on
the monetization of the planet.
Are On Native Land. (New Economy, November 27, 2019)
Indigenous people are -- and have always been -- at the front
lines of resisting colonization. In the spirit of
Truthsgiving, we want to use this space to lift up Native-led
stories and resources that demonstrate that another way of
life is possible.
Omar challenger permanently suspended from Twitter.
(Washington Times, November 27, 2019)
Danielle Stella, a Republican seeking to unseat Rep. Ilhan
Omar, Minnesota Democrat, was suspended from Twitter after her
account posted Tuesday about killing the congresswoman. Ms.
Stella’s campaign account on Twitter, @2020MNCongress, was
punted from the platform after posting at least twice about
hanging Ms. Omar, a progressive freshman frequently the target
of right-wing attacks.
Nunes is trending on Twitter, and the hashtag is something
to behold. (Daily Kos, November 27, 2019)
In June, Rep. Devin Nunes sued Twitter, as well as three
individual Twitter accounts, for defamation. The complaint,
which asked for $250,000,000 in damages and $350,000 in
punitive damages, argued that, "As part of its agenda to
squelch Nunes' voice, cause him extreme pain and suffering,
influence the 2018 Congressional election, and distract,
intimidate and interfere with Nunes' investigation into
corruption and Russian involvement in the 2016 Presidential
Election, Twitter did absolutely nothing." What were these
disparaging and defaming accounts, attacking Nunes in such a
way as to warrant this lawsuit? They were Devin Nunes' Mom
(@DevinNunesMom) and Devin Nunes' Cow (@DevinCow).
(Don't miss the Comments thread! :-)
Deutsche Bank Exec Connected to Trump Loans Dies by Hanging
in Malibu. (Los Angeles Magazine, November 27, 2019)
Trump’s relationship with Deutsche Bank—which lent him around
$2 billion after most other institutions had forsaken him for
his history of defaults and bankruptcies—has come under
investigation by two Congressional committees and the New York
Attorney General, who are hoping the bank can shed light on
Trump’s elusive finances, according to the New York Times. At
one point, Bowers had a close connection to those finances.
Bowers isn’t the first Trump-connected Deutsche exec to commit
suicide by hanging. In 2014, Deutsche derivatives analyst
William S. Broeksmit, who reportedly had links to Trump and
Russia, hung himself from a dog leash at his home in London.
Florida rally, Trump claims he beat Obama and saved
Christmas. (Daily Kos, November 27, 2019
And then he flew to the moon and single-handedly defeated 15
Donald Trump held a rally in Florida last night. We generally
don't even cover these at this point: You can't even call them
campaign rallies as much as "rallies Trump's staff arranges
for him to give him an outlet for his megalomanic tendencies
that does not involve military strikes or making Cabinet
members battle to the death."
That said, there were a few moments during this one that stood
out. The man is in a positively venomous mood of late—no
surprise—and it is the times when he most seeks the adulation
of his crowds that he turns weird and racist. Well, weirder
The phrase "slurring noticeably" is going to start appearing
more and more frequently in the coming months, so be prepared
for that. Is he out of his mind? Of course. Is he a
pathological liar? Absolutely: It is both a side effect of the
worst case of malignant narcissism most people will ever have
the opportunity to themselves witness, and his own coping
mechanism for managing a life in which he knows nothing, has
instincts for nothing, and fails continuously through his own
faults, propped up only by a near-boundless supply of daddy's
posted a picture of himself as Rocky. No one knows what to
make of it. (The Guardian, November 27, 2019)
robot scientist has conducted 100,000 experiments in a year.
(TechCrunch, November 27, 2019)
Science is exciting in theory, but it can also be dreadfully
dull. Some experiments require hundreds or thousands of
repetitions or trials — an excellent opportunity to automate.
That’s just what MIT scientists have done, creating a robot
that performs a certain experiment, observes the results, and
plans a follow-up… and has now done so 100,000 times in the
year it’s been operating.
The field of fluid dynamics involves a lot of complex and
unpredictable forces, and sometimes the best way to understand
them is to repeat things over and over until patterns emerge.
One of the observations that needs to be performed is of
“vortex-induced vibration,” a kind of disturbance that matters
a lot to designing ships that travel through water
efficiently. It involves close observation of an object moving
through water… over, and over, and over. Turns out it’s also a
perfect duty for a robot to take over. But the Intelligent Tow
Tank, as they call this robotic experimentation platform, is
designed not just to do the mechanical work of dragging
something through the water, but to intelligently observe the
results, change the setup accordingly to pursue further
information, and continue doing that until it has something
a few 2020 US Presidential candidates are using a basic
email security feature. (TechCrunch, November 27, 2019)
Out of the 21 presidential candidates in the race according to
Reuters, only seven Democrats are using and enforcing DMARC,
an email security protocol that verifies the authenticity of a
sender’s email and rejects spoofed emails, which hackers often
use to try to trick victims into opening malicious links from
seemingly known individuals.
It’s a marked increase from April, where only Elizabeth
Warren’s campaign had employed the technology. Now, the
Democratic campaigns of Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Michael
Bloomberg, Amy Klobuchar, Cory Booker, Tulsi Gabbard and Steve
Bullock have all improved their email security. The remaining
candidates, including presidential incumbent Donald Trump, are
not rejecting spoofed emails. Another seven candidates are not
using DMARC at all.
That, experts say, puts their campaigns at risk from foreign
influence campaigns and cyberattacks.
engine’: Vallejo’s Mare Island megaproject envisions
thousands of new homes. (San Francisco Chronicle,
November 26, 2019)
bleak report, U.N. says drastic action is only way to avoid
worst effects of climate change. (3-min. video: Washington Post, November 26, 2019)
Global greenhouse gas emissions must begin falling by 7.6
percent each year beginning 2020 — a rate currently nowhere in
sight — to meet the most ambitious aims of the Paris climate
accord, the report issued early Tuesday found. Its authors
acknowledged that the findings are “bleak.” After all, the
world has never demonstrated the ability to cut greenhouse gas
emissions on such a scale.
“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate
change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions,”
Inger Andersen, executive director of the U.N. Environment
Program, said in a statement announcing the findings. “We need
to catch up on the years in which we procrastinated.”
The sobering report comes at a critical moment, when it
remains unclear whether world leaders can summon the political
will to take the ambitious action scientists say is essential.
So far, the answer has been no.
White House Budget Official Said 2 Aides Resigned Amid
Ukraine Aid Freeze. Judiciary Committee invites White House
to participate. (New York Times, November 26, 2019)
Mark Sandy, an official at the Office of Management and
Budget, testified that two of his colleagues quit after
expressing concerns about President Trump’s decision to
withhold military assistance. Mr. Trump has insisted he never
pressured Ukraine for the investigations or made the aid
contingent upon them, and was instead withholding the money
out of concern for corruption in Ukraine and a desire to have
other countries pay their fair share. And his Republican
allies have argued that the funding’s eventual release proves
that Mr. Trump did nothing wrong.
Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the
Judiciary Committee chairman, wrote a letter to the president
Tuesday afternoon notifying him of the hearing and offering
his lawyers a chance to question the witnesses. He asked the
White House to inform him by Sunday if the president or his
lawyer wants to participate in the initial hearing, and
reminded Mr. Trump that House rules empower him as chairman to
curtail that involvement if “you continue to refuse to make
witnesses and documents available” related to the inquiry. The
letter from Mr. Nadler initiated what is likely to be a
high-stakes legal and political dispute between the two sides
over what rights the president and his legal team should be
afforded. In modern times, the Judiciary Committee has allowed
presidents facing similar proceedings an active role, inviting
them to recommend witnesses for testimony, conduct
cross-examinations and present a defense through their
lawyers. But whereas Mr. Clinton and former President Richard
M. Nixon grudgingly engaged with Congress — at least to some
extent — as it built impeachment cases against them, Mr.
Trump’s White House has thus far responded only by declaring
the House’s inquiry illegitimate and refusing to cooperate.
House counsel McGahn must comply with House subpoena, judge
rules. (Washington Post, November 26, 2019)
A federal court ruled Monday that “no one is above the law”
and that top presidential advisers cannot ignore congressional
demands for information. U.S. District Judge Ketanji Brown
Jackson of Washington found no basis for a White House claim
that the former counsel is “absolutely immune from compelled
congressional testimony,” setting the stage for a historic
separation-of-powers confrontation between the executive and
legislative branches of the government.
The House Judiciary Committee went to court in August to
enforce its subpoena of McGahn, whom lawmakers consider the
“most important” witness in whether President Trump obstructed
justice in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s
investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S.
election. Trump blocked McGahn’s appearance, saying McGahn had
cooperated with Mueller’s probe, was a key presidential
adviser, and could not be forced to answer questions or turn
over documents. Judge Jackson disagreed, ruling that if McGahn
wants to refuse to testify, such as by invoking executive
privilege, he must do so in person and question by question.
The Justice Department’s claim to “unreviewable absolute
testimonial immunity,” Jackson wrote in a 118-page opinion, “is baseless, and
as such, cannot be sustained.” The judge ordered McGahn to
appear before the House committee and said her conclusion was
“inescapable” because a subpoena demand is part of the legal
system — not the political process — and “per the
Constitution, no one is above the law. However busy or
essential a presidential aide might be, and whatever their
proximity to sensitive domestic and national-security
projects, the President does not have the power to excuse him
or her from taking an action that the law requires. Fifty
years of say so within the Executive branch does not change
that fundamental truth.”
The Bush administration’s claim of “absolute immunity from
compelled congressional process for senior presidential aides
is without any support in the case law,” wrote Bates, a Bush
appointee, former presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence
Surveillance Court and deputy independent counsel in the
Whitewater probe of President Bill Clinton. The parties
eventually agreed on questioning behind closed doors and
release of a public transcript, mooting the case.
Judge Jackson, an Obama nominee, quoted Bates’s 2008 decision
heavily, calling the administration’s immunity claim “a
fiction” maintained “through force of sheer repetition,” one
that has never gone through the “crucible of litigation.
Stated simply, the primary takeaway from the past 250 years of
recorded American history is that Presidents are not kings."
The assertion that a president can overrule current or former
aides’ “own will to testify,” she added, “is a proposition
that cannot be squared with core constitutional values, and
for this reason alone, it cannot be sustained.”
Jackson did not limit her ruling to impeachment proceedings
but wrote, “It is hard to imagine a more significant wound
than such alleged interference with Congress’ ability to
detect and deter abuses of power within the Executive branch
for the protection of the People of the United States."
The White House said in a statement Monday that the decision
“contradicts longstanding legal precedent established by
Administrations of both political parties. We will appeal and
are confident that the important constitutional principle
advanced by the Administration will be vindicated.”
writes letter to House Democrats, passes impeachment inquiry
on to Judiciary Committee. (Daily Kos, November 25,
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff sent a letter
to House Democrats today updating them on the status of the
impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump. Schiff writes that his
committee has "uncovered a massive amount of evidence" and
that Trump "sought foreign interference in our elections for
his personal and political benefit at the expense of our
141-foot ‘Super Guppy’ aircraft delivered the Orion
spacecraft to a testing facility in Ohio ahead of 2024
mission to land the first woman and next man on the Moon.
(Daily Mail, November 25, 2019)
- The Super Guppy aircraft is used by NASA to transport large
- It was used to move parts of the Saturn V rocket during the
- It was taking the Orion spacecraft to Ohio for pre-flight
- NASA says Orion will fly to the moon without a crew for a
test flight in 2020.
- The Artemis missions will eventually see humanity return to
the moon by 2024.
wants a chief algorithm officer to counter bias, build
transparency. (Ars Technica, November 25, 2019)
The big, black decision-making boxes could get more
transparent to New Yorkers.
Uplifting Tweet You Just Shared? A Russian Troll Sent It.
(Rolling Stone, November 25, 2019)
Here’s what Russia’s
2020 disinformation operations look like, according to
two experts on social media and propaganda.
Professional trolls are good at their job. They have studied
us. They understand how to harness our biases (and hashtags)
for their own purposes. They know what pressure points to push
and how best to drive us to distrust our neighbors. The
professionals know you catch more flies with honey. They don’t
go to social media looking for a fight; they go looking for
new best friends. And they have found them.
Professional disinformation isn’t spread by the account you
disagree with — quite the opposite. Effective disinformation
is embedded in an account you agree with. The professionals
don’t push you away, they pull you toward them.
Disinformation operations aren’t
typically fake news or outright lies. Disinformation is most
often simply spin. Spin is hard to spot and easy to believe,
especially if you are already inclined to do so.
The Russians know that, in political warfare, disgust
is a more powerful tool than anger. Anger drives people to the
polls; disgust drives countries apart.
Russian disinformation is not just about President Trump or
the 2016 presidential election. Did they work to get Trump
elected? Yes, diligently. Our research has shown how Russia
strategically employed social media to build support on the
right for Trump and lower voter turnout on the left for
Clinton. But the IRA was not created to collude with the Trump
campaign. They existed well before Trump rode down that
escalator and announced his candidacy, and we assume they will
exist in some form well after he is gone. Russia’s goals are
to further widen existing divisions in the American public and
decrease our faith and trust in institutions that help
maintain a strong democracy. If we focus only on the past or
future, we will not be prepared for the present.
The IRA generated more social media content in the year
following the 2016 election than the year before it. They also
moved their office into a bigger building with room to expand.
Their work was never just about elections. Rather, the IRA
encourages us to vilify our neighbor and amplify our
differences because, if we grow incapable of compromising,
there can be no meaningful democracy. Russia has dug in for a
long campaign. So far, we’re helping them win.
McConnell’s Opposition to Federal Election Security Is
Hitting Home. (Mother Jones, November 25, 2019)
Kentucky officials say local voting systems are “one emergency
away from disaster.”
Why Has The U.S. Economy Not Sunk Yet? It Is Because The Fed
Is Doing A Whole Lot Of Bailing. (Daily Kos, November
When Trump’s really dumb tax cuts took effect starting in
2018, the Fed increased the Prime Interest Rate to prevent the
extra cash influx from the tax cuts that were flowing into the
U.S. economy from creating inflation. This tightening of the
U.S. money supply, along with Trump’s clueless tariffs meant
that the U.S. Dow Jones Industrial Average was barely higher
at the end of 2018 than it was at the beginning of 2018.
During this time, Donald Trump moaned about how the higher
interest rates were hurting the economy. Any economist worth
his or her salt could have told Trump that interest rates
would have risen when his tax cuts were implemented, but
instead, someone apparently told Trump that his tax cuts would
magically make the stock market go crazy. You see, Donald
Trump isn’t just ignorant. He’s apparently also surrounded by
Trump’s equally clueless combination of tax cuts and tariffs
eventually slowed down the U.S. economy in 2018 to such a
point that the Fed ended up having to lower the Prime Interest
Rate again in 2019. However, just lowering interest rates has
not been enough to counteract the damage that Trump’s policies
have done to the U.S economy. In addition to lowering the
Prime Interest rate, the Fed has also had to start a program
that many would call Quantitative Easing (QE), but which the
Fed has been insisting is not actually Quantitative Easing.
Basically, during quantitative easing, the Fed buys a lot of
assets, like bonds, and. in turn, it also acquires an equal
amount of debt at the same time.
Perry Calls Donald Trump The Chosen One Sent By God To Rule
Over Us. (Politico, November 25, 2019)
The secretary of energy used “imperfect” Old Testament kings
to make his point.
realism of Bernie Sanders’ climate policy. (Boston
Globe, November 25, 2019)
Sanders believes that as our economy rapidly shifts to
renewable energy, power companies should be publicly owned and
controlled, and the biggest polluters should help underwrite
dioxide in Earth's atmosphere reaches record high,
researchers say. (NBC News, November 25, 2019)
Carbon dioxide traps heat from the sun and can linger in the
atmosphere for centuries.
New York City Found Clean Water. (Smithsonian, November
For nearly 200 years after the founding of New York, the city
struggled to establish a clean source of fresh water.
Tim Berners-Lee, director of the World Wide Web
Foundation: "I Invented the World Wide Web. Here’s How We
Can Fix It." (New York Times, November 24, 2019)
I had hoped that 30 years from its creation, we would be using
the web foremost for the purpose of serving humanity. Projects
like Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap and the world of open source
software are the kinds of constructive tools that I hoped
would flow from the web.
However, the reality is much more complex. Communities are
being ripped apart as prejudice, hate and disinformation are
peddled online. Scammers use the web to steal identities,
stalkers use it to harass and intimidate their victims, and
bad actors subvert democracy using clever digital tactics. The
use of targeted political ads in the United States’ 2020
presidential campaign and in elections elsewhere threatens
once again to undermine voters’ understanding and choices.
We’re at a tipping point. How we respond to this abuse will
determine whether the web lives up to its potential as a
global force for good or leads us into a digital dystopia.
Cybertruck is ridiculous, but who wants to bet against Elon
Musk? (Quartz, November 23, 2019)
It’s a Tesla. Vehicles, at least in this class, are about
identity. Most pickups, it turns out, are “cowboy costumes,”
an expensive way to haul air and make a statement. Only 25% of
truck owners ever drive off-road or tow something. The most
important features truck buyers want in their pickup? “To look
good while driving, to present a tough image, to have their
car act as an extension of their personality, and to stand out
in a crowd.”
(And this $40-$70K super-"truck" is the ultimate pick-up.)
Awful Truth About Impeachment: Facts be damned is Trump’s approach, and it’s
working. (The New Yorker, November 22, 2019)
After five days, twelve witnesses, lots of shouting, and
dozens of angry tweets from the President, the House
Intelligence Committee’s public impeachment hearings into
Donald Trump’s Ukraine affair ended on Thursday with one
unequivocal result: a Republican stonewall so complete that it
cannot and will not be breached. The G.O.P. defense, in
essence, is that facts are irrelevant, no matter how damning
or inconvenient, and that Trump has the power to do whatever
he wants, even if it seems inappropriate, improper, or simply
wrong. Recognizing this, Democrats on Thursday evening
signalled that they will move ahead with impeachment by the
full House anyway, and soon. It was a grim choice, made with
the knowledge that the case against Trump will likely proceed
without any Republican votes, or even testimony from key
Administration witnesses who have obeyed the President’s
command not to appear.
lot of things are the matter with me': The best lines from
Trump's Fox interview. (Politico, November 22. 2019)
flirts with standing against a unanimous Congress and in
favor of China's President Xi. (Daily Kos, November 22, 2019)
It's up to Trump. Side with 100% of the U.S. Congress and, of
course, human rights, or with another of his favorite
autocrats and veto the bill? Because unanimous is definitely a
a deep red town’s only grocery closed, city hall opened its
own store. Just don’t call it ‘socialism.’ (Washington
Post, November 22, 2019)
Notably, these experiments in communal ownership are taking
place in deep-red parts of the country where the word
“socialism” is anathema. By definition, a collectively owned,
government-run enterprise like the Baldwin Market is
inherently socialist. But Lynch, who has a nonpartisan
position but governs a town where 68 percent of residents
voted for Donald Trump in 2016, doesn’t see it that way. From
his point of view, the town is just doing what it’s supposed
to do: providing services to residents who already pay enough
Knew, Too. (Huffington Post, November 22, 2019)
A newly-unearthed journal from 1966 shows the coal industry,
like the oil industry, was long aware of the threat of climate
In a 1966 copy of the industry publication Mining Congress
Journal, James R. Garvey, who was the president of Bituminous
Coal Research Inc., a now-defunct coal mining and processing
research organization, wrote: "There is evidence that the
amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere is
increasing rapidly as a result of the combustion of fossil
fuels. If the future rate of increase continues as it is at
the present, it has been predicted that, because the CO2
envelope reduces radiation, the temperature of the earth’s
atmosphere will increase and that vast changes in the climates
of the earth will result. Such changes in temperature will
cause melting of the polar icecaps, which, in turn, would
result in the inundation of many coastal cities, including New
York and London."
Trump Says He Wants a Trial. Here's What Needs to Happen in
the House Impeachment Inquiry Before He Gets One. (Time,
November 22, 2019)
In one sense, the question before Nancy Pelosi and other House
leaders is straightforward: Will more hearings produce
evidence that ultimately strengthens the case that President
Donald Trump should be removed from office, or do they already
have what they need to make the case?
But the larger question facing Pelosi and her aides is a more
complicated political one. If, as polls suggest, there is no
evidence that will convince Republican voters, and therefore
GOP lawmakers, that Trump abused the power of the presidency,
what is the best course of action for Democrats as they seek
to retake the White House and the Senate, and hold on to the
keeps making it tougher for his defenders. (The
Washington Post, November 22, 2019)
Up against the wall, Donald Trump has always reached into his
ready arsenal of aggressive tactics. Confronted with
challenges that would make many people search for a way out,
he punches back, insults those who speak against him, tosses
up falsehoods and distracting stories he knows will get big
play in the news media and offers frequently shifting
Now, facing the likelihood that he will become only the third
president ever to be impeached, Trump is deploying his full
playbook — even as his statements repeatedly undercut the case
Republican defenders in Congress have made on his behalf. The
president’s unsupported attacks on some of the key witnesses
appearing over the past two weeks before the House
Intelligence Committee not only surprised many of his
Republican allies but also contradicted the narrative that
they had settled on to describe why Trump’s actions in the
Ukraine controversy do not justify his removal from office.
“It makes it more politically difficult for us,” said Rep.
Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), “but it doesn’t change how we’ll vote
biggest mistake Democrats made in the impeachment hearings
was not focusing on CrowdStrike. (Daily Kos, November
Dr. Fiona Hill included this in her opening statement: "Based
on questions and statements I have heard, some of you on this
committee appear to believe that Russia and its security
services did not conduct a campaign against our country—and
that perhaps, somehow, for some reason, Ukraine did. This is a
fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated
by the Russian security services themselves."
What Republicans did not say, and what Hill really meant, was
that Donald Trump, William Barr, and every Republican on the
committee are actively involved in an attempt to prove that
Russia was not involved in 2016 election interference. Forget
Nunes’ weak-tea report, because Republicans, Nunes included,
are right now working to disprove that report themselves. What
Hill was referring to was something that Trump discussed in
his phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Baron Cohen blasts social media giants for ‘ideological
imperialism’. (Daily Kos, November 22, 2019)
Cohen focused his speech on social media and the handful of
tech giants that control the world’s largest platforms,
calling them “the greatest propaganda machine in history.”
Cohen outlined the rise of fascistic, racist, xenophobic,
anti-Semitic conspiracy theories around the world and their
breeding grounds on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and
Google. “On the internet, everything can appear equally
legitimate. Breitbart resembles the BBC. The fictitious
Protocols of the Elders of Zion look as valid as an ADL
report. And the rantings of a lunatic seem as credible as
the findings of a Nobel Prize winner. We have lost, it
seems, a shared sense of the basic facts upon which
Cohen said that while Facebook and Twitter and others had
made small attempts to deal with these content issues, much
more was needed. Specifically, he argued that Mark
Zuckerberg’s defense of Facebook’s semi-hands-off approach
to political ads and hate groups is disingenuous, saying,
“Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach.” Cohen also
argued that no one is asking Facebook to police free speech
around the world, but, since it is a privately owned
company, he doesn’t see why Facebook won’t stop lies from
Cohen noted that the real problem is that there are six
people, whom he calls the “Silicon Six” (Facebook’s Mark
Zuckerberg; Google’s Sundar Pichai, Larry Page, and Sergey
Brin; Susan Wojcicki at YouTube; and Jack Dorsey at
Twitter), who control what the majority of the globe sees
CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife privately recommended
staff hires to Pete Buttigieg. (CNBC,
November 21, 2019)
The news reveals that the Big Tech executive has played
a larger role in the 2020 election than was previously
Baron Cohen's Keynote Address at ADL's 2019 'Never Is Now'
Summit on Anti-Semitism and Hate (25-min. video;
Anti-Defamation League, November 21, 2019)
Remarks by Sacha Baron Cohen, Recipient of ADL's International
Was Teaching a Lot of Misconceptions.’ The Way American Kids
Are Learning About the 'First Thanksgiving' Is Changing.
(Time, November 21, 2019)
The teachers at this Nov. 9 workshop on “Rethinking
Thanksgiving in Your Classroom” were there to learn a
better way to teach the Thanksgiving story to their students,
but first, they had some studying to do. When Gokey explained
that early days of thanks celebrated the
burning of a Pequot village in 1637, and the
killing of Wampanoag leader Massasoit’s son, attendees
Reverses Navy Decision to Oust Edward Gallagher From SEALs.
(New York Times,
November 21, 2019)
The president said Chief Petty Officer Gallagher, who has been
at the center of a high-profile war crimes case, would not
lose his membership in the elite commando force.
Moments From Hill and Holmes’s Testimony in the Impeachment
Inquiry. (New York Times, November 21, 2019)
President Trump’s former adviser testified that the pressure
campaign on Ukraine was a “domestic political errand” that
diverged from U.S. foreign policy.
Pence all of a sudden can't recall if he talked with
Sondland about Ukraine aid being withheld. (Daily Kos,
November 20, 2019)
Starr, on Fox News: 'It doesn't look good for the
president.' (Daily Kos, November 20, 2019)
Today, during a break in the testimony, Starr quoted Adam
Schiff, saying (again, on Fox News), “There is now proof that
the President committed the crime of bribery. This has been
one of those bombshell days,” adding that “it doesn’t look
good for the president.” Finally, he said, “I think articles
of impeachment are being drawn up if they haven't already been
drawn up,” the only question being whether they would be
bipartisan or not.
Trump’s very large, very strange Sharpie notes on
impeachment. (Vox, November 20, 2019)
The talking points were scrawled in all caps on an Air Force
Democrats, three Republicans in U.S. presidential race.
(Reuters, November 20, 2019)
Are The Top Trump Administration Officials Implicated By
Gordon Sondland. (Huffington Post, November 20, 2019)
The ambassador gave explosive testimony that named top
officials as part of a quid pro quo effort with Ukraine.
Two Most Important Sentences of the Impeachment Hearings.
(The Atlantic, November 20, 2019)
Ambassador Gordon Sondland delivered a bombshell this morning:
“Everyone was in the loop. It was no secret.”
was no secret': Ambassador says quid pro quo came at
'express direction of the President'. (CNN, November 20,
US Ambassador Gordon Sondland testified Wednesday there was a
quid pro quo for Ukraine to announce investigations into
President Donald Trump's political opponents that came from
the President's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani at the "express
direction of the President."
What's more, Sondland provided House impeachment investigators
with emails and texts showing it wasn't just him and Giuliani
pushing for the investigations outside government channels —
Trump's inner circle knew what was going on, too. He even said
he raised concerns with Vice President Mike Pence that the
freezing of $400 million in security aid to Ukraine was linked
to the investigations.
Sondland's testimony is the most damning evidence to date
directly implicating Trump in the quid pro quo at the heart of
the impeachment inquiry. His public remarks show a link
between US security aid and a White House meeting and Ukraine
publicly announcing investigations that would help the
placed in suspended animation for the first time. (New
Scientist, November 20, 2019)
Samuel Tisherman, at the University of Maryland School of
Medicine, told New Scientist that his team of medics had
placed at least one patient in suspended animation, calling it
“a little surreal” when they first did it. He wouldn’t reveal
how many people had survived as a result.
The technique, officially called emergency preservation and
resuscitation (EPR), is being carried out on people who arrive
at the University of Maryland Medical Centre in Baltimore with
an acute trauma – such as a gunshot or stab wound – and have
had a cardiac arrest. Their heart will have stopped beating
and they will have lost more than half their blood. There are
only minutes to operate, with a less than 5 per cent chance
that they would normally survive.
EPR involves rapidly cooling a person to around 10 to 15°C by
replacing all of their blood with ice-cold saline. The
patient’s brain activity almost completely stops. They are
then disconnected from the cooling system and their body –
which would otherwise be classified as dead – is moved to the
A surgical team then has 2 hours to fix the person’s injuries
before they are warmed up and their heart restarted. Tisherman
says he hopes to be able to announce the full results of the
trial by the end of 2020.
gorgeous art was made with a surprising substance: live
bacteria. (National Geographic, November 20, 2019)
Agar plates changed the way scientists cultivate tiny life in
labs. Now agar is the canvas for a growing school of art.
planet is burning. (Aeon, November 20, 2019)
Fire - wild, feral, and fossil-fuelled - lights up the globe.
Is it time to declare that humans have created a Pyrocene?
Becoming a Carbon Source Instead of a Sink. (NASA,
November 19, 2019)
As global and regional warming continues, winter emissions of
carbon dioxide from Arctic lands are offsetting what plants
absorb in the summer.
Passes Bill to Support Hong Kong Protesters, Putting
Pressure on Trump. (New York Times, November 19, 2019)
The House and Senate both passed the bill with a veto-proof
majority. It compels the U.S. to penalize Chinese and Hong
Kong officials responsible for abuses.
will top biggest-battery record. (Seeking Alpha,
November 19, 2019)
Tesla's (NASDAQ:TSLA) battery project with Neoen (OTC:NOSPF)
in South Australia became "the world's largest battery" when
it was completed two years ago, and now it's expanding by 50%
to 150 megawatts.
The storage site has already saved more than A$50M in its
first year of operation, meaning that the A$66M venture is
quickly on its way to pay for itself. Australian Energy Market
Operator confirmed the system is much more rapid, accurate and
valuable than a conventional steam turbine.
of upsetting her NRA donors, US senator Joni Ernst blocks
Violence Against Women Act. (11-min. video; The Young
Turks, November 19, 2019)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is absolutely right when
he calls out Ernst and says that if she wants to alter the
legislation with amendments of her own, they can be debated
independently, along with the amendment closing the so-called
"boyfriend loophole." Except the Republicans don't want to
debate the issue because they know it's a huge loser for them.
Hence the obstruction.
said he was quoting Nancy Pelosi on impeachment. He was
actually quoting Fox News. (Daily Kos, November 19,
Republicans’ preferred witnesses are implicating Trump.
(Washington Post, November 19, 2019)
The House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday heard from two
former Trump administration officials whose testimony was
requested by Republicans. So it was striking that the stories
they told simply added to the evidence that President Trump
abused his office and twisted long-standing U.S. policy in
Ukraine to serve his personal political interests.
Hearings Live Updates: Republicans Question Vindman’s
Loyalty. (New York Times, November 19, 2019)
The top Ukraine expert at the National Security Council
testified that President Trump’s call with Ukraine’s president
in which Mr. Trump asked for investigations of former Vice
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was “inappropriate” and “a
partisan play,” as Republicans raised questions about his
loyalty and professionalism. Marie
Yovanovitch represents something Americans are desperate
for: decency. (The Guardian, November 18, 2019)
Trump calls her ‘bad news’, but the public won’t be convinced
by his smear.
She rooted out Trump in the middle of the hearing as he
blurted more bile. It changed the course of the impeachment
hearings. It will change the course of politics. We were
reminded of the redeeming power of decency, which properly
resides in a healthy sense of shame that is very much alive
right now. It will take down Trump and revive the Republic.
Supreme Court May Criminalize Immigrant Advocacy.
(Slate, November 18, 2019)
The case could let the government prosecute people for routine
legal work or even sympathetic tweets.
Court stops Trump financial documents from going to House on
Wednesday. (CNN, November 18, 2019)
President Donald Trump's financial documents won't be released
Wednesday, after the Supreme Court on Monday put on hold a
lower court opinion that allowed a House subpoena to go
forward. The court did not set a timeline when it will rule or
release the documents, but has asked for the House to respond
on Thursday to Trump's request to block the subpoena.
Earlier Monday, the House said that it would endorse a 10-day
delay to give the justices more time to consider legal
impeachment ire turns on Pompeo amid diplomats' starring
roles. (NBC News, November 18, 2019)
Impeachment hearings have created a rift between the president
and one of his staunchest allies in the administration.
Pompeo has served in the administration since its start. Trump
tapped him as CIA director, then moved him to secretary of
state after he fired Pompeo’s predecessor, Rex Tillerson. For
almost three years, Pompeo seamlessly navigated a finicky
president. He’s remained, and became more influential, as
Trump churned through two chiefs of staff, three national
security advisers, an attorney general, and secretaries of
defense, state, labor, homeland security, interior, veterans
affairs and health and human services.
But in recent weeks Pompeo has been under steady fire over his
role in the Ukraine scandal, as well as his handling of it.
Initially when the Ukraine controversy became public, Trump
wanted Pompeo to publicly defend him against the State
Department bureaucracy, officials said. But the White House
thought Pompeo appeared unprepared in his television
interviews, and his performance only fueled the president’s
frustrations, they said.
Trump has hinted publicly at tensions with Pompeo, and while
the comments might go unnoticed by the untrained ear they’ve
been heard loudly by people close to the president. The first
was on Oct. 23, officials said, when Trump wrote on Twitter:
“It would be really great if the people within the Trump
Administration, all well-meaning and good (I hope!), could
stop hiring Never Trumpers, who are worse than the Do Nothing
Democrats. Nothing good will ever come from them!” Trump
followed up with another tweet specifically calling Taylor,
and his lawyer, "Never Trumpers." Two days later, Trump said
Pompeo “made a mistake” in hiring Taylor.
Pompeo has faced criticism for saying, during an interview on
ABC’s “This Week,” that he didn’t know anything about the July
25 phone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr
Zelenskiy that is at the center of the controversy. Pompeo
didn’t disclose until more than a week later that he had
listened in on that call.
Like the White House, he has attempted to block State
Department officials from testifying. And he has refused to
turn over State Department documents related to Ukraine.
Criticism of Pompeo inside the State Department escalated when
he refused to publicly defend Yovanovitch after a
reconstructed transcript of the July 25 call revealed Trump
disparaged Yovanovitch to Zelenskiy, administration officials
have said. Pompeo’s closest aide, Ambassador Mike McKinley,
resigned over the secretary’s refusal to defend Yovanovitch.
Testimony from Taylor and others show Pompeo was keenly aware
of the concerns his top officials had about Giuliani’s efforts
and his handling of Yovanovitch.
In public testimony on Friday, Yovanovitch appeared to
excoriate Pompeo for “the failure of State Department
leadership to push back as foreign and corrupt interests
apparently hijacked our Ukraine policy. It is the
responsibility of the department's leaders to stand up for the
institution and the individuals who make that institution the
most effective diplomatic force in the world,” she said.
Poll: 70% of Americans say Trump’s actions tied to Ukraine
were wrong. (ABC News, November 18, 2019)
Retreats From Flavor Ban for E-Cigarettes. (New York
Times, November 17, 2019)
Advisers say the president pulled back from proposed
restrictions intended to curb teenage vaping after he was
warned of the political fallout among voters.
The Risks: E-Cigarettes & Young People (U.S.
Surgeon-General, November 2019)
Summary is an overview of the full Surgeon General's
Report and highlights the conclusions, findings, and call to
of a feather: Why Trump wants to commute Rod Blagojevich's
sentence. (Daily Kos, November 17, 2019)
Convicted former Illinois governor Blagojevich’s criminal
behavior increased markedly in 2008 in a race against time.
The state had passed an ethics law that was due to take effect
on Jan. 1, 2009 and prohibited “any individual or entity with
existing state contracts of more than $50,000 from
contributing to entities like Friends of Blagojevich.” So the
push was on to get as much as possible before the law kicked
in, with a total goal of $2.5 million. Some $500,000 was
expected to be raised by Highway Contractor 1, who wanted to
supply concrete for a new toll road project. The CEO of
Children’s Memorial Hospital had funding threatened over a
But the crime for which Blagojevich will long be remembered is
the attempted sale of a U.S. Senate seat. It was breathtaking
in its audacity. He attempted to sell it to the newly-elected
president in exchange for an appointment as the secretary of
the Health and Human Services Department.
jails in Trump era are packed, but deportations are fewer
than in Obama’s. (Washington Post, November 17, 2019)
It has been nearly 700 days since Bakhodir Madjitov was taken
to prison in the United States. He has never been charged with
a crime. Madjitov, a 38-year-old Uzbek national and father of
three U.S. citizens, received a final deportation order after
his applications to legally immigrate failed.
He is one of the approximately 50,000 people jailed on any
given day in the past year under the authority of U.S.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the most foreigners held
in immigration detention in U.S. history. The majority of
those detainees, such as Madjitov, are people with no prior
“ad blocker” plasters users with—you guessed it—ads.
(Ars Technica, November 17, 2019)
Ads Blocker uses several tricks to covertly and constantly
bombard users with ads.
fight for the future of the web (The Guardian, November
In reality, two-thirds of us have been funnelled into using
Google’s Chrome, but browser choice also hides a contest about
the openness of the web and how data is collected about users.
One organisation that has always put such issues to the
forefront is Mozilla.
FedEx Cut Its Tax Bill to $0. (New York Times, November
The company, like much of corporate America, has not made good
on its promised investment surge from President Trump’s 2017
Robert Reich: Warren doesn't just
frighten billionaires – she scares the whole establishment.
(The Guardian, November 17, 2019)
No wonder the wealth tax turns the Gray Lady white as a sheet:
it will help the needy and its author is a good bet for
On Thursday, the New York Times reported on a study showing
that Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax (and presumably
Bernie Sanders’ even more ambitious version) would reduce
economic growth by nearly 0.2% a year, over the course of a
decade. Under the headline “Warren
Wealth Tax Could Slow the Economy, Early Analysis Finds”,
the Times trumpeted the analysis, from the Wharton School of
the University of Pennsylvania, as “the first attempt by an
independent budget group to forecast the economic effects” of
a centerpiece of the Warren and Sanders campaigns.
It sounded like a game-changer. The super rich obviously don’t
like a wealth tax, but if it also slows the economy, it could
But wait. In order to arrive at their conclusion, the authors
of the study make two bizarre leaps of economic logic.
Democrat, Gov. John Bel Edwards, Keeps Seat Despite Trump's
Opposition. (NPR, November 17, 2019)
"If this campaign has taught us anything, it's that the
partisan forces in Washington, D.C. are not strong enough to
break through the bonds that we share as Louisianans," Edwards
said in his victory speech.
Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South and
is not a typical Democrat. He's a pro-Second Amendment gun
owner who signed one of the country's strictest anti-abortion
bills this year.
This is the third and final gubernatorial election of 2019 and
the second loss for President Trump, who campaigned for all
three candidates. The president was in Louisiana this past
week and framed the race as a personal referendum, urging
voters to unseat Edwards. Trump traveled to Louisiana three
times to support Rispone. About two weeks ago, Republican Tate
Reeves won the open seat in Mississippi, but in Kentucky,
Democrat Andy Beshear ousted Republican incumbent Gov. Matt
Bevin. Edwards' second term may be a bitter pill for Trump,
who had much invested in this year's elections ahead of his
own election in 2020.
John Bel Edwards wins reelection to remain Deep South's only
Democratic governor (USA Today , November 16, 2019)
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards won a second term Saturday to
remain the only Democratic governor in the Deep South despite
an all-out effort by President Donald Trump to flip the seat
to the Republican column.
Edwards narrowly beat wealthy Republican businessman Eddie
Rispone, who invested more than $14 million of his own money
to finance his campaign and tied himself to Trump from start
The president told Louisiana voters the race was a symbolic
referendum on his presidency, which he said is under attack by
Democrats who've started impeachment hearings in the House.
"You've got to give me a big win, OK?"
But in the end Trump’s coattails weren’t long enough to carry
Rispone across the finish line. Edwards predicted as much
during his own rally in Shreveport Thursday, expressing
confidence voters wouldn’t allow the president to nationalize
the election. "The voters of Louisiana are going to decide
this election on Louisiana issues," Edwards said. "They don't
need the president or anybody else to tell them how to vote."
Congresswoman shreds The Hill for publishing conspiracy
theories as 'opinion' columns. (Daily Kos, November 16,
A Washington-based reporter and Fox News personality who had
until recently been working at the politics outlet The Hill,
John Solomon, 52, is not well known outside conservative
media. But, according to interviews and testimony, his writing
and commentary helped trigger the chain of events that are now
the subject of the impeachment inquiry into Mr. Trump. Mr.
Solomon’s work has been endorsed by some of the most
influential figures on the right like Sean Hannity, Rush
Limbaugh and the president, who has highlighted Mr. Solomon’s
articles on Twitter.
The spread of Solomon’s work, according to media experts who
spoke to the Times, is a near-perfect example of how rightwing
media isn’t actually an echo chamber … it’s an ecosystem.
Here’s how it works.
whole hearing turned on a dime': The Trump catastrophe even
Fox News couldn't ignore. (Daily Kos, November 16, 2019)
On Friday, as Trump lashed out at a seasoned U.S. diplomat in
the midst of her sworn congressional testimony, Fox News was
doing what every other actual news outlet in the nation was
doing—covering the impeachment hearings. Trump's witness
bullying was a bombshell most Fox anchors would have ignored
on any other day. But because House Intelligence Committee
chair Adam Schiff stopped the hearing to read Trump's tweets
and ask Yovanovitch if she wanted to respond, Trump's
intimidation became part of a hearing Fox was already
"This whole hearing turned on a dime when the president
tweeted about her in real time," noted Fox anchor Brett
Baier. "That enabled Schiff to then characterize that
tweet as intimidating the witness or tampering with the
witness, which is a crime. Adding essentially an article of
impeachment real time." In other words, Trump singlehandedly
authored another article of impeachment. Wow, now that is some
stunning straight talk on Fox.
key takeaways from testimony by former Ukraine Ambassador
Marie Yovanovitch (ABC News, November 15, 2019)
ambassador says "foreign corrupt interests" orchestrated
ouster — live updates. (5-min. video; CBS News, November
Marie "Masha" Yovanovitch appeared Friday before the House
Intelligence Committee in the second public hearing in the
impeachment inquiry. Over the course of more than six hours,
she said she was given no reason for her abrupt removal from
Kiev and did not know why she was targeted by Rudy Giuliani.
Republicans at the hearing praised her service and largely
avoided casting doubt on her account, instead criticizing
Democrats for their handling of the proceedings and
questioning the relevance of Yovanovitch's testimony, given
that she was dismissed before the events at the center of the
Ukraine affair. Democrats said her experience showed that U.S.
foreign policy had been co-opted by a rogue faction that was
led by Giuliani and abetted by other U.S. diplomats.
As she was testifying, the president tweeted a new attack
targeting her, claiming that "everywhere Yovanovitch went
turned bad," seemingly blaming her for instability in
dangerous foreign countries where she has been posted over her
33-year career. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam
Schiff said the president's attacks were tantamount to witness
"I want to let you know, ambassador, that some of us here take
witness intimidation very, very seriously," Schiff said.
trickster” Roger Stone convicted on all counts in Mueller
indictment. (Ars Technica, November 15, 2019)
Former Trump campaign adviser found guilty of witness
intimidation, lies, and obstruction.
After his indictment, Stone was banned by Judge Amy Berman
Jackson from using social media after he posted a photo of
Judge Jackson in cross-hairs on his Instagram account. Stone
had been banned from Twitter after inflammatory posts in 2017.
Stone violated Judge Jackson's order 11 times since February.
Service Records Contradict Trump’s Claim on Doral G-7.
(Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington,
November 15, 2019)
CREW received records from the United States Secret Service
that, along with emails from Doral city officials, undermine
President Trump’s dubious claim that members of the Secret
Service wanted the 2020 G-7 Summit to be hosted at Trump’s
Doral resort in Miami. The reality appears to be quite
different, with the Secret Service instead expressing
reluctance, saying “the property does present some
challenges,” followed by a redaction that implies security
concerns. The records also seem to show that Doral was added
for consideration at the last minute, saying “[b]y departure,
they had already cut two (California and North Carolina) and
added Miami on the back end.” Taken together, the records that
CREW obtained call into question nearly every aspect of
Trump’s justification of his choice.
Trump leaned heavily on a claim that after an exhaustive
search, members of the government preferred Doral, saying
“When my people came back…They went to places all over the
country. And they came back and they said, ‘This [Doral] is
where we would like to be.’ Now we had military people doing
it. We had Secret Service people doing it.”
House releases new Trump-Zelensky transcript revealing its
initial call readout was all lies. (Daily Kos, November
Out (Longreads, November 15, 2019)
Search and rescue teams train for the worst conditions. But
the worst conditions are getting worse. Are they ready for the
next big disaster?
ships, crop circles, and soft gold: A GPS mystery in
Technology Review, November 15, 2019)
A sophisticated new electronic warfare system is being used at
the world’s busiest port. But is it sand thieves or the
Chinese state behind it?
tries to sell D.C. hotel, promising big profits from foreign
visitors and government business. (Daily Kos, November
There are still lawsuits underway which accuse Trump of
violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause, which forbids
all office holders, especially the president of the United
States, from accepting gifts or other income from foreign
countries while in office. What would the founders have
thought about a Saudi lobbyist paying for 500 rooms at Trump’s
D.C. hotel immediately after he won the election Electoral
Wanting to find a way out of these lawsuits might be a reason
to sell, but is there more going on here? Based on recent
elections and voter registration data, Donald Trump, and
Republicans in general, are in danger of losing in 2020.
Surely that hotel will get a lot less popular if he loses and
the MAGA types lose their appetite for overpriced rooms and
steaks. But there have been other recent decisions by the
Trump Organization that seem to indicate something bigger
might be going on here.
In its Comments thread:
- Heading for yet another bankruptcy? Note that Trump
and his organization do not actually own most of these
properties. His creditors do. What Trump does own
and where he gets most of his revenue is his brand, and that
has been sharply devalued during his term of office.
When Trump and his family are finally put out of office, they
may also be out of business.
- That lease for Trump’s DC Hotel was broken the day that
Trump was sworn in as President. It contains a clause that
states that it cannot be used by a government official for a
commercial, for-profit, business. One of his first hires as
head of the GSA was a guy that wrote an opinion that
exonerated him from keeping that hotel even though the lease
said that it was illegal. I would like to know if the GSA man
is under Nancy Palosi’s radar for the House emoluments case
F. Kennedy Jr. is the single leading source of anti-vax ads
on Facebook. (Ars Technica, November 14, 2019)
Researchers dig into Facebook's ad library.
Chomsky, there was Lippmann: the First World War and
‘manufactured consent’. (18-min. video; Aeon, November
Walter Lippman contended that, because the world is too
complex for any individual to comprehend, a strong society
needs people and institutions specialised in collecting data
and creating the most accurate interpretations of reality
possible. When used properly, this information should allow
decisionmakers to ‘manufacture consent’ in the public
interest. However, in one of the most damning critiques of
democracy, Lippman identifies how public opinion is instead
largely forged by political elites with self-serving interests
– powerful people manipulating narratives to their own ends.
Truth Online Is Hard Enough. Censors Make It A Labyrinth. (New
York Times Magazine, November 13, 2019)
On Saturday, April 29, 2017, Turkey banned Wikipedia. This
came as a shock, even in a country with a history of banning
everything from novels (Albert Camus’s “The Plague,” from
public schools in 1987) to films (“Nymphomaniac,” in 2014) to
entire genres of music (arabesk, from state channels in the
’70s and ’80s).
The Turks were perhaps more prepared than many to deal with
two of the most bewildering new features of what is now our
shared global predicament: the chaos of the internet and the
populist subterfuge of one-man regimes. But in recent years,
both have accelerated to a scary degree in Turkey. What was
once a semi-predictable stranglehold on official information
has become a chaotic, repressive race to protect Erdogan’s
After so many years of censorship, who is to say what anyone
really feels or believes in Turkey anymore? By what method
would anyone even gather and represent those feelings? During
the Istanbul mayoral election, the country surprised itself,
and its citizens surprised one another. During the war in
Syria, it has made sense to ask how much of the country does
not reflexively support Erdogan’s foreign war. There is no way
to know. A heavily censored society not only loses access to
information; it ceases to know itself. The greatest loss the
Turks face under Erdogan might be their knowledge of one
pollution nanoparticles linked to brain cancer for first
time. (The Guardian, November 13, 2019)
Tiny particles produced by motor traffic can invade the brain
and carry carcinogens.
The research analysed the medical records and pollution
exposure of 1.9 million adult Canadians from 1991 to 2016.
Such large studies provide strong evidence, though not a
causal link. Weichenthal said the correlation seen between
brain cancer and nanoparticles was "surprisingly consistent",
but as this is the first study, it is important that other
researchers replicate it.
discovery of abundant toxic
nanoparticles from air pollution in human brains was
made in 2016. A comprehensive
global review earlier in 2019 concluded that air
pollution may be damaging every organ and virtually
every cell in the human body. Toxic
air has been linked to other effects on the brain, including
reductions in intelligence, dementia
health problems in both adults
Suffers Worst Flooding in 50 Years, Mayor Blames Climate
Change. (Live Science, November 12, 2019)
Late on Tuesday (Nov. 12), high tides from the surrounding
lagoon surged onto the more than 100 islands that make up
Venice, flooding 85% of the city and damaging artwork and many
historic sites, Mayor Luigi Brugnaro tweeted. Photos and
videos posted on social media show the intense flood turning
alleyways into rushing rivers, stranding large water taxis in
public plazas, and drenching some of the city's most iconic
historic sites — including St. Mark's Basilica, completed in
1092. According to the local tide monitoring center, water
levels from the flood peaked at 6.1 feet (1.87 meters) last
night — the highest floodwaters in more than 50 years, and the
second highest ever recorded in Venice. (The tide reached 6.3
feet, or 1.94 m, in November 1966.)
Venice is susceptible to some flooding — or "aqua alta," as
it's regionally known — every year when high tides mix with
heavy rain and strong winds. However, Brugnaro noted,
yesterday's intense surge was exceptional, and almost
certainly linked to the increasingly powerful storms fueled by
global warming. Of the 10 highest tides in Venice since
record-keeping began in 1923, five have occurred in the last
20 years, including the current flood and one in 2018. Both
events were tied to strong storm surges blowing northeastward
across the Adriatic Sea (Venice is located on the northern
seashore), thanks in part to changing patterns in the jet
stream. These jet-stream patterns are likely to continue,
leading to more frequent and intense storms, as climate change
Racial Justice Guide to Thanksgiving. (Center for Racial
Justice in Education, November 12, 2019)
As we enter this holiday season, this resource is intended to
support educators and families as we address the true story of
Thanksgiving. This guide provides resources that range from
lesson plans to narratives that uplift the perspectives and
contributions of the Native American community.
Kills Senior Islamic Jihad Commander in Gaza. (New York
Times, November 12, 2019)
Israel described the Gaza commander, Baha Abu al-Ata, as a
“ticking bomb” who was “responsible for most of the
Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s activity in the Gaza Strip.”
Before 6 a.m., militants in Gaza began firing barrages of
rockets toward southern and central Israel from the
Palestinian coastal enclave. Islamic Jihad called the Israeli
strike “a declaration of war against the Palestinian people”
and said, “Our response to this crime will have no limits.”
Get Confused By The Ukraine Scandal: Here Are The Key Facts.
Post, November 12, 2019)
It seems like it’s getting more complicated,
but it really isn’t.
private speech, Bolton suggests some of Trump's foreign
policy decisions are guided by personal interest.
(5-min. video; NBC News, November 12, 2019)
Former national security adviser John Bolton derided President
Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law during a private speech
last week and suggested his former boss’ approach to U.S.
policy on Turkey is motivated by personal or financial
interests. Bolton also questioned the merits of Trump applying
his business acumen to foreign policy, saying such issues
can’t be approached like the win-or-lose edict that drives
real estate deals: When one deal doesn’t work, you move on to
The description was part of a broader portrait Bolton outlined
of a president who lacks an understanding of the
interconnected nature of relationships in foreign policy and
the need for consistency.
Bolton's pointed comments, at a private gathering last
Wednesday at Morgan Stanley’s global investment event in
Miami, painted a dark image of a president and his family
whose potential personal gain is at the heart of
decision-making, according to people who were present for his
remarks. Bolton is a potential linchpin witness in the inquiry
into Trump’s efforts to elicit help from the Ukrainian
government to investigate the family of former Vice President
Joe Biden, given his central role in the White House during
that time. The impeachment inquiry moves to public testimony
Impeachment Of Donald Trump Is Starting. Here’s What To
Post, November 12, 2019)
The proceedings will be televised and give the most visible
look yet at the effort to impeach the president.
Emails Show Stephen Miller Is Exactly Who You Think He Is.
(Huffington Post, November 12, 2019)
Emails sent to Breitbart editors promoted white nationalism
and xenophobia, and bemoaned opposition to Confederate
violated Constitution by searching phones for no good
reason, judge rules. (Ars Technica, November 12, 2019)
ICE and Customs violated 4th Amendment with suspicionless
searches, ruling says.
pushes ahead with effort to restrict the science it uses to
craft regulations. (Washington Post, November 12, 2019)
The Environmental Protection Agency is pushing forward with a
policy that could limit the science the agency uses to
underpin regulations, a change long sought by conservatives
but derided by many scientists and public health experts as an
effort to stifle reliance on research into the harmful effects
of pollution on Americans.
"Vague appeals to transparency do not warrant the agency
impairing its use of quality science," one critic says.
EPA’s Move to Handcuff Scientists Will Sicken and Kill
People. (Union of Concerned Scientists, November 11,
"This is a blatant removal of well-established science from
the policymaking process, to the benefit of polluters and at a
huge cost to the marginalized communities who face the biggest
threat from pollution," said Andrew Rosenberg, Director of the
UCS Center for Science and Democracy. "There’s no scientific
reason or public interest to restricting the science that EPA
can consider in this way - it will just make the laws that
protect public health and the environment nearly impossible to
Once the rule is published, the public will have thirty days
to provide comment on a narrow set of questions related to a
proposal that would completely transform how the EPA makes
decisions. No public hearings are scheduled, presumably
because the last time they did a public hearing, scientists
poked holes in every part of the proposal, essentially calling
it some kind of sick joke.
The proposal comes directly from tobacco industry lobbyists,
who previously, and unsuccessfully, tried to get Congress to
pass similar legislation. The fatally flawed proposal is
legally and scientifically indefensible. The EPA now seems
poised to make it even worse.
Nearly two years after disgraced Administrator Scott Pruitt
announced the proposal, the EPA is unable to identify what
problem they are trying to solve. The agency is unable to
provide any information about how this radical change to the
use of science by the agency would affect public health. There
is still no information on how much this unnecessary exercise
would cost, nor who would pay for it. The EPA has no clear
idea on their authority to do this.
‘Project Nightingale’ Gathers Personal Health Data on
Millions of Americans. (Wall Street Journal, November
Search giant is amassing health records from Ascension
facilities in 21 states; patients not yet informed.
Unparalleled Genius of John von Neumann (Medium,
November 11, 2019)
“Most mathematicians prove what they can; von Neumann proves
what he wants.”
Rather: President Trump's support seems cultish.
(CNN, November 11, 2019)
"Increasingly, President Trump's support seems cultish,"
legendary journalist Dan Rather says. "It's all about him,
it's not about the policy, it's not about standards of
politics." Rather expresses doubt that Senate Republicans
will break with Trump, so Brian Stelter asks him if Mitch
McConnell is part of the "cult."
You Can’t Impeach Trump for a Crime He Does ‘All the Time’.
(New York Magazine, November 11, 2019)
“It is inappropriate for a president to ask a foreign leader
to investigate a political rival,” Thornberry conceded.
Nonetheless, he argued for acquittal. Leaning hard into
Republican objections to the impeachment process, Thornberry
argued that the entire impeachment proceeding is null and
void, however damning the evidence may be. Batting away a
question about his focus on “process,” Thornberry replied:
“And process — you know, you all always want to say substance,
not process. There’s a reason we let murderers and robbers and
rapists go free when their due process rights have been
how Trump's hardball tactics put the Constitution in peril.
(The Guardian, November 9, 2019)
Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence committee,
told reporters this week the executive branch refusal to
cooperate amounted to evidence of obstruction of the inquiry,
suggesting Trump, like Nixon, might face an article of
impeachment along those lines. “The White House excuses keep
changing,” Schiff said. “First it was: the House hasn’t held a
vote. Then, a claim of immunity never upheld by a court. Now
they want their lawyers to participate, which is against the
rules Republicans wrote. It doesn’t add up – except as
evidence of obstruction.”
release testimony of White House officials who raised
Ukraine alarms. (ABC News, November 8, 2019)
Transcripts of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill
were made public. The two top White House officials said they
were so disturbed by the Trump administration’s handling of
Ukrainian policy that they reported their concerns directly to
National Security Council Legal Adviser John Eisenberg, at one
point relaying concerns that U.S.-Ukraine interactions were
akin to a “drug deal” being cooked up by the White House chief
Came SO CLOSE To Getting Ukraine To Do His Bidding. Trump
Defenders Grasping At Disposable Straws. (8-min. video: The Young Turks,
November 8, 2019)
In the face of growing, and increasingly overwhelming,
evidence of a quid pro quo over Ukraine, Trump’s defenders are
grasping ever-more desperately at inane, bizarre and often
risible justifications for the president’s actions. Case in
point: South Carolina Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who
recently offered up two “defenses” of Trump, each patently
comical in their own way.
As Cenk and Ana discuss in this clip, Graham has chosen a -
shall we say - interesting explanation for why EU ambassador
Gordon Sondland has asked to revise his original testimony in
front of House committees from “I wasn’t aware of any quid pro
quo” to “Oh yeah, there was definitely a quid pro quo.”
Sondland’s change of heart arose after many others in the
administration offered damning evidence that contradicted with
Sondland’s, and he clearly saw the possibility of a perjury
charge in his future. But that’s not how Lindsey Graham sees
it - Graham instead has floated a bizarre conspiracy that
House Dems like Adam Schiff somehow “got to” Sondland.
Although, as Ana notes, Graham for some reason seems to think
his name is “Sunderland,” which it isn’t.
The other crazy justification may have a little more validity,
at least according to Cenk. Graham told reporters that Trump
couldn’t possibly have demanded a quid pro quo from Ukraine
because the administration’s Ukraine policy is too incoherent.
Or, as Ana puts it, “Trump is too stupid to do a quid pro
quo.” Cenk loves this defense as well, wondering if this is
sufficient evidence to conclusively prove that people who hang
out with Trump become more stupid by osmosis, citing as
another corroborating data point: Rudy Giuliani.
went into Barnes & Noble and replaced the covers of
Trump Jr.'s new book. (Daily Kos, November 8, 2019)
warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump. (The
Hill, November 7, 2019)
Republicans discover their silver impeachment bullet is
backfiring. (Daily Kos, November 7, 2019)
It wasn't supposed to be like this. After House Democrats
opened an impeachment inquiry, Republicans were supposed to
be able to flail around wildly hurling words like "witch
hunt" and "socialist" and "Soviet," at which point frenzied
GOP voters would rush to the polls and deliver whopping,
stinging electoral defeats to Democrats. That was the
plan—and even the conventional wisdom—until Tuesday, when
Democrats bested Republicans in yet another off-year
election as we move toward the all-important 2020
Actually, voters did go to the polls in droves but, if there
was a motivating factor, it seemed more about sending Trump
the signal that many, many Americans are damn sick and tired
of watching him defile our republic. There is simply no
other way to read the results in Virginia, where turnout
surged from 29% in 2015 to nearly 40% four years later and
delivered control of both legislative chambers to Democrats.
Some observers wondered whether scandals that have plagued
Democrats in Virginia's executive branch might offset some
of the anti-Trump fervor. Nope. The issues were also clearly
on the side of Democratic candidates in Virginia, but the
notable spike in turnout seems to be as much a product of
anti-Trump rage voting as anything else.
And in Kentucky, no amount of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin
railing against impeachment and Trump begging voters to
protect his reputation could save a candidate who
Kentuckians despise, though Bevin has not conceded defeat to
Democrat Andy Beshear yet. Turnout also surged in Kentucky
to 42%, 11 points above what the secretary of state had
just lost his last impeachment defense: Bombshell evidence
of quid pro quo. (6-min. video; The Young Turks,
November 7, 2019)
tax cuts hiked the deficit, now $1 trillion, so guess what
Republicans want for 2020? (USA Today's Editorial Board,
November 7, 2019)
The 2017 tax cuts produced only a brief sugar high for the
economy. America can't afford Round 2!
ordered to pay $2M after misusing his charity in 'shocking
pattern of illegality'. (3-min. video; MSNBC, November
President Donald Trump must pay a $2 million judgment for
improperly using his Trump Foundation to further his 2016
presidential campaign, a New York state judge ruled Thursday.
The order appears to bring to an end the New York attorney
general's lawsuit against the president and three of his adult
children over the now-shuttered foundation, which the attorney
general alleged had engaged in repeated "self-dealing."
Gates challenges Elizabeth Warren to discuss wealth tax, and
she calls his bluff. (Daily Kos, November 7, 2019)
a Different Approach to Fighting Climate Change. (New
York Times, November 7, 2019)
Inequality is a big contributor to climate change.
world cope if GPS stopped working? (BBC, November 6,
Knowing that you're lost is one thing; being wrongly convinced
you know where you are is another problem altogether.
terrible software design decisions led to Uber’s deadly 2018
crash. (Ars Technica, November 6, 2019)
NTSB says the system "did not include consideration for
Barr is racing to deliver a report that blows up the
impeachment inquiry—and everything else. (Daily Kos,
November 6, 2019)
Barr appears to have taken the results of an inspector general
report that was expected to end weeks ago, rolled it together
with the investigation-into-the-investigation that he launched
under the nominal control of prosecutor John Durham, and
capped it all with the “findings” of a world tour that
included attempts to get the Australian government, the
Italian government, and the U.K. government to participate in
attacks on U.S. intelligence agencies. What’s going to come
out the other end could be a dud, but it could launch an
effort to derail the impeachment process—and more.
Results 2019: Democrats Take Control of Virginia
Legislature. (Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2019)
Democrats now have a trifecta, giving them unified control of
both chambers and governor’s office.
takeaways from the stunning victory for Democrats in
Kentucky (maybe) and Virginia yesterday (Boston Globe,
November 6, 2019)
president: Kentucky governor's race could be decided by
state legislature. (Louisville KY Courier Journal,
November 6, 2019)
Gov.-Elect Andy Beshear! Kentucky dumps Matt Bevin, despite
Trump's selfish pleas. (Daily Kos, November 5, 2019)
York City just became the largest place in America to adopt
instant-runoff voting (also known as ranked-choice voting).
(Daily Kos, November 5, 2019)
A recent special election for public advocate took place
without any primary or runoff and saw the winner prevail with
just 33% in a field of 17 candidates, an outcome that will no
longer be possible. Given the city's prominence in the media,
this switch could accelerate the adoption of instant runoffs
elsewhere as more citizens become aware of how the system
Blockade Shipment of Tar Sands Pipeline. (Portland
Rising Tide, November 5, 2019)
Community members from Oregon and Washington have shut down
part of the Port of Vancouver, WA to block a shipment of
pipeline that is destined for the Trans Mountain Pipeline
Expansion (TMX) project in Canada that would run from Edmonton
to Vancouver, B.C. This latest action is the third in a series
of actions targeting the Port of Vancouver, WA for its role in
transporting dangerous fossil fuel infrastructure.
Six climbers have locked themselves to the dock where the
shipment is to be off-loaded in order to prevent the pipeline
pipes from making it to their final destination in Vancouver,
B.C. They are supported by dozens of kayakers and other
boaters who are rallying to tell the Port of Vancouver,
Governor Inslee, and Prime Minister Trudeau to stop this
dangerous fossil fuel project that is jeopardizing a livable
future for everyone on this planet.
Kiera, a climber blocking the ship dock, said, “The hypocrisy
of the Port of Vancouver is embarrassing. The Port
Commissioners should be ashamed — they claim to be
environmental stewards concerned about climate catastrophe,
yet they are enabling the dirtiest pipeline project in the
world by allowing this pipe to pass through the port.”
An activist with Portland Rising Tide, Rachel Walsh, said,
“I’m here because tar sands crude transported by the Trans
Mountain Expansion project would require three times more
water for extracting and refining and would release 15% more
greenhouse gas per gallon of gasoline when compared with
conventional oil. We are also taking action in solidarity with
Fort McKay First Nations who are suing the Alberta government
because tar sands expansion threatens sacred land that the
government promised to protect.”
America Tried to Deport Its Radicals (New Yorker,
November 4, 2019)
A hundred years ago, the Palmer Raids imperilled thousands of
immigrants. Then a wily official got in the way.
Seek to Swamp Democratic Offices With Anti-Impeachment
Calls. (New York Times, November 4, 2019)
The Republican National Committee’s effort was meant to tie up
phone lines of congressional Democrats as part of a broader
plan to defend the president.
former Republican Rep. David Jolly: Today’s Republican Party
Is ‘Spineless Politicians Rotten to the Core’. (2-min.
video; Breitbart, November 4, 2019)
"These are, in today’s Republican party, spineless
politicians, rotten to the core without virtue, without any
level of human integrity, devoid of self-respect,
self-reflection, without courage, and without the moral
compass to recognize their own malevolence. And one day,
maybe, they will have the recognition of how they failed the
country and themselves in this moment, but that would be
giving them credit that somewhere down deep they have the
goodness to recognize how to reconcile their own failings with
what is right and just in American politics—and frankly, what
is right and wrong in the eyes of adults and children alike.”
federal appeals court just demolished Trump’s claim that he
is immune from criminal investigation. (Vox, November 4,
One of Trump’s most audacious legal claims had a terrible day
Less than two weeks ago, President Trump’s personal attorney
William Consovoy stood before a panel of federal appellate
judges and told them that the president is immune from
criminal investigation even if Trump shoots someone in the
middle of Fifth Avenue. It didn’t take long for that panel to
reject this extraordinary argument. On Monday, an unanimous
panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second
Circuit held that Trump is not immune from such
investigations. The case is Trump v. Vance.
Vance arises from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s
effort to secure many of Trump’s financial documents from
Trump’s accounting firm, including his tax forms. Vance seeks
these documents as part of a fairly broad-reaching criminal
investigation that may ultimately implicate Trump himself, but
that may also only wind up implicating some of Trump’s
companies or his business associates.
Vance’s investigation is a state investigation and is entirely
separate from the House impeachment inquiry. Indeed, Trump’s
lawyers argued that one reason why Trump should be immune from
this investigation is because it is being conducted by state
officials and not the federal government.
Yet, as Chief Judge Robert Katzmann, a Clinton appointee,
explains for his court, Trump’s immunity claim is especially
weak because Vance seeks personal documents that are unrelated
to Trump’s conduct in office. Though prior Supreme Court
decisions establish that the president enjoys “absolute
immunity from damages liability predicated on his official
acts,” this case does not involve Trump’s conduct in office.
Nor does it even involve an “order that compels the President
himself to do anything.”
Hybrid 2.0 strategy: Azure Arc, Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack
Edge explained (ZDNet, November 4, 2019)
At Ignite 2019, Microsoft is announcing new branding and a new
strategy meant to make Azure the place IT pros will manage
their edge, on-premises and multi-cloud software and services.
Here's my best attempt to demystify the new hybrid
White House witnesses skip depositions for House impeachment
inquiry. (4-min. video; MSNBC, November 4, 2019)
National Security Council Legal Advisers John Eisenberg and
Michael Ellis, Senior Adviser to the Acting Chief of Staff
Robert Blair, and Office of Management and Budget Staffer
Brian McCormack were all scheduled to testify to the three
House committees investigating an impeachment inquiry.
The White House ordered them not to testify.
House lawyer defies House subpoena; Trump sees ‘no reason’
to summon witnesses on Ukraine call. (Washington Post,
November 4, 2019)
Lawmakers wanted to question John Eisenberg, the deputy
counsel on the National Security Council, about what
transpired after President Trump’s call with Ukrainian
President Volodymyr Zelensky.
things we learned from the New York Times series on Trump’s
Twitter habits. (Boston Globe, November 4, 2019)
Donald Trump has exploited social media like no other US
president, using it as a springboard to change policy.
Newsom fires back at Trump's Twitter threat to cut off
California's wildfire aid. (Daily Kos, November 3, 2019)
reviewed all of Trump's tweets. Conclusion: He's a vicious,
narcissistic, dictator-loving loon. (Daily Kos, November
What did the paper of record find? A lot of what you’ve
probably already concluded. He loves dictators, isn’t so fond
of our traditional allies, likes to insult people, loves
himself, hates minorities.
two-thirds of US voters say Trump has not made them better
off. (Financial Times, November 3, 2019)
FT-Peterson poll casts doubt on whether economic arguments
will boost president’s campaign.
House calls claim that Jared Kushner gave Saudi ruler
permission to arrest Jamal Khashoggi before journalist was
killed and dismembered 'false nonsense'. (UK Daily Mail,
November 3, 2019)
- White House calls claim in British conservative news
magazine's gossip column that Jared Kushner
green-lighted Jamal Khashoggi's arrest.
- Article claims more whistle-blowers have come forward to
Democrat-led House of Representatives with claims of
wrongdoing by Trump officials.
- Report says one whistle-blower is alleging that Jared
Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, approved Saudi plans to arrest
Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- According to Spectator, Turkey intercepted call between
Kushner and Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and then used it
to gain leverage over Trump.
- Trump agreed to remove American troops from northern Syria
after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip
- White House official calls report 'false nonsense'.'
Spectator acknowledged of its own report, 'whether any of this
is true is another matter'.
the habitable exoplanets—here are some of our galaxy’s
freaks. (Ars Technica, November 2, 2019)
One of these worlds is darker than coal, with an atmosphere as
hot as lava.
were told to ‘build the wall’ at White House Halloween
party. (Yahoo News, November 2, 2019)
Trump’s proposed border wall has drawn criticism for its cost
and because opponents argue his rhetoric toward Latino
immigrants is racist, an accusation Trump has denied. Former
officials told Yahoo News they thought the “Build the Wall”
display at the EEOB Halloween party was disturbing.
“To the extent the wall is just a xenophobic symbol, this is
obviously a gross thing to have children do,” Ben Rohrbaugh,
who worked on National Security Council on border security in
the Obama administration, told Yahoo News. “To the extent it’s
a representation of an actual wall on the southwest border,
the kids have made nearly as much progress as the president
has since 2017.”
Decreasing Inflammation Be the Cure for Everything?
(AARP, November 1, 2019)
Managing your body's immune response is key to diseases of
Mengzi came up with something better than the Golden Rule
(Aeon, November 1, 2019)
Care about me not because you can imagine what you would
selfishly want if you were me. Care about me because you see
how I am not really so different from others you already love.
Trump may not qualify, and his NY audit just got more
interesting and personal. (Daily Kos, November 1, 2019)
Daylight Saving Time Affects Health (Associated Press, November 1, 2019)
Here's what science has to say about a twice-yearly ritual
affecting nearly 2 billion people worldwide.
hands, abandon ship! I repeat all hands abandon ship as Fox
News staff jump overboard. (Daily Kos, October 31, 2019)
House Backing Off Proposed Fuel-Efficiency Freeze. (Wall
Street Journal, October 31, 2019)
Trump administration plans for annual efficiency increases of
1.5%; rule likely to come by year’s end.
DNA database used to find the Golden State Killer is a
national security leak waiting to happen. (MIT
Technology Review, October 29, 2019)
Here’s how spies could use a crowd-sourced genetic ancestry
service to compromise your privacy—even if you’re not a
is suing the world’s top hacking company. (MIT Technology Review, October 29,
One of the most powerful tech firms on earth takes on the
Israeli cyber surveillance firm NSO Group.
poll shows why Trump’s defenders are more focused on
impeachment process than substance. (Washington Post,
October 29, 2019)
Most polls have asked Americans in specific terms what they
think of President Trump requesting that his Ukrainian
counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky order an investigation into Joe
Biden’s son. A new national survey from Grinnell College,
conducted by the respected Iowa pollster Ann Selzer, probes
public attitudes in more plain language – and gets revealing
"Is it okay with you or not okay for political candidates in
the U.S. to ask for assistance from a foreign government to
help them win an election?" In response to that question, only
7 percent of U.S. adults say it’s okay. Eighty-one percent say
it is not okay. More than 80 percent of self-identified
Republicans, evangelicals and rural dwellers say it’s not
okay for a president to ask for assistance from a foreign
government to help win an election.
This helps explain why Trump defenders on Capitol Hill
have fixated more on complaining about the impeachment process
than offering a substantive defense of Trump’s conduct toward
Ukraine or his public call for China, from the White House
lawn, to investigate the Bidens. The rough transcript of the
July 25 call released by Trump shows the president asking
explicitly for a "favor" right after Zelensky raised the
subject of military aid to Ukraine. Additional reporting,
along with sworn testimony from administration officials, has
established that this was part of a broader campaign to compel
Kyiv to help Trump tar Democrats generally and Biden
Last week, even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took
the rare step of distancing himself from a tweet by Trump that
likened his impeachment to "a lynching."
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine)
said on Monday that they will join Mitt Romney in not
co-sponsoring a resolution spearheaded by Sen. Lindsey Graham
(R-S.C.) to condemn the House’s impeachment process.
are meddling in the Democratic primary. Is anyone paying
attention? (Washington Post, October 29, 2019)
Contrary to the aims of a traditional intelligence operation,
discovery and attribution will be the point, derailing the
primary with news of yet another Russian disinformation
campaign and driving a wedge between the Democratic factions.
As media coverage mounts, Trump will feel justified in
launching an investigation, ensuring that his political rivals
are not “profiting” from the efforts of a foreign power (and
possibly distracting from other operations working to his own
benefit.) All the old narratives will be turned on their head.
It will be Democrats, not Republicans, who suffer Russia as a
campaign issue, no matter how loudly they disavow the
operations conducted in their name.
Although foreign interference remains the gravest threat to
the future of free and fair U.S. elections, the issue of
foreign interference represents a counterproductive and
potentially dangerous one for the Democratic primary.
Democratic campaigns must give each other the benefit of the
doubt. If they use the existence of foreign influence
operations to score cheap political points against fellow
Democrats, it will be the party — and the country — that
ultimately pays the price.
death: More details emerge from US raid. (CNN, October
House Ukraine Expert Sought to Correct Transcript of Trump
Call. (New York Times, October 29, 2019)
Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, who heard President Trump’s
July phone call with Ukraine’s president and was alarmed,
testified that he tried and failed to add key details to the
rough transcript. The omissions, Colonel Vindman said,
included Mr. Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of
former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussing Ukraine
corruption, and an explicit mention by Ukraine’s president,
Volodymyr Zelensky, of Burisma Holdings, the energy company
whose board employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter.
Colonel Vindman, who appeared on Capitol Hill wearing his dark
blue Army dress uniform and military medals, told House
impeachment investigators that he tried to change the
reconstructed transcript made by the White House staff to
reflect the omissions. But while some of his edits appeared to
have been successful, he said, those two corrections were not
rise could flood hundreds of millions more than expected.
Review, October 29, 2019)
Princeton researchers found that far more people are living
closer to the ocean than previously believed.
Seas Will Erase More Cities by 2050, New Research Shows.
(New York Times,
October 29, 2019)
Some 150 million people are now living on land that will be
below the high-tide line by mid-century, according to
Declaration of War (Daily Kos, October 28, 2019)
I live in Humboldt County. We’ve had our power shut off twice
now, even though we’re not in a fire area. Here are my
thoughts: Like all natural monopolies, the People should own
the power grid. And Water. And Roads, and Cable
Internet. The people who run our utilities need to be
answerable to US, not to shareholders. If WE were in charge of
our utilities, we would have allocated the funds where they
should have gone, instead of in someone’s pocket.
Slap anyone who asks "how are we going to pay for it?" That’s
a straw man. When we want to do something — anything — like
going to war, or giving tax breaks to zillionaires, we ALWAYS
find the money. Always. Every single time. Remember when the
Iraq war was estimated to cost $85 million. Real cost? Last I
heard, CBO said $2.4 trillion. TRILLION.
I say, we "declare war" on the Climate Crisis, and spend
whatever the heck it takes to win that war.
outages: Almost 2 million Californians could face blackouts
Tuesday. (San Francisco Chronicle, October 28, 2019)
The warning came even as PG&E issued the all-clear Monday
to start restoring power to the bulk of the 970,000 customers
whose electricity was shut down over the weekend as part of
the utility’s wildfire prevention efforts. As of Monday
evening, PG&E had restored power to 375,000, or roughly
39% of those customers; progress varied greatly, from none in
Alpine and Yuba counties to 95% in Colusa County, according to
PG&E. Some people who lost power over the weekend may not
have it restored until Friday.
turns announcement of ISIS leader's death into disturbing
rant, says U.S. will take Syrian oil. (Daily Kos,
October 27, 2019)
Trump delivered his speech with such bloody glee, that clips
of it could be used for any number of terrorist recruiting
videos. He repeatedly returned to claims that al-Baghdadi had
“screamed, cried, and whimpered,” that he had “run like a dog,
like a coward.” And, according to Trump, the ISIS founder was
eventually pursued into a dead-end tunnel by dogs brought to
the compound by U.S. forces. He then died by setting off a
suicide vest. In the process he also killed three children.
No one mourns al-Baghdadi. The level of fanaticism,
intolerance, and violence he brought to ISIS was disturbing
even to other terrorist leaders. However, the way that Trump
painted his end, including his emphasis on the use of dogs,
his calling al-Baghdadi a dog, and repeatedly talking about
the ISIS leader crying and screaming … will not go down well
in the Middle East. Additionally, the idea that al-Baghdadi
ultimately evaded capture and died by his own hand will also
be seen as a “victory” of sort by his followers.
the dramatic US military raid that killed ISIS leader
Baghdadi (CNN, October 27, 2019)
Trump's announcement on Sunday morning was remarkable in its
own right. He teased the news on Twitter the night before,
saying "something very big just happened!" And in a contrast
with Obama's sober address to the nation about bin Laden,
Trump's freewheeling appearance before the cameras was filled
with descriptions of gruesome imagery -- "his body was
mutilated by the blast" -- and he openly mocked the terror
leader, saying he died "whimpering and crying and screaming
all the way."
Baghdadi in their sights, U.S. troops launched a ‘dangerous
and daring nighttime raid’ (Washington Post, October 27,
As President Trump and senior advisers settled into the
Situation Room on Saturday evening, elite U.S. forces more
than 6,000 miles away launched one of the most significant
counterterrorism operations in the campaign against the
Islamic State. Taking off in eight helicopters from Iraq, the
troops flew over hostile territory for hundreds of miles in
the early Sunday morning darkness.
Their target, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the brutal founder and
leader of the Islamic State, was holed up in a compound in
northwestern Syria with family members and terrorist
associates, and the United States had been watching him for
days. A tip from a disaffected Islamic State militant set the
operation in motion, according to a U.S. official, who like
others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a
What followed was what Trump called a “dangerous and daring
nighttime raid” that was carried off “in grand style.” It
ended, he said, with Baghdadi fleeing from advancing U.S.
forces into a dead-end tunnel and detonating a suicide vest,
killing himself and three of his children.
Harris drops out, then rejoins an Historically Black
Colleges and Universities event after Trump honor. (ABC
News, October 27, 2019)
"Let’s just deal with the elephant in the room which is the
events of the last 24-48 hours," Harris said. "Mayor Benjamin
called me and told me that it was shifting and it was going to
change ... that it was only right and a reflection of this
most honorable institution that this event would be opened to students,,
that it would not be a paid event and that everyone would be
able to participate," Harris said.
Fellow presidential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said,
"[Trump’s] remarks were offensive. Talking about being the
best president ever for black people is an offensive lie,
because he’s actually doing things to hurt the
Army finds that the 'military could collapse within twenty
years' thanks to climate breakdown. (Daily Kos, October
According to a new
report prepared by the US Army and, commissioned by the
Pentagon, found that the next couple of decades will be so
chaotic due to a warming climate that we will be unable to
adapt in time. Our inability to change will be the result of
years of inaction by ‘leaders' who have kicked the proverbial
can of worms down the road for future generations to solve.
The report predicts that within the next twenty years, our
power grid infrastructure will be unable to adapt to the
expected extreme temperatures that are bearing down upon us.
During this time, people will be hungry, thirsty, and unable
to cope with unbearable heat. The PGE crisis provides a
glimpse into the future, Millions
Of Californians Brace For Power Outages As Wildfires Ravage
The key players in the study were NASA, the military, and
defense intelligence agencies, and they warned the Pentagon
'to urgently prepare for the possibility that domestic power,
water, and food systems might collapse due to the impacts of
climate change as we reach mid-century.'
A race against time to slow Sonoma fire before monster winds
return (Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2019)
The Kincade fire has burned 21,900 acres in northern Sonoma
County and was only 5% contained as of Friday afternoon. The
entire town of Geyserville and vineyards in the region were
ordered to evacuate, though some stayed, using generators for
power. Fire officials said 49 structures, including 21 homes,
were destroyed, and the Geysers geothermal facilities run by
Calpine Corp. reported some damage.
Tomorrow, conditions are likely to worsen. The winds are
expected to head down slope, reaching urban areas as far as
Oakland, San Francisco and Sacramento. These winds are what
brought devastation to rural communities in the foothills of
the North Bay hills when fires struck in 2017. The Tubbs fire
in Sonoma and Napa counties killed 22 people and destroyed
more than 5,000 homes.
return of socialism is about the political divide. (The
Hill, October 26, 2019)
Young people extolling socialism have caused conservatives to
sound alarms about the direction the country is going. But the
reappearance of socialism is more a sign of a wide partisan
divide than it is evidence that people want to change
America’s economic system.
When Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning spokespeople talk
about socialism — or democratic socialism — they’re not
talking about changing the means of production. When your
college sophomore nephew expresses some sympathy for socialism
at Thanksgiving dinner, he’ll likely be talking about just
expanding the social welfare programs that already exist and
maybe importing others from Europe. We’ve already got a lot of
this kind of socialism in America. There’s Social Security and
Medicare, and states keep mandating that businesses offer paid
leave to employees. When the people on the left talk glowingly
of socialism, they tend to talk about a socialism that is a
couple large steps down the path of bigger government.
deficit hit $984 billion in 2019, soaring during Trump era.
(Washington Post, October 25, 2019)
Budget experts say it is unprecedented for America’s deficit
to expand this much during relatively good economic times.
In 2013, when federal debt totaled $16.7 trillion, Trump
tweeted: “Obama is the most profligate deficit & debt
spender in our nation’s history.” The federal government is
now more than $22 trillion in debt, according to the White
The U.S. government’s budget deficit ballooned to nearly $1
trillion in 2019, the Treasury Department announced Friday, as
the United States’ fiscal imbalance widened for a fourth
consecutive year despite a sustained run of economic growth.
The deficit grew $205 billion, or 26 percent, in the past
The country’s worsening fiscal picture runs in sharp contrast
to President Trump’s campaign promise to eliminate the federal
debt within eight years. The deficit is up nearly 50 percent
in the Trump era. Since taking office, Trump has endorsed big
spending increases and steered most Republicans to abandon the
deficit obsession they held during the Obama administration.
Were Hunting for the Next Ebola. Now the U.S. Has Cut Off
Their Funding. (New York Times, October 25, 2019)
Predict, a government research program, sought to identify
animal viruses that might infect humans and to head off new
Wins Pentagon’s $10 Billion JEDI Contract, Thwarting Amazon.
(New York Times, October 25, 2019)
The decision was a surprise because Amazon had been considered
the front-runner, in part because it had built cloud services
for the Central Intelligence Agency. But that was before Mr.
Trump became publicly hostile to Mr. Bezos, who also owns The
Washington Post. The president often refers to the newspaper
as the “Amazon Washington Post” and has accused it of
spreading “fake news.” In public, Mr. Trump said there were
other “great companies” that should have a chance at the
contract. But a speechwriter for former Defense Secretary Jim
Mattis says in a book scheduled for publication next week that
Mr. Trump had wanted to foil Amazon and give the contract to
The issue quickly became radioactive at the Pentagon. The new
defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, at first said he wanted to
take several months to review the issue and then, a few days
ago, recused himself from the bidding. He said he could not
participate because his son worked for IBM, one of the
competitors for the contract.
As recently as this month, the betting was that Microsoft
would, at most, get only part of the contract and that the
Pentagon would use multiple suppliers for its cloud services,
as do many private companies. Microsoft was considered in the
lead for other government cloud programs, including an
intelligence contract; only recently has Microsoft opened
enough classified server facilities to be able to handle data
on the scale of the Pentagon contract.
Microsoft did not immediately have a comment. Amazon, which
calls its cloud platform Amazon Web Services, or AWS, said in
a statement that it was surprised by the decision. “AWS is the
clear leader in cloud computing, and a detailed assessment
purely on the comparative offerings clearly led to a different
conclusion. We remain deeply committed to continuing to
innovate for the new digital battlefield where security,
efficiency, resiliency and scalability of resources can be the
difference between success and failure.”
The award to Microsoft is likely to fuel suspicions that Mr.
Trump may have weighed in privately as well as publicly
against Amazon. Experts on federal contracting said it would
be highly improper for a president to intervene in the
awarding of a contract. Price Floyd, a former head of public
affairs at the Pentagon who consulted briefly for Amazon, said
he thought Mr. Trump’s vocal criticism of Amazon would give it
ample grounds to protest the award to Microsoft. “He’s the
commander in chief, and he hasn’t been subtle about his
hostility toward Amazon,” Mr. Floyd said.
Microsoft’s win has implications for the cloud computing
industry, in which businesses rent space on technology
companies’ server computers, giving them cheap and fast access
to storage and processing. Amazon has long been the dominant
player, with about 45 percent of the market, trailed by
Microsoft with around 25 percent.
Landing the JEDI contract puts Microsoft in a prime position
to earn the roughly $40 billion that the federal government is
expected to spend on cloud computing over the next several
years, he said. Losing the bid is also a hit to the reputation
of Amazon, which decided last year to open a large outpost in
Northern Virginia that will eventually employ at least 25,000
awards controversial $10 billion cloud computing deal to
Microsoft, spurning Amazon. (Washington Post, October
The Pentagon awarded its controversial $10 billion cloud
computing contract to Microsoft Friday evening, spurning a bid
from Amazon after President Trump expressed opposition to
giving the lucrative award to a company led by Jeff Bezos, one
of his longtime rivals.
Amazon was openly described by competitors and industry
analysts as a clear front runner to win the massive award, due
to its years of experience handling classified data for the
CIA. The company this year chose to build a massive second
headquarters, a few miles from the Pentagon’s campus.
After a lawsuit and bid protests from Oracle and IBM failed to
block the award this summer, Amazon appeared poised to win the
contract, partly because the military already had designated
the company with the highest data management certification.
Microsoft’s designation was below Amazon’s.
Complete: U.S. Nuclear Weapons No Longer Need Floppy Disks.
(New York Times, October 24, 2019)
Rest easy, people of Earth: The United States’ nuclear arsenal
will no longer rely on a computer system that uses eight-inch
floppy disks, in an update the Defense Department has cast as
a step into the future but which some observers might be
surprised to learn was required at all. The system, called
Strategic Automated Command and Control System, or SACCS, “is
still in use today but no longer uses floppy disks,” David
Faggard, a spokesman for the Air Force Global Strike Command,
which manages the Air Force portion of the arsenal, said in an
email. “Air Force Global Strike Command is committed to
modernizing for the future.”
The update is part of a broader overhaul of the United States’
atomic weapons that began under President Barack Obama and has
continued under President Trump. The move away from floppy
disks was completed in June but was not widely reported at the
time. It was reported last week by C4ISRNET, a website that
covers military technology.
Military Could Collapse Within 20 Years Due to Climate
Change, Report Commissioned By Pentagon Says. (Vice,
October 24, 2019)
The report says a combination of global starvation, war,
disease, drought, and a fragile power grid could have
cascading, devastating effects.
officially annihilated a second strain of polio. Only one
remains. (Ars Technica, October 24, 2019)
Still a tough road ahead, but we're getting closer.
Trump tries to take credit for Kansas economy, state
legislator torches her. (Daily Kos, October 24, 2019)
Ivanka Trump doesn’t bother with the facts. Instead, she
points to the success of Kansas since the 2016 election. This
misunderstanding of Kansas politics — which led to the
election of a Democratic governor and Democratic US House
members in 2018 — gets a big correction as Stephanie Clayton,
once a Republican who switched parties after 2018, takes
Count the Senate Out on Impeachment. (The Nation,
October 24, 2019)
To convict Trump on impeachment charges, 20 GOP senators will
need to break ranks. Here’s how that can happen.
highest of high crimes’: Rudy Giuliani accidentally blows up
Trump’s defense against impeachment on Twitter. (Raw
Story, October 24, 2019)
Giuliani is contradicting himself here. He has previously
described his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden,
the DNC, and the 2016 campaign as unrelated to his legal work.
“I’m not acting as a lawyer,” Giuliani told The Atlantic last
month of his activities in Ukraine. “I’m acting as someone who
has devoted most of his life to straightening out government.”
But while Giuliani’s new version of events may help him if he
wants to make a claim of attorney-client privilege, it
actually makes Trump’s role in the scheme look even more
damning than it already is. Legal experts argued that it only
strengthened the case for impeachment.
“This merely confirms what was so outrageous: Giuliani wasn’t
a representative or employee of the United States; his duty of
loyalty was 100% to his (personal capacity) client. And yet
Trump told Ukraine it had to dance to Rudy’s tune,” said Marty
Lederman, a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center.
“[A] a tune designed to advance Trump’s personal interests–in
order to remain in the U.S.’s good graces (e.g., to secure
access, aid, etc.). This is the highest of high crimes–using
the leverage of his position as chief diplomat to advance his
News legal analyst surprises Fox & Friends by destroying
impeachment talking points. (Daily Kos, October 24,
Andrew Napolitano: "As frustrating as it might be to have
these hearings going on behind closed doors, the hearings over
which Congressman Schiff is presiding, they are consistent
with the rules. And when were the rules written last? In
January of 2015. And who signed them? John Boehner. And who
enacted them? A Republican majority.
editorial says Trump shouldn’t be impeached because he was
too ‘inept’ to carry out quid pro quo. (Raw Story,
October 24, 2019)
An editorial from the conservative Wall Street Journal
argues that President Donald Trump does
not deserve to be impeached because he was too
incompetent to properly carry out a corrupt act.
In an editorial that criticizes Rep. Adam Schiff
(D-CA) for holding impeachment inquiry testimony behind
closed doors so far, the editorial board argues that
ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony that Trump directly tied
military aid to Ukraine to investigating his political
opponents shouldn’t be seen as an impeachable offense
because the president got caught doing it.
Krugman: The hole elected Republicans, especially in the
Senate, have dug for themselves. (New York Times,
October 23, 2019)
Despite the Journal’s assertions that Trump cannot be
impeached for bungling his attempt at extorting Ukraine, at
least one Republican legal scholar believes that the
president may face real legal jeopardy for his actions.
Philip Zelikow, a history professor at the University of
Virginia who served as an official in the George W. Bush
administration, argued on Thursday that Trump may have run
afoul of 18
U.S.C. § 201(b), which states that any public
official who “corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts,
or agrees to receive or accept anything of value
personally or for any other person or entity, in return
for… being influenced in the performance of any official
act” is breaking the law.”
to introduce desperate resolution attacking Democrats'
inquiry. It's an admission of failure. (Daily Kos,
October 24, 2019)
Lindsey Graham is in big trouble with the orange menace
in the Oval Office. Not only has Graham criticized Trump's
Syria policy, but as Senate Judiciary Committee chair he has
failed to hold sham hearings exploring the Biden and DNC
server conspiracy theories that Trump has been counting on.
Graham's first effort to get back in Trump's good graces was
hailing Trump for "thinking outside the box" on his inane
plan to control Syrian oil fields by partnering with the
Kurds, who Trump just completely screwed over. Days later
Graham leapt to the defense of Trump's racially offensive
comparison between the impeachment inquiry into him and a
"lynching." Even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy
wouldn't defend Trump on that, but Graham stood up
wholeheartedly for Trump's racially charged ignorance,
claiming "this is a lynching in every sense" and assailing
impeachment—a constitutionally outlined remedy—as
Graham plans to outdo himself later Thursday, introducing a
joint resolution with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
“condemning the House of Representatives’ closed door,
illegitimate impeachment inquiry." Because contrary to
popular belief, the U.S. Constitution gave Graham and
McConnell "the sole Power of Impeachment," not the House of
Representatives. Graham will turn the tables on House
Democrats' impeachment inquiry into Trump's shadow foreign
policy by naming the inquiry "a shadow process." Clever.
So, in essence, yet another lame Republican jab at process
for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to whisk off her shoulder
like a pesky fly. In actuality, Graham's resolution is an
admission of defeat.
discredits: here are the Repubs who barged in on a
CLASSIFIED hearing. (Daily Kos, October 23, 2019)
House Republican disruption of impeachment testimony ends.
(Daily Kos, October
The move by a group of roughly two dozen House Republicans
to "storm" the House sensitive compartmented information
facility, or SCIF, compromising the secure space by refusing
to turn over private cell phones or submit to other
screening, has now ended.
The extent to which the Republican action was intended
purely as a pro-Trump publicity stunt can be discovered by
looking at the list of participants: Twelve of those
Republicans are actually on the three impeachment-relevant
committees, and have had access to witness testimony from
the beginning. A full 46 House Republicans sit on those
committees, and all of them have heard witness testimony.
(You may recall the constant presence of those members
leaving each deposition to insist to assembled reporters
that the testimony they were hearing was untrustworthy, or
not at all damaging to Trump, or simply boring.)
The latest updates:
• Donald Trump himself reportedly approved the stunt, only
the latest display of White House contempt for both the law
and national security considerations.
• Also approving the stunt in advance: House Minority Leader
Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy dismissed the security implications
of Republican members bringing cell phones into the secure
space, bafflingly telling a reporter, “These are individuals
who have never been in Intel Committee before or anywhere
else. So it’s nothing serious from that matter.”
• Rather than the action being an unintentional oversight,
some Republicans explicitly refused to turn over their
unsecured cell phones to security when entering the
• Rep. Alex Mooney brazenly recorded a "report from inside"
the secure space, the latest House Republican to brag about
committing a national security breach.
• Rep. Matt Gaetz's office handed out expired congressional
passes to uncredentialed reporters and an HBO crew in an
effort to boost publicity for the event.
• Rep. Adam Schiff, who is leading the House impeachment
inquiry: “Clearly the White House was devastated by
yesterday’s testimony. These witnesses have been willing to
defy the administration and follow the law and come testify,
so the president’s allies are trying to stop them through
invade impeachment hearing, disrupt testimony, and violate
security protocol. (Daily Kos, October 23, 2019)
The impeachment inquiry isn’t just happening behind closed
doors; it’s happening in a sensitive compartmented
information facility (SCIF) intended to prevent electronic
eavesdropping. The purpose of this is both to protect the
witnesses who come forward to speak after attempts by the
White House to cut off their testimony, and to keep
potential witnesses from listening in and calibrating their
stories to what has already been said. But on Wednesday
morning, a horde of Republican representatives let by Matt
Gaetz charged into the impeachment inquiry, violating the
security of a witness, and defying the ironclad rules around
SCIF by bringing their cell phones into the confidential
is now calling Republicans who oppose him 'human scum'.
(Daily Kos, October 23, 2019)
The eliminationist and Nazi-like rhetoric from the White
House ratcheted up dramatically on Wednesday as the
ramifications of Ambassador William Taylor’s Tuesday
testimony before a House Committee became public knowledge.
In one tweet Trump labeled “Never Trump” Republicans—those
in the GOP who are firmly and vocally opposed to his
presidency—as “human scum,” noting that their numbers had
been severely lessened.
Trump's last defense against charges of extortion is more
extortion. (Daily Kos, October 23, 2019)
On Wednesday morning, Donald Trump spent most of his early
“executive time” retweeting items that, notably, had
appeared before the impeachment inquiry testimony of
Ambassador William Taylor on Tuesday, but eventually Trump
staked out a new, fingers-clutching-the-edge-of-the-cliff
position in his own defense. There can be no quid pro quo,
declared Trump, because neither Taylor nor other witnesses
have said that the Ukrainians knew that aid was being
Trump’s fallback position represents an extraordinary
retreat. It would seem to acknowledge the indisputable fact
that he was withholding military aid—a fact for which Trump
has provided multiple, mutually exclusive excuses—and it
would absorb the idea that Taylor and others knew that this
aid was being withheld in order to gain the investigations
that Trump sought.
There are only a few problems with this. First of all, of
course the Ukrainians realized that the military aid had not
appeared. Because it hadn’t appeared.
officer fired after threatening to shoot parents of
4-year-old who 'stole' doll from Family Dollar. (Daily
KOS, October 23, 2019)
In May, after visiting a dollar store in Phoenix, Arizona,
with their young children, and heading back to an apartment
complex to drop the kids at a babysitter, Dravon Ames and
Iesha Harper found themselves descended upon by a swarm of
police. You see their four-year-old daughter—not their other
one-year-old daughter who doesn’t walk yet—had taken a doll
out of the store without paying for it. After shouting Ames
into his car, with the door closed, they pulled out their
guns, trained them on Iesha Harper—who was holding her kids
in the backseat of the car. The situation escalated with
police officers treating the family and their children like
they had just come out of a bank brandishing semi-automatic
rifles. Expletives and threats to kill both parents were
hurled by officers at the family during the arrests.
are “immune” to traffic jams. (Ars Technica, October
Unlike self-interested humans, ants have a common goal: The
have the tools and technology to work less and live
better. (Aeon, October 23, 2019)
Today’s discussions need to move beyond the old point about
the marvels of technology, and truly ask: what is it all
for? Without a conception of a good life, without a way to
distinguish progress that’s important from that which keeps
us on the hedonic treadmill, our collective inertia will
mean that we never reach Keynes’s 15-hour working week.
announces steps to protect US 2020 elections; no mention
of fact-checking political ads. (Medianama, October
Facebook has announced a host of steps to protect US
Presidential candidates for the 2020 elections and reduce
foreign interference in the elections. With Facebook
Protect, it will offer candidates, elected officials,
federal and state departments and agencies, party
committees, and their staff stronger account security
protections such as two factor authentication. Facebook will
also monitor accounts of people who opt-in to this service
for potential hacking.
Confirmed page owner: Pages will now have a new
“Organisations That Manage This Page” tab, featuring its
“confirmed” owner, including the organisation’s legal name
and verified city, phone number or website. If Facebook
finds a Page to be concealing its ownership, it will be
required to successfully complete the verification process
and show more information in order to stay up.
Labelling state-sponsored media: From November 2019,
the company will start labelling media outlets that are
wholly or partially under the editorial control of a
government as state-controlled media.
Ad-spend tracker: This transparency feature includes
a U.S. presidential candidate spend tracker, more geographic
spending details, information on which apps an ad appears on
and programmatic access to downloads of political ad
Labelling false/incorrect content: Over the next
month, content across Facebook and Instagram that has been
rated false or partly false by a third-party fact checker
will start to be more prominently labelled. Facebook didn’t
say who these third-party fact checkers are.
Banning voter-suppression ads: Facebook also said
it’ll apply a wider ban on advertisements that are targeted
towards voter suppression.
Reducing foreign interference in the 2020 US elections:
Facebook said that it removed four foreign interference
operations including one which targeted the 2020 US
presidential elections. One of these networks was
likely being run by the Internet Research Agency (IRA),
which was behind the attempted Russian interference in the
2016 US Presidential elections. The campaign used 50
Instagram accounts and one Facebook account with about
246,000 followers to publish nearly 75,000 posts, according
to Graphika, which analysed the network for Facebook. In
total, the company removed:
- 93 Facebook accounts, 17 Pages and four Instagram accounts
originating from Iran and focusing primarily on the US for
“coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. About 7,700 accounts
followed one or more of these Pages and around 145 people
followed one or more of these Instagram accounts.
- 38 Facebook accounts, 6 Pages, 4 Groups and 10 Instagram
accounts originating from Iran and focusing on countries in
Latin America. About 13,500 accounts followed one or more of
these Pages, about 4,200 accounts joined at least one of
these Groups and around 60,000 people followed one or more
of these Instagram accounts.
- 4 Facebook accounts, 3 Pages and 7 Instagram accounts that
originated in Iran and focused mainly on the US.
These new policies come at a time when Facebook has been
criticised for not fact checking political advertisements,
and a leaked audio call of CEO Mark Zuckerberg talking to
his employees has surfaced where he promises to fight back
against any calls for breaking up the company.
Impoundment Control Act of 1974: What Is It? Why Does It
Matter? (U.S. House Committee on the Budget, October
The Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974
(ICA) reasserted Congress’ power of the purse. Specifically,
Title X of the Act - “Impoundment Control” - established
procedures to prevent the President and other government
officials from unilaterally substituting their own funding
decisions for those of the Congress. The Act also created
the House and Senate Budget Committees and the Congressional
Congress passed the ICA in response to President Nixon’s
executive overreach; his Administration refused to release
Congressionally-appropriated funds for certain programs he
Many — perhaps most — Republican senators have always known
that Trump is morally, emotionally and intellectually unfit
for high office; they’re cynics, not idiots. At first,
however, they decided that it was worth supporting him anyway.
Maybe I still have too much faith in human nature, but I’d
like to imagine that there are some Republicans who look at
themselves in the mirror and feel self-loathing, who might yet
seize a chance at redemption. But how many G.O.P. senators
still have a conscience? We’re probably going to find out in a
Giuliani Associate Ties Case to Trump. (New York Times,
October 23, 2019)
The connection was made as two associates of Rudolph W.
Giuliani pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan. One
of the two indicted associates of President Trump’s personal
lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, on Wednesday tied the case to the
president himself, saying that some of the evidence gathered
in the campaign-finance investigation could be subject to
The unusual argument was raised by a defense lawyer in federal
court in Manhattan as the two associates, Lev Parnas and Igor
Fruman, pleaded not guilty to federal charges that they had
made illegal campaign contributions to political candidates in
the United States in exchange for potential influence. Mr.
Parnas and Mr. Fruman have become unexpected figures in the
events at the heart of the House Democrats’ impeachment
inquiry, having played a role in helping Mr. Giuliani’s
efforts on behalf of President Trump to dig up information in
Ukraine that could damage former Vice President Joseph R.
Biden Jr., a prospective Democratic challenger.
Evidence Hints at Another Justice Department Coverup.
Mother Jones, October 22, 2019)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) released evidence on Tuesday that
the Justice Department buried the whistle-blower complaint
about President Donald Trump’s call with the Ukrainian
president by failing to refer the matter to the Federal
Election Commission (FEC). Klobuchar suggested the Justice
Department violated a longstanding agreement between the
agencies to share information about possible campaign finance
violations for potential enforcement action.
To recap: The whistle-blower complaint at the heart of the
impeachment inquiry didn’t just contain evidence that the
president pressured a foreign government to help him win
reelection. It also contained evidence of a potential campaign
farming is actually worse for climate change. (MIT
Technology Review, October 22, 2019)
The practice cuts greenhouse-gas emissions only if you ignore
the inconvenient fact that it requires a lot more land.
Jammed: Russia Is Messing with America's F-35s.
(National Interest, October 22, 2019)
Russian forces have been jamming GPS systems in the Middle
East. The electronic-warfare campaign could affect U.S. forces
gathering in the region in advance of potential strikes on
Moscow is seeing what it can do. Great powers often experiment
with ways to disrupt each others' weapons systems.
In late 2018 Finland and Norway both lodged complaints with
Russia over the disruptions. “Defense and civil aviation
chiefs in Finland and Norway warned that the GPS jamming posed
a serious risk to both military and commercial aircraft using
the affected airspace in the High North,” Defense News noted.
“Russia asked (us) to give proof. We gave them the proof,”
Norwegian defense minister Frank Bakke-Jensen told Arctic
Today. The proof consisted of measurements showing signals had
been jammed. “Russia said, ‘Thank you, we will come back when
our experts review that,’” Bakke-Jensen said. “To have such an
answer from Russia is a positive thing,” he said. Bakke-Jensen
implied the jamming was intentional. “They were exercising
very close to the border and they knew this will affect areas
on the other side,” Bakke-Jensen said of the Russians.
The U.S Army is planning to test jam-resistant GPS systems in
Europe as a potential step toward countering Russian
takedowns show new Russian activity targeted Biden, praised
Trump. (Democratic Underground, October 21, 2019)
Facebook said the network bears the hallmark of the same
Kremlin-backed group that interfered in the 2016 election by
sowing social discord, boosting Trump and attacking Democratic
candidate Hillary Clinton. The new disinformation campaign
appears to follow the same playbook.
urges GOP to ‘get tougher and fight’ impeachment as Pelosi
details his ‘shakedown’ of Ukraine. (Washington Post,
October 21, 2019)
Top DHS Staffer Who Defended The Muslim Travel Ban Now Works
At Google. (BuzzFeed, October 21, 2019)
Former DHS staffer Miles Taylor once defended a “tough” but
“tailored” version of Trump’s controversial travel ban and
served under Kirstjen Nielsen during the implementation of the
family separation policy at the US–Mexico border.
fix things. Tech doesn’t fix things.’ (TechCrunch,
October 21, 2019)
At the AI Now
Institute, an interdisciplinary research center at New York
University, Veena Dubal was a featured speaker. The symposium
is the largest annual public gathering of the NYU-affiliated
research group that examines AI’s social implications. Held at
NYU’s largest theater in the heart of Greenwich Village, the
symposium gathered a packed crowd of 800, with hundreds more
on the waiting list and several viewing parties offsite. AI
Now’s symposium represented the emergence of a no-nonsense,
women and people of color-led, charismatic, compassionate, and
crazy knowledgeable stream of tech ethics. Which may be bad
news for companies that design and hawk AI as the all-purpose,
all glamorous solution to seemingly every problem, despite the
fact that it’s often not even AI doing the work they tout.
As the institute’s work demonstrates, harmful AI can be found
across many segments of society, such as policing, housing,
the justice system, labor practices and the environmental
impacts of some of our largest corporations. AI Now’s diverse
and inspiring speaker lineup, however, was a testament to a
growing constituency that’s starting to hold reckless tech
businesses accountable. As much as the banking class may panic
at the thought of a Warren or Sanders presidency, Big Tech’s
irresponsible actors and utopian philosopher bros should be
keeping a watchful eye on the ascendance — a rise truly based
on merit and competence, rather than cheap charisma — of this
next generation of critics like Crawford, Whittaker, and
Is Coming and the World Isn’t Ready. (Nautilus, October
Technology is, in other words, enabling criminals to target
anyone anywhere and, due to democratization, increasingly at
scale. Emerging bio-, nano-, and cyber-technologies are
becoming more and more accessible. The political scientist
Daniel Deudney has a word for what can result: “omniviolence.”
The ratio of killers to killed, or “K/K ratio,” is falling.
For example, computer scientist Stuart Russell has vividly
described how a small group of malicious agents might engage
in omniviolence: “A very, very small quadcopter, one inch in
diameter can carry a one-or two-gram shaped charge,” he says.
“You can order them from a drone manufacturer in China. You
can program the code to say: ‘Here are thousands of
photographs of the kinds of things I want to target.’ A
one-gram shaped charge can punch a hole in nine millimeters of
steel, so presumably you can also punch a hole in someone’s
head. You can fit about three million of those in a
semi-tractor-trailer. You can drive up I-95 with three trucks
and have 10 million weapons attacking New York City. They
don’t have to be very effective, only 5 or 10% of them have to
find the target.” Manufacturers will be producing millions of
these drones, available for purchase just as with guns now,
Russell points out, “except millions of guns don’t matter
unless you have a million soldiers. You need only three guys
to write the program and launch.” In this scenario, the K/K
ratio could be perhaps 3/1,000,000, assuming a 10-percent
accuracy and only a single one-gram shaped charge per drone.
Civilization is an experiment. We may not get the results
we’re expecting. So humanity would do well to hope for the
best but prepare for the worst.
the Butterfly Discovered Daylight (New York Times,
October 21, 2019)
Nocturnal moths evolved into daytime butterflies not to escape
bats, as biologists once thought, but to enjoy an abundant new
drink: the nectar of flowering plants.
The speaker’s “fact sheet” outlines what her office
characterized as a gross abuse of power by Trump, including a
“shakedown,” “pressure campaign” and “cover up.”
Used Cars for Sale; Unrepaired, recalled vehicles at
AutoNation dealerships (USPIRG, October 20, 2019)
None of us want to drive unsafe cars -- but AutoNation is
selling them. Our research partners at MASSPIRG Education Fund
found unsafe, recalled used cars for sale at every AutoNation
location surveyed. AutoNation claims to make buying a used
vehicle "worry-free." But 1 in 9 cars at their surveyed
locations had risky, unrepaired recalls.
AutoNation needs to do better to keep their customers safe. We
know they're capable, because they promised once, in 2015, not
to sell used vehicles with unrepaired recalls. But they
changed their minds just a year later, and now dangerous
recalls still put people at risk at their dealerships.
Liberation of Mitt Romney (The Atlantic, October 20,
The newly rebellious senator has become an outspoken dissident
in Trump’s Republican Party, just in time for the president’s
Feffer: The Far Right's War on Culture (TomDispatch,
October 20, 2019)
It really does boil down to Us Versus Them.
Here’s a simple, if grim, reality: we are living in an ever
more extreme world, as the residents of significant parts of
California undoubtedly realized recently when the electricity
went off amid ever increasing fears of wildfires; or the
residents of the Houston area after it was drenched, in a mere
two days, with a 40-inch flood of rain from a fierce tropical
cyclone; or the residents of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas
after it was essentially leveled by Dorian, a devastating
category five hurricane; or those who live in Tokyo and nearby
parts of Japan after the worst typhoon in more than six
decades whacked that island nation. And so it not only goes
but will go, as ever more greenhouse gas emissions head into
the atmosphere, whether from the burning peatlands of Siberia,
the still-burning rainforests of Brazil and Indonesia, or
simply fossil-fuel companies intent, according to the
Guardian, on flooding energy markets with ever increasing
numbers of barrels of oil in the coming years. (“New research
commissioned by the Guardian forecasts Shell and ExxonMobil
will be among the leaders with a projected production increase
of more than 35% between 2018 and 2030 -- a sharper rise than
over the previous 12 years.”)
This, in turn, means that, barring change, our present
extremity is only a taste of what’s to come as significant
parts of the planet are ruled by leaders who are clearly
pyromaniacs. Of course, these days when we talk about
extremism -- especially in a nation whose citizenry is armed
to the teeth, often with military-style weaponry, in a way no
other country on Earth comes close to, not even Yemen -- we
mean something else entirely. That word brings to mind a grim
litany of white nationalism, racism, and repetitive mass
If you’re not a member of the far right, if you don’t
subscribe to its YouTube channels or follow its burgeoning
Twitter accounts, you might have only scant acquaintance with
this story. But once you start looking for it, the great
replacement turns out to be omnipresent. Between 2012 and
2019, for instance, 1.5 million tweets in English, French, and
German referenced it. You could hear an echo of the phrase at
the Unite the Right gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, in
August 2017, when neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other
demonstrators chanted, “You will not replace us!” But the
phrase really broke into the headlines in March 2019 when a
mass shooter who opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch,
New Zealand, killing 51 people, titled the online manifesto he
prepared for the occasion, “The Great Replacement.”
Ambitions Go Beyond Syria. He Says He Wants Nuclear Weapons.
(New York Times, October 20, 2019)
A month before invading Kurdish areas in Syria, Turkey’s
president said he “cannot accept” the West’s restrictions that
keep him from a bomb.
Already Turkey has the makings of a bomb program: uranium
deposits and research reactors — and mysterious ties to the
nuclear world’s most famous black marketeer, Abdul Qadeer Khan
of Pakistan. It is also building its first big power reactor
to generate electricity with Russia’s help. That could pose a
concern because Mr. Erdogan has not said how he would handle
its nuclear waste, which could provide the fuel for a weapon.
Russia also built Iran’s Bushehr reactor.
With Turkey now in open confrontation with its NATO allies,
having gambled and won a bet that it could conduct a military
incursion into Syria and get away with it, Mr. Erdogan’s
threat takes on new meaning. If the United States could not
prevent the Turkish leader from routing our Kurdish allies,
how can it stop him from building a nuclear weapon or
following Iran in gathering the technology to do so?
reversed course on hosting G-7 at his club after learning
that impeachment-weary Republicans were tired of defending
him. (Washington Post, October 20, 2019)
Trump blamed his G-7 reversal on critics, saying on Twitter
that his decision to scrap plans for a summit at the Doral
club was “based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and
But behind closed doors, several aides and allies said, Trump
changed his mind in response to pressure and frustration from
his own party.
Media Cheers Trump’s Moves in Syria: ‘Putin Won the
Lottery!’ (Daily Beast, October 19, 2019)
For Russia, Trump’s presidency is a gift that keeps on giving.
The Kremlin’s propagandists see no acceptable alternative
among any viable presidential candidates in 2020.
By now, it’s become alarmingly clear that an increasing number
of people are taking this bizarre, historically deficient, and
thoroughly warped story to heart.
panics after Graham challenger breaks fundraising record,
and new poll shows 7-point gap. (Daily Kos, October 19,
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham may soon learn that his
plan to convert himself into Trump’s bootlicker wasn’t such a
hot idea after all. Although Graham is still currently the
favorite to win in this safe Trump state, he is trending
downward after several major embarrassments, with a
historically low approval rating for an incumbent: 35%.
Additionally, 58% said they want someone other than Graham
representing them in the Senate. Although Graham remade
himself into a sycophant, it has not helped him much as he
tries to ride Trump’s coattails.
On the flip side, Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison has
been steadily rising in the polls, with the latest national
poll indicating that Harrison only trails Graham by seven
New York rally marks largest of primary campaign.
(Washington Examiner, October 19, 2019)
Bernie Sanders's campaign rally in New York City brought in
nearly 26,000 attendants, making it the largest audience of
the entire Democratic primary thus far. At the "Bernie is
Back" event in Queens, the Vermont senator sought to fight
back against concerns that his White House run is in jeopardy
following his heart attack earlier this month. The rally
featured a number of high-profile speakers who offered their
endorsements, including liberal filmmaker Michael Moore and
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
season of weakness: A president who prizes strength enters
key stretch in a fragile state. (Washington Post,
October 19, 2019)
Trump now finds himself mired in a season of weakness. Foreign
leaders feel emboldened to reject his pleas or contradict him.
Officials inside his administration are openly defying his
wishes by participating in the impeachment probe. Federal
courts have ruled against him. Republican lawmakers are
criticizing him. He has lost control over major conservative
media organs. And polling shows a growing share of Americans
disapprove of his job performance and support his impeachment.
Many of Trump’s Republican allies revolted over his decision
to withdraw U.S. troops in Syria, which triggered a bloody
Turkish invasion that killed Kurdish fighters and civilians.
Trump bragged about sending a “very powerful letter” warning
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to invade Syria.
“Don’t be a fool!” Trump wrote. But Turkish officials leaked
word that their leader had thrown the letter in the trash, and
Erdogan then took Trump to task for his “lack of respect.”
pushed for impeachment powers. Trump is what he had in mind.
October 19, 2019)
He wanted a strong president — and a way to get rid of the
Moore: Trump Is Heading For Impeachment Because Of 'High
Crimes' Like We've Never Seen. (9-min. video; MSNBC,
October 18, 2019)
McConnell: Withdrawing From Syria Is A Grave Mistake. (Washington Post, October 18, 2019)
The combination of a U.S. pullback and the escalating
Turkish-Kurdish hostilities is creating a strategic
nightmare for our country. Even if the five-day cease-fire
announced Thursday holds, events of the past week have set
back the United States’ campaign against the Islamic State
and other terrorists. Unless halted, our retreat will invite
the brutal Assad regime in Syria and its Iranian backers to
expand their influence. And we are ignoring Russia’s efforts
to leverage its increasingly dominant position in Syria to
amass power and influence throughout the Middle East and
As neo-isolationism rears its head on both the left and the
right, we can expect to hear more talk of “endless wars.”
But rhetoric cannot change the fact that wars do not just
end; wars are won or lost.
PG&E rejects San Francisco's bid to buy back the power
grid. (Daily Kos, October 18, 2019)
After being convicted of felony obstruction “of knowingly
failing to inspect and test its gas lines for potential
dangers,” PG&E continued to choose to pad their
executives’ bonuses and shareholder prices instead of
upgrading their infrastructure and performing speedy safety
analysis of their power grid. Those decisions have led to
forced blackouts affecting millions of people.
Hamburg, ‘Gesundheit’ Means More Than A Wish For Good
Health. (Kaiser Health News, October 18, 2019)
Researchers around the world hail Germany for its robust
health care system: universal coverage, plentiful primary
care, low drug prices and minimal out-of-pocket costs for
residents. But it turns out that tending to the health needs
of low-income patients still presents universal challenges.
Life expectancy in the poorest areas of Hamburg is estimated
to trail that in its wealthier neighborhoods by 13 years ―
about equivalent to the gap between Piedmont, a particularly
wealthy California suburb, and neighboring West Oakland. In
Hamburg, the difference persists even though residents never
skip out on doctors’ visits or medication because of cost.
Medical care is only part of the equation. An array of other
factors ― known collectively as the “social determinants of
health” ― factor strongly into these populations’ well-being.
They include big-picture items like affordable healthy food
and safe areas to exercise as well as small ones, like having
the time and money to get to the doctor.
Christians Credit God for Killing Elijah Cummings.
(Daily Kos, October 17, 2019)
flooding US with opioids, industry giants offer $50 billion
settlement. (Ars Technica, October 17, 2019)
Settlement is uncertain as some plaintiffs want more details.
secretary tells Fox News that grieving parents lied about
meeting with Trump. (Daily Kos, October 17, 2019)
And this, while there are thousands of families that have been
separated and continue to be separated, their children put in
cages, that Donald Trump doesn’t seem to care about at all.
to us': DOJ distances itself from Mulvaney claim that
Ukraine aid was tied to investigation. (Washington
Examiner, October 17, 2019)
“The president has not spoken with the attorney general
about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former
Vice President Biden or his son,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri
Kupec said immediately after the transcript's release. “The
president has not asked the attorney general to contact
Ukraine — on this or any other matter. The attorney general
has not communicated with Ukraine — on this or any other
subject. Nor has the attorney general discussed this matter,
or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani.”
“Let me ask you this — if we wanted to cover this up, would
we have called the Department of Justice almost immediately
and have them look at the transcript of the tape?” Mulvaney
asked rhetorically on Thursday. “Which we did, by the way.”
The DOJ told the Washington Examiner that it "was first made
aware of the June 25th transcript in mid-August."
October 15th Democratic Candidates Debate (coming
soon; CNN, October 16, 2019)
emerges as a key facilitator of the campaign to pressure
Ukraine. (Washington Post, October 16, 2019)
In late May, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney
organized a meeting that stripped control of the country’s
relationship with Ukraine from those who had the most
expertise at the National Security Council and the State
Instead, Mulvaney put an unlikely trio in charge of managing
the U.S.-Ukraine account amid worrisome signs of a new
priority, congressional officials said Tuesday: pressuring the
fledgling government in Kiev to deliver material that would be
politically valuable to President Trump. The work of those
“three amigos,” as they came to call themselves — diplomats
Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, plus Energy Secretary Rick
Perry — has come to light in recent days through newly
disclosed text messages and the testimony of government
witnesses appearing before an impeachment inquiry in Congress.
FBI assistant director: Trump is 'spiraling downward,
incredibly vulnerable' to foreign actors. (Daily Kos,
October 16, 2019)
The fullness of Trump's deteriorating mental state led
Kellyanne Conway spouse George to tweet out, "Are we ready yet
to have a full national conversation about the diseased mental
state of the president of the United States?"
Is Winning the Online War. (New York Times, October 16,
The technical superiority and sophistication of the
president’s digital campaign is a hidden advantage of
Both the Democratic and Republican parties maintain and
regularly update massive voter and non-voter lists that
include details of credit card usage — magazine subscriptions,
church and club dues, hunting and fishing licenses — that are
all useful in predicting which candidates voters are more
likely to choose.
Now, imagine a file with that, and every piece of information
taken from your smartphone. This is the world we’re moving to.
In this new terrain, the G.O.P. is running pretty far ahead of
the Democrats innovating online, mostly because of its
Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies. (Pro
Publica, October 16, 2019)
The president’s businesses made themselves appear more
profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials.
One expert calls the differing numbers “versions of fraud.”
Thank Trump for ISIS’ Chance to Return to Europe. (Daily
Beast, October 16, 2019)
France won’t be the only country threatened by jihadis
escaping in Syria thanks to Trump’s disastrous decisions, but
it knows a lot about the people already planning new attacks.
Thanks to U.S. President Donald Trump pulling troops out of
northeast Syria, French ISIS fighters, captured in recent
years by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in
northern Syria, are said to be escaping their captors—and
rejoining their former comrades in what could mean a
renaissance for the once mighty Islamic State. Between 400 and
450 French ISIS fighters have been detained in Kurdish camps
in northeastern Syria. Last week, Turkey launched Operation
Peace Spring after Trump gave the de facto go-ahead by moving
U.S. troops out of the way. The Kurds, desperate after being
abandoned by the U.S., are now aligning themselves with the
hated President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and no longer have
the manpower to guard their prisons. As The Daily Beast
reported, the American forces now withdrawing have had to turn
their attention away from pursuing ISIS and focus on the risk
that ISIS will be pursuing them.
we possess our possessions or do they possess us? (Aeon,
October 16, 2019)
In 1859, around 450 passengers on the Royal Charter,
returning from the Australian goldmines to Liverpool, drowned
when the steam clipper was shipwrecked off the north coast of
Wales. What makes this tragic loss of life remarkable among
countless other maritime disasters was that many of those on
board were weighed down by the gold in their money belts that
they just wouldn’t abandon so close to home. Humans have a
particularly strong and, at times, irrational obsession with
on "Linux Is a Cancer": We’re an Open-Source Company Now.
(Softpedia, October 15, 2019)
"Microsoft loves Linux, Redmond says on every occasion. While
Microsoft is betting big on the open-source world going
forward, the "Linux is a cancer" nightmare keeps coming back
occasionally, especially from customers who aren’t necessarily
sure that the Redmond-based software giant expanding in this
direction is the right way to go. Microsoft, on the other
hand, tries to convince everyone that it loves Linux on every
single occasion, and one such moment took place earlier this
week at the Red Hat Forum 2019 in Melbourne.
Microsoft Australia CTO Lee HIckin took the stage and the
first thing he said concerned the controversial statement made
by former CEO Steve Ballmer back in 2002. "I recognise the
irony of Microsoft here at an open source community event. I'm
really proud to do that, and I'm humbled and privileged that
we can be on the stage with Red Hat to share our story,"
Hickin is quoted as saying by ZDNet. Hickin insisted Microsoft
is a different company now, and the long-term strategy is
betting big on open-source, not as a competitor, but as a
fully-committed partner. "I say that with my hand on my heart
in a very serious way: We are an open source company, we are
committed to open source, we're committed to Red Hat, and
we're committed to continuing our engagement and our support
to a broad open source community through a range of
technologies, not least of which GitHub is one."
Microsoft is indeed betting big on the Linux world, and living
proof are its efforts to bring together the open-source
concept and Windows. Windows 10 now ships with Windows
Subsystem for Linux, a platform that has already reached its
second generation and which allows users to run Linux on top
of Windows 10, with several large companies supporting the
project, including Canonical. And Microsoft says that
investing in other products, like Azure, and working together
with open-source partners, is living proof it’s not all about
Windows these days. "We are not the proprietary Windows
company; we are the open source cloud that has a range of
services across a whole bunch of tools and technologies,"
Democratic debate highlights (3 45-min. videos;
Washington Post, October 15, 2019)
The fourth Democratic debate has wrapped. On the stage were
former vice president Joe Biden | Sen. Elizabeth Warren
(Mass.) | Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) | Sen. Kamala D. Harris
(Calif.) | South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg | former
congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas | Sen. Amy Klobuchar
(Minn.) | businessman Andrew Yang | Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) |
former housing and urban development secretary Julián Castro |
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) | businessman Tom Steyer.
Again? The Halle Attack and Everyday Anti-Semitism in
Germany (Der Speigel, October 15, 2019)
Jews in Germany are taunted and harassed every day, often --
but by no means exclusively -- by the far right. This daily
discrimination also sets the stage for violence against Jewish
"20 years ago, you said not complying with a subpoena was an
impeachable offense." Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham:
"Nothing's changed." (The Hill, October 15, 2019)
Impeachment Syndrome: Now Trump is Attacking Both CNN and
FOX News. (Daily Kos, October 15, 2019)
The severity of Trump's psychotic breakdown is leading him to
ever more bizarre outbursts and tantrums. As his mental
infirmity declines, his incoherent raving accelerates. In just
the past few days this has manifested in absurd threats to sue
Nancy Pelosi, nauseating mimicry of orgasms, and hypocritical
assaults on the business affairs of wealthy, politically
four biggest foes of America that gain from Trump’s Syria
pullout. (Washington Post, October 14, 2019)
When President Trump announced his decision to pull troops
from northern Syria, his critics immediately warned that the
move would pave the way for a Turkish offensive with
potentially catastrophic repercussions. State Department
officials swiftly denied that Trump supported the Turkish
incursion. Meanwhile, Trump appeared convinced he had made the
right choice. “Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and
the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out,” Trump
They now indeed are, but not to the advantage of the United
States. “What’s clear is that the U.S. has shot itself into
the foot,” said Ali Fathollah-Nejad, a visiting fellow at the
Brookings Doha Center.
The U.S. pullout has enabled Turkey to pursue its military
incursion without having to fear U.S. interference, but it has
also created opportunities for four of the United States’ key
foes: Iran, the Assad regime, Russia and — potentially — the
Islamic State group.
The biggest losers — it appears at this stage — are the allies
who fought alongside U.S. soldiers in Syria: Europe and the
Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Rep. Liz Cheney Tells Fox News Turkey Invaded Syria Because
Democrats Launched Impeachment Inquiry Against Trump.
(1-min. video; Newsweek, October 14, 2019)
Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney claimed in an interview
with Fox News on Monday morning that Democrats are to blame
for Turkey's invasion of Syria because they launched an
impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, despite
the fact that the president withdrew U.S. forces from the
Middle Eastern nation to give the Turkish forces the
greenlight to enter. "I also want to say that the impeachment
proceedings that are going on and what the Democrats are doing
themselves to try to weaken this president is part of this,"
Cheney, who represents Wyoming and is the daughter of former
Vice President Dick Cheney, argued. "It was not an accident
that the Turks chose this moment to roll across the border,"
she claimed. "And I think the Democrats have got to pay very
careful attention to the damage that they're doing with the
Although Cheney may have attempted to shift the blame to
Democrats on Monday, many other Republican lawmakers have
directly attacked the president for his decision and its
Cedes Syrian City to Russia in Battlefield 'Handover' as
Turkey Tries to Take It. (Newsweek, October 14, 2019)
The U.S. was scheduled as of Monday to officially withdraw
from Manbij within 24-hours, leaving the mostly Kurdish Syrian
Democratic Forces behind as two rival factions—the Syrian
government, backed by Russia and Iran, and the Turkey-backed
Syrian insurgents opposed to it—sought to seize control of the
strategic location. A senior Pentagon official told Newsweek
that U.S. personnel, "having been in the area for longer, has
been assisting the Russian forces to navigate through
previously unsafe areas quickly."
"It is essentially a handover," the official said. "However,
it's a quick out, not something that will include
walk-throughs, etc., everything is about making out with as
much as possible of our things while destroying any sensitive
equipment that cannot be moved."
retreat in Syria turns into a mess. (Washington Post, October 14, 2019)
A week ago, President Trump shocked Washington and announced
he wouldn’t impede an imminent Turkish invasion of
northeastern Syria. Now, in the space of just a few days, his
administration is already reaping what it sowed.
Turkey’s incursions at various points along its border with
Syria began on Wednesday and, by the weekend, had already
plunged the region into chaos. Turkish artillery pounded
Syrian Kurdish positions, while footage emerged appearing to
show Turkish-affiliated militiamen carrying out grisly
roadside executions of Kurdish fighters allied to the United
States. Tens of thousands of panicked civilians attempted to
flee the Turkish-led advance, raising fears of an eventual
exodus into Iraqi Kurdistan, where more than a million people
displaced by conflict still live in camps.
Trump, who spent part of the weekend at one of his golf
courses, insisted on Twitter that his country ought to be rid
of its commitments in the “quicksand” of the Middle East.
Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper told CBS’s “Face the
Nation" on Sunday that the United States was now in “a very
untenable situation” and would evacuate its roughly 1,000
troops in northeastern Syria entirely. The order to remove
troops came Saturday, toward the end of a chaotic day in which
the viability of the U.S. mission in Syria rapidly unraveled
after Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel proxies advanced
deep into Syrian territory and cut U.S. supply lines.
It flew in the face of the Pentagon’s assurances last week
that the United States would not “abandon” its Syrian Kurdish
partners, who have been on the front lines in the war against
the Islamic State and borne the brunt of the casualties in a
troops enter towns in northeast as Erdogan warns of wider
offensive. (Washington Post, October 14, 2019)
The abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria has unleashed
dramatic developments, with Syrian government forces retaking
territory long held by U.S. allies and Turkish-led forces
expanding their offensive. Here’s what we know so far.
- Syrian government troops have moved back into towns in
northeastern Syria for the first time in years after
U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters, in a stunning reversal, reached
a deal with the government.
- Turkish-backed rebels have begun a push to retake the
northern city of Manbij, which has long been a flash point.
- Hundreds of Islamic State family members have escaped a
detention camp in Ain Issa, which has been the administrative
capital of the Kurdish-led government in northeastern Syria.
Lobby Scandal Widens as Museum of the Bible Admits Oxford
Prof Sold Illicit Papyri to Green Family. (Daily Beast,
October 14, 2019)
The Museum of the Bible revealed today that at least 13
biblical fragments in its collection were illicitly sold by a
Oxford professor to Hobby Lobby's Green family.
Columbus. (First Nations News and Views, October 14,
What we need is not only a name change of the federal holiday
from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day but an honest
exploration of our painful history. We need to show our
children we can look at “heroes” with clear eyes and use that
clarity to build a society which we can truly be proud of and
pass on to future generations.
vs. Warren: A Difference of Philosophy, Not Just Policy
(Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2019)
Do Democratic voters want a period of calm and order
post-Trump or a crusade that promises more disruption of the
goes old. Sanders goes young. Warren is in-between. What
Facebook ads reveal about 2020. (New York Times, October
about time: Biden, Democratic candidates punch back against
shoddy press coverage. (Daily Kos, October 13, 2019)
No longer willing to stoically suffer through bad, misleading
press coverage, Democrats are borrowing a page from
Republicans by going public with their complaints and
demanding journalists do better. But unlike Republicans who
often “work the refs” by griping about imaginary slights in
hopes of better treatment in the future, Democrats are calling
out the press with wholly accurate claims of media
Last week, Joe Biden's presidential campaign sent a blistering
letter to New York Times editor Dean Baquet, reprimanding the
paper for helping spread Donald Trump's debunked conspiracy
theory about Joe Biden and his son's business dealings in
Ukraine. It's "part of a larger strategy not to let the same
coverage that corrupted the 2016 election happen this time
around," a campaign source told CNN's Brian Stelter.
The stinging critique from Biden came one day after the Times
published an opinion column from discredited right-wing author
Peter Schweizer, once again hyping the Biden/Ukraine story.
Schweizer, who wrote a patently dishonest book about Hillary
Clinton in 2015 alleging all sorts of made-up crimes—a book
the Times helped market and promote during the campaign—has
been peddling the Biden smear all year within the far-right
Video of Fake Trump Shooting Media and Critics Is Shown at
His Resort. (New York Times, October 13, 2019)
A video depicting a macabre scene of a fake President Trump
shooting, stabbing and brutally assaulting members of the news
media and his political opponents was shown at a conference
for his supporters at his Miami resort last week. Several of
Mr. Trump’s top surrogates — including his son Donald Trump
Jr., his former spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the
governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis — were scheduled to speak at
the three-day conference, which was held by a pro-Trump group,
American Priority, at Trump National Doral Miami.
time, it's the same long con job. (Daily Kos, October
You know what it is when you recognize it: It's a scam. It's a
con job. It's the same con job that Donals Trump has been
playing since the beginning.
In 2016 he used rumors, innuendo, and blatant smears to sully
Hillary Clinton's reputation and defeat her in the Electoral
College with ardent help from Russia—and reluctant,
half-hearted help from then-FBI director James Comey. Trump
did this while he was caught up in a scandal of numerous
sexual assault allegations, while he was attempting to forge a
secret deal to build a billion-dollar Trump Tower in Moscow,
and also was secretly paying off two former mistresses not to
reveal his secret in the 11th hour of the election.
Each time, he's corrupt as a crooked scarecrow. He's violated
security protocols, clearances, and rules of sketchy foreign
entanglements while pointing the finger the other way. He's a
hustler. He's a grifter. And he been caught red-handed, again
and again and again.
Trump is a national emergency, and the Republicans own it.
(Daily Kos, October 13, 2019)
The Republican Party owns Donald Trump. Every Republican who
has done nothing to stop him is fully complicit, and that
includes every Republican member of the Senate. That also
includes the invertebrate Republicans who posture and do
nothing. Trump's corruption is their corruption. Trump's
failures are their failures. Trump's devastation of national
security is their devastation of national security. Trump's
attempts to destroy the republic are their attempts to destroy
the republic. This is who the Republicans are. This is not a
afraid of Donald Trump? No one. And for Trump, that's the
real end game. (Daily Kos, October 12, 2019)
There’s a genuine dilemma for Trump here. In past impeachment
efforts, the cover-up has been worse than the crime. But in
this case, the crime—extorting an allied nation for personal
political gain—is worse than any cover-up. Still, that doesn’t
make the cover-up any less a crime in its own right. Trump is
damned if he does obstruct, damned if he doesn’t. Because he
has already damned himself, but good.
Yesterday, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch
provided the House impeachment inquiry with 10 hours of
testimony detailing how she had been hounded by Trump’s
personal attorney Rudy Giuliani; how she had been forced to
resist repeated attempts to break both protocol and law to
forward Trump and Giuliani’s schemes in Ukraine; and how she
was ultimately removed from her position on the basis of
conspiracy theories and lies. And the best talking point the
White House could generate, the best thing that Republicans
had to offer, was that it was unfair to make Yovanovitch
explain how Giuliani set her up and Trump knocked her down. It
was bullying to have her stand up and tell Congress how Trump
chopped off a 30-year career of service so he could find
someone willing to go along with an international shakedown.
But far more important than any particular detail that
Yovanovitch shared was the fact that she was there and talking
at all, despite an order to defy Congress and stay silent. She
did not. Instead she obeyed a congressional subpoena and
testified. That action alone shows that the walls are down.
Trump’s castle of lies is crumbling.
calls police for wellness check on black neighbor's home,
white cop shoots and kills her instead. (Daily Kos,
October 12, 2019)
A Fort Worth woman was shot and killed in her own home early
Saturday by one of the police officers sent to do a wellness
check on her residence.
This is the seventh shooting of a civilian by the department
since June 1, and the sixth to be fatal. “It makes you not
want to call the police department,” James Smith told the Fort
Worth Star-Telegram. Smith is struggling in the wake of the
shooting: He’s the one who dialed a Fort Worth non-emergency
number after noticing his neighbor’s door was ajar and lights
were on in the home of Atatiana Jefferson, 28, her aunt, and
an 8-year-old nephew.
phones were targeted by one of the world’s most advanced
spyware apps. (Ars Technica, October 12, 2019)
"Pegasus," developed by Israel-based NSO Group, stalks 2
Moroccans, researchers say.
invasion of Syria puts Islamic State fight on hold at a
critical time. (Washington Post, October 11, 2019)
A senior official with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic
Forces said anti-ISIS operations had come to a complete halt
because U.S. troops need partners on the ground and the SDF is
too busy confronting Turkey.
Trump administration threatens sanctions against Turkey if
incursion into Syria destabilizes region.
Israelis see Trump’s Syria pullout as a ‘betrayal’.
Isn't a Drill, It's the Catastrophe. (Der Speigel,
October 11, 2019)
On Wednesday, a terrorist in the city of Halle, located in
former East Germany, went on a shooting spree targeting Jews.
Armed with a rifle, a bulletproof vest, and four kilograms of
explosives in the trunk of his car, the man drove to the
synagogue. There were 51 people inside. The only reason he
didn't make it into the synagogue was because the door didn't
give way when he fired at it. Instead, he murdered two other
Germany is a country where hatred for those who are perceived
to be different slides effortlessly from a tick on the
election ballot to genocide. It's not enough to install a few
security cameras -- it's time for an antifascist consensus.
disastrous impeachment polling sends shock waves through
GOP. (Daily Kos, October
It didn't matter which poll you looked at this week—they were
all bad news for Donald Trump, as well as for GOP lawmakers
seeking reelection in 2020. Public support for impeachment
grew rapidly in every poll, with nearly all of them finding
majority support for the inquiry and two finding 50% support
or more for Trump's impeachment and removal from office.
Rounding out the week, the NPR/Marist/PBS poll found 52%
support for the impeachment inquiry in a survey that showed
independent voters had flipped in mere weeks from majority
opposition to the inquiry (50%-44%) to majority support for it
(54%-41%). That's a 19-point swing for independents from late
September to now.
The poll also found that 61% of respondents don't think Trump
shares the moral values that most Americans try to live by.
And with regard to a president asking a foreign leader to
investigate a political rival, fully 68% of Americans said it
was not acceptable, including 64% of independents and even 40%
These polls, including the Fox News poll that found majority
support for Trump's removal, have reportedly sent shock waves
through both Washington and Republican circles.
loses appeal to stop House subpoena of his tax documents.
(CNN, October 11, 2019)
The opinion is a strong signal that the White House's letter
earlier this week refusing to cooperate with the impeachment
probe without a full House vote authorizing it would not hold
up in court. The court specifically weighed in on this idea,
writing it has "no authority" to require the House to take a
full vote in support of a subpoena to investigate the
President, citing the Constitution. "The courts lack the power
to invalidate a duly authorized congressional subpoena merely
because it might have been 'better [if]...the full House' had
specifically authorized or issued it," the court wrote.
"Unless and until Congress adopts a rule that offends the
Constitution, the courts get no vote in how each chamber
chooses to run its internal affairs."
Elizabeth Warren's simple response to a marriage equality
question. (4-min. video; CNN, October 11, 2019)
to Know About Eleanor Roosevelt’s Radical Progressive Legacy
(Teen Vogue, October 11, 2019)
On the 135th anniversary of Eleanor Roosevelt's birthday, the
Roosevelt Network's Katie Kirchner celebrates the former first
lady's advocacy for social justice.
disasters are costing more but killing fewer. (Ars
Technica, October 11, 2019)
While the average cost isn't changing much, the most costly
disasters are rising.
California Power Outage Triggers Chaos in Science Labs.
October 11, 2019)
Researchers without access to backup power scramble to save
invaluable specimens and expensive reagents.
mob of horny tarantulas is prowling San Francisco.
(CNet, October 10, 2019)
Tarantula mating season in Northern California is extended,
thanks to higher temperatures.
Lights Out in California to Deal With Climate Risks.
(Scientific American, October 10, 2019)
More than a million people in Northern California lost power
yesterday in an intentional blackout that reveals the stunning
measures utilities and state officials will take to ameliorate
the risk of wildfire as the effects of climate change become
Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which provides electric service
to 5.4 million customers in California, said it cut power to
800,000 of them to protect people, work crews and property
from a potential outbreak of wildfires. It’s unclear how many
people would be affected, but it stands to far surpass the
number of homes and buildings that would lose power. The move
comes as California grapples with an extraordinary string of
destructive wildfire seasons. Last year’s was worse than any
other. More than 8,000 fires burned 1.8 million acres
statewide, shattering past records and punctuating scientific
warnings that climate change is altering the frequency and
ferocity of wildfires.
Giuliani is in over his head! A thorough analysis of U.S.
political corruption in action. (18-min. video; The
Young Turks, October 10, 2019)
"The American government is for sale." Details follow.
least four national security officials raised alarms about
Ukraine policy before and after Trump call with Ukrainian
president. (Washington Post, October 10, 2019)
At least four national security officials were so alarmed by
the Trump administration’s attempts to pressure Ukraine for
political purposes that they raised concerns with a White
House lawyer both before and immediately after President
Trump’s July 25 call with that country’s president, according
to U.S. officials and other people familiar with the matter.
The nature and timing of the previously undisclosed
discussions with National Security Council legal adviser John
Eisenberg indicate that officials were delivering warnings
through official White House channels earlier than previously
understood — including before the call that precipitated a
whistleblower complaint and the impeachment inquiry of the
Trump Administration Downplays Warming, Agencies Chronicle
Climate Impacts. (Scientific
American, October 9, 2019)
Environmental reviews emphasize the relatively small
contributions from individual infrastructure projects,
ignoring the bigger picture.
“The reality is that the administration is in a corner,” Hayes
said. “It’s denied the science, but scientists that
participate in the preparation of [environmental reviews] have
no choice but to explain what’s really happening. And as a
result ... the courts are not willing to defer to the
administration, given its hypocrisy.”
anger at Trump grows as Turkey launches 'sickening' attack
on US allies. (CNN, October 9, 2019)
Turkey launched its military operation to flush Kurds allied
with the US out of northeastern Syria Wednesday, sparking
outrage in Congress and creating rare bipartisan unity about
the risks to Kurds, US national security interests, regional
stability and the fight against ISIS. The attack has
highlighted a rare Republican willingness to directly
criticize President Donald Trump, who apparently gave Turkish
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the go-ahead on Sunday to
proceed with his long-planned move against Kurdish fighters
who make up part of the Syrian Defense Forces who had fought
against ISIS with the US.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and
Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland on Wednesday
announced a framework to place immediate sanctions on senior
Turkish government officials, ban all US military business and
military transactions with Turkey, and immediately activate
2017 sanctions on the country to remain in place until Ankara
stops its operations against the Kurds. "This unlawful and
unwarranted attack against an American friend and partner
threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of civilians,
many of whom have already fled from their homes elsewhere in
Syria to find safety in this region," Graham and Van Hollen
said in a statement. "This invasion will ensure the resurgence
of ISIS in Syria, embolden America's enemies including Al
Qaeda, Iran, and Russia, and launch yet another endless
conflict in what had been, until today, one of the most safe
and stable areas of Syria and a region experimenting with the
best model of local governance currently available in that
The White House announced that US troops would move out the
way and would not support or be involved in the operation.
Launches Syria Offensive, Targeting U.S.-Backed Kurds.
(New York Times, October 9, 2019)
Turkey’s long-planned move to root out United States-allied
Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria has accelerated rapidly
since President Trump gave the operation a green light
in a call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on
Sunday. The operation could open a dangerous new front in
Syria’s eight-year-old war, pitting two United States allies
against each other and raising the specter of sectarian
bloodletting. Even before it began, it had set off fierce
debates in Washington over Mr. Trump’s Syria policy.
On Wednesday, after the operation had begun, Mr. Trump
clarified his position. “The United States does not endorse
this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this
operation is a bad idea,” he said in a statement. “Turkey,” he
added, “has committed to protecting civilians, protecting
religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no
humanitarian crisis takes place — and we will hold them to
50 Years of Unix (Bell Labs, October 9, 2019)
The summer of 1969 was one of the most culturally significant
times in modern American history. It was the summer when Neil
Armstrong landed on the moon, more than 400,000 people
attended the legendary Woodstock music festival, and the
Stonewall riots brought the fight for gay rights to the
However, something else happened that summer which you won’t
find in most history books… a Bell Labs researcher named Ken
Thompson created the first version of Unix, which turned out
to be one of the most important pieces of computer software
Chemistry Nobel we can use: Lithium-ion batteries (Ars
Technica, October 9, 2019)
A Nobel in chemistry for figuring out how to do a bit less
is the constitutional crisis we feared. (Washington
Post, October 9, 2019)
The White House has released an extraordinary letter from
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to congressional Democrats,
a document that will live on in infamy from this day forward
as evidence of how profoundly Trump corrupted the office of
the president and everyone around him.
Despite the fact that it appears under the signature of the
chief lawyer of the White House, the letter reads like some
combination of a deeply misinformed seventh-grader’s social
studies paper and a rant from Sean Hannity, randomly tossing
around terms like “civil liberties” and “separation of powers”
without any apparent understanding of what they mean.
Boiled down to its essence, the letter asserts that Trump is
beyond the reach of oversight, of impeachment and of any
checks and balances from the legislative branch. Because he
thinks Congress is not treating him “fairly” (the word “fair”
appears eight times in the letter), Trump has decided that he
can issue a blanket refusal to “participate in your partisan
and unconstitutional inquiry.” All requests for documents and
testimony will be rejected, and all subpoenas will be thrown
in the trash.
Tantrum Over Impeachment Just Got Official. (Reason,
October 9, 2019)
Trump seems to think that as the House is trying to determine
whether impeachment is even warranted—and before the White
House answers any questions at all or submits to any
information requests—he is entitled to the same rights as a
defendant in a criminal trial. The letter accuses House
Democrats of denying Trump "the right to cross-examine
witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive transcripts of
testimony, to have access to evidence, to have counsel
present, and many other basic rights," and asserts that this
is one of the reasons Trump will not cooperate.
But as lawyer and national security analyst Mieke Eoyang
points out, "the White House doesn't get to tell Congress how
to conduct impeachment." Indeed, the president's "due process
rights kick in when the proceedings move to the Senate" and
the trial phase of impeachment begins. Any "due process
concerns raised by the WH counsel's letter" can be negotiated
at that stage.
"Impeachment in the House is akin to a grand jury &
indictment," notes Eoyang, and the House has already made
allowances beyond what's permitted for the targets of a grand
jury. In a grand jury proceeding, for instance, witnesses
can't bring in personal lawyers and "the target's counsel does
not get to sit and hear the evidence." But the House is
allowing personal counsel for witnesses and letting all sides
hear witness testimony. Overall, they're being quite fair.
and other defences against Trump impeachment. (BBC,
October 8, 2019)
Whether or not US President Donald Trump would get convicted
in an impeachment trial could come down to the Republican
majority in the Senate.
But what do Republican politicians and commentators think of
impeachment and Trump's call with Ukraine?
Mar-a-Lago cancels hate group event, and the vilest of Trump
supporters are very upset. (Daily Kos, October 8, 2019)
throws fit after Minneapolis mayor sends estimated security
bill in advance of campaign rally. (Daily Kos, October
With impeachment threatening to end the Donald Trump gravy
train, the white supremacist con man in chief is retreating to
what he does best: holding fact-free campaign rallies. The
problem with Trump’s rallies is that they cost a ton, and, as
with everything Trump, the bill for them is never paid. Some
cities, such as Orlando, have asked that the costs for the
rallies be covered upfront. Minneapolis, Minnesota, is
expecting a Trump Nazi rally on Thursday. It has reportedly
sent a $500,000 bill to the campaign to cover security costs
and the use of the Target Center.
Use of Surveillance Database Violated Americans’ Privacy
Rights, Court Found. (Wall Street Journal, October 8,
The intelligence community disclosed Tuesday that the Foreign
Intelligence Surveillance Court last year found that the FBI’s
efforts to search data about Americans ensnared in a
warrantless internet-surveillance program intended to target
foreign suspects have violated the law authorizing the
program, as well as the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment
protections against unreasonable searches. The issue was made
public by the government only after it lost an appeal of the
judgment earlier this year before another secret court.
The court concluded that in at least a handful of cases, the
FBI had been improperly searching a database of raw
intelligence for information on Americans—raising concerns
about oversight of the program, which as a spy program
operates in near total secrecy.
father of the yield curve indicator says now is the time to
prepare for a recession. (CNBC, October 8, 2019)
Duke University professor Campbell Harvey says the bond yield
curve is “flashing code red” for a recession. The yield for
the 3-month Treasury has been above the 10-year since May, a
condition known as an inverted yield curve that has predicted
the past seven recessions.
Harvey encourages investors, business executives and consumers
to prepare now. The inversion is not a coincident indicator
but rather one that points to downturns six to 18 months or so
in the future. So businesses can react to it, for instance, by
delaying spending plans until the storm passes.
Everything Is Getting Louder (The Atlantic, October 8,
The tech industry is producing a rising din. Our bodies can’t
AirPods will die. We’ve got the trick to replacing them.
(Washington Post, October 8, 2019)
We shouldn’t let Apple turn headphones into expensive,
disposable products because of bad battery design.
CEO says they melted $5 million worth of assault rifles
after halting sales. (Daily Kos, October 8, 2019)
Ed Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods (and son of the
company’s founder), told CBS News that he didn’t stop with his
highly publicized move of stopping sales of assault weapons
and high-capacity magazines and all gun sales to people under
21 after the Parkland school shooting, a move he made after
finding out that the shooter had bought a shotgun at Dick’s,
and a move that cost the chain around $250 million.
Stack was faced with the decision of what to do with the
assault-style weapons Dick’s had in stock at the time the
chain stopped selling the guns. “I said, 'You know what? If we
really think these things should be off the street, we need to
So they did, turning $5 million of guns into scrap metal.
California customers could be impacted by PG&E power
shutoffs; most of San Francisco Bay Area under watch.
(San Francisco ABC News, October 8, 2019)
The dry, windy weather pattern (during which sparks can ignite
more forest fires) is expected to reach from the northern
portions of PG&E's service territory and down through the
Sacramento Valley before spreading into the central areas of
the state including most of the Bay Area. Beginning Wednesday
morning, the danger period is expected to last five days or
may cut electricity during high wind and fire danger, here's
how to be ready for a blackout. (San Francisco ABC News, October 7, 2019)
PG&E has announced that it may proactively cut electrical
power during days of strong winds and extreme fire danger to
prevent a tragedy like the deadly and destructive Camp Fire
where it's believed PG&E power lines caused the fire. A
forced blackout would leave residents in the dark, in more
ways than one. That's because devices we have come to rely on
need electricity to function, like WiFi transmitters,
streaming televisions and digital assistants like Amazon's
Echo and Google Home.
groundwater use is destroying freshwater ecosystems.
(Ars Technica, October 7, 2019)
And the situation is set to get much, much worse.
defiance of oversight challenges Congress’s ability to rein
in the executive branch. (Washington Post, October 7,
Experts and lawmakers worry the president’s hostile stance
toward congressional oversight and Democrats’ flailing
response are undermining the separation of powers and could
have long-term implications for the democracy.
Throws Middle East Policy Into Turmoil Over Syria. (New
York Times, October 7, 2019)
President Trump threw Middle East policy into turmoil with a
series of conflicting signals on Monday as his vow to withdraw
American forces from the region touched off an uprising among
congressional Republicans and protests by America’s allies.
Defending his decision to clear the way for a Turkish military
operation against America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria,
Mr. Trump said it was “time for us to get out” and let others
“figure the situation out.”
But after Republican allies condemned the move, he pivoted
sharply and said he would restrain Turkey. “As I have stated
strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does
anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to
be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the
Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” the president wrote on
Twitter, without explaining what exactly he would consider off
Even after Mr. Trump walked back his decision, Senator Mitch
McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader,
warned him against “a precipitous withdrawal” that would
benefit Russia, Iran, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and
the Islamic State. Mr. McConnell sharply urged the president
to “exercise American leadership.”
federal judge takes a sledgehammer to Trump’s stonewalling.
October 7, 2019)
It was no great surprise that a federal court Monday morning
rejected President Trump’s argument that, as a sitting
president, he is immune even from being investigated by the
Manhattan district attorney. Nor that the court of appeals
swiftly granted a stay of the order, thus preserving its
ability to hear an appeal.
But the district court’s scathing assessment of the
implications of Trump’s argument is telling, and the tale it
tells should greatly concern the White House in the looming
Recall that Trump brought the action in federal court to
prevent Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. from
subpoenaing Trump’s accountants for his tax returns as part of
Vance’s criminal investigation. (This is the same case that
the Justice Department recently entered, on behalf of Trump.)
The court’s technical ruling Monday is that it would abstain
from entering the fray based on a general court-made doctrine
— it’s known as the Younger abstention — that instructs
federal courts not to meddle in pending state criminal
prosecutions. Trump (and the Justice Department) had argued
that fundamental questions of presidential immunity justified
ignoring that doctrine here. The court’s rejection of the
president’s position could not have been more emphatic.
Notably, the 75-page opinion by U.S. District Judge Victor
Marrero came just two weeks after oral arguments, blindingly
fast by litigation standards. Its length and complexity
suggest that the court was already working on the opinion from
the time Trump filed his hyperaggressive claim.
Most important, Marrero, who could have made quick and summary
work of Trump’s argument, went on at substantial length to
explain just how lawless and brazen the position was.
Taxes: President Ordered to Turn Over Returns to Manhattan
D.A. (New York Times, October 7, 2019)
A judge rejected the president’s argument that he was immune
from criminal investigations. In a 75-page ruling, Judge
Marrero called the president’s argument that the Constitution
shields sitting presidents from any criminal investigation
“repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and
constitutional values.” Presidents, their families and
businesses are not above the law, wrote the judge.
17-year-old planned to shoot up his school until his mother
turned him in to police. (CBS News, October 7, 2019)
She called the police after finding and reading her son's
journal. He wrote about attacking his school on a specific
date: April 20, 2020 — the anniversary of Columbine. The
journal went into chilling detail. He would detonate pipe
bombs, and use multiple firearms to "blast anyone in sight"
and "execute survivors."
When asked how it feels as a mother to turn her son in, Nicole
responded, "Like I've done something wrong." Police believe
she did everything right.
is about to become the right-wing smear machine's biggest
unintended casualty of all time. (Daily Kos, October 6,
In what is truly the richest of ironies, Donald Trump is now
poised to become just another piece of right-wing roadkill, an
unintended casualty of his own disinformation machine, the
exact same machine that cemented his electoral victory over
Hillary Clinton in 2016. By extorting foreign leaders to
manufacture dirt involving former Vice President Joe Biden’s
son, Trump stupidly fell into the trap of believing his own
team’s propaganda, a result that those who created the
Biden-Ukraine fairy tale in the first place completely failed
to foresee. And now he’s looking at impeachment for believing
their lies and taking them to their logical conclusion.
Justice Department is oddly incurious about potential
criminality in the Trump-Ukraine mess. (Washington Post,
October 6, 2019)
Something is not adding up about the Justice Department’s
account of its decision not to open a criminal investigation
based on a complaint by a whistleblower in the U.S.
intelligence community about President Trump’s dealings with
Ukraine. The complaint was passed on to the Justice Department
through both the acting director of national intelligence,
Joseph Maguire, and, as NBC News reported Friday, the CIA’s
general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood.
The Justice Department appears to have conducted a wholly
cursory examination. It interviewed no witnesses and examined
no evidence other than the complaint. Text messages within the
State Department that might have provided evidence of
criminality were not examined. Justice closed the file without
opening a formal investigation.
Since then, the department has supplied somewhat shifting
defenses of its decision. One point the department has
maintained consistently is that the final decision was made by
Brian Benczkowski, the head of the Criminal Division, in
consultation with career attorneys at the Public Integrity
Section. Benczkowski is a political appointee with zero
prosecutorial experience. Likewise, neither Deputy Attorney
General Jeffrey A. Rosen nor Attorney General William P. Barr
spent a day as a prosecutor. If it has ever happened before
that the three top officials in the Justice Department’s
criminal chain of command lacked prosecutorial experience, the
idea was as terrible then as it is now.
But that doesn’t mean — and it can’t mean — that the Justice
Department is closed for business regarding any possible new
criminal violations by others in the administration. The
department’s Public Integrity Section exists for this purpose.
The prosecutors there need to do their job.
$7.5 Billion Victory Could Cost Trillions. (Yahoo
Finance, October 5, 2019)
Trump’s new trade war: According to the October 2 statement by
the Office of the United States Trade Representative (or
USTR), “The United States today has requested that the WTO
schedule a meeting on October 14 to approve a U.S. request for
authorization to take countermeasures against the EU.”
Notably, the EU can’t retaliate like China for WTO-approved
countermeasures, and the EU cannot appeal. The Trump
administration is empowered to impose tariffs up to 100% over
“affected products” at any time. However, the USTR decided to
impose a 10% tariff on civil aircraft. Agricultural and other
products would be subject to a 25% tariff.
Plus, Trump appears to have opened a new front in the tariff
war. In a September 3 tweet, he warned the EU about unfair
trade practices. The timing of this decision might adversely
impact the global economy, and business investment decisions
could be impacted around the world. According to IHS Markit
data, world real GDP could be reduced by 0.8% and 1.4% in 2019
and 2020, respectively. Moreover, this model assumes a
“protectionism scenario.” In nominal GDP terms, this decline
could worth over $1 trillion.
embrace of Google's Android software is bigger than its
new phone. (C/Net,
October 5, 2019)
Microsoft's Surface reputation and the adoption of a
once-rival platform gets the software titan back into the
Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine
(New Yorker, October 4,
How a conservative dark-money group that targeted Hillary
Clinton in 2016 spread the discredited story that may lead to
Donald Trump’s impeachment.
pay is stagnant — economists blame robots. (CBS News,
October 4, 2019)
American workers are more productive than ever, but their
paychecks haven't kept pace. Researchers with the Federal
Reserve Bank of San Francisco have a culprit: robots.
Economists Sylvain Leduc and Zheng Liu theorize that
automation is sapping employees' bargaining power, making it
harder for them to demand higher wages. Companies across a
range of industries increasingly have the option of using
technology to handle work formerly done by people, giving
employers the upper hand in setting pay. The result — a
widening gulf between wages and productivity.
of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan would be global.
(Ars Technica, October 4, 2019)
50-125 million immediate deaths, and then the weather changes.
tectonics runs deeper than we thought. (Ars Technica, October 3, 2019)
At 52 years old, plate tectonics has given geologists a whole
new level to explore.
of Iraq's internet shut down amid mass protests. (C/Net,
October 3, 2019)
An internet watchdog reports the blackout started with social
mocked in anonymous NYC subway ad: 'Need a lawyer? Call
crazy Rudy.' (The Hill, October 3, 2019)
Korea tests submarine-capable missile fired from sea.
(BBC, October 3, 2019)
North Korea has confirmed it test-fired a new type of a
ballistic missile, a significant escalation from the
short-range tests it has conducted since May. The missile -
which was able to carry a nuclear weapon - was the North's
11th test this year.
But this one, fired from a platform at sea, was capable of
being launched from a submarine. Being submarine-capable is
important as it means North Korea could launch missiles far
outside its territory.
According to South Korean officials, the missile flew about
450km (280 miles) and reached an altitude of 910km before
landing in the sea. That means the missile flew twice as high
as the International Space Station, but previous North Korean
tests have gone higher. It came down in the Sea of Japan, also
known in South Korea as the East Sea. Japan said it landed in
its exclusive economic zone - a band of 200km around Japanese
The test came hours after North Korea said nuclear talks with
the US would resume.
and Canonical work together in financial services.
(ZDNet, October 2, 2019)
Just because IBM owns Red Hat doesn't mean it's not working
with other Linux powers such as Ubuntu Linux.
Kong Rallies Around Teen Protester Shot by Police.
(Breitbart, October 2, 2019)
Thousands of Hong Kong citizens, many of them fellow students,
marched on Wednesday to support Tony Tsang Chi-kin, the
18-year-old demonstrator shot in the chest by police with live
ammunition on Tuesday afternoon. Police officials defended the
shooting as a justifiable act of self-defense, while
protesters accused the police of looking for excuses to murder
lawsuit in Supreme Court could cause ‘irreparable harm’ to
minority protections, NAACP warns. (Philadelphia
Inquirer, October 2, 2019)
Comcast says, “This case arises from a frivolous
discrimination claim that cannot detract from Comcast’s strong
civil rights and diversity record or our outstanding record of
supporting and fostering diverse programming from African
“We have been forced to appeal this decision to defend against
a meritless $20 billion claim, but have kept our argument
narrowly focused. We are not seeking to roll back the civil
rights laws — all we are asking is that the court apply
Section 1981 in our case the same way it has been interpreted
for decades across the country.”
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, called the
Comcast petition “the most important civil rights case to be
heard by the Supreme Court in term. A negative ruling stands
to all but shut the courthouse door on a vast number of
victims of discrimination all across the country.”
Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 says all people
in the United States have the same rights to make and enforce
contracts “enjoyed by white citizens.” It was enacted to help
newly freed African Americans engage in work fairly, without
laws that created conditions that “paralleled chattel
slavery,” according to the Lawyers’ Committee brief. “In light
of the increasing visibility of minority populations, civil
rights laws like Section 1981 must be strengthened, not
weakened.... Petitioner [Comcast] asks this court also to
ignore its past pronouncements and allow race to play some
role in contracting decisions, so long as race discrimination
is not the but-for cause of a refusal to contract.”
amps up attacks on whistleblower as some Republicans call
for more strategic response to impeachment. (MSN,
October 1, 2019)
President Trump continued to escalate his scorched-earth
campaign against a whistle-blower who accused him of
pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, even
as new evidence emerged Monday that he and his administration
are urging other governments to provide assistance to a
related Justice Department inquiry that has been pushed by the
president. Trump said he was trying to “find out about” the
whistleblower Monday, the latest move in an increasingly
frenetic counterassault targeting the anonymous intelligence
officer and top Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry.
Upholds Net Neutrality Repeal, With Some Caveats. (New
York Times, October 1, 2019)
Over all, the decision Tuesday was a victory for the Trump
administration, which has encouraged deregulation across the
government. The F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, who was appointed
by President Trump, made the repeal of the rules a top
priority, saying it would encourage innovation and help propel
The agency voted to throw out the rules in a 3-to-2 party-line
vote in 2017, reversing a decision made during the Obama
administration. The rules had prohibited broadband internet
providers like Comcast and AT&T from blocking websites or
charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The
appeals court upheld the F.C.C.’s decision to no longer
regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility,
or a “common carrier,” like phone service.
Satellites are tracking an enormous iceberg that broke off
from the Antarctic ice shelf. (MIT Technology Review, September 30, 2019)
“Planet 9” actually a primordial black hole? (MIT
Technology Review, September 30, 2019)
Astronomers think there’s another planet in our solar system,
but no one has been able to see it. That could be because it’s
not a conventional planet at all.
is using Facebook to run thousands of ads about
impeachment. (CNN, September 30, 2019)
President Donald Trump is using his powerful social media
presence to push back against the impeachment inquiry,
tweeting and retweeting more than 100 times over the weekend
and his reelection campaign has spent hundreds of thousands
of dollars on Facebook ads on the topic over the past week.
More than 1,800 ads on Trump's Facebook page mentioning
"impeachment" have run in the past seven days. The ads have
been viewed between 16 and 18 million times on Facebook and
the campaign has spent between $600,000 and $2,000,000 on
the effort. The President is using ads to enlist people in
what his campaign is calling the "Official Impeachment
Defense Task Force."
News outs two Fox analysts as working 'off the books' with
Trump, Giuliani to find Biden dirt. (Daily Kos,
September 30, 2019)
Lawyers diGenova and Toensing Teamed Up With Giuliani to Dig
Up Ukraine Dirt on Biden. (Daily Beast, September 29,
Fox News cited a U.S. official who said all three were working
off the books apart from the administration, and the only
person who knew "what they were doing is President Trump".
to the Impeachment Investigators: Trump Rarely Acts Alone.
(New York Times, September 29, 2019)
President Trump’s assaults on democracy are rarely solo
endeavors. His schemes often entangle, by chance or by choice,
an array of accomplices, enablers, observers and victims —
many of whom will need to be heard from as House members begin
investigating the Ukraine scandal as part of the impeachment
inquiry announced last week.
ways impeachment could play out (Politico, September 29,
If you’re looking at history to provide a guide to the
impending impeachment saga … don’t. With only three past
examples, involving three very different controversies,
there’s thin gruel that will provide little nourishment. We’re
in unprecedented territory.
2 Deep-Dive Books on Kavanaugh Taught Me About Truth in the
Trump Era (Politico, September 29, 2019)
Last September, the country was torn apart by decades-old
allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh as he
headed into his Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Now, the
recent frenzy around the possible impeachment of Donald Trump
and the whistle-blower report that started it has prompted the
same kinds of questions. Which stories and which storytellers
should we believe in our hyper-partisan era?
the GOP won't abandon Trump no matter what for one reason:
he's the last. (Daily Kos, September 28, 2019)
Long before Trump, today’s GOP lost any ability to be
constructive on just about anything. If something is good,
they reflexively oppose it. People having healthcare?
Oppose. People going to college? Oppose. Stopping gun
massacres? Oppose. Renewable energy? Oppose.
Their entire policy on immigration is bigotry and hate. Their
policy on the budget is to cut taxes for the wealthy. Their
policy on elections is to have as few people as possible
voting. Also, I’m not quite sure how a political party would
be opposed to saving our environment, but here we are.
Then 2016 happened. Republicans have surrendered
everything--their duty, their patriotism, and their
principles—in order to pledge fealty to a man too stupid to be
trusted to manage his own social media account. He remade the
party in his ugly image, so now those who haven't left
can largely be divided into just three groups: the rich, the
racists, and the rubes. This is who they have to work with
now. Every demographic the GOP had been working on gaining has
been forever lost.
down impeachment, Trump sees himself as a victim of historic
proportions. (Washington Post, September 28, 2019)
In the five days since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)
opened an impeachment inquiry following revelations about
President Trump’s conduct with his Ukrainian counterpart,
Trump has been determined to cast himself as a singular victim
in a warped reality — a portrayal that seems part political
survival strategy, part virtual therapy session.
As Trump tells it, he is a hard-working and honorable
president whose conduct has been “perfect” but who is being
harassed and tormented by “Do Nothing Democrat Savages” and a
corrupt intelligence community resolved to perpetuate a hoax,
defraud the public and, ultimately, undo the 2016 election.
impeachment inquiry sparks 'bedlam' at Fox News. (The
Guardian, September 28, 2019)
Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry is causing chaos at Fox
News, with reports of “management bedlam” as hosts battle over
how to approach a political drama that threatens its ratings
as well as its valuable presidential TV star.
After mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio,
prime-time host Tucker Carlson disputed that Trump ever
“endorsed white supremacy or came close to endorsing white
supremacy” and dismissed white supremacy as “actually not a
real problem in America”. According to Media Matters, the
number of ads supporting Carlson’s show plummeted. The host
left on vacation – which Fox New flacks claimed was planned in
advance – as advertisers, including Stein Mart, HelloFresh,
and Nestlé severed ties with Tucker Carlson Tonight and the
fast food chain Long John Silver’s pulled advertising from Fox
News entirely. Nearly 50 companies have issued statements
dropping Carlson’s show since December, when he asserted that
migrants make America “poorer and dirtier” – and dozens more
quietly cut ties without saying anything publicly.
answer their call to duty, leaving Republicans
shell-shocked. (Daily Kos, September 28, 2019)
Polling conducted by Morning Consult/Politico over last
weekend showed no increase in support for impeachment, with
the pro-impeachment needle stuck right about where it's been
for months at 36%. For Democrats and Pelosi alike, this was a
moment of moral clarity as they coalesced around protecting
the republic from the gravest threat it has faced in nearly
half a century.
The shift was also so decisive it knocked congressional
Republicans back on their heels. Just as quickly as Democrats
found their footing, GOP Senators rapidly evolved from
spouting Trump's talking points about the Bidens on Monday to
uniformly zipping their lips on the matter by Wednesday. GOP
Senators are now in bunker mode until they can wrap their
minds around the new political calculus they are facing
vis-a-vis impeachment and 2020.
the White House Hide a Bombshell Memo From Mueller?
(Slate, September 28, 2019)
If there was a memorandum of that meeting, how is it possible
that it was not produced to Mueller? It’s awfully hard to
believe that Mueller didn’t ask for any readout or memorandum
from that meeting; a meeting at which the president explained
that he fired Comey in part because he was being pressured by
the Russia investigation. That admission to his Russian
visitors is part of one of the obstructive acts Mueller found.
So, assuming the Post is correct that a memorandum of that
meeting exists, what happened to it? Assuming Mueller is
capable of drafting a document request, why was that
memorandum not produced? Was it logged and redacted? Was it
deemed classified under the newly discovered separate server
used only for hiding catastrophic missteps or worse? Or was it
produced to Mueller, and its contents did not make it into the
report because for unknown reason Mueller chose not to include
Robert Reich: Trump can do more damage
than Nixon. His impeachment is imperative. (The
Guardian, September 28, 2019)
Watergate brought down a second-term president. If Trump
survives and wins the White House again, all bets are off.
Amid the impeachment furor, don’t lose sight of the renewed
importance of protecting the integrity of the 2020 election.
The difference between Richard Nixon’s abuse of power (trying
to get dirt on political opponents to help with his 1972
re-election, and then covering it up) and Donald Trump’s abuse
(trying to get Ukraine’s president to get dirt on a political
opponent to help with his 2020 reelection, and then covering
it up) isn’t just that Nixon’s involved a botched robbery at
the Watergate while Trump’s involves a foreign nation. It’s
that Nixon’s abuse of power was discovered during his second
term, after he was re-elected. He was still a dangerous crook,
but by that time he had no reason to inflict still more damage
on American democracy.
in Canada today while Millions of Young Activists around the
Planet March for Climate Action. (Daily Kos, September
Was 'Foreign Asset' To Russia Ahead of 2016, New Senate
Report Reveals. (National Public Radio, September 27,
Drawing on contemporaneous emails and private interviews, an
18-month probe by the Senate Finance Committee's Democratic
staff found that the NRA underwrote political access for
Russian nationals Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin more than
previously known — even though the two had declared their ties
to the Kremlin. The report, available
here, also describes how closely the gun rights group
was involved with organizing a 2015
visit by some of its leaders to Moscow.
Assembled over 100 Voting Machines. Hackers Broke Into Every
Single One. (Mother Jones, September 27, 2019)
A cybersecurity exercise highlights both new and unaddressed
vulnerabilities riddling US election systems.
told Russian officials he was unconcerned about election
interference. (The Guardian, September 27, 2019)
White House reportedly restricted access to comments in 2017
meeting, allowing only a few officials to see transcript.
told Russian officials in 2017 he wasn’t concerned about
Moscow’s interference in U.S. election. (Washington
Post, September 27, 2019)
community strikes back — an impeachment game-changer
(The Hill, September 27, 2019)
I have never seen a more buttoned-up set of whistleblower
allegations than these. To me, the whistleblower appears to
have taken a leadership role, sticking his neck out to protect
subordinates in the intelligence community while conveying
their information to appropriate authorities through
appropriate channels. It’s easy to see how the intelligence
community inspector general steered it to the Congressional
Intelligence Committees, under the cover of great credibility,
through a gauntlet of resisters.
In this one brief complaint, the whistleblower managed to do
what former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation
could not: ensnare the president of the United States himself
in a shameful abuse of his power. Trump held back military aid
to Ukraine then asked Ukraine for “a favor” — to dig up or
create dirt on a political rival for the forthcoming election.
The complaint, once it was made public, has upended the
impeachment chessboard in the House.
President Donald J. Trump will
be impeached — maybe not convicted by the Senate but
impeached by the House. That’s my prediction, given the
rapidly unfolding events in Ukrainegate. The catalyst for
impeachment is the alleged CIA whistleblower and the team of
intelligence community officials he is going to bat for.
Trump picked a fight with the wrong crowd. Now, they’re
fighting back, with the Constitution in one hand and
evidence of Trump’s corruption in the other. Game on.
You might call this team, collectively, “Deep State Throat.”
They’re a deep state, all right, but not like Trump thinks.
They’re not rogues. They’re patriots. Let’s just buckle up
and watch how this plays out over the coming weeks and
Blitt’s “Whack Job” (The New Yorker, September 27, 2019)
Impeachment Meets a Broken Congress (Politico, September
The most essential branch of the U.S. government is collapsing
before our eyes—right as it faces a historic showdown. Even in
the most basic relationship-forming aspect of things, there’s
this division. And it becomes clear that you’re supposed to be
is in a world of trouble. (7-min. video; The Young
Turks, September 26, 2019)
Whistle-Blower Complaint Is Democracy at Work, Not the
Deep State. (The New Yorker, September 26, 2019)
In his testimony, Maguire praised the whistle-blower. “As
public servants, we have a solemn duty to report waste and
abuse,” he said. So far, the whistle-blower and the
inspector general appear to be committed public servants.
Both learned of potential abuse and reported it. Both appear
to have followed the law. The whistle-blower system worked.
The checks and balances also appear to be working. When
threatened with impeachment by the House, the President
released a summary of his call, as well as the full
whistle-blower complaint. In the weeks ahead, transparency
should be increased, not decreased. When grave abuses of
power are alleged, information should be made public, not
kept secret. Citizens should read the call summary and the
whistle-blower complaint themselves, and make their own
judgments. This is not a deep state. This is American
Audio of Trump discussing whistleblower at private event:
‘That’s close to a spy.’ (Los Angeles Times, September
Trump, as he continued to speak, expressed further dismay that
he is the one being investigated, not Biden. “They’re talking
about me and I didn’t do anything,” he said, hedging slightly.
“I don’t know if I’m the most innocent person in the world.”
(But WE do!)
Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint. (New York Times,
September 26, 2019)
written complaint about Trump's misconduct (Los Angeles
Times, September 26, 2019)
claimed Trump abused his office and that White House
officials tried to cover it up. (Washington Post,
September 26, 2019)
In forceful language, the unidentified whistleblower alleged
that the commander in chief pushed his foreign counterpart to
investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter
Biden and that senior White House officials then tried to
“lock down” records related to the matter. The pressure, the
whistleblower alleged, came in a phone call July 25 between
Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, an exchange
that turned so politically problematic that White House
lawyers directed other officials to remove the electronic
transcript of the conversation from the computer system where
it was stored. The transcript, the whistleblower alleged, was
then loaded onto a separate system meant for classified
information. And according to White House officials who
informed the whistleblower, that was “not the first time” a
transcript was put there due to concerns about politics rather
than national security, the complaint alleged.
Trump, the whistleblower wrote, was “using the power of his
office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the
2020 U.S. election.”
While the whistleblower’s primary concern is the president’s
phone call with Zelensky, it is clear from the document
released Thursday that its author also was troubled by what
appeared then to be a four-month pattern of election season
misconduct involving the president, his lawyer and White House
aides who sought to keep the whole thing quiet. “I am also
concerned that these actions pose risks to U.S. national
security and undermine the U.S. government’s efforts to deter
and counter foreign interference in U.S. elections,” the
According to the complaint, the whistleblower was not alone in
harboring concerns. “The White House officials who told me
this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired
in the phone call,” the whistleblower wrote. “They told me
there was already a ‘discussion ongoing’ with White House
lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood,
in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the
President abuse his office for personal gain.” About a dozen
White House officials listened in on the call, which is common
when heads of state speak directly. The alarm was so great,
the whistleblower alleged, that White House officials sought
to limit access to the written record of the call.
The whistleblower also alleged that in May, Trump instructed
Vice President Pence to cancel planned travel to Ukraine for
Zelensky’s inauguration — sending Energy Secretary Rick Perry
in his place — and that it was “made clear” to U.S. officials
that Trump did not want to meet with Zelensky until he saw how
Zelensky “chose to act” in office.
Bezos says Amazon is writing its own facial recognition laws
to pitch to lawmakers. (Vox, September 26, 2019)
The tech giant’s hope is that federal lawmakers will adopt
much of its draft legislation.
an Architect Who Designs ‘Half-Houses’ Rebuilt a City
(City Lab, September 26, 2019)
Alejandro Aravena, who helped a city recover from an
earthquake and a tsunami, says participatory design is not
just inclusive but “more efficient.”
to Know the People You Love (Rikleen Institute,
September 26, 2019)
How often do we truly see beloved relatives as the individuals
that lie beneath the surface of their familiar faces?
Vaults into the Lead in California’s Democratic Presidential
Primary. (Berkeley IGS Poll, September 25, 2019)
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has pulled into the
lead in California among voters likely to be participating in
California’s March Democratic presidential primary. The latest
Berkeley IGS Poll finds Warren to be the choice of 29% of
likely voters, up eleven points from June. While support for
Warren has grown significantly over the past three months,
backing for her two principal rivals,former Vice President Joe
Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has remained fairly
static, with Biden polling 20%, down two points from June and
Sanders at 19%, up two points. Meanwhile, support for
California’s home-state Senator Kamala Harris has declined
five points since June and is now in single digits (8%). South
Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has also slipped four
points from June to 6%. None of the other Democratic
candidates received more than 3% of likely voter support,
while 8% of likely voters have no preference.
The strength of Warren’s candidacy is further demonstrated
when voters are asked which candidates they are giving at
least some consideration to supporting in the Democratic
primary. In this setting 68% of likely voters citeWarren,
twenty-three points higher than any of her opponents. In
addition, a 54% majority of likely voters lists Warren among
their top two choices, twenty-one points greater than any of
her Democratic rivals.
up, moron’: Rudy Giuliani lashes out at critics, defends his
Ukraine involvement. (