MONEY IS NOT WEALTH
by A. Richard Miller
Begun September 29, 2008; last updated February 18, 2020

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

- Woody Guthrie, Dust Bowl Ballads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fragile States Index (Fund For Peace)

US National Debt Clock, by Ed Hall

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

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

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

Calculated Risk (blog)

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

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

OurFuture.org (Campaign for America's Future)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALEC Exposed (Center for Media and Democracy, 2011)

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

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

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

"A Declaration of Conscience, June 1, 1950 speech by U.S. Senator Margaret Chase Smith (U.S. Senate, 1950)
(The beginning of the end for Senator Joe McCarthy but, unfortunately, not for McCarthyism.)

The Death Of God, by Friedrich Nietzsche (1885)

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

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

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

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

Freethinkers and Libertarianism, by David Niose

EXXON: The Road Not Taken (Inside Climate News, 2015)
"This multi-part series describes how Exxon conducted cutting-edge climate research decades ago and then, without revealing all that it had learned, worked at the forefront of climate denial, manufacturing doubt about the scientific consensus that its own scientists had confirmed.

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

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

Yale Climate Opinion Maps, U.S. 2016

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

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

Scientists Are Pro-Testing (Science, 2017)

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

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

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

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

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

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

MichaelMoore.com

Our Revolution

Angry White House Staffer

GOP Rape Advisory Chart

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

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

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

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

PutinTrump.org

Donald Trump (Vice)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atlas Of Utopias (Transformative Cities, 2018)

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

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

Smoking bans in private vehicles (Wikipedia)

Light Cycles, by Quinn Norton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Change (United Nations)

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

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

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

The Privacy Project (New York Times, 2019)

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

50 Days to the Moon (Fast Company, 2019)

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

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

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

United States Of Plastic (The Guardian, August 2019)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Global Transport of Smoke from Australian Bushfires (2-min. video; NASA)

The Deep Sea (Neal Agarwal)

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

 Impeachment in the United States (Wikipedia)

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

Tracking President Trump's Unprecedented Conflicts of Interest (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)

Environmental voter guide (Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, 2020)
We graded the 2020 Democratic candidates on four key environmental areas, and produced this environmental report card.

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

NEW: Benjamin Franklin and the Power of Long-Term Investing (Edelman Financial Engines, 2020)
Remembered for being a publisher, scientist, diplomat and inventor, he was also the first truly long-term investor.

NEW: Shoshana Zuboff: You Are Now Remotely Controlled. (New York Times, January 24, 2020)
The belief that privacy is private has left us careening toward a future that we did not choose. Surveillance capitalists control the science and the scientists, the secrets and the truth.

NEW: The Day Democracy Died (9-min. YouTube video sung by The Founding Fathers, February 8, 2020)

NEW: White-Collar Crime (Huffington Post, February 10, 2020)
Over the last two years, nearly every institution of American life has taken on the unmistakable stench of moral rot. Corporate behemoths like Boeing and Wells Fargo have traded blue-chip credibility for white-collar callousness. Elite universities are selling admission spots to the highest Hollywood bidder. Silicon Valley unicorns have revealed themselves as long cons (Theranos), venture-capital cremation devices (Uber, WeWork) or straightforward comic book supervillains (Facebook). Every week unearths a cabinet-level political scandal that would have defined any other presidency. From the blackouts in California to the bloated bonuses on Wall Street to the entire biography of Jeffrey Epstein, it is impossible to look around the country and not get the feeling that elites are slowly looting it.
And why wouldn't they? The criminal justice system has given up all pretense that the crimes of the wealthy are worth taking seriously. The rich are enjoying a golden age of impunity unprecedented in modern history. Elite deviance has become the dark matter of American life, the invisible force around which the country's most powerful legal and political systems have set their orbit.




Pertinent Posts


Bloomberg is spending his way to the top. (CNN, February 16, 2020)
A new Quinnipiac University poll shows that Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is leading the Democratic primary nationally with 25%. He's followed by former front-runner and ex-Vice President Joe Biden at 17%, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg at 15%, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts at 14% and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 10%.
The average poll also shows Bloomberg at 15%, up considerably from 9% before the Iowa caucuses and 3% when he first entered the race in November. Much to my surprise, Bloomberg can now be considered a real player in the Democratic primary. He's seen his numbers go up nationally and in a number of state polls as well. Bloomberg is showing that with a massive war chest, you can, in fact, buy yourself a lot of goodwill. Bloomberg has spent $129 million on ads in the Super Tuesday primary states, after deciding to skip the first four contests. No one else is even within $100 million of him. Beyond fellow billionaire Tom Steyer, no else has even spent $10 million.
American politics has never before seen this kind of financial firepower in a presidential campaign. Bloomberg is spending much of it on traditional television advertisements, but has spent money on digital as well. He's sponsored a bunch of memes, for example.
But it's not just the media where Bloomberg is finding success. He has found a home among the establishment as well. As of this writing, he has racked up 22 endorsements from members of Congress, governors and major city mayors - second only to Biden. During February alone, he has picked up nine endorsements from this same group. That is more than the rest of the field combined. Bloomberg, of course, has made many connections to elected Democrats through his Bloomberg Philanthropies activities and donations to members of Congress.
Many of the Democrats endorsing Bloomberg are moderates. They are the types of politicians who you might have expected to endorse Biden. With Biden falling in the polls after his disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, they've decided to put their stock in Bloomberg. Many of them are on the record as fearing a Sanders nomination because of his progressive views.
But I'm not sure Bloomberg will have his intended effect. In a way, he could make it easier for Sanders to win the nomination.
Documentarian Ken Burns warned Trump's rise would be 'Hitler-esque'. Here's what else he predicted. (Daily Kos, February 16, 2020)
Why have you been so publicly opposed to Donald Trump?
I have never in my professional life ever spoken out in this way. I certainly have my own opinions and have a yard sign at elections and make sure I vote. But I spoke out because he represents the greatest threat to American democracy since the Second World War. He is so fundamentally un-American, and not only because he is unqualified, but because he is mentally unsuited. He represents a kind of strong man, narcissistic thing that represents the potential death of the Republic. All of my films are about the United States and all of them are about trying to understand how it works and how it doesn’t work, and I just felt compelled to speak out.
What’s so dangerous about his appeal?
He has tapped a dark unconscious, in which it is easier to vilify the other than to see what you share in common. It’s easier to be afraid than to welcome change. It’s always been there. We had a civil war, you know. We killed 750,000 of ourselves over this issue. He’s appealing to that in the most venal and vulgar ways.
I could have answered your question in a much simpler way by just saying he’s too vulgar for me. There’s no one who has occupied the presidency of the United States like that. This is coming from a person who has just finished a ten-part series on the Vietnam War, so I have been listening for years to Johnson and Nixon on tapes that they forgot were being recorded, and the vulgarity there is pretty extreme, but nothing compares to the vulgarity of this man.
Do you think he’s a fascist?
Absolutely. When you talk about having extra-judicial, threatening rivals with jail. You can call it fascistic or you can call it dictatorial. You can call it monomaniacal or imperial. Whatever you want to say, this is not the way that our country works.
Why President Trump asked Ukraine to look into a DNC "server" and CrowdStrike. (14-min. video; CBS News, February 16, 2020)
The consensus view of the CIA, NSA, FBI and a Senate investigation is that Russians interfered in the 2016 election. But those findings don't line up with the ever-evolving story President Trump has been telling about Ukraine.
OUCH! FOX News Reminds Kellyanne Conway that Trump is a Serial Sexual Predator. (Daily Kos, February 16, 2020)
There are innumerable reasons to be disgusted by Donald Trump. He is an unapologetic racist who praised neo-Nazis as "very fine people.". He ripped babies from their parents arms and warehoused them in cages. He gushes affection for hostile foreign dictators. He maligns his critics as "enemies of America." And he lies with every breath he takes.
Those atrocities only scratch the surface of Trump's loathsome character (or lack thereof). But high on the list of his noxious behaviors has to be his abusive treatment of women. It's an appalling fact of the Era of Trump that a political figure can be charged with committing dozens of sexual assaults and not be punished or cast out of public life. A new book, "All the President's Women: Donald Trump and the Making of a Predator", documents 43 new allegations against Trump. But somehow Trump has gotten away with all of this as new scandals emerge every day to wipe the previous ones from the public's mind.
More than 1,100 former prosecutors and other DOJ officials call on Attorney General Bill Barr to resign. (4-min. video; CNN, February 16, 2020)
More than 1,110 former Justice Department officials who served in Republican as well as Democratic administrations posted a statement Sunday calling on Attorney General Bill Barr to resign:
"Mr. Barr's actions in doing the President's personal bidding unfortunately speak louder than his words. Those actions, and the damage they have done to the Department of Justice's reputation for integrity and the rule of law, require Mr. Barr to resign. But because we have little expectation he will do so, it falls to the Department's career officials to take appropriate action to uphold their oaths of office and defend nonpartisan, apolitical justice."
Trump brags that he's all about getting revenge on those who failed to 'kill the king'. (Daily Kos, February 14, 2020)
Every day of the Senate trial, Adam Schiff made the cases that Donald Trump is not a king. He’s not free to use the weaponry of the state as his personal tool, and not exempt from the consequences of his actions. He’s a citizen, constrained by law like the rest of us.
But of course, Republicans disagreed. And on Saturday morning Donald Trump made it clear that not only does he consider himself a king, he intends to make the remainder of his rule all about “grievance, persecution and resentment.” Trump based his morning tweets on a two-week old article from The New York Times which looked at Trump’s post-impeachment actions. Susan Collins may have claimed that Trump was going to be chastened by the hearings, impeachment,  and trial.
And Trump has made it clear that he did learn something from the whole process. He learned that he can get away with anything — absolutely anything — without being concerned that Republicans will hold him accountable. Following the impeachment, Trump has fired those who testified against him like Lt. Col. Vindman and Gordon Sondland. He’s taken petty vengeance on people like Vindman’s twin bother for having the bad taste of being related to someone on Trump’s enemies list. He’s held a White House session of self-congratulation in which he pointedly left out even most of the Republicans who voted to acquit over their failure to be sufficiently loyal. He’s continued hollowing out agencies across the government. He made it clear that he did send Giuliani to Ukraine to mine for political turds, and he told Geraldo Rivera that the way he will deal with phone calls to foreign leaders in the future is by conducting them in secret with no one listening in.
The series of revelations that spilled in the last three days showing that not only was Barr putting pillows in place to protect Trump’s associates from facing consequences of their crimes, but building a whole team designed to second-guess and undermine veteran prosecutors shows how far down the fascism path Trump is already gone. Trump has already embraced “jokes” about naming himself president for life. Now he’s putting out tweets in which he’s the king.
And his rabble is applauding.
Oil-flowing Bible exposed as a fraud. (Daily Kos, February 14, 2020)
[Converting mineral oil to snake oil is not a miracle.]
Bloomberg is running the billionaire vote-buying campaign we expected from Trump. (Quartz, February 14, 2020)
In 2016, Trump spent far less than his general election opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and he didn't contribute much of his own money to the campaign. During the 21 months he officially contested the 2016 election, primary and general, Trump spent $325 million, contributing one-fifth of the total himself.
In the first two months of his primary campaign, till the end of December, Bloomberg spent $188 million, and all of it came out of his own pocket. That means he'd already spent, personally, more than twice as much as Trump did with outside help.
Canadian Doctor Danielle Martin Explains Why Americans Need Universal Healthcare. (2-min. video; YouTube, February 14, 2020)
[Also see her 30-min. 2017 interview, "Treating Canada's Health Care System".]
'Parasite' paints a nightmarish picture of Korean inequality. The reality in America is even worse. (Washington Post, February 14, 2020)

Korean director Bong Joon-ho’s "Parasite" is a dark parable about the yawning gulf between the rich and the poor in South Korea. It's a story of a society where the working class have no hope of attaining a better life, and instead squabble among themselves for the literal scraps of prosperity cast off by the wealthy as they move serenely through their charmed lives.
The film and its message have strongly resonated with American audiences, and last week's best picture win means its stateside influence is only likely to grow. That's probably not an accident: By any number of measures, inequality here in the States is much, much worse than in Bong's South Korea.
Tiny area of brain may be 'engine of consciousness', scientists suggest. (Big Think, February 14, 2020)
A recent study on monkeys found that stimulating a certain part of the forebrain wakes monkeys from anesthesia.
The biology of love (Aeon, February 13, 2020)
Humans teeter on a knife's edge. The same deep chemistry that fosters bonding can, in a heartbeat, pivot to fear and hate.
Michael Bloomberg’s Campaign Suddenly Drops Memes Everywhere. (New York Times, February 13, 2020)
A campaign of sponsored content for the candidate flourished suddenly on Instagram. A new outfit, called Meme 2020, is behind it.
Oracle tells Supreme Court: Fair use? Pah! There's nothing fair about 'Google's copying'. (The Register, February 13, 2020)
Should they be allowed to grab our stuff just cos it's 'popular' and it works? The firm filed a brief yesterday to fend off Google's appeal in the highest court in the United States. The search giant is trying to overturn a Federal Circuit ruling over Google's use of Java code in the Android mobile operating system that would leave it on the hook for copyright damages estimated at $9-billion+.
Oracle characterised Google's problem was that Sun's "APIs are copyrighted". It remarked: "Google could have taken the open-source license for free. But Google considered the give-back obligation 'unacceptable'."
Oracle also said, seemingly in opposition to its own argument, that Google had "admitted that it purposely made Android incompatible with Java".
Free Software is Being Abandoned by Opponents of Software Patents and It's Being Attacked by Patent Trolls. (TechRights, February 13, 2020)
…then, companies that are arming those trolls suddenly pretend to come to our 'rescue'.
Scientists say the pangolin endangered by Chinese smuggling may have passed the coronavirus to humans. (Quartz, February 13, 2020)
Before now news stories about pangolins, endangered ant-eating scaly mammals found in West and Central Africa and Asia, have focused on how China's insatiable thirst for their meat and scales has led to a rapid decline in its global population.
The recent news linking the animal to China may change this trend as pangolins have been reported to have likely transmitted to humans the novel coronavirus that has caused the death of over 1,300 people in mainland China. The pangolin was reported to be the most likely intermediate host from which humans contracted the coronavirus. The pangolin-vector claim was made public on Feb. 7 by researchers at South China Agricultural University, who said they found the genome sequence of the coronavirus separated from pangolins to be 99% identical to that collected from infected people.
China has been in the news as the major consumer of pangolin which is smuggled in mostly from Africa. The massive demand for pangolin in China and Vietnam, where the animal is consumed as meat and their scales used for traditional medicine, has led to the decimation of the animal in these countries.
Though trade in pangolin meat and scales has been banned internationally, domestic sales of medicines containing pangolin scales are still allowed in China. Many of the first people to become infected by the coronavirus worked at a seafood and wild-animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and the virus is thought to have first spread to humans there in December.
As China has become a global economic powerhouse over recent decades, Chinese demand for African mammals for medicines and other products has had a significant impact in countries which have lax conservation laws. In recent years, rhino and elephant populations have been devastated in southern Africa, driven in part by demand for their horns and tusks.
Susan Collins' defense of her Trump vote just keeps looking worse and worse. (2-min. video; CNN, February 12, 2020)
Eight days removed from Donald Trump's acquittal on both articles of impeachment, the President is leaning heavily into a revenge tour against his political enemies - an effort that makes Maine Sen. Susan Collins' claim that Trump had learned his lesson from the impeachment proceedings all the more outlandish.
When she said that, it was obviously not true. Nothing in Trump's behavior - either in regard to the impeachment effort or more generally - offered even a shred of evidence to make that claim seem anything but laughable. But now, eight days removed from his impeachment and in the midst of Trump's reign of revenge, it's an even more indefensible position.
Bomb cyclones poised to form in the North Atlantic will rake Europe with high winds, ‘phenomenal seas’. (Washington Post, February 12, 2020)
Hot on the heels of Storm Ciara in the U.K. will come Storm Dennis.
Europe's center isn't holding. (Washington Post, February 11, 2020)
In Ireland, Sinn Fein, the left-wing nationalist political party with historic ties to the militant Irish Republican Army, achieved its strongest-ever performance in elections over the weekend, smashing Ireland's center-right status quo by finishing ahead of the country's two traditional establishment parties. It's still unclear what shape the next government will take, but Sinn Fein's leaders believe they have the mandate to govern.
In Germany last week, the far-right Alternative for Germany cooperated with a local branch of the ruling Christian Democrats and a smaller pro-free market, liberal party to help form a government in the eastern state of Thuringia. The AfD, a vehemently anti-immigrant party brimming with both neofascist rhetoric and members, has surged into prominence in recent regional and national elections and commands the third-largest bloc of seats in the Bundestag, or parliament. Establishment parties have sought to keep them at arm's length, aware of the taboo of associating with Nazi-adjacent politics.
But no longer. "The alignment shook German politics, breaking a pledge from mainstream parties that they would not cooperate with the far right," my colleagues reported. "Spontaneous street demonstrations took place in German cities after the move, which was seen as a break in the post-World War II political consensus."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the European embodiment of centrist, consensus-driven politics, branded the maneuver by members of her own party to collaborate with the AfD in Thuringia as "unforgivable." But the political tremors unleashed there shook the center, instead: On Monday, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Merkel's designated successor, said she would step aside as leader of the Christian Democrats - a consequence in part of divisions with Merkel's own party, where many want to pivot their politics in the direction of the AfD.
Bloomberg's Super Tuesday splurge (Axios, February 11, 2020)
While most candidates are focusing their dollars and efforts on early primary states, the Democratic presidential candidate has his eyes set on the states he thinks he can win - and those with the most delegates. 35% of Bloomberg's ad money has been spent on the four states with the largest number of Democratic delegates - California, New York, Texas and Florida. Nearly half has been spent on Super Tuesday and Rust Belt states.

So far, the investment seems to be paying off. The billionaire former New York mayor's rise in national polls is due largely to his growing popularity in Super Tuesday states, according to FiveThirtyEight. He's even surpassed Warren in Florida.
While skipping the early primary states ensures that the presidential nominee comes out unscathed ahead of Super Tuesday, it also means Bloomberg has missed out on potentially building more earned media support nationally.
Spring Is Here... But It's Still Winter. (Gizmodo, February 11, 2020)
Spring has arrived across the Southeast earlier than at any point in the last 39 years. Leaves and flowers appearing this early in the year could spell trouble for crops and wildlife in the region.
And you know what's likely to blame? You got it: climate change.
Coronavirus slows China's economy. (New York Times, February 11, 2020)
As it works to contain the spread of a dangerous epidemic, one of the world's largest economies has been largely idle, threatening a sharp reduction in the production of everything from cars to smartphones.
Chinese health officials said today that the death toll from the new coronavirus had passed 1,000. In Hong Kong, two people living on different floors of an apartment building were found to be infected, raising fears about how the virus can spread. Here are the latest updates and maps of where the virus has reached.
Quotable: "Let's not shake hands in this special time," said China's leader, Xi Jinping, as he toured Beijing on Monday after facing criticism for his relatively low profile.
Another angle: During an Ebola outbreak in 2014, Donald Trump, then a private citizen, called for measures like canceling flights and forcing quarantines. Public health experts are now concerned that a president who has spoken openly about his phobia of germs might overreact to the coronavirus crisis.
Perspective: In an opinion piece for The Times, an epidemiologist discusses what is known, and not known, about the virus.
China Is Spraying Entire City Blocks in Wuhan to Contain Coronavirus Outbreak. (Futurism, February 10, 2020)
The footage is apocalyptic: Workers roll giant machines down empty streets, blasting huge plumes of disinfecting spray.
White-Collar Crime (Huffington Post, February 10, 2020)
Over the past two years, nearly every institution of American life has taken on the unmistakable stench of moral rot. The rich are enjoying a golden age of impunity unprecedented in modern history. Elite deviance has become the dark matter of American life, the invisible force around which the country's most powerful legal and political systems have set their orbit.

Iceberg that's twice the size of Washington cleaves off Pine Island Glacier in Antarctica, in a sign of warming. (Washington Post, February 10, 2020)
An iceberg about twice the size of the District of Columbia broke off Pine Island Glacier in West Antarctica sometime between Saturday and Sunday, satellite data shows, confirming yet another in a series of increasingly frequent calving events in this rapidly warming region.
The Pine Island Glacier is one of the fastest-retreating glaciers in Antarctica, and along with the Thwaites Glacier nearby, it's a subject of close scientific monitoring to determine whether these glaciers are in a phase of runaway melting, potentially freeing up vast inland areas of ice to flow to the sea and raising sea levels.
According to NASA, the region surrounding the Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers contains enough "highly vulnerable ice" to raise global sea levels by about four feet.
NEW: What lies at the bottom of one of the deepest holes ever dug by man? (14-min. video; CBS News, February 9, 2020)
A South African gold mine that goes two miles beneath the Earth's surface holds far more than just precious metals.
For Thousands of Years, Egypt Controlled the Nile. A New Dam Threatens That. (New York Times, February 9, 2020)
Ethiopia is staking its hopes on its $4.5 billion hydroelectric dam. Egypt fears it will cut into its water supplies. President Trump is mediating.
Bloomberg's big bet on the power of money (Axios, February 8, 2020)
Michael Bloomberg’s prolific spending aims to make him as legitimate and familiar as his rivals. It also confronts two realities: President Trump is out-raising all the other Democrats with ease, and the Democratic National Committee is anemic.
NEW: Very dumb congressman forgets that recessions almost always start under Republican presidents. (Daily Kos, February 8, 2020)
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is not a fan of history, apparently. This pervasive, lingering myth that Republicans are great for the economy and Democrats are poison never ceases to baffle me.
That’s why they need to be reminded of their incompetence at every turn.
The opposite is true. On every important measure - GDP growth, job creation, deficit spending, business investment growth - Democrats beat Republicans’ brains out, and they have for decades. This only makes sense, of course. Democrats want to invest broadly in our economy, whereas Republicans love to balloon the deficit and hand fistfuls of cash to obscenely wealthy plutocrats just because.
So what would a “socialist Democrat” do? Probably invest in infrastructure and a forward-looking green economy; unshackle financially strapped workers who are burdened with crushing student loan debt; free would-be entrepreneurs who are scared to leave their jobs because they can’t lose their insurance; put more money in the hands of poor and middle class workers, who would be more apt to spend it; and protect our air, water, and natural resources, thus ensuring a sustainable future economy.
Heather Cox Richardson: Trump's tax cuts are designed to take American government back to the 1920s. (Letters From An American, February 8, 2020)
On Monday, Trump will release his 2021 budget. It contains $800 billion worth of cuts in Medicaid over the next decade. On January 22, in an interview on CNBC when he was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, when pressed on the enormous budget deficits his policies have created - he has added almost $3 trillion to the national debt - he suggested that he is considering cutting Social Security and Medicare in his second term. "That’s actually the easiest of all things, if you look," he said.
One of the reasons the nation’s deficit and debt is soaring is that Trump's 2017 tax cut slashed tax revenues. And rather than helping regular Americans, "the plumbers, the carpenters, the cops, the teachers, the truck drivers, the pipe-fitters, the people that like me best," as Trump put it, 60% of the tax savings went to people whose incomes were in the top 20%.
These cuts to both social programs and taxes are the end game of a movement that started in the 1930s. It is designed to take American government back to the 1920s, when Republicans led by Herbert Hoover and Calvin Coolidge turned the government over to businessmen in the belief that they alone truly knew what was best for the country. For eight years, it seemed like this system was the best ever designed as the economy appeared to boom and some men became very rich indeed.
But the Roaring Twenties came to a crashing end in 1929, and in the introspection that followed, Americans discovered that some businessmen and financiers had been cheating, while even those who were trying to live within the law were gambling with customers' money or taking advantage of risky schemes.
The accelerating health crisis in China is testing the authoritarian system President Xi Jinping built around himself. It may be difficult for him to escape blame. (New York Times, February 8, 2020)
As the government struggles in its fight to stop the coronavirus, it is also having trouble controlling the narrative, and Mr. Xi now faces unusually hostile public discontent that even rigorous censorship cannot stifle entirely.
Meanwhile, the death toll in China has risen to more than 800, surpassing the death toll from the SARS epidemic of 2002-3. Among the dead is a U.S. citizen.
And with flu season in full swing, hospitals are preparing for another surge of patients if the coronavirus spreads widely in the U.S.
Trump publicly admits he fired White House official as retaliation for impeachment testimony: 'He was very insubordinate.' (The Independent UK, February 8, 2020)
US president lashes out at Lt Col Alexander Vindman hours after Ukraine expert escorted from office.
Mr Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr, had earlier appeared to suggest Lt Col Vindman and Gordon Sondland, who was recalled as US ambassador to the European Union, were sacked for their testimony in the inquiry.
Mr Trump was acquitted this week by Republican allies in the Senate, even though some admitted they did not dispute the allegations against him.
The GOP Is Sending Out Political Mailers That Look Like Official Census Documents. (Mother Jones, February 7, 2020)
They’re continuing despite criticism.
The U.S. Government Uses 'Near Perfect Surveillance' Data on Americans. (New York Times, February 7, 2020)
"When the government tracks the location of a cellphone it achieves near perfect surveillance, as if it had attached an ankle monitor to the phone's user," wrote John Roberts, the chief justice of the Supreme Court, in a 2018 ruling that prevented the government from obtaining location data from cellphone towers without a warrant. "We decline to grant the state unrestricted access to a wireless carrier's database of physical location information," Chief Justice Roberts wrote in the decision, Carpenter v. United States.
With that judicial intent in mind, it is alarming to read a new report in The Wall Street Journal that found the Trump administration "has bought access to a commercial database that maps the movements of millions of cellphones in America and is using it for immigration and border enforcement." The data used by the government comes not from the phone companies but from a location data company, one of many that are quietly and relentlessly collecting the precise movements of all smartphone-owning Americans through their phone apps.
Surely, Congress has time to hold hearings about a matter of urgent concern to everyone who owns a smartphone or cares about the government using the most invasive corporate surveillance system ever devised against its own people.
Warning Shot The German Conservatives' Faustian Pact With the Far-Right (Der Speigel, February 7, 2020)
German conservatives in the eastern state of Thuringia have drawn scathing criticism for relying on the far-right to get a gubernatorial candidate elected. In a DER SPIEGEL editorial, our author argues that anything short of unequivocal rejection of political extremism is ultimately damaging to liberal democracy.
Democracy in the USA is still alive, but the alliance between Donald Trump and the Republicans has damaged it. Because many Senators hope they can retain
power with Trump's help, they follow him unconditionally, also in the obvious lie that he has not abused the power of his office. It seems that about 50% of Americans also see it this way.
The broader article examines how democracy fails, with examples from Nazi Germany, Brazil, Venezuela, and Peru. The common first step in the failure is the willingness of moderate politicians to ally themselves with undemocratic elements in order to retain power. Then the fascists take over.
Trump seems to be intensifying his program to pack the government with his supporters, in the courts, in the executive branch, and most recently in the intelligence and security services.
Germany's Post-Nazi Taboo Against the Far Right Has Been Shattered. (New York Times, February 7, 2020)
Events this week in German politics were horrifying. But they shouldn't have been a surprise.
Windows 10 warning: anger at Microsoft rises with serious new failure. (OS News, February 7, 2020)
Windows 10 may now be essential but users new and old have had a rough ride in recent weeks. And it has just gotten a lot worse after a new, high-profile Windows 10 failure has left more questions than answers and some seriously angry users. The drama began yesterday as Windows 10 users suddenly found that Search was broken with a black bar showing where search results should be, even for those who tried to perform a local search of their files.
This is the future of proprietary operating systems like Windows, macOS and iOS as their parent companies move towards services and subscription models. More and more, they'll use their operating systems to push their services and subscriptions, to the detriment of the user experience. It's been happening in Windows 10 for a few years now, and iOS, too, is riddled with ads for Apple's services.
[This is just one reason why MMS is committed to Linux and free, open-source software (FOSS).]
Here's why NSA rushed to expose a dangerous Microsoft computer bug. (Washington Post, February 6, 2020)
The National Security Agency is known for keeping secrets. But a bug it recently discovered in Microsoft's operating system was so potentially catastrophic that it fast-tracked a lengthy decision-making process to alert the company and the public as quickly as possible.
The quick disclosure marks a big pivot for the agency, which has historically been eager to hold onto hackable computer bugs that it can use to spy on U.S. adversaries - at least temporarily - before sharing them with companies and has been loath to advertise its role in uncovering them.
It also underscores the havoc the Microsoft flaw could have caused if it was discovered and exploited by U.S. adversaries in Russia, Iran or elsewhere who could have compromised millions of computers for surveillance or sabotage.
NEW: How the Iowa caucus app went wrong and how open source could have helped. (ZDNet, February 6, 2020)
Opinion: It was incompetence, not politics, that led to the Iowa caucus app misfiring. Above all, it was poor programming. Open-source software techniques could have prevented this blunder.
NEW: Greenland’s ice sheet is melting in more ways than we thought. (Popular Science, February 6, 2020)
A channel of warm water is threatening a glacier that holds back a massive ice river.
Caffeine has been a boon for civilization, Michael Pollan says. But it has come at a cost. (Washington Post, February 5, 2020)
Pollan, the author of "The Omnivore's Dilemma," "The Botany of Desire," "In Defense of Food" and "How to Change Your Mind" - in which he has explored our complicated relationship with food, plants, drugs and many other things we take for granted - has turned his imposing analytical skills to caffeine, the most popular mind-altering chemical on the planet.
"For most of us, to be caffeinated to one degree or another has simply become baseline human consciousness," Pollan writes, well, reads in "Caffeine." "Something like 90 percent of humans ingest caffeine regularly, making it the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world and the only one we routinely give to children, commonly in the form of soda. It's so pervasive that it's easy to overlook the fact that to be caffeinated is not baseline consciousness but, in fact, is an altered state."
And in its Comments thread, these compelling comments by Robert Riversong (February 7th):
As to whether civilization is a net plus for our species, the answer is clear.
The most significant mistake humans ever made was giving up their in-balance, sustainable gatherer-hunter lifestyle (which also kept their population in check) for the sedentary agricultural lifestyle. In every part of the world, following the "agricultural revolution", humans got sicker, shorter, had more tooth decay, and shorter lifespans.
Grain-based agriculture required a sedentary lifestyle, active manipulation of the environment, longer hours of more strenuous work, a system of storage and distribution and record-keeping, non-productive classes to control and safeguard both croplands and stored grains, a peasant class to supply the non-productive hierarchy, a permanent military for territorial protection and expansion, an expansionist paradigm to control more croplands and water sources for the inevitably growing population, and the development of more efficient technologies with almost universal unintended consequences. In almost every case of these early civilizations (from Sumer and Mesopotamia to the Americas and Easter Island), the result was deforestation, soil erosion and/or salination, loss of fertility, catastrophic flooding, human slavery or taxation/tribute, regular warfare, human sacrifice, and eventual societal collapse.
When we domesticated animals for human consumption, we introduced diseases such as tuberculosis, diphtheria, leprosy, influenza and aids (humans now share 65 diseases with dogs, 50 with cattle, 46 with sheep and goats, 42 with pigs, 35 with horses and 26 with poultry).
In addition, permanent settlements made it difficult to provide clean drinking water and a number of diseases became endemic, such as typhoid, dysentery, cholera and intestinal worms and flukes.
Second, the development of cities brought humans together in numbers (at least 250,000) sufficient to allow the major epidemic diseases, such as smallpox and bubonic plague, to develop and eventually spread. Third, the gradual drawing together of human communities around the globe spread new diseases to peoples who had no natural resistance.
Finally, medical treatment had a significant but limited impact and, by the late 20th century, it faced a new threat from the changing pattern of disease – the diseases of affluence, which include cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and the growing number of antibiotic resistant pathogens.
Pompeo tries to mock Pelosi. Instead, he mocks himself - with Lisa Simpson's help. (Daily Kos, February 5, 2020)
Here is Mike Pompeo, secretary of state in theory, responding to the speaker of the House tearing up a copy of Trump's white nationalist speech to Congress on Monday night. There are several problems with this bold Pompeo dive into popular culture. A lot of problems, actually.
The Simpsons image in question is from the season three episode, "Mr. Lisa Goes To Washington." In it, Lisa Simpson, who is canonically the smartest person in her family and, off and on, one of the smartest people in Springfield, wins a rah-rah-America essay contest and goes to present her essay in Washington. While there, she witnesses an act of corruption: a congressman asking for and receiving a bribe. She is so devastated that she returns to her room, crying, and rips her rah-rah Americanisms to pieces. She has learned that they are a lie.
An epic breakdown in Iowa casts a spotlight on the caucus system. (Washington Post, February 4, 2020)
Iowa Democrats spent a year evaluating a record-large field of presidential candidates, all in search of someone they believed could defeat President Trump in November. But on the night they were asked to deliver a definitive result, the precinct caucus system broke down, and Iowa's place in the nominating process became the story.
NEW: Tool to Help Journalists Spot Doctored Images Is Unveiled by Jigsaw. (New York Times, February 4, 2020)
The company, owned by Google's parent, introduced a free tool it calls Assembler to sort out real images from fake ones. Jigsaw, known as Google Ideas when it was founded, said it was testing the tool, called Assembler, with more than a dozen news and fact-checking organizations around the world. They include Animal Politico in Mexico, Rappler in the Philippines and Agence France-Presse. It does not plan to offer the tool to the public.
"We observed an evolution in how disinformation was being used to manipulate elections, wage war and disrupt civil society," Jared Cohen, Jigsaw's chief executive, wrote in a blog post about Assembler. "But as the tactics of disinformation were evolving, so too were the technologies used to detect and ultimately stop disinformation."
Government may be too slow to tackle cyberthreats, outgoing NSA attorney warns. (Washington Post, February 3, 2020)

(Washington Post, February 4, 2020)Glenn Gerstell says technology "has been a tsunami hitting us within a 20-year period."
Heather Cox Richardson: In the short term, Trump and his supporters appear to have won. But... (Letters From An American, February 2, 2020)
As House impeachment manager Adam Schiff warned them, if they acquit Trump, they will be part of the cover up, and they will be tied to Every. Single. Thing. That. Drops. From. Here. On. Out. And there will be plenty.
Last night, around midnight, just after Senate Republicans blocked testimony from witnesses and the admission of new documents, the Trump administration admitted in a court filing that it was withholding 24 emails from between June and September 2019 that describe "communications by either the President, the Vice President, or the President's immediate advisors regarding Presidential decision-making about the scope, duration, and purpose of the hold on military assistance to Ukraine."
There are nine months to go before the 2020 presidential election.
People are saying this is the end for American democracy, but I see the opposite. Radical ideologues who want the government to do nothing but protect property, build a strong military, and advance Christianity took over the Republican Party in the 1990s. They have been manipulating our political system to their own ends ever since. They want to destroy the government regulation of business and social safety net we have enjoyed since the 1930s. But they have done so gradually, and not enough people seem to have noticed, even when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the shocking step of refusing to permit a hearing for a Supreme Court nominee named by a Democrat. Now they have gone too far, out in the open, and it looks to me as if Americans are finally seeing the radicals currently in charge of the Republican Party for what they are, and are determined to take America back.
Ironically, this moment looks a lot like the moment that created the Republican Party. In the 1850s, elite slaveholders, who made up less than 1% of the population, took over the Democratic Party, which dominated national politics as their opponents kept squabbling amongst themselves. The slaveholders insisted that the government’s only job was to protect them and their property, and they stifled opposition as well as calls for government projects to spur the economy, getting poor white southerners to rally behind them with increasingly vicious racism.
Finally, in 1854, they went too far. In 1820, Congress had divided western lands evenly between slavery and freedom, but by 1854, the South had spread into all the lands reserved for slavery. So in 1854, planters demanded the right to take their enslaved workers into western land that was reserved for freedom. The proposed law, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, meant that rich planters would keep poor white men from moving west and taking up land. At the same time, adding new slave states in the West would break the balance in Congress. A few wealthy slaveowners would have the power to make slavery national. Free men would fall into poverty, and American democracy would end. Surely, northerners thought, Congress would never pass such a dastardly law.
You know what’s coming, right? It did. Under enormous pressure from the Democratic president Franklin Pierce, the Democrats passed the hated bill. Northern Democrats, who loathed the act, signed on, putting party before country.
[And the rest is history. But DO read this article in full!]
NEW: The Trump Recession. It's already happening. (Daily Kos, February 1, 2020)
Donald Trump says that America should re-elect him in 2020 because he's doing such a great job with the economy.  Never mind that he's been caught soliciting and cooperating with foreign interference in elections and obstructing justice, has locked kids in cages, and has been impeached. His foreign policy has also been a disaster. But according to Trump, he's created "the best economy in history", and that's why we should vote for him.
Of course, it's nowhere near the best economy in history, but it's still a strong economy. At least that's what most people believe. But is it really? A closer look reveals that the economy isn't really all that great, and rather than an asset to Trump's re-election, it should be a liability.
The GOP doesn't deserve to survive this debacle. (Washington Post, February 1, 2020)
Trump will leave office some day (I hope!), but he will leave behind a quasi-authoritarian party that is as corrupt as he is. The failure to call witnesses in Trump's impeachment trial revealed the GOP's moral failure.
As New Coronavirus Spread, China's Old Habits Delayed Fight. (New York Times, February 1, 2020)
At critical turning points, Chinese authorities put secrecy and order ahead of openly confronting the growing crisis and risking public alarm or political embarrassment.
DNC members discuss rules change to stop Sanders at convention. (Politico, January 31, 2020)
The talks reveal rising anxiety over the Vermont senator's momentum on the eve of voting.
A new type of DNA analysis has turned up ancient secrets. (New York Times, January 31, 2020)
Researchers concluded that a wave of modern humans departed Africa far earlier than previously known: some 200,000 years ago. The study also revealed traces of the DNA of Neanderthals, like the fossil above, in all living humans, including Africans, who were thought to have little to no Neanderthal DNA.
How Chaos at Chain Pharmacies Is Putting Patients at Risk (New York Times, January 31, 2020)
The Election Cybersecurity Initiative is a new cross-country effort to train election and campaign pros on digital security. (Washington Post, January 30, 2020)
A team from the University of Southern California has embarked on a 50-state tour to give cybersecurity training to poll workers and state and local campaign staffers who will be the last line of defense against Russian hacking in 2020. The group, called the Election Cybersecurity Initiative, views itself as a bottom-up, grass-roots counterpart to national-level election security efforts led by the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of Russia’s election interference in 2016. It's hoping to advise local election officials, Election Day volunteers, ground-level campaign door-knockers and even interns in both political parties who national officials are unlikely to reach. The group also wants to build a network of cybersecurity experts at universities across the nation who can help secure local races and polling sites.
The Google-backed group's tagline is "our candidate is democracy."
Trump is seriously frightened of man who begged him for a job and tried to start 'World War VI'. (Daily Kos, January 29, 2020)
Trump says that the manuscript that John Bolton has submitted to his publisher is "nasty and untrue". At the same time, it is "all classified and national security". It might seem like it would be impossible for a book to be both an untrue personal attack and chock-full of classified national security information. But apparently Bolton is super-talented that way.
White House has issued formal threat to Bolton to keep him from publishing book. (CNN, January 29, 2020)
The White House has issued a formal threat to former national security adviser John Bolton to keep him from publishing his book, "The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir," sources familiar with the matter tell CNN.
In a letter to Bolton's lawyer, a top official at the National Security Council wrote the unpublished manuscript of Bolton's book "appears to contain significant amounts of classified information" and couldn't be published as written. The letter, which is dated January 23, said some of the information was classified at the "top secret" level, meaning it "reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave harm to the national security. The manuscript may not be published or otherwise disclosed without the deletion of this classified information".
Anti-Trump Republican group drops the most brutal ad of all time against 'full Trump' AZ senator. (1-min. video; Daily Kos, January 29, 2020)
Trumpworld torn over running against Bernie. (Politico, January 28, 2020)
Some advisers are salivating over running against a socialist. Others say they need to be careful what they wish for.
Poll: Warren fares better against Biden than Sanders. (Politico, January 28, 2020)
Warren allies seize on new survey to argue she's the progressive candidate most likely to defeat the former veep. In the closing weeks of the campaign, Warren has sought to position herself as a unity candidate who can bring together the moderate and liberal wings of the Democratic Party. \
But progressive leaders and organizations have increasingly consolidated behind Sanders, who has risen in early-state and national polling. He is first in Iowa and New Hampshire, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.
NEW: The Bolton Bombshell and the Unwaveringly Pro-Trump G.O.P. (New Yorker, January 28, 2020)
By the time Kenneth Starr started speaking at the Senate impeachment trial of Donald John Trump on Monday afternoon, it was hard not to wonder whether the whole thing was meant as a monumental distraction. Certainly, it was a bizarre spectacle: the man who brought us the last impeachment of a President lecturing the Senate on the dangerous evils of impeachment.
I’m old enough to remember when, in 1998, Starr produced the most X-rated document ever to be printed under congressional seal, in service of lobbying for an impeachment. The document, which will forever be known as the Starr report, detailed Bill Clinton’s Oval Office trysts in painfully graphic detail.
GOP Doesn't Now Have Votes to Block Witnesses. (Wall Street Journal, January 28, 2020)
On the third and final day of presentations by the Trump legal team, lawyers tried to cast doubts on the importance and credibility of allegations by former national security adviser John Bolton about the president's motives for freezing aid to Ukraine. Republicans had hoped to wrap up the trial with an acquittal of the president by this week, but Democrats have said Mr. Bolton should appear under oath to offer a firsthand account of the president's motivations for freezing aid to Ukraine - a matter at the heart of the impeachment case.
Trump team warns: Stand strong or prepare for an endless trial. (Politico, January 28, 2020)
The president's aides are urging senators to wrap up the impeachment trial quickly or face the prospect of legal fights that drag on for weeks - or even months into the campaign season.
White House aides said they were satisfied with the Trump team's opening statements, particularly singling out remarks late Monday by Alan Dershowitz, who argued among other things that the claims in Bolton's unpublished book - if true - wouldn't constitute an impeachable defense.
"Professor Dershowitz made it very clear last night even if everything that came out in the New York Times article were true, there would not be an impeachable offense and I think the basic principle remains that it is not the role of the Senate now to begin taking new witnesses when the House didn't even seek a subpoena," an official on the president's legal team told reporters. "That would fundamentally change the relationship between the House and Senate in this kind of proceeding."
If they vote against witnesses, senators risk the potential for more news to surface after the trial that could indicate they made the wrong call. Some Republicans already sense a looming Democratic plot to gradually release more Ukraine bombshells as Trump fights for reelection.
[Some? Are any so dumb that they don't realize that will happen?]
Donald Trump slams Democrats' 'deranged partisan crusades' but says they will suffer 'crushing defeat'. (USA Today, January 28, 2020)
President Donald Trump claimed Tuesday that while he has been busy creating jobs and killing terrorists, Democrats have been focused on "demented hoaxes, crazy witch hunts and deranged partisan crusades."
'Screaming the Quiet Part Into a Bullhorn': Sen. Joni Ernst Admits GOP Using Impeachment Trial to Damage Biden in 2020. (Common Dreams, January 28, 2020)
"Trump is trying to use the trial to do what Ukraine wouldn't - destroy his political rivals."
U.S. Budget Deficit to Top $1 Trillion for Next Decade. (New York Times, January 28, 2020)
The Congressional Budget Office predicted on Tuesday that the United States deficit will top $1 trillion annually over the next 10 years, ultimately reaching $1.7 trillion in 2030. The ballooning deficit is being fueled by increased borrowing by the federal government, which continues to spend more money than it takes in. By 2030, the C.B.O. projected, federal debt held by the public will surpass $31 trillion - about 98 percent of the forecast size of the nation's economy.
US dropped record number of bombs on Afghanistan last year. (The Guardian, January 28, 2020)
Warplanes dropped 7,423 bombs and other munitions, the most since Pentagon began keeping track in 2006.
Facebook will now show you exactly how it stalks you - even when you're not using Facebook. (Washington Post, January 28, 2020)
The new 'Off-Facebook Activity' tool reminds us we're living in a reality TV program where the cameras are always on. Here are the privacy settings to change right now.
Even with Facebook closed on my phone, the social network gets notified when I use the Peet's Coffee app. It knows when I read the website of presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg or view articles from The Atlantic. Facebook knows when I click on my Home Depot shopping cart and when I open the Ring app to answer my video doorbell. It uses all this information from my not-on-Facebook, real-world life to shape the messages I see from businesses and politicians alike.
You can see how Facebook is stalking you, too. The "Off-Facebook Activity" tracker will show you 180 days' worth of the data Facebook collects about you from the many organizations and advertisers in cahoots with it. This page, buried behind lots of settings menus (here's a direct link), is the product of a promise CEO Mark Zuckerberg made during the height of the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal to provide ways we can "clear the history" in our accounts.
Alan Dershowitz called Trump corrupt in 2016 and said he could be corrupt as President. (CNN, January 28, 2020)
'You Did a Good Job on Her': White House Audience Laughs as Trump Praises Pompeo for Bullying NPR Reporter. (Common Dreams, January 28, 2020)
"That was very impressive, Mike," the president said to applause during a press conference in the White House.
NPR reporter removed from Pompeo trip in 'retaliation', says press group. (The Guardian, January 27, 2020)
State department denies journalist seat on official plane, following public feud with news outlet over tough questions on Ukraine.
NEW: Two Soldiers Recall the Liberation of Dachau and Auschwitz. (Der Speigel, January 27, 2020)
Seventy-five years ago, Auschwitz was liberated, with Dachau to follow a couple of months later. Here, a Soviet soldier and an American soldier recall the moment they first set eyes on the camps.
Republicans are trapped, thanks to Nancy Pelosi. (Washington Post, January 27, 2020)
With an assist from former national security adviser John Bolton, Pelosi cornered Senate Republicans who had hoped to escape the spectacle of a full airing of President Trump's unconscionable conduct. They can acquit, and in all likelihood will, but they cannot facilitate Trump's cover-up without implicating themselves and entirely discrediting the process. They face humiliation when evidence eventually comes out. If they vote to acquit without hearing from Bolton, Trump will be denied the satisfaction of exoneration by a credible process.
This one on John Bolton was a big, stupid lie even by Trump standards. (Daily Kos, January 27, 2020)
According to an early morning Trump rage-tweet, "The Democrat controlled House never even asked John Bolton to testify. It is up to them, not up to the Senate!"
John Bolton's bombshell gives the GOP a glimpse of its nightmare scenario. (3-min. video; Washington Post, January 27, 2020)
The nightmare scenario for the GOP is that they give Trump the quick and witness-free acquittal that he apparently desires, but then information like Bolton's keeps coming out. Bolton now suggests Trump was indeed telling people privately that the withheld military aid was part of a quid pro quo - a quid pro quo that Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland testified that he communicated to the Ukrainians. This is something Trump's team has strenuously denied, including at the impeachment trial. What if Bolton isn't the only person Trump told this to who might suddenly contradict them? However closely this has already been tied to Trump, it can always be tied more closely. Bolton's upcoming book - slated for March 17 - is a great example of how the hastily assembled walls the Trump team have built around its defense can quickly crumble and, in some cases, already have.
NEW:  German Foreign Minister on the Legacy of the Holocaust "For A Long Time Now, Words Have Not Been Enough." (Der Speigel, January 26, 2020)
Speeches and warnings are insufficient when it comes to anti-Semitism in Germany and Europe. We need concrete programs to counter the hatred of Jews, including better education and harsher penalties.
Trump Tied Ukraine Aid to Inquiries He Sought, Bolton Book Says. (New York Times, January 26, 2020)
Drafts of the book outline the potential testimony of the former national security adviser if he were called as a witness in the president's impeachment trial.
20 (More) Questions With Democrats (20 videos, etc.; New York Times, January 26, 2020)
We sat down again with Democratic presidential candidates and asked them a new set of questions.
[Excellent! But where are Biden and Sanders?]
Endorsement: Elizabeth Warren will push an unequal America in the right direction. (Des Moines IA Register, January 25, 2020)
Many of her ideas aren't radical; they are right. She must show that her vision will lift people up rather than divide them. She cares about people, and she will use her seemingly endless energy and passion to fight for them.
The outstanding caliber of Democratic candidates makes it difficult to choose just one.
'Absolutely nothing wrong': Quotes from the fifth day of Trump's impeachment trial (Reuters, January 25, 2020)
The impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in the U.S. Senate entered a new phase on Saturday as Trump's legal team began to lay out its defense.
White House Counsel Pat Cipollone: "We believe that when you hear the facts ... you will find that the president did absolutely nothing wrong. They're asking you to do something that no Senate has ever done.
For all their talk about election interference ... they're here to perpetrate the most massive interference in an election in American history, and we can't allow that to happen. It would violate our Constitution. It would violate our history. It would violate our obligations to the future. And most importantly, it would violate the sacred trust that the American people have placed in you."
Heather Cox Richardson: "Republicans' strategy makes them seem disdainful not simply of the impeachment process, but of our government itself. It's not playing well." (Letters From An American, January 24, 2020)
Republicans are trying to pretend that the impeachment trial is so boring and unimportant that no one should bother watching. They are reading, chatting, playing with Fidget spinners. On Fox News Channel, Sean Hannity is assuring viewers he will protect them from the boring proceedings.
But it does not appear to be working. Americans are glued to the House managers' telling of the Ukraine Scandal, which they have made a compelling story of intrigue and corruption at the highest levels of our government, calling Americans back to the higher meaning of American democracy. As of tonight, more than 6 million people had watched a single clip of Adam Schiff's closing at last night's session. Further, the Republicans' strategy makes them seem disdainful not simply of the impeachment process, but of our government itself. It's not playing well.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo melted down at NPR's Mary Louise Kelly, insisting that he had defended Yovanovitch (he has not), and then after the interview cursing her, asking "Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?," and challenging her to find Ukraine on a map, going so far as actually getting aides to bring in an unlabeled map (on which she successfully identified Ukraine). "People will hear about this," he told her.
And that's the mounting problem for Trump's GOP. Over the coming months, people will definitely hear about many, many things.
NEW: Shoshana Zuboff: You Are Now Remotely Controlled. (New York Times, January 24, 2020)
The belief that privacy is private has left us careening toward a future that we did not choose. Surveillance capitalists control the science and the scientists, the secrets and the truth.
Can Face Masks Protect You From Catching Coronavirus? (Columbia University News, January 24, 2020)
Studies suggest they may provide some benefit, but what's out there isn't conclusive. The best evidence suggests that face masks catch the bacteria shed in liquid droplets, splashes or sprays, and virus-containing droplets, but are less effective in filtering out fine viral particles in the air.
The Food and Drug Administration has cleared certain filtering (face mask) respirators, known as N95s, for use by the general public, which is considered to provide greater protection. However, they are more difficult to wear and require a tighter fit to your face.
Emotional Schiff Speech Goes Viral, Delighting the Left and Enraging the Right. (1-min. video; New York Times, January 24, 2020)
Representative Adam B. Schiff took a risk in telling senators they must convict and remove President Trump because, "You know you can't trust this president to do what's right for this country."
Anne Milgram, a former attorney general of New Jersey and now a law professor at New York University, described Mr. Schiff's sharp criticism of Mr. Trump as a "wise calculation" because, unlike a regular jury trial, Mr. Schiff does not need a unanimous verdict. The argument was aimed, she said, at the four or so moderate Republicans whose votes Democrats will need to call witnesses at the trial.
Regardless of the risk, it was clear on both sides of the aisle - and to experienced prosecutors who watched - that after a long day of complicated and sometimes monotonous testimony, Mr. Schiff's oratory broke through.
Office 365 forces switch to Bing on Chrome browser. (Office Watch, January 24, 2020)
Yuval Harari at Davos 2020: "How to Survive the 21st Century" (50-min. video; YouTube, January 23, 2020)
Tennessee senator tries to burn Adam Schiff, but Twitter roasts her almost instantly. (Daily Kos, January 23, 2020)
Adam Schiff's brilliant presentation is knocking down excuses to acquit. (Washington Post, January 22, 2020)
The facts are overwhelming.
Let them speak: Most Americans want witnesses in Trump impeachment trial. (Reuters/Ipsos poll, January 22, 2020)
A bipartisan majority of Americans want to see new witnesses testify in the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, and the public appears to be largely following the proceedings even after a bruising congressional inquiry that lasted several months, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling released Wednesday.
The poll showed that Republicans and Democrats want to see people like Bolton and Pompeo tell the Senate what they know about the administration's policies in Ukraine. About 72% agreed that the trial "should allow witnesses with firsthand knowledge of the impeachment charges to testify," including 84% of Democrats and 69% of Republicans. And 70% of the public, including 80% of Democrats and 73% of Republicans, said senators should "act as impartial jurors" during the trial.
The poll showed that two out of three Americans are paying attention to the proceedings, with Democrats more interested than Republicans.
A Guide to the Case For and Against Removing Trump (New York Times, January 22, 2020)
NEW: Trump's Campaign Manager Responds to Bleak FOX News Poll by Insulting the American People. (Daily Kos, January 21, 2020)
From its Comments thread:
Clinton's remark about Trump’s “basketful of deplorables” was not stupid, per se, as with Trump’s blather. It was in fact true, but it was incredibly stupid for Clinton to say it publicly as a candidate who entered the race with high negative polling, second only to Trump.
Yes she won the popular vote, by large margins in blue states that were not going to vote for Trump no matter what. Trump won the electoral college by small margins in swing states where every single vote mattered much more than in places like Massachusetts or California.  
Bernie Sanders polled with much higher positives than Clinton among rank and file Democrats and voters generally, and would have won those swing states that got Trump elected.
By the same token, a Republican like Kasich, who also had high positive poll results, would likely have beaten Clinton in the traditionally Democratic blue collar precincts that Clinton ignored, because those voters just did not like her and liked Kasich better than either Trump or Clinton. That fact might have given Kasich a slight majority in the popular vote as well. He would then have put another reactionary “conservative” on the Supreme Court, and could claim a popular mandate for doing so. Again, blame for the Trump fiasco falls squarely on the shoulders of Wasserman Schultz, the DNC’s “superdelegates” and candidate Clinton.
The Republicans just stood back, laughing  when Trump was sworn in January 2017, while the progressive cause has been set back decades no matter who is elected president in 2020 or whether there is any shift of power in Congress. That is true even if Trump were to be impeached.
Greta Thunberg: "Our house is still on fire and you're fueling the flames." at Davos 2020 (full 8-min. video; World Economic Forum, January 21, 2020)
Trump and Greta Thunberg clash at Davos over climate change. (2-min. video; YouTube, January 21, 2020)
Donald Trump hits out at 'prophets of doom' in climate row with Greta Thunberg at Davos. (31-min. video; Telegraph UK, January 21, 2020)
Donald Trump hit out at environmental "alarmists" and "prophets of doom" in a thinly-veiled attack on Greta Thunberg on the opening day of the World Economic Forum at Davos. The US president said it is a "time for optimism" as he claimed he was a "big believer in the environment".
The Swedish climate activist warned the global elite that "our house is still on fire", adding that their inaction was "fueling the flames". She hit back at Trump, saying the president's backing of the one trillion trees initiative is "nowhere near enough".

Greta Thunberg in panel: "Forging a Sustainable Path towards a Common Future" at Davos 2020 (44-min. video; World Economic Forum, January 21, 2020)
The Cybersecurity 202: Here's the inside story of U.S. Cyber Command's campaign to hack ISIS. (Washington Post, January 21, 2020)
Cyber Command had to overcome intense hurdles within the U.S. government to launch the first hacking operation it ever acknowledged: Sabotaging the Islamic State's online propaganda.
"This was U.S. Cybercom’s first cyberwar," Michael Martelle, a National Security Archive cybersecurity fellow who led the effort to obtain the documents, told me. "This was the largest-scale operation and the most complex… We can draw a straight line from the counter-ISIL cyber mission to how U.S. Cybercom and the NSA are looking to counter Russia today."
'Constitutional Nonsense': Trump's Impeachment Defense Defies Legal Consensus. (New York Times, January 20, 2020)
The president's legal case would negate any need for witnesses. But constitutional scholars say that it's wrong.
McConnell Impeachment Rules Modify Clinton Precedent. (New York Times, January 20, 2020)
The Senate Republican leader proposed impeachment trial rules that push the 1999 precedent toward President Trump’s preferences.
Conservative States Seek Billions to Brace for Disaster. Just Don't Call It Climate Change. (New York Times, January 20, 2020)
A $16 billion federal program to help states prepare for natural disasters reflects the complicated politics of global warming in the U.S., even as officials are increasingly forced to confront its effects. States applying for funding must explain why they need the money and describe their "current and future risks." When those include flooding, states must account for "continued sea level rise," a consequence of warming.
But some conservative states have submitted proposals that mostly avoid mentioning climate change. Texas refers to "changing coastal conditions" and South Carolina talks about the "destabilizing effects and unpredictability" of three major storms in four years. One exception is Florida, whose proposal calls climate change "a key overarching challenge."
[It depends upon the percentage of their voters who will be below sea level.]
China virus prompts U.S. precautions as human-to-human transmission confirmed. (CBS News, January 20, 2020)
Richmond Gun Rally: Thousands Of Gun Owners Converge On Virginia Capitol On MLK Day. (NPR, January 20, 2020)
Beyond Monday's gun-laden march in Richmond, militias' plans for a 'civil war' look to go national. (Daily Kos, January 19, 2020)
Thanks to an encouraging tweet from Donald Trump, militias around the United States are preparing to assemble in Richmond, Va., on Monday, to protest gun-control legislation - many vowing to bring their guns, in open defiance of Gov. Ralph Northam's declaration of emergency and its accompanying ban on any kind of weaponry at the state Capitol.
On Friday, Trump tweeted an attack on Northam that aligned perfectly with far-right extremists' paranoid claims about the planned legislation: "Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia," he wrote. "That's what happens when you vote for Democrats, they will take your guns away."
The violent nature of the "Boogaloo" was emphasized this week by the FBI's arrests of seven members of The Base, a neo-Nazi paramilitary group openly dedicated to training for a "race war." The first three were arrested Thursday, including Canadian fugitive Patrik Mathews; in addition to being caught with multiple weapons (including an illegal automatic rifle) and a large cache of ammunition, the men had spoken openly of attending Monday's rally in Richmond and opening fire there. Three more were arrested Friday in Georgia, charged with plotting the murders of a local antifascist couple, as well as overthrowing the local county government. A seventh member of the base - Yousef O. Barasneh, 22, of Oak Creek, Wisc. - was also arrested Friday, charged with committing civil-rights violations by vandalizing a synagogue in Racine, Wisc.
Heather Cox Richardson: Of Heroes, on Martin Luther King Day (Letters from an American, January 19, 2020)
Who's afraid of the 1619 Project? (Daily Kos, January 19, 2020)

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

He helped make burgers safer. Now he's petitioning USDA to ban more than two dozen strains of salmonella from meat. (Washington Post, January 19, 2020)
Leading food safety lawyer Bill Marler, who represented hundreds of Jack in the Box victims in the 1990s, wants the Department of Agriculture to ban some of the most virulent bacteria on meat.
Ukraine's President Said He'd Fight Corruption. Resistance Is Fierce. (New York Times, January 19, 2020)
For Volodymyr Zelensky, taking on the oligarchs and organized crime is a domestic test with geopolitical consequences.
Trump mocks New Yorkers, tells them to get their 'mops and buckets ready' for next Hurricane Sandy. (Daily Kos, January 19, 2020)
The object of Trump’s derision here was the building of a sea wall proposed by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect greater New York City from the next Superstorm Sandy and the encroachment of rising sea levels caused by man-made climate change. Trump has already secured approval for two sea walls to protect his Ireland golf course from rising seas attributable to climate change.
Transcript: Republican Sen. John Cornyn on "Face the Nation," January 19, 2020. (8-min. video; CBS News, January 19, 2020)
SEN. CORNYN: [Trump has] been charged with abuse of power, which is not treason, which is not bribery, which is not a high crime and misdemeanor. So, this is the first time in history where a president has been impeached for a non-crime for events that never occurred. Ultimately, the investigation never took place and ultimately the - their aid was delivered.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about the legal brief that Democrats did submit. It included a number of things, including documents that have been revealed recently by Lev Parnas, an indicted business associate of Rudy Giuliani. Among them, a letter that says that Rudy Giuliani himself was acting with the approval and knowledge of the president when he was reaching out to the president of Ukraine. Should all of these items be admissible during trial?
SEN. CORNYN: Well, as you know, MARGARET, I was a judge for 13 years in- in state courts and in no court in America would that kind of hearsay be admissible. But having said that, I would be--
MARGARET BRENNAN: It's a letter from Rudy Giuliani.
SEN. CORNYN: Well, I would be careful before crediting the veracity of somebody who is under indictment in New York, the southern district of New York, and who's trying to get leniency from the prosecutor and who has ties to Russian oligarchs.
'Once this is over, we’ll be kings': How Lev Parnas worked his way into Trump's world - and now is rattling it. (3-min. video and others; Washington Post, January 18, 2020)
A cascade of revelations by the former associate of Rudolph W. Giuliani overshadowed the opening of the third presidential impeachment trial in U.S. history, raising a host of new questions about the Ukraine pressure campaign.
In 1788, Alexander Hamilton predicted the Senate's corrupt acquittal of President Donald J. Trump, despite a mountain of incriminating evidence that demands his removal from office to save the republic. (Thread Reader, January 18, 2020)
Impeachment "will seldom fail to agitate the passions of the whole community, and to divide it into parties, more or less friendly, or inimical, to the accused....
In many cases, it will connect itself with the pre-existing factions, and will enlist all their animosities, partialities, influence, and interest on one side, or on the other....
And in such cases there will always be the greatest danger, that the decision will be regulated more by the comparative strength of parties, than by the real demonstrations of innocence or guilt."
- The Federalist, No. 65 (Alexander Hamilton)
Trump's Defense Team Calls Impeachment Charges 'Brazen' as Democrats Make Legal Case. (New York Times, January 18, 2020)
In a six-page filing formally responding to the impeachment charges, President Trump's lawyers called the case against him illegitimate and the effort to remove him dangerous. The response came shortly after the House impeachment managers formally outlines their case and called his conduct "the framers' worst nightmare."
President Trump House Impeachment Brief (U.S. House of Representatives, January 18, 2020)
The Secretive Company That Might End Privacy as We Know It (New York Times, January 18, 2020)
A little-known start-up, Clearview AI, helps law enforcement match photos of unknown people to their online images - and "might lead to a dystopian future or something," a backer says.
NEW: Esther Dyson: Don’t give your dot-org domain away to a private company. (Washington Post, January 17, 2020)
One of the Internet's most trusted assets - the dot-org domain used by nonprofits from UNICEF to your local food bank - is being hijacked. Dot-org, which was built to support nonprofits globally, is being sold by ICANN to the highest bidder with almost no public discussion or consideration of alternatives. Organizations and their supporters who rely on dot-org for website and email access deserve an open process. The institutions that govern the Internet should be transparent. It is up to those of us who believe in a free and open Internet to demand this deal be reconsidered.
'You’re a bunch of dopes and babies': Inside Trump's stunning tirade against generals. (Washington Post, January 17, 2020)
(This article is adapted from "A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America," which will be published on Jan. 21 by Penguin Press.)
Six months into Trump's administration, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had grown alarmed by gaping holes in Trump's knowledge of history, especially the key alliances forged following World War II. Trump had dismissed allies as worthless, cozied up to authoritarian regimes in Russia and elsewhere, and advocated withdrawing troops from strategic outposts and active theaters alike.
Trump organized his unorthodox worldview under the simplistic banner of "America First," but Mattis, Tillerson, and Cohn feared his proposals were rash, barely considered, and a danger to America's superpower standing. They also felt that many of Trump's impulsive ideas stemmed from his lack of familiarity with U.S. history and, even, where countries were located. So on July 20, 2017, Mattis invited Trump to the Tank for what he, Tillerson, and Cohn had carefully organized as a tailored tutorial. What happened inside the Tank that day crystallized the commander in chief's berating, derisive and dismissive manner, foreshadowing decisions such as the one earlier this month that brought the United States to the brink of war with Iran. The Tank meeting was a turning point in Trump's presidency. Rather than getting him to appreciate America's traditional role and alliances, Trump began to tune out and eventually push away the experts who believed their duty was to protect the country by restraining his more dangerous impulses.
Dunford sought to explain that he hadn't been charged with annihilating the enemy in Afghanistan but was instead following a strategy started by the Obama administration to gradually reduce the military presence in the country in hopes of training locals to maintain a stable government so that eventually the United States could pull out. Trump shot back in more plain language. "I want to win," he said. "We don’t win any wars anymore . . . We spend $7 trillion, everybody else got the oil and we’re not winning anymore."
Trump by now was in one of his rages. He was so angry that he wasn’t taking many breaths. All morning, he had been coarse and cavalier, but the next several things he bellowed went beyond that description. They stunned nearly everyone in the room, and some vowed that they would never repeat them. Indeed, they have not been reported until now.
"I wouldn’t go to war with you people," Trump told the assembled brass. Addressing the room, the commander in chief barked, "You’re a bunch of dopes and babies."
For a president known for verbiage he euphemistically called "locker room talk," this was the gravest insult he could have delivered to these people, in this sacred space. This was a president who had been labeled a "draft dodger" for avoiding service in the Vietnam War under questionable circumstances. Trump was a young man born of privilege and in seemingly perfect health: six feet two inches with a muscular build and a flawless medical record. He played several sports, including football. Then, in 1968 at age 22, he obtained a diagnosis of bone spurs in his heels that exempted him from military service just as the United States was drafting men his age to fulfill massive troop deployments to Vietnam.
Trump's defense will be led by a 'lunatic,' 'wacko' and 'off his rocker' Ken Starr, according to Trump himself. (Washington Post, January 17, 2020)
Collins lies about Sackler contribution, won’t return Eli Lilly money. (Maine Beacon, January 16, 2020)
In a conversation with a constituent last week, U.S. Senator Susan Collins at first flatly denied she had accepted money from both the Sackler family, owners of Purdue Pharmaceuticals, and drug company giant Eli Lilly. The Sacklers have admitted to misleadingly pushing the addictive painkiller OxyContin and are currently being sued by Maine and other states over their role in the opioid crisis. Eli Lilly has dramatically hiked the price of insulin and faces a class action lawsuit for their alleged price gouging.
Collins has, in fact, received contributions from both sources - and at least $400,000 over her career from pharmaceutical companies.
Tweeting the Extreme Summer Down Under (NASA, January 16, 2020)
Baked by heat and drought, deluged by rain and floods, scorched by wildfire, and blanketed by dust, Australia has faced several months of extreme weather.
Why Manhattan's Skyscrapers Are Empty (The Atlantic, January 16, 2020)
Approximately half of the luxury-condo units that have come onto the market in the past five years are still unsold. The confluence of cosmopolitan capital and terrible timing has done the impossible: It's created a vacancy problem in a city where thousands of people are desperate to find places to live.
NEW: Next Gen TV is free 4K TV with an antenna, and it's coming to TVs this year. (CNet, January 15, 2020)
CES 2020 saw the official arrival of TVs with Next Gen TV, also known as ATSC 3.0. Upgrades for antenna users include 4K, HDR, 120Hz refresh rates and better indoor reception.
If you get your TV from streaming, cable or satellite, Next Gen TV/ATSC 3.0 won't affect you at all. The transition is voluntary. Stations don't have to switch. Many will, however. It's not backwards-compatible with the current HD (ATSC 1.0) standard, so your current TV won't be able to receive it. Your current antenna should work fine though. 20 models from Sony, Samsung and LG will have built-in tuners starting with the 2020 model year.
Stations that switch to Next Gen TV will still have to keep broadcasting ATSC 1.0 for five years. Stations across the country are already receiving 3.0 licenses, and several are already broadcasting. Stations in the largest 40 TV markets in the US have committed to broadcasting Next Gen TV by the end of 2020, with over 60 markets total covering roughly 70% of the US population.
The Fog of Rudy (New York Times Magazine, January 15, 2020)
Did Rudy Giuliani change - or did America?
During his second and this time successful mayoral campaign, Giuliani's public speeches were almost comically grandiose and self-dramatizing, full of phrases like "We have a city to save." He vowed to return New York to some golden age from which he - the son of a hard-working, Italian-American tavern owner; proud product of Brooklyn's Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School; lifelong Yankee fan - had sprung. We would learn years later that Giuliani had left some key details out of this founding mythology: His father, Harold, had in fact been a collector for a loan shark and served time in prison for armed robbery.
Giuliani was among the first of a new breed, a publicity-obsessed, reality-defying master of resentment politics - that is, just the kind of figure who is now ascendant across the globe in the form of strongmen, oligarchs and even populist Tories. These are not men of vision, but men of appetites. They are typically unrefined and streetwise; they practice their populism with a knowing wink, issuing fact-indifferent, emotion-based appeals to their constituents, while focusing, with impunity, on consolidating their power, satisfying their hungers and enriching themselves.
Lev Parnas tells Maddow 'Trump knew exactly what was going on.' (1-min. video; MSNBC, January 15, 2020)
Lev Parnas breaks his silence in an interview with Rachel Maddow. He says, "President Trump knew exactly what was going on. He was aware of all my movements. I wouldn't do anything without the consent of Rudy Giuliani, or the President. I have no intent, I have no reason to speak to any of these officials."
The TOUGHEST Question at the Iowa Democratic Debate (11-min. video; The Young Turks, January 15, 2020)
Buttigieg's toughest question was why he hasn't earned the support of Blacks.
Minnesota 'Teacher of the Year' kneels during college football championship. (The Hill, January 15, 2020)
Federal judge temporarily halts Trump administration policy allowing local governments to block refugees. (Washington Post, January 15, 2020)
State and local officials cannot block refugees from being resettled in their jurisdictions, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, finding the Trump administration's new refu­gee policy is likely to be "unlawful" and "does not appear to serve the overall public interest."
How China Obtains American Trade Secrets (New York Times, January 15, 2020)
Companies have long accused Chinese rivals of swiping or seizing valuable technology. Beijing promises to ban those practices, but enforcement could be tough.
Rand Paul threatens fellow Republicans with explosive witness votes. (Politico, January 15, 2020)
The Kentucky senator is vowing to squeeze vulnerable GOP incumbents if they side with Democrats during Trump's impeachment trial.
McConnell and his Republicans cooking up tricks to give gloss of legitimacy to impeachment trial. (Daily Kos, January 14, 2020)
Treasure Fever (Hakai Magazine, January 14, 2020)
The discovery of a legendary, lost shipwreck in North America has pitted treasure hunters and archaeologists against each other, raising questions about who should control sunken riches.
A Homecoming at Taal Volcano: 'Everything’s Gone in the Blink of an Eye.' (New York Times, January 14, 2020)
At least 30,000 people have fled since a mammoth eruption in the Philippines, and a new blast is feared. These islanders went back anyway.
Russians Hacked Ukrainian Gas Company at Center of Impeachment. (New York Times, January 13, 2020)
The timing and scale of the current attacks suggest that the Russians could be searching for potentially embarrassing material on the Bidens - the same kind of information that Mr. Trump wanted from Ukraine when he pressed for an investigation of the Bidens and Burisma, setting off a chain of events that led to his impeachment.
The Russian tactics are strikingly similar to what American intelligence agencies say was Russia's hacking of emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman and the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign. In that case, once they had the emails, the Russians used trolls to spread and spin the material, and built an echo chamber to widen its effect.
Paul Krugman: Trump's Plot Against Health Care Continues. (New York Times, January 13, 2020)
He is still coming for your coverage - and lying about it.
Biden's and Trump's farewell tweets to Booker show you everything you need to know about them. (Daily Kos, January 13, 2020)
Cory Booker Drops Out Of Presidential Race. (2-min. video; NPR, January 13, 2020)
"Our campaign has reached the point where we need more money to scale up and continue building a campaign that can win - money we don't have, and money that is harder to raise because I won't be on the next debate stage and because the urgent business of impeachment will rightly be keeping me in Washington."
Two States. Eight Textbooks. Two American Stories. (New York Times, January 12, 2020)
We analyzed some of the most popular social studies textbooks used in California and Texas. Here's how political divides shape what students learn about the nation's history.
The textbooks cover the same sweeping story, from the brutality of slavery to the struggle for civil rights. The self-evident truths of the founding documents to the waves of immigration that reshaped the nation. The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation’s deepest partisan divides.
Esper Says He Saw No Evidence Iran Targeted 4 Embassies, as Story Shifts Again. (New York Times, January 12, 2020)
The disparity between the defense secretary and President Trump added another twist to an ever-evolving explanation for a strike on an Iranian general that led to the brink of war.
They had to kill him because he was planning an "imminent" attack. But how imminent they could not say. Where they could not say. When they could not say. And really, it was more about what he had already done. Or actually it was to stop him from hitting an American embassy. Or four embassies. Or not.
The latest twist came today. Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said he was never shown any specific piece of evidence that Iran was planning an attack on four American embassies, as Mr. Trump had claimed just two days earlier.
Iran Cracks Down as Protests Over Downing of Airliner Grow. (New York Times, January 12, 2020)
A top Iranian military commander made a rare public appeal for forgiveness on Sunday as security forces fired on protesters and outrage over the mistaken downing of a jetliner reignited opposition on the streets and stirred dissent within the government's conservative, hard-line power base.
Taiwan's president wins second term with landslide victory over pro-Beijing rival. (Washington Post, January 11, 2020)
Taiwanese voters demonstrated their overwhelming desire to distance themselves from China and to reject its proposal of living under a Hong Kong-style "one country, two systems" arrangement, returning both the presidency and the legislature to the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party.
President Tsai Ing-wen won a resounding reelection, taking 57 percent of the vote in a three-way race and a record 8 million votes.
Senator Bernie Sanders: The Challenge Of Our Time (Bernie Sanders, January 11, 2020)
The
challenge of our time is not simply to begin a war that will result in the deaths of many people - young Americans and innocent families overseas - but the real challenge of our time is to see how we can use our power in a different way to stop aggression and keep our people safe. Because if we are not successful right now, then I think all this world has to look forward to in the future for our children is war, and more war, and more war... as if we haven’t had enough war already.
It is almost beyond impossible to imagine that after nearly 17 years of war in Iraq - a war that upended the regional order of the Middle East and resulted in untold loss of life - that this administration is putting us on such a dangerous path toward more war.
This time with Iran. Apparently for some, decades of constant war is not enough.
Let us not forget that when Trump took office, we had a nuclear agreement with Iran, negotiated by the Obama administration along with our closest allies. Countries from all over the world came together to negotiate that agreement, which put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program. The wise course would have been to stick with that nuclear agreement, enforce its provisions, and use that diplomatic channel with Iran to address our other concerns with Iran, including their support of terrorism. Unfortunately, Trump followed his reckless instincts and listened to right-wing extremists, some of whom were exactly the same people that got us into the war in Iraq in the first place.
Now, as you all know, last week President Trump ordered the assassination of a top Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani in Iraq, along with the leader of an Iraqi militia. Trump justified the assassination of Soleimani by claiming that it was necessary to prevent 'imminent' attacks on U.S. forces, but his administration has offered no evidence to back that claim up, even in a classified setting.
Then he claimed that there were plans to attack U.S. embassies, again offering no evidence. And now, unbelievably, we find out that Trump himself told people he was under pressure to deal with Soleimani from GOP senators he views as important supporters in his coming impeachment trial in the Senate.
Once again, we see Trump making enormously consequential national security decisions for selfish reasons and without regard for the Constitution.
As a United States senator, I will do everything I can to rein in this reckless president and prevent a war with Iran.
As president, I will offer a different vision for how we exercise American power: one that is not demonstrated by our ability to blow things up, but by our ability to bring countries together and forge international consensus around shared challenges.
A test of a great nation is not how many wars we can fight or how many governments we can overthrow, but how we can use our strength to resolve international conflicts in a peaceful way.
Iran admits to downing airliner amid calls for justice, transparency. (Washington Post, January 11, 2020)
Iranian officials said that military personnel targeted the Ukraine jet as it turned toward a "sensitive military site" shortly after departing from Tehran. The General Staff of Iran's Armed Forces said it was "human error that caused the crash" of the Boeing 737-800, killing all 176 passengers on board.
Evolution of a lie: from 'imminent attack' to 'four embassies' with no facts in between (Daily Kos, January 11, 2020)
Sometimes deception generates a "tangled web," other times just a hilarious mess. But Donald Trump’s war-triggering assassination and post-drone strike rationalizations show two things: one is how clumsily Trump shifts his lies from day to day, the other is how Mike Pompeo and Fox News hurry along in Trump’s wake, trying to paper over irrational statements with a thin veneer of claims that all fall apart on even the most cursory examination.
Seven Days in January: How Trump Pushed U.S. and Iran to the Brink of War (New York Times, January 11, 2020)
The story of that week, and the secret planning in the months preceding it, ranks as the most perilous chapter so far in President Trump's three years in office.
The episode briefly gave Mr. Trump's allies something to cheer, distracting from the coming Senate impeachment trial, but now he faces questions even among Republicans about the shifting justifications for the strike that he and his national security team have offered. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo initially cited the need to forestall an "imminent" attack and the president has amplified that to say four American embassies were targeted. But administration officials said they did not actually know when or where such an attack might occur and one State Department official said it was "a mistake" to use the word "imminent." And some senior military commanders were stunned that Mr. Trump picked what they considered a radical option with unforeseen consequences.
This account, based on interviews with dozens of Trump administration officials, military officers, diplomats, intelligence analysts and others in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, offers new details about what may be the most consequential seven days of the Trump presidency.
Heather Cox Richardson: Trump and
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are trying desperately to justify the assassination after the fact. (Letters from an American, January 10, 2020)
All current evidence suggests that Trump ordered the killing of General Qassem Soleimani either to please his base or to curry favor with key senators before the Senate impeachment trial. It blew up in his face, and now he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are trying desperately to justify the action after the fact.
At stake is the issue that Trump acted without advising Congress. The Constitution provides that Congress alone shall declare war, but it also makes the president the commander-in-chief. During the Nixon administration, when congress members sometimes discovered that America was militarily engaged in entirely unexpected places, Congress pushed back to reassert its role in military actions.
South Korea's government explores move from Windows to Linux desktop. (ZDNet, January 10, 2020)
In what may prove to be the biggest migration from Windows to the Linux desktop, the South Korean government is looking into shifting from Windows 7 to a trio of Linux desktops - including a version of Ubuntu.
The South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Planning has announced the government is exploring moving most of its approximately 3.3 million Windows computers to Linux.The reason for this is simple. It's to reduce software licensing costs and the government's reliance on Windows. As the head of the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, said, "We will resolve our dependency on a single company while reducing the budget by introducing an open-source operating system."
Plants growing around Everest as ice melts on Himalayas. (Daily Mail, January 10, 2020)
Plants are growing in new areas around Mount Everest as rising temperatures melts ice on the Himalayas, according to a new report. Increased vegetation coverage across the Himalayas could have consequences for water supply from the range on which some 1.4 billion people rely.
Trump Administration Says Obamacare Lawsuit Can Wait Until After the Election. (New York Times, January 10, 2020)
The Trump administration came into office with its top legislative priority clear: Repeal the Affordable Care Act. It failed. Then, when a group of Republican states tried to throw out Obamacare through a lawsuit, the administration agreed that a key part of the law was unconstitutional.
But now that defenders of the law have asked the Supreme Court to settle the case quickly, the president's lawyers say they are in no particular hurry.
George Conway and Neal Katyal: How Pelosi should play her impeachment cards (Washington Post, January 10, 2020)
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has announced that she plans to transmit the articles of impeachment to the Senate, but that does not mean she has lost in the seeming standoff with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) over whether to call witnesses at the Senate trial. McConnell has said "there’s no chance the president's going to be removed from office" and "there will be no difference between the president's position and our position." In response, Pelosi still has cards in her hand - if she plays them - because the House approved two articles of impeachment against President Trump.
The first article of impeachment effectively charges the president with shaking down Ukraine; the second impeaches him for his unprecedented obstruction of Congress. That gives the speaker room to maneuver. She could choose to tweak her announcement and send only the second article, on obstruction, for trial. Or she could transmit them both - along with a House-approved provision advising the Senate that if it fails to obtain adequate witnesses and documents, the House will reopen the investigation into Article I and subpoena that material itself.
Separating the two articles - our preferred approach - would make perfect sense. When it comes to the second article, all the evidence about Trump's obstruction is a matter of public record. There's nothing more to add, so the second article is ripe for trial. But as to the first, although there is plenty of evidence demonstrating Trump's guilt, his obstruction has prevented all of the evidence from coming to light.
Pelosi alerts House to be ready to send Trump impeachment articles next week. (Boston Globe, January 10, 2020)
In a letter to colleagues this morning, the speaker moved to end an impasse over the impeachment process that had left the president's fate in limbo even as he navigated escalating hostilities with Iran in recent days. She did not announce which Democrats she would name to manage the case at trial, but said the House should be ready to vote to appoint them sometime next week and to formally deliver the Senate charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.
Killing of top Iranian general occurred alongside a secret, failed mission in Yemen, officials say. (Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2020)
The U.S. military tried, but failed, to take out another senior Iranian commander on the same day that an American airstrike killed the Revolutionary Guard's top general, U.S. officials said Friday. The officials said a military airstrike by special operations forces targeted Abdul Reza Shahlai, a high-ranking commander in Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, but the mission was not successful. Both Iranian Gen. Qassem Suleimani and Shahlai were on approved military targeting lists, which indicates a deliberate effort by the U.S. to cripple the leadership of the Revolutionary Guard's Quds Force, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S.
Trump now claims four embassies were under threat from Iran, raising fresh questions about intelligence reports. (
Washington Post, January 10, 2020)
"I can reveal that I believe it probably would've been four embassies," Trump said.
But a senior administration official and a senior defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified information, said they were only aware of vague intelligence about a plot against the embassy in Baghdad and that the information did not suggest a fully-formed plot. Neither official said there were threats against multiple embassies.
Trump angered by House ally's push to limit his authority on Iran. (Washington Post, January 10, 2020)
"Reclaiming Congressional power is the Constitutional conservative position!", Devin Murphy,
legislative director of Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, wrote to all