MONEY IS NOT WEALTH
by A. Richard
Begun September 29,
2008; last updated September 21, 2019
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On the eve of USA's November 2008 national election, an
urgent proposal for an unsecured $700-Billion, maybe
$800-Billion loan to mismanaged banks and stockbrokers was
generating understandable controversy. In its initial form the
Bush Buddies Bailout was one more Weapon of Mass Deception, a
two-step) public welfare program for wealthy people who
game the system. But the problem remains.
What, exactly, went - and continues to go - wrong? What ARE
reasonable goals, what are NOT, and how might a more populist
government reach good ones?
Jill and I searched, asked friends, and found part of the
discussion in the mainline U.S. Press. It is dominated by large
corporations, and is quickly becoming
a large corporation that reports with bias and too-often avoids
reporting. We find the parts they don't want us to find -
overseas, in The New York
Times and The
Washington Post, and in the Alternative Press. Some favorites are: Alternet,
Campaign for America's
KOS, Demand Progress,
The Huffington Post,
Nation of Change,
Dan Rather's News&Guts, Politico, The Raw Story,
Russ Baker's WhoWhatWhy.org.
But we keep a sense of perspective; know which news is
biased, and how.
The more we read, the more we realize that - as much as we
want our money back - that is only one of many ways our country
is becoming impoverished. Often by corporations, which most
definitely are NOT people! (For one thing, these rapacious
corporations have no shame.)
You never want a serious
crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that, is an opportunity to
do things that you think you could not do before.
- Rahm Emanuel (Wall
Street Journal Weekend Interview, Nov. 7, 2008)
Never waste the opportunities
offered by a good crisis.
- Niccolo Machiavelli (Fifteenth Cent. Florentine
writer and statesman)
Yes, as through this world
I've seen lots of funny
Some will rob you with a
And some with a
And as through your life
Yes, as through your
life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from
- Woody Guthrie, Dust
What is the robbing of a
bank compared to the founding of a bank?
- Bertolt Brecht
Yes, We're Corrupt.
List of Politicians Admitting That Money Controls Politics
Too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and
consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one
does, but by what one owns. But we’ve discovered that owning
things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for
- Jimmy Carter (1979, as U.S. President)
It is not particularly
easy for one to climb up out of the working-class - especially
if he is handicapped by the possession of ideals and
- What Life
Means to Me, by Jack London (1905)
... peace was not in the
interest of a stable society, that even if lasting peace
"could be achieved, it would almost certainly not be in the
best interests of society to achieve it." War was a part of
the economy. Therefore, it was necessary to conceive a state
of war for a stable economy. The government, the group
theorized, would not exist without war, and nation states
existed in order to wage war. War served the vital function of
diverting collective aggression. They recommended "credible
substitutes" and paying a "blood price" to emulate the
economic functions of war. Prospective government-devised
alternatives to war included reports of alien life-forms, the
reintroduction of a "euphemized form" of slavery "consistent
with modern technology and political processes", and - one
deemed particularly promising in gaining the attention of the
malleable masses - the threat of "gross pollution of the
- Wikipedia's summary of The
Report From Iron Mountain (1967)
Every gun that is made,
every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the
final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed,
those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is
not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its
laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its
children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense.
Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of
- U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower (April 16, 1953)
There is nothing which I
dread so much as a division of the republic into two great
parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting
measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble
apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil
under our Constitution.
- John Adams, letter to Jonathan Jackson (2 October 1780), The
Works of John Adams, vol 9, p.511.
I see in the near future a crisis
approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for
the safety of my country. As a result of war, corporations
have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places
will follow, and the money power of the country will
endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices
of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands,
and the Republic is destroyed. I feel at this moment more
anxiety for the safety of my country than ever before, even
in the midst of war. God grant that my suspicions may prove
-- President Abraham
Lincoln (1864 letter to William Fletcher Elkin), or faked in Caldwell Remedy Company pamphlet (May 10, 1888),
What is this you call
property? It cannot be the earth. For the land is our mother,
nourishing all her children, beasts, birds, fish, and all men.
The woods, the streams, everything on it belongs to everybody
and is for the use of all. How can one man say it belongs to
Only when the last tree
has been cut down, only when the last river has been poisoned,
only when the last fish has been caught, only then will you
realize your money cannot be eaten.
- an old Cree saying? Maybe
not; but good.
The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people
tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it
becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in
its essence, is fascism.
- U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1938
Train communities through all their grades, beginning
with individuals and ending there again, to rule themselves.
This planet has -- or rather
had -- a problem, which was this: most of the people living on
it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many solutions were
suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely
concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper,
which is odd because on the whole it wasn't the small green
pieces of paper that were unhappy.
- Walt Whitman
- Douglas Adams, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" (1979)
Fragile States Index (Fund For Peace)
National Debt Clock, by Ed Hall
The Freecycle Network (Good. A grassroots and
entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (and getting)
stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. It's all
about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.)
Time Trade Circle
(Good. Time Banking in eastern Massachusetts.)
Buy Nothing Project
(See its Person-to-Person
section - on Facebook - and then see Corporate
Surveillance in Everyday Life , below).
of a Liberal (NY Times blog by Paul Krugman)
To Build A Better Ballot;
an interactive guide to alternative voting systems, by
Nicky Case, 2016)
for America's Future)
Thought Reform, (ca. 1997; Changing Minds)
Milieu control, mystical manipulation, confession,
self-sanctification through purity, aura of sacred science,
loaded language, doctrine over person, dispensed existence.
14 Characteristics of Fascism, by Lawrence Britt (Free
Inquiry magazine, 2003)
Market as God, by Harvey Cox (The Atlantic, 1999)
Living in the new dispensation.
Strange Disappearance of Cooperation in America, by Peter
Turchin (Cliodynamica, 2013)
Surveillance in Everyday Life (Institute for
Critical Digital Culture, 2018)
Every click on a website and every swipe on a
smartphone may trigger a wide variety of hidden
data sharing mechanisms distributed across several
companies and, as a result, directly affect a
person’s available choices. Digital tracking and
profiling, in combination with personalization,
are not only used to monitor, but also to influence
peoples’ behavior. ...
"Facebook uses at least 52,000 personal attributes to
sort and categorize its 1.9 billion users by,
for example, their political views, ethnicity, and
income. In order to do so, the platform
analyzes their posts, likes, shares, friends, photos,
movements, and many other kinds of behaviors.
"In addition, Facebook acquires data on its users from
other companies. In 2013, the platform
began its partnership with the four data brokers
Acxiom, Epsilon, Datalogix and BlueKai, the latter
two of which were subsequently acquired by the IT
giant Oracle. These companies help Facebook track
and profile its users even better than it already does
by providing it with data collected from
beyond its platform.
Us Cure Online Publishing of Its Addiction to
Personal Data, by Doc Searls (Linux Journal,
March 14, 2018)
Big Datastillery that targets YOU)
Official: Watching Fox Makes You Stupider (The Nation,
True Facts Guaranteed to Short-Circuit Republican Brains
(Daily KOS, 2012)
Grief, and Ours: Paul Ryan's nasty ideal of self-reliance
(New Republic, 2012)
All Built This Great Nation Together: Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan, and
the Myth of Radical Individualism (Nick Gier)
Foul Reign Of Emerson's "Self-Reliance (New York Times,
Declaration of Conscience, June 1, 1950 speech by U.S.
Senator Margaret Chase Smith (U.S. Senate, 1950)
(The beginning of the end for Senator Joe McCarthy but,
unfortunately, not for McCarthyism.)
Death Of God, by Friedrich Nietzsche (1885)
my religion for equality (Jimmy Carter, 2009)
"The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still
have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or
subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends,
overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice
provides the foundation or justification for much of the
pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world.
This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the
Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of
other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and
equitable treatment of all the children of God."
What It Was For; What Went Wrong; How To Fix It, by
Populism (Campaign for America's Future, 2014)
Republicans: The Non-Cooperator's Dilemma (Daily KOS,
"To create More and Better Democrats means to increase
cooperation. Punishing cooperation is the declared Republican
mission. 'The Evolution of Cooperation', by Robert Axelrod,
proposes a theory that says they lose, and recommends particular
political strategies to make it happen faster.
and Libertarianism, by David Niose
The Road Not Taken (Inside Climate News, 2015)
"This multi-part series describes how Exxon conducted
cutting-edge climate research decades ago and then, without
revealing all that it had learned, worked at the forefront of
climate denial, manufacturing doubt about the scientific
consensus that its own scientists had confirmed.
Climate Opinion Maps, U.S. 2016
of the First 15 Years of the 21st Century (4-min. video;
NOAA, December 2, 2016)
Are Pro-Testing (Science, 2017)
World Ready for a Guaranteed Basic Income? (Freakonomics,
Gerasimov Doctrine (Politico, 2017)
"It’s Russia’s new chaos theory of political warfare. And it’s
probably being used on you.
All Want Healthcare To Cost Much Less - But We Are Asking
The Wrong Question, by Joe Flowers (Medium, 2017)
"Imagine this: Healthcare - the whole system - for half as
much. Better, more effective. No rationing. Everybody in.
things the public sector does better than the
'free' market (Daily KOS, October 1, 2017)
Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International
Comparisons Suggest An Answer. (New York Times,
November 7, 2017)
White House Staffer
GOP Rape Advisory
Loneliness of Donald Trump; On the Corrosive Privilege of the
Most Mocked Man in the World, by Rebecca Solnit
Vote Sleuth: Investigating
Democracyngeles Times, 2017)
Donald Trump is handling his job as president (Gallup
Poll Daily Data)
am I? Why am I here? (#25thAmendmentNow)
A running thread
of Trump not knowing where he is, how he got there, or the
appropriate response to give in the moment.
101: Here's what you need to know (Los Angeles Times,
Duty To Warn (Duty
To Warn, 2017)
Duty To Warn is an association of mental health professionals
and other concerned citizens who advocate Trump’s removal
under the 25th Amendment on the grounds that he is
way Donald Trump is handling his job as president
(Gallup Poll Daily Data)
am I? Why am I here? (#25thAmendmentNow)
A running thread
of Trump not knowing where he is, how he got there, or the
appropriate response to give in the moment. Some mental health
professionals are concerned that he may be exhibiting signs of
Alzheimer's, but he might just be an idiot.
Hamilton 68 Dashboard tracks Russian
influence operations on Twitter.
(Hosted by the Alliance
for Securing Democracy.)
Facebook’s destructive ethos
imperils democracy (The
Guardian, March 17, 2018)
Of Utopias (Transformative
SCORECARD; Congressional Civil
Liberties Record in the Trump Era
The percentage of women and men in
each profession (Boston Globe)
bans in private vehicles
Cycles, by Quinn
If the US has
will look back
on as the
make the Obama
as he possibly
could. As with
the US has
than in the
and his tactic
to a narrow
may lead to
check on the
as well as the
of 2018 and
2020 will be
erosion of an
judiciary as a
of a free
press and the
either has won
poised to win
created a new
of his closest
the form of
Fox News and
media not only
ability to be
a serial liar
his base. A
does not have
it can be
women and the
in the United
States in 2017
(ADL Center on
Over the past
for at least
of these, 274
one type or
Hate: A Year
May 7, 2018)
How every part
of the world
has warmed –
that future is
country is on
track to sell
more than 1
as much as the
rest of the
with tens of
build up an
(and tens of
on the way),
China is not
letting up in
its pace to
Great Filter -
a cave wall,
crumbs from a
meal: the new
of the Real
If the FBI and
our mission to
On a daily
page with the
Since The Last
Signs Of The
Up the Carbon
country has a
It’s time for
and a renewed
Days to the
I propose to
Time to Break
May 9, 2019)
Facebook, is a
Project and a
have taken a
mistakes - the
of millions of
fake news; and
more of our
that of anyone
else in the
of people use
more like an
Mark alone can
decide how to
people see in
can use and
sets the rules
for how to
he can choose
to shut down a
"Mark is a
I’m angry that
his focus on
growth led him
in myself and
about how the
that Mark has
himself with a
must hold Mark
July 25, 2019)
is above the
Photos - The
Images of All
TIME and an
100 Photos of
July 23, 2019)
entering a new
era in which
data is the
there are far
forces at work
in the world
such as 3D
carry with us
are not just
for it. For
good or bad,
we are more
exposed to a
of ideas than
we have ever
been. And we
global as a
a Deadly American Summer (New York Times, September 21,
One massacre followed the next, sometimes on the very same
day. In sudden bursts of misery, they played out in big
cities, along rural roads, inside trim suburbs. They left
behind shaken neighborhoods, tearful memorials and calls for
change, but little concrete action. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, America
endured 26 mass shootings in 18 states, killing 126 and
wounding many more.
A New York Times review of every shooting, from the first, on
the late afternoon of May 31, to the last, the night of Sept.
2, found that each one was distinct. Yet clear patterns
emerged. The suspect in every shooting was male, and no case
Warren Will Do (Warren Plans Page, September 21, 2019)
Elizabeth has a lot of plans, but they’re really one simple
plan: We need to tackle the corruption in Washington that
makes our government work for the wealthy and well-connected,
but kicks dirt on everyone else, and put economic and
political power back in the hands of the people.
Pressed Ukraine’s Leader on Inquiry Into Biden’s Son.
(New York Times, September 20, 2019)
President Trump pressed the Ukrainian president in a July call
to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s
son, according to a person familiar with the conversation, an
apparently blatant mixture of foreign policy with his 2020
re-election campaign. Mr. Trump also repeatedly told the
Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, to talk with his
personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who had been urging the
government in Kiev to investigate Mr. Biden and his family,
according to two other people briefed on the call.
The revelations added urgency to questions about Mr. Trump’s
dealings with Ukraine, which is battling Russian-controlled
separatists in the country’s east. When the president sought
the Biden investigation, the Trump administration’s military
aid to Ukraine had been frozen for weeks.
For Democrats who want to examine the whistle-blower complaint
— itself the subject of an internal administration dispute
over whether to hand it over to Congress, as is generally
required by law — the key question is whether Mr. Trump was
demanding a quid pro quo, explicitly or implicitly. Democratic
House committee chairmen are already investigating whether he
manipulated American foreign policy for personal political
advantage and have requested the transcript of the Zelensky
Thunberg hopes today's Student Climate Strikes will be
'social tipping point'. (Yahoo, September 20, 2019)
Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg told AFP that
she hoped Friday's massive worldwide climate strikes would
mark a turning point in persuading leaders to take decisive
action on global warming. (4-min.
video w/Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot.) The
16-year-old described the numbers of people who took to the
streets as "unbelievable" -- from Asia-Pacific to Europe and
Africa, culminating in New York where a million students have
been permitted to skip school.
of the North American avifauna (Science, September 19,
Species extinctions have defined the global biodiversity
crisis, but extinction begins with loss in abundance of
individuals that can result in compositional and functional
changes of ecosystems. Using multiple and independent
monitoring networks, we report population losses across much
of the North American avifauna over 48 years, including once
common species and from most biomes. Integration of range-wide
population trajectories and size estimates indicates a net
loss approaching 3 billion birds, or 29% of 1970 abundance.
A continent-wide weather radar network also reveals a
similarly steep decline in biomass passage of migrating birds
over a recent 10-year period. This loss of bird abundance
signals an urgent need to address threats to avert future
avifaunal collapse and associated loss of ecosystem integrity,
function and services.
Treasure Island, poised for building boom, escaped listing
as Superfund site. (San Francisco Chronicle, September
San Francisco’s Treasure Island, the former naval base being
transformed into a $6 billion development of condos and shops,
was once considered hazardous enough to be a federal Superfund
waste site but was never officially named one, newly disclosed
documents show. While it’s not clear why Treasure Island was
never named a Superfund site, a designation given to some of
the most polluted places in the country, the release of the
records prompted calls Wednesday from some environmentalists
for more federal examination.
However, the island’s developers, who have plans to put more
than 8,000 homes on the site by 2035, said the cleanup has
been heavily scrutinized and handled effectively by multiple
government agencies, dismissing any suggestion that the area
is not safe for habitation.
Kids Test Positive for Depleted Uranium Remnants Near Former
US Air Base. (TruthOut, September 19, 2019)
or the first time, independent researchers have found that the
bodies of Iraqi children born with congenital disabilities,
such as heart disease and malformed limbs, near a former
United States air base in southern Iraq are contaminated with
high levels of radioactive heavy metals associated with toxic
depleted uranium pollution leftover from the 2003 U.S.-led
The findings appear to bolster claims made by Iraqi doctors
who observed high rates of congenital disabilities in babies
born in areas that experienced heavy fighting during the
bloody first year of the most recent Iraq war. In 2016,
researchers tested the hair and teeth of children from
villages in proximity to the Talil Air Base, a former U.S. air
base, located south of Baghdad and near the city Nasiriyah.
They found elevated levels of uranium and of thorium, two
slightly radioactive heavy metals linked to cancer and used to
make nuclear fuel.
Thorium is a direct decay product of depleted uranium, a
chemically toxic byproduct of the nuclear power industry that
was added to weapons used during the first year of the war in
Iraq. Thanks to its high density, depleted uranium can
reinforce tank armor and allow bullets and other munitions to
penetrate armored vehicles and other heavy defenses. Depleted
uranium was also released into the environment from trash
dumps and burn pits outside U.S. military bases.
Giuliani lost his mind on CNN and admitted he was a
co-conspirator in Ukraine deal. (Daily KOS, September
Rudy Giuliani appeared on CNN with Chris Cuomo on Thursday
night to try and spin the unfolding story that Donald Trump
asked newly elected leader Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr
Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden’s son, who has worked on
matters in the Ukraine, in exchange for $250 million in aid to
the Ukraine. The day after the call, U.S. Special
Representative Kurt Volker was dispatched to meet with
Ukrainian leaders and later, Rudy Giuliani himself was
dispatched to the Spanish countryside, where he met with Prime
Minister Zelensky’s right-hand man.
In short, this is a serious matter and very likely a federal
crime. With that in mind, Giuliani hit CNN and there he had a
serious meltdown, shouting, yelling about the “Deep State”,
claiming Biden is corrupt and most importantly, ended up
confessing that yes, he did it.
Giuliani denies asking Ukraine to investigate Biden --
before admitting it. (CNN, September 19, 2019)
"So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?" Cuomo
pressed. "Of course I did," Giuliani said.
When asked about his contradicting answer, Giuliani said he
"didn't ask" for Biden to be investigated specifically, but
asked Ukraine "to look into the allegations that related to my
client, which tangentially involved Joe Biden in a massive
Giuliani's remarks come the same day The Washington Post and
The New York Times reported that a recent whistleblower
complaint about Trump making a "promise" to a foreign leader
involves Ukraine. As CNN previously reported, the complaint
has led to a standoff between Congress and acting Director of
National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who has refused to turn
over the complaint to the House Intelligence Committee.
Complaint Is Said to Involve Trump and Ukraine. (New
York Times, September 19, 2019)
The complaint, from a member of the intelligence
community, remained opaque but involved at least one of
the president’s communications with a foreign leader.
Though it is not clear how Ukraine fits into the
allegation, questions have already emerged about Mr.
Trump’s dealings with its government. In late July, he
told the country’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, that
Ukraine could improve its reputation and its “interaction”
with the United States by investigating corruption,
according to a Ukrainian government summary of the call.
Some of Mr. Trump’s close allies were also urging the
Ukrainian government to investigate matters that could
hurt the president’s political rivals, including former
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family
communications with foreign leader are part of
whistleblower complaint that spurred standoff between
spy chief and Congress, former officials say.
(Washington Post, September 18, 2019)
The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense
showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and
Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a
foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials
familiar with the matter.
Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a
“promise” that was regarded as so troubling that it
prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to
file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector
general for the intelligence community, said the former
It was not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump
was speaking with or what he pledged to deliver, but his
direct involvement in the matter has not been previously
disclosed. It raises new questions about the president’s
handling of sensitive information and may further strain
his relationship with U.S. spy agencies. One former
official said the communication was a phone call.
Just Saved Their Democracy (Bloomberg, September 18,
Netanyahu wanted to annex Palestinian land, neuter the Supreme
Court and put himself above the law. This week’s election
means those things won’t happen.
fraud: Is there an open source solution? (Open Source,
September 18, 2019)
The Trust The Vote project is developing open source
technology to help keep elections honest.
Reserve rescues markets twice, for the first (and second)
time since 2008 financial crisis. (Daily KOS, September
crack just emerged in the financial markets: The NY Fed
spends $53 billion to rescue the overnight lending market
(CNN, September 18, 2019)
The spike in overnight borrowing rates forced the New York
Federal Reserve to come to the rescue with a special operation
aimed at easing stress in financial markets. It was the NY
Fed's first such rescue operation in a decade, the last
occurring in late 2008.
"It's unprecedented, at least in the post-crisis era," said
Mark Cabana, rates strategist at Bank of America Merrill
Lynch. "The funding
markets are clearly stressed," said Guy LeBas of Janney
the Lewandowski Circus Change Congressional Hearings
Forever (New York Times, September 18, 2019)
Because the status quo is just terrible. To call Corey
Lewandowski’s appearance before the House Judiciary
Committee on Tuesday problematic would be generous. It was a
strutting spectacle of contempt for democratic processes
worthy of President Trump himself. Mr. Lewandowski’s
performance requires a serious response. Maybe more than
Moments From Corey Lewandowski’s Testimony Before Congress
(New York Times, September 17, 2019)
Mr. Lewandowski, President Trump’s former campaign manager,
testified before lawmakers conducting an impeachment
of Congress, Live on TV (Bloomberg, September 17,
Trump’s ex-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski wouldn’t
answer legitimate questions at a hearing. There’s a word for
AI’s Effect on Media and Truth (Mozilla, September 17,
Mozilla is announcing its eight latest Creative Media
Awards. These art and advocacy projects highlight how AI
intersects with online media and truth — and impacts our
Today, one of the biggest issues facing the internet — and
society — is misinformation. It’s a complicated issue, but
this much is certain: The artificial intelligence (AI)
powering the internet is complicit. Platforms like YouTube
and Facebook recommend and amplify content that will keep us
clicking, even if it’s radical or flat out wrong.
Sacklers shift at least $1 billion around, Purdue files
for bankruptcy. (Ars Technica, September 16, 2019)
The OxyContin-maker filed for bankruptcy as part of a
proposed $10-$12 billion deal.
Years of Trump Tax Returns Are Subpoenaed by Manhattan D.A.
(New York Times, September 16, 2019)
Investigators demanded the president’s personal and corporate
tax returns as they examine hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.
Northern Hemisphere just had its warmest summer on record.
(Washington Post, September 16, 2019)
The 5 hottest summers have occurred in the past 5 years.
What’s remarkable about 2019′s record warmth is that it comes
in the absence of a strong El Niño event in the tropical
Pacific Ocean. Such events tend to boost global temperatures
by warming the seas and sending more heat into the atmosphere.
Instead, a weak El Niño has been present at times during 2019
but nothing like what occurred in 2016, which was the last
time a Northern Hemisphere summer was this warm.
As global average temperatures continue to rise in response to
increasing levels of human-produced greenhouse gases, it is
becoming easier to exceed climate benchmarks even without
strong El Niño events.
Arabia says weapons used to attack its oil facilities were
Post, September 16, 2019)
Saudi Arabia charged Monday that Iranian weapons were used to
attack the kingdom’s oil installations, dismissing claims of
responsibility by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who threatened
additional assaults amid U.S. warnings of retaliation. The
Houthis’ new threat, reported Monday by the group’s al-Masirah
TV, came two days after they claimed a crippling assault on
facilities in the desert kingdom - adding that drones modified
with jet engines were used in the operation Saturday.
U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have
blamed Iran directly for the attacks, saying that the assault
did not come from Yemen. Pompeo did not offer evidence for the
claim, which he tweeted on Saturday. The Houthis also have not
provided any proof to support their assertion that they
carried out the strikes on the Saudi oil installations, using
what they said was a fleet of 10 drones.
Trump had said late Sunday that the United States was prepared
to respond to the devastating attacks on two oil installations
in Saudi Arabia that halved the state oil company’s output.
“There is reason to believe that we know the culprit,” Trump
said in a tweet Sunday evening. He said the United States was
“locked and loaded depending on verification.”
Scientist Richard Stallman Resigns From MIT Over Epstein
Comments. (Vice, September 16, 2019)
Stallman said the "most plausible scenario" is that one of the
trafficking victims "presented herself to him as entirely
Biden Is Problematic. (New York Times, September 15,
Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner and may well be the
nominee. He is by far the favorite candidate among black
voters. He was a loyal vice president to Barack Obama, and the
two men seem to have shared a deep and true friendship. He,
like the other Democratic candidates, would be a vast
improvement over Donald Trump.
And, Biden’s positioning on racial issues has been
problematic. No amount of growth or good intentions will
change this fact.
Toxic Fallout (New York Times, September 14, 2019)
PARIS — The April fire that engulfed Notre-Dame contaminated
the cathedral site with clouds of toxic dust and exposed
nearby schools, day care centers, public parks and other parts
of Paris to alarming levels of lead. The lead came from the
cathedral’s incinerated roof and spire, and it created a
public health threat that stirred increasing anxiety in Paris
throughout the summer.
Flames engulfed 460 tons of lead when Notre-Dame’s roof and
spire burned, scattering dangerous dust onto the streets and
parks of Paris. Five months after the fire, the French
authorities have refused to fully disclose the results of
their testing for lead contamination, sowing public confusion,
while issuing reassuring statements intended to play down the
analysts start seeing the strength of Warren's slow but
steady rise. (Daily KOS, September 14, 2019)
Washington pundits appear to have finally turned the corner
this week on starting every conversation about Massachusetts
Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy by questioning whether a
woman is electable. Her slow but steady upward trend in the
polls combined with Vice President's Joe Biden's slow but
steady slope downward has finally convinced at least some
professional analysts that Warren's gradual build could in
fact be a strength not a weakness.
As Dave Weigel, one of the smarter and less group-thinky
campaign reporters, noted, this week's CNN poll showing Biden
as the frontrunner at 24% with Warren at 18% and Sanders at
17% is perhaps best viewed by where things began in April,
when Biden first announced. By that measure, Biden's support
has consistently eroded (-15 points) while the opposite is
true for Warren (+10 points).
O'Rourke: Finally, a profile in courage. (Daily KOS, September 13, 2019)
"Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.
We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow
You Like Him Or Hate Him, Bernie Sanders Was Right About The
Media and Insurers. (Daily KOS, September 13, 2019)
George Stephanopoulos wanted to get Sanders and Warren to
admit that middle class taxes will go up. And as both
candidates pointed out, total costs for Americans will go DOWN
with Medicare for All. Stephanopoulos was doing his corporate
master’s bidding by trying to kill Medicare for All with a
Republican talking point. Thank God Sanders and Warren are
sticking to their guns on this.
Note: Republicans NEVER get asked the question of how are you
going to pay for all those tax cuts and wars they initiate.
It’s only Democrats who propose some government spending that
get asked about costs.
was Right: Biden Said "Buy In." MSNBC and Others Should
Apologize for Bad "Fact Checking". (Daily KOS, September
Immediately after last night's Democratic Presidential Debate,
MSNBC debunked Castro’s claim that Biden said that under his
plan people who became unemployed would have to “buy in” to
his plan. Castro was correct.
Castro brings up a couple of important issues in these
interviews. Our candidate needs to be able to face off against
Trump. We do ourselves no favors by assuming that our front
runners should not be called out for what they say. Biden
couldn’t keep his story straight on this.
Biden’s healthcare plan does not clarify what he said. There
seems to be automatic enrollment for people who enroll in SNAP
benefits, but enrolling in SNAP is not automatic for low
income people. There is also no reason to believe that people
who lose their jobs will necessarily apply for SNAP benefits,
so enrollment would not be automatic as some have suggested.
It would make them automatically eligible to apply, which may
have been what Biden meant. Biden’s main plan requires
individuals to buy in to receive it, but provides tax breaks
to some recipients. Given that his plan is unclear, it would
have been helpful if he could have been more precise in
explaining it on the debate stage.
visits Moscow days after Trump says talks ‘dead’.
(Associated Press, September 13, 2019)
Finances Closer to Scrutiny as U.S. Court Revives Suit.
(Bloomberg, September 13, 2019)
Decision in New York could force Trump to open his finances.
Group claims Trump businesses violate emoluments clauses.
The decision intensifies a legal threat to Trump over the
mixing of his business interests with his authority as
president. Unless an expanded panel of judges or the Supreme
Court reverses the decision, Trump may be forced to defend his
actions and open his business and personal finances to
Trump has been accused of a range of conflicts, including
encouraging foreign dignitaries and U.S. service members to
stay at his hotels. He attracted fresh criticism last month
when he suggested that next year’s meeting of Group of Seven
leaders, to be hosted by the U.S., should be held at his
resort in southern Florida.
People Say About the Economy Can Set Off a Recession,
(New York Times, September 12, 2019)
Hardly any of us have precise formulas to decide our economic
plans. So we allow ourselves to be influenced by the emotions,
theories and scripts suggested in the stories we hear from
Fortunately, the widespread digitization of text, combined
with enhanced capabilities for natural-language processing, is
beginning to give us new insights into the history of economic
narratives. We are beginning to develop a new economics, one
that studies these changing economic stories and metaphors
Sotomayor warns the Supreme Court is doing “extraordinary”
favors for Trump. (Vox, September 12, 2019)
The Trump administration thinks the court is its personal
fixer. The court isn’t doing much to disabuse it of this idea.
The Supreme Court rarely granted such stays in the past, and
for good reason. Because the Supreme Court is the final word
on any legal dispute, it typically likes to hang back for a
while as lower court judges wrestle with new legal questions.
If a lower court hands down an erroneous order, and the
Supreme Court does not take immediate action, then the
erroneous order may remain in place for months. But a lower
court decision will eventually work its way through the
appeals process and can be reversed by the Supreme Court if it
is wrong about the law.
If the Supreme Court acts prematurely, however, its erroneous
decision could last forever because no higher court can
overrule the justices.
Thus, out of a healthy fear that its mistakes could linger,
the Court historically has preferred to give lower court
judges time to consider novel legal questions so that the
justices can be informed by those judges’ opinions before the
Supreme Court hands down a final word. Sotomayor’s warning is
that her Court may no longer be exercising such caution — at
least when the Trump administration comes knocking.
Bipartisan Outcry, White House Agrees to Release Ukraine Aid
(New York Times, September 12, 2019)
The White House had previously requested a review of the
spending, ostensibly to ensure that it was being used to
further American foreign policy interests. But the delay
prompted a swift backlash from Republicans and Democrats in
Congress, where there has long been strong support from both
parties for Ukraine’s efforts to stave off Russian aggression.
And some Democrats suggested that the delay was intended to
pressure the government of the newly elected Ukrainian
president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to start investigations of Mr.
Trump’s political rivals, including the family of former Vice
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The inquiries have been sought
by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and other
the man Trump once called ‘my African American’ is leaving
the GOP (PBS, September 12, 2019)
Going to Manipulate the Government to Stay in Power.
(Daily Beast, September 11, 2019)
The president has given us ample signs that he will use the
powers of the presidency in ways previously unimaginable. How
come Democrats seem so relaxed about it?
The power of an incumbent president to aid re-election by
abusing the executive branch has in the past been limited by a
few powerful forces: Presidential integrity; the fear of a
scandal emerging in the media; and the prospect of aggressive
Due to forces outside their control, the Democratic nominee
won’t be saved by the first two “norms based” options. And as
a result of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s strategy of not “focusing
on Trump,” the president has every reason to scoff at the
prospect of aggressive congressional oversight, up to and
including a genuine “go big” effort at impeachment.
Combined, these elements must force us to consider a truly
horrifying series of questions: Does President Trump have the
means, motive, and opportunity to tilt the 2020 election? The
answer, unfortunately, is yes, yes, and yes. And it behooves
Democrats to understand that now, before it is too late.
a prop in the back’: Advisers struggle to obey Trump’s
Kafkaesque rules (Washington Post, September 11, 2019)
“There is no person that is part of the daily Trump
decision-making process that can survive long term,” said a
former senior administration official who spoke on the
condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “The
president doesn’t like people to get good press. He doesn’t
like people to get bad press. Yet he expects everyone to be
relevant and important and supportive at all times. Even if a
person could do all those things, the president would grow
tired of anyone in his immediate orbit.”
Leon Panetta, who served as a defense secretary, CIA director
and White House chief of staff in past Democratic
administrations, said Trump’s eclectic management style can be
“The presidency is an isolated position to begin with, and it
is incredibly important to have people around you who will
tell you when they think you’re wrong,” Panetta said.
“Presidents need to appreciate that information and not then
take it out on that individual. This president has a real
blind spot in that he does not want anybody around him who is
“He has become more convinced than ever that he is the ‘chosen
one,’ ” said Tony Schwartz, who co-wrote Trump’s 1987
bestseller, “The Art of the Deal,” but has since become
critical of the president. “The blend of the megalomania and
the insecurity make him ultimately dismissive of anybody’s
opinion that doesn’t match his own.”
9/11 speech includes lies and a threat to use something
worse than nuclear bombs (Daily KOS, September 11,
will Michael Hayden explain why the NSA did not predict
9/11? (IT Wire, September 11, 2019)
As America marks the anniversary of the destruction of the
World Trade Centre towers by terrorists, it is a good time
to ask when General Michael Hayden, head of the NSA at the
time of 9/11, will come forward and explain why the agency
was unable to detect the chatter among those who had banded
together to wreak havoc in the US.
Before I continue, let me point out that nothing of what
appears below is new; it was all
reported some four years ago, but mainstream media
have conspicuously avoided pursuing the topic because it
would probably trouble some people in power.
the Internet: We’re living in an era of digital feudalism.
Blockchain is how to take your data and identity back.
(Quartz, September 11, 2019)
We’re over two decades into an era of digital feudalism.
Feudalism is a centuries-old concept. In medieval times, the
nobility owned vast amounts of land. Serfs worked the land
to create value, but most of that value was confiscated by
Instead of farm produce, today the new asset class is
data—created by us, but captured by digital landlords such
as social-media companies, search engines, online retailers,
governments, and banks. “Surfing the internet” has become
“serfing the internet,” with users giving up intimate
details of their lives for the internet lordships to
aggregate, expropriate, and monetize. We, as the serfs, only
get left with a few lousy cabbages.
This is important, because this data isn’t just the
biproduct of your labor. It is the stuff of your identity in
the digital age. All this data constitutes a “virtual you.”
The digital crumbs that you leave in daily life create a
mirror image that knows more about you than you do. You
probably can’t remember dozens of your personal identifiers:
your driver’s licence details, credit-card numbers,
government information. But you definitely don’t know your
exact location a year ago; what you bought or what amount of
money you transacted; what you said online; or what
medication you took or diagnosis you received. And that’s
just the beginning. In the future, the virtual you will
contain detailed medical information like your heart rate,
blood pressure, or myriad other real-time measures of what
you do, how you function, where you are, and even how you
The trouble is that the virtual you is not owned by you.
“Imagine if General Motors did not pay for its steel,
rubber, or glass—its inputs,” economist Robert J. Shapiro
once said. “That’s what it’s like for the big internet
companies. It’s a sweet deal.” We create the asset: They
expropriate it. Yet we still thank them for use of their
land, rather than demanding what is rightfully ours.
What we need is a wholesale shift in how we define and
assign ownership of data assets and how we establish,
manage, and protect our identities in a digital world.
Change those rules, and we end up changing everything. It is
a revolution to be sure. We’ve called it the blockchain
power: Hasbro brings gender pay gap debate to game night
with new Ms. Monopoly (USA Today, September 10, 2019)
The debate over equal pay starts before shuffling the cards,
choosing a token and rolling the dice. The banker doles out
$1,900 in Monopoly Money to each female player and $1,500 to
each male. The gap continues every time a player passes go
with women collecting $240 and men $200. Instead of investing
in real estate properties like the classic game, players
invest in inventions and innovations made by women, including
chocolate chip cookies, bulletproof vests, solar heating and
ladies’ modern shapewear.
Ousts John Bolton as National Security Adviser (New York
Times, September 10, 2019)
Mr. Bolton disputed the president’s version of how the end
came in his own tweet shortly afterward. “I offered to resign
last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it
tomorrow,’” Mr. Bolton wrote, without elaborating.
starting to see the scale of Trump's personal corruption —
and it's massive. (Salon, September 9, 2019)
Mandatory stops at Trump resorts are the tip of the iceberg.
This president has been "wetting his beak" all along.
chief scientist will investigate why agency backed Trump
over its experts on Dorian (Washington Post, September
Scientists attacked NOAA officials for conceding to Trump
during a weather emergency, when accuracy and messaging are
vital to keep the public safe. The American Meteorological
Society issued a statement of support for the NWS, writing:
“AMS believes the criticism of the Birmingham forecast office
is unwarranted; rather they should have been commended for
their quick action based on science in clearly communicating
the lack of threat to the citizens of Alabama."
In his email to employees Sunday, NOAA’s acting director Craig
McLean criticized his agency’s public statement, saying it
prioritized politics over NOAA’s mission. “The NWS
Forecaster(s) corrected any public misunderstanding in an
expert and timely way, as they should,” McLean wrote. “There
followed, last Friday, an unsigned news release from 'NOAA’
that inappropriately and incorrectly contradicted the NWS
forecaster. My understanding is that this intervention to
contradict the forecaster was not based on science but on
external factors including reputation and appearance, or
simply put, political. The content of this news release is
very concerning as it compromises the ability of NOAA to
convey life-saving information necessary to avoid substantial
and specific danger to public health and safety." McLean is investigating whether the
agency’s response to President Trump’s Hurricane Dorian
tweets constituted a violation of NOAA policies and ethics.
National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini has also
broken with NOAA's political leadership.
Plants Will Get Crushed by Wind and Solar Power by 2035,
Study Says (Bloomberg, September 9, 2019)
Generators now on drawing boards will be left uneconomical.
This development will be a dramatic reversal of fortune for
priests can bless you, advise you, and even perform your
funeral. (Vox, September 9, 2019)
AI religion is upon us. Welcome to the future.
ruling party hit badly in Moscow election (BBC News,
September 9, 2019)
The party lost nearly a third of the seats in the 45-member
parliament, but remains on course to retain its majority with
about 26 seats. With most opposition candidates disqualified,
the Communists, independents and others gained seats. The
exclusion of the opposition candidates triggered mass
Unlike Moscow, Kremlin-backed candidates dominated in other
local and regional elections held across the country on 8
September. They look set to win in all 16 regions that were
electing their governors.
leak forced US to extract top spy from inside Russia in 2017
(CNN, September 9, 2019)
The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a
May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed
highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister
Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey
Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been
provided by Israel.
At the time, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo told other senior
Trump administration officials that too much information was
coming out regarding the covert source, known as an asset. An
extraction, or "exfiltration" as such an operation is referred
to by intelligence officials, is an extraordinary remedy when
US intelligence believes an asset is in immediate danger.
News, GOP media now warn of bloodshed if Democrats win in
2020 (Daily KOS, September 8, 2019)
"The core philosophy of the Three Percenter movement, whose
adherents have engaged in violence, is that citizens would be
justified in taking up arms to violently overthrow the
government if the government enacted stronger gun
regulations," Media Matters recently noted.
Yet, when a Democrat was in the White House, typically
gun-happy Fox News warned that the federal government had too
many guns. In 2015, when it was reported that the
Environmental Protection Agency law enforcement had a sizeable
budget for weapons, conservative pundits freaked out,
portraying the government as needlessly armed.
Trump’s Plan to Secretly Meet With the Taliban Came
Together, and Fell Apart (New York Times, September 8,
The proposed Taliban visit to Camp David, which would have
been one of the biggest headline-grabbing moments of Trump's
tenure, was put together on the spur of the moment and then
canceled on the spur of the moment. The usual National
Security Council process was dispensed with; only a small
circle of advisers was even clued in.
For Mr. Trump, ending the war in Afghanistan has been a focus
since taking office, a signature accomplishment that could
help him win re-election next year. For nearly a year, a
former ambassador to Afghanistan has engaged in secret talks
with the Taliban to make that happen.
On September 1st, that U.S. negotiator with the Taliban
proposed that they visit Washington. Taliban leaders said they
accepted the idea — as long as the visit came after the deal
was announced. That would become a fundamental dividing point
contributing to the collapse of the talks. Mr. Trump did not
want the Camp David meeting to be a celebration of the deal;
after staying out of the details of what has been a delicate
effort in a complicated region, Mr. Trump wanted to be the
dealmaker who would put the final parts together himself, or
at least be perceived to be.
After the deal fell apart, Mr. Trump took it upon himself to
disclose the secret machinations in a string of Saturday night
Twitter messages that surprised not only many national
security officials across the government but even some of the
few who were part of the deliberations.
is putting his right-wing colleagues in a tough spot.
(13-min. video; The Young Turks, September 6, 2019)
It turns out that whatever border wall funding Donald Trump
gets is, shockingly enough, NOT going to come from Mexico
after all. No, it’s going to come from Kentucky. And Utah. And
Arizona. And a number of other states, as well as
government-funded projects across the globe that congress
appropriated money for, but which is now being diverted to the
And as John, Jayar and Adrienne note in this clip, Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is livid. At Democrats. For
not funding the wall in the first place, and thereby forcing
Trump to steal money that was supposed to help with Puerto
Rico’s recovery, to bolster US cybersecurity, to store
hazardous waste materials and dozens of other projects more
worthy than a stupid, pointless wall.
Other Republican senators, like Mitt Romney, Martha McSally
and Susan Collins, expressed disappointment at this turn of
events, but offered up primarily weak sauce, pathetic
criticism of Trump, knowing full well that they all owe fealty
to him and can’t contradict the president without losing the
support of the Republican base.
The three hosts wonder if this may be the moment when Trump
DOES lose some support, with Adrienne noting that he’s now
taking billions of dollars away from “the troops,” who remain
popular, and Jayar suggesting this is the opening Democrats
need to take on mealymouthed wafflers like Susan Collins.
John, meanwhile, wonders why, when Trump’s whole campaign was
built around the premise of a wall, paid for by Mexico, this
won’t become his “Read my lips” or “You can keep your
insurance” moment. The three agree that it likely won’t and
Trump’s fans will continue to let him slide, happy that even
though they’re the ones paying for the wall rather than
Mexico, at least Trump is “triggering” the left and “owning
the libs,” and for many on the right that’s even more valuable
Dorian-Battered Island, What’s Left? Virtually Nothing.
(New York Times, September 6, 2019)
No schools. No banks. No gas stations. No supermarkets. No
restaurants. No churches. No pharmacies. No hardware stores.
No water, no electricity and no phone lines. In this part of
the Bahamas, nearly everything is gone. Hurricane Dorian
didn’t just upend life in Marsh Harbour, the biggest town in
the Abaco Islands. Dorian crushed it, stripping all
essentials, schedules and routines — everything residents and
visitors had taken for granted. And there’s no sense when
those things might be restored.
Real Donald Trump Is a Character on TV (New York Times, September 6, 2019)
To ask who the “real” Donald Trump is, is to ignore the
obvious. You already know who Donald Trump is. All the
evidence you need is right there on your screen. He’s
half-man, half-TV, with a camera for an eye that is constantly
focused on itself. The red light is pulsing, 24/7, and it does
not appear to have an off switch.
Presidential Storm Leaves Forecasters Rebuked (New York
Times, September 6, 2019)
The hurricane was accelerating away from the Mid-Atlantic
coast. In the Bahamas, victims were picking through the
devastation. In the Southeast, they were cleaning up debris.
And in Washington, President Trump waged war over his
On Friday, for the sixth straight day, Mr. Trump continued his
relentless campaign to prove that he was right when he
predicted that Hurricane Dorian could hit Alabama regardless
of what the scientists said, a quest that has come to consume
his White House and put his veracity to the test. And once
again, Mr. Trump’s government came to his aid. Late Friday
afternoon, the parent agency of the National Weather Service
issued a statement declaring that its Birmingham, Ala., office
was wrong to dispute the president’s warning that Alabama
“will most likely be hit” by the hurricane despite forecasts
to the contrary.
Dan Sobien, the president of the National Weather Service
Employees Organization, called NOAA’s statement “utterly
disgusting and disingenuous,” emphasizing that Weather Service
employees had nothing to do with it.
Rear Adm. David W. Titley, a retired Navy officer who
previously served as NOAA’s chief operating officer, was even
more scathing about his former agency. “Perhaps the darkest
day ever for @noaa leadership,” he tweeted. “Don’t know how
they will ever look their workforce in the eye again. Moral
Sharpie-doctored hurricane map embodies the man. (Washington Post, September 5, 2019)
President Trump showed us again this week how spectacularly
ignorant, vainglorious and obsessive he can be. This time, he
did it with a clumsily doctored map.
I said was accurate!’: Trump stays fixated on his Alabama
error as hurricane pounds the Carolinas (Washington
Post, September 5, 2019)
Trump’s fixation on his erroneous Dorian warnings underscores
a long history of defending inaccurate claims — from the crowd
size at his inaugural address to false claims of voter fraud
in 2016 to fictional “unknown Middle Easterners” streaming
across the southern border in migrant caravans.
Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer and executive editor of
Bloomberg Opinion, said the Alabama claims underscore the
president’s belief that admitting error is a sign of weakness.
“He’s doubling down on the worst sides of his troubled
personality — to never admit an error and to continue
obsessing about it, and emphasizing it, when it doesn’t serve
him well to do so,” he said. “He doesn’t move along because he
is incapable of moving along.”
Turns 60: Why It Will Outlive Us All (ZDNet, September
In the beginning, there was machine languages and assembler.
Neither was easy to use, but then along came COBOL, and
In computing's early years, the only languages were machine
and assembler. Clearly, there needed to be an easier language
for programming those hulking early mainframes. That language,
named in September 1959, became Common Business-Oriented
Language (COBOL). The credit for coming up with the basic idea
goes to Mary Hawes, a Burroughs Corp. programmer.
In 2016, the Government Accountability Office reported the
Department of Homeland Security, Department of Veterans
Affairs, and the Social Security Administration, to name just
three, were still using COBOL. 200 billion lines of COBOL code
are still in use today and 90% of Fortune 500 companies still
having COBOL code keeping the lights on. If you've received
cash out of an ATM recently, it's almost certain COBOL was
running behind the scenes.
Trump Has Never Explained a Mysterious $50 Million Loan. Is
It Evidence of Tax Fraud? (Mother Jones, September 5,
Donald Trump’s massive debts—he owes hundreds of millions of
dollars—are the subject of continuous congressional and
journalistic scrutiny. But for years, one Trump loan has been
particularly mystifying: a debt of more than $50 million that
Trump claims he owes to one of his own companies. According to
tax and financial experts, the loan, which Trump has never
fully explained, might be part of a controversial tax
avoidance scheme known as debt parking. Yet a Mother Jones
investigation has uncovered information that raises questions
about the very existence of this loan, presenting the
possibility that this debt was concocted as a ploy to evade
income taxes—a move that could constitute tax fraud.
In short, Trump claims he bought a debt related to his Chicago
venture, but neither of the two loans associated with this
property appear to have been purchased. The Deutsche Bank loan
was refinanced. The Fortress debt, according to sources with
knowledge of the transaction, was canceled. And this raises a
question: Did Trump create a bogus loan to evade a whopping
tax bill on about $48 million of income?
Several legal and real estate finance experts say it’s
possible to fabricate a loan. Doing so would be as easy as
creating some paperwork and declaring the debt on your tax
returns, though such a scheme would also violate federal tax
law. “When you see it, if you lay all this out, it’s pretty
brazen,” says Adam Levitin, a law professor specializing in
commercial real estate finance at Georgetown University. “If
he didn’t actually buy the loan, this is just garden-variety
Sanders CRUSHED it at CNN’s climate change town hall! Joe
Biden rambled. (14-min. video;The Young Turks, September
Many candidates ARE going after fossil fuel companies, which
is unprecedented for major party presidential aspirants and
has only happened since Bernie changed the rules of the game
back in 2016 by clearing a lane for candidates to call out
major corporations by name and industry.
The less said about Joe Biden’s rambling performance, the
better, except that Cenk observes how sharp and in command of
his positions Bernie Sanders appears by comparison. The age
question may dog Biden and Trump in this presidential race,
but after this town hall there can be little question that
Bernie retains all his faculties.
commentators review Democratic presidential candidates at
last night's Climate Crisis Town Hall (CNN, September 5,
clips from last night's Climate Crisis Town Hall (CNN,
September 5, 2019)
candidates unveil sweeping climate proposals ahead of CNN
town hall - tonight, 5PM-Midnight, EDT! (CNN,
September 4, 2019)
Here is tonight's
Majority of 2020 Democrats have shown 'intense interest' in
climate plan. (The Hill, September 4, 2019)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a former Democratic presidential
candidate, said Wednesday that several candidates have
expressed interest in his climate plan after Sen. Elizabeth
Warren (D-Mass.) adopted
his plan as part of her presidential platform.
things a president can actually do to tackle the climate
crisis (CNN, September 4, 2019)
Candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination and most
scientists say the climate crisis is the existential threat of
our time, while President Donald Trump once claimed it's a
hoax cooked up by the Chinese. Trump also said at last month's
G7 meeting that "I'm an environmentalist," citing his
experience filing environmental impact statements as a
businessperson, though he skipped an actual session about
climate change that his fellow world leaders attended.
That pretty much sums up the difference between how a Democrat
would treat climate change compared with Trump: as an
emergency as opposed to as a joke.
age solar solution moves toward production (PV Magazine,
September 4, 2019)
A consortium of European research institutes has received
€10.6 million in EU funding to establish pilot production of a
high efficiency module concept developed by Swiss startup
Insolight. The module combines high efficiency multijunction
cells with a solar concentrator lens and has previously
demonstrated 29% efficiency.
and YouTube Will Pay Record $170 Million for Alleged
Violations of Children’s Privacy Law (U.S. Federal Trade
Commission, September 4, 2019)
FTC, New York Attorney General allege YouTube channels
collected kids’ personal information without parental consent.
About the Con': Ocasio-Cortez Says 'Virtually Every' Trump
Policy Is Designed to Loot Public Coffers and Enrich His
Cronies (Common Dreams, September 4, 2019)
"Since corruption isn't popular policy, racism works as the
cover for the con. That's why addressing racism isn’t a
'distraction'—it's key to understanding the hustle against
working people. Virtually every policy Trump pursues works to
steal public money and personally enrich himself and his
friends," said the New York Democrat, who said Trump deploys
racism and xenophobia as a "cover for the con."
As concrete examples, Ocasio-Cortez cited the Trump
administration's decision to open national monuments to
corporate exploitation (which enriches fossil fuel
executives), expand "border concentration camps" (which
enriches private prison CEOs), and appoint Education Secretary
Betsy DeVos (which enriches "loan sharks").
after leaving post, ex-Interior official who pushed drilling
in Alaska takes oil company job (Washington Post,
September 4, 2019)
Joe Balash, who served as the Interior Department’s top
official overseeing oil and gas leasing on federal land until
Friday, is joining a firm that's expanding drilling operations
on the North Slope.
cynical way to make poor people disappear (Politico,
September 4, 2019)
The Trump administration is redefining poverty in order to
reduce safety net benefits for low-income Americans.
of the most iconic photos of American workers is not what
it seems. (Washington Post, September 3, 2019)
But Lunch Atop A Skyscraper, which was taken during
the Great Depression, has come to represent the country's
resilience, especially on Labor Day.
to Your Questions About the Dark Side of the Internet
(Mozilla, September 3, 2019)
A mom and her teenage son answer your questions about the dark
side of the internet.
messy impeachment push hits critical phase (Politico,
September 3, 2019)
The window to impeach Trump is closing, and senior lawmakers
are sending mixed messages.
five-count political indictment of Trump (Washington
Post, September 3, 2019)
Trump Broken the World Economy? It's Starting to Look Like
It. (Daily KOS, September 3, 2019)
was so angry after China’s trade retaliation that he wanted
to double tariffs (CNBC, September 3, 2019)
The revelation that Trump wanted to double duties comes on a
day when fears about the trade war between the world’s two
largest economies helped to sink major U.S. stock indexes.
Both the U.S. and China imposed new tariffs on some goods
Earlier Tuesday, Trump suggested he could take even more
drastic action to crack down on China’s trade practices if he
wins reelection next year without a new trade agreement in
place. “Deal would get MUCH TOUGHER!” he wrote in a tweet.
The trade war has contributed to investor concerns about a
global economic slowdown. New economic data Tuesday did not
help: The U.S. manufacturing sector contracted in August for
the first time in three years.
emoluments: Trump encouraged Pence to stay at his golf
resort in Ireland. (Washington Post, September 3, 2019)
The Constitution bars presidents from taking “any other
Emolument from the United States” beyond the presidential
salary. Trump’s critics have charged that he is violating that
provision when his hotels take payments from the federal
government. Trump says there is no violation if the government
is only paying him for services rendered.
Conservative commentator Bill Kristol, a frequent Trump
critic, also faulted the arrangement, suggesting Pence was
trying to curry favor with Trump so that he would remain on
the Republican ticket next year. “How worried must Pence be
about being dumped from the ticket to go these lengths to
spend . . . taxpayer dollars at a Trump resort?” Kristol
lawmakers take control: What it means for Boris, Brexit and
September 3, 2019)
The House of Commons took the unprecedented step of usurping
government control of Parliament — a dramatic move that raises
more questions than it answers.
Johnson defeated as UK's MPs seek to stop no-deal Brexit
(Politico, September 3, 2019)
The prime minister said he regarded the vote as one of
confidence in his premiership.
Sea Ice Completely Melted for First Time in Recorded History
(TruthOut, September 3, 2019)
The country of Iceland has held a funeral for its first
glacier lost to the climate crisis. The once massive Okjökull
glacier, now completely gone, has been commemorated with a
plaque that reads: “A letter to the future. Ok is the first
Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next
200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same
path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is
happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did
Are Getting Worse. (New York Times, September 3, 2019)
Why are so many people afraid to talk about climate change?
The frequency of severe hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean has
roughly doubled over the last two decades, and climate change
appears to be the reason. Yet much of the conversation about
Hurricane Dorian — including most media coverage — ignores
That’s a mistake. It’s akin to talking about lung cancer and
being afraid to mention smoking, or talking about traffic
deaths and being afraid to talk about drunken driving. Sure,
no single road death can be attributed solely to drunken
driving — and many people who drive under the influence of
alcohol don’t crash — but you can’t talk meaningfully about
vehicle crashes without talking about alcohol.
basin popping to life with tropical activity
(Accuweather, September 3, 2019)
The Atlantic may soon be a three-ring circus of tropical
activity with Dorian in the center ring and other areas
brewing to the left over the Gulf of Mexico and to the right
over the central and eastern part of the main ocean.
Dorian threatens millions in U.S. after pummeling Bahamas
(CBS News, September 3, 2019)
won't make landfall in Florida, but the east coast is still
under threat. (CNN,
September 3, 2019)
Aperture Radar view of flooding in Freeport, Grand Bahama
(Mike Rizzo Weather, September 3, 2019)
Dorian is finally crawling away from the Bahamas, leaving
terrible damage. 'We are in trouble,' lawmaker says.
(CNN, September 3, 2019)
Dorian kills 5 people in the Bahamas. (CNN, September 2, 2019)
time to bid farewell to Joe Biden. (Washington
Post, September 2, 2019)
shows some political beliefs are just historical accidents.
(Ars Technica, September 2, 2019)
Early trend-setters swayed the group in experiments on party
Doctorow: DRM (Digital Rights Management) Broke Its Promise
(Locus Magazine, September 2, 2019)
There’s a name for societies where a small elite own property
and everyone else rents that property from them: it’s called
feudalism. DRM never delivered a world of flexible
consumer choice, but it was never supposed to. Instead, twenty
years on, DRM is revealed to be exactly what we feared: an
oligarchic gambit to end property ownership for the people,
who become tenants in the fields of greedy, confiscatory tech
and media companies, whose inventiveness is not devoted to
marvelous new market propositions, but, rather, to new ways to
coerce us into spending more for less.
The Methane Dragon That Lurks In The Deep Sea
(Huffington Post, September 2 2019)
We went into the depths of the ocean with a scientist seeking
to understand how frozen gas deposits might respond in a
rapidly warming world.
Methane is among the most potent greenhouse gases. And while
the numerous sources of methane are well understood, what’s
driving the recent surge in global emission levels remains a
matter of scientific debate.
Surges in atmospheric methane have been blamed for past
planetary warming events. The most severe, the “The Great
Dying,” occurred 250 million years ago and wiped out
approximately 90% of all species.
Has Trump’s Exceptional Corruption Gone Unchecked? (New
York Times, September 2, 2019)
“Drain the swamp” suggests that all political corruption is
the same. It isn’t, and the distinctions matter.
Great Tax Break Heist (New York Times, September 2, 2019)
A few days ago The
Times reported on widespread abuse of a provision in the
2017 Trump tax cut that was supposed to help struggling urban
workers. The provision created a tax break for investment in
so-called “opportunity zones,” which would supposedly help
create jobs in low-income areas. In reality the tax break has
been used to support high-end hotels and apartment buildings,
warehouses that employ hardly any people and so on. And it has
made a handful of wealthy, well-connected investors —
including the family of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s
son-in-law — even wealthier.
It’s quite a story. But it should be seen in a broader
context, as a symptom of the Republican Party’s unwillingness
to perform the basic functions of government.
taught us a lesson about Trump. Now we need to unlearn it.
Post, September 2, 2019)
I mean the other lesson: Don’t underestimate Donald Trump. All
good lessons, however, are eventually over-learned, especially
by once-burned political commentators. In this case, our
reticence disguises just how weak Trump really is. While it is
absurd at this point to predict anything about the 2020
presidential election, no sane candidate would prefer to be
playing Trump’s hand.
mayor mocks Trump for dealing with hurricane ‘out on the
golf course’. (Politico, September 2, 2019)
Sadiq Khan renews beef with US president, criticizing him for
canceling trip to Poland to commemorate start of World War II.
views of Category 5 Hurricane Dorian near peak intensity
September 1, 2019)
Hurricane Dorian unleashing ‘catastrophic’ blow in northern
Bahamas, takes aim at Southeast U.S. (Washington Post,
September 1, 2019)
With peak winds of 185 mph, Hurricane Dorian is the strongest
storm on record to strike the Bahamas, and threatens to bring
hurricane force winds, coastal flooding and other impacts to
the east coast of Florida and Southeast U.S. It also ranks as
the 2nd-strongest storm (as judged by its maximum sustained
winds) ever to form in the Atlantic Ocean, behind Hurricane
Allen of 1980. The storm’s peak sustained winds are the
strongest so far north in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida
Dorian is unleashing wind gusts over 220 mph, along with storm
surge flooding of 18 to 23 feet above normal tide levels. The
storm is still
intensifying. Over the northern Bahamas, the storm’s core of
devastating wind and torrential rain may sit for at least 24
hours as steering currents in the atmosphere collapse,
causing Dorian to meander slowly, if not stall outright, for
a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a
Windfall for the Rich (New York Times, August 31,
President Trump has portrayed America’s cities as
wastelands, ravaged by crime and homelessness, infested by
But the Trump administration’s signature plan to lift them —
a multibillion-dollar tax break that is supposed to help
low-income areas — has fueled a wave of developments
financed by and built for the wealthiest Americans. Among
the early beneficiaries of the tax incentive are billionaire
financiers like Leon Cooperman and business magnates like
Sidney Kohl — and Mr. Trump’s family members and advisers.
church mass shooting victims may sue federal government
over gun purchase, court rules. (Daily KOS, August 31,
Now Cuts and Splices Whole Chromosomes (Slashdot, August
Has Been the Worst Year for iPhone Security Yet. (Vice,
August 30, 2019)
After several high profile attacks and embarrassing slip-ups,
Apple’s perception as the secure consumer device is starting
finds 'indiscriminate iPhone attack lasting years' (BBC
News, August 30, 2019)
and Biden have the same message: You may not like me, but
you must vote for me. (Washington Post, August 29, 2019)
They're giving voters an ultimatum rather than inspiration.
am talking directly to you': US attorney delivers powerful
rebuke to white nationalists (ABC News, August 29, 2019)
In powerful remarks, U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman calls out
white supremacists while announcing charges against a man
accused of threatening an attack on Jewish community center.
"Those actions don't make you soldiers; they make you
Major Climate Change Rules the Trump Administration Is
Reversing (New York Times, August 29, 2019)
the Empty Seats at the F.E.C. Won’t Fix America’s Corrupt
Elections (New Yorker, August 29, 2019)
The Federal Election Commission stood by while foreign regimes
used the Internet to undermine social cohesion, relying on the
reach of Facebook and Google, in particular, to seed
misleading, uncredited advertisements online. Between 2017 and
2018, as the F.E.C. debated requiring digital platforms to
adhere to the same disclosure laws as political ads that are
broadcast on television, the agency received more than three
hundred and fourteen thousand public comments about digital-ad
transparency. In a memorandum sent in June, Ellen Weintraub,
the sole Democratic F.E.C. commissioner and its current chair,
laid out amendments to the U.S. code that would bring digital
ads in line with broadcast ads. Her recommendations went
nowhere. Now that Petersen has resigned, unless the Trump
Administration nominates new commissioners, and Senate
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allows them to be
confirmed—and the new commissioners demonstrate more
commitment to the public interest than their predecessors—the
identities of digital-ad buyers will continue to be shielded
by the F.E.C.’s inertia.
step too far for the Appalachian Trail (Politico, August
The Trump administration wants to allow a pipeline to cross
the Appalachian Trail on federal lands. Congress should say
the wall’: Trump tells aides he’ll pardon misdeeds, say
current and former officials (Washington Post, August 29, 2019)
he campaigns for president, Joe Biden tells a moving but
false war story (Washington Post, August 29, 2019)
chances of taking the Senate just got better.
(Washington Post, August 28, 2019)
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) just announced that because of
health concerns, he will retire from the Senate at the end
of 2019. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that the
fate of the republic could rest on what happens in Georgia
next November, and the chance that a Democratic president
could actually implement their agenda just got significantly
There was already going to be one Georgia Senate race on the
ballot in 2020, as Sen. David Perdue is up for reelection.
The state is one of a few that have been solidly Republican
in recent years but have been moving away from the GOP year
by year as they grow more diverse, a list that includes
Arizona and Texas.
Elements (Bloomberg, August 28, 2019)
Special issue, for the 150th anniversary of Dmitri
Mendeleev's Periodic Table of the Elements.
an end to Retadup: A malicious worm that infected hundreds
of thousands (Avast, August 28, 2019)
We were able to determine that the most infected computers had
either two or four cores (the average number of infected
computer cores was 2.94) and that the majority of victims used
Windows 7. Over 85% of Retadup’s victims also had no
third-party antivirus software installed. Some also had it
disabled, which left them completely vulnerable to the worm
and allowed them to unwittingly spread the infection further.
firm Ring has partnered with 400 police forces, extending
surveillance concerns. (Washington Post, August 28,
Ring is owned by Amazon, which bought the firm last year for
more than $800 million, financial filings show.
Ring officials and law enforcement partners portray the vast
camera network as an irrepressible shield for neighborhoods,
saying it can assist police investigators and protect homes
from criminals, intruders and thieves.
“The mission has always been making the neighborhood safer,”
said Eric Kuhn, the general manager of Neighbors, Ring’s
crime-focused companion app. “We’ve had a lot of success in
terms of deterring crime and solving crimes that would
otherwise not be solved as quickly.”
But legal experts and privacy advocates have voiced alarm
about the company’s eyes-everywhere ambitions and increasingly
close relationship with police, saying the program could
threaten civil liberties, turn residents into informants, and
subject innocent people, including those who Ring users have
flagged as “suspicious,” to greater surveillance and potential
Could End Up Replacing Android with a Russian Operating
System (Softpedia, August 27, 2019)
Barred from using US
software, Chinese smartphone manufacturer is
considering using Aurora OS on its devices.
comms lags and shock discoveries: 30 years after Voyager
2 visited gas giant Neptune (The Register, August
That time we found those lovely old geysers on one of the
icy giant's MOONS.
should we talk about what’s happening to our planet?
(Washington Post, August 27, 2019)
Those who are talking about it have ratcheted up their
rhetoric. In May, the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg
ditched “climate change” for “climate breakdown” or
“climate emergency.” The Guardian now uses “climate
catastrophe” in its articles. A resistance movement born
in Europe last year named itself Extinction Rebellion,
partly to normalize the notion of aggressive action in a
has sunk by up to 4 meters, forcing Indonesia to build a new
capital (Ars Technica, August 27, 2019)
Ten million people live in the Indonesian capital, but
the city is going under.
Bolsonaro says he might accept G-7 offer to help fight
Amazon fires — if Macron apologizes (Washington Post, August 27, 2019)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro appeared to walk
back an initial rejection of funds to help fight fires
sweeping through the Amazon rainforest, but he said any
consideration of the aid remained tied up in his dispute with
the French president.
Warren Manages to Woo the Democratic Establishment (The
Atlantic, August 26, 2019)
The party insiders at the DNC’s summer meeting seemed
unexpectedly drawn to the senator from Massachusetts.
& Johnson to pay $572m for fueling Oklahoma opioid
crisis, judge rules (The Guardian, August 26, 2019)
Oklahoma becomes first state to successfully sue an opioid
manufacturer, a ruling that is sure to affect other drug
In a damning 42-page decision, Judge Thad Balkman ruled that
the company bore a wide responsibility for helping to create
the worst drug epidemic in US history. He said it not only
aggressively pushed false claims about the safety and
effectiveness of its own narcotic painkillers, but that it
changed medical practice with “deceptive” claims intended to
break down caution among doctors about prescribing opioids.
That included using its huge resources to fund organisations
and research to promote narcotics.
Balkman ordered the company to pay $572m in compensation
initially with additional payments to be negotiated to cover
treatment, overdose prevention and other costs of abating the
epidemic in Oklahoma in the coming years. The state had asked
Johnson & Johnson said it will appeal.
ambassador says Mercosur trade deal unaffected by Amazon
wildfires (Euractiv, August 26, 2019)
In light of the worst wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, one
of the world’s largest carbon sinks, Ybáñez -the EU's ambassador to Brazil -
said, “The Mercosur agreement contains some commitments of how
we want our future relationship to be. For example, on the
environmental issue, there is a clear commitment to compliance
with the Paris agreement and international agreements by
Brazil and Mercosur”.
But the lack of action from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro
to tackle the critical situation in the Amazon has triggered
the strong reaction of some EU member states. France and
Ireland threatened to block the Mercosur deal, while
conservative Bolsonaro warned French President Emmanuel Macron
not to meddle in his country and stop using the issue for
domestic political reasons.
EURACTIV France reported that Amazon has become a hot topic in
the country as many politicians highlighted the threat of a
new environmental tragedy. “Fires burning in the Amazon are a
crime against humanity and those responsible must be held
accountable”, said Anne Hidalgo, head of the coalition of
cities for the climate C40.
above the Amazon fires, 'all you can see is death' (CNN,
August 26, 2019)
spy in your wallet: Credit cards have a privacy problem
(Washington Post, August 26, 2019)
In a privacy experiment, we bought one banana with the new
Apple Card — and another with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa
from Chase. Here’s who tracked, mined and shared our data.
and the Art of the Flail, by Paul Krugman (New York
Times, August 26, 2019)
Protectionism is worse when it’s erratic and unpredictable.
The “very stable genius” in the Oval Office is, in fact,
extremely unstable, in word and deed. That’s not a
psychological diagnosis, although you can make that case too.
It’s just a straightforward description of his behavior. And
his instability is starting to have serious economic
suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting U.S.
(Axios, August 25, 2019)
again lashes out at Fox News: 'Not what it used to be'
(The Hill, August 25, 2019)
He's repeatedly lashed out at the network over its polling
during the past two months. He knocked the network last week
after a survey showed him losing to former Vice President Joe
Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in hypothetical
2020 matchups. "I don't know what's happening with Fox," he
told reporters, adding he doesn't "believe" the polls.
to CNN's Stelter: Trump 'may be responsible for many more
million deaths' than Hitler, Stalin, Mao (The Hill, August 25, 2019)
"Calling Trump crazy hides the fact that we’re crazy for
having elected him," Allen Frances, the author of "Twilight of
American Sanity," said on CNN's "Reliable Sources." "And even
crazier for allowing his crazy policies to persist. Trump is
as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin and
Mao were in the last century. He may be responsible for many
million more deaths than they were. He needs to be contained,
but he needs to be contained by attacking his policies, not
says it stopped 'killer drone' attacks from Iran (The
Hill, August 25, 2019)
Israeli military spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan
Conricus told reporters that "a number of attack drones" were
planned to hit northern Israel on Thursday but the plan was
thwarted. He did not disclose how Israel stopped the “killer
The IRGC denied that Iranian targets had been hit late on
Saturday and said its military “advisory centers have not been
harmed," according to Reuters.
Economists for the Mess We’re In (New York Times, August
Why did America listen to the people who thought we needed
“more millionaires and more bankrupts?” Willful indifference
to the distribution of prosperity over the last half century
is an important reason the very survival of liberal democracy
is now being tested by nationalist demagogues.
Accounts of the rise of inequality often take a fatalistic
view. The problem is described as a natural consequence of
capitalism, or it is blamed on forces, like globalization or
technological change, that are beyond the direct control of
policymakers. But much of the fault lies in ourselves, in our
collective decision to embrace policies that prioritized
efficiency and encouraged the concentration of wealth, and to
neglect policies that equalized opportunity and distributed
rewards. The rise of economics is a primary reason for the
rise of inequality.
And the fact that we caused the problem means the solution is
in our power, too.
Ravaging of Amazonia (New York Times, August 24, 2019)
A global treasure lies at the mercy of the smallest, dullest,
pettiest of men.
the Amazon Burns, Europe Seizes Title of Climate Champion
(New York Times, August 24, 2019)
disputes’: At G7 Summit, E.U.’s Tusk says Trump’s trade wars
are damaging global economy (Washington Post, August 24,
“This may be the last moment to restore our political
community,” he told reporters at the beginning of the Group of
Seven summit here. Tusk’s comments came one day after Trump
and Chinese President Xi Jinping dramatically escalated a
fierce trade war between the two countries. Tusk is attending
the G-7 summit with Trump and leaders from France, Germany,
the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada and Japan, and he said the
summit comes at a perilous time. “Trade wars will lead to
recession while trade deals will boost the economy,” he said.
marks the start of American slavery in 1619 with speeches,
Post, August 24, 2019)
The commemoration of the arrival of the first enslaved
Africans 400 years ago began at dawn at Fort Monroe with the
rhythm of drums and a cleansing ritual.
Police Photoshopped His Mug Shot for a Lineup. He’s Not the
Only One. (New
York Times, August 24, 2019)
When witness descriptions made no mention of a suspect’s
facial tattoos, the police airbrushed them away for an
identification lineup. The practice goes beyond one case.
Visited 47 Sites. Hundreds of Trackers Followed Me. (New
York Times, August 23, 2019)
Is How Trump Will Tank the Economy and His Presidency
(New York Magazine, August 23, 2019)
What the president showed us today is he’s prepared to hit the
gas as he approaches the cliff. That should make us all
worried about the economic outlook — and it should make
Republicans very worried about the political outlook.
President, a tweet could end your trade war and avoid
recession. But hurry. (Philadelphia Inquirer,
August 23, 2019)
The risk of recession is uncomfortably high and rising.
President Donald Trump’s trade war is the proximate cause of
what ails the economy. Indeed, if the president follows
through on his most recent threat to raise tariffs on Chinese
imports, the odds of a downturn between now and this time next
year are better than even.
The economy’s growth has already slowed sharply. Real GDP and
job growth have throttled way back from this time last year,
and unemployment is no longer declining. The slowdown is due,
in part, to the winding down of the deficit-financed tax cuts.
The president had argued that the tax cuts, which went mostly
to corporations and wealthy households, would significantly
lift long-term growth. Not so. The stimulus from the tax cuts
has already faded.
But the economy’s growing struggles are increasingly about the
president’s trade war. The most direct hit to the economy is
from the tariffs. They act as a significant tax increase on
American businesses and consumers.
XL Pipeline Plan Is Approved by Nebraska Supreme Court (New York Times, August 23, 2019)
Many Republican politicians and labor groups see Keystone XL
as an economic boon, a way to create jobs and satisfy the
world’s demand for oil. But for environmentalists and some
Native Americans and farmers along the planned route, the
pipeline is seen as a grave threat to the warming climate and
to fertile land it would run through.
Koch, billionaire industrialist who influenced conservative
politics, dies at 79 (Washington Post, August 23, 2019)
war inside Palantir: Data-mining firm’s ties to ICE under
attack by employees (Washington Post, August 22, 2019)
CEO Alex Karp faced a dilemma last year, when employees of the
data-mining company Palantir confronted the chief executive
with their concerns over a partnership with Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, according to three people familiar with
the incident. Palantir provided digital profiling tools to the
federal agency as it carried out President Trump’s
increasingly controversial policies for apprehending and
deporting undocumented immigrants, troubling more than 200
employees who signed a letter to Karp, the people said.
Karp, a Democrat, has long been aware that the nature of
Palantir’s data-mining work would expose the company to
ethical concerns. Early on, he created a privacy and civil
liberties team to review ethical issues in government
contracts. This group’s key tenet, according to its public
statement of principles, is to hold the company accountable
for answering one question: “Do I want to live in the kind of
world that the technology we’re building would enable?”
But after Google
dropped a defense contract over employee pressure,
Palantir’s leaders doubled down on controversial work with
the U.S. government.
Biden’s Poll Numbers Mask an Enthusiasm Challenge.
(New York Times, August 22, 2019)
There are signs of a disconnect between support for Mr.
Biden in polls and excitement for his campaign on the ground
flips out on NBC reporter for pointing out his stupidity
(Daily KOS, August 22, 2019)
regarding Jeffrey Epstein and MIT (MIT, August 22, 2019)
may have gamed the system from beyond the grave
(Yahoo, August 21, 2019)
The will that Jeffrey Epstein signed just two days before
his jailhouse suicide puts more than $577 million in assets
into a trust fund that could make it more difficult for his
dozens of accusers to collect damages. Estate lawyers and
other experts say prying open the trust and dividing up the
financier's riches is not going to be easy and could take
of Greenland: Greenland considering buying America (Daily KOS, August 21, 2019)
According to the Danish newspaper Politiken, the Premier of
Greenland (Kim Kielsen) is considering buying the US back. In
a (clearly snarky) statement, Kielsen pointed out that Leifr
“The Lucky” Eiríksson was the first European to settle
America, and as a consequence Greenland has a prior claim on
the country. “So it’s only natural for the Greenlandic nation
to get USA back.”
Asked about the price, the premier said that they haven’t
decided on a specific price yet, but that the vast debt of the
US would be taken into consideration. And if Trump is included
in the deal, then the price would be even lower.
claiming to be the 'King of Israel' and 'second coming of
God,' Trump adds 'the chosen one' (Daily KOS, August 21,
On Wednesday alone, Donald Trump first tweeted a quote in
which he was described as the “King of Israel” and “the second
coming of God.” Which seems like it would be enough
maximum-scale delusions of grandeur for anyone on a single
day, especially when it was given a boost by Trump’s claim
that American Jews who didn’t support him were “deeply
However, it turns out that Trump wasn’t done. Standing on the
South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday afternoon, Trump
set out to explain why he, and only he, can solve the trade
war with China. And no. The answer was not “because I created
this trade war out of my own fundamental misunderstandings of
economics and finally recognize that the American consumer is
shelling out billions to defend my fragile ego.” Instead Trump
looked to the sky and declared “I am the chosen one.”
drone shot down over Yemen: officials (Reuters, August
Officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the
drone was shot down late on Tuesday. This is not the first
time a U.S. drone has been shot down in Yemen. In June, the
U.S. military said that Houthi rebels had shot down a U.S.
government-operated drone with assistance from Iran.
to stop Facebook tracking your web browsing activity
(The Independent, August 21, 2019)
Facebook will finally stop tracking you across other websites,
but only if you ask them.
Removes Videos of Robots Fighting For 'Animal Cruelty'
(Slashdot, August 20, 2019)
Channels posting robot combat videos saw their content removed
and received a notice from YouTube explaining that the videos
were in breach of its community guidelines. Each notice cited
the same section of these guidelines, which states: "Content
that displays the deliberate infliction of animal suffering or
the forcing of animals to fight is not allowed on YouTube." It
goes on to state: "Examples include, but are not limited to,
dog fighting and cock fighting."
appears to be guilty of yet another (financial) crime
(Daily KOS, August 20, 2019)
to human heart transplants 'possible within three years'
(The Guardian, August 19, 2019)
On the 40th anniversary of the first successful heart
transplant, pioneer UK
surgeon Sir Terence English told The Sunday Telegraph
that his protege from that operation would try to replace a
human kidney with a pig’s this year. “If the result of
xenotransplantation is satisfactory with porcine kidneys to
humans, then it is likely that hearts would be used with good
effects in humans within a few years. If it works with a
kidney, it will work with a heart. That will transform the
During the research, scientists delivered microRNA-199 into
pigs after a myocardial infarction. There was “almost complete
recovery” of cardiac function after a month. A treatment that
helps the heart repair itself after a heart attack is the holy
grail for cardiologists. This study convincingly demonstrates
for the first time that this might actually be feasible and
not just a pipe dream.”
Lobbyist Touts Success in Effort to Criminalize Pipeline
Protests, Leaked Recording Shows (The Intercept, August
Some Christians ‘Love the Meanest Parts’ of Trump (The
Atlantic, August 18, 2019)
The writer Ben Howe grew up in the world of conservative
evangelicalism. When he looks at the religious right now, all
he sees is a thirst for power and domination.
power prices now lower than the cost of natural gas (Ars
Technica, August 17, 2019)
In the US, it's cheaper to build and operate wind farms than
buy fossil fuels.
4 Tools to Prevent Fraud (AARP, August 16, 2019)
How 'Informed Delivery' and password managers add protection
reveals a House Republican strategy on shootings: downplay
white nationalism, blame left (Tampa Bay Times, August
The GOP memo falsely pinned the El Paso massacre and other
notable mass shootings on the left.
nominates advocate of 'ethnonationalism' for judgeship
(MSNBC, August 15, 2019)
Rachel Maddow shares passages from a law journal article by
Donald Trump's federal court nominee Steven Menashi in which
he argues democratic countries work better when everyone is
the same ethnicity.
suggests opening more mental institutions to deal with mass
shootings (CNN, August 15, 2019)
Trump's comments come less than two weeks after back-to-back
mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, killed
dozens. The suggestions also come a day after a man shot six
police officers when he barricaded himself for several hours
in his Philadelphia home, where police were attempting to come
in with a narcotics warrant.
The emphasis on mental illness -- an approach favored by
pro-gun groups -- marked a slight change from earlier this
week. On Tuesday, he claimed that many Republicans support his
push for strengthening background checks on gun sales -- a
view that appears at odds with what lawmakers are telling the
President in private
court slams Georgia for security failures and bans use of
paperless voting machines for 2020 (Daily KOS, August 15, 2019)
results add to questions surrounding Epstein's death
(Daily KOS, August 15, 2019)
Broken Bones in Jeffrey Epstein's Neck 'Are Common In
Victims of Homicide by Strangulation' (PJ Media, August
According to the official story released by the authorities,
Epstein's guards fell asleep while on duty and failed to check
on him for three hours, which supposedly gave him time enough
to hang himself. Simultaneously, the camera system failed to
work. Oh, and he magically found some tools to hang himself --
in a maximum-security prison. And then there's the fact that
his cellmate was removed from his cell, meaning that Epstein
was all alone, which "violated the jail's procedures."
McConnell: Favorable/Unfavorable (RealClearPolitics,
accessed August 14, 2019)
"Moscow Mitch" McConnell is the #1 most unpopular member of
the entire U.S. Senate with his own voters.
a McConnell-backed effort to lift Russian sanctions boosted
a Kentucky project (Washington Post, August 14, 2019)
In January, as the Senate debated whether to permit the Trump
administration to lift sanctions on Russia’s largest aluminum
producer, two men with millions of dollars riding on the
outcome met for dinner at a restaurant in Zurich. On one side
of the table sat the head of sales for Rusal, the Russian
aluminum producer that would benefit most immediately from a
favorable Senate vote. The U.S. government had imposed
sanctions on Rusal as part of a campaign to punish Russia for
“malign activity around the globe,” including attempts to sway
the 2016 presidential election.
On the other side sat Craig Bouchard, an American entrepreneur
who had gained favor with officials in Kentucky, the home
state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Bouchard was
trying to build the first new aluminum-rolling mill in the
United States in nearly four decades, in a corner of
northeastern Kentucky ravaged by job losses and the opioid
epidemic — a project that stood to benefit enormously if Rusal
were able to get involved.
The timing of their meeting shows how much a major venture in
McConnell’s home state had riding on the Democratic-backed
effort in January to keep sanctions in place. By the next day,
McConnell had successfully blocked the bill, despite the
defection of 11 Republicans.
an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out
(New York Times, August 14, 2019)
She was an heiress without a cause — an indifferent student,
an unhappy young bride, a miscast socialite. Her most enduring
passion was for birds. But Cordelia Scaife May eventually
found her life’s purpose: curbing what she perceived as the
lethal threat of overpopulation by trying to shut America’s
doors to immigrants.
Facebook become an independent state? (Boston Globe,
August 14, 2019)
The assault on Facebook has been the big story of late. A
month ago, “the Federal Trade Commission approved a fine of
roughly $5 billion against Facebook for mishandling users’
personal information,” The New York Times reported, calling it
“a landmark settlement that signals a newly aggressive stance
by regulators toward the country’s most powerful technology
Facebook has responded by (1) preparing to lease vast amounts
of office space in mid-town Manhattan, (2) announcing its
intention to create a global cryptocurrency — Libra — that
will “bank the unbanked” and completely disrupt the remittance
business, and (3) declaring its intention to rebrand WhatsApp
and Instagram as WhatsApp from Facebook and Instagram from
The exploring of office space in Manhattan was an unsubtle
message to Wall Street that Facebook is deadly serious about
entering the financial services arena and unconcerned about
competing with the incumbent banks. With about 1.6 billion
daily average users, Facebook’s entrance into any business is
almost automatically disruptive, because it is able to operate
at almost unimaginable scale. If it takes dead aim at the
endless cascade of fees on overdrafts, credit cards,
remittances (and the like) that the banking business depends
on, Facebook immediately poses an existential threat to those
Facebook’s entrance into the cryptocurrency arena was less an
unveiling of a “Facebook Bitcoin” and more like the
introduction of a sovereign currency. No less than the
chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, Jay Powell, took note,
saying: “While the project’s sponsors hold out the possibility
of public benefits, including improved financial access for
consumers, Libra raises many serious concerns regarding
privacy, money laundering, consumer protection, and financial
stability. These are concerns that should be thoroughly and
publicly addressed before proceeding.”
Putin had this to say two years ago: “Artificial intelligence
is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It
comes with colossal opportunities, but also [with] threats
that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in
this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” Who is the
leader in AI research at the moment? It depends on how you
measure it, but the rough consensus is: The United States
leads, followed by China, England, Canada, Japan, and Germany.
The United States is the leader in large measure because of
the research being done at Facebook and Google.
According to Machine Box CEO Aaron Edell, “80 percent of all
machine learning engineers work at Google or Facebook.” What
happens if Facebook and Google grow tired of what they almost
certainly regard as regulatory encroachment and government
overreach? What happens if Facebook and Google spin off their
AI research companies and re-domicile those companies in, say,
Canada? One thing that happens is that Canada becomes the
world’s leading superpower, overnight, by virtue of its being
the new home to the world’s two greatest AI research
cryptocurrency scams offering to sell Libra for bitcoin
plague social network (Independent, August 13, 2019)
Cyber criminals are using Facebook's own platform to run scams
about the tech giant's new cryptocurrency.
in the box: Hacking into companies with “warshipping”
(Ars Technica, August 13, 2019)
For under $100, compact hardware can turn a shipped package
into a Trojan horse for attacks.
Musk’s Neuralink: Both an evolution and a plan for radical
change (Ars Technica, August 13, 2019)
Neuralink will probably fail in interesting and worthwhile
Microsoft dumping MS Office, consider LibreOffice for your
next PC office suite (ZDNet, August 13, 2019)
If you want a standalone office suite for your computer, LibreOffice may soon
not just be your best choice, it will be close to your only
(LibreOffice is free, it's excellent, and we use it.)
to help create nation's first open-source foundation
(China Today, August 13, 2019)
The plan for the software foundation came after GitHub, the
world's largest host of source code, prevented in July users
in Iran and other nations sanctioned by the United States
government from accessing portions of its service. The
incident highlights increasing geopolitical interference with
global open-source tech communities, which are supposed to be
fair and open to all, analysts said.
Wang Chenglu, president of the software department at Huawei's
consumer business group, said software development relies on
open-source codes and communities. "If China does not have its
own open-source community to maintain, manage and host these
open-source codes, the domestic software industry will be
vulnerable in the face of uncontrollable factors," Wang said.
delays some China tariffs to Dec. 15th to limit impact on
holiday shopping (Washington Post, August 13, 2019)
The White House on Tuesday said it would delay imposing
tariffs on Chinese imports of cellphones, laptop computers,
video game consoles, and certain types of footwear and
clothing until Dec. 15, significantly later than the Sept. 1
deadline President Trump had repeatedly threatened. The
announcement ensures that Apple products and other major
consumer goods would be shielded from the import tax until at
least December, potentially keeping costs on these products
down during the holiday shopping season. A number of companies
had petitioned to the White House to exempt items they import
from the new tariffs, saying the costs would be either passed
along to the consumer or threaten the solvency of individual
Trump told reporters that he delayed the tariffs “just in
case” they would have a negative impact on U.S. shoppers this
holiday season, marking the most explicit admission he’s made
so far that the tariffs could have raised costs for American
consumers and businesses and had a negative impact on the
economy. USTR said the 10 percent tariff would still go into
effect in September on some items, including many food
products, gloves, coats and suits. But it said tariffs on
other items would be waived completely “based on health,
safety, national security and other factors.”
(Primarily, other factors like Trump overcharging his
supporters and losing his re-election bid.)
Focus on Gun Bills, Democrats Urge McConnell and Senate to
Act (New York Times, August 13, 2019)
Six top Democrats called on Senator Mitch McConnell, the
Republican leader, to bring senators back to Washington to
pass two House bills: one mandating background checks on all
gun purchases, including at gun shows and on the internet,
and another extending the time the F.B.I. has to complete
background checks. “The time is not simply for reflection,”
said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the
Democratic leader. “The time is not for a moment of silence.
The time for the Senate is to act. The time is to listen to
the American people.” [Read
more about mass shootings in 2019.]
raining plastic: microscopic fibers fall from the sky in
Rocky Mountains (The Guardian, August 13, 2019)
Discovery raises new questions about the amount of plastic
waste permeating the air, water, and soil virtually
everywhere on Earth.
Russian nuclear accident seems to be characterized by lies
(Washington Post, August 13, 2019)
village evacuation as rocket blast sparks radiation fears
(Al Jazeera, August 13, 2019)
Nyonoksa residents asked to leave within a day after last
week's explosion that spiked radiation levels up to 16
nuclear engineers buried after 'Skyfall nuclear' blast
(Al Jazeera, August 13, 2019)
Experts link the explosion to the Burevestnik
nuclear-powered cruise missile touted by President Putin in
Happened at Russia’s Missile Test Site? (New York
Times, August 12, 2019)
Don’t expect a straight answer from Vladimir Putin’s
bans hamburgers 'to tackle climate change' (BBC News,
August 12, 2019)
Rosie Rogers, of Greenpeace UK, said: "It's encouraging to
see an institution like Goldsmiths not simply declaring a
climate emergency but acting on it. From energy use, to food
sales and plastic pollution - all universities and
organisations with campus sites can make changes across
their facilities that are better for our planet. We call on
others to urgently follow suit and to include cutting all
ties from fossil fuel funding in their climate-emergency
wildfires spew soot and smoke cloud bigger than EU
(The Guardian, August 12, 2019)
Plume from unprecedented blazes forecast to reach Alaska as
fires rage for third month.
The normally frozen region, which is a crucial part of the
planet’s cooling system, is spewing carbon dioxide into the
atmosphere and worsening the man-made climate disruption
that created the tinderbox conditions.
A spate of huge fires in northern Russia, Alaska, Greenland
and Canada discharged 50 megatonnes of CO2 in June and 79
megatonnes in July, far exceeding the previous record for
the Arctic. The intensity of the blazes continues with 25
megatonnes in the first 11 days of August – extending the
duration beyond even the most persistent fires in the
17-year dataset of Europe’s satellite monitoring system.
are hopping mad about Trump’s drug importation plan. Some
of them are trying to stop it (STAT, August 12, 2019)
“You are coming as Americans to poach our drug supply, and I
don’t have any polite words for that,” said Amir Attaran, a
professor at the University of Ottawa, who calls the plan
“deplorable” and “atrociously unethical.” “Our drugs are not
for you, period.”
the Lord’s name in vain’: Evangelicals chafe at Trump’s
blasphemy (Politico, August 12, 2019)
Trump enjoys the support of the religious right — and losing
the group’s support would be catastrophic for his reelection
bid. About 80 percent of white evangelicals cast their ballots
for Trump in 2016 and 61 percent of the broader evangelical
voting bloc believes the U.S. is heading in the right
direction under his administration, according to a 2018 survey
by the Public Religion Research Institute.
Evangelicals are also more likely to vote than other
demographic groups and gravitate toward Republican candidates
when they do. And in swing states such as Florida, North
Carolina and Michigan, evangelicals dominate the religious
composition, eclipsing Catholics, mainline Protestants and
Day Jeffrey Epstein Told Me He Had Dirt on Powerful People
(New York Times, August 12, 2019)
Death Has a Simpler Explanation (The Atlantic, August
On social media yesterday, many people speculated, without
evidence, about who besides Epstein might be responsible for
his death. Tellingly, many criminal-justice experts pointed
instead to a broader issue: Suicide has been a lingering
problem in detention facilities, and systemic factors—such
as inattention, understaffing, or inadequate
training—generally offer a simpler explanation for a
prisoner’s death than nefarious intent.
man who sowed panic at Springfield, MO Walmart claimed
he was testing his Second Amendment rights, police say
Post, August 11, 2019)
Electric Motor Design Massively Boosts Power, Torque, and
Efficiency (Slashdot, August 11, 2019)
We Living in a Computer Simulation? Let’s Not Find Out
(New York Times, August 10, 2019)
Experimental findings will be either boring or extremely
violation of realism": The future can change the past
(Daily KOS, August 10, 2019)
It's about modern physics, not about impeaching Trump.
administration said it was moving these agencies for
efficiency. Now the truth comes out. (Washington Post, August 10, 2019)
“What a wonderful way to streamline government,” said acting
White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney at a gala last week,
referring to the Agriculture Department’s plan to move two of
its science agencies out of the D.C. area to the Kansas City
region. In celebrating this controversial decision, Mr.
Mulvaney laid bare the thinly-veiled motivations behind
uprooting researchers: not efficiency, but to drive talented
Epstein’s apparent suicide is unfathomable (Washington
Post, August 10, 2019)
If any prisoner in the federal system should have been a
candidate for suspicion of suicide, it was the high-profile
and disgraced Epstein. All administrative and structural
measures should have been in place to ensure it could not
pioneer accused of having sex with trafficking victim on
Jeffrey Epstein’s island (The Verge, August 9, 2019)
Marvin Minsky was named alongside several other prominent men.
World’s Smartest Chimp Has Died (New York Times, August
Sarah's life helped us answer the question: What do animals
has blessed ‘brutal' assault on Amazon, sacked scientist
warns (The Guardian, August 9, 2019)
In interview with the Guardian, Ricardo Galvão says if the
far-right leader doesn’t change tack the Amazon will be
frequent marine heatwaves can lead to the almost instant
death of corals, scientists working on the Great Barrier
Reef have found. (BBC News, August 9, 2019)
These episodes of unusually high water temperatures are - like
heatwaves on land - associated with climate change.
"This is a new phenomenon that's being caused by climate
change. And the impacts are even more severe than we had
"This could be 'the canary in the coal mine' for these
ecosystems. The findings were a strong warning that things are
going wrong on some reefs around the world."
"It's hard to know just how much we have to keep saying that
this is a big problem before policy-makers decide to do
something about it."
Big Just Slammed Into Jupiter (Gizmodo, August 9, 2019)
The Shocking Truth About ESD (Ask Bob Rankin, August 9,
House proposal would have FCC and FTC police alleged social
media censorship (CNN, August 9, 2019)
"The (existing) law that I wrote, Section 230, allows
platforms to get this kind of slime and hate off the
platform," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in an interview with
CNN on Friday, referring to hate speech that has appeared on
forums such as 8chan. By comparison, according to the summary,
the White House draft order asks the FCC to restrict the
government's view of the good-faith provision. Under the draft
proposal, the FCC will be asked to find that social media
sites do not qualify for the good-faith immunity if they
remove or suppress content without notifying the user who
posted the material, or if the decision is proven to be
evidence of anticompetitive, unfair or deceptive practices.
Wyden, in the interview, called the proposal "horrible" and
said neither the FTC nor the FCC are "exactly tripping over
themselves... to carry it out. I bet you scores of
conservatives are turning over in their grave right now
listening to all of these big government approaches," Wyden
said. "Their proposal today amounts to nothing short of a
Trip to Dayton and El Paso: The Back Story (New York
Times, August 9, 2019)
By the time President Trump arrived in El Paso on Wednesday,
on the second leg of a trip to meet with people affected by
mass shootings in two cities, he was frustrated that his
attacks on his political adversaries had resulted in more
coverage than the cheery reception he received at a hospital
in Dayton, Ohio, the first stop on his trip. So he screamed at
his aides to begin producing proof that in El Paso people were
happy to see him.
Civil Rights Lawyer Shows 20 Ways Trump Is Copying Hitler’s
Early Rhetoric and Policies (Common Cause, August 9,
Burt Neuborne questions whether federal government can contain
Trump and GOP power grabs.
Ring Is a Perfect Storm of Privacy Threats (Electronic
Frontier Foundation, August 8, 2019)
Doors across the United States are now fitted with Amazon’s
Ring, a combination doorbell-security camera that records and
transmits video straight to users’ phones, to Amazon’s
cloud—and often to the local police department. By sending
photos and alerts every time the camera detects motion or
someone rings the doorbell, the app can create an illusion of
a household under siege. It turns what seems like a perfectly
safe neighborhood into a source of anxiety and fear.
Thanks to in-depth reporting from Motherboard,
CNET, and others, we know a lot about the symbiotic
relationship between Amazon’s Ring and local police
departments, and how that relationship jeopardizes privacy and
Produce, Brought to You by Robots (Atlas Obscura, August
A family-owned market in California is now selling
robot-reared leafy greens.
Pharma is using faux generics to keep drug prices high,
critics say (Ars Technica, August 8, 2019)
Drug makers have mastered gaming the system to beat generic
competition. High-profile examples of "authorized generics"
include Mylan’s cheaper form of its EpiPen, a life-saving
epinephrine autoinjector that curbs deadly allergic reactions.
In 2016, under political and public pressure to lower drug
prices, Mylan introduced the authorized generic of EpiPen
priced at $300 for a two-pack. That’s half the price of a
two-pack of the brand-name version, which has a list price of
around $600. But it’s still a staggering hike from EpiPen’s
original cost of around $50 per injector in 2007. That year,
Mylan bought the rights to EpiPen and then raised the price
more than 400% in the years that followed. The authorized
generic is essentially triple the price of what two injectors
used to cost.
As of July 2019, there are
nearly 1,200 authorized generics on the market in the US.
the data on white supremacist terrorism the Trump
administration has been 'unable or unwilling' to give to
Congress (Yahoo News, August 8, 2019)
Alleged white supremacists were responsible for all race-based
domestic terrorism incidents in 2018, according to a
government document distributed earlier this year to state,
local and federal law enforcement. The document, which has not
been previously reported on, becomes public as the Trump
administration’s Justice Department has been unable or
unwilling to provide data to Congress on white supremacist
domestic terrorism. The data in this document, titled
“Domestic Terrorism in 2018,” appears to be what Congress has
been asking for — and didn’t get.
rounds up over 600 undocumented workers in immigration
sweeps in Mississippi (CBS News, August 8, 2019)
Many children of those arrested across the state were left
with nowhere to go. Children, some as young as toddlers, were
relying on neighbors and even strangers to pick them up and
drive them to the gym, where people tried to keep them calm.
But many of them couldn't stop crying for their parents.
Julia Solórzano, a legal fellow at the Southern Poverty Law
Center, said these types of large-scale workplace operations
"terrorize" and "destroy" communities, while accomplishing
little for the administration. "For a lot of the cities where
these raids occurred, it was the first day of school. We know
from past immigration enforcement actions of this type, that
there are going to be children who go home tonight and their
parents will be gone. It's extremely disruptive to families.
It's — in many cases — depriving the family of the primary
the El Paso shooter isn’t being charged with terrorism
(Vox, August 8, 2019)
How the law defines terrorism, and what that means for the
fight against white nationalist terror, explained.
attacks local leaders as he visits two cities grieving from
mass shootings (Washington Post, August 8, 2019)
None of the eight patients still being treated at University
Medical Center in El Paso agreed to meet with Trump when he
visited the hospital. Before Trump’s visit Wednesday, however,
some of the hospitalized victims accepted visits from a number
of city and county elected officials, as well as Reps.
Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.) and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.).
And the White House version?...
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the
president and first lady Melania Trump met with “victims of
the tragedy while at the hospital” and were “received very
warmly by not just victims and their families, but by the many
members of medical staff who lined the hallways to meet them.
It was a moving visit for all involved.”
(The White House says what it wants to say.)
Visits Dayton and El Paso (New York Times, August 7,
The president took sharp aim at opponents even as he visited
two cities in mourning after horrific mass shootings in Ohio
The White House had signaled that Mr. Trump would play the
traditional role of healer in chief on Wednesday, eschewing
photo-ops in favor of private sessions with emergency and
hospital workers and victims of the shootings that shocked
both cities and the nation. But Mr. Trump proved unwilling to
completely refrain from his usual combative style. On his way
to El Paso from Dayton, he tweeted attacks on the Democratic
mayor of Dayton and a Democratic senator who he said had not
accurately described the closed-door sessions at a Dayton
hospital earlier in the day. And earlier on Wednesday, Mr.
Trump held a 20-minute session with reporters in which he
unloaded many of his usual grievances, displaying little
hesitation to engage in politics on a day of grief for many
people around the country.
don’t want him here’: Trump to face protests and skepticism
as he visits El Paso and Dayton after mass shootings
(Washington Post, August 7, 2019)
“He’s made this bed and he’s got to lie in it. His rhetoric
has been painful for many in our community,” Dayton Mayor Nan
Whaley (D) told reporters Tuesday, adding that she supported
the planned protests against Trump. “Watching the president
for the past few years over the issue of guns, I don’t think
he knows what he believes, frankly.”
The open repudiation of a visiting president in the aftermath
of a mass tragedy was striking Tuesday as a growing chorus of
critics made clear that Trump would not be universally welcome
during a pair of condolence visits that will take Air Force
One from the Rust Belt to the southern border.
In a statement Monday, Trump denounced “racism, bigotry and
white supremacy,” without acknowledging his own rhetoric —
which has at times included warnings of “an invasion” across
the southern border. Trump’s language has been embraced by
The president has offered several proposals for reducing gun
violence but has given few specifics and has largely steered
clear of anything that would restrict broader access to
firearms. Instead, he pointed to “gruesome and grisly video
games” and online radicalization as drivers of the kind of
violence that left at least 31 people dead in back-to-back
mass shootings in the span of about 13 hours last weekend.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has so far
refused to allow a vote on a universal background check bill
passed by the House in February, said Monday that he was
willing to work with the White House and Democratic lawmakers
on legislation to address mass killings. In Louisville, Ky.,
dozens of people upset with McConnell’s inaction on gun
control and other legislation held a protest late into the
night outside his house. They banged pots and drums — at times
even scraping a shovel across a sidewalk. It was one of
several demonstrations calling for stricter gun laws that
erupted in cities across the country this week.
video games aren’t causing America’s gun problem, in one
chart (Vox, August 7, 2019)
Trump says they are. But when we look at the top video
game–consuming countries, there’s one clear outlier.
Took a Ride on NYC’s First Self-Driving Shuttle
(Futurism, August 7, 2019)
New York City just got its first autonomous vehicles. Futurism
was on the scene.
is not a crime (Electronic Frontier Foundation, August
Ola Bini is Swedish citizen and open source developer who has
worked for years to improve the security and privacy of the
Internet. He was arrested in Ecuador on a warrant for a
“Russian hacker.” With the most basic research, we knew that
he is neither of these.
Interviews Tim Verheyden, the Journalist Who Broke the Story
on Google Employees Listening to People's Audio Recordings
(Linux Journal, August 7, 2019)
How he got hold of the story, why he is now using the
encrypted contact form Secure Connect by Tutanota and why the
growing number of "ghost workers" in and around Silicon Valley
is becoming a big issue in Tech.
forecasters fear 5G wireless technology will muck up their
predictions (Science Magazine, August 7, 2019)
Neil Jacobs, NOAA's acting administrator, testified to
Congress in May that an internal study had found 5G-related
interference could cost NOAA 77% of the water vapor data it
collects at 23.8 GHz, and could degrade weather forecasts by
up to 30%, to 1980 levels. "It's a critical data set for us,"
Jacobs said. Bridenstine has echoed Jacobs's concerns, and the
Navy also worries about deteriorating forecast quality. But
NOAA has not released the studies publicly or submitted them
to FCC—the result, suggest some congressional sources, of
pressure from the White House, which has strongly backed 5G.
NOAA's experts misunderstand 5G technology, FCC Chairman (and
former Verizon lawyer) Ajit Pai said in his own congressional
testimony in June.
finally gotten a look at the microbe that might have been
our ancestor (Ars Technica, August 7, 2019)
A very strange cell structure hints at how complex cells
originated. Welcome to Asgard.
Morrison Taught Me How to Think (New York Times, August
late Toni Morrison on the Power of Language: Her Spectacular
Nobel Acceptance Speech After Becoming the First African
American Woman Awarded the Accolade (Brain Pickings,
August 6, 2019)
Eric Lundgren Case and Similar High-Profile Plea ‘Bargains’
- Aaron Swartz and Marcus Hutchins (Tech Rights, August 6, 2019)
Innocence is irrelevant. This is the age of the plea bargain.
Most people adjudicated in the criminal-justice system today
waive the right to a trial and the host of protections that go
along with one, including the right to appeal. Instead, they
plead guilty. The vast majority of felony convictions are now
the result of plea bargains—some 94 percent at the state
level, and some 97 percent at the federal level. Estimates for
misdemeanor convictions run even higher. These are astonishing
statistics, and they reveal a stark new truth about the
American criminal-justice system: Very few cases go to trial.
and Libel From Microsoft; Demonising the Victim (Tech
Rights, August 6, 2019)
Microsoft may not understand this (yet), but each time it lies
it’s digging itself deeper in the electronic grave.
Incredible Real-Time Voice Language Translator Is Also a
Global WIFI Hotspot (Futurism, August 6, 2019)
The Langogo uses advanced AI to tear down barriers between 105
languages and counting.
Flag’ Gun Control Bills Pick Up Momentum With G.O.P. in
Congress (New York Times, August 6, 2019)
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia already have red
flag laws. But the push for them on Capitol Hill stops well
short of the legislation mandating universal background checks
that Democrats and gun control advocates — as well as a
handful of Republicans — have been clamoring for. Already,
Democrats are warning that Republicans will use Mr. Graham’s
proposal to skirt the larger issue.
mainstream media is failing to do its job (The Young
Turks, August 6, 2019)
A New York Times headline read “Trump Urges Unity vs Racism,”
which garnered its own share of headlines - mainly for its
abysmal, Trump-favoring slant that neglected the support and
cover Trump has given to white supremacists. Focusing on the
few lines Trump devoted to criticizing white nationalism,
while ignoring the majority of his speech and subsequent
tweets attacking his political enemies and demanding stronger
anti-immigrant measures, does a major disservice to readers
Republican is finished with his party, tells voters to 'Beat
every single one of them!' (Daily KOS, August 6, 2019)
Republicans will never do anything on gun control. Nothing.
Ever. They won't. Think about Las Vegas. They did nothing when
500 people were injured. The Pulse nightclub, 50 killed. The
question for the nation was, do we allow terrorists, suspected
terrorists, to buy firearms, Republicans did nothing.
Parkland, they did nothing. Emanuel AME in South Carolina,
nothing. Go to Sandy Hook in Connecticut, nothing. The Jewish
temple in Pittsburgh, nothing. The Jewish temple in San Diego,
nothing. Sutherland Springs Evangelical Church in Texas,
nothing. Now we have Texas, now we have Ohio in the same
weekend, and all we get is silence. So I say that because if
this is the issue that informs your ideology, as a voter, the
strength to draw in this moment is to commit to beating
Republicans. Beat ‘em. Beat every single one of ‘em. Even the
safe ones in the House—beat ‘em.
Reacts to El Paso Shooting and the Hate That Fueled It (New York Times, August 6, 2019)
After an attack targeting Latinos, international reactions
depicted America’s mass shooting epidemic as violence in a
country at war with itself. “White nationalist terrorism.”
“America’s new civil war.” “‘Domestic terrorists’ devastate
the U.S.” After two mass shootings rocked the United States
last weekend, headlines from Sydney to Paris depicted the
bloodshed as America battling itself.
International reactions to previous mass shootings focused on
the ubiquity of guns in the United States — a culture that
many people around the globe see as alien — and their role in
making it the world’s most violent highly developed country.
But in the days since a gunman killed 22 people and injured
dozens more at a Walmart store in El Paso, Tex., attention has
shifted to the toxic mixture of racism, nationalism and
terrorism — along with the easy availability of firearms — and
to President Trump’s role in inflaming ethnic divisions. The
horror was only compounded by a shooting hours later in
Dayton, Ohio, that left nine people dead.
“People are used to the fact that in the United States, every
month, a lot of people are killed by someone for no apparent
reason,” said Josef Janning, a senior policy fellow at the
European Council on Foreign Relations, based in Berlin. “And
now it comes together with this trend in Western society of
gut-feeling, tribal politics that inflames people rather than
Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crises (New York Times,
August 6, 2019)
Climate change heightens the risk. As rainfall becomes
more erratic, the water supply becomes less reliable. At the
same time, as the days grow hotter, more water evaporates from
reservoirs just as demand for water increases.
Water-stressed places are sometimes cursed by two extremes.
São Paulo was ravaged by floods a year after its taps nearly
ran dry. Chennai suffered fatal floods four years ago, and now
its reservoirs are almost empty.
Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, is drawing groundwater so fast
that the city is literally sinking. Dhaka, Bangladesh, relies
so heavily on its groundwater for both its residents and its
water-guzzling garment factories that it now draws water from
aquifers hundreds of feet deep. Chennai’s thirsty residents,
accustomed to relying on groundwater for years, are now
finding there’s none left. Across India and Pakistan, farmers
are draining aquifers to grow water-intensive crops like
cotton and rice.
Hot Was July? Hotter Than Ever, Global Data Shows (New York Times, August 5, 2019)
Last month is part of a long-term trend: As human-related
emissions of greenhouse gases have continued, the atmosphere
has continued to warm. The past five years have been the
hottest on record, including the record single year in 2016.
The 10 hottest years have all occurred in the past two
decades. This June was the warmest on record, and the previous
five months were among the four warmest for their respective
months, the climate researchers said. That puts this year on
track to be in the top five, or perhaps the hottest ever.
cesspool of hate’: U.S. web firm drops 8chan after El Paso
shooting (Washington Post, August 5, 2019)
Calls to de-platform the site had intensified Sunday as
authorities worked to confirm that Patrick Crusius, the
21-year-old suspect in the El Paso shooting, had posted a
manifesto decrying a 'Hispanic invasion of Texas' to 8chan
before the attack. The suspected shooters at mosques in
Christchurch, New Zealand, and a synagogue in San Diego also
reportedly posted on the site before carrying out their
attacks. On Sunday, some 8chan message boards celebrated the
El Paso massacre.
The site’s founder, Fredrick Brennan, was among those calling
for 8chan to be shut down after the El Paso shooting.
Republican facing calls from party to resign after blaming
gay marriage, Obama for shootings (Daily KOS, August 5,
"Why not place the blame where it belongs," complained state
Rep. Candice Keller, proceeding to point to "the breakdown of
the traditional American family (thank you, transgender,
homosexual marriage, and drag queen advocates)”—interestingly,
no mention of a thrice-married president—“open borders,”
“hatred of our veterans,” “violent video games,” “snowflakes,”
“failed school policies,” and “professional athletes,” just to
name a few.
There was no mention of mass killing machines, or of white
supremacy, which definitely led to the killing of 22 in El
Paso. Nor did Keller clarify why “open borders” led to that
massacre, when it was the white supremacist who drove nine
hours to terrorize this peaceful community.
unique gun violence problem, explained in 16 maps and charts
(Vox, August 5, 2019)
In the developed world, these levels of gun violence are a
uniquely American problem. Here’s why.
after El Paso shooting, Mitch McConnell tweeted photo of a
graveyard with name of his opponent (Daily KOS, August
Condemns White Supremacy but Doesn’t Propose Gun Laws After
Shootings (New York Times, August 5, 2019)
Mr. Trump stopped well short of endorsing the kind of broad
gun control measures that activists and Democrats have sought
for years, instead falling back on time-honored Republican
remedies, calling for stronger action to address mental
illness, violence in the media and in video games. He warned
of “the perils of the internet and social media” with no
acknowledgment of his use of those platforms to promote his
brand of divisive politics.
let Trump's campaign run over 2,000 ads referring to
immigration as an “invasion” (Media Matters, August
At least nine other Republicans have also pushed the white
supremacist, anti-immigrant talking point in Facebook ads.
do you stop these people?’: Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric
looms over El Paso massacre (Washington Post, August 4, 2019)
President Trump has relentlessly used his bully pulpit to
decry Latino migration as 'an invasion of our country.' He has
demonized undocumented immigrants as 'thugs' and 'animals.' He
has defended the detention of migrant children, hundreds of
whom have been held in squalor. And he has warned that without
a wall to prevent people from crossing the border from Mexico,
America would no longer be America.
'How do you stop these people? You can’t,' Trump lamented at a
May rally in Panama City Beach, Fla. Someone in the crowd
yelled back one idea: 'Shoot them.' The audience of thousands
cheered and Trump smiled. Shrugging off the suggestion, he
quipped, 'Only in the Panhandle can you get away with that
On Saturday, a 21-year-old white man entered a shopping center
in El Paso, according to police, and allegedly decided to
To experts in the field, the El Paso rampage was predictable.
Frank Figliuzzi, a former head of counterintelligence at the
FBI, wrote in a column published just four days earlier in the
New York Times that Trump’s words eventually could incite
bloodshed. 'The president has fallen short of calling for
overt violence against minorities and immigrants, but
unbalanced minds among us may fail to note the distinction,'
Figliuzzi wrote. 'If a president paints people of color as the
enemy, encourages them to be sent back to where they came from
and implies that no humans want to live in certain American
cities, he gives license to those who feel compelled to
eradicate what Mr. Trump calls an infestation.'
and Policy: 2 Sides of White Nationalism (New York
Times, August 4, 2019)
The white supremacist terrorists and the white supremacist
policymakers share the same mission.
Paso shooting suspect could face federal hate crime charges
(Washington Post, August 4, 2019)
weekend of mass murder reflects how American violence goes
Post, August 4, 2019)
2 cities, 13 hours, 29
The deadliest mass shootings in the US (Al Jazeera,
August 4, 2019)
Thirty people die in two mass shootings within hours,
shocking the country and prompting calls for tighter gun
Bursts of Gun Violence in El Paso and Dayton Stun Country
(New York Times, August 4, 2019)
In a country that has become nearly numb to men with guns
opening fire in schools, at concerts and in churches, the
back-to-back bursts of gun violence in less than 24 hours
were enough to leave the public stunned and shaken. The
shootings ground the 2020 presidential campaign to a halt,
reignited a debate on gun control and called into question
the increasingly angry words directed at immigrants on the
southern border in recent weeks by right-wing pundits and
Rapid DNA Testing on Migrants at the Border Is Yet Another
Iteration of Family Separation (Electronic Frontier
Foundation, August 2, 2019)
Numerous issues were reported with similar systems related
to the hardware, firmware, software as well as the
cartridges. The most severe issues are the retrieval of an
incorrect DNA profile, PCR product or sample leakage and the
low success rate. In total 36% of the runs had problems or
errors effecting two or more samples resulting in a 77%
success rate for samples consisting of . . . amounts where
complete DNA profiles are expected.
The PIA states that a biological parent-child match must be
verified by a 99.5% accuracy. But we don’t even know the
baseline rate of success that these Rapid DNA testing
companies have established: the government has provided no
statistical information or peer-reviewed studies as to the
Ways Ohio Now Proposes Nuclear Suicide (Counterpunch,
August 2, 2019)
A bought, gerrymandered Ohio Legislature has just handed a
much-hated $150 million/year public bailout to two dinosaur
nuke reactors primed to explode. It also bails out two filthy
50-year-old coal burners and guts programs for increased
Opioid and Trump Addictions: Symptoms of the Same Malaise
'Socioeconomic conditions' account for only about two-thirds
of the Trump-opioid connection - which is to say, the economic
decline is not sufficient to explain it. Many equally
precarious Black and Hispanic communities elsewhere in the
country have neither turned massively to Trump or to opioids.
Clearly there is something different about the culture of
What is immediately different for indigent people in rural
Kentucky or the Mahoning Valley of Ohio is that so far as they
are concerned, they didn’t simply lose their jobs; the Blacks
got them - because the Government favors Blacks.
you say, ‘Hey, Siri’? Apple and Amazon curtail human review
of voice recordings. (Washington Post, August 2, 2019)
The tech giant is suspending the review of how its voice
assistant activates after privacy concerns were raised.
Many smart-speaker owners don’t realize that Siri, Alexa and,
until recently Google’s Assistant, keep recordings of
everything they hear after their so-called “wake word” to help
train their artificial intelligences. Google quietly changed
its defaults last year, and Assistant no longer automatically
records what it hears after the prompt “Hey, Google.”
Apple said it uses the data “to help Siri and dictation . . .
understand you better and recognize what you say,” Apple said.
But this wasn’t made clear to users in Apple’s terms and
system 'should be recognised as inventor' (BBC News,
August 1, 2019)
(Almost as wrong as claiming that corporations are people.)
Dame Reconstruction Work On Hold Over Lead Fears (Wall
Street Journal, August 1, 2019)
Work on the 850-year-old landmark stopped after inspection
raises concerns over lead poisoning. Lead-poisoning concerns
have loomed since the fire caused Notre Dame’s majestic roof
to collapse, leaving craterlike holes in the cathedral ceiling
and its nave exposed to the elements. The roof was made of
more than 1,300 lead tiles, each about a quarter-inch thick,
adding up to 210 tons of lead. Notre Dame’s massive spire,
also destroyed, was built with 250 tons of lead.
Mitch’ McConnell ‘fuming’ with trolling (9-min. video;
MSNBC, August 1, 2019)
New pressure on the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch
McConnell, who blocked a series of elections security bills
despite warnings from Bob Mueller and American intelligence
that Russia is still at it. McConnell is furious with his new
‘Moscow Mitch’ nickname as progressive groups put up
billboards in McConnell's home state of Kentucky showing
McConnell in a Russian military uniform. Senator Richard
Blumenthal and Malcom Nance, a former counter-intelligence
operative in the U-S military join The Beat.
are making human-monkey hybrids in China (MIT Technology
Review, August 1, 2019)
The US, China and Spain are involved in the controversial
research, designed to grow human organ transplants. In the US,
the National Institutes of Health says federal funds can never
be used to create mixed human-monkey embryos. However, there
is no such rule in China, which is probably why the research
is occurring there.
army just released a video showing soldiers practicing
shooting protesters (Washington Post, August 1, 2019)
2 Spacecraft Successfully Demonstrates Flight by Light
(The Planetary Society, July 31, 2019)
in plastic: meet the man swimming the Pacific garbage patch
(The Guardian, July 31, 2019)
Ben Lecomte is making a trans-Pacific journey to better
understand how plastics pollution is affecting our oceans
Epstein Hoped to Seed Human Race With His DNA (New York
Times, July 31, 2019)
Mr. Epstein, who was charged in July with the sexual
trafficking of girls as young as 14, was a serial illusionist:
He lied about the identities of his clients, his wealth, his
financial prowess, his personal achievements. But he managed
to use connections and charisma to cultivate valuable
relationships with business and political leaders.
Interviews with more than a dozen of his acquaintances, as
well as public documents, show that he used the same tactics
to insinuate himself into an elite scientific community, thus
allowing him to pursue his interests in eugenics and other
fringe fields like cryonics.
cheesed off at Microsoft, call for Rexit from Office Online,
Mobile apps over Redmond data slurping (The Register,
July 30, 2019)
Sanders’s bold ideas are transforming Democratic politics
(Washington Post, July
Sanders is shaping the race in ways that are often
underappreciated by a media that often marginalizes and
Big Money Out of Politics. Overturn Citizens United. Pass
the 28th Amendment (Newsweek, July 30, 2019)
Today, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) introduces the Democracy for
All Amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and get big
money out of politics.
Turmoil at the BLM Is Threatening Public Lands (Outside,
July 30, 2019)
All signs point to a massive selloff of federally managed
public lands, as BLM officials defy congressional oversight.
Mitch’ Tag Enrages McConnell and Squeezes G.O.P. on Election
Security (New York Times, July 30, 2019)
Mitch McConnell Won't Protect U.S. Voting (The Young
Turks, July 29, 2019)
McConnell (R.-Kentucky) recently refused to bring two voting
security measures that had passed the House up for a vote in
the Senate. Republicans are constantly bandying conspiracy
theories about tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and
Google cheating them. And those firms have a widely reported
liberal bias, so shouldn’t McConnell want to protect his GOP
colleagues from digital manipulation by Silicon Valley? Cenk
proposes two theories to explain McConnell’s actions - one,
corruption and two, that if foreign actors are interfering in
elections to help the GOP, he doesn’t want to do anything to
hamper those efforts.
Then, on a completely unrelated note, John mentions that
Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s company, recently removed
from the sanctions list, mind you, has opted to invest
millions of dollars in an aluminum plant in - get this -
Kentucky. Fun to at least enjoy this wild coincidence as the
integrity of our voting system disintegrates.
One Data Breach Compromises Data of Over 100 Million
(New York Times, July 29, 2019)
"While the breach was possible because of a security lapse
by Capital One, it was aided by Ms. Thompson’s expertise.
new intelligence pick could make Russian interference more
likely (Washington Post, July 29, 2019)
"President Trump has announced that he will nominate
ultraconservative Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) to be the new
director of national intelligence, replacing Daniel Coats to
oversee an intelligence apparatus that sprawls across 17
different federal agencies and touches the most sensitive
and complex national security challenges faced by our
country. It’s not because he has served on the House
Intelligence Committee for six whole months. It’s because
Donald Trump saw him on TV yelling about how the Russia
investigation was a big witch hunt.
'richly deserves' impeachment, says House Judiciary chair
(Daily KOS, July 29, 2019)
Donald Trump 'richly deserves' to be impeached, House
Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler said on Sunday, but despite
growing support, House Democrats are still holding back. Trump
'has done many impeachable offenses' and 'violated the law six
ways from Sunday,' Nadler said on CNN, but 'That’s not the
question. The question is, can we develop enough evidence to
put before the American people?'
say 'slumlord' Jared Kushner's Maryland properties are
crawling with mice and maggots - even as father-in-law Trump
tweets about 'rodent infested' Baltimore (Daily Mail,
July 28, 2019)
- President Trump was slammed as racist over weekend because
of tweets about 'rodent infested' Baltimore
- Trump targeted House Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democrat who
represents Maryland's seventh congressional district
- Baltimore County officials, however, noted that it was
ironic Trump was talking about 'infestation' when his
son-in-law is an accused 'slumlord'
- Jared Kushner owns thousands of rental units in Baltimore
County, which tenants say are infested with mice and maggots
- Kushner's property management company has also been accused
of using aggressive tactics to collect debts from tenants who
racism is about to have an impact (Daily KOS, July 28, 2019)
shares impassioned anti-Trump op-ed on Twitter (Daily
KOS, July 27, 2019)
There is truly nothing more un-American than calling on fellow
citizens to leave our country - by citing their immigrant
roots, or ancestry, or their unwillingness to sit in quiet
obedience while democracy is being undermined.
We refuse to sit idly by as racism, sexism, homophobia and
xenophobia are wielded by the president and any elected
official complicit in the poisoning of our democracy.
Roots of Boeing’s 737 Max Crisis: A Regulator Relaxes Its
Oversight (New York Times, July 27, 2019)
For decades, the F.A.A. relied on engineers inside Boeing to
help certify aircraft. But after intense lobbying by industry,
the agency adopted rules in 2005 that would give manufacturers
like Boeing even more control. Previously, the agency selected
the company engineers to work on its behalf; under the new
regulations, Boeing could choose them.
But some F.A.A. engineers were concerned that they were no
longer able to effectively monitor what was happening inside
Boeing. In a PowerPoint presentation to agency managers in
2016, union representatives raised concerns about a 'brain
drain' and the 'inability to hire and retain qualified
personnel.' By 2018, the F.A.A. was letting the company
certify 96 percent of its own work, according to an agency
official. Nicole Potter, an F.A.A. propulsion and fuel systems
engineer who worked on the Max, said supervisors repeatedly
asked her to give up the right to approve safety documents.
She often had to fight to keep the work. 'Leadership was
targeting a high level of delegation,' Ms. Potter said. When
F.A.A. employees didn’t have time to approve a critical
document, she said, 'managers could delegate it back to
It was a process Mr. Bahrami championed to lawmakers. After
spending more than two decades at the F.A.A., he left the
agency in 2013 and took a job at the Aerospace Industries
Association, a trade group that represents Boeing and other
manufacturers. 'We urge the F.A.A. to allow maximum use of
delegation,' Mr. Bahrami told Congress in his new lobbying
role, arguing it would help American manufacturers compete.
In 2017, Mr. Bahrami returned to the F.A.A. as the head of
protests: Thousand arrests at Moscow rally (BBC News,
July 27, 2019)
Demonstrators were dragged away from the city hall as security
forces used batons against the crowd. People were protesting
against the exclusion of opposition candidates from local
polls. The opposition say they were barred for political
Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the U.S. (NASA, July
Scientists have developed a new way to measure water cycle
intensity over time. Regions with weakening water cycles and
low soil moisture (parts of the southeast, northwest,
and upper midwestern U.S.) should be carefully tracked over
the next few decades because they could become increasingly
dry. That would make agriculture more difficult or require
more irrigation. On the other hand, too much rain or soil
moisture storage, such as in the northeast U.S. or Texas,
could lead to increased flooding.
snuck up on us’: Scientists stunned by ‘city-killer’
asteroid that just missed Earth (Washington Post, July 26, 2019)
NASA confirmed that on July 25, Asteroid 2019 OK passed about
73,000 kilometers from Earth, roughly one-fifth the distance
to the Moon. What would we do if an near-Earth object (NEO)
were found to be on a collision course with Earth? Could we deflect
the asteroid to prevent the impact?
amoeba kills again - here’s how it kills and how to avoid it
(Ars Technica, July 26, 2019)
It kills more than 97% of its victims. Only four people in the
US have ever survived it.
McConnell is a Russian asset (Washington Post, July 26,
Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today.
Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to
raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate
majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves.
Let’s call this what it is: unpatriotic. The Kentucky
Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing
Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding.
is a strategy behind Trump's madness, and it's already much
later than you think (Daily KOS, July 26, 2019)
Court Lets Trump Proceed on Border Wall (New York Times,
July 26, 2019)
press malpractice (Daily KOS, July 25, 2019)
This was their do-over and their chance to make up for all
those 'Attorney General Barr Says That Trump is Innocent and
King' headlines. Here are the headlines that should have been
out there today:
'Mueller Says Russia is DOING IT AGAIN'
'Mueller Says Trump was Untruthful in Written Answers'
'Mueller Blasts Trump’s Gleeful Encouragement of Foreign
'Mueller States that Numerous Members of Trump Administration
Lied During Investigation, Obscuring Deeper Truths About the
Trump Campaign’s Role in Assisting or Cheering Russian
'Mueller States that Trump Can Be Indicted When He Leaves
'Mueller Says that DOJ Policy Prevented Indictment Against
'Republicans Devote Hearing to Debunked and Unsubstantiated
IRS turned over Nixon’s tax returns the same day a
congressional panel asked for them (Washington Post,
July 25, 2019)
The newly released documents appear to contradict the Trump
administration’s claims that House Democrats’ demands for the
president’s tax returns are 'unprecedented,' and suggest a
split between this administration and past IRS officials over
the interpretation of the law.
the Trump administration is thwarting House oversight (Washington Post, July 25, 2019)
Since taking control of the House after the 2018 midterms,
Democrats have sought to exert their oversight power over the
Trump administration by opening up dozens of investigations
and inquiries. The White House has pushed back, refusing to
provide information and challenging Congressional subpoenas in
court. Here’s where the most important oversight battles
stand, and which House committee chairs are making the
Omar: It Is Not Enough to Condemn Trump’s Racism
(New York Times, July 25, 2019)
The nation’s ideals are under attack, and it is up to all of
us to defend them.
The reasons for weaponizing division are not mysterious.
Racial fear prevents Americans from building community with
one another - and community is the lifeblood of a functioning
democratic society. Throughout our history, racist language
has been used to turn American against American in order to
benefit the wealthy elite. Every time Mr. Trump attacks
refugees is a time that could be spent discussing the
president’s unwillingness to raise the federal minimum wage
for up to 33 million Americans. Every racist attack on four
members of Congress is a moment he doesn’t have to address why
his choice for labor secretary has spent his career defending
Wall Street banks and Walmart at the expense of workers. When
he is launching attacks on the free press, he isn’t talking
about why his Environmental Protection Agency just refused to
ban a pesticide linked to brain damage in children.
His efforts to pit religious minorities against one another
stem from the same playbook. If working Americans are too busy
fighting with one another, we will never address the very real
and deep problems our country faces - from climate change to
soaring inequality to lack of quality affordable health care.
Ecstatic Homecoming for AOC (Jacobin, July 25, 2019)
At a recent town hall in Queens, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
received a rapturous reception from constituents, many of them
activists who spoke out about their local organizing work. The
lesson was clear: to keep up the fight, she and her
Congressional colleagues will need more than applause -
they’ll need a movement behind them.
Justice Department Resumes Use of Death Penalty, Schedules
Five Executions (Reuters, July 25, 2019)
U.S. public support for the death penalty has declined since
the 1990s, according to opinion polls, and all European Union
nations have abolished it. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio
Guterres believes the practice should not happen anywhere,
spokesman Farhan Haq said.
climate event of the last 2,000 years looks like this
humanity-caused one (Ars Technica, July 25, 2019)
Warm or cool periods you may have heard of were regional
Chris Hughes’s campaign to break up Facebook, the tech
‘monopoly’ he helped create (Washington Post, July 25,
Facebook’s wealth and power and massive user base have pushed
it into monopoly territory, and its acquisitions of rivals
have squashed competition. Co-founder Hughes, who left the
social media giant in 2007 and cashed out his nearly $500
million worth of stock, has been making the rounds in the
nation’s capital to press the case for breaking up the social
Commissioner Rohit Chopra's dissenting statement re
Facebook case (US Federal Trade Commission, July 24,
"The case against Facebook is about more than just privacy -
it is also about the power to control and manipulate. Global
regulators and policymakers need to confront the dangers
associated with mass surveillance and the resulting ability
to control and influence us. The behavioral advertising
business incentives of technology platforms spur practices
that are dividing our society. The harm from this conduct is
immeasurable, and regulators and policymakers must confront
We should reasonably assume Facebook seeks to advance its
own financial gains. Here, Facebook’s behavioral advertising
business model is both the company’s profit engine and
arguably the root cause of its widespread and systemic
problems. Behavioral advertising generates profits by
turning users into products, their activity into assets,
their communities into targets, and social media platforms
into weapons of mass manipulation. We need to recognize the
dangerous threat that this business model can pose to our
democracy and economy.
appointed Chopra because FTC rules prohibit more than
three members from any political party.)
Mount to Ease Big Tech’s Grip on Your Data (New York
Times, July 24, 2019)
"We all create valuable data points with every tap on a
screen or keystroke - clicks, searches, likes, posts,
purchases and more. We hand it over willingly for free
services. But the biggest economic windfall goes to the tech
giants like Google and Facebook. Their corporate wealth is
built on harvesting and commercializing the information
supplied by the online multitudes.
'Imagine if General Motors did not pay for its steel, rubber
or glass - its inputs,' said Robert J. Shapiro, an economist
who recently did an analysis of the value of data. 'That’s
what it’s like for the big internet companies. It’s a sweet
But there is a growing collection of people seeking ways to
alter that arrangement. As a disparate group of academics,
economists, technologists and lawmakers, their politics
range from moderately liberal to free-market conservative.
The rising calls for a better data bargain come during an
intensifying backlash against Big Tech and its handling of
user data. Lawmakers and regulators in several countries are
investigating the companies’ market power, their role as
gatekeepers of communication and their handling of data,
especially in failing to protect users’ privacy.
to pay massive $5.1B fines in settlement with FTC, SEC
(Housing Wire, July 24, 2019)
"Social media giant will cough up serious change for
Cambridge Analytica debacle.
(But that's NOT serious change for Facebook!)
Rosselló, Puerto Rico’s Governor, Resigns After Protests
(New York Times, July
Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico announced his
resignation on Wednesday night, conceding that he could no
longer credibly remain in power after an extraordinary popular
uprising and looming impeachment proceedings had derailed his
administration. In a statement posted online just before
midnight, Mr. Rosselló, 40, said he would step down on Aug. 2.
Europe, a historic heat wave is shattering records with
astonishing ease, may hasten Arctic melt (Washington
Post, July 24, 2019)
Climate studies have consistently shown that heat waves are
becoming more common, severe and longer-lasting as the global
average surface temperature warms. In other words, heat waves
are now hotter than they used to be, making it easier to set
A published earlier this year found a record-breaking summer
heat wave in Japan during 2018 'could not have happened
without human-induced global warming.' And a recent rapid
attribution analysis, which has not yet been published in a
peer-reviewed science journal, showed that the early summer
heat wave in Europe was made at least five times more likely
to occur in the current climate than if human-caused warming
had not occurred.
GOP’s questions to Mueller seemed bizarre - unless you watch
Fox News (Washington Post, July 24, 2019)
Treating right-wing conspiracy theories as smoking guns shows
that Republicans are mostly speaking to their base.
to Take Down Trump (New York Times, July 24, 2019)
Robert Mueller is just not good at drama. Think of him as
Robert 'I’d Refer You to the Report for That' Mueller. The
hearing was a miscalculation on the part of the Democrats, who
were a little frustrated that Mueller’s report, although
damning for Trump, did not have the kind of juicy language
that makes for memorable headlines. His big quote, after all,
was: 'If we had had confidence that the president clearly did
not commit a crime we would have said so.' But you don’t have
to be thrilling if you’re willing.
Mueller testifies (CNN, July
what you need to know about Mueller's day (CNN, July 24, 2019)
Right at the outset, Mueller clarified the most significant
exchange from earlier in the day. He did not intend to say
they did not indict the president because of the OLC guidance.
He clarified that he meant that because of the OLC guidance
there was no decision either way on whether to indict.
In clear and concise language, Mueller reminded the panel why
his investigation matters: 'We spent substantial time ensuring
the integrity of the report understanding that it would be our
living - a message to those who come after us. But it also is
a signal, a flag to those of us who have some responsibility
in this area to exercise those responsibilities swiftly and
don't let this problem continue to linger as it has over so
Mueller defended not subpoenaing the President because of the
prolonged process to fight over it. But asked if anyone tried
to stop it, Mueller made clear they could have subpoenaed if
they wanted to.
Mueller condemned the behavior of the President and his son.
On Trump’s WikiLeaks comments, Mueller said 'problematic is an
understatement.' An exchange between Donald Trump, Jr. and
WikiLeaks was 'disturbing and also subject to investigation.'
At another point, he refused to weigh in on the President’s
credibility. He also said he felt the president was not
truthful in his written answers.
Mueller sticks to the script in high-profile hearings
(CNN, July 24, 2019)
Deepfakes Gets Real (Fortune, July 24, 2019)
Like a zombie horde, they keep coming. First, there were the
pixelated likenesses of actresses Gal Gadot and Scarlett
Johansson brushstroked into dodgy user-generated adult films.
Then a disembodied digital Barack Obama and Donald Trump
appeared in clips they never agreed to, saying things the real
Obama and Trump never said. And in June, a
machine-learning-generated version of Facebook CEO Mark
Zuckerberg making scary comments about privacy went viral.
Welcome to the age of deepfakes, an emerging threat powered by
artificial intelligence that puts words in the mouths of
people in video or audio clips, conjures convincing headshots
from a sea of selfies, and even puts individuals in places
they’ve never been, interacting with people they’ve never met.
Data Won't Protect Your Identity (Scientific American,
July 23, 2019)
In the U.S., on average, if you have 15 characteristics
(including age, gender or marital status), that is enough to
reidentify Americans in any anonymized data set 99.98 percent
of the time. Although 15 pieces of demographic information may
sound like a lot, it represents a drop in the bucket in terms
of what is really out there: in 2017 a marketing analytics
company landed in hot water for accidentally publishing an
anonymized data set that contained 248 attributes for each of
123 million American households.
2 Unfurls, Next Step Toward Space Travel by Solar Sail
(New York Times, July 23, 2019)
The ability to sail across the cosmos, powered by the
energy of the sun, is finally becoming a
reality. Engineers in California pressed a button on Tuesday
that unfurled the sails on a satellite that can be steered
around Earth, advancing long held hopes for an inexhaustible
form of spaceflight and expanding the possibilities for
navigating the voids between worlds.
an Oil Theft Investigation Laid the Groundwork for the Koch
Playbook (Politico, July 22, 2019)
In the late 1980s, Charles Koch faced a federal probe, rallied
all of his resources to fight it off and came away with
lessons that would guide the Kochs for decades.
NASA TV special
coverage: 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 first steps on the
July 20, 2019 - 10:38PM EDT)
"Replay of original Moonwalk broadcast from July 20,
11: The final 13 minutes that took humans to the Moon
(BBC, July 20, 2019)
We Heading Toward Extinction? (Huffington Post,
July 20, 2019)
"The Earth’s species - plants, animals and humans, alike -
are facing imminent demise. How we got here, and how to
You will find yourself among the throngs of humanity who are
easily distracted and amused, playing with their toys as the
house burns, 'tranquilized by the trivial,' as Kierkegaard
said, and speaking of the future as though it was going to
go on as it has. After all, we made it this far. We have
proven our superiority at figuring things out and removing
obstacles to our desires. We killed off most of the large
wild mammals and most of the indigenous peoples in order to
take their lands. We bent nature to our will, paved over her
forests and grasslands, rerouted and dammed her rivers, dug
up what journalist Thom Hartmann calls her 'ancient
sunlight,' and burned that dead creature goo into the
atmosphere so that our vehicles could motor us around on
land, sea, and air and our weapons could keep our enemies in
check. And now we have given her atmosphere a high fever.
But, as the old adage has it, (a phrase I first heard in the
1980s, which has informed me ever since), 'Nature bats
area of the United States broils on what could be the
hottest weekend in U.S. history (Daily KOS, July 20,
Across America Could Create Catastrophic Acid Clouds. It
Almost Happened In Philly. (Huffington Post, July 20,
Last month’s explosion at a 150-year-old oil refinery in
Philadelphia could have forced 1.1 million people to evacuate.
onslaught of pills, hundreds of thousands of deaths: Who is
accountable? (Washington Post, July 20, 2019)
The origin, evolution and astonishing scale of America’s
catastrophic opioid epidemic just got a lot clearer. The drug
industry - the pill manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers -
found it profitable to flood some of the most vulnerable
communities in America with billions of painkillers. They
continued to move their product, and the medical community and
government agencies failed to take effective action, even when
it became apparent that these pills were fueling addiction and
overdoses and were getting diverted to the streets.
This has been broadly known for years, but this past week, the
more precise details became public for the first time in a
trove of data released after a legal challenge.
British tanker in Strait of Hormuz (BBC, July 20, 2019)
Voting pitched as inclusive election reform (Boston
Metrowest Daily News, July 20, 2019)
Ranked choice voting would allow voters to rank multiple
candidates in order of preference. If no candidate gets a
majority of the vote when the election is tallied, an instant
'We’re all here in this shared effort to ensure that every
voter in Massachusetts has a greater voice when they go to the
At minimum, we as a Legislature, should provide an easy path
forward for our towns and cities to say, ‘Yes, we want ranked
choice voting for our community.'
Great Hack: the film that goes behind the scenes of the
Facebook data scandal (The Guardian, July 20, 2019)
This week, a Netflix documentary on Cambridge Analytica sheds
light on one of the most complex scandals of our time. Carole
Cadwalladr, who broke the story and appears in the film, looks
at the fallout – and finds 'surveillance capitalism' out of
Carroll’s doomed attempt to lift the veil from the
data-industrial complex that underpinned Cambridge Analytica
is the dark heart of the film. Because although he proved that
the firm had illegally processed his data, ultimately his
attempt to retrieve that data was thwarted by Cambridge
Analytica’s decision to liquidate.
Carroll’s experience is just one of the many unknowns that
still surround this story. We still know very little about
what the company actually did with the data. Who was targeted?
With what ads? In what locations? Carroll knows nothing about
the nature of the 5,000 data points the firm claimed, in its
own marketing, to have on 230 million American voters,
including himself. We still have no clear picture what
Cambridge Analytica did for Trump. Or what it did in any of
the dozens of elections worldwide it claimed to have worked on
– what Carroll calls 'subversion on an industrial scale'. All
we know is that both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have
gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent the facts coming out.
The data swamp remains dark, toxic and invisible. But what the
film tries to do through creative and unusual graphics is to
make the invisible visible: pixels representing data bytes
float off Carroll as he rides the subway – the informational
exhaust fumes we give off, hundreds of thousands of data
points every day, which are hoovered up and monetised by the
tech monopoly giants in ways we can’t see or understand.
Is Stuck In A Racist Catch-22: Saturday's Good News (Daily KOS, July 20, 2019)
always doubles down’: Inside the political crisis caused by
Trump’s racist tweets (Washington Post, July 20, 2019)
Trump ordered an all-hands White House effort to keep the GOP
caucus together. White House aides told allies on the Hill
that it was okay to criticize Trump, as long as they didn’t
vote with Democrats. Trump was obsessed with the vote tally
and received regular briefings. Aides fed him a constant
stream of lawmaker reactions and put him on the phone himself
with several lawmakers. He told his team to tell any wafflers
that he loves America and that they needed to pick sides.
do ‘Lock her up’ and ‘Send her back’ have in common? It’s
pretty obvious. (Washington Post, July 20, 2019)
In the Trump vernacular, any woman could become one who should
be locked up or sent back. Trump
asserts no one should criticize the U.S. as he resumes
attacks on four legislators. ‘Send
her back!’: Trump, Ilhan Omar and the complicated history of
back to Africa.
vows congresswomen ‘can’t get away with’ criticizing U.S.
(Washington Post, July 19, 2019)
President Trump broadly declared Friday that no one should
criticize the United States while he is president, part of a
renewed attack on four minority congresswomen whom he has
targeted as un-American. Trump also praised his supporters who
chanted at a rally, 'Send her back!,' a refrain directed at
one of the lawmakers, Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.).
The president called the campaign crowd 'incredible patriots'
- a day after saying he disagreed with the chant.
Speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, he claimed that the
congresswomen have talked about 'evil Jews,' which they
haven’t, and inaccurately said Ocasio-Cortez had called
America 'garbage,' when she was actually talking about not
settling for incremental policies that were '10 percent better
Trump’s shift Friday was reminiscent of how he responded to
the deadly clash between white nationalists and protesters in
Charlottesville in August 2017. He initially denounced the
bigotry and hatred, then issued a stronger statement calling
the racism practiced by hate groups 'evil,' but the next day
he spoke of 'very fine people on both sides.'
lesson of Ivanka Trump’s latest reported intervention with
her father (Washington Post, July 19, 2019)
President Trump issued the subtlest of rebukes Thursday to his
supporters who chanted 'send her back' about Somali American
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). He said he disagreed with the chant
and that he tried to stop it. (He didn’t.)
And who reportedly advocated for that course-correction? You
guessed it: his daughter, Ivanka Trump. Thursday was merely
the latest time the president’s daughter has been reported to
have intervened to guard against her father’s worst impulses.
Trump has already downplayed the severity of the 'send her
back' chants, and if he had to be persuaded to say he
disagreed with them, that shows you what he really thinks.
That’s really the lesson of Ivanka Trump’s repeated, reported
head says 'fewer than 1,000' kids recently separated, like
it's something to be proud of (Daily KOS, July 19, 2019)
Win on Health Plans Advances Effort to Undo Obamacare
(Bloomberg, July 19, 2019)
Judge rejects challenge to short-term plans that flout the
ACA. Trouble for Republicans is also possible in wake of 2018
States of Consciousness: The Neuropsychology of How Time
Perception Modulates Our Experience of Self, from Depression
to Boredom to Creative Flow (Brain Pickings, July 19,
The brain does not simply represent the world in a disembodied
way as an intellectual construct… Our mind is body-bound. We
think, feel, and act with our body in the world. All
experience is embedded in this body-related
NEW: Car parts
from weeds: The future of green motoring? (BBC, July 19,
The carbon footprint of making a new car varies greatly
depending on the model, but it is usually big. Some have
calculated that as much carbon is emitted to manufacture a car
as is emitted by driving it across its lifetime.
That's why Selena, a research group in Poland, is turning to
plants that are not used in the human food chain as a
potential source of eco-friendly plastics. It's called the
Biomotive project and it has been awarded €15m (£13.5m) from
Decline of Plants and Animals as Global 'Red List' Reveals
Nearly One-Third of Assessed Species Under Threat
(Common Dreams, July 18, 2019)
"We must act now both on biodiversity loss and climate
Won’t Ban Chlorpyrifos, Pesticide Tied to Children’s Health
Problems (New York Times, July 18, 2019)
The Trump administration took a major step to weaken the
regulation of toxic chemicals on Thursday when the
Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would not
ban a widely used pesticide that its own experts have linked
to serious health problems in children. The decision by Andrew
R. Wheeler, the E.P.A. administrator, represents a victory for
the chemical industry and for farmers who have lobbied to
continue using the substance, chlorpyrifos, arguing it is
necessary to protect crops.
It was the administration’s second major move this year to
roll back or eliminate chemical safety rules. In April, the
agency disregarded the advice of its own experts when
officials issued a rule that restricted but did not ban
asbestos, a known carcinogen. Agency scientists and lawyers
had urged the E.P.A. to ban asbestos outright, as do most
other industrialized nations.
pays for allegiance to Trump, plummets further in approval
ratings than any other senator (Daily KOS, July 18,
weather is dangerous and can kill:' City officials urge
residents to prepare for grueling heat wave
(Accuweather, July 18, 2019)
Co-Founder Has Cashed Out at Least $700 Million Via Sales,
Loans (Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2019)
Adam Neumann has sold some of his WeWork stake and borrowed
against some of his holdings, investing the proceeds in real
estate and startups
found your data. It’s for sale. (Washington Post, July
Computers using Chrome and Firefox extensions to collect your
browser data are putting your privacy at risk. As many as 4
million people have Web browser extensions that sell their
every click. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In total,
Jadali’s research identified six suspect Chrome and Firefox
extensions with more than a few users: Hover Zoom, SpeakIt!,
SuperZoom, SaveFrom.net Helper, FairShare Unlock and
(Note that these are independent extensions. Firefix
is not a problem; Chrome
will give away software to guard U.S. voting machines
(NBC News, July 17, 2019)
The tech giant said it had tracked 781 cyberattacks by foreign
adversaries targeting political organizations so far this
The company said it was rolling out the free, open-source
software product called ElectionGuard, which it said uses
encryption to 'enable a new era of secure, verifiable voting.'
The company is working with election machine vendors and local
governments to deploy the system in a pilot program for the
Google and Apple clouds banned in Hesse/Germany’s schools
(Sophos, July 17, 2019)
The problem is twofold, it explained. Firstly, it isn’t happy
with Microsoft storing personal data (especially children’s
data) in a European cloud that could be accessed by US
authorities, adding, 'The digital sovereignty of state data
processing must be guaranteed.'
Its other issue is with Microsoft’s data slurping. It warned:
'With the use of the Windows 10 operating system, a wealth of
telemetry data is transmitted to Microsoft, whose content has
not been finally clarified despite repeated inquiries to
Microsoft. Such data is also transmitted when using Office
365.' HBDI is taking its lead from the Federal Office for
Information Security, which posted a technical
analysis of Windows 10 telemetry in November 2018
(chapters 1.2 onwards are in English).
You can’t solve this problem by asking users for consent, the
HBDI added. If you can’t be certain what data Microsoft
collects or how the company will use it, then you can’t give
Although the majority of the report focused on Microsoft
Office 365, HBDI explicitly called out other cloud service
providers, so schools can’t use Google Docs or Apple’s iWork
either: 'What is true for Microsoft is also true for the
Google and Apple cloud solutions. The cloud solutions of these
providers have so far not been transparent and comprehensible
set out. Therefore, it is also true that for schools,
privacy-compliant use is currently not possible.'
crosses “red line,” gets booted from F-35 partnership
(Ars Technica, July
"Erdoğan's welcome of Russian missiles puts nail in coffin
of F-35 buy.
floats fully self-driving cars as soon as this year. Many
are worried about what that will unleash. (Washington
Post, July 17, 2019)
The electric-car maker said it will do that without light
detection and ranging, or lidar, complex sensors that use
laser lights to map the environment - technology most
autonomous vehicle makers consider necessary. Even with lidar,
many of those manufacturers have adopted a slow and deliberate
approach to self-driving vehicles, with limited testing on
Tesla shows little sign of such caution, officials said. And
because autonomous vehicles are largely self-regulated -
guided by industry standards but with no clearly enforceable
rules - no one can stop the automaker from moving ahead.
Musk Announces Plan to 'Merge' Human Brains With AI
(Vice, July 17, 2019)
Neuralink wants to start by treating brain injuries, and
eventually 'achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence'.
newest startup is venturing into a series of hard problems
(Ars Technica, July 16, 2019)
Elon Musk will describe his plans for Neuralink, a
brain-computer interface company.
billion opioid pills: Newly released federal data unmasks
the epidemic (Washington Post, July 16, 2019)
America’s largest drug companies saturated the country with 76
billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills from 2006 through
2012 as the nation’s deadliest drug epidemic spun out of
control, according to previously undisclosed company data
released as part of the largest civil action in U.S. history.
The information comes from a database maintained by the Drug
Enforcement Administration that tracks the path of every
single pain pill sold in the United States - from
manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and
city. The data provides an unprecedented look at the surge of
legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic,
which has resulted in nearly 100,000 deaths from 2006 through
troll Anglin's celebratory mood crushed by $14 million
judgment against him (Daily KOS, July 16, 2019)
Prime Day could usher in a new wave of fear-based social
media usage. (Vox, July 16, 2019)
Ring and its attendant app Neighbors let people in a given
community report crimes and share footage of those crimes —
often people stealing Amazon packages — that they collect via
their Amazon Ring video cameras. In practice, that means a lot
of reports of “suspicious” brown people on porches and a
general perception that the world is a scarier place than it
People of color are still disproportionally featured in Ring
videos of “crimes,” and racist language describing alleged
criminals is commonplace, especially in the comments on the
Neighbors app. Ring and Neighbors users are also encouraged to
share the videos with law enforcement, a practice that can
exacerbate dangerous interactions with police among people of
As Steven Renderos, senior campaigns director at the Center
for Media Justice, previously told me, “These apps are not the
definitive guides to crime in a neighborhood — it is merely a
reflection of people’s own bias, which criminalizes people of
color, the unhoused, and other marginalized communities.”
It’s also bad for the mental health of the people who own the
devices. Since these apps focus on crime nearby, it can feel
like there’s more imminent danger than there really is.
Indeed, Americans perceive crime to be going up even as
national statistics from the FBI and the Bureau of Justice
Statistics show crime rates are declining.
Amazon’s Ring was a Prime Day bestseller. Get ready for more
neighborhood surveillance and fear-based social media.
A Feisty Google Adversary, Tests How Much People Care About
Privacy (New York Times, July 15, 2019)
House projects $1 trillion deficit for 2019 (The Hill,
July 15, 2019)
The White House projects that the federal deficit will surpass
$1 trillion this year, the only time in the nation's history
the deficit has exceeded that level excluding the 5-year
period following the Great Recession. As a candidate,
President Trump had promised to not only wipe out the deficit,
but the entire federal debt, which has surpassed $22 trillion.
say Border Patrol asked migrant toddler to pick which parent
got to stay with her in US (The Hill, July 15, 2019)
own fiefdom’: Mulvaney builds ‘an empire for the right wing’
as Trump’s chief of staff (Washington Post, July 15, 2019)
He has helped install more than a dozen ideologically aligned
advisers in the West Wing since his December hiring. Cabinet
members are pressed weekly on what regulations they can strip
from the books and have been told their performance will be
judged on how many they remove. Policy and spending decisions
are now made by the White House and dictated to Cabinet
agencies, instead of vice versa.
Graham’s and the GOP’s initial responses to Trump’s ‘go
back’ tweets are a mess (Washington Post, July 15, 2019)
They’re all over the place, and they’re often nonsensical.
Trump's Racist Tweets (Public Citizen, July 15, 2019)
Pelosi Versus the Squad Really Means (New York Times,
July 15, 2019)
The progressive-liberal civil war isn’t just a conflict of
what’s too far left.
Liberalism loves sympathy, suspects rage and detests cruelty.
Politics is inevitably a dialogue between partial truths.
Compromise is a virtue, not a sign of cowardice. Moreover,
means determine ends.
Many of today’s young leaders, and their older allies, don’t
want to work within the established liberal system. They want
to blow it up. They embrace essentialism, which is the
antithesis of liberalism. Essentialism is the belief that
people are defined by a single identity that never changes.
So which side will prevail? Over the short term, I’d put my
money on the anti-liberals.
Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: Here's how to choose a president
(The Hill, July 14, 2019)
Tweets Prove That He Is a Raging Racist, by Charles M.
Blow (New York Times,
July 14, 2019)
It is undeniably true that America’s president opposes
The central framing of this kind of thinking is that this is a
white country, founded and built by white men, and destined to
be maintained as a white country. For anyone to be accepted as
truly American they must assimilate and acquiesce to that
narrative, to bow to that heritage and bend to those customs.
It sees a country from which black and brown people come as
deficient - 'a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most
corrupt and inept anywhere in the world' - because, at its
base, it sees black and brown people as deficient.
It is a form of white identitarianism, which opposes
multiculturalism, but refuses to deem that opposition racist.
And so, it chafes when these black and brown women from
exotic-sounding places with exotic-sounding names would dare
to challenge the white patriarchy in this country. Why do they
not know their place? Why do they not genuflect to the gentry?
Why do they not recognize - and honor - the white man’s
Start here: because the entire white supremacist ideology and
ethos is a lie. America expanded much of its territory through
the shedding of blood and breaking of treaties with Native
Americans. It established much of its wealth through 250 years
of exploiting black bodies for free labor. And, for the entire
history of this country, some degree of anti-blackness has
existed. Now, there is an intensifying anti-Muslim and
America was born with a congenital illness and it has been in
need of active rehabilitation ever since, although it has
often rejected the curative treatments and regressed.
Challenging America to own its sins and live up to its ideals
isn’t a vicious attack, it’s an act of patriotism. As James
Baldwin once put it, 'I love America more than any other
country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist
on the right to criticize her perpetually.'
And, who better to lead the charge than four women who
represent the future face of America?
White people and whiteness are the center of the Trump
presidency. His primary concern is to defend, protect and
promote it. All that threatens it must be attacked and
assaulted. Trump is bringing the force of the American
presidency to the rescue of white supremacy. And,
self-identified Republicans absolutely love him for it. We are
watching a very dark chapter in this nation’s history unfold
in real time. We are watching as a president returns naked
racism to the White House. And we are watching as fellow
citizens - possibly a third of them - reveal to us their open
animus for us through their continued support of him.
Fans the Flames of a Racial Fire (New York Times, July
His Twitter harangue goading Democratic congresswomen of color
to 'go back' to the country they came from, even though most
of them were actually born in the United States, shocked many.
But it should have surprised few who have watched the way he
has governed a multicultural, multiracial country the last two
and a half years. When it comes to race, Mr. Trump plays with
fire like no other president in a century.
Attacks Democratic Congresswomen With White Nationalist
Rhetoric (New York Magazine, July 14, 2019)
President Trump launched a white nationalist–themed attack on
Sunday against four Democratic congresswomen of color who have
been outspoken critics of his administration’s war on
immigrants and attention-earning proponents of more
progressive government policies. The attack deployed one of
the most obnoxious clichés of racist and xenophobic hate
speech: telling an immigrant or descendent of immigrants to
'go back to your country.'
Soccer: Where Men Are Men, and Women Are Repeat World Cup
Champions (New York Times, July 13, 2019)
They are unequaled in play and unequal in pay.
Southwest Key leader who ran migrant child shelters for U.S.
government earned $3.6 million in 2017 (Washington Post, July 13, 2019)
Trump is right about bitcoin (Market Watch, July 13,
Cryptocurrencies are a pure gamble with no discernible
for Trump (New York Times, July 13, 2019)
They sold their principles a long time ago.
works out actually better’: When Trump loses, he’s quick to
tout Plan B as the real victory (Washington Post, July 13, 2019)
"After fighting for months in court to try to get a
citizenship question on the 2020 Census - and briefly
overruling his own Justice Department’s legal surrender -
Trump abandoned the effort in a manner that had a familiar
plot twist: A surprise backup plan that, in Trump’s view, is
actually better than the original plan.
Politically, for his base, he has already won. The thing
Trump’s base talks about more than anything is how he
'fights.' So as long as he shows that he’s fighting, his
base is happy. It’s a rare example of the process being more
important than the outcome.
protests, hotel chains say they won't let ICE use their
rooms for temporary detention (Daily KOS, July 12,
unlikely to charge Trump Org executives, sources say
(CNN, July 12, 2019)
far-right Twitter summit: the most bizarre highlights
(The Guardian, July 12, 2019)
Here are some of the ‘highlights’ from the gathering of
far-right propagandists, conspiracy theorists and YouTube
is the No. 1 most obese state in America (Market Watch,
July 12, 2019)
The sad individual and societal costs of the obesity epidemic.
Contamination Crisis Grows as House Passes Critical Cleanup
Bill (Environmental Working Group, July 12, 2019)
This week EWG released an updated map and analysis that shows
the extent of American communities’ confirmed contamination
with the highly toxic fluorinated compounds known as PFAS. The
latest update adds 53 Air Force bases, five Air National Guard
bases and 44 civilian airports that are also used by Air
National Guard units. 'Despite knowing the risks posed by PFAS
in firefighting foam, the Pentagon continued to put military
families at risk for decades,' said Melanie Benesh, EWG’s
legislative attorney. 'Now, when it’s time to clean up its
PFAS pollution, the military is dragging its feet. It’s
of air pollution particles found in hearts of city dwellers
(The Guardian, July 12, 2019)
Study shows associated damage to critical pumping muscles,
even in children.
Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life (Vice, July
It's super painful to be a human being right now at this point
God it’s Thursday: the four-day workweek some want to bring
to the U.S. (Washington Post, July 11, 2019)
Some economists have speculated that American attitudes about
work may make it particularly inhospitable for a four-day
still don't know how to fight the 'big lie,' and that's what
makes it truly the biggest threat (Daily KOS, July 11,
On Thursday, Donald Trump is proclaiming the victory of social
media over traditional media, and using that opportunity not
just to continue his assault on the press, but to launch a
whole new attack on the basic nature of democracy and the
judiciary branch of the government. Trump charging into the
Rose Garden to declare that his name on a placard means the
Supreme Court can pack up its robes may seem worthy of
stop-the-presses, all-hands-on-deck, full-on emergency
coverage. Because it is. But so is Trump bellowing an entire
series of lies to justify a new generation of nuclear
brinkmanship in the Middle East. So is Trump issuing a series
of misogynistic and racist statements about a presidential
candidate. So is Trump declaring his support for hate speech,
violent rhetoric, and autocratic white nationalism. And all of
that came in just a few hours of what has come to be an
It’s a moment that can’t pass without us referencing this
description of Hitler's psychological profile as developed by
the United States Office of Strategic Services during the
Hayabusa2 Spacecraft Lands on Asteroid It Blasted a Hole In
York Times, July 11, 2019)
The robotic probe attempted to collect a sample scattered from
a crater made on the surface of the space rock Ryugu in April.
Putting Patent Traps Inside Linux While Blackmailing
Companies Using Patents Associated With These Traps
(TechRights, July 11, 2019)
In an effort to make exFAT (a patent trap) the ‘industry
standard’, even inside Linux, Microsoft now wants exFAT inside
the very heart of Linux and people are pushing back.
gives away false document but it’s blamed on time travel
(Office Watch, July 10, 2019)
Department Analyst Resigns After White House Blocked Climate
Change Testimony (Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
Rod Schoonover was prohibited from including evidence and data
supporting his assessments in testimony to House committee.
the Money That Undermines Climate Science (New York
Times, July 10, 2019)
Omar Responds to Tucker Carlson's Xenophobic Tirade: 'Kinda
Fun Watching a Racist Fool Like This Weeping About My
Presence in Congress' (Common Dreams, July 10, 2019)
Could Have Been Any of Us’: Disdain for Trump Runs Among
Ambassadors (New York Times, July 10, 2019)
‘special relationship’ is in tatters after British
ambassador, under fire, resigns (Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
President Trump saw an opportunity to embarrass the British
government, already divided by Brexit, and used it to drive a
wedge into another country.
migrant kids describe sexual assault, verbal abuse,
retaliation by border agents (Daily KOS, July 10, 2019)
Trump’s July 4 event and related protests have bankrupted
D.C. security fund (Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
The celebration cost the District $1.7 million, an amount that
- combined with police expenses for related protests - has
depleted a city fund used to protect the nation’s capital from
terrorist threats and secure rallies and state funerals. In a
letter to the president Tuesday, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser
(D) warned that the fund has now been depleted and is
estimated to be running a $6 million deficit by Sept. 30. The
mayor also noted that the account was never reimbursed for
$7.3 million in expenses from Trump’s 2017 inauguration.
disrespectful’: Four House women struggle as Pelosi isolates
Post, July 10, 2019)
Sure Looks Like Jeffrey Epstein Was a Spy - But Whose?
(Observer, July 10, 2019)
earthquakes in southern California were centered near a
naval station contaminated with 'forever chemicals'
(SFGate, July 9, 2019)
A report from Northeastern University and the nonprofit
Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that the water source
at the China Lake station contained PFAS levels of 8 million
parts per trillion - more than 114,000 times the EPA
Thoreau’s 19th-Century Observations Are Helping Shape
Science Today (Atlas Obscura, July 9, 2019)
For one thing, they tell us that plants aren’t blooming when
they used to at Walden Pond - or most anywhere else.
Wozniak thinks that you should quit Facebook (Cult Of
Mac, July 9, 2019)
Just Quietly Opened Three New Detention Centers, Flouting
Congress’ Limits (Mother Jones, July 9, 2019)
The facilities are all run by private prison companies, and
one experienced a violent riot.
dossier author Steele gets 16-hour DOJ grilling
(Politico, July 9, 2019)
The interview was contentious at first, according to two
people familiar with the matter, but investigators ultimately
found his testimony credible and even surprising.
Epstein Was a ‘Terrific Guy,’ Donald Trump Once Said. Now
He’s ‘Not a Fan.’ (New York Times, July 9, 2019)
It was supposed to be an exclusive party at Mar-a-Lago, Donald
J. Trump’s members-only club in Palm Beach, Fla. But other
than the two dozen or so women flown in to provide the
entertainment, the only guests were Mr. Trump and Jeffrey
remember that 2018 BBC documentary alleging Trump preyed on
underage models? (Daily KOS, July 8, 2019)
Epstein Is the Ultimate Symbol of Plutocratic Rot (New
York Times, July 8, 2019)
Powerful elites enabled the financier accused of trafficking
underage girls. Epstein was arrested after getting off a
private flight from Paris. He has been accused of exploiting
and abusing “dozens” of minor girls, some as young as 14, and
conspiring with others to traffic them. Epstein’s arrest was
the rare event that gratified right and left alike, both
because it seemed that justice might finally be done, and
because each side has reason to believe that if Epstein goes
down, he could bring some of its enemies with him.
Democrats subpoena Trump’s financial, business records
(Washington Post, July 8, 2019)
Congressional Democrats began issuing dozens of subpoenas
Monday for financial records and other documents from
President Trump’s private entities as part of an ongoing
lawsuit alleging that his businesses violate the
Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign
governments. 'We are seeking a targeted set of documents to
obtain the information that we need to ensure that the
President can no longer shirk his constitutional
responsibility,' Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a
The Constitution’s emoluments provision - barring payments or
gifts from foreign governments without prior approval from
Congress - was designed to prevent undue influence over the
nation’s leaders. Attorneys for the lawmakers say Trump is
violating the ban when his businesses accept payments and
other benefits from foreign governments. Democrats are seeking
information related to not only the president’s hotels but
office buildings, trademarks and the trust in which Trump is
storing his business interests while in office. Three
properties - the two hotels and Mar-a-Lago - have hosted
foreign governments or large foreign delegations since Trump
entered office. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has booked blocks
of rooms at both hotels, and the D.C. hotel has hosted the
governments of Kuwait, Bahrain and Malaysia, among others.
The demands for detailed information about the president’s
closely held finances came on the same day the Trump
administration asked an appeals court in Washington to halt
the lawsuit and block the subpoenas, saying the case is based
on 'novel and flawed constitutional premises.'
massive new plants, Formosa wants OK to double amount of
chemicals released into St. James Parish air (The
Advocate/Baton Rouge LA, July 8, 2019)
sinkhole that saved the Internet (TechCrunch, July 8,
Keeping the 'kill switch' alive is the only thing preventing
another WannaCry outbreak.
ICE find state driver’s license photos are a gold mine for
facial-recognition searches (Washington Post, July 7,
A cache of records shared with The Washington Post reveals
that agents are scanning millions of Americans’ faces without
their knowledge or consent.
quality forum in Harvard, Mass.: Many PFAS questions, few
answers (The Harvard Press, July 6, 2019)
At a June 19 water quality forum held in Town Hall, the only
thing that was clear was that Harvard’s PFAS story is still
being written. Massachusetts Department of Environmental
Protection (MassDEP) officials revealed new test results on
three public water supplies in Harvard that showed PFAS levels
in the Ayer Road Properties water are significantly higher
than those from previous tests, and two new PFAS compounds
and Barr are crossing another line (Washington Post,
July 5, 2019)
From his very first day in office, President Trump has had a
strange and, at times, strained relationship with the U.S.
intelligence community. The president and his political aides
have often challenged the honesty and integrity of the
community, damaging morale, undercutting its mission and
making the already difficult challenge of uncovering threats
to our nation even harder.
But, by putting the CIA’s analytic judgment (that one of
Russia’s objectives in interfering in the 2016 election was to
help then-candidate Trump) into the crosshairs of the Justice
Department, as reported by several news organizations, the
president and Attorney General William P. Barr are crossing
another line. A Justice-led review of the quality of
intelligence analysis represents yet another weakening of the
intelligence community as an institution. The country could be
paying for these kinds of decisions for years to come.
Is Still Looking For ‘New’ Reason To Add Citizenship
Question To Census (Talking Points Memo, July 5, 2019)
BUT... "Judge Hazel ordered discovery to begin in a letter
issued less than two hours after the DOJ asked for it to be
delayed. 'Plaintiffs’ remaining claims are based on the
premise that the genesis of the citizenship question was
steeped in discriminatory motive,' Hazel wrote. 'Regardless of
the justification Defendants may now find for a 'new'
decision, discovery related to the origins of the question
will remain relevant.' Hazel has been trying to keep the new
round of discovery on a tight 45-day schedule and has
expressed dismay with a confusing series of statements by DOJ
lawyers and President Trump this week.
Per an earlier injunction, census forms will continue to be
printed without the question, the government assured U.S.
District Judge George Hazel in the Friday filing.
Trump’s "Inoffensive" War on Reality (New Yorker, July
Donald Trump’s Fourth of July address was most remarkable for
the things it did not contain. Immediately afterward,
commentators noted that Trump didn’t use the opportunity to
attack the Democratic Party, to issue explicit campaign
slogans, or, it would appear, make any impromptu additions
(with the possible exception of the claim that American troops
commandeered enemy airports during the Revolutionary War).
Campaign slogans and glaring Trumpisms were not the only
things absent from the speech. Immigrants were missing. Trump
has retired the myth of America as a nation of immigrants
because he staked his election campaign and his legitimacy as
president on the demonization of immigrants - and on
mobilizing Americans for a war against immigrants.
Two days before the July 4th celebration, the Department of
Homeland Security’s Inspector General issued an urgent report
on the conditions in migrant detention facilities in the Rio
Grande Valley. Photographs in the report showed children and
adults in crowded cages. Other pictures showed people in
extremely crowded holding rooms raising up signs in windows,
apparently attempting to attract the attention of government
inspectors. The document reported 'serious overcrowding' and
prolonged detention that violated federal guidelines. Children
had no access to showers and hadn’t been provided with hot
meals. At one facility, the report said, adults were held in
standing-room-only conditions. The report left no doubt that
'concentration camps' was an accurate term for the facilities
it described. On the eve of Independence Day, the media
reported the story, which looked obscene among other stories.
How could we read, write, or talk about anything else?
The President responded in a series of tweets in which he
blamed the Democrats and the immigrants themselves. 'If
Illegal Immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the
quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them
not to come. All problems solved!,' he tweeted. Most of
Trump’s tweeting day, though, was spent on other issues:
railing against the Supreme Court’s decision not to allow a
citizenship question on the census, for example, and hyping
expectations for his Fourth of July extravaganza. In the
Trumpian universe, immigrants pose a superhuman threat but are
themselves of subhuman significance. Through his tweets, his
attacks on the media, and his lying, Trump has been waging a
battle to define reality to the exclusion of documented facts.
In Trump’s reality, it’s not just that the Administration
refuses to be held accountable for running concentration camps
- it’s that the camps, and the suffering in them, do not
Following his speech, Trump kept retweeting images of his own
limo leaving the White House, of fighter jets flying, of the
red stage and a strange cross-like formation of red elevated
platforms, and of himself speaking. In these pictures, Trump
is the supreme ruler of the mightiest military empire in the
history of the world and his people are with him in the public
square. Nothing else exists.
A common maxim of the Trump era has it that two Americas
exist, each with its own media and consequently limited view
of the world. In fact, though, in one America there is only
Trump, his tanks and planes and ships. In the America that a
majority of us inhabit, however, there are concentration camps
- and Trump with his flyovers.
In less than three years, as our senses were dulled by the
crudeness of the tweets, the speed of the news cycle, the
blatant quality of the lies, and the brutality of official
rhetoric, Trump has reframed America, stripping it of its
ideals, dumbing it down, and reducing it to a nation at war
against people who want to join it.
Alaska, Shatters All-Time Heat Record, And It Could Get
Hotter Still (Huffington Post, July 5, 2019)
Temperatures spiked to 90 degrees for the first time in the
earthquake in years rattles Southern California (Los
Angeles Times, July 5, 2019)
The largest earthquake in two decades rattled Southern
California on Thursday morning, shaking communities from Las
Vegas to Long Beach and ending a quiet period in the state’s
seismic history. Striking at 10:33 a.m., the magnitude 6.4
temblor was centered about 125 miles northeast of Los Angeles
in the remote Searles Valley area near where Inyo, San
Bernardino and Kern counties meet. It was felt as far away as
Ensenada and Mexicali in Mexico, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Reno and
Chico, Calif. A 5.4 magnitude aftershock awoke many Friday
submarine hit by deadly fire is nuclear-powered, Putin
confirms (CBS News, July 4, 2019)
National Trust plans to dump fossil fuel shares (BBC
News, July 4, 2019)
The National Trust is Europe's largest conservation charity.
That same goal was also adopted by the Church of England in
2015. A year ago, the Church's General Synod voted to withdraw
investment from companies that do not meet the terms of the
Paris climate agreement by 2023. And last month, the Norwegian
parliament approved plans for the country's sovereign wealth
fund, which manages $1tn (£786bn) of the country's assets, to
sell coal and oil investments worth $13bn and invest in
renewable energy projects instead.
Amash: Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s
why I’m leaving the GOP. (Washington Post, July 4, 2019)
Rep. Justin Amash, the only Republican in Congress to have
accused President Trump of impeachable acts, said Thursday
that he is leaving the GOP and becoming an independent,
bemoaning that 'modern politics is trapped in a partisan death
spiral, but there is an escape.' In an op-ed in The Washington
Post, the Michigan congressman described himself as a lifelong
Republican who has grown disenchanted with party politics and
frightened by a two-party system that has 'evolved into an
existential threat to American principles and institutions.'
Citing the warnings in George Washington’s farewell address,
Amash said Americans 'have allowed government officials, under
assertions of expediency and party unity, to ignore the most
basic tenets of our constitutional order: separation of
powers, federalism and the rule of law.'
(One Republican knew how to celebrate Independence Day! Read
his - and George Washington's - warning. Also see May
a citizenship question could cause the census to miss
millions of Hispanics (Washington Post, July 4, 2019)
And why that’s a big deal. The data that forms the census are
the foundation for the relative functioning of the U.S.
economy and government at all levels. Census and its derived
data provides the most accurate and reliable demographic,
housing and economic data.
The data is a tool for local governments in decisions
including budgeting, disaster response, land-use planning, and
measuring economic or environmental impacts. Researchers rely
on it to study topics as divergent as the spread of diseases
and gentrification. For businesses, the data helps decide
where to set up shop, who their prospective customers are,
what products to launch and how to market them.
Members within all of those groups have voiced concern over
the inclusion of a citizenship question and the potential
undercount. The current Supreme Court case was brought, in
part, by New York state, 16 other states, seven cities and the
U.S. Conference of Mayors. Friend-of-the-court briefings have
been filed by research and business groups alike, including
the American Statistical Association, polling firm Nielsen and
ride-hailing company Uber.
Fourth of July speech inserts politics and protests into
national celebration (Los Angeles Times, July 4, 2019)
With tanks on the streets of the nation’s capital, military
jet flyovers and a presidential address on the steps of the
Lincoln Memorial, President Trump injected his trademark
over-the-top style - as well as his divisive personality -
into the traditional fireworks display at the National Mall.
While most presidents have steered clear of Fourth of July
festivities to avoid politicizing the day, Trump has been
personally involved in the details of the planning - much to
the frustration of local officials and residents in the
predominantly liberal city.
Ever since Trump’s 2017 visit to watch France’s Bastille Day
celebration, he has pressed for a similar event at home. He
initially tried to organize a military parade on Veterans Day,
but plans fell apart amid opposition from the local government
and estimates that the costs would run into the tens of
millions of dollars. Even some Pentagon officials bristled at
such an overt public display of American military power. The
Trump administration has still not repaid the city for the
nearly $7 million it spent to help fund his inauguration in
Fourth of July celebration thrills supporters, angers
opponents (Washington Post, July 4, 2019)
Americans gathered in Washington on Thursday as one nation,
feeling a little divisible, struggling to maintain unity on
the Fourth of July, a summer ritual that normally brings a
day-long pause to partisan hostilities. But that was before
President Trump updated the day with his unique stamp -
speaking of 'one people chasing one dream and one magnificent
destiny' from a Lincoln Memorial flanked by armored vehicles,
with military jets passing overhead - his presence thrilling
supporters, angering opponents and creating near-parallel
celebrations of the country’s 243rd birthday.
From Trump’s Fourth of July Celebration (New York Times,
July 4, 2019)
President Trump added flyovers, a display of tanks and a
program in front of the Lincoln Memorial to the traditional
lineup of festivities.
the effort to build suspense - and crowds - for Trump’s
Fourth of July (Washington Post, July 3, 2019)
says his generals are ‘thrilled’ with his Fourth of July
salute. Their silence suggests otherwise. (Washington
Post, July 3, 2019)
More than any president in modern history, Trump has ignored
norms intended to keep the armed forces out of partisan
fights. He has dispatched U.S. troops to the southern border
and even suggested that it would be acceptable for them to
open fire on unarmed migrants - a violation of the laws of
war. He has tweeted orders at top generals in a brazen end run
around the traditional chain of command and regularly refers
to America’s fighting forces as 'my military.' His speeches to
military audiences, such as at service academy graduations,
have been filled with partisan broadsides and false
statements. Trump’s July 4 celebration, which he’s calling
'Salute to America,' has elevated his norm-defying behavior.
Some former military officials said that if Trump’s speech
devolves into an attack on his political enemies, the top
brass should quietly step off the stage. 'The generals think
they are adhering to norms and doing their duty” when they
stand by the president. “What they don’t realize is that
they’re paving the groundwork for further abuse. They are
making it harder for the next guy to make the right call.'
Reasons Not to Worry About Trump’s Fourth of July - and 1
Big Reason to Worry (Politico, July 3, 2019))
Other presidents have celebrated the Fourth. It's hard to
think of one who has less sense of what it's about.
Trump has been obsessed by the idea of a massive military
parade ever since attending the Bastille Day celebration in
Paris two years ago, first ordering up a Veterans Day parade
for 2018 that was canceled only after the price tag proved
embarrassingly high. For someone who literally cannot grasp
the possibility that more people voted for his opponent than
him, or that fewer people came to his inaugural than his
predecessor’s, it is not much of a reach to imagine that in
the president’s mind he will see the flyovers and the
fireworks as a nation paying tribute to the greatness of a
man, rather than the other way around.
It is true that, on some public occasions, Trump has been able
to subordinate this vanity to a sense of occasion, at least in
his literal words. He has delivered State of the Union
speeches without describing Democrats in the House chamber as
treasonous, or the media in the press sections as enemies of
the people. What remains unsettling, however, is the
thoroughly reasonable conviction that when the president
delivers such homilies, he has no real connection to those
words. At any moment, it’s plausible to expect that the id
will drive the superego from the podium, and the explosion of
grievance, self-pity and rage will erupt - dominating a day
that has in recent times been free of political division.
York attorney general claps back after Trump attacks her on
Twitter: 'My name is Letitia James' (Daily KOS, July 3,
Sorry for not responding to your tweet earlier, Mr. President.
We were a little busy standing up for the true values of our
nation, and fighting for liberty & justice for all.
We’re glad the 2020 Census will begin printing without a
history is as complicated as ours (Ars Technica, July 3,
New study hints at Neanderthal population turnover in Siberia
90,000-120,000 years ago.
produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than
other developed countries (The Guardian, July 3, 2019)
US represents 4% of the world’s population but produces 12% of
municipal solid waste, a stark contrast with China and India.
energy consumption 'equals that of Switzerland' (BBC
News, July 3, 2019)
to Track Us Online Is on the Rise. Here’s What to Do.
(New York Times, July 3, 2019)
Advertisers are increasingly turning to an invisible method
that pulls together information about your device to pinpoint
Time to Rethink What Counts as a Voter Turnout Strategy
(Behavioral Scientist, July 3, 2019)
Efforts to alleviate poverty and give people health care are
critical priorities—and perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising
that improving access to basic needs increases the value
people see in voting, or that it enables more people to cast a
ballot. But this new evidence suggests that poverty
alleviation and health care provision have the potential to
improve the health of our democracy too.
denies administration’s retreat on census citizenship
question (The Globe and Mail, July 3, 2019)
'The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping
its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is
incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE! We are absolutely
moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the
answer to this question,' Trump wrote on Twitter.
White House and Commerce Department officials had no immediate
comment on Trump’s tweet.
'There’s nothing fake about the Department of Justice writing
us saying printing is starting without the citizenship
question,' the American Civil Liberties Union, which had
challenged the citizenship question in court, wrote on
administration drops citizenship question from 2020 census
(The Hill, July 2, 2019)
"The Trump administration said Tuesday it was dropping a
citizenship question from the 2020 census, days after the
Supreme Court ruled against the question’s inclusion.
President Trump had initially said that he wanted to delay
the decennial census as his administration continued to push
for the question to be included in the 2020 survey. But that
effort appears to be over.
Files Lawsuit Seeking Disclosure of Trump Tax Returns
(New York Times, July 2, 2019)
In Tuesday’s filing, the House argued that the
administration’s defiance of its request amounted to 'an
extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain
information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the
I.R.S. and the tax laws on behalf of the American people.' It
asked a judge to order the defendants to comply.
Watchdog Finds Squalid Conditions in Border Centers (New York Times, July 2, 2019)
Overcrowded, squalid conditions are more widespread at migrant
centers along the southern border than initially revealed, the
Department of Homeland Security’s independent watchdog said
Tuesday. Its report describes standing-room-only cells,
children without showers and hot meals, and detainees
clamoring desperately for release.
'The inspector general’s report provides a shocking window
into the dangerous and dehumanizing conditions that the Trump
administration is inflicting on children and families at the
border,' Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. 'This
report is even more troubling after the discovery of the vile,
crude comments made on social media by some of those in C.B.P.
responsible for caring for migrant families and children. The
inhumanity at the border is a challenge to the conscience of
While senior Department of Homeland Security officials have
for months sounded the alarm over a record number of Central
American families crossing the southwestern border, officials
in recent weeks have disputed the descriptions of the
conditions of detained migrants. Mr. McAleenan last week
described the allegations at the Clint facility as
'unsubstantiated' and called it 'clean and well managed.' But
the government’s own report backed up the Democrats’
Park Service diverts $2.5 million for Trump’s July 4
extravaganza (Washington Post, July 2, 2019)
The agency will dip into entrance and recreation fees
primarily intended to improve parks across the country,
according to two individuals familiar with the arrangement.
Trump administration officials have consistently refused to
say how much taxpayers will have to pay for the expanded
celebration on the Mall this year, which the president has
dubbed 'Salute to America'.
There Earth-Friendly Disposable Dishware? (Sierra Club,
June 2, 2019)
Not paper, not styrofoam and most plastics. When in doubt,
avoid single-use items.
Maps Show How Groundwater Affects Lakes and Rivers (Sierra Club, July 2, 2019)
100 years of pumping has reduced stream flows by 50 percent in
Change Denialists Dubbed Auto Makers the ‘Opposition’ in
Fight Over Trump’s Emissions Rollback (New York Times,
July 2, 2019)
Automakers have balked at the Trump administration’s plan,
which in its most extreme scenario proposes to substantially
weaken Obama-era standards that would have doubled the fuel
economy requirement of new cars by 2025. Last month, 17
automakers asked Mr. Trump to soften his approach, saying his
plan threatened to hurt their profits and produce 'untenable'
instability given that California and 13 other states, as well
as Canada, are expected to stick with the stricter standards -
raising the specter of a national auto market split in two,
and a nasty legal battle.
leaves Mexican city looking like dead of winter in middle of
summer (Accuweather, July 1, 2019)
In a tweet, Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramirez said 'I
witnessed scenes that I had never seen before' after surveying
the results of the extreme weather on Sunday morning, and
attributed the freak amount of hail to the effects of climate
change. He added on Twitter, 'Hail more than a meter high, and
then we wonder if climate change exists.'
Is Our Fault’: El Salvador’s President Takes Blame for
Migrant Deaths in Rio Grande (New York Times, July 1,
Trump critic’s cartoon went viral and, within hours, he lost
his contract. He says that’s no coincidence. (Washington
Post, July 1, 2019)
American Medical Association Is Taking a More Aggressive
Approach on Abortion Legislation (Time, July 1, 2019)
The AMA is suing North Dakota to block two abortion-related
laws, the latest signal the doctors’ group is shifting to a
more aggressive stance as the Donald Trump administration and
state conservatives ratchet up efforts to eliminate legal
congressman offers amazing excuse for campaign money spent
on extramarital affairs (Daily KOS, July 1, 2019)
Hunter is on trial for having spent campaign money for
personal reasons, including not just affairs but vacations,
clothes, and video games. His expenditures on affairs, then,
are entirely relevant to the charges he faces. But! Hunter
carried on these affairs with three lobbyists, a staffer in
his own office, and a Republican National Committee official.
So his lawyers are arguing that the money he spent in the
course of having affairs with them should count as a
legitimate political expenditure.
Moochers of Middle America, by Paul Krugman (New York
Times, July 1, 2019)
The Democrats aren’t radical, but Republicans are.
In what sense are the Dems moving too far left? What I’m
seeing are three fairly distinct claims. First, that the party
is endangering its electoral prospects. Second, that the party
is being fiscally or economically irresponsible. Third, that
Democrats are unfairly proposing to redistribute income from
those who create wealth to those who don’t.
So you should know that the first claim is probably wrong, the
second is definitely wrong, and the third ignores the extent
to which we already do a lot of redistribution in this country
- with Republican voters some of the biggest beneficiaries.
new GOP attacks on Mueller will backfire on Trump - bigly.
(Washington Post, July 1, 2019)
If Mueller’s investigation exonerated Trump, you would think
the best strategy for Trump’s allies would be to simply sit
back while Mueller describes his findings in as detailed and
unvarnished way as possible. Oddly enough, that’s not what
they’re planning on doing.
The monumental absurdity at the core of this disconnect is the
reason this strategy is likely to backfire on Trump. Yet, at
the same time, the very existence of this strategy, despite
its obvious ridiculousness, opens a window on how the Trump
propaganda network wields disinformation, and how in certain
respects, it does serve his ends.
Welcome Humiliation of John Bolton (New York Times, July
A warmonger is the latest to lose his dignity to Donald Trump.
Say this for Donald Trump. He may be transforming American
politics into a kleptocratic fascist reality show and turning
our once-great country into a global laughingstock, but as
least he’s humiliating John Bolton in the process.
Trump tried to talk to world leaders at G-20 Summit. The
video is hard to watch (Daily KOS, June 30, 2019)
AOC: It may be shocking to some, but being someone’s daughter
actually isn’t a career qualification. The US needs our
President working the G20. Bringing a qualified diplomat
couldn’t hurt either.
The Hell Is Nancy Pelosi Doing? (Huffington Post, June
House Democrats have lost their moral compass.
Democrats agree with Trump in a surprising way
(Washington Post, June 30, 2019)
The rich have way outperformed everyone else, exacerbating
inequality and leaving many people feeling left behind.
Economic disruption and dizzying technological changes have
many parents doubting that their children will prosper.
Student debt, rising drug prices, affordable-housing
shortages, racist policing, fear of deportation, opioid abuse
- these are all-consuming facts of life for many people.
President Trump has not solved these problems, and he has made
some of them worse. In fact, he rejects solutions - on
immigration, first and foremost - rather than give up his
reelection platform of anger and hate. More, he is a major
reason for the gloom. It is hard for many Americans to have
faith in democracy when their elected leader is dishonest,
malicious and incompetent. His lies and inaction on climate
change intensify a sense of apocalyptic foreboding.
Rule of Outlaws (WhoWhatWhy, June 30, 2019)
'Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a
message to all federal employees that they need not abide by
the Hatch Act’s restrictions,' special counsel Henry Kerner
said in a June 12 letter to Trump. 'Her actions thus erode the
principal foundation of our democratic system - the rule of
In the letter, OSC suggested that Conway should be fired. The
president, again, did nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true,
because the White House attacked OSC and suggested it was
'influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations.'
The House Oversight Committee then invited Conway to testify
on the issue and, after she did not show up, voted to subpoena
her on Wednesday.
The problem with all of this is apparent - and maybe it is
just a symptom of something that has been festering for a
while: It’s really no longer accurate to say the US is
governed by the rule of law.
The president is a crook, his staff brazenly disregards laws,
he dangles pardons in front of indicted former associates, and
is considering pardoning war criminals. And while many
companies are not breaking the law, they don’t have to because
they helped write them, which means they no longer pay their
fair share of taxes - if they pay any at all. And they don’t
have to comply with regulations, e.g. to protect the
environment, because those are being dismantled.
At the same time, the vast majority of Americans are at the
mercy of a justice system that is stacked against them.
Senate Session Descends Into Screaming Match Over Poverty
Assistance Program (Time, June 29, 2019)
The Pennsylvania senate’s state budget negotiations descended
into chaos on Wednesday when lawmakers and activists clashed
over the elimination of a cash assistance program for the
state’s neediest people. The PA General Assistance Program,
which the house voted to end last week, provided roughly $200
a month to about 11,095 of the state’s poorest residents,
including many who don’t qualify for other assistance programs
or are waiting for approval.
Consultant Is Trolling Democrats With Biden Site That Isn’t
Biden’s (New York Times, June 29, 2019)
Armed with bogus websites that mock leading candidates, a
Trump campaign worker is exploiting tensions on the left with
Russian-style disinformation. His targets have included former
Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Bernie Sanders and
Senator Kamala Harris.
All the site says about its creator is buried in the fine
print at the bottom of the page. The site, it says, is a
political parody built and paid for 'BY AN American citizen
FOR American citizens,' and not the work of any campaign or
political action committee.
There is indeed an American behind the website. But he is very
much a political player, and a Republican one at that. His
name is Patrick Mauldin, and he makes videos and other digital
content for President’s Trump’s re-election campaign.
Stops President Trump From Using $2.5 Billion in Military
Funding to Build Border Wall (Time, June 29, 2019)
At issue is President Donald Trump’s February declaration of a
national emergency so that he could divert $6.7 billion from
military and other sources to begin construction of the wall,
which could have begun as early as Monday. Trump declared the
emergency after losing a fight with the Democratic-led House
that led to a 35-day government shutdown.
Trump Uses Stock Models To Act As His Supporters In Campaign
Videos (Design Taxi, June 28, 2019)
Judd Legum, creator of political newsletter Popular
Information, has revealed in a Twitter thread that the Trump
committee has been coughing up 'significant resources on a
highly manipulative online ad campaign' by using stock footage
rather than recordings of real supporters.
Trump Says Huawei Can Buy American Products Again
(Softpedia, June 29, 2019)
The policy hasn't been implemented, it's just a statement.
technology started by tracking steps. Soon, it may allow
your boss to track your performance. (Washington Post,
June 28, 2019)
Researchers says they have developed a system that assesses
worker performance with 80 percent accuracy. 'I can’t really
look into a crystal ball, but I’m hopeful this passive sensing
technology will be used to empower the workforce rather than
used against them.'"
Suffers Through Hottest Day In Its History - 113 Degrees
Fahrenheit (NPR, June 28, 2019)
The European Environmental Agency says that as rising
greenhouse gas emissions have warmed the climate, Europe's
number of warm days doubled between 1960 and 2018. The
continent is projected to have similar or worse heat waves as
often as every two years in the second half of the 21st
century, in the highest emission scenario of four scenarios
used by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
hold the balance in climate crisis (Climate News
Network, June 28, 2019)
It is not as if climate researchers are unaware of the
microbial connection: there is evidence of the powerful role
microscopic life plays in ocean warming and on land. But the
consensus statement says it documents the central role and
global importance of micro-organisms in climate change
biology. It also puts humanity on notice that the impact of
climate change will depend heavily on the responses of
micro-organisms, which are essential for achieving an
environmentally sustainable future.
The scientists want to see more research, closer attention to
the microbial underpinning of climate change, and more
education. They point out that 90% of the mass of living
things in the ocean is microbial. Marine phytoplankton take
light energy from the sun, remove carbon dioxide from the
atmosphere and provide the basis of the ocean’s life support
system. A warming world could mean a diminished ocean food
On land, microbes are powerful agencies in both agriculture
and disease. Farming ruminant animals releases vast quantities
of methane from the microbes living in their rumen – so
decisions about global farming practices need to consider
And lastly, climate change worsens the impact of pathogenic
microbes on animals (including humans) − that’s because
climate change is stressing native life, making it easier for
pathogens to cause disease.
electricity beat out coal for the first time in April
(Ars Technica, June 28, 2019)
Seasonal shifts helped, but long-term changes underlie the
Douglass would be outraged at Trump’s Fourth of July
Post, June 28, 2019)
Objectors (ACLU, June 28, 2019)
The 100-years-old American Civil Liberties Union was born out
of World War I and the repression that resulted when the U.S.
joined the fight. In one of the most consequential speeches in
U.S. history, President Wilson asked Congress for a
declaration of war that would take the country into the Great
War’s killing fields in Europe. During his address that night,
President Wilson called Americans to arms with the memorable
pledge that 'the world must be made safe for democracy.'
Most Americans today are familiar with the phrase, or
misinterpretations of it, such as 'a war to end all wars.' Few
people, however, are familiar with what Wilson said next: 'If
there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with a firm hand
of stern repression.'”
joking with Putin over eliminating journalists is a betrayal
of America. So is ignoring it. (Washington Post, June
According to Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs, who was
traveling with the president to the G-20 summit in Osaka,
Trump 'bonded with Putin' over his scorn for journalists. She
quoted their exchange in a tweet:
'Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it?' Trump
said. 'You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.'
'We also have,' Putin answered, in English. 'It’s the same.'
They then 'shared a chuckle,' she reported.
That this happened on the first anniversary of the massacre of
five employees of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis probably
never occurred to him - nor would his staff remind him of
something as apparently inconsequential to the administration
as that horror.
Passes Senate Border Bill in Striking Defeat for Pelosi
(New York Times, June 27, 2019)
Congress sent President Trump a $4.6 billion humanitarian aid
package on Thursday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi capitulated to
Republicans and Democratic moderates and dropped her
insistence on stronger protections for migrant children in
overcrowded border shelters. The vote came after a striking
display of Democratic disunity and was a setback for Ms.
The Supreme Court just abdicated its most important role:
enforcing the Constitution (Los Angeles Times, June 27,
In a 5-4 decision, split along ideological lines, the court’s
conservative majority acknowledged that partisan
gerrymandering is 'incompatible with democratic principles,'
but it nonetheless said that the issue should be regarded as a
'political question' and that federal courts thus lack
jurisdiction to hear cases challenging it.
Court undermines free and fair elections by refusing to
limit partisan gerrymandering (Daily KOS, June 27, 2019)
On Thursday, the Supreme Court dealt a historic defeat to
redistricting reformers when it ruled 5-4 along ideological
lines that challenges to partisan gerrymandering could not be
adjudicated under the U.S. Constitution, pushing the next
battles over these maps to the states. The two cases under
review dealt with congressional maps from a pair of states: a
Democratic gerrymander in Maryland and a Republican
gerrymander in North Carolina. Holding that there was no
workable standard to determine when such maps go too far, the
Supreme Court’s partisan Republican majority overturned two
lower court decisions that had thrown out both maps last year.
intelligence hacked 'Russia's Google' Yandex to spy on
accounts - sources (Reuters, June 27, 2019)
The malware, called Regin, is known to be used by the 'Five
Eyes' intelligence-sharing alliance of the United States,
Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the sources said.
Intelligence agencies in those countries declined to comment.
Western cyberattacks against Russia are seldom acknowledged or
spoken about in public. It could not be determined which of
the five countries was behind the attack on Yandex, said
sources in Russia and elsewhere, three of whom had direct
knowledge of the hack. The breach took place between October
and November 2018.
officials weigh encryption crackdown (Politico, June 27,
A ban on end-to-end-encryption would make it easier for law
enforcement and intelligence agents to access suspects' data.
But such a measure would also make it easier for hackers and
spies to steal Americans' private data, by creating loopholes
in encryption that are designed for the government but
accessible to anyone who reverse-engineers them. Watering down
encryption would also endanger people who rely on scrambled
communications to hide from stalkers and abusive ex-spouses.
The DOJ and the FBI argue that catching criminals and
terrorists should be the top priority, even if watered-down
encryption creates hacking risks. The Commerce and State
Departments disagree, pointing to the economic, security and
diplomatic consequences of mandating encryption 'backdoors.'
DHS is internally divided. The Cybersecurity and
Infrastructure Security Agency knows the importance of
encrypting sensitive data, especially in critical
infrastructure operations, but ICE and the Secret Service
regularly run into encryption roadblocks during their
(And nobody's mentioning infringement
of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment guarantee of privacy?)
turns out planes are even worse for the climate than we
thought (NewScientist, June 27, 2019)
Their non-CO2 warming effect is set to triple by 2050,
according to a study by Ulrike Burkhardt and Lisa Bock at the
Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Germany. Altogether,
flying is responsible for around 5 per cent of global warming,
the team says, so this figure will soar even higher – and no
meaningful actions are being taken to prevent this.
Dragonfly Will Fly Around Titan Looking for Origins, Signs
of Life (NASA, June 27, 2019)
NASA has announced that our next destination in the solar
system is the unique, richly organic world Titan. Advancing
our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly
mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites
around Saturn’s icy moon. Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and
arrive in 2034. The rotorcraft will fly to dozens of promising
locations on Titan looking for prebiotic chemical processes
common on both Titan and Earth. Dragonfly marks the first time
NASA will fly a multi-rotor vehicle for science on another
planet; it has eight rotors and flies like a large drone. It
will take advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere – four times
denser than Earth’s – to become the first vehicle ever to fly
its entire science payload to new places for repeatable and
targeted access to surface materials.
says it will label tweets from Trump and other leaders that
break its rules (CNN, June 27, 2019)
Twitter plans to place a disclaimer on future tweets from
world leaders that break its rules but which Twitter decides
are in the public interest, the company said in a blog post
Thursday. This policy change could face its most prominent
test in President Trump. Trump has repeatedly tested Twitter's
community standards with his regular tirades on the platform
and some of the president's tweets have run afoul of Twitter's
claims Mueller a criminal, is 'very happy' McCain is dead,
and Fed chief is 'a pu— ' (Daily KOS, June 26, 2019)
In an interview today with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo, Donald Trump
went on an extended rant that included repeating claims that
his campaign was spied on, claiming that Robert Mueller
'illegally terminated the emails,' and declaring that the
Federal Reserve chair isn’t a tough guy but … something not so
tough. And then Trump moved to the stage at a meeting of the
Christian organization Faith and Freedom Coalition and
informed the Christian crowd that, if he hadn’t won in 2016,
Iran would have conquered the entire Middle East. And, most
Christian of all, he expressed his hope that John McCain is in
Republican Party has evolved into an American version of
Europe's far-right neo-fascists (Daily KOS, June 26, 2019)
"According to its 2016 manifesto, the Republican Party lies
far from the Conservative Party in Britain and the Christian
Democratic Union in Germany - mainstream right-leaning
parties - and closer to far-right parties like Alternative
for Germany, whose platform contains plainly xenophobic,
anti-Muslim statements. In fact, the only significant
difference between the U.S. Republican party and the
far-right neo-fascists is that the Republican platform does
not directly and explicitly espouse bigotry as policy.
Instead, it uses culturally-coded 'dog whistles.'
Warren Just Released a Plan to Protect American Elections
(Mother Jones, June 25, 2019)
A $20 billion effort would require audits and offer bonuses
for high voter turnout. "Our elections should be as secure as
Fort Knox," Warren wrote. 'But instead, they’re less secure
than your Amazon account.'
Tax Us More, 19 U.S. Billionaires Plead In Letter To
Presidential Candidates (Huffington Post, June 25, 2019)
We 'enjoy uncommon fortunes, but each of us wants to live in
an America that solves the biggest challenges of our common
future,' notes the plea.
Earth’s climate is paying for our addiction to plastic
(The Guardian, June 25, 2019)
Every stage of the plastic lifecycle releases harmful carbon
emissions into the atmosphere, contributing to global heating.
admits to unlawful release of PFAS in Alabama (Chemical & Engineering News,
June 25, 2019)
"US EPA barred company from discharging two substances
Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then
Trump Became President. (New York Times, June 25, 2019)
The project’s reversal of fortunes has angered
environmentalists and focused attention on an unusual
connection between a Chilean billionaire and President Trump’s
is what they deserve, justice is what we can deliver: Let's
pay contractors back wages, by Rep. Ayanna Pressley,
D-Mass. (The Hill, June
It’s been nearly six months since the longest government
shutdown in our country’s history, and while federal
government employees rightfully received backpay for the time
they couldn’t go to work, thousands of government contractors
have yet to be made whole for the wages lost over the course
of the shutdown. Government contractors perform essential jobs
that keep our government operating - janitors, security
officers and food service workers who work diligently day in
and day out, oftentimes on an hourly basis and at low wages,
to keep our government buildings across the country safe and
clean. We’ve made historic progress toward securing the back
pay these contract workers are owed, but unless and until we
do, these workers and their families will continue to struggle
to catch up.
sues US over mandate to monitor Huawei shipments
(Engadget, June 25, 2019)
"It says it can't monitor
packages on the scale the government wants.
wrong with the North Pole? (New Scientist, June 25,
"It isn’t just that your compass can be thrown off by local
quirks in the magnetic field. The north pole itself isn’t
what it used to be. In 1900, the pole was in Canada. A
century later, it was near Greenland. In the past 18 years,
it has raced eastwards at about 40 kilometres per year, and
is currently heading for Siberia.
The weird behaviour of Earth’s magnetic field doesn’t end
there. It also occasionally reverses its polarity: there
were times in our planet’s history when a compass needle
would have pointed to what we call south. Even now, there
are spots under the surface where a compass would point the
wrong way. What is going on? The mystery has deep
implications for technology and the future of our planet.
a Poof, Mars Methane Is Gone (New York Times, June 25,
Last week, NASA’s Curiosity rover detected a belch of natural
gas on the red planet. The gas has since dissipated, leaving
only a mystery.
about the plastic crisis? Stop trying so hard. (The
Guardian, June 24, 2019)
have made 8.3bn tons of plastic since 1950. This is the
illustrated story of where it's gone. (The Guardian, June 24, 2019)
Until recently we didn’t know how much plastic was piling up
around us. When we found out, the picture wasn’t pretty. We
make good-faith efforts to help the planet by recycling, but
what we really need to do is even simpler.
Pi used to steal data from NASA lab (BBC, June 24, 2019)
An audit report reveals the gadget was used to take about
500MB of data. It said two of the files that were taken dealt
with the international transfer of restricted military and
space technology. The attacker who used the device to hack the
network went undetected for about 10 months.
power of Ravelry’s stance against white supremacy reaches
beyond the knitting community (TechCrunch, June 23,
We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also
allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump
administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.
You can still participate if you do in fact support the
administration, you just can’t talk about it here.
Department buries studies showing dangers of climate change
(Politico, June 23, 2019)
The Trump administration has stopped promoting
government-funded research into how higher temperatures can
damage crops and pose health risks. It has refused to
publicize dozens of government-funded studies that carry
warnings about the effects of climate change, defying a
longstanding practice of touting such findings by the
Agriculture Department’s acclaimed in-house scientists. The
studies range from a groundbreaking discovery that rice loses
vitamins in a carbon-rich environment — a potentially serious
health concern for the 600 million people world-wide whose
diet consists mostly of rice — to a finding that climate
change could exacerbate allergy seasons to a warning to
farmers about the reduction in quality of grasses important
for raising cattle.
All of these studies were peer-reviewed by scientists and
cleared through the non-partisan Agricultural Research
Service, one of the world’s leading sources of scientific
information for farmers and consumers. None of the studies
were focused on the causes of global warming – an often
politically charged issue. Rather, the research examined the
wide-ranging effects of rising carbon dioxide, increasing
temperatures and volatile weather.
The administration, researchers said, appears to be trying to
limit the circulation of evidence of climate change and avoid
press coverage that may raise questions about the
administration’s stance on the issue. “The intent is to try to
suppress a message — in this case, the increasing danger of
human-caused climate change,” said Michael Mann, a leading
climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. “Who loses
out? The people, who are already suffering the impacts of sea
level rise and unprecedented super storms, droughts, wildfires
and heat waves.”
legal fight looms over Trump pollution rule (The Hill,
June 23, 2019)
At least nine attorneys general have criticized the new rule
and are expected to file lawsuits soon. 'The coal lobbyists
and climate deniers running the Trump Administration wrote
every word of this unjustifiable and illegal rule that will
pollute the air, explode emissions, and cost thousands of
lives,' Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) said
in a statement. 'Massachusetts is committed to addressing the
climate crisis and the public health impacts on our residents,
and we will be suing to stand up for science and federal law.'
and robotics are bigger threats to American jobs than
outsourcing (Daily KOS, June 23, 2019)
We will see wholesale job losses, and world economies flipped
upside down. This will not happen overnight, but it could very
well happen in my lifetime.
is the least electable candidate - here's why (The
Hill, June 23, 2019)
the rise of populism: 'It pops up in unexpected places'
(The Guardian, June 22, 2019)
How we paired up with a network of political scientists to
create a wide-ranging series and a groundbreaking database.
Rover on Mars Detects Puff of Gas That Hints at Possibility
of Life (New York Times, June 22, 2019)
The Curiosity mission’s scientists picked up the signal this
week, and are seeking additional readings from the red planet.
have discovered a sea of fresh water under the ocean
(Quartz, June 22, 2019)
Scientists from Columbia University and the Woods Hole
Oceanographic Institution spent 10 days on a research ship
towing electromagnetic sensors from New Jersey to
Massachusetts. By measuring the way electromagnetic waves
traveled through fresh and saline water, researchers mapped
out fresh-water reservoirs for the first time.
It turns out the subterranean pools stretch for at least 50
miles off the US Atlantic coast, containing vast stores of
low-salinity groundwater, about twice the volume of Lake
Ontario. The deposits begin about 600 ft (183 m) below the
seafloor and stretch for hundreds of miles. That rivals the
size of even the largest terrestrial aquifers. The size and
extent of the freshwater deposits suggest they are also being
fed by modern-day runoff from land - and may exist elsewhere
with similar topography.
approved cyber-strikes against Iran’s missile systems
(Washington Post, June 22, 2019)
The cyberstrikes, launched Thursday night by personnel with
U.S. Cyber Command, were in the works for weeks if not months,
according to two of these people, who said the Pentagon
proposed launching them after Iran’s alleged attacks on two
oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this month. The strike
against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was coordinated
with U.S. Central Command, the military organization with
purview of activity throughout the Middle East. Though
crippling to Iran’s military command and control systems, the
operation did not involve a loss of life or civilian
casualties - a contrast to conventional strikes, which the
president said he called back Thursday because they would not
The administration on Saturday warned industry officials to be
alert for cyberattacks originating from Iran.
a Steadfast Hawk, Coaxes a Hesitant Trump on Iran (New
York Times, June 22, 2019)
In April, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Bolton pushed Mr. Trump to
designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a
terrorist organization, even though Pentagon and C.I.A.
officials opposed the action, saying it could provoke attacks.
Mr. Pompeo then announced the end of permission for eight
governments, including American allies, to bypass sanctions in
buying oil from Iran. Those moves, analysts say, have led to
the current crisis.
In recent classified briefings to Congress and in public
declarations, Mr. Pompeo has discussed ties between Iran and
Al Qaeda. Democratic and some Republican lawmakers say that is
a blatant attempt to lay the groundwork for bypassing the need
for new congressional war authorization if Mr. Trump decides
to strike Iran.
Lawmakers also question Mr. Pompeo’s role in stalled policy on
other signature Trump issues, such as Venezuela and North
Korea. The North, unlike Iran, actually has a nuclear arsenal.
And lawmakers have grilled Mr. Pompeo on his unwavering
support of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin
Salman, who American intelligence officials say was
responsible for the killing of the columnist Jamal Khashoggi
and who is leading an air war in Yemen that has resulted in a
humanitarian disaster. Legislators are also furious that Mr.
Pompeo has sought to circumvent the congressional approval
process for arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab
Critics say that growing scrutiny of Mr. Pompeo is warranted
given his unrelenting attacks on Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton during the Benghazi hearings when he was a congressman
- and given the potential threats to the United States
resulting from the administration’s foreign policy.
Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were lost on the Moon. Really.
(Fast Company, June 22, 2019)
Neither NASA nor the Apollo 11 astronauts knew exactly where
they were when they landed on the Moon. Yet it didn’t impede
glowing light on Mars captured by NASA's Curiosity probe
(Independent, June 21, 2019)
Could it be a huge pile of aliens driving past? Probably not.
Bank: The Land Where the Internet Ends (New York Times,
June 21, 2019)
To find real solitude, you have to go out of range. But every
year that’s harder to do, as America’s off-the-grid places
Chrome has become surveillance software. It’s time to
switch. (Washington Post, June 21, 2019)
Our latest privacy experiment found Chrome ushered more than
11,000 tracker cookies into our browser - in a single week.
Having the world’s biggest advertising company make the most
popular Web browser is about as smart as letting kids run a
candy shop. Here’s why Firefox is better.
reverses his earlier claim that he stopped Iran action on
the brink of the attack (Daily KOS, June 21, 2019)
It’s not clear that Trump’s statement about planes not being
in the air in advance of the attack is a lie, or plain
ignorance. What is clear is that Trump’s earlier claim to have
stopped the mission just ten minutes away from hitting Iranian
targets was an out-and-out fabrication designed to add some
fake drama to the situation. Trump cancelled the operation on
Thursday evening before 7PM D.C. time, which was still several
hours before the scheduled operation in Iran.
Trump’s claim that he got a last minute estimate of potential
casualties is also a clear lie, both because Trump has dressed
the tale up with all the knee-scrapping honorifics he usually
adds when relating such stories, and because the Pentagon
would have certainly made the results of such a strike clear
before it was authorized. But there is another reason he might
have changed his mind - Nancy Pelosi told him no.
But of course, Trump has been pretty good at not just ignoring
Congress, but actively working to diminish congressional
authority over everything. So … maybe it was some other
warning he heeded. A warning like, 'I will say it straight, it
would be a catastrophe, at a minimum for the region,' said
says he doesn't want war with Iran, but there will be
'obliteration' if it comes (NBC News, June 21, 2019)
Trump also discussed his decision-making process that led him
to halt strikes on Iran on Thursday night, saying that he
hadn't given final approval to any attack and adding that no
planes were in the air.
on Iran Approved by Trump, Then Abruptly Pulled Back
(New York Times, June 20, 2019)
As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were
expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at
the White House among the president’s top national security
officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple
senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the
Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on
a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile
batteries. The operation was underway in its early stages when
it was called off, a senior administration official said.
Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no
missiles had been fired when word came to stand down. The strike was set to take place
just before dawn Friday in Iran to minimize risk to the
Iranian military and civilians.
The abrupt reversal put a halt to what would have been the
president’s third military action against targets in the
Middle East. Mr. Trump had struck twice at targets in Syria,
in 2017 and 2018.
The retaliation plan was intended as a response to the
shooting down of the RQ-4 Global Hawk, an unmanned, $130 million surveillance
drone made by Northrop Grumman, which was struck
Thursday morning by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Iran’s
ability to target and destroy the high-altitude American
drone, which was developed to evade the very surface-to-air
missiles used to bring it down, surprised some Defense
Department officials, who interpreted it as a show of how
difficult Tehran can make things for the United States as it
deploys more troops and steps up surveillance in the region.
Still Is Attempting to Destroy the Careers of
Its Critics, Including Free Software Proponents
(TechRights, June 20, 2019)
It’s very important to understand what Microsoft is up to:
it’s not a friend, it’s just getting closer for the purpose of
causing damage (from the inside). Earlier this month Dina Bass
wrote a widely-syndicated (dozens of news sites) piece
pretending that Microsoft was reaching for peace and had
already appeased its biggest critics. It’s a lie, but if
the media keeps repeating this lie, then more and more people
will believe it. To appease the Linux Foundation and OSI,
Microsoft just had to dump some money on them; that’s not
about trust, it’s about corrupting people using money - not
the same thing!
warn that climate change could hinge on microbes (MSN,
June 20, 2019)
More than 30 microbiologists signed a statement published in
Nature Reviews Microbiology yesterday (June 19) intended to
put 'humanity on notice' about the risk of ignoring these tiny
creatures. In the statement, titled 'Scientists’ warning to
humanity: microorganisms and climate change,' they write that
'the microscopic majority can no longer be the unseen elephant
in the room.'
Microscope Sees ‘Through the Eyes of the Cell’ (New York
Times, June 20, 2019)
A new imaging tool works more like Google Maps than a
vaccines at the pharmacy or at home will be the way of the
future (Ars Technica, June 20, 2019)
Our current model of manufacturing stockpiles won't work
against bioterror or superbugs.
Himalayas Are in Even Worse Shape Than We Thought
(Outside, June 19, 2019)
New research shows just how much global warming is eating away
at the glaciers on the world’s highest peaks.
Bad Buzz For Bees: Record Number Of Honeybee Colonies Died
Last Winter (NPR, June 19, 2019)
Varroa mites are the number one concern around wintertime.
They've become harder to control because some of the tools
that beekeepers have been using - chemical strips that attract
and kill mites, essential oils and organic acids - are losing
Pollinators are responsible for one of every three bites of
food we take, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department.
Most of these pollinators are domesticated honeybees.
Maryann Frazier, a retired senior extension associate for the
College of Agricultural Sciences at Pennsylvania State
University, says the results are troubling, if unsurprising.
Stressed, sick bees in close proximity are likely to die
during the winter months. And bees face increasing levels of
stress. Until all parties work together to address the sources
of that stress, she says, steep winter die-offs will continue.
'I don't expect to see a change in losses over time for this
reason. There's been no significant effort to correct what's
causing the decline,' she says.
Take pesticides, she says. 'There's a huge amount of data
[and] research showing pesticides are a significant player in
the decline of honeybees and other insect species. And yet
there's been so little done to make a change on that front.
The EPA has been incredibly ineffective.'
She says that pesticide industry leaders often try to shift
blame for bee declines solely onto Varroa mites and viruses
when in fact, she says, 'there is so much evidence that
pesticides are a major player in the decline of honeybees. And
these things are synergistic,' she adds. Pesticides can
compromise immune systems, so when a mite or other pest hits a
bee compromised by pesticides, it's a downward spiral. Other
sources of stress, like changing landscapes, have not been
superbugs, accidentally or otherwise (Ars Technica, June
Synthetic biology and hacking viruses sounds great until you
wipe out humanity.
should create a global DNA threat-detection network to fight
future pathogens (Ars
Technica, June 19,
"Geneticist George Church talks about early
detection and surveillance.
Wants to Replace Email. Is That What We Want? (New York
Times, June 19, 2019)
As the office chat start-up prepares to go public, some of us
are still figuring out how available we want to be - and
whether it’s O.K. to ping the C.E.O.
rise of the only child: How America is coming around to the
idea of ‘just one’ (Washington Post, June 19, 2019)
The proportion of mothers who had one child at the end of
their childbearing years doubled from 11 percent in 1976 to 22
percent in 2015, according to Pew Research Center, and census
data show the trend continuing to tick steadily upward.
shareholder meeting draws protests over antitrust, human
rights (CNet, June 19, 2019)
Google’s recent scandals take center stage at its parent
company’s annual gathering of investors.
urge Google to break up before regulators force it to.
(Reuters, June 19, 2019)
The proposal and 13 other shareholder measures opposed by the
company were voted down on Wednesday, according to its
preliminary tally. Alphabet’s top two executives, Larry Page
and Sergey Brin, hold 51.3 percent of shareholder votes.
Nevertheless, it shows a growing focus on the prospect of
antitrust action against Alphabet and other big technology
firms such as Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc as they face a
political and public backlash over privacy issues and the
power they now wield over the world’s information.
Fast (Center for Public Integrity, June 19, 2019)
Hypersonic missiles are a revolutionary new type of weapon,
one that would have the unprecedented ability to maneuver and
then to strike almost any target in the world within a matter
of minutes. Capable of traveling at more than 15 times the
speed of sound, hypersonic missiles arrive at their targets in
a blinding, destructive flash, before any sonic booms or other
meaningful warning. So far, there are no surefire defenses.
Fast, effective, precise and unstoppable - these are rare but
highly desired characteristics on the modern battlefield. And
the missiles are being developed not only by the United States
but also by China, Russia and other countries.
Not To Prevent a Cyberwar With Russia (Wired, June 18,
Since 2017, Trump has been elevating Cyber Command's authority
and reversing Obama administration rules that required other
agencies' sign-off before it launched an offensive hacking
operation. But former White House cybersecurity officials
caution against that cyberwar hawkishness. 'The idea that we
can use cyber offense capabilities to impose sabotage-like
effects, and to do so in increasingly large scale and costly
ways until they get it through their head that they can’t win,
I don’t think that's going to work,' says Tom Bossert, who
served as White House homeland security advisor and the
president's most senior cybersecurity-focused official until
April of last year. 'I want to make sure we don’t end up in an
escalatory cyber exchange where we lose more than they do.'
In many respects the US economy and infrastructure is far more
reliant on digitization and automation than Russia's, giving
the Kremlin an inherent advantage in any future
no-holds-barred cyberwar. He paraphrases former secretary of
defense Ash Carter: 'If you're doused in gasoline, don't start
a match-throwing contest.'
plan to deport 'millions' likely not feasible (ABC
News, June 18, 2019)
President Donald Trump’s promise on the eve of a campaign
rally to begin deporting next week 'millions' of people living
in the U.S. illegally is raising the issue of how the
administration could feasibly launch such a massive operation
because it's out of space to hold them. Also in question would
be whether the administration would further abandon its past
focus of deporting undocumented migrants convicted of crimes
in order to deport families, which at least one top official
said was inevitable. Another concern would be that families
could be separated, possibly leaving thousands of young
children in limbo without guardians.
Poll: Trump Losing Florida to Warren, Sanders, and Biden
(Daily KOS, June 18, 2019)
A Quinnipiac University poll released today shows all
Democratic candidates lead Donald Trump or are in a
statistical dead heat in the swing state of Florida.Among
Independent Florida voters, Sanders does the best, winning
that group by 17% (51%-34%). But all the Democratic candidates
beat Trump by at least 6% among Independents.
Quinnipiac follows other polls that show Trump in trouble in
many battleground states. A leaked internal Republican poll
from March showed Trump ahead in only 2 of 17 battleground
wants money upfront after Trump stiffs cities on campaign
rally bills (Daily KOS, June 18, 2019)
Trump’s campaign has been doing what any Trump organization
does - not paying its bills. In this case, it includes bills
accrued for local law enforcement assistance at Trump campaign
events, requested by the Secret Service. Looking through
municipal records, the Center for Public Integrity found that
Trump’s campaign still owes around $841,219, dating as far
back as 2016, to at least nine city governments.
Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not
Donald Trump | Editorial (Orlando FL Sentinel, June 18.
Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his
re-election campaign. We’re here to announce our endorsement
for president in 2020, or, at least, who we’re not endorsing:
Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a
candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the
identity of his opponent. Because there’s no point pretending
we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump. After 2½
years we’ve seen enough.
was ready to ‘blow up everything’: Biographer Michael Wolff
on why Mueller didn’t indict (Raw Story, June 18, 2019)
If Mueller had pushed Donald Trump into a corner he would blow
up everything. Donald Trump would take the country’s political
institutions down with him. Trump would take down the
Department of Justice. Trump would not care. For somebody like
Robert Mueller, this was a reality he had to confront. Mueller
was likely thinking to himself, 'I have to deal with the fact
that somebody who has as much power as I do, or more, can use
this power in a way that could harm everybody in a much
greater way.' Robert Mueller decided it was much better to let
Donald Trump just run out the clock than to give Trump the
opportunity and the cause to destroy everything, the country’s
shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than
predicted. (The Guardian, June 18, 2019)
Ice blocks frozen solid for thousands of years destabilized.
The climate is now warmer than at any time in last 5,000
lays bare reality of melting Greenland sea ice (The Guardian, June 18, 2019)
Research teams traversing partially melted fjord to retrieve
weather equipment release startling picture.
ousted President Morsi buried after courtroom death
(Associated Press, June 18, 2019)
Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane (The
Atlantic, June 17, 2019)
Five years ago, Flight MH370 vanished into the Indian Ocean.
Officials on land know more about why than they dare to say.
immigrants fired from Trump golf clubs to crash his 2020
campaign kickoff in Florida (NY Daily News, June 17,
'No one knows better than Trump himself that immigrants are
hardworking individuals who support a multitude of industries
across the country, including his restaurants, golf courses,
wineries and hotels,' said Romero, who represents 44
undocumented immigrants who used to work at Trump properties.
'And no one knows better than the undocumented workers who
worked for Trump, how urgent it is for Congress to pass humane
and sensible immigration laws so that immigrants can continue
contributing to their communities and to our nation, just like
they did for Trump and his family.'
does your plastic go? Global investigation reveals America's
dirty secret (The
Guardian, June 17, 2019)
A Guardian report from 11 countries tracks how US waste makes
its way across the world – and overwhelms the poorest nations.
is harvesting organs from detainees, tribunal concludes
(The Guardian, June 17, 2019)
An independent tribunal sitting in London has concluded that
the killing of detainees in China for organ transplants is
continuing, and victims include imprisoned followers of the
Falun Gong movement.
Clouds on Mars Formed by ‘Meteoric Smoke,’ Study Says
(Vice, June 17, 2019)
Scientists have identified a kind of cloud on Mars that has
been neglected in past climate models.
are fervid Googlers making ad-blocker-breaking changes to
Chrome? Because they created a monster – and are fighting to
secure it. (The Register, June 17, 2019)
We said engineers made the API too powerful. We weren't wrong.
(Just use Firefox - with DuckDuckGo.)
Court dismisses challenge to findings of racial
gerrymandering in Virginia districts (Washington Post,
June 17, 2019)
The decision could give an advantage to the state’s Democrats.
All 140 seats in the state legislature are on the ballot this
fall, and the GOP holds two-seat majorities in both the House
and the Senate.
still have questions about whether Russia meddled in North
Carolina. That’s a bad sign. (Washington Post, June 17, 2019)
campaign cutting ties with three members of polling team
after grim numbers leaked (Washington Post, June 17, 2019)
Privately, the president was livid that the numbers leaked
out, according to White House and campaign officials. 'He is
madder that the numbers are out than that the numbers exist,'
said one senior administration official.
Trump’s 'kill the messenger' strategy in response to the
leaked polling data reflects his desire to show strength at
all times, even in the face of less-than-favorable news from
within his own campaign. On Monday morning, Trump seemingly
continued to deny the authenticity of the numbers.
lost an escape route. SCOTUS: States & Feds can
prosecute for similar behavior. (Daily KOS, June 17,
Stewart takes on Stonewalling McConnell (Daily KOS, June 16, 2019)
- for turning 9/11 Responder’s Health problems, into just
another GOP bargaining chip. Mitch McConnell always
holds out to the last minute before funding another few years
of support for our nation's Heroes - and then always in
exchange for some GOP Agenda item - before he ultimately
'lets' the GOP do the right thing.
court orders jail for rape victim unless kids handed to
rapist. No, wait. That was in Alabama. (Daily KOS,
June 16, 2019)
"In Alabama, a rapist is entitled to visitation rights to
children resulting from his crimes, and can even sue for
custody. Alabama is one of only two states that allow
this. However, this horror takes on new meaning in
Alabama, because last month the state passed a law
outlawing the destruction of embryos for all victims of
sexual assault. The law even prescribes jail for doctors
who perform abortions.
organisations call on the EU to immediately halt trade
negotiations with Brazil (Seattle To Brussels, June
In an open letter, over 340 civil society organisations
are demanding that the European Union immediately halt
free trade agreement negotiations with the Mercosur bloc
(Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) on the grounds
of deteriorating human rights and environmental conditions
in Brazil. The letter is addressed to presidents of the EU
institutions ahead of the ministerial-level meeting next
week in Brussels where EU and Mercosur foreign ministers
aim to finalise the negotiations.
Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid (New
York Times, June 15, 2019)
Power grids have been a low-intensity battleground for years.
Since at least 2012, current and former officials say, the
United States has put reconnaissance probes into the control
systems of the Russian electric grid.
But now the American strategy has shifted more toward offense,
officials say, with the placement of potentially crippling
malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an
aggressiveness that had never been tried before. It is
intended partly as a warning, and partly to be poised to
conduct cyberstrikes if a major conflict broke out between
Washington and Moscow.
Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had
not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place
'implants' - software code that can be used for surveillance
or attack - inside the Russian grid. Pentagon and intelligence
officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with
Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his
reaction - and the possibility that he might countermand it or
discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he
mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian
Democrats shine: Bernie on the meaning of freedom, Warren
on the wealth gap, and more (Daily KOS, June 15, 2019)
makes it clear he can't speak under oath because he just
can't stop lying (Daily KOS, June 14, 2019)
Lying is what Donald Trump does. And in his ABC interview
Thursday, Trump admitted straight up that that’s why he didn’t
want to answer questions for Robert Mueller.
'If you answer these questions to me now,' asked host George
Stephanopoulos, 'why not answer them to Robert Mueller under
'Because they were looking to get us for lies or slight
misstatements,' replied Trump. 'I looked at what happened to
people, and it was very unfair. Very, very unfair. Very
Trump could not have laid it out more neatly: It’s just dandy
to lie to the public and the press because … what are they
going to do about it? But lying under oath has consequences.
So he won’t speak under oath.
may review Trump hotel's liquor license over challenge to
President's 'good character' (CNN, June 14, 2019)
An attorney who is representing the group challenging the
license renewal told CNN on Friday that the board's order is
'a solid victory for the rule of law. Despite Trump's efforts
to silence the public and hold himself above the law, the
board correctly denied his motion to dismiss and found that
the public can protest the owner's character on renewal of
their liquor license.'
Donald Trump says it 'doesn't matter' what former White
House counsel Don McGahn told Mueller (ABC News, June 14, 2019)
Trump’s internal polling data from March showed him far
behind Joe Biden in key battleground states (ABC News,
June 14, 2019)
Object’ Struck Tanker in Gulf of Oman, Operator Says, Not a
Mine (New York Times, June 14, 2019)
rejects Iran’s denials that it attacked tankers, citing
video released by US Central Command (Washington Post,
June 14, 2019)
President Trump cited a video released by the U.S. military
that it said showed Iranian vessels retrieving a mine from one
of the damaged ships. Earlier, Iran accused the Trump
administration of sabotage and 'economic terrorism.'
We're not killing ad blockers. Translation: We made them too
powerful, we'll cram this genie back in its bottle (The Register, June 13, 2019)
We want to make Chrome safer... by taking away the API we used
to race Firefox.
Ditches Microsoft to ‘Take Back Control’ with Open Source
Software (OMG! Ubuntu!, June 13, 2019)
While the Microsoft Alternatives project (MAlt) is ambitious,
it’s also a unique opportunity for CERN to demonstrate that
building core services can be done without vendor and data
lock-in, that the next generation of services can be tailored
to the community’s needs and finally that CERN can inspire its
partners by collaborating around a new range of products.
Cyberattack Hits Telegram, App Used by Hong Kong Protesters
(New York Times, June
A network of computers in China bombarded Telegram, a secure
messaging app used by many of the protesters, with a huge
volume of traffic that disrupted service. The app’s founder,
Pavel Durov, said the attack coincided with the Hong Kong
protests, a phenomenon that Telegram had seen before.
The Hong Kong police made their own move to limit digital
communications. On Tuesday night, as demonstrators gathered
near Hong Kong’s legislative building, the authorities
arrested the administrator of a Telegram chat group with
20,000 members, even though he was at his home miles from the
protest site. 'I never thought that just speaking on the
internet, just sharing information, could be regarded as a
speech crime,' the chat leader, Ivan Ip, 22, said in an
Past the tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray, the Hong
Kong protests are also unfolding on a largely invisible,
digital front. Protesters and police officers alike have
brought a new technological savvy to the standoff.
Demonstrators are using today’s networking tools to muster
their ranks, share safety tips and organize caches of food and
water, even as they take steps to hide their identities.
The Hong Kong authorities are responding by tracking the
protesters in the digital places where they plan their moves,
suggesting they are taking cues from the ways China polices
businesses paying even less than expected under GOP tax law
(Politico, June 13, 2019)
Though profits remain up and the economy is strong, total
corporate taxes are at the lowest levels seen in more than 50
McConnell, Too, Welcomes Russian Interference (New York
Times, June 13, 2019)
Or at least he won’t let Congress do anything to stop it.
just a psychotic’: Letterman looks back with regret on his
dozens of Trump interviews (Washington Post, June 13,
"'I had no sense that he was the soulless bastard that he’s
turned into,' Letterman said on the podcast. Letterman and
others like Stern beamed Trump to the masses for
entertainment. For Letterman, it’s not funny anymore. 'He
used to be kind of like the boob of New York that pretended
to be wealthy, or we thought was wealthy, and now he’s just
in the country should be totally appalled' by Trump comments
on foreign interference: Pelosi (ABC News, June 13, 2019)
claimed he’s never called the FBI. He has - when he wanted
its help. (Washington Post, June 13, 2019)
'You don’t call the FBI,' Trump said. 'Life doesn’t work that
way.' Except it did for Trump.
think I’d take it': In exclusive interview, Trump says he
would listen if foreigners offered dirt on opponents
(ABC News, June 12, 2019)
President Donald Trump may not alert the FBI if foreign
governments offered damaging information against his 2020
rivals during the upcoming presidential race, he said, despite
the deluge of investigations stemming from his campaign's
interactions with Russians during the 2016 campaign. Trump
disputed the idea that if a foreign government provided
information on a political opponent, it would be considered
interference in our election process.
Knew About PFAS Food Contamination in 2001 (The
Intercept, June 12, 2019)
Last week, we learned that the Food and Drug Administration
had detected PFAS compounds in pineapple, sweet potato, meat,
and chocolate cake. The presence of the industrial compounds
in our food was made public by the Environmental Working Group
after a staff member of the Environmental Defense Fund took
photos of the research at a scientific conference in Europe.
While the FDA fields questions about why it didn’t present
this information to the public itself (the agency released the
data along with a statement on Tuesday), it has become clear
that 3M, the company that originally developed PFOS and PFOA,
had known for a very long time that these toxic and persistent
chemicals were in our food. According to a 2001 study
sponsored by 3M, 12 samples of food from around the country -
including ground beef, bread, apples, and green beans - tested
positive for either PFOA or PFOS. One piece of bread had
14,700 parts per trillion of PFOA, though the report noted
that the sample was considered 'suspect.'
The Environmental Protection Agency has known about the study
for years, but it is not clear if the FDA was aware of the
research. The Environmental Working Group mentioned the 3M
study in a 2002 report on PFAS chemicals and alerted the
Centers for Disease Control.
citizen sleuths cracked the Wolverine tannery pollution case
(MLive, June 12, 2019)
AI researchers race to detect ‘deepfake’ videos: ‘We are
outgunned’ (Washington Post, June 12, 2019)
The threat of deepfakes, named for the 'deep learning' AI
techniques used to create them, has become a personal one on
Capitol Hill, where lawmakers believe the videos could
threaten national security, the voting process - and,
potentially, their reputations. The House Intelligence
Committee will hold a hearing Thursday in which AI experts are
expected to discuss how deepfakes could evade detection and
leave an 'enduring psychological impact.' Rep. Adam B. Schiff
(D-Calif.), who chairs the committee, said Thursday, 'I don’t
think we’re well prepared at all. And I don’t think the public
is aware of what’s coming.'
A disinformation campaign using deepfake videos probably would
catch fire because of the reward structure of the modern Web,
in which shocking material drives bigger audiences - and can
spread further and faster than the truth.
Read 150 Privacy Policies. They Were an Incomprehensible
Disaster. (New York Times, June 12, 2019)
Most privacy policies are verbose and full of legal jargon -
and opaquely establish companies’ justifications for
collecting and selling your data. The data market has become
the engine of the internet, and these privacy policies we
agree to but don't fully understand help fuel it.
machine password leak in North Carolina grows murkier the
more we learn (Daily KOS, June 11, 2019)
Hopefully, the silver lining to this incident’s dark cloud
will prove to be the shaming of DHS into upping its game
(which is my personal interest in reporting this story).
Because if DHS isn’t at least as good as Vickery at finding
the chinks in our electoral armor, it sure as hell isn’t as
good as Russia’s GRU.
Perhaps DHS and the state Board of Elections might even
consider enlisting Vickery’s help, rather than vilifying his
worries the world - May 2019 (Ipsos, June 11, 2019)
Top five global issues: Unemployment (33%), Poverty/Social
Inequality (32%). Financial/ Political corruption (31%), Crime
& Violence (30%), Healthcare (25%)
World Is a Mess. We Need Fully Automated Luxury Communism.
(New York Times, June 11, 2019)
Asteroid mining. Gene editing. Synthetic meat. We could
provide for the needs of everyone, in style. It just takes
Nation: Toxic Discharges Suspected From Almost 500
Industrial Facilities Across U.S. (Environmental Working
Group, June 11, 2019)
to break up Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple get louder
(CNet, June 11, 2019)
Regulators are gearing up to investigate Big Tech. But are
breakups of these companies on the horizon?
Cash That Powered Silicon Valley Is Suddenly Toxic (Wall
Street Journal, June 11, 2019)
As U.S. startups reject their money, Chinese venture-capital
firms in U.S. are dialing back investments, structuring deals
to avoid regulators or shutting down."
laundering and crypto-coin legislation could hurt
open-source ecosystem – activists (The Register, June
Rights groups slam UK.gov's customer due diligence plans.
Cared About His Campaign Spending When It Was His Money -
Not Anymore (New York Magazine, June 11, 2019)
For his 2020 bid, Trump is eagerly taking advantage of the big
donors he once scorned. Super-PACs, which he’s called a 'scam'
and 'very unfair,' are now supporting him with hundreds of
millions of dollars. And his campaign has collected gobs of
cash, bringing in $30 million in the first quarter of 2019.
The shift in how the money has come in is also affecting how
it’s going out. In 2016, Trump had a skeleton staff and
routinely stiffed vendors, including a group of little girls
who sang at his rallies. But that’s when he was spending his
own money. Now he’s spending other people’s money, and
according to the New York Times, he doesn’t care where it
It’s not surprising that Trump, who managed to convince
millions of people that he could spend Mexico’s money on a
border wall, is careless with money that isn’t his. He’s
openly eager to spend other people’s money, as he admitted on
the campaign trail in 2016. 'It’s called OPM. I do that all
the time in business,' he said. 'It’s called other people’s
money. There’s nothing like doing things with other people’s
Presidential Debates Could Reignite Warren-Biden Bankruptcy
Fight (National Public Radio, June 11, 2019)
Warren advised Hillary Clinton to vote against the bankruptcy
bill that Joe Biden supported, and talked about her
disappointment in a 2004 interview with journalist Bill
WARREN: She voted in favor of it.
WARREN: As Sen. Clinton, the pressures are very different.
It's a well-financed industry. You know, a lot of people don't
realize that the industry that gave the most money to
Washington over the past few years was not the oil industry.
It was not pharmaceuticals. It was consumer credit products.
Credit card companies have been giving money, and they have
MOYERS: And Mrs. Clinton was one of them as senator.
WARREN: She has taken money from the groups, and more to the
point, she worries about them as a constituency.
'If you talk to many independent voters, they worry that both
parties are funded by the same corporate interests,' said Adam
Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign
Committee, which has endorsed Warren ahead of 2020. 'Elizabeth
Warren has been part of the solution trying to re-brand the
Democratic Party as being of the people. The credit card fight
was just one chapter of that ongoing struggle.'
border cops confirm: Maker of America's license-plate,
driver recognition tech hacked, camera images swiped (The Register, June 10, 2019)
That story we broke in May? It is still true – and perhaps
even worse than first thought.
raising axe for 'significant workforce balancing in Europe',
says staffer rep council (The Register, June 10, 2019)
GTS to shoulder third of cuts, with UK and DACH hit hardest.
White House counsel Dean describes parallels between Trump
and Nixon (Washington Post, June 10, 2019)
'In many ways the Mueller report is to President Trump what
the so-called Watergate roadmap … was to President Richard
Nixon,' said Dean, whose congressional testimony in 1973
ultimately led to the resignation of Nixon. 'Special counsel
Mueller has provided this committee with a roadmap.' Dean
highlighted similarities he saw between the two presidents,
particularly on the matter of pardons and whether they were
used to obstruct justice. Mueller identified 10 potential
cases of obstruction of justice by Trump in his report.
denies Trump's claim of secret concessions in deal
(CTPost, June 10, 2019)
needs some victories’: Trump lashes out over his Mexico
deal (Politico, June 10, 2019)
"As Trump's presidency reaches the 2.5-year mark, he is more
aggrieved than ever, telling advisers that he believes he’ll
never get fair treatment.
Needs a Target to Stay Interested in His Campaign. For
Now, It’s Biden. (New York Times, June 10, 2019)
"After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll
conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump
told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him
trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win,
even though he is also trailing in public polls from key
states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And when
top-line details of the polling leaked, including numbers
showing the president lagging in a cluster of critical Rust
Belt states, Mr. Trump instructed aides to say publicly that
other data showed him doing well.
latest rage-threat gives Democrats a big opening. One just
took it. (Washington
Post, June 10, 2019)
Beto O’Rourke used this situation as a window into a much
broader indictment of Trump’s nationalist agenda. He stressed
that the threat of tariffs against Mexico is only serving to
'jeopardize' our 'most important trading relationship'; that
this places at risk markets that our farmers have cultivated;
and that they are already taking a beating from Trump’s trade
wars with China. Importantly, O’Rourke made the case that
precisely the opposite approach - strengthened, reality-based
international integration - is the answer both on trade and on
immigration. O’Rourke called for trade arrangements in
farmers’ and workers’ interests and for increased investments
in Central America 'to ensure that no family has to make that
peddle grotesque abortion-slavery comparison (Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
State-sanctioned slavery justified by a dogma of religious
paternalism is a monstrous crime unequaled in American
history. All of which is why analogizing any political
controversy to slavery isn’t merely wrong, but obscene.
Nevertheless, today’s Republicans routinely compare slavery to
Obamacare, gun control, the national debt, the social safety
net, and just about any other political development they hate.
And as their wave of draconian bans in Georgia, Ohio, Alabama,
Missouri and other states shows, the Republicans equation of
abortion to slavery is the most insidious of them of all.
administration denied requests to fly pride flags. These
U.S. embassies are still flying them (Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
The Trump administration has made big changes in the way it is
approaching pride. Last year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
made the approval process a whole lot harder. In past years,
embassy staffers could submit their requests directly to the
ambassador, who could approve them. Under Pompeo’s rules,
every embassy has to submit requests to fly the pride flag to
the State Department.
This year, the State Department rejected every single request.
Crisis Comes Home to Roost in the Midwest (Daily KOS,
June 9, 2019)
"As of June 2 only 33 percent of Ohio’s corn acreage and 18
percent of the state’s soybean acreage had been planted. By
this time of year, at least 90 percent of corn should have
been planted, and 79 percent of soybeans should have been
planted. And that’s based only on the most recent five-year
average. Years ago, plantings were made much earlier in the
hate machine: bot nation threatens our national discourse
(Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
"While 2016 is behind us, the work on behalf of bot networks
for 2020 is already underway, and so is the influence that
bot networks have on our political discussions. Despite
Donald Trump’s pronouncements, the overwhelming majority of
fake news shares, according to studies, were conservative.
How much impact these bot networks have through faked
articles and shared content is difficult to say, but the
bans at Facebook hint that much bigger problems may be
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have
fought hard against any real oversight of how their
businesses may be manipulated by armies of imaginary
accounts. It is time for the U.S. House to begin asking
serious questions of Facebook and Twitter, about their
advertisement policies, reporting policies, data services,
and what plans, if any, they have to prevent online hordes
from overwhelming any real discussion of issues in 2020.
Cain was a college dropout looking for direction. He
turned to YouTube. (New York Times, June 8, 2019)
"Mr. Cain, 26, recently swore off the alt-right nearly five
years after discovering it, and has become a vocal critic of
the movement. He is scarred by his experience of being
radicalized by what he calls a 'decentralized cult' of
far-right YouTube personalities, who convinced him that
Western civilization was under threat from Muslim immigrants
and cultural Marxists, that innate I.Q. differences
explained racial disparities, and that feminism was a
dangerous ideology. 'I just kept falling deeper and deeper
into this, and it appealed to me because it made me feel a
sense of belonging,' he said. 'I was brainwashed.'
YouTube has inadvertently created a dangerous on-ramp to
extremism by combining two things: a business model that
rewards provocative videos with exposure and advertising
dollars, and an algorithm that guides users down
personalized paths meant to keep them glued to their
Linux Foundation in 2019: Over 100 Million Dollars in
Income, But Cannot Maintain Linux.com? (TechRights, June
The Linux Foundation isn’t what it seems; it isn’t even what
it’s called. Our readers and guests often urge us to
investigate further, getting to the bottom of what goes on at
this relatively secretive nonprofit. Without going too deep
into the 2017 IRS filing, one can easily see that it’s not a
nonprofit and it’s totally out of control. It’s more like a
corporate PAC or pressure group. There are aspects to it that
we weren’t aware of before. And readers be forewarned… it’s
not pretty, to say the least.
of Alabama robs students of $26.5 million because the donor
spoke out for women's rights (Daily KOS, June 8, 2019)
Culverhouse said, 'My love for Alabama is exactly why I was so
horrified to watch its lawmakers trample over the Constitution
last month. The ban on abortion they passed wasn’t just an
attack against women, it was an affront to the rule of law
itself. Part of being an American is engaging in public
debate, and we can disagree over this issue. But the courts
settled this matter a long time ago: Abortion is legal. So it
was shocking to see legislators ignore this and pass a bill
that turned women and health professionals into criminals, and
it felt important to say so publicly.'
But the punishment that Culverhouse is getting for this is …
no punishment at all. He’s getting his money back. The people
being punished are the University of Alabama students who are
being deprived of the facilities and staff that money would
have supported; the students who will now have to open their
own wallets, or take out more loans, to make up the
EPA Is Letting “Forever Chemicals” Into Our Food, Experts
Say (Truthout, June 7, 2019)
A growing chorus of environmental groups and public health
experts are slamming the Trump administration for its
milquetoast response to the widespread problem of per- and
polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a family of toxic 'forever
chemicals' that are linked to serious diseases and have
contaminated food products and drinking water across the
Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump (New
York Times, June 7, 2019)
A New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law
School, Columbia Law School and other sources, counts more
than 80 environmental rules and regulations on the way out
under Mr. Trump. Our list represents two types of policy
changes: rules that were officially reversed and rollbacks
still in progress. The Trump administration has released an
aggressive schedule to try to finalize many of these rollbacks
All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks
could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead
to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality every year,
according to a recent report prepared by New York University
Law School's State Energy and Environmental Impact Center.
Climate Rebellion Inside Amazon (Huffington Post, June
'It’s so easy to just say, oh, we’re building some new solar
panels here, but at the same time we haven’t actually reduced
our emissions,' said an Amazon engineer.
to put $500M into closing all remaining coal plants by 2030
(CBS News, June 7, 2019)
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is plunging $500
million into an effort to close all of the nation's remaining
coal plants by 2030 and put the United States on track toward
a 100% clean energy economy. The billionaire Bloomberg's
investment in the Beyond Carbon initiative marks the largest
ever philanthropic effort to combat climate change, according
to the mayor's foundation. The organization will bypass the
federal government and instead seek to pass climate and clean
energy policies, as well as back political candidates, at the
state and local level.
'We're in a race against time with climate change, and yet
there is virtually no hope of bold federal action on this
issue for at least another two years. Mother Nature is not
waiting on our political calendar, and neither can we,'
life Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr. launches climate change
coalition to clean up the world with technology (Good
Morning America, June 5, 2019)
Downey's new venture, called the Footprint Coalition, will
launch in April 2020. 'Between robotics and nanotechnology, we
could clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10
years,' Downey said.
say they'll lose nearly $1 trillion to climate change (CBS News, June 5, 2019)
215 of the world's largest companies predict they stand to
lose $970 billion to climate-change-related disruptions over
the next seven years. Risks include paying more for insurance,
writing off facilities in threatened locations and customers
shifting to more environmentally friendly companies. The same
companies say they could make $2 trillion from adapting to
worker shortages would be even worse without immigrants
(Washington Post, June 5, 2019)
The study finds more than one-fourth of direct care workers
and 30.3 percent of nursing home housekeeping and maintenance
workers are immigrants, underscoring their key role as the
U.S. population ages. They make up 18.2 percent of the total
health-care workforce at more than 3 million people.
vendor may have opened a gap for hackers in 2016 swing
state (Politico, June 5, 2019)
"A Florida election software company targeted by Russians in
2016 inadvertently opened a potential pathway for hackers to
tamper with voter records in North Carolina on the eve of
the presidential election, according to a document reviewed
by Politico and a person with knowledge of the episode. VR
Systems, based in Tallahassee but with customers in eight
states, used what’s known as remote-access software to
connect for several hours to a central computer in Durham
County, N.C., to troubleshoot problems with the company's
voter list management tool, the person said. The software
distributes voter lists to so-called electronic poll books,
which poll workers use to check in voters and verify their
eligibility to cast a ballot.
Last year, top voting machine maker Election Systems &
Software admitted that for years it had installed and used
remote access software on election-management systems it
sold to counties, after initially denying it.
Election-management systems are even more critical to
elections because they are used first to program voting
machines and then to tally the results. The revelation about
VR Systems, however, indicates that the practice of remotely
accessing critical election infrastructure is more
widespread than previously believed.
Linux Foundation Fires All Staff and Editors at Linux.com.
Future Uncertain. (TechRights, June 5, 2019)
Carla Schroder, author, former editor of Linux Today and so
many other things (also a technical writer in Linux.com) spoke
out less than an hour ago in response to our article about the
Linux Foundation. In her own words, 'The Linux Foundation
sucks. Remember when they took over http://Linux.com and
promised to be good stewards? In short order they made it a
corporate shill site, and then in April laid off all writers
and editors without so much as a word of thanks or
explanation. All along they’ve been paying lip service to
community, while bending over for their corporate members. The
individual membership was discontinued years ago.
@linuxfoundation needs a housecleaning at the top, and some
Want to Live in Elizabeth Warren’s America (New York
Times, June 5, 2019)
The Massachusetts senator is proposing something radical: a
country in which adults discuss serious ideas seriously."
Biden's long evolution on abortion rights still holds
surprises (NBC News, June 5, 2019)
As a senator from Delaware, he once supported stripping
exceptions for rape and incest from federal funding.
Ditch MitchMcConnell (New York Times, June 5, 2019)
The Senate majority leader comes out of his shell.
Dept. Forces Out Official Who Worked on Plan That Led to
Ex-Employer’s Arms Deals (Wall Street Journal, June 5,
Ex-Raytheon outside lobbyist took part in department’s
decision to fast-track sales, according to current and former
are dozens of hilarious images from the British resistance
during Trump's London visit (Daily KOS, June 4, 2019)
Also, 'Kids in cages have heartbeats, too.'
Trump tells Prince Charles US has 'clean climate' (The
Guardian, June 5, 2019)
President blames other countries for environmental crisis, in
long talk with prince.
mayor compared President Trump to an 11-year-old child
(CNN, June 4, 2019)
Richard Engel: Trump’s London Fanfare Claim Is ‘Delusional,’
‘Deeply Disturbing’ (Huffington Post, June 4, 2019)
'There were thousands of people on the streets. They were
protesting Trump, not celebrating his arrival,' the journalist
support for Trump has moved from transactional to fanatical
(Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2019)
Support for Trump is coming to define what it means to be a
conservative. One reason Trump has become a conservative
litmus test is that there’s a policy vacuum on the right and
Trump’s personality is filling the void. Another is the GOP
voter base, which has imposed a binary choice of its own:
You’re either with the president or you’re with 'the left.'
Republicans have internalized Trumpism so deeply that they now
see the world through his eyes. It’s perfectly 'reasonable'
for a White House staffer to think the commander in chief
should be shielded from even the name of his late adversary
because Trump’s feelings are all that matter.
a biblically wet spring, this is the week that could break
the Corn Belt (Washington Post, June 4, 2019)
In recent years, corn plants have typically emerged on about
84 percent of planned corn acres by this point. This year, it
is at 46 percent. Illinois (32 percent) and Indiana (18
percent) are even farther behind. And the acres remaining to
plant were always going to be the hardest. The farmers have
already planted all their driest fields - the ones that are
left are the ones that become most challenging in wet
conditions. Some acres just won’t get planted.
For many farmers, the clock has run out on corn for 2019. Even
if they work around the clock under optimal conditions, there
just are not enough hours to finish planting. About 10 million
acres will either go unplanted for insurance purposes or be
switched to soybeans. For perspective, that lost acreage would
have been the third largest corn state this year, behind the
predicted totals for Iowa and Illinois.
Farmers could switch to soybeans, but then they would find
themselves even more exposed to President Trump’s trade war
with China, the world’s largest soybean market. And beans face
many of the same planting issues as corn. For many farmers,
the alternative is to bow out and collect crop insurance. As
more farmers give up on 2019, alarmed traders will probably
bid up prices on corn and soybeans, making costs soar for
ethanol producers, hog farmers and others who are already
caught in the president’s escalating two-front trade war.
(As Trump sows, so shall we reap.)
change could pose 'existential threat' by 2050: report
(CNN, June 4, 2019)
"Twenty days of lethal heat per year. Collapsed ecosystems.
And more than 1 billion people displaced. Those are all
probable scenarios that could devastate societies by 2050 if
swift and dramatic action isn't taken to curb climate
mangroves? Economies recover faster after tropical cyclones
(Ars Technica, June 4, 2019)
Analysis measures economic losses with satellite images of
starts blocking third-party cookies by default (Venture
Beat, June 4, 2019)
Brief History of How Your Privacy Was Stolen (New York
Times, June 3, 2019)
Google and Facebook took our data - and made a ton of money
from it. We must fight back.
10 Apps Serving Malicious Ads Warning of Virus Infections
(Softpedia News, June 3, 2019)
Ads bundled into Windows 10 apps available for users from the
Microsoft Store point users to deceptive campaigns eventually
trying to deploy malware on their devices.
NEW: A Key
Cog in Charles Koch’s Master Plan (Public Citizen,
June 3, 2019)
"How the Purportedly Unbiased George Washington University
Regulatory Studies Center Advances an Agenda to Deregulate
and Fiat Chrysler Unmasked as Tesla's Secret Source of
Cash (Bloomberg, June 3, 2019)
"Detroit carmakers disclose deals to buy regulatory credits.
GM says it’s hedging against ‘future regulatory
uncertainties.’ These are the first acknowledgments from
carmakers that they’re turning to Tesla for help to comply
with intensifying U.S. environmental regulations.
inspection finds 900 people crammed into Border Patrol
facility meant to detain 125 (Daily KOS, June 3, 2019)
Detainee Deaths Were Preventable: Document (The Young
Turks, June 3, 2019)
One ICE official told TYT the problem is 'systemic.' 'IHSC
[ICE’s Health Services Corps] is severely dysfunctional and
unfortunately preventable harm and death to detainees has
Money Helping Make Up For Tenant Shortage At Trump Tower
(Huffington Post, June 3, 2019)
As commercial renters flee, Trump keeps spending $37,500 a
month in campaign funds at his own building - even though much
of the Republican Party’s leased space in Virginia is going
Asia Doesn't Want to Be the World's Dumping Ground. Here's
How Some Countries Are Pushing Back (Time, June 3, 2019)
The global trash trade has reached a turning point; wealthier
nations have long shipped their plastic waste to the
developing world to be processed, but in recent months, some
nations in Southeast Asia have begun sending the exports -
much of it contaminated plastic and trash that is unrecyclable
- back to where it came from.
The pushback comes as containers of trash continue to
accumulate on the shores of countries like Malaysia, Thailand
and the Philippines, which are increasingly worried that the
environmental costs are greater than the income they bring in
from importing the waste.
and Amazon Are at the Center of a Storm Brewing Over Big
Tech (New York Times, June 2, 2019)
The Justice Department is exploring an investigation of
Google, underlining a major shift in the United States’
attitude toward the big technology companies.
promises 'ironclad case' against Trump (The Hill, June
In his report, special counsel Mueller warned us in the
starkest terms that there was an attack on our election and an
attack on our democracy. Why won't the president defend us
from this attack? What is the president covering up? We must
investigate the president's welcoming of the assault on our
evolving remarks on Russian election interference (The
Hill, June 1, 2019)
the U.S. and China, it’s not a trade war anymore - it’s
something worse (Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2019)
Beneath the surface, a new tone has begun to emerge since
trade talks broke down in early May and Trump ratcheted up
tariffs on imported goods from China, an action met with
retaliatory duties from Beijing. Officials on both sides of
the Pacific have begun to portray the U.S.-China relationship
in nationalistic and emotion-charged terms that suggest a much
Lopez Obrador of Mexico responds to Trump's tariff threat
& it’s a beautiful thing (Daily KOS, May 31, 2019)
trolls fueled anti-vaccination debate in U.S. by spreading
misinformation on Twitter, study finds (CBS News, May
Russian Twitter trolls have attempted to fuel the
anti-vaccination debate in the U.S., posting about the issue
far more than the average Twitter user last year, a
study out of George Washington University has found. The
"sophisticated" bots shared opinions from both sides of the
anti-vaxxer debate, which took the U.S. by storm and prompted
tech companies to crack down on the spread of misinformation
Rights Are More Popular Than You Think (Jacobin, May 31,
Don't let the slate of new anti-abortion bills fool you -
support for abortion rights has actually increased in the last
decade. Defeating these draconian measures will mean defeating
the elite minority that imposes them.
Startup To Bring Pogo Sticks To San Francisco As E-Scooter
Alternative (SF CBS, May 31, 2019)
(A sure sign of massive traffic congestion?)
lawmakers pass bill to cut renewable requirement, help
nuclear and coal (Ars Technica, May 31, 2019)
Critics say the bill unnecessarily bails out nuclear, coal
owner FirstEnergy Solutions.
says there's 'no doubt' climate change impacts tornadoes
(The Hill, May 31, 2019)
issues second warning about patching BlueKeep as PoC code
goes public (ZDNet, May 31, 2019)
Time's running out on patching older systems against the
BlueKeep vulnerability. An exploit exists for this
vulnerability, and if recent reports are accurate, nearly one
million computers connected directly to the internet are still
military moves closer to replacing Windows with Astra Linux
(ZDNet, May 31, 2019)
The Chinese military is also working on a similar plan to
replace Windows with a custom OS.
a key beneficiary of China subsidies that US wants ended
(Agence France Presse,
May 30, 2019)
A replica of the Palace of Versailles, medieval turrets, and
spires rise across Huawei's new campus in southern China, a
monument to the telecom giant's growing fortune - and the
benefits of state aid. The fairytale-like facilities rest on
land that was sold by the local government at cut-rate prices
to woo and bolster a strategic, high-tech company like Huawei.
Restrictions, Membership Organizations and Huawei
(Consortium Info, May 30, 2019)
New U.S. sanctions against Huawei in the escalating U.S.–China
trade war have thrown another wrench into the gears of global
commerce. But how do these sanctions affect standards
organizations and open source development? The high level
answer is that the impact will be significant for most
standards organizations, and negligible for most open source
projects. The major differentiator will be the degree of
transparency of the organization in question.
Chrome May Block Ad Blockers: What This Means for You
(Tom's Guide, May 30, 2019)
Still Has A White Nationalist Problem (Huffington Post,
May 30, 2019)
Almost 18 months after Twitter promised to crack down on hate,
the platform teems with racist extremists.
House USS McCain cover-up story gets even more embarrassing
for Trump, if that's possible (Daily KOS, May 30, 2019)
G.O.P. Strategist’s Hard Drives Reveal New Details on the
Census Citizenship Question (New York Times, May 30,
Thomas B. Hofeller, a leading Republican strategist, died in
August and left a trove of computer files containing evidence
that could now be relevant in a Supreme Court. Files on those
drives showed that he wrote a study in 2015 concluding that
adding a citizenship question to the census would allow
Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to
stymie Democrats. And months after urging President Trump’s
transition team to tack the question onto the census, he wrote
the key portion of a draft Justice Department letter claiming
the question was needed to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act
- the rationale the administration later used to justify its
decision. In nearly 230 years, the census has never asked all
respondents whether they are American citizens. But while
adding such a question might appear uncontroversial on its
face, opponents have argued that it is actually central to a
Republican strategy to skew political boundaries to their
advantage when redistricting begins in 2021.
Tweets, and Then Retracts, Statement That Russia Helped Him
Get Elected (New York Times, May 30, 2019)
says his investigation did not exonerate Trump (Los
Angeles Times, May 29, 2019)
In his first and perhaps last public comments on the Russia
investigation, outgoing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III
pointedly refused Wednesday to clear President Trump of a
possible crime, while urging Americans to confront foreign
interference in U.S. elections. Appearing at the Justice
Department, Mueller sought to put a capstone on his nearly
two-year investigation, reading a statement but taking no
questions from reporters. He did not definitively rule out
testifying to Congress but said he would not go beyond the
redacted 448-page report released six weeks ago.
He stopped far short of Trump’s claims, and those of Atty.
Gen. William Barr, that the investigation found no obstruction
of justice by the president and 'no collusion' between Trump’s
campaign and Russian operatives. Mueller said Justice
Department guidelines prevented indicting a sitting president,
a remark that suggested it was the rules, not the lack of
evidence, that spared Trump from criminal charges. 'If we had
confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would
have said so.'
'There were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our
 election,' Mueller said. 'And that allegation deserves
the attention of every American.'
described Trump Organization as 'criminal enterprise',
Michael Wolff book claims (The Guardian, May 29, 2019)
The former White House adviser Steve Bannon has described the
Trump Organization as a criminal entity and predicted that
investigations into the president’s finances will lead to his
political downfall, when he is revealed to be 'not the
billionaire he said he was, just another scumbag.'
Department of Energy Is Now Calling Fossil Fuels “Molecules
of Freedom” and “Freedom Gas” (Slate, May 29, 2019)
The Trump administration loves fossil fuels, but apparently
has decided that they need some rebranding.
Energy Costs Take Another Tumble, Making Fossil Fuels Look
More Expensive Than Ever (Forbes, May 29, 2019)
Almost every source of green energy can now compete on cost
with oil, coal and gas-fired power plants, according to new
data released today.
NEW: How the 1919 Solar Eclipse Made Einstein the
World's Most Famous Scientist (Discover
Magazine, May 29, 2019)
Heaven and earth moved to make Albert Einstein a star, a
century ago today.
believe the internet can be better," Mozilla to the
International Grand Committee (Mozilla, May 29, 2019)
'We believe the internet can be better. And to build an
internet that is both innovative and worthy of people’s trust,
we will need better technology and better policy,' said Alan.
In his testimony Alan Davidson, Vice President of Global
Policy, Trust and Security focused on the need for better
regulation right; and the complexities of content policy
issues. Against the backdrop of tech’s numerous missteps over
the last year, our mission-driven work is a clear alternative
to much of what is wrong with the web today.
Dems need to impeach Trump to win 2020 (2-min. video;
CNN, May 29, 2019)
Finds Trump Tax Cuts Failed to Do Anything But Give Rich
People Money (New York Magazine, May 29, 2019)
Supporters of the Trump tax cuts insisted not only that they
would promote growth, but that they would promote so much
growth the measure would pay for itself. Even moderates like
Susan Collins repeated assurances by the party’s
pseudo-economists that the plan would not increase the
deficit. So far, the growth feedback from the tax cuts has
made up about 5 percent of the plan’s revenue loss, a mere 95
percent shy of the predictions. The passage of the plan was
met with a coordinated wave of corporate public-relations
announcements of worker bonuses. But the paper finds no
widespread increase in bonuses or worker compensation.
When assessing these arguments, keep a close eye on the number
of Republican officials or conservative policy-makers who
revise their position on the Trump tax cuts in light of the
data. If their true primary goal was to increase business
investment, then the complete failure of a highly expensive
program to achieve its stated goal would lead them to question
their support. Why not cancel the Trump tax cuts and use the
couple trillion dollars in lost revenue to fund a more
effective growth-promoting policy?
So far, the number of Republicans reassessing their support
for the Trump tax cuts is, give or take, zero. What this
suggests is that the alleged growth-incentivizing secondary
effects of the plan were rationales, and the primary effect -
giving business owners more money - was the hidden main goal
devastating analysis of the tax cut shows it’s done
virtually no economic good (Los Angeles Times, May 29,
You may remember all the glowing predictions made for the
December 2017 tax cuts by congressional Republicans and the
Trump administration: Wages would soar for the rank-and-file,
corporate investments would surge, and the cuts would pay for
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has just
published a deep dive into the economic impact of the cuts in
their first year, and emerges from the water with a different
picture. The CRS finds that the cuts have had virtually no
effect on wages, haven’t contributed to a surge in investment,
and haven’t come close to paying for themselves. Nor have they
delivered a cut to the average taxpayer. The negligible (at
best) economic impact of the cuts shouldn’t surprise anyone,
the CRS says. 'Much of the tax cut was directed at businesses
and higher-income individuals who are less likely to spend,'
its analysts write. 'Fiscal stimulus is limited in an economy
that is at or near full employment.'
drew up obstruction indictment against Trump, Michael Wolff
book says (The Guardian, May 28, 2019)
A new book from Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff
says special counsel Robert Mueller drew up a three-count
obstruction of justice indictment against Donald Trump before
deciding to shelve it a year later – an explosive claim which
a spokesman for Mueller flatly denied.
According to a document seen by the Guardian, the first count,
under Title 18, United States code, Section 1505, charged the
president with corruptly – or by threats of force or
threatening communication – influencing, obstructing or
impeding a pending proceeding before a department or agency of
the United States.
The second count, under section 1512, charged the president
with tampering with a witness, victim or informant.
The third count, under section 1513, charged the president
with retaliating against a witness, victim or informant.
Not To Ruin The World By Visiting It (Wisconsin Public
Radio, May 28, 2019)
How We Might Make Tourism More Ethical.
researchers sound alarm over spraying antibiotics on FL
citrus (Florida Phoenix, May 28, 2019)
The Trump administration in December gave the go-ahead for
agricultural operations to spray antibiotic pesticides on
nearly a half-million acres of Florida citrus, despite
warnings from scientists and government health officials that
it could increase the problem of antibiotic resistance in
people and in the air, water, and soil. Antibiotic pesticides
have been sprayed in Florida before, but this scale is
Now, newly uncovered documents show that researchers at the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control – the federal agency that
deals with America’s public health and disease outbreaks –
concluded two years ago that spraying streptomycin and
oxytetracycline is tied to antibiotic resistance in bacteria
that cause serious health threats – including the MRSA, CRE
and VRE infections. The most alarming finding of the Centers
for Disease Control’s study is that when antibiotic pesticides
are sprayed on bacteria (in soil, water, air and on trees and
fruit), the bacteria can pass the resistance to other
bacteria, and then that resistance can adapt to “one or more
unrelated antibiotics used to treat infections.”
Military Is Locked in a Power Struggle With Wind Farms
(Wired, May 28, 2019)
A 2018 Pentagon-commissioned study by researchers at MIT found
that the 104 turbines at Amazon’s North Carolina wind farm did
not interfere with a local Naval radar facility, despite
claims by state legislators. The greatest threat to the
viability of military facilities in eastern North Carolina is
not wind farms, it’s the encroachment of houses and homes on
the training area.
Still, politicians in some rural areas seem convinced that the
military has a stronger argument. Texas legislators removed
tax breaks for wind farms near military bases and are debating
further cuts to federal and state incentives.
Some Texas observers note that anti-wind legislators in Texas
are supported by groups that also deny climate change, such as
the Texas Public Policy Foundation that works to support oil
and gas interests at the statehouse. 'This is nothing but pure
politics,' says Fred Beach, assistant director for policy
studies at the University of Texas Energy Institute and a
former naval aviator. 'People don’t want the wind turbines for
whatever reason, and they raise this false issue to scare
4channer with body armor guns down three police officers,
one fatally (Daily KOS, May 27, 2019)
Three police officers were shot, one of them fatally, when
they responded to a domestic disturbance call in Auburn on
Sunday night. The man arrested shortly afterward, it soon
emerged - Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, a veteran from Auburn - was
fond of posting memes from the alt-right online gathering spot
4chan, most of them mock humor about guns, white nationalist
trolling signals, and encouragement for Proud Boys-style
violence against left-wing protesters, who he described as
Administration Hardens Its Attack on Climate Science
(New York Times, May 27, 2019)
The attack on science is underway throughout the government.
In the most recent example, the White House-appointed director
of the United States Geological Survey, James Reilly, a former
astronaut and petroleum geologist, has ordered that scientific
assessments produced by that office use only
computer-generated climate models that project the impact of
climate change through 2040, rather than through the end of
the century, as had been done previously.
Scientists say that would give a misleading picture because
the biggest effects of current emissions will be felt after
2040. Models show that the planet will most likely warm at
about the same rate through about 2050. From that point until
the end of the century, however, the rate of warming differs
significantly with an increase or decrease in carbon
'What we have here is a pretty blatant attempt to politicize
the science - to push the science in a direction that’s
consistent with their politics,' said Philip B. Duffy, the
president of the Woods Hole Research Center, who served on a
National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed the
government’s most recent National Climate Assessment. 'It
reminds me of the Soviet Union.'
Trump agencies set for clash over chemicals in water
(The Hill, May 27, 2019)
PFAS has been linked with kidney and thyroid cancer along with
high cholesterol and other illnesses. Contamination has spread
to 43 states, and a 2015 study found 98
percent of Americans tested now have the chemical in
main parties hammered in E.U. elections - voters opt for
those with clearer stances on Brexit (Washington Post,
May 27, 2019)
Nigel Farage’s single-issue Brexit Party was the clear winner
of the elections, with the potential to impact the race over
who becomes the next British prime minister. The
pro-E.U. Liberal Democrats and the Greens - who also have a
simple message on Brexit: stop it - made significant gains as
well. Overall, support for all the parties that are
unabashedly pro-European was slightly higher than those that
are pushing for a hard Brexit. In other words, Britain
is as divided as ever.
Election Results Show Growing Split Over Union’s Future
(New York Times, May
Populists and nationalists who want to chip away at the
European Union’s powers increased their share in Europe’s
Parliament after four days of continent-wide elections, but it
was not the deluge that many traditionalists had feared. When
the vote counting is done, the populists are expected to get
around 25 percent of the 751 seats, up from 20 percent five
years ago, figures released by the European Union showed on
Sunday. But a higher than usual turnout suggested that
pro-European voters were also more motivated than before.
What Is That?’ Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying
Objects (New York Times, May 26, 2019)
Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen N.S.A. Tool Wreaks Havoc
(New York Times, May 25, 2019)
Since 2017, when the N.S.A. lost control of the tool,
EternalBlue, it has been picked up by state hackers in North
Korea, Russia and, more recently, China, to cut a path of
destruction around the world, leaving billions of dollars in
damage. But over the past year, the cyberweapon has
boomeranged back and is now showing up in the N.S.A.’s own
Before it leaked, EternalBlue was one of the most useful
exploits in the N.S.A.’s cyberarsenal. According to three
former N.S.A. operators who spoke on the condition of
anonymity, analysts spent almost a year finding a flaw in
Microsoft’s software and writing the code to target it.
Initially, they referred to it as EternalBluescreen because it
often crashed computers - a risk that could tip off their
targets. But it went on to become a reliable tool used in
countless intelligence-gathering and counterterrorism
missions. EternalBlue was so valuable, former N.S.A. employees
said, that the agency never seriously considered alerting
Microsoft about the vulnerabilities, and held on to it for
more than five years before the breach forced its hand.
allies insist he is winning in feud with Pelosi. Her backers
say she showed up the president. (Washington Post, May
Taking stock of the feud, each side insisted they got the
upper hand in a fight that shows no sign of waning 18 months
before the 2020 elections, with implications for the economy
as the budget and federal borrowing limit remain unresolved
while the dispute regarding oversight between the White House
and Congress rages.
Pelosi’s allies said she showed up the president and
reinforced an image of a chief executive behaving so badly and
childishly that he is unfit for office - a clear message to
voters next year. But to Trump’s backers, the president
succeeded in highlighting that an already unpopular politician
is struggling not only with the far-left liberals in the
Democratic ranks, but even some on her leadership team.
(Focus. Which one stomped out of his conference?)
May announces she will resign on 7 June (The Guardian,
May 24, 2019)
Prime minister to leave Downing Street, drawing three-year
tenure to a close. May’s announcement came after a meeting
with Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench Tory 1922
Committee, which was prepared to trigger a second vote of no
confidence in her leadership if she refused to resign. Her
fate was sealed after a 10-point 'new Brexit deal', announced
in a speech on Tuesday, infuriated Tory backbenchers and many
of her own cabinet – while falling flat with the Labour MPs it
was meant to persuade. The leader of the House of Commons,
Andrea Leadsom, resigned on Wednesday, rather than present the
Brexit bill to parliament.
American Financial Corp. Leaked Hundreds of Millions of
Title Insurance Records (Krebs On Security, May 24,
policy switch, Spectrum and AT&T say if you cancel
early, they’re keeping your cash (Los Angels Times, May
A Charter/Spectrum spokesman, declined to explain why the
company is dropping prorated bills. He said only that 'this is
a common approach to billing among other providers of monthly
subscription services, including wireless and video streaming
services.' Which is to say, Johnny took a cookie so I took a
cookie. Most parents will agree this isn’t a very satisfactory
defense of cookie consumption.
judge in California halts Trump’s plan to build parts of
border wall (Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2019)
Trump declared a national emergency in February after losing a
fight with the Democratic-led House over fully paying for the
wall that led to a 35-day government shutdown. Congress set
aside $1.375 billion to extend or replace existing barriers in
Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. But Trump wanted to spend $8 billion
on wall construction, so he declared the emergency to siphon
money from other government accounts.
Critics had objected to the Trump administration’s move,
saying it overstepped its authority by funneling billions of
dollars toward the president’s signature campaign promise
without authorization from Congress. In granting the
preliminary injunction to stop the work, Gilliam cited
Congress’ 'absolute' control over federal expenditures under
the Constitution, 'even when that control may frustrate the
desires of the executive branch regarding initiatives it views
Pelosi bests Trump every time and he never knows it until
it's too late (Daily KOS, May 23, 2019)
On Wednesday, he once again signed on for ownership of
governing gridlock when, in a fit of spite, he huffed out of a
meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck
Schumer, marched out to the Rose Garden, and reported back to
the American people that he wouldn't be doing any of America's
business as long as congressional Democrats continued their
investigations into him and his administration. 'You can’t do
it under these circumstances,' Trump said.
Actually, one can do it, just as President Bill Clinton piled
up signature achievements during a presidency dominated by a
sweeping four-year investigation into him, his wife, their
financial dealings, and an affair he conducted with a White
House intern that ultimately resulted in his impeachment but
not his removal from office. To be perfectly clear, Trump is
simply choosing not to do America's business. His new 2020
campaign slogan: Trump First!
Following Trump's Rose Garden rumble, Pelosi did a series of
media events. In one, she speculated that Trump had perhaps
taken a pass on doing infrastructure out of 'a lack of
confidence on his part that he couldn’t match the greatness of
the challenge before him.' Pluck. In another, she took her
impeachment comments a step further, saying Trump is
obstructing justice 'in plain sight' and 'that could be an
impeachable offense.' Pluck.
Trump is just where Pelosi wants him to be. The question is,
has he figured that out yet?
Russia Tipped Election for Trump ‘Staggering,’ Says Former
U.S. Intel Chief James Clapper (Newsweek, May 23, 2019)
Describing a report on Russian interference presented by the
intelligence community to president-elect Trump in January
2017, Clapper writes, 'I remember just how staggering the
assessment felt the first time I read it through from start to
finish, and just how specific our conclusions and evidence
were.' In the intelligence chief's view, 'We showed
unambiguously that Putin had ordered the campaign to influence
the election…and how the entire operation had begun with
attempts to undermine U.S. democracy and demean Secretary
Clinton, then shifted to promoting Mr. Trump when Russia
assessed he was a viable candidate who would serve their
Clapper warns of the threat posed by Trump’s dismissal of
inconvenient facts as fake news. 'I don’t believe our
democracy can function for long on lies, particularly when
inconvenient and difficult facts spoken by the practitioners
of truth are dismissed as fake news,' Clapper writes. 'I know
that the Intelligence Community cannot serve our nation if
facts are negotiable.'
'House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell said they would not support a bipartisan statement
that might hurt their nominee for president,' Clapper writes
in an excerpt of the book published by NPR. 'I was
disappointed but not surprised. It seemed they had decided by
then that they didn't care who their nominee was, how he got
elected or what effects having a foreign power influence our
election would have on the nation, as long as they won.'
says it warned 16 NATO allies of Russian hacking activities
over the last 18 months. (ZDNet, May 23, 2019)
UK warns of Russian global hacking campaign targeting critical
infrastructure and government networks.
Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super
Rich (Bloomberg, May 23, 2019)
Thirty-two-year-old French economist Gabriel Zucman scours
spreadsheets to find secret offshore accounts.
Zucman sees ominous signs in the rise of the far right - the
threat that has preoccupied him since he was a teenager on the
streets of Paris. Inequality, he says, paves the way for
demagogues. The causes he’s identified for the widening gap in
the U.S. are a host of policy changes that started in the
1980s: lower taxes on the wealthy, weaker labor protections,
lax antitrust enforcement, runaway education and health-care
costs, and a stagnant minimum wage. America’s skyrocketing
wealth disparity, he says, reflects that 'it’s also the
country where the policy changes have been the most extreme.'
The actual effect of lower taxes on the rich, he argues, isn’t
to stimulate the economy but to further enrich the rich and
further incentivize greed.
Plan on Rocket Fuel in Drinking Water Will Make You Sick
(Natural Resources Defence Fund, May 23, 2019)
As a result, millions of Americans will be at risk of exposure
to dangerous levels of this toxic chemical in their drinking
water. Fetuses and infants are especially vulnerable to
harm from perchlorate. EPA has more than tripled the amount of
perchlorate it now recommends allowing in water.
Scientists recommend a limit that is 10 to more than 50 times
lower than what the agency is proposing. This is another
Trump administration gift to polluters and water utilities
that have lobbied to be off the hook for cleaning up the
passes bill cracking down on robocalls (CNN, May 23,
The legislation would impose stiffer fines of as much as
$10,000 per call on robocallers who knowingly flout the rules
on calls and would increase the statute of limitations to
three years, up from one year. It also instructs the Federal
Communications Commission to develop further regulations that
could shield consumers from unwanted calls.
Neutrality: Comcast does so much lobbying that it says
disclosing it all is too hard (Ars Technica, May 23,
Shareholders say Comcast should stop being secretive about
Controlling The Wrong Bodies. Why are women’s bodies always
up for discussion and control? (Scary Mommy, May 22,
If a woman has sex with 100 random men in a year, she can
still only produce one full term pregnancy. If a guy has sex
with 100 random women in a year, he can produce 100 full term
pregnancies. So why exactly are we only talking about
regulating women?' This tweet is going viral right now. It has
over a half a million 'likes' and nearly 200k retweets. We
seem to know at our cores that men are the ones predominantly
responsible for pregnancies, but it’s something that remains
GOP Rep. Accused Of Punching Wife In The Face For Undressing
Too Slowly For Sex (Talking Points Memo, May 22, 2019)
military officers rebel against Trump plan to pardon troops
accused of war crimes (Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2019)
Aides to President Trump have been examining high-profile war
crimes cases from Iraq and Afghanistan, preparing paperwork so
Trump could issue pardons during Memorial Day commemorations
next week, according to two senior U.S. officials.
But the possibility that Trump could issue pardons has brought
a flood of opposition from current and former high-ranking
officers, who say it would encourage misconduct by showing
that violations of laws prohibiting attacks on civilians and
prisoners of war will be treated with leniency.
10-year-old migrant girl died last year in government care,
officials acknowledge (CBS News, May 22, 2019)
In an interview with CBS News Wednesday, Rep. Joaquin Castro,
D-Texas, accused the administration of concealing the girl's
death. 'I have not seen any indication that the Trump
administration disclosed the death of this young girl to the
public or even to Congress,' Castro said. 'And if that's the
case, they covered up her death for eight months, even though
we were actively asking the question about whether any child
had died or been seriously injured. We began asking that
question last fall.'
She was the first of six migrant children to die in U.S.
custody - or soon after being released - in the past eight
fight with Huawei could threaten internet access in rural
Angeles Times, May 22, 2019)
Rural broadband carriers could be forced to rip out and
replace entire networks because they wouldn’t be able to
import spare parts or software updates to maintain
infrastructure, said Roger Entner, a telecom analyst at Recon
Analytics. 'If something breaks, what are you going to tell
your customer? "I’m sorry you have an outage. We don’t know
when we are going to fix it because it’s Huawei equipment.
Until then, sorry. No internet for you." 'You don’t want to
tell that to a customer.'
allows Huawei to keep using Android until August (UPI,
May 21, 2019)
After U.S. officials gave a 90-day reprieve to Huawei, Google
said Tuesday it will suspend a plan to quit providing its
Android operating system to the Chinese smartphone maker.
Considers Rivals to Google's Android After U.S. Ban
(Bloomberg, May 21, 2019)
Should Google’s system no longer be available, "then the
alternative option will naturally come out - either from
Huawei or someone else,' Abraham Liu, Huawei’s representative
to the European Union institutions, said at an event in
Brussels on Tuesday. Liu said Huawei had been working on its
own operating system but that he didn’t have the details about
when this would be ready. Huawei would do everything in its
power to mitigate the impact of the U.S. decisions, Liu said.
The Trump administration late last week signed an order that
could restrict Huawei - which it says is obliged to support
Beijing spying - from selling equipment in the U.S. Washington
also put Huawei on a blacklist, threatening its supply of
American components from semiconductors to the Google apps
that run on its smartphones.
suspends some business with Huawei after Trump blacklist
(Reuters, May 19, 2019)
Alphabet Inc’s Google has suspended business with Huawei that
requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical
services except those publicly available via open source
licensing, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on
Sunday, in a blow to the Chinese technology company and third
largest smartphone manufacturer that the U.S. government has
sought to blacklist around the world.
Hundreds of US schools still haven’t patched servers
(Ars Technica, May 21 2019)
A dive into vulnerability data shows even big districts'
servers still offering up SMB v. 1.
reveal the colors of a 3 million-year-old fossil mouse
(Ars Technica, May 21, 2019)
We can now see the Neogene period in color. Thanks to new
imaging methods and a better understanding of the chemistry
behind pigment in animal fur and feathers, we now know that it
had reddish-brown fur with a white underbelly. Paleontologists
have had the tools to detect patterns of light and dark
coloring in fossil feathers for a few years, but this is their
first real glimpse of a colored pigment.
cycles had little to do with 20th-century temperature trends
(Ars Technica, May 21,
Humans, volcanoes, and the Sun can cover it; ocean cycles need
Could Cloud Our Lunar Ambitions (Wired, May 20, 2019)
In the public imagination, the American astronauts who landed
on the moon five decades ago were square-jawed superhumans,
not the types to worry about something as banal as
housekeeping. But they did, obsessively. Each time they got
back to the Apollo Lunar Module after a moonwalk, they were
shocked at how much dust they'd tracked in and how hard it was
to banish. This was no earthly grime; it was preternaturally
sticky and abrasive, scratching the visors on the astronauts'
helmets, weakening the seals on their pressure suits,
irritating their eyes, and giving some of them sinus trouble.
Are Tenants on Our Own Devices (Wired, May 20, 2019)
Today, we may think we own things because we paid for them and
brought them home, but as long as they run software or have
digital connectivity, the sellers continue to have control
over the product. We are renters of our own objects, there by
the grace of the true owner. Connectivity and embedded
intelligence are being used by large corporations to increase
their profits and to exercise as much control as they can get
Car Knows When You Gain Weight (New York Times, May 20,
Vehicles collect a lot of unusual data. But who owns it?
Cars produced today are essentially smartphones with wheels.
For drivers, this has meant many new features: automatic
braking, turn-by-turn directions, infotainment. But for all
the things we’re getting out of our connected vehicles,
carmakers are getting much, much more: They’re constantly
collecting data from our vehicles. Today’s cars are equipped
with telematics, in the form of an always-on wireless
transmitter that constantly sends vehicle performance and
maintenance data to the manufacturer. Modern cars collect as
much as 25 gigabytes of data per hour, and it’s about much
more than performance and maintenance.
Collins just voted to put another forced birther judge on an
important court (Daily KOS, May 21, 2019)
There are two nominally pro-choice women in the Senate
Republican conference: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan
Collins of Maine. Both voted Tuesday to confirm an
aggressively anti-choice nominee to the 9th Circuit, Daniel
Collins. That's the federal appeals court that's been most
crucial in stopping Donald Trump's actions, and it's about to
flip in his favor.
One of those senators, Susan Collins, is up for re-election in
2020. Apparently she's more worried about fending off a
primary opponent that standing up for what used to be her
principles, or for the people who have helped get her elected
all these years. In fact, this is at least her ninth vote for
an anti-choice nominee, with Supreme Court Justices Neil
Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh topping the list.
Collins (R. - Maine) on new abortion laws: 'I’m not sure
exactly why we're seeing this happen' (Daily KOS, May
(Because you supported Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, that's
Oil Sales to U.S. ‘on Steroids’ Amid Venezuela Sanctions
(Bloomberg, May 20, 2019)
Monthly Russian crude oil deliveries to U.S. may triple soon.
Venezuela and Iran sanctions, OPEC+ cuts curb crude supply.
may never forgive Justin Amash. The nation should thank
him. (Washington Post, May 20, 2019)
"Justin Amash finally said out loud what many other
Republicans know but will only whisper: 'President Trump
engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that
meet the threshold for impeachment.' Amash’s party may never
forgive him. His nation ought to thank him. The Michigan
congressman on Saturday became the first significant GOP
official to acknowledge the clear implication of special
counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report.
Bank employees reportedly flagged suspicious transactions
involving Trump and Kushner (NBC News, May 19, 2019)
Over the past few years, Deutsche Bank has been punished by
both U.S. and European authorities for its role in money
laundering schemes, paying hundreds of millions in fines as a
result. The bank has a substantial relationship with Trump, as
it was the only major financial institution to continue
lending to Trump after he went through a financial downturn in
the 1990s. Deutsche Bank lent Trump and his businesses more
than $2.5 billion and, when he became president, the bank held
more than $300 million in Trump's debt.
Bank Staff Saw Suspicious Activity in Trump and Kushner
Accounts (New York Times, May 19, 2019)
Former Deutsche Bank employees said the decision not to report
the Trump and Kushner transactions reflected the bank’s
generally lax approach to money laundering laws. The employees
- most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve
their ability to work in the industry - said it was part of a
pattern of the bank’s executives rejecting valid reports to
protect relationships with lucrative clients.
Deutsche Bank’s decision not to report the transactions is the
latest twist in Mr. Trump’s long, complicated relationship
with the German bank - the only mainstream financial
institution consistently willing to do business with the real
estate developer. Congressional and state authorities are
investigating that relationship and have demanded the bank’s
records related to the president, his family and their
companies. Subpoenas from two House committees seek, among
other things, documents related to any suspicious activities
detected in Mr. Trump’s personal and business bank accounts
since 2010, according to a copy of a subpoena included in a
federal court filing.
Lieu shames Trump over plan to pardon war criminals: 'You
never served' (Daily KOS, May 19, 2019)
GOP lawmaker says Trump’s conduct meets ‘threshold for
impeachment’ (Washington Post, May 18, 2019)
Representative Justin Amash (Republican, Michigan) wrote that
after reading the 448-page report, he had concluded that not
only did Mueller’s team show Trump attempting to obstruct
justice, but that Attorney General William P. Barr had
'deliberately misrepresented' the findings. He added that 'few
members of Congress even read Mueller’s report. Contrary to
Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President
Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior
that meet the threshold for impeachment.'
Amash, a libertarian, considers himself a strict
constitutionalist and in February was the lone Republican to
join a Democratic bill to stop Trump from declaring a national
emergency to fund his border wall. 'From the time the
president was elected, I was urging them to remain independent
and to be willing to push back against the president where
they thought he was wrong,' Amash told CNN in March. 'They’ve
decided to stick with the president time and again, even where
they disagree with him privately. When loyalty to a political party or to an
individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of
Law - the foundation of liberty - crumbles.'
Barr Billbarrs, Trump Tweets (Twitter, May 17, 2019)
(See the Comments thread.)
Again Casts Doubt on Russia Inquiry’s Origins, Aligning With
Trump’s Attacks (New York Times, May 17, 2019)
Bill Barr doesn’t bother with the pretense of propriety
(Rachel Maddow Show, May 17, 2019)
Last October, when the fate of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court
nomination was uncertain, the conservative jurist scrambled to
find his political footing. To that end, Kavanaugh adopted a
specific media strategy, doing an interview with Fox News and
writing a piece for the Wall Street Journal. The choices were
not accidental. Fox News, of course, is closely aligned with
Republican politics, and the editorial page of the Wall Street
Journal is arguably the most GOP-friendly space in all of
major American print media.
Seven months later, Attorney General Bill Barr is under fire
for a series of abuses, which yesterday led him to turn to -
you guessed it - Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.
19 undocumented immigrants worked for Trump (CNN, May
CNN interviewed 19 undocumented immigrants who say they worked
for the Trump Organization and that Donald Trump had to have
known they were undocumented during their employment. CNN's
Randi Kaye reports.
uses Gmail to track a history of things you buy - and it’s
hard to delete (CNBC, May 17, 2019)
Google tracks a lot of what you buy, even if you purchased it
elsewhere, like in a store or from Amazon.
Last week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote
a New York Times op-ed that said 'privacy cannot be a
luxury good.' But behind the scenes, Google is still
collecting a lot of personal information from the services you
use, such as Gmail, and some of it can’t be easily deleted.
Pay, America’s Economic ‘Miracle’ (New York Times, May 17, 2019)
"No matter how their companies do, the top bosses do better.
Jaczko: I Oversaw the US Nuclear Power Industry. Now I
Think It Should Be Banned. (Common Cause, May 17,
The danger from climate change no longer outweighs the risks
of nuclear accidents.
"My journey, from admiring nuclear power to fearing it, is
now complete. This tech is no longer a viable strategy for
dealing with climate change, nor is it a competitive source
of power. I think a reasonable standard for any source of
electricity should be that it doesn’t contaminate your
community for decades.
Could reactors be phased out here without increasing carbon
emissions? If it were completely up to the free market, the
answer would be yes, because nuclear is more expensive than
almost any other source of electricity today. Renewables
such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power generate
electricity for less than the nuclear plants under
construction in Georgia, and in most places, they produce
cheaper electricity than existing nuclear plants that have
paid off all their construction costs."
Farmers Facing Deadly Bacteria Turn to Antibiotics,
Alarming Health Officials (New York Times, May 17,
"In its decision to approve two drugs for orange and
grapefruit trees, the E.P.A. largely ignored objections from
the C.D.C. and the F.D.A., which fear that expanding their
use in cash crops could fuel antibiotic resistance in
The European Union has banned the agricultural use of both
streptomycin and oxytetracycline. So, too, has Brazil, where
orange growers are battling the same bacterial scourge,
called huanglongbing, also commonly known as citrus greening
disease. 'To allow such a massive increase of these drugs in
agriculture is a recipe for disaster,' said Steven Roach, a
senior analyst for the advocacy group Keep Antibiotics
Working. 'It’s putting the needs of the citrus industry
ahead of human health.'
Calls Out GOP on Abortion Bans: "a creepy theological
order led by a mad king. (Daily KOS, May 18, 2019)
Wiles: ‘We Are Going to Impose Christian Rule in this
Country’ (Right Wing Watch, May 17, 2019)
"On Wednesday night’s episode of his 'TruNews' program,
during which he praised Alabama’s radical new anti-abortion
law and warned that those who support reproductive rights
will spend eternity being 'aborted continuously forever' by
demons in Hell, End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles also found
time to blame Jews for the legalization of abortion in this
nation in the first place, declaring that 'we would not have
abortion in America if it was not for powerful, influential
rich Jews in America.'
court decisions deserve to be overruled. Roe vs. Wade
isn’t one of them (Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2019)
"Writing for himself and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia
Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said
that needlessly overturning previous decisions threatens the
stability of the law. He warned his colleagues that the
court should cast aside previous rulings 'only when the
circumstances demand it.' Breyer’s dissent has created a
minor sensation, but not because of his comments about the
importance of consistency in the law. Conservative justices
have said similar things. It’s what appears between the
lines that has attracted attention: an implicit plea to the
court’s conservatives not to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the
landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion.
happened to the Trump counterintelligence investigation?
House investigators don’t know. (Washington Post, May
"But not for lack of asking.
Morgan, Trump’s pick for ICE director: 'I can tell
which migrant children will become gang members by
looking into their eyes' (Politico, May 16, 2019)
Fox News Anointed Mark Morgan, Trump’s Pick For ICE Chief
(Huffington Post, May 15, 2019)
"Making at least 80 appearances there to praise the
president on immigration breathed new life into Mark
Are Using #YouKnowMe To Tell Their Abortion Stories
(Scary Mommy, May 15, 2019)
"In the wake of terrifying abortion laws being enacted in
multiple states, women are rightly infuriated and scared at
what looks like the crumbling of reproductive rights as
we’ve long known them. It’s prompting women to share stories
about their own abortions using #YouKnowMe.
No bill that criminalizes abortion will stop anyone from
making this incredibly personal choice, but these laws will
put more women at risk. Every woman deserves compassion and
care, not judgment and interference when it comes to their
own bodies. The statistic is that one in four women will
have an abortion before age 45.
'If men got pregnant, you could get an abortion at an ATM.'
--Selina Meyer, from HBO's Veep
Single Vote For Alabama’s Abortion Ban Came From A Man
(Scary Mommy, May 15, 2019)
"White men who will never, ever know what it’s like to have
a woman’s reproductive system are banning people with
uteruses from making their own decisions about their
uteruses. It’s barbaric, it’s irresponsible in a million
ways, and it proves the entire abortion “debate” isn’t about
when life begins - it’s about making sure women are treated
unequally and inhumanely in the eyes of the law.
The Republican party won’t regulate guns in order to prevent
the loss of human lives - not even children’s lives - yet
they purport themselves as “champions” of embryos. They are
seizing our reproductive freedom, one state at a time.
In addition to banning abortion access throughout the entire
state, Alabama would also be able to punish doctors who
perform abortions on patients - even in cases of rape and
incest - with a prison sentence of up to 99 years. Which is
a more severe punishment than rapists receive in Alabama.
Oh, and if you’re wondering: no, there isn’t any consequence
for a man who impregnates a woman who has no desire to carry
a fetus to term. Other than an obligation to pay child
support - in some cases.
In response to the bill, Alabama state senator Vivian Davis
Figures filed an amendment to the bill that would make it a
felony for a man to have a vasectomy. Predictably, it
York Rejects Keystone-Like Pipeline in Fierce Battle Over
the State’s Energy Future (New York Times, May 15,
"Regulators denied an application for a $1 billion natural
gas pipeline that environmentalists said would set back the
fight against climate change.
In a major victory for environmental activists, New York
regulators on Wednesday rejected the construction of a
heavily disputed, nearly $1 billion natural gas pipeline,
even as business leaders and energy companies warned that
the decision could devastate the state’s economy and bring a
gas moratorium to New York City and Long Island. The
pipeline was planned to run 37 miles, connecting natural gas
fields in Pennsylvania to New Jersey and New York. Its
operator, the Oklahoma-based Williams Companies, pitched it
as a crucial addition to the region’s energy infrastructure,
one that would deliver enough fuel to satisfy New York’s
booming energy needs and stave off a looming shortage.
But environmental groups said Williams was manufacturing a
crisis to justify a project that would rip apart fragile
ecosystems, handcuff New York to fossil fuels and hobble the
state’s march toward renewable resources.
facts about U.S. political independents (Pew Research
Center, May 15, 2019)
"Though about four-in-ten Americans call themselves
‘independents,’ few are truly independent.
3.5% Rule: How A Small Minority Can Change The World
(BBC, May 14, 2019)
"Overall, nonviolent campaigns were twice as likely to
succeed as violent campaigns: they led to political change
53% of the time compared to 26% for the violent protests.
This was partly the result of strength in numbers. Chenoweth
argues that nonviolent campaigns are more likely to succeed
because they can recruit many more participants from a much
broader demographic, which can cause severe disruption that
paralyses normal urban life and the functioning of society.
Jersey's AG and DEP Announce Suit Against 3M, DuPont, Others
for Making, Selling Toxic Chemicals in Firefighting Foam
Product State of New Jersey, May 14, 2019)
At issue in the State’s lawsuit is the manufacture,
advertising, and sale in New Jersey of aqueous film-forming
foam (AFFF) products that contain - or break down into when
released into the environment – chemicals known as PFOS
(perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic
acid). The State’s complaint names the following manufacturers
and sellers as defendants: The 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products
LP, Chemguard, Inc., Buckeye Fire Equipment Company,
Kidde-Fenwal, Inc., National Foam, Inc., E.I. du Pont de
Nemours & Company, and The Chemours Company.
'The corporations we’re suing today knew full well the health
and environmental risks associated with this foam, and yet
they sold it to New Jersey’s firefighters anyway,' said
Attorney General Grewal. 'Their conduct was unconscionable,
and we’re going to hold these companies accountable.'
'To protect our environment and ensure the restoration of
damaged natural resources, we must hold responsible the
manufacturers who knew of the dangers of these products,' said
DEP Commissioner McCabe.
Board Members Say Its New President Lied About Disclosing
Financial Troubles (Huffington Post, May 14, 2019)
Leaked documents reveal the National Rifle Association is
drowning in legal fees. Board members say they didn’t know.
across-the-board legal stonewalling appears poised to
backfire big time (Daily KOS, May 14, 2019)
If Tuesday's first fight over Trump's financial records turns
out to represent a trend in how judges approach these cases,
Trump's attorneys will likely be facing an expedited schedule
of hearings in which they are armed with exceedingly weak
legal rationales. And Democrats don't have to win every
subpoena battle being mounted; they only have to win most of
them in order to gain access to critical information. Indeed,
many pressing issues regarding presidential matters have been
adjudicated quickly by the courts. The constitutional fight
between George W. Bush and Al Gore in the 2000 presidential
election wrapped up in just over a month - 36 days - and that
included two trips to the Supreme Court.
Gerrymandering Leads to Radical Abortion Laws (The New
Republic, May 14, 2019)
Georgia's 'fetal heartbeat' bill never would have passed if
the state legislature truly reflected the voters' political
likely to mess with weather forecasts, but FCC auctions
spectrum anyway (Ars
Technica, May 14, 2019)
"A US Navy memo warns that 5G mobile networks are
likely to interfere with weather satellites, and senators are
urging the Federal Communications Commission to avoid issuing
new spectrum licenses to wireless carriers until changes are
made to prevent harms to weather forecasting.
The FCC has already begun an auction of 24GHz spectrum that
would be used in 5G networks. But Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and
Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) today wrote a letter to FCC Chairman
Ajit Pai, asking him to avoid issuing licenses to winning
bidders 'until the FCC approves the passive band protection
limits that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) determine are necessary to protect critical
satellite‐based measurements of atmospheric water vapor needed
to forecast the weather.' Wyden and Cantwell said that the
'ongoing sale of wireless airwaves could damage the
effectiveness of US weather satellites and harm forecasts and
predictions relied on to protect safety, property, and
national security.' They chided the FCC for beginning the
auction 'over the objections of NASA, NOAA, and members of the
American Meteorological Society (AMS). These entities all
argued that out-of-band emissions from future commercial
broadband transmissions in the 24GHz band would disrupt the
ability to collect water-vapor data measured in a neighboring
frequency band (23.6 to 24GHZ) that meteorologists rely on to
forecast the weather.'
The internal Navy memo on the topic, written on March 27 by
Capt. Marc Eckardt, a Naval oceanographer, was made public by
Wyden and Cantwell today.
coal producer in the US files for bankruptcy (Ars
Technica, May 14, 2019)
Cloud Peak Energy staved off bankruptcy for years but
continued to face lean markets.
12-month period on record leaves US nearly drought-free amid
rampant flooding (AccuWeather, May 14, 2019)
was 84 degrees near the Arctic Ocean this weekend as carbon
dioxide hit its highest level in human history
(Washington Post, May 14, 2019)
Over the weekend, the climate system sounded simultaneous
alarms. Near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest
Russia, the temperature surged to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29
Celsius). Meanwhile, the concentration of carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere eclipsed 415 parts per million for the first
time in human history. By themselves, these are just data
points. But taken together with so many indicators of an
altered atmosphere and rising temperatures, they blend into
the unmistakable portrait of human-induced climate change.
is more CO2 in the atmosphere today than any point since the
evolution of humans (CNN, May 13, 2019)
This is the first time in human history our planet's
atmosphere has had more than 415ppm CO2. Not just
in recorded history, not just since the invention of
agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans
existed millions of years ago. We don't know a planet like
Discloses Four New Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS)
Vulnerabilities (Softpedia, May 14, 2019)
Security researchers have publicly disclosed today a series of
potential security vulnerabilities affecting various Intel
microprocessors, which may allow information disclosure on
Almost Impossible to Tell if Your iPhone Has Been Hacked
(Vice, May 14, 2019)
A recent vulnerability in WhatsApp shows that there’s little
defenders can do to detect and analyze iPhone hacks.
As of today, there is no specific tool that an iPhone user can
download to analyze their phone and figure out if it has been
compromised. In 2016, Apple took down an app made by Esser
that was specifically designed to detect malicious jailbreaks.
Moreover, iOS is so locked down that without hacking or
jailbreaking it first, even a talented security researcher can
do very little analysis on it.
'These security controls have made mobile devices extremely
difficult to inspect, especially remotely, and particularly
for those of us working in human rights organizations lacking
access to adequate forensics technology. Because of this, we
are rarely able to confirm infections of those who we even
already suspect being targeted. Quite frankly, we are on the
losing side of a disheartening asymmetry of capabilities that
favors attackers over us, defenders.'
2019 and a WhatsApp call can hack a phone: Zero-day exploit
infects mobiles with spyware (The Register, May 14,
A security flaw in WhatsApp can be, and has been, exploited to
inject spyware into victims' smartphones: all a snoop needs to
do is make a booby-trapped voice call to a target's number,
and they're in. The victim doesn't need to do a thing other
than leave their phone on.
Cisco Router Bug Has Massive Global Implications (Wired,
May 13, 2019)
Researchers have found a way to break Cisco's secure boot
process, which could affect millions of devices around the
abortion become illegal in America? All signs point to yes
(The Guardian, May 14, 2019)
America is facing a full-frontal attack on Roe v Wade. There
is no guarantee that the supreme court will protect the right
to terminate a pregnancy.
25 Republicans – all white men – just voted to ban abortion
in Alabama (The Guardian, May 14, 2019)
Legislation makes abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy,
with the only exception for a serious threat to the health of
Nye explains climate change with John Oliver (0.5-min.
video; YouTube, May 13, 2019)
says that 56% of Americans don't want kids taught Arabic
numerals. We have some bad news. (Daily KOS, May 13,
announces tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods, vows to
‘never surrender’ (Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2019)
'I say openly to President Xi [Jinping] & all of my many
friends in China that China will be hurt very badly if you
don’t make a deal because companies will be forced to leave
China for other countries. Too expensive to buy in China. You
had a great deal, almost completed, & you backed out!' he
said in another tweet.
Beijing’s new tariff action was expected after trade talks in
Washington broke off Friday and the Trump administration went
ahead and hiked taxes on $200 billion of imported Chinese
goods to 25% from 10%.
Trump’s purge at DHS, top officials challenged plan for mass
family arrests (Washington Post, May 13, 2019)
In the weeks before they were ousted last month, Homeland
Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration
enforcement official Ronald Vitiello challenged a secret White
House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a
blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities.
According to seven current and former Department of Homeland
Security officials, the administration wanted to target the
crush of families that had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border
after the president’s failed 'zero tolerance' prosecution push
in early 2018. The ultimate purpose, the officials said, was a
show of force to send the message that the United States was
going to get tough by swiftly moving to detain and deport
recent immigrants - including families with children.
Lindsey Graham tells Don Jr. to obstruct justice, says the
Senate has his back (Daily KOS, May 13, 2019)
Court’s conservatives overturn precedent as liberals ask
‘which cases the court will overrule next’ (Washington
Post, May 13, 2019)
The issue in Monday’s 5 to 4 ruling was one of limited impact:
whether states have sovereign immunity from private lawsuits
in the courts of other states. In 1979, the Supreme Court
ruled that there is no constitutional right to such immunity,
although states are free to extend it to one another and often
do. But the court’s conservative majority overruled that
decision, saying there was an implied right in the
Constitution that means states 'could not be haled
involuntarily before each other’s courts,' in the words of
Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote Monday’s decision. Thomas
acknowledged the departure from the legal doctrine of stare
decisis, in which courts are to abide by settled law
without a compelling reason to overrule the decision.
Delta Air Lines: video games and beer cannot compete with
joining a union (The Guardian, May 11, 2019)
The airline is telling employees that unions take money they
could spend on entertainment instead. Will anyone really fall
for that anti-union tactic?
Documents: NRA Racked Up $24 Million in Legal Bills
(Daily Beast, May 11, 2019)
Docs show former president Oliver North warning that legal
fees 'pose an existential threat to the financial stability of
the National Rifle Association.'
documents show 3M hid PFAS dangers for decades (Detroit
Free Press, May 11, 2019)
A 3M environmental specialist, in a scathing resignation
letter, accused company officials of being 'unethical' and
more 'concerned with markets, legal defensibility and image
over environmental safety' when it came to PFOS, the emerging
contaminant causing a potential crisis throughout Michigan and
the country. PFOS, one of 3M's chief PFAS products, 'is the
most insidious pollutant since PCB,' Richard Purdy stated in
his March 28, 1999, resignation letter, referring to a
compound used in 3M's ScotchGard stain-protection product
line, among other uses. 'It is probably more damaging than PCB
because it does not degrade, whereas PCB does; it is more
toxic to wildlife,' he stated, adding that PFOS's end point in
the environment appeared to be plants and animals, not soil
and sediment like PCB.
and animal species are disappearing faster than at any time
in recorded history. We know who is to blame. (New York
Times, May 11, 2019)
Humanity’s culpability in what many scientists believe to be a
planetary emergency has now been reaffirmed by a detailed and
depressing report compiled by hundreds of international
experts and based on thousands of scientific studies. A
summary was released last Monday in Paris, and the full
1,500-page report will be available later in the year. Its
findings are grim. 'Biodiversity' - a word encompassing all
living flora and fauna - 'is declining faster than at any time
in human history,' it says, estimating that 'around 1 million
species already face extinction, many within decades,' unless
the world takes transformative action to save natural systems.
a reporter would not betray his source, police came to his
home with guns and a sledgehammer (Los Angeles Times,
May 11, 2019)
Carmody, 49, said he has not shared the name of his source
with anyone, and no markings on the document could be traced
to the person who provided it. Fellow journalists in the Bay
Area and beyond were outraged by the search of Carmody’s home
and office. And the incident provided a new wrinkle into the
evolving aftermath of the unexpected death of Adachi, who left
behind a legacy of championing civil rights. Initial reports
said the 59-year-old public defender had been traveling when
he suddenly had a heart attack.
the creators of a database are stamping out all-male panels
(Nature, May 10, 2019)
Developers of ‘Request a Woman Scientist’ hope that its 10,000
participants can help to boost gender diversity in scientific
talks and in the media.
'takes too much of Earth resources' (BBC News, May 10,
A new report
for the green group WWF and the Global Footprint Network
says that Europeans contribute disproportionately to depleting
resources. It says
Europeans emit too much carbon, eat too much food, use large
amounts of timber and occupy too much built space.
Why It Matters That Airlines Are Starting To Run
‘Zero-Waste’ Flights (UPROXX, May 10, 2019)
FBI is investigating whether Florida spa owner funneled
money from China to the Trump campaign (Daily KOS, May
Who could’ve ever guessed New England Patriots owner Robert
Kraft getting arrested for soliciting prostitution would lead
to the FBI investigating whether the Chinese have been
funneling money to the Trump re-election campaign? But, here
To recap, after Kraft was arrested, the Miami Herald noted the
spa’s founder, Cindy Yang, was a frequent guest at Mar-a-Lago
and had been photographed with Donald Trump at the private
club on several occasions. She used these photos to prove she
had access to the president and others could as well, for a
price. The grift began from the moment Donald Trump took
office. Yang hosted an event at Trump’s inauguration in
Washington, D.C., and those funds have never been accounted
for to this day.
Comey on why he isn't Republican anymore: ‘You cannot have a
president who is a chronic liar' (Daily KOS, May 10,
You cannot have a president who is a chronic liar. I don’t
care what your passions about tax cuts, or regulations, or
immigration - I respect difference there. But the President of
the United States cannot be someone who lies constantly. I
thought the Republicans agreed with that. It’s one of the
reasons I am no longer a Republican.
I hope the American people will realize we have to start at
that values level, no matter what our political background,
and answer that question first. And if that's a close question
in an election, then get to the important policy differences.
support for impeaching Trump rises: Reuters/Ipsos poll
(Reuters, May 9, 2019)
The number of Americans who said President Donald Trump should
be impeached rose 5 percentage points to 45 percent since
mid-April, while more than half said multiple congressional
probes of Trump interfered with important government business,
according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday."
delay in bringing Barr's contempt vote to the House floor
isn't weakness - it's a plan (Daily KOS, May 9, 2019)
The House Judiciary Committee voted on a resolution to hold
Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, but
Barr is not in contempt. He won’t be until that resolution is
brought to the floor and a citation of contempt is issued by
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. And, according to Roll
Call, that may not happen anytime soon. On Thursday, Pelosi
suggested that there may be a delay before any vote is held on
But that delay doesn’t represent disinterest on Pelosi’s part,
or an intention to keep Democrats from moving down a path that
could lead to impeachment. Instead, her actions seem to be
part of a plan that Democrats have been discussing over the
last few days, one that involves bringing multiple instances
of Donald Trump blocking access to information to the courts
at the same time.
This the Official Trump Constitutional Crisis? (New
Yorker Magazine, May 9, 2019)
Washington has been bracing for a full-blown constitutional
crisis since the first day of the Trump Presidency, and during
the last two and a half years each new boundary-pushing move
by the boundary-pushing President has been greeted with fresh
warnings that this time is really it.
This is not just a fight about getting William Barr to testify
or hand over the unredacted parts of the Mueller report or its
underlying evidence. In recent weeks, Trump has ordered his
Administration to take a maximally defiant attitude toward
Congress as it pursues an array of investigations of him and
his Administration. The President, essentially, is arguing
that his Democratic tormenters in the House have no right at
all to pursue information and testimony related to him.
Politically, Trump seems to be trying to goad the Democrats
into taking further action against him. Perhaps he is even
looking to push them into a partisan impeachment fight.
There’s no question that Trump, for all his bullying, actually
loves to play the victim. Whatever he is after, the President
has adopted a far more aggressive legal strategy than that of
his predecessors, ordering his Administration to carry out a
'true structural assault on the idea of congressional subpoena
power,' Stephen Vladeck, a legal professor at the University
of Texas, told me. 'Even at the height of Watergate, I don’t
think we ever heard Richard Nixon make such a categorical
Right after the Democrats won the House in last fall’s midterm
elections, Vladeck wrote a prescient piece in the Washington
Post, anticipating just this scenario of 'serious conflict
and, perhaps, even a slow-motion constitutional crisis'
between a Democratic House bent on investigations and Trump.
He correctly foresaw that Trump was likely to trigger the
fight by refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena and
also that, though fighting him would take time, the courts
were likely to side with Democrats in any such argument. Will
Trump defy a court order against him? That would be a crisis.
Will he set a new standard for future Presidents eroding
Congress’s previously 'extremely broad and encompassing'
authority to investigate? That, too, would be a crisis.
But there’s another possibility, and it is an unsettling one.
Many of President Trump’s assertions of sweeping executive
authority, and also his defiance of Congress, may well be
legal, if highly confrontational. In area after area during
the past few years, Trump has taken advantage of decades of
congressional inaction or has flouted norms that were long
assumed but not explicitly enshrined in law. That’s what
happens when a President is willing to defy convention in the
way that Trump is. There’s no law requiring him to hold a
regular White House press briefing, any more than there is a
law explicitly saying that 'because I don’t want to' is not a
proper reason for refusing a legitimate congressional inquiry.
In the past, the presumed blowback acted as a constraint on
Presidents. (Though, of course, many of them, long before
Trump, sought to expand their executive authority.) What’s
different now is that Trump acts as though he is immune from
the political pressure to operate within the accepted system
that his predecessors felt. 'To me, that is what has broken
down over the last thirty months, that those constraints have
proved utterly ineffective,' Vladeck said. 'All of these are
of a piece, where we have a President and an Administration
that is absolutely shameless when it comes to bleeding every
legal authority it has for every ounce of support it can
Which is how we ended up with a President who deliberately
keeps Cabinet positions open for months at a time rather than
have Senate-confirmed officials there. It’s how we got a state
of national 'emergency' at the southern border, so that Trump
could spend military money on the border wall that Congress
refused to give him. And it’s why there’s a fight now over
Congress even being allowed to see the Mueller report and its
underlying evidence, although Mueller explicitly envisioned
that Congress would use that evidence to determine whether to
accuse Trump of obstructing justice. In Washington, the
scandal is often what’s legal - and that was true before
Donald Trump was President and will almost certainly be the
case long after he is gone.
Sanders purges reporters she doesn't like from the White
House (ShareBlue Media, May 9, 2019)
Sarah Huckabee Sanders instituted new rules that effectively
deem the entire White House press corps unqualified to possess
permanent press passes.
co-founder: ‘It’s time to break up Facebook’ (Washington
Post, May 9, 2019)
Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, is calling for the
breakup of the social media juggernaut, citing the threat of
the platform’s unchecked power and that of its chief
executive, Mark Zuckerberg.
Time to Break Up Facebook, by Chris Hughes (New York Times, May
Mr. Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, is a co-chairman of the
Economic Security Project and a senior adviser at the
'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.'
Commissioners Back Privacy Law to Regulate Tech Companies
(New York Times, May 8,
Lawmakers are considering a national privacy law to regulate
the collection and handling of user data, the most valuable
currency of the internet economy. The idea has won the support
of some Silicon Valley executives, and drew Facebook’s chief
operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, to meet with lawmakers
this week. But progress has stalled over disagreements on the
details of such a law, putting the United States far behind
nations in Europe and beyond that have led a global charge to
curb the growing power of big tech companies.
'We urge Congress to enact privacy and data security
legislation, enforceable by the F.T.C.,' Joseph Simons, the
agency’s chairman, said at the hearing.
Waxman: Congress should act now to ensure a free and open
internet (Los Angeles Times, May 8, 2019)
"Since the rise of the internet, there have been concerns
that the dominance of a relatively small number of internet
service providers could potentially threaten its open
nature. I sought to prevent that outcome during my time in
Congress by writing principles of net neutrality into law.
Under net neutrality, ISPs would be prohibited from
blocking, throttling and allowing for paid prioritization of
content. In other words, they could not prevent subscribers
from accessing websites, slow down or speed up websites, or
receive payment from content providers seeking to put
particular websites or content 'first in line.' While we
have come close to this goal, we have not yet achieved it.
Instead, for more than 15 years, policymakers have been
locked in an epic arm-wrestling match over net neutrality.
a Split Second, a Quantum Computer Made History Go
Backward (New York Times, May 8, 2019)
"A team of quantum physicists reported earlier this year
that they had succeeded in creating a computer algorithm
that acts like the Fountain of Youth. Using an IBM quantum
computer, they managed to undo the aging of a single,
simulated elementary particle by one millionth of a second.
But it was a Pyrrhic victory at best, requiring
manipulations so unlikely to occur naturally that it only
reinforced the notion that we are helplessly trapped in the
flow of time.
'We demonstrate that time-reversing even ONE quantum
particle is an unsurmountable task for nature alone. The
system comprising two particles is even more irreversible,
let alone the eggs - comprising billions of particles - we
break to prepare an omelet.'
Activists Are Rebelling. Are Politicians Finally Listening?
(Sierra Club, May 8, 2019)
Extinction Rebellion's bold antics seem to be getting results.
Leaders Disregarded Agency’s Experts in Issuing Asbestos
Rule, Memos Show (New York Times, May 8, 2019)
Senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency
disregarded the advice of their own scientists and lawyers in
April when the agency issued a rule that restricted but did
not ban asbestos, according to two internal memos. Because of
its fiber strength and resistance to heat, asbestos has long
been used in insulation and construction materials. It is also
is a known carcinogen.
Last month’s rule kept open a way for manufacturers to adopt
new uses for asbestos, or return to certain older uses, but
only with E.P.A. approval. Andrew Wheeler, the E.P.A.
administrator, said when the rule was issued that it would
significantly strengthen public health protections. But in the
memos, dated Aug. 10, more than a dozen of E.P.A.’s own
experts urged the agency to ban asbestos outright, as do most
other industrialized nations.
Turks' Uygur: Nancy Pelosi is not a progressive (The
Hill, May 8, 2019)
Why did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) not defend Rep.
Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) by name recently when she was attacked by
President Trump? Why did Speaker Pelosi attend a dinner with
Democratic donors where they discussed how to thwart Senator
Sanders, arguably the most progressive person in Congress? Why
did Pelosi minimize the progressives in Congress by saying
there are just five of them?
I’ll solve the big mystery for you: She isn't a progressive.
Not even close. In fact, she works against every progressive
priority in Congress.
‘democratic socialist’ agenda is appealing. No wonder Trump
attacks it. (Washington Post, May 8, 2019)
Through much of this spring, President Trump has made a big
deal out of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen.
Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) calling themselves democratic
socialists. He likens them to Venezuelan dictator Nicolás
Maduro. But no one in the United States is advocating a
government takeover of coal mines or oil fields - not
Ocasio-Cortez, not Sanders, not anybody. Trump is merely
engaging in an old-fashioned smear campaign, hoping to turn
voters against democratic socialism by conflating ideas.
I prefer another name, 'progressive capitalism,' to describe
the agenda of curbing the excesses of markets; restoring a
balance among markets, government and civil society; and
ensuring that all Americans can attain a middle-class life.
The term emphasizes that markets with private enterprise are
at the core of any successful economy, but it also recognizes
that unfettered markets are not efficient, stable or fair.
Finalizes Rule Requiring Manufacturers Disclose Drug Prices
in TV Ads to Increase Drug Pricing Transparency (U.S.
Dept. of Health and Human Services, May 8, 2019)
On Wednesday, Health and Human Services announced a final rule
from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)
that will require direct-to-consumer television advertisements
for prescription pharmaceuticals covered by Medicare or
Medicaid to include the list price – the Wholesale Acquisition
Cost – if that price is equal to or greater than $35 for a
month’s supply or the usual course of therapy.
defies the law by withholding Trump tax returns. Congress
can't let this stand. (USA Today, May 8, 2019)
The law in this case is unambiguous. It clearly states that
the Secretary of Treasury 'shall furnish . . . any return or
return information' requested in writing by the House Ways and
Means Committee. Instead of complying with this requirement,
the secretary asserted that he was not fulfilling the request
on the grounds that he had determined that the 'request lacks
a legitimate legislative purpose.'
This is not a determination the secretary is empowered to
make, and it is also not correct.This need is particularly
acute in the case of a president who has decided, unlike every
president before him, to retain a large network of
privately-held business interests that expose him to
corruption risks all over the world. The public record alone
discloses more than 1,400 points of contact during Trump's
first two years in office involving the government, those
trying to influence it, and the Trump Organization.
Particularly troubling facts specific to Trump provide
additional compelling justifications for congressional
oversight. News reporting suggests that the Trump family,
including the president, engaged in an elaborate, decades-long
scheme to minimize tax liability. Trump’s sister, a former
federal judge, retired from the bench just 10 days after a
judicial panel began an inquiry into her role in the scheme;
her retirement ended that inquiry. In addition, as we recently
discovered, the current head of the IRS has earned as much as
$1 million in income from a rental property he owns - at a
Trump-branded development. Only willful blindness would allow
Congress to simply assume all is well.
denies access to full Mueller report; Barr’s contempt vote
clears House panel (Washington Post, May 8, 2019)
President Trump asserted executive privilege, a rare
presidential prerogative, to deny congressional Democrats the
unredacted version of the report.
Democrats could vote as early as next week on holding William
P. Barr in contempt, according to an individual familiar with
Subpoena and Contempt Fight Between Trump and Congress,
Explained (New York Times, May 8, 2019)
President Trump invoked executive privilege for the first time
in his presidency on Wednesday to justify shielding the full
Mueller report from Congress, even as the House Judiciary
Committee considered whether to recommend holding Attorney
General William P. Barr in contempt for defying its subpoena
for the document.
The clash brings to a head the first of a series of fights
over the scope and limits of Congress’s power to obtain
information that the president wants to keep secret from
lawmakers. More are coming: Mr. Trump has has vowed to resist
'all' subpoenas issued by House Democrats in their oversight
investigations. And Mr. Trump has sued his banks and the House
Oversight Committee to block subpoenas for his financial
records held by his accountants and financial firms.
The strategy of unabashedly stonewalling Democrats’ oversight
investigations raises the question of what lawmakers can do
about it - and whether, even if they ultimately prevail, the
court fight will take so long that the Trump team will run out
the clock before the next election. 'We are now in a
constitutional crisis,' said Representative Jerrold Nadler, the
chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
House asserts executive privilege over Mueller report
in latest confrontation with Congress (Washington
Post, May 8, 2019)
"Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote in a
letter to Congress that Trump had 'asserted executive
privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed
materials.' Boyd wrote that Judiciary Committee Chairman
Jerrold Nadler’s push to hold Barr in contempt had
'terminated' their negotiations over what materials
lawmakers would be allowed to view from Mueller’s
investigation. 'As we have repeatedly explained, the
Attorney General could not comply with your subpoena in
its current form without violating the law, court rules,
and court orders, and without threatening the
independence of the Department of Justice’s
prosecutorial functions,' Boyd wrote.
'The attorney general of the United States refused to
provide information that is not privilege and is subject
to a subpoena,” said . Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) responded, 'There
is no privilege for this information. Executive
privilege is not a cloak of secrecy that drapes across
(Q: How many facts can a con man hide, if a con man can
A: Ten years' worth less than yesterday.)
in the Red: Trump Tax Figures Show Over $1 Billion in
Business Losses (New York Times, May 7, 2019)
"By the time his master-of-the-universe memoir 'Trump: The
Art of the Deal' hit bookstores in 1987, Donald J. Trump
was already in deep financial distress, losing tens of
millions of dollars on troubled business deals, according
to previously unrevealed figures from his federal income
tax returns. Mr. Trump was propelled to the presidency, in
part, by a self-spun narrative of business success and of
setbacks triumphantly overcome. He has attributed his
first run of reversals and bankruptcies to the recession
that took hold in 1990. But 10 years of tax information
obtained by The New York Times paints a different, and far
bleaker, picture of his deal-making abilities and
The data - printouts from Mr. Trump’s official Internal
Revenue Service tax transcripts, with the figures from his
federal tax form, the 1040, for the years 1985 to 1994 -
represents the fullest and most detailed look to date at
the president’s taxes, information he has kept from public
view. Though the information does not cover the tax years
at the center of an escalating battle between the Trump
administration and Congress, it traces the most tumultuous
chapter in a long business career - an era of fevered
acquisition and spectacular collapse.
Mueller reportedly about to leave DOJ in 'coming days' -
and derail efforts to derail his testimony (Daily KOS, May
"Earlier today, White House Press Secretary/Information
Minister/Princess of Lies Sarah Huckabee Sanders hinted
loudly that her boss could potentially block Robert
Mueller from testifying before the House Judiciary
Committee. Under this scenario, Trump could tell Attorney
General William Barr to order Mueller not to testify.
Since Mueller is still employed by the Department of
Justice, Barr at least on paper would have the right to
give such an order.
But there’s just one problem. In a few days, that order
could just be hot air. Mueller is reportedly about to
leave the federal government.
We Need to Save What Made Linux and FOSS Possible
(Linux Journal, May 8, 2019)
"If we take freedom and openness for granted, we'll lose
both. That's already happening, and we need to fight back.
The question is how.
News! Windows 10 Will Soon Have a Real Linux Kernel
(It's FOSS, May 7, 2019)
Microsoft is infamous for its Embrace,
Extend, Extinguish policy. It has started ‘loving’ open
source and Linux in the last few years, but before that Linux
was cancer. The so-called ‘love for Linux’ seems more
like ‘lust for Linux’ to me. The Linux community is behaving
like a teen-aged girl madly in love with a brute. Who benefits
from this Microsoft-Linux relationship? Clearly, Microsoft has
more to gain here. WSL
(Windows Subsystem for Linux) has the capacity of
shrinking (desktop) Linux to a mere desktop app in this
WSL is a Linux kernel compatibility layer for Windows. It
allows many Linux programs (mainly the command line ones) to
run inside Windows. This feature is also called ‘bash on
Windows’. To use WSL, you can install bash on Windows through
Ubuntu, Kali Linux and OpenSUSE. These Linux distributions are
available in Windows 10 Store. Instead of a slow virtual
machine, the WSL allows you to natively run the Linux commands
on Windows - up to 20x faster!
In WSL 2, the Linux kernel compatibility layer has been
replaced by the real Linux kernel. By bringing Linux kernel to
Windows 10 desktop, programmers and software developers will
be able to use Linux for setting up programming environments
and use tools like Docker for deployment. They won’t have to
leave the Windows ecosystem or use a virtual machine or log in
to a remote Linux system through Putty or other SSH clients.
In the coming years, a significant population of future
generation of programmers won’t even bother to try Linux
desktop because they’ll get everything right in their systems
that come pre-installed with Windows. The Linux kernel will
continue to grow in the IT infrastructure, thanks to the
efforts of the Linux Foundation backed by the enterprise
giants for their own interests.
Desktop Linux will unfortunately see a decline. The
Linux Foundation already doesn’t care about desktop Linux.
Out of the millions it gets, literally nothing goes for the
development of desktop Linux (as far as I know). Linux
Foundation doesn’t make any effort to support desktop Linux -
probably because it doesn’t generate any money.
Will Have You Sued for Not Hosting GNU/Linux on Azure
(Paying Rents) (TechRights, May 7, 2019)
In order for 'Microsoft Azure IP Advantage' to be sell-able
(or become a selling point), Microsoft must ensure that many
FOSS users get attacked by patent trolls.
CEO Sundar Pichai: Privacy Should Not Be a Luxury Good
(New York Times, May 7, 2019)
"Yes, we use data to make products more helpful for
everyone. But we also protect your information.
man arrives in Caribbean after crossing Atlantic in giant
barrel (CNN, May 7, 2019)
"Jean-Jacques Savin set off from the Canary Islands, off the
coast of Africa, on December 26, 2018 - heading west in a
barrel-shaped capsule he'd built himself. Savin, 71 at the
time of his departure, spent the first four months of 2019
inside his barrel, traveling at about two miles an hour with
no engine, and relying entirely on the ocean current to
guide his journey.The septuagenarian traveled alone in his
handmade vessel, which measures about 10 feet long and seven
feet wide and includes a small kitchen and bed, and space
for storage. He fed himself on fish caught from the ocean.
The trip was not Savin's first major adventure. He
previously worked as a military paratrooper and a private
pilot, and climbed Mont Blanc in 2015, according to his project's
discover a game-changing way to remove salt from water
(CNET, May 7, 2019)
Swing Solvent Extraction technology could have massive
implications for the future of our drinking water.
Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species
Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’ (United Nations, May 6,
The average abundance of native species in most major
land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since
1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of
reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine
mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect
species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate
of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had
been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than
9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and
agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000
more breeds still threatened.
To increase the policy-relevance of the Report, the
assessment’s authors have ranked, for the first time at this
scale and based on a thorough analysis of the available
evidence, the five direct drivers of change in nature with the
largest relative global impacts so far. These culprits are, in
descending order: (1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct
exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution
and (5) invasive alien species.
The Report notes that, since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions
have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least
0.7 degrees Celsius – with climate change already impacting
nature from the level of ecosystems to that of genetics –
impacts expected to increase over the coming decades, in some
cases surpassing the impact of land and sea use change and
things we've learned from nature crisis study (BBC News,
May 6, 2019)
One in four species are at risk of extinction. Some ecologists
argue that a financial definition is very damaging for nature,
allowing it to be commodified and treated as just another
the Anthropocene: we’ve entered the Synthetic Age (Aeon,
May 6, 2019)
We are changing how the planet works. It is not just that
human activities have stained every corner of the entire
planet. The simultaneous arrival of a range of powerful new
technologies are starting to signal a potential takeover of
Earth’s most basic operations by its most audacious species.
From this time forward, technologies such as the gene-editing
technique CRISPR and climate engineering will transform an
already tainted planet into an increasingly synthetic whole.
move raises pressure on Barr (The Hill, May 6, 2019)
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are angling to
bring Mueller in to testify on May 15 and are said to be
negotiating directly with the special counsel. Mueller is
still employed at the Justice Department, meaning Barr would
need to sign off on his testimony and could in theory block
him from appearing. Mueller is also expected to leave the
Justice Department soon, which could leave the administration
with little control over his actions as a private citizen.
panel sets Wednesday vote to hold Barr in contempt after DOJ
doesn't turn over Mueller report (CNN, May 6, 2019)
to hold Barr in contempt marks the first time that House
Democrats are moving to punish a Trump administration official
for defying a congressional subpoena and represents a dramatic
escalation in tensions between Democrats and the White House.
BY OVER 700 FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTORS (U.S. Dept. of
Justice Alumni Statement) (Medium, May 6, 2019)
We are former federal prosecutors. We served under both
Republican and Democratic administrations at different levels
of the federal system: as line attorneys, supervisors, special
prosecutors, United States Attorneys, and senior officials at
the Department of Justice. The offices in which we served were
small, medium, and large; urban, suburban, and rural; and
located in all parts of our country.
Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump
described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would,
in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of
Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President,
result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of
The Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of
the elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that
obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process,
as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to
pending proceedings is overwhelming. These include:
· The President’s efforts to fire Mueller and to falsify
evidence about that effort;
· The President’s efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s
investigation to exclude his conduct; and
· The President’s efforts to prevent witnesses from
cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign.
Attempts to fire Mueller and then create false evidence:
Despite being advised by then-White House Counsel Don McGahn
that he could face legal jeopardy for doing so, Trump directed
McGahn on multiple occasions to fire Mueller or to gin up
false conflicts of interest as a pretext for getting rid of
the Special Counsel. When these acts began to come into public
view, Trump made 'repeated efforts to have McGahn deny the
story' - going so far as to tell McGahn to write a letter 'for
our files' falsely denying that Trump had directed Mueller’s
Firing Mueller would have seriously impeded the investigation
of the President and his associates - obstruction in its most
literal sense. Directing the creation of false government
records in order to prevent or discredit truthful testimony is
similarly unlawful. The Special Counsel’s report states:
'Substantial evidence indicates that in repeatedly urging
McGahn to dispute that he was ordered to have the Special
Counsel terminated, the President acted for the purpose of
influencing McGahn’s account in order to deflect or prevent
scrutiny of the President’s conduct toward the investigation.'
Attempts to limit the Mueller investigation:
The report describes multiple efforts by the president to
curtail the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation.
First, the President repeatedly pressured then-Attorney
General Jeff Sessions to reverse his legally-mandated decision
to recuse himself from the investigation. The President’s
stated reason was that he wanted an attorney general who would
'protect' him, including from the Special Counsel
investigation. He also directed then-White House Chief of
Staff Reince Priebus to fire Sessions and Priebus refused.
Second, after McGahn told the President that he could not
contact Sessions himself to discuss the investigation, Trump
went outside the White House, instructing his former campaign
manager, Corey Lewandowski, to carry a demand to Sessions to
direct Mueller to confine his investigation to future
elections. Lewandowski tried and failed to contact Sessions in
private. After a second meeting with Trump, Lewandowski passed
Trump’s message to senior White House official Rick Dearborn,
who Lewandowski thought would be a better messenger because of
his prior relationship with Sessions. Dearborn did not pass
along Trump’s message.
As the report explains, 'substantial evidence indicates that
the President’s effort to have Sessions limit the scope of the
Special Counsel’s investigation to future election
interference was intended to prevent further investigative
scrutiny of the President’s and his campaign’s conduct' - in
other words, the President employed a private citizen to try
to get the Attorney General to limit the scope of an ongoing
investigation into the President and his associates.
All of this conduct - trying to control and impede the
investigation against the President by leveraging his
authority over others - is similar to conduct we have seen
charged against other public officials and people in powerful
Witness tampering and intimidation:
The Special Counsel’s report establishes that the President
tried to influence the decisions of both Michael Cohen and
Paul Manafort with regard to cooperating with investigators.
Some of this tampering and intimidation, including the
dangling of pardons, was done in plain sight via tweets and
public statements; other such behavior was done via private
messages through private attorneys, such as Trump counsel Rudy
Giuliani’s message to Cohen’s lawyer that Cohen should 'sleep
well tonight, you have friends in high places.'
Of course, these aren’t the only acts of potential obstruction
detailed by the Special Counsel. It would be well within the
purview of normal prosecutorial judgment also to charge other
acts detailed in the report.
We emphasize that these are not matters of close professional
judgment. Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments
that could be raised in response to an indictment of the
nature we describe here. In our system, every accused person
is presumed innocent and it is always the government’s burden
to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. But, to look at
these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably
sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice - the standard
set out in Principles of Federal Prosecution - runs counter to
logic and our experience.
As former federal prosecutors, we recognize that prosecuting
obstruction of justice cases is critical because unchecked
obstruction - which allows intentional interference with
criminal investigations to go unpunished - puts our whole
system of justice at risk. We believe strongly that, but for
the OLC memo, the overwhelming weight of professional judgment
would come down in favor of prosecution for the conduct
outlined in the Mueller Report.
be looking at an entirely different political landscape
before this day is over (Palmer Report, May 6, 2019)
Two of Donald Trump’s most notorious cabinet members are
facing hard deadlines today, and we’re finally about to get a
look at what House Democrats have up their sleeve in terms of
consequences. That means today was already going to be a huge
day, even before Robert Mueller and Donald Trump each decided
to interject themselves into the timeline. Now we’re facing an
entirely different political landscape before sundown.
Trump’s first 2 years don’t count, here’s everything he did
that can be cancelled (ThinkProgress, May 6, 2019)
The president re-tweeted a demand from Jerry Falwell Jr. that
his term be extended by two years to make up for the Russia
Keeps Alluding to Extending His Presidency. Does He Mean It?
(Fortune, May 6, 2019)
The president made similar comments last year in a speech to
Republican donors at Mar-A-Lago, where he praised Chinese
President Xi Jinping for consolidating his power and doing
away with term limits. 'He’s now president for life. President
for life. And he’s great,' Trump said. 'I think it’s great.
Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.'
says Mueller shouldn’t testify to Congress, escalating fight
with Democrats (Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2019)
House Democrats have said they have a tentative deal for
Mueller to testify on May 15, and Atty. Gen. William Barr
previously told Congress that he had no objection to Mueller
Happened After My 13-Year-Old Son Joined the Alt-Right
(Washingtonian, May 5, 2019)
A Washington family's nightmare year.
See follow-up: Answers
to Your Questions About the Dark Side of the Internet
(Mozilla, September 3 2019)
Walker has a new job (Daily KOS, May 5, 2019)
Scott Walker, a man who has never worked a day in his life,
has a new job that fits his grifting ways. He is now the
honorary chair of The Center for State-led National Debt
Solutions. In other words, he is pushing for a balanced budget
amendment to the Constitution.
A balanced budget amendment is an utterly bad idea that the
American Right has been pushing for years. It is an idea that
ignores the reality that a national budget is not the same
thing as a family budget.
Civil War At Fox News Is About To Get Much Worse (5-min.
video; The Young Turks, May 5, 2019)
Tensions behind the scenes at Fox News are reaching a boiling
point as more and more advertisers flee and shareholders are
starting to see their profits fall. People like Sean Hannity,
Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham are scaring away the ad
dollars in spite of their high ratings, and executives don’t
know if they should be placating the on-air hosts or the
people who actually pay their bills. Ring of Fire’s Farron
Cousins explains what’s happening.
Air Force Says It Has Successfully Shot Down Multiple
Missiles Using a Laser Prototype (Gizmodo, May 5, 2019)
The U.S. military has been interested in lasers essentially
since they were invented. But one key hindrance has been the
miniaturizing the technologies necessary to create a powerful
enough beam to destroy anything quickly - and previous
failures include a $5 billion project involving a Boeing 747
retrofitted to carry a laser that failed in 2012. A photograph
released by the Air Force shows the current surrogate being
used in testing is really, really big.
government to create and maintain defensive malware
(ZDnet, May 5, 2019)
The Japanese government plans to expand its military's reach
into "cyber," which NATO formally declared as an official
battlefield in June 2016, next to air, ground, and sea. Japan
becomes just the latest country to formally recognize that it
owns and develops cyber-weapons. The others include the US,
the UK, and Germany.
Meat-Eating Is On the Rise, Bringing Surprising Benefits
(Slashdot, May 5, 2019)
Almost four-fifths of all agricultural land is dedicated to
feeding livestock, if you count not just pasture but also
cropland used to grow animal feed. The shift from pork to beef
in China, the world's most populous country, is bad news for
the environment. Because pigs require no pasture, and are
efficient at converting feed into flesh, pork is among the
greenest of meats. Cattle are usually much less efficient,
although they can be farmed in different ways. And because
cows are ruminants, they belch methane, a powerful greenhouse
gas. A study of American farm data in 2014 estimated that,
calorie for calorie, beef production requires three times as
much animal feed as pork production and produces almost five
times as much greenhouse gases. Other estimates suggest it
uses two and a half times as much water.
my Schwinn... and other stuff (Daily KOS, May 4, 2019)
lanes need physical protection from car traffic, study shows
(Ars Technica, May 4, 2019)
Drivers left bikes less room in the presence of parked cars
and painted bike lanes.
beware: Remember who you were and what you stood for -
before it's too late (Los Angeles Times, May 4, 2019)
At the very least, Trumpites seem to recognize that they will
need to atone. Even Trump’s mouthpiece lawyer Rudolph W.
Giuliani may see the writing on the wall. He told a reporter,
'I am afraid it will be on my gravestone: Rudy Giuliani, he
lied for Trump.'
To all Trumpites - rank-and-file or highly public - who
likewise may be starting to grapple with what will happen to
them when they meet their makers, Cohen, Comey and McHugh
offer guidance: Remember who you were and what you stood for -
before Donald and before it’s too late. For you and the
Warns Democrats: Stay in the Center or Trump May Contest
Election Results (New York Times, May 4, 2019)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not believe President Trump can be
removed through impeachment - the only way to do it, she said
this week, is to defeat him in 2020 by a margin so 'big' he
cannot challenge the legitimacy of a Democratic victory.
Intercept’s ‘Bodies in the Borderland’ Documents
Criminalization of Arizona Humanitarian Aid Worker
(The Intercept, May 4,
"In the borderlands separating Arizona from the Sonora
desert in Mexico, activist Scott Warren worked to provide
transiting migrants with water and shelter, and to account
for the bodies of those who died trying to get into the
U.S. Because of this, the U.S. government wants to put him
DOD contractor that spilled jet fuel, contaminated water
pays off tiny fine (KUAM News, May 3, 2019)
The Guam Environmental Protection Agency is about to close the
book on a DOD contractor that spilled jet fuel and
contaminated water, forcing the removal of tons of soil in
2017. The federal contractor is worth billions, but the local
agency reduced its fine to a virtual slap on the wrist.
gives oil companies $1.5B gift by removing regulations that
protect against oil spills (Daily KOS, May 3, 2019)
When the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded in April
2010, it not only immediately killed 11 workers; it also
spilled an eventual total of more than three million barrels
of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. That record spill
destroyed the fishing and tourism industry in the area for
years, and left an environmental scar that’s still visible. It
took more than three months to cap the well and staunch the
Following that disaster, President Obama directed the Interior
Department to develop new guidelines for oil companies
conducting drilling for oil under deep water. Which seems
reasonable. But as the Associated Press reports, Donald Trump
is 'easing' those regulations. As in, removing them.
The Interior Department will give oil companies 'flexibility'
that allows them to take any approach they want to drilling so
long as they maintain safety levels. If that sounds like
permission for drilling companies to select their own level of
risk and walk away with fat profits - so long as disaster
doesn’t hit - it’s because that’s what it is.
strikes down Ohio gerrymander: GOP maps 'so skewed' they
'predetermined' election results (Daily KOS, May 3,
On Friday, a federal district court delivered a major win
against Republican gerrymandering when it struck down Ohio's
congressional map for violating the constitutional rights of
Democratic voters. The court ordered legislators to devise a
new map by June 14 for the 2020 elections that would be much
fairer than the existing lines. If lawmakers don't pass a new
map, or if the Republicans - who have total control over state
government - simply pass a new replacement gerrymander, the
court itself could draw its own districts.
This ruling could also have major consequences for
redistricting after the 2020 census, when Ohio, like every
other state, was already set to draw a new map beginning with
the 2022 elections. Although Ohio legislators passed a
"compromise" constitutional amendment in 2018 to reform
congressional redistricting in an ostensibly bipartisan
manner, that supposed reform was actually a cunning Republican
scheme to thwart a 2018 ballot initiative effort at the time
that was aiming to create a more independent and fairer
City Has A Radical Plan To Get Rid Of Bosses (Huffington
Post, May 3, 2019)
As the baby boomers retire, Berkeley, California, wants them
to sell their businesses to their workers.
cruise ship quarantined, reportedly owned by Scientologists
(Ars Technica, May 2, 2019)
Passengers are not allowed to disembark in St. Lucia, which
eliminated measles in 2016.
change: UK 'can cut emissions to nearly zero' by 2050
(BBC, May 2, 2019)
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) maintains this can be
done at no added cost from previous estimates. Its report says
that if other countries follow the UK, there’s a 50-50 chance
of staying below the recommended 1.5C temperature rise by
2100. A 1.5C rise is considered the threshold for dangerous
learning reveals links between climate misinformation and
philanthropy (Physics World, May 2, 2019)
Over the 20 years to 2017, the network of actors spreading
scientific misinformation about climate change has been
increasingly integrated into US political philanthropy. That’s
according to a study that used natural language processing to
analyse connections between the two fields.
Farrell employed novel machine learning capabilities to
recognize and classify repeating themes and links in lists of
attendees and speakers at philanthropic meetings, millions of
words of written materials, and lists of board members and
lifetime achievement award winners.
(You've been out-spending sanity 20:1; but now, Little Brother
is watching you.)
homeless Oakland couple moved into a $4 million Piedmont
home. Then came the calls to police (San Francisco
Chronicle, May 2, 2019)
I asked McGrath why he’d let people off the street live with
him. 'It’s helped bring me back to my roots as a young kid,'
he said. 'I cannot avoid the responsibility I have to life
around me. I have a personal obligation to take responsibility
when I see injustices. And to me, this is a clear injustice.'
Mass Surveillance Works in Xinjiang, China (Human Rights
Watch, May 1, 2019)
Reverse-Engineering a Police App Reveals Invasive Profiling
and Monitoring Strategies.
new vision for neuroscience (Science Daily, May 1, 2019)
How live recordings of neural electricity could revolutionize
how we see the brain.
once removed - Finally, a Denisovan specimen from somewhere
beyond Denisova Cave (Ars Technica, May 1, 2019)
The 160,000-year-old jawbone is the first Denisovan fossil
found outside Siberia.
influence on drought started a century ago (Ars
Technica, May 1, 2019)
Aerosol pollution from the '50s to the '70s may have
complicated the picture.
alleged synagogue shooter was a churchgoer who talked
Christian theology, raising tough questions for evangelical
pastors (Washington Post, May 1, 2019)
Before he allegedly walked into a synagogue in Poway, Calif.,
and opened fire, John Earnest appears to have written a
seven-page letter spelling out his core beliefs: that Jewish
people, guilty in his view of faults ranging from killing
Jesus to controlling the media, deserved to die. That his
intention to kill Jews would glorify God.
Days later, the Rev. Mika Edmondson read those words and was
stunned. 'It certainly calls for a good amount of
soul-searching, said Edmondson, a pastor in the Orthodox
Presbyterian Church, a small evangelical denomination founded
to counter liberalism in mainline Presbyterianism. Earnest,
19, was a member of an OPC congregation. His father was an
elder. He attended regularly. And in the manifesto, the writer
spewed not only invective against Jews and racial minorities
but also cogent Christian theology he heard in the pews. So
the pastor read those seven pages, trying to understand. 'We
can’t pretend as though we didn’t have some responsibility for
him. He was radicalized into white nationalism from within the
very midst of our church.'
population growth is the slowest in recorded history
(Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2019)
The overall profile of immigrants to California is higher
education, which correlates to lower fertility. With
native-born, we see a long-running trend throughout the U.S
where fertility has been trending downward.
Perhaps the biggest force behind the change is higher
education rates among women. That broader trend historically
has been masked by high immigration from Latin America, but
that is no longer the case. More education of women translates
into later marriage, later childbirth and then fewer children.
reminds Mueller: If you want a friend in Washington, get a
dog (Washington Post, May 1, 2019)
Now, just weeks on the job as President Trump’s attorney
general, William Barr has disgraced himself. The speed with
which Barr trashed a reputation built over decades is
stunning, even by Trump administration standards. Before, Barr
was known as the attorney general to President George H.W.
Bush and an éminence grise of the Washington legal community.
Now he is known for betraying a friend, lying to Congress and
misrepresenting the Mueller report in a way that excused the
president’s misbehavior and let Russia off the hook.
Repeatedly, Barr said it didn’t matter that Trump had deceived
the public. 'I’m not in the business of determining when lies
are told to the American people,' he said. But now Barr, by
misrepresenting his dealings with Mueller, has gotten himself
into the business of lying to the American people.
in Tech – 1964 - BASIC programming language developers John
Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz launched a time-sharing system at
Dartmouth College (SourceForge, May 1, 2019)
linguistic bias: The case for an open human language
(Open Source, April 30, 2019)
Just as computer languages shape our models, our choice of
spoken languages impacts research and pedagogy. Do scholars
need an open human language, too? Esperanto has provided this
globally for more than a century.
NRA's troubles stem from its total war mentality (Los
Angeles Times, April 30, 2019)
The National Rifle Association has big troubles. It’s wildly
in debt. The attorney general of New York - where the NRA was
founded in 1871 and where it remains incorporated - is
investigating the tax-exempt status of what she has called a
'terrorist organization.' The NRA’s longtime chief executive,
Wayne LaPierre, is in a bitter feud with its outgoing
president Oliver North. Accusations are flying, including of
attempted extortion and misuse of perhaps millions of dollars.
complaints show Barr has a whole lot of explaining to do
(Washington Post, April 30, 2019)
Attorney General William P. Barr’s handling of the Mueller
report was already controversial. Tonight, it became a whole
lot more controversial. We knew based upon previous reporting
that members of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team
were concerned about Barr’s characterization of their report
ahead of its release. But now we know Mueller himself shared
in the concerns - and spoke up. The Post’s Devlin Barrett and
Matt Zapotosky report that Mueller went so far as to send a
letter to the Justice Department after Barr summarized
Mueller’s principal conclusions in late March.
EPA insists Monsanto's Roundup is safe, despite cancer cases
(The Guardian, April 30, 2019)
Administration to keep weedkiller on the market after landmark
court rulings and concerns over food.
Bias is Running for President - On Elizabeth Warren and the False Problem of
"Likeability". (Literary Hub, April 30, 2019)
The Republican Party has celebrated its status as the
fraternity of bias that’s conscious till it blacks out and
becomes unconscious bias.
But this also affects the Democratic Party and its voters,
where maybe bias should not be so welcome. One of the ugly
facts about the 2020 election is that white men are a small
minority of people who vote Democrat but have wildly
disproportionate control of the money and media and look to
have undue influence over the current race for the nomination,
which is just one of the many fun ways that one person one
vote isn’t really what we have.
In 2016 white men were approximately 34 percent of the
electorate, but about 11 percent of the Democratic votes,
because more than two thirds of them voted for Trump or
Electability isn’t a static social fact; it’s a social fact
we’re constructing. Part of what will make someone unelectable
is people giving up on them in a way that would be premature,
rather than going to the mat for them.
supremacists invade D.C. bookstore, chant 'This land is our
land' during race discussion (Daily KOS, April 30, 2019)
portrait of synagogue shooting suspect emerges: ‘Attracted
to such darkness’ (Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2019)
As John T. Earnest was charged in the Poway synagogue attack
Monday, a clearer portrait began to emerge of a troubled
19-year-old consumed by hate.
'To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil
that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries,' the
man’s family said in an open letter. 'How our son was
attracted to such darkness is a terrifying mystery to us.'
terror plot thwarted: Army vet planned ‘mass casualties,’
FBI says (Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2019)
"A U.S. Army veteran who wanted revenge for attacks on
Muslims around the globe was planning to detonate a bomb at
a Long Beach rally this past weekend before he was
intercepted by law enforcement officials, authorities said
Monday. Mark Steven Domingo, 26, was arrested Friday night
after he took delivery of what he thought was an improvised
explosive device from an undercover law enforcement officer
posing as a bomb-maker, officials said. He was charged with
attempting to provide material support to terrorists and, if
convicted, could face up to 15 years in prison. According to
a federal affidavit, Domingo considered 'various attacks -
including targeting Jews, churches and police officers'
before he decided 'to detonate an IED at a rally scheduled
to take place in Long Beach this past weekend.'
Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims
(Washington Post, April 29, 2019)
"It took President Trump 601 days to top 5,000 false and
misleading claims in The Fact Checker’s database, an average
of eight claims a day. But on April 26, just 226 days later,
the president crossed the 10,000 mark - an average of nearly
23 claims a day in this seven-month period, which included
the many rallies he held before the midterm elections, the
partial government shutdown over his promised border wall,
and the release of the special counsel’s report on Russian
interference in the presidential election.
Sues Deutsche Bank and Capital One to Block Compliance With
Subpoenas (New York Times, April 29, 2019)
The House’s Intelligence and Financial Services Committees
issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank, a longtime lender to Mr.
Trump’s real estate company, and other financial institutions
two weeks ago, seeking a long list of documents and other
materials related to Deutsche Bank’s history of lending and
providing accounts to Mr. Trump and his family. People with
knowledge of the investigation said it related to possible
money laundering by people in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Representative Maxine Waters of California, the chairwoman of
the Financial Services Committee, and Representative Adam B.
Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence
Committee, called the lawsuit 'meritless' in a joint
statement, and said it demonstrated 'the depths to which
President Trump will go to obstruct Congress’s constitutional
oversight authority. As a private businessman, Trump routinely
used his well-known litigiousness and the threat of lawsuits
to intimidate others, but he will find that Congress will not
be deterred from carrying out its constitutional
responsibilities. This lawsuit is not designed to succeed; it
is only designed to put off meaningful accountability as long
security officials prepare for Russian attack on 2020
presidential race, Trump and aides play down threat
(Washington Post, April 29, 2019)
Officials insist that they have made progress since 2016 in
hardening defenses. And top security officials, including the
director of national intelligence, say the president has given
them 'full support' in their efforts to counter malign
activities. But some analysts worry that by not sending a
clear, public signal that he understands the threat foreign
interference poses, Trump is inviting more of it.
In the past week, Justice Department prosecutors indicated
that Russia’s efforts to disrupt the 2016 election are part of
a long-term strategy that the United States continues to
For more than two years, however, Trump has recoiled when
aides broached Russia’s 2016 theft and dissemination of
Democratic emails and its manipulation of social
media in an effort to sway the election. 'It’s a goddamn
hoax,' Trump said in one meeting with advisers in 2017 when
they tried to discuss what the government should do to deter
Russian operations. People who were present or were briefed
about the meeting and other administration discussions spoke
on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal
Last week, some of Trump’s top advisers echoed his sentiments.
Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, dismissed
the significance of the 2016 interference as Russia 'buying
some Facebook ads.' And former New York mayor Rudolph W.
Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers, implied that future Kremlin
assistance might even be welcome when he told CNN that
'there’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.'
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) on 'Face the Nation' strongly
disputed Kushner’s analysis. 'I like Jared a lot, but . . .
this is a big deal. It’s not just a few Facebook ads. They
were very successful in pitting one American against the other
. . . and they actually got into the campaign email system of
the Democratic Party. An attack on one party is an attack on
Security Used a Private Intelligence Firm to Monitor Family
Separation Protests (The Intercept, April 29, 2019)
Jess Morales Rocketto, co-chair of Families Belong Together
and a lead organizer of last year’s protests, condemned the
monitoring of the demonstrations. 'Those protests represented
the best of democracy,' she told The Intercept. 'It’s
especially concerning given that these protests were basically
thousands of moms and their kids, thousands of families, and
that the Trump administration’s response to that was to put
them on a watch list.'
The emails confirming the protest surveillance were released
in an ongoing freedom of information battle that the American
Immigration Council, or AIC - in collaboration with the
Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, the National
Immigrant Justice Center, Kids in Need of Defense, Women’s
Refugee Commission, and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr
LLP - is waging to pry documents surrounding family separation
from the government. 'We’ve been getting them in drips,' Emily
Creighton, deputy legal director at the AIC, said of the
documents beginning to surface as a result of the litigation.
'We have been told in litigation that ICE, DHS, and CBP have
hundreds of thousands of responsive records.'
York State investigating National Rifle Association's
finances (Business Insider, April 29, 2019)
During her campaign
last year, the NY Attorney-General, a Democrat,
promised to investigate the NRA's not-for-profit status if
The NRA has clashed repeatedly with New York elected officials
aiming to curb the organization's influence. The group filed a
last year against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state
officials after New York fined insurance broker Lockton Cos.
LLC $7 million for underwriting an NRA-branded insurance
program called Carry Guard.
(Also see NRA problems on August 4, 2018 and April 11, 2018,
are all the current members of Congress who have doubted or
denied climate change (Business Insider, April 29, 2019)
- Over 97% of scientists agree that human activity has
contributed to the steady warming of the Earth's climate.
- Legislation that hopes to mitigate the potentially
disastrous effects of climate change is dependent on the
curbing human activity that has a large carbon footprint.
- Despite the consensus among scientists about the urgent need
to curb emissions, there are more than 100 current members of
Congress who have expressed skepticism about the role humans
have played in climate change and the value of limiting our
emissions. The climate change deniers in Congress are
the wealthy, and Canadians (?) talk the most BS (Ars
Technica, April 28, 2019)
Students were asked how well they've mastered math concepts
that don't exist.
persistent myths about the Mueller report (Washington
Post, April 27, 2019)
No matter how damaging the evidence, Mueller decided it wasn’t
his place to accuse the president of crimes; he could only
clear him of crimes. And if you look more closely, there are
five different events on which Mueller seems to have found
evidence of the three key criteria required for an obstruction
GOP war on itself and the USA for 150 years (Daily KOS,
April 27, 2019)
GOP won’t rule out Nessel impeachment (Detroit News,
April 27, 2019)
Michigan’s Republican-led Senate appears to be putting the
squeeze on Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel and is not
ruling out the possibility of pursuing impeachment if she
refuses to enforce state laws to which she objects. A 2020
budget unveiled this week by the Senate GOP proposes a 10%
'administrative reduction' for Nessel’s office and other
language attempting to limit her discretion in lawsuits. It
also proposes funding cuts for the Michigan Department of
Civil Rights and Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn
Benson’s office to pay for the creation of a new independent
redistricting commission voters approved last fall.
like giving the gift of time’: Time banks build economies -
and communities - without the almighty dollar.
(Washington Post, April 26, 2019)
Though some communities have experimented with local currency,
most time banks offer an alternative, powered by 21st-century
technology, to the U.S. dollar. About 70 exist across the
country - some with a few members, others with hundreds - to
give value to work that members say often goes uncompensated
in a traditional market economy.
5G wireless networks threaten weather forecasts (Nature,
April 26, 2019)
The US government has begun auctioning off blocks of wireless
radio frequencies to be used for the next-generation mobile
communications network known as 5G. But some of these
frequencies lie close to those that satellites use for crucial
Earth observations - and meteorologists are worried that 5G
transmissions from cellphones and other equipment could
interfere with their data collection.
Unless regulators or telecommunications companies take steps
to reduce the risk of interference, Earth-observing satellites
flying over areas of the United States with 5G wireless
coverage won’t be able to detect concentrations of water
vapour in the atmosphere accurately. Meteorologists in the
United States and other countries rely on those data to feed
into their models; without that information, weather forecasts
worldwide are likely to suffer."
by Trump’s Trade Wars, Wisconsin’s Milk Farmers Face
Extinction (New York Times, April 26, 2019)
The flagship industry in a pivotal swing state faces a
Trump-trade-war and GOP-encouraged-overproduction economic
leads Trump by 6 points in first post-announcement poll
(The Hill, April 26, 2019)
Majority in U.S. opposes impeaching Trump but believes he
lied to the public. (Washington Post, April 26, 2019)
A Post-ABC poll finds agreement across partisan lines that the
Mueller report was fair - but there is a partisan divide over
what it concluded.
Prosecutors: Trump Did Obstruct Justice (New York Review
of Books, April 26, 2019)
Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller
concluded last year that they had sufficient evidence to seek
criminal charges against President Donald Trump for
obstruction of justice over the president’s alleged pressuring
of then FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to shut down
an FBI investigation of the president’s then national security
adviser, Michael Flynn.
Privately, the two prosecutors, who were then employed in the
special counsel’s office, told other Justice Department
officials that had it not been for the unique nature of the
case - the investigation of a sitting president of the United
States, and one who tried to use the powers of his office to
thwart and even close down the special counsel’s investigation
- they would have advocated that he face federal criminal
says he made Obama wiretapping accusation on 'a little bit
of a hunch' (Daily KOS, April 26, 2019)
On Thursday night, Trump finally admitted during a 45-minute
interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity that he made the
allegation based on 'a little bit of a hunch.' Trump also
expressed surprise at how his baseless accusation had blown up
'like you’ve never seen.'
insists there was ‘an attempted overthrow’ of US government
(Rachel Maddow Show, April 26, 2019)
He added, 'This was a coup. This wasn’t stealing information
from an office in the Watergate apartments. This was an
attempted coup. And it’s like a third world country – and
I can appreciate the fact that we’ve all grown quite inured to
Donald Trump appearing on Fox News and saying strange things.
It’s an understandable reaction. But it’s worth pausing to
appreciate just how extraordinary the circumstances are. For
the first time in our history, the sitting American president
has told the world that there was 'an attempted overthrow of
the United States government' – a declaration that has been
greeted with widespread shrugs, as if it were a routine
Because, by and large, it was. This is our life now. When a
leader of dubious legitimacy makes up claims of attempted
coups, that is, in fact, 'like a third-world country.' As of
last night, it also happens to be our country.
alternative spires for Notre-Dame Cathedral (Dezeen,
April 25, 2019)
Since the fire devastated Notre-Dame Cathedral and the French
prime minister announced a competition to replace its spire, a
flurry of designers have offered alternative proposals.
electric cars unveiled by Chinese car companies at Auto
Shanghai 2019 (Dezeen, April 25, 2019)
China, the world's largest car market, is heavily pushing for
zero-emissions vehicles to combat its pollution issues, so
this year's Auto Shanghai is packed with electric cars. Here
are ten of the best made by Chinese companies.
Sanders is the new No. 1 in our 2020 Democrat rankings
(CNN, April 25, 2019)
Why? Well, lots of reasons. But here are a few:
- That national organization built over the last four years
and assiduously maintained by Sanders and his political allies
is more robust than anything any other candidates in the race
- including Joe Biden, who officially announced on Thursday -
have at the moment.
- Sanders is likely to raise the most money of anyone in the
field. He brought in north of $18 million in the first three
months of 2019, with 84% of those contributions coming in at
under $200. That was the biggest total of any 2020 Democrat.
And there's every reason to think he can keep it up; he raised
$237 million for his 2016 race against Clinton.
- His path to the nomination is the easiest to see, with
Iowa's caucuses dominated by liberals and his geographic
proximity to New Hampshire.
- Sanders' liberalism - once considered radical - is now very
much en vogue within the party. And he's been in that space
for a very long time.
voters’ capacity for being appalled by Trump is waning
(Irish Times, April 25, 2019)
A relaxation of civic mores is a deadlier threat to democracy
than the president. If US president Donald Trump is not
brought down for his alleged wrongdoing, it will not be
because his inquisitor, Robert Mueller, lacked thoroughness or
because his political enemy, the Democratic Party, lacked
nerve. It is because not quite enough voters minded quite
enough. If they did, the pressure would tell on Democrats to
seek his impeachment and on Republicans to at least consider
voting for it, on pain of electoral rout. In the absence of
such an incentive, it is only rational for them to demur.
Of Massachusetts: Charges against state judge have more to
do with politics than justice (ACLUM, April 25, 2019)
The Department of Justice’s decision to bring this case is
preposterous, ironic, and deeply damaging to the rule of law.
In contrast to Attorney General William Barr’s famously narrow
view of what constitutes obstruction of justice - at least
when it comes to President Trump - the Department of Justice
has now charged a state judge and court security officer based
on a theory of obstruction that is shockingly aggressive. In
this case, like so many others across Massachusetts, an ICE
officer staked out a state court and made it difficult for
court officials to do their job, which is to ensure that
people in state court have access to justice. But instead of
rethinking its own awful behavior, the federal government has
now charged a judge and a court officer with crimes. This
decision seems to have little to do with the actual facts, and
everything to do with enforcing the president’s anti-immigrant
This prosecution is nothing less than an assault on justice in
Massachusetts courts, and it will further undermine community
trust and safety. If Attorney General Barr really meant what
he said about obstruction of justice when he held his press
conference about President Trump - and even if he didn’t mean
a word of it - he should immediately order that this case be
fires back at critics over Mueller report (Washington
Post, April 25, 2019)
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein hit back hard
against politicians and the press Thursday night, and warned
that hacking and social media manipulation are 'only the
tip of the iceberg' when it comes to Russian efforts to
influence American elections. Speaking at the Public Servants
Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association, Rosenstein unleashed
his sharpest critique yet of those who have attacked his
handling of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s
investigative report into Russian election interference and
President Trump’s conduct.
administrator asked to back up climate claims made on TV
with science (Ars Technica, April 24, 2019)
Freedom of Information Act seems to be latest weapon to fight
Throws a Tantrum Over Twitter Followers and Tests the Power
of Congress (7-min. video; The Daily Show, April 24,
Donald Trump launches attacks against Twitter’s bot purge, the
U.S. Constitution, congressional Democrats and the White House
As usual, a brutal and brilliant takedown by Trevor Noah. But
when you step back from the laughter for a minute and think
objectively about what you just heard, it is shocking and not
a little frightening, to see the state of the US Presidency
declares that if Democrats try to impeach, he'll 'head to
the U.S. Supreme Court' (Daily KOS, April 24, 2019)
When the first question being asked of potential candidates
for 2020 is 'Do you support impeachment right now?' it seems
like a good distraction is in order. Over the last few days,
Trump has tried playing his hand with the same kind of
blowhard bluster that has seen him through most occasions,
even lecturing the kids who came to the White House Easter Egg
Roll about how he had made the economy just ... the best. But
with his poll numbers on a slide and the impeachment
discussion moving from 'if' to 'when,' Trump clearly needs
bigger, better distractions.
So on Wednesday morning, he ran through accusing the U.K. of
spying on him, threatening war on Mexico, and promising to use
the Supreme Court to solidify his position as a literally
unimpeachable dictator. All of which the major media will now
report as if it’s a partisan scuffle. Pass the popcorn.
Trump never makes clear just why he would head for the Supreme
Court, but his position seems to be that since Barr gave him a
waiver on obstruction and obstruction, and those precious DOJ
rules spared him a charge of conspiracy, he could run to the
court and it would tell the Democrats no, they are not allowed
to impeach Trump. This
would be counter to a 1993 ruling that declared impeachment
a political matter in which the court had no say. But
since the court is now full of 'traditionalists' who are
willing to throw out every precedent, it’s not at all clear
that that ruling or other past positions would keep Kavanaugh
and Co. from declaring that Trump is literally unimpeachable.
McGahn vs. Lying Donald (Jamie Dupree, April 24, 2019)
When the President tweets today, 'I never told then White
House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller,' there is a
lot of evidence to the contrary in the Mueller Report.
destroys Trump’s repeated excuse for hiding tax returns
(Think Progress, April 24, 2019)
Donald Trump has promised time and again that he'll release
his taxes after the IRS's 'routine audit.' Guiliani says
Every other modern president has voluntarily released his tax
returns - and during his 2016 campaign for the presidency,
Trump initially promised to do so as well. But Trump hasn’t
followed through, repeatedly claiming that he cannot be
transparent with the American people until the conclusion of
what he calls a 'routine audit' by the Internal Revenue
Service. (The IRS has stated that no law prohibits releasing a
tax return that is under audit, and Trump has never offered
any evidence to back up his audit claim.)
Gerrymandering, and Voter Suppression: How North Carolina’s
GOP Made a Great Big Mess (Mother Jones, April 24, 2019)
The argument over gerrymandering North Carolina began when its
electoral maps were redrawn following the 2010 census. Those
were eventually thrown out as racial gerrymanders, and the
replacement maps are being challenged as partisan by a local
voting rights group. The state map is headed for trial in July
in the Superior Court Division of Wake County; the federal map
is before the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in
late March. That means that every electoral map used since
2010 has basically been declared illegal, in one sense or
another. All of these different bits and pieces of the
election apparatus in North Carolina have been bent in the
favor of entrenchment of one party at the expense of
CEO Gently Tells Trump: Your ‘Lost’ Followers Are Bots and
Spam Accounts (Daily Beast, April 23, 2019)
Jack Dorsey may have wanted to use Tuesday’s meeting to talk
up Twitter’s efforts to fight the opioid epidemic, but the
president had more important things on his mind. Trump has
repeatedly griped to associates about how Obama has had more
Twitter followers than he has, even though - by Trump’s own
assessment - he is so much better at Twitter than Obama is.
Unsettling’: Facial Recognition Technology at Airports
Sparks Privacy Concerns (NBC New York, April 23, 2019)
In new Delta and JetBlue test installations at some US
airports, U.S. Customs and Border Protection verifies
identities using facial scans at the gate, then cross-checks
the scans with travelers’ passport photos, which are already
The information from the scan is only supposed to be used
once. Airlines say it’s deleted out of the system within a few
hours. In a tweet, JetBlue said the photos are 'securely
transmitted to the Customs and Border Protection database,'
noting that the airline 'does not have direct access to the
photos and doesn’t store them.'
CBP plans to rolls out systems at the nation’s 20 biggest
airports by the end of 2020.
the Romans build seismic invisibility cloaks? (Physics
World, April 23, 2019)
Brûlé reckons that the ancient Romans may have got there first
– although unwittingly. He was on holiday looking at
archaeological remains in the town of Autun in central France
when he saw an aerial photograph showing the foundations of a
Gallo-Roman theatre buried under a field just up the road.
Although barely discernable, the markings in the field showed
the outline of the first century AD building and he reckoned
the semi-circular structure bore an uncanny resemblance to one
half of an invisibility cloak.
Complicated: Mozilla’s 2019 Internet Health Report
(Mozilla, April 23, 2019)
Our annual open-source report examines how humanity and the
Lanka blasts were retaliation for New Zealand shootings,
official says (Washington Post, April 23, 2019)
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombings that
killed at least 321 people. Sri Lanka’s defense minister said
investigations show the attacks were carried out in response
to deadly shootings at mosques in Christchurch last month.
In a statement carried Tuesday by the Islamic State’s Amaq
News Agency, the extremist group said Sunday’s attacks
targeted Christians and 'coalition countries' and were carried
out by fighters from its organization. The claim could not
immediately be confirmed, and the group has been known to make
opportunistic claims of responsibility for previous attacks
conducted without its involvement.
& Shop Strike Ends With Union Claiming Victory on Pay
and Health Care (New York Times, April 22, 2019)
After more than three months of negotiations and 11 days on
strike, over 30,000 Stop & Shop workers have reached a
tentative agreement with the supermarket chain that they said
met their demands for better pay and health care coverage. The
employees, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers
International Union at more than 240 Stop & Shops across
Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, returned to work
on Monday morning after reaching the deal on Sunday.
The union said that the
new contract does satisfy the different points of
contention; it preserves health care and retirement
benefits, provides wage increases, and maintains
time-and-a-half pay on Sunday for current members.
During negotiations, Stop & Shop employees argued that the
chain’s parent company, Ahold Delhaize, reported profits of
more than $2 billion to its shareholders last year and,
instead of cutting benefits, could afford to compensate
workers better. The strike drew support from several likely
and current Democratic presidential candidates, including
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Vice
President Joseph R. Biden Jr., as well as Senator Bernie
Sanders of Vermont, whose campaign staff is represented by a
unit of the U.F.C.W.
N.R.A.’s Financial Mess (New Yorker Magazine, April 22,
Last March, Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.’s top executive, sent a
fund-raising letter to his members—an urgent plea for money.
He described an unprecedented attack on the Second Amendment.
But, in reality, what threatens the N.R.A. isn’t
constitutional law; it’s destructive business relationships
that have damaged the organization financially and put it in
Searching through N.R.A. tax forms, charity records,
contracts, and internal communications, the reporter Mike
Spies discovered that 'a small group of N.R.A. executives,
contractors, and venders have extracted hundreds of millions
of dollars from the nonprofit’s budget, enriching themselves
in the process.' Although the organization is quick to lay
blame on its political opponents, Spies says, it is
questionable financial practices that have weakened it from
the White House Easter celebration as a backdrop, Sarah
Sanders delivers a whopper of a lie (Daily KOS, April
(Interesting Comments thread, re SHS over-reacting to a
euphemism while ignoring her own lies, and ignoring separation
of children at the border.)
Lanka’s social media shutdown illustrates global discontent
with Silicon Valley (Washington Post, April 22, 2019)
Authoritarian-leaning countries have long worked to rein in
social media when it challenged their ability to control
information. But over the past year, more democratic
governments have started to target social media sites,
considering new regulations to stamp out disinformation during
elections and to prevent their use as rallying points for
hatred and extremism.
group believed responsible for Sri Lanka attacks (Los
Angeles Times, April 22, 2019)
The coordinated Easter Sunday bombings were carried out by
seven suicide bombers from a domestic militant group named
National Thowfeek Jamaath, a government official said. All the
suicide bombers were local. An investigation would determine
whether the bombers acted with support from international
jihadist organizations to carry out the attacks, which were
unprecedented in the South Asian nation’s history.
(Except for its Buddhist attacks on Muslims during March 2018;
see article at April 21, 2019, below.)
Authorities have arrested 24 people. No group has claimed
Lanka attacks: More than 200 killed as churches and hotels
targeted (BBC, April 21, 2019)
Sunday's attacks are the deadliest seen in Sri Lanka since the
end of the country's civil war in 2009. The civil war ended
with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, who had fought for 26
years for an independent homeland for the minority ethnic
Tamils. The war is thought to have killed between 70,000 and
The nation has seen sporadic violence since. In March 2018 a
state of emergency was declared after members of the majority
Buddhist Sinhala community attacked mosques and Muslim-owned
the Barr hoax, press has no reason to ever believe Trump
team again (Daily KOS, April 21, 2019)
"The Trump White House's habitual lying isn't going to
change. But it's long past time for the press to break its
habit of believing administration utterances - of treating
its statements as remotely factual, even when it comes to
extraordinary issues such as colluding with a foreign
government and obstructing justice. I realize that's an
extreme premise for the Beltway press to adopt, since it
often prefers to cling to “Both Sides” journalism in order
to prove it's not liberally biased and deflect allegations
that it's out to 'get' Trump.
But here's the bottom line: Barr embarrassed the press corps
and made them look foolish when he issued a four-page press
release in March supposedly summarizing Mueller's 448-page
(!) report. Reporters and editors then ran with it, on the
assumption that Barr was being honest and factual, which we
now know was a huge mistake.
Who Scanned All of Notre Dame Died Months Before Fire
(Daily Beast, April 20, 2019)
The late Vassar professor Andrew Tallon had one obsession:
Notre Dame de Paris.
And luckily he made documenting every inch of the Gothic
cathedral his life’s work.
Trump is no Richard Nixon. He’s worse. (Los Angeles
Times, April 20, 2019)
Nothing in Nixon’s presidency became him like the leaving it.
For two generations, his downfall served as a cautionary tale
for subsequent presidents who might be tempted to interfere
with a federal investigation for personal or political
reasons. Firing a special prosecutor, in particular, was
almost universally understood to be political suicide. As
Watergate showed, the American people simply would not stand
for a president who sought to place himself above the law.
This broadly shared understanding served as a crucial
safeguard against the abuse of presidential power.
Then came Trump. After smashing through dozens of other deeply
rooted norms of American politics to win the presidency, he
treated the post-Watergate consensus with similar contempt.
Just weeks after he took the oath of office, as the Mueller
report details, Trump asked FBI Director James B. Comey to
drop the investigation of national security advisor Michael
Flynn. Before making this request, the president cleared the
room, strongly suggesting that he knew his actions were
improper. Requesting that the FBI drop an investigation of his
friends is exactly what Nixon was caught doing on the famous
“smoking gun” tape that sealed his fate.
Yet for Trump, this was just the beginning.
living on the wrong side of a time zone can be hazardous to
your health (Washington Post, April 19, 2019)
People on the late side of sunset across U.S. time zones were
11 percent more likely, on average, to be overweight and 21
percent more likely to be obese. Diabetes was more prevalent,
and the risk of heart attack increased by 19 percent. Breast
cancer rates were slightly elevated, too - about 5 percent
higher than average.
skewer Barr and Trump amid release of Mueller report (Washington Post,
April 19, 2019)
Attorney General Barr said vs. what the Mueller report said
(Washington Post, April
"Before the special counsel’s report on Russia and President
Trump was released to the public, Attorney General William
P. Barr made several statements about what was in its 448
pages. Barr received special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s
report last month and outlined its principal conclusions in
a letter dated March 24. Barr then held a news conference on
Thursday, shortly before releasing a redacted version of
As it turns out, in some cases, Barr’s characterizations
were incomplete or misleading. The Mueller report is more
damning of Trump than the attorney general indicated.
email leaks and propaganda, Russians sought to elect
Trump, Mueller finds (Washington Post, April 18, 2019)
"The special counsel’s investigation shows the Trump
campaign tried to turn Russia’s election interference to its
advantage. In what will stand as among the most definitive
public accounts of the Kremlin’s attack on the American
political system, the report of special counsel Robert S.
Mueller III’s investigation laid out in precise,
chronological detail how 'the Russian government interfered
in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic
The Russians’ goal, Mueller emphasized at several points,
was to assist Donald Trump’s run for the White House and to
damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. And the Republican
candidate took notice, looking for ways to turn leaks of
stolen emails to his advantage and even telling campaign
associates to find people who might get their hands on
Clinton’s personal emails.
One: Climate Change - The Facts (BBC, April 18, 2019)
After one of the hottest years on record, Sir David
Attenborough looks at the science of climate change and
potential solutions to this global threat. Interviews with
some of the world’s leading climate scientists explore recent
extreme weather conditions such as unprecedented storms and
catastrophic wildfires. They also reveal what dangerous levels
of climate change could mean for both human populations and
the natural world in the future.
the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer
(IEEE Spectrum, April 18, 2019)
Design shortcuts meant to make a new plane seem like an old,
familiar one are to blame.
in New Mexico Detains Asylum Seekers at Gunpoint (New
York Times, April 18, 2019)
A right-wing militia group operating in southern New Mexico
has begun stopping groups of migrant families and detaining
them at gunpoint before handing them over to Border Patrol
agents, raising tension over the tactics of armed vigilantes
along the border between the United States and Mexico. Members
of the group, which calls itself the United Constitutional
Patriots, filmed several of their actions in recent days,
including the detention this week of a group of about 200
migrants who had recently crossed the border near Sunland
Park, N.M., with the intention of seeking asylum. They
uploaded videos to social media of exhausted looking migrant
families, blinking in the darkness in the glare of what
appeared to be the militia’s spotlights.
Professed militias have long operated along the border with
attempts to curb the flow of undocumented migrants into the
United States. But targeting the recent influx of families,
who are legally allowed to request asylum and often quickly
surrender to Border Patrol agents, is raising tension with
human rights activists in this part of the West.
The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the militia’s
actions in a letter on Thursday that asked New Mexico’s
governor and attorney general to investigate the group. The
A.C.L.U. said the militia had no legal authority under New
Mexico or federal law to detain or arrest migrants in the
United States: 'We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to
kidnap and detain people seeking asylum.'
when Mitch McConnell covered up Putin's interference to
elect Trump? (Daily
KOS, April 18, 2019)
Remember that in 2016, when it became clear (after Trump had
secured the nomination) that Russia was interfering, and the
nation's intelligence agencies had that information and
presented it to congressional leadership, Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell covered it up. He and then Democratic
Minority Leader Harry Reid were told that Putin was overseeing
an operation to disrupt the election and to help Trump.
McConnell's reaction, in the words of Washington Post reporter
Greg Miller, who initially broke this story: McConnell is
basically telling [the CIA], 'You're telling us that Russia is
trying to help elect Trump. If you try to come forward with
this, I'm not going to sign onto any sort of public statement
that would condemn Russian interference. But I will condemn
you and the Obama administration for trying to mess up this
explains why his family left Trump's golf club (CNN,
April 18, 2019)
Special counsel Robert Mueller explained for the first time
why he and his family left President Donald Trump's Virginia
golf club in the redacted version of his report released on
Thursday. The footnote on pages 80 and 81 of the redacted
report released by the Justice Department on Thursday was one
of the only times Mueller defended himself against criticism
from the President. Trump had previously used the fact that
Mueller and his family left the club to claim that he had a
conflict of interest.
made an impeachment referral, and Steny Hoyer had best
figure that out or step down (Daily KOS, April 18, 2019)
The redacted Mueller report is damning in so many ways, and
even a partial brief summary of what we know of Mueller’s
conclusions would include the following:
1. Trump obstructed justice, but because of DOJ guidelines on
indicting a sitting president he can't be prosecuted while in
Congress's job to provide justice.
3. The extensive
and assiduous cover-up had a purpose, and hid something far
4. The cover-up
5. There were
many more criminal referrals to other jurisdictions, about
most of which we as yet know nothing.
6. Given Barr's
obstruction and the GOP's full complicity, this is a
Constitutional crisis. Right now.
And this is Steny Hoyer, House Majority 'Leader':
'Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on
impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly,
there is an election in 18 months and the American people will
make a judgement.'
Very frankly, if this level of criminality and complicity
isn’t fully investigated by Congress, and there isn’t at least
an attempt to provide the justice that Mueller clearly
indicates is Congress’s sole responsibility, there’s no reason
to believe there will be a fair election in 18 months.
Mueller’s (REDACTED-by-White-House) Report Here (Common
Cause, April 18, 2019)
...and then sign our petition to demand full transparency.
it on the U.S. Dept. of Justice website.)
Gas Web Ensnares Europe (Foreign Policy, April 17, 2019)
As Washington readies itself for a diminished role in the
Middle East, Moscow is laying the groundwork for a significant
long-term presence. Russia already supplies 35 percent of
Europe’s total gas imports, and it has long worked to head off
any European efforts to diversify energy supplies. By
acquiring pipelines and explo