by A. Richard Miller
Begun September 29, 2008; last updated September 21, 2019

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(To find recent posts of over-week-old items or of items which update regularly, Search on NEW.)

We also link to some Black Humor (with Cartoons).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Woody Guthrie, Dust Bowl Ballads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fragile States Index (Fund For Peace)

US National Debt Clock, by Ed Hall

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

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

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

Calculated Risk (blog)

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

To Build A Better Ballot; an interactive guide to alternative voting systems, by Nicky Case, 2016) (Campaign for America's Future)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Death Of God, by Friedrich Nietzsche (1885)

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

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

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

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

Freethinkers and Libertarianism, by David Niose

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

Yale Climate Opinion Maps, U.S. 2016

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

Scientists Are Pro-Testing (Science, 2017)

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

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

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

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

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

Our Revolution

Angry White House Staffer

GOP Rape Advisory Chart

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

Vote Sleuth: Investigating Democracyngeles Times, 2017)

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

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

Donald Trump (Vice)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atlas Of Utopias (Transformative Cities, 2018)

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

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

Smoking bans in private vehicles (Wikipedia)

Light Cycles, by Quinn Norton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Change (United Nations)

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

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

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

NEW: The Privacy Project (New York Times, 2019)

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

NEW: 50 Days to the Moon (Fast Company, 2019)

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

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

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

United States Of Plastic (The Guardian, August 2019)

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

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

Pertinent Posts

Inside a Deadly American Summer (New York Times, September 21, 2019)
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 went unsolved.
What Elizabeth 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.
Trump 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 call.
Greta 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.
Decline of the North American avifauna (Science, September 19, 2019)
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.
SF’s Treasure Island, poised for building boom, escaped listing as Superfund site. (San Francisco Chronicle, September 19, 2019)
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.
Iraqi 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 invasion.
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.
Rudy Giuliani lost his mind on CNN and admitted he was a co-conspirator in Ukraine deal. (Daily KOS, September 19, 2019)
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.
Rudy 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 bribery scheme."
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.

Whistle-Blower 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
Trump’s 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 officials.
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.

Israelis Just Saved Their Democracy (Bloomberg, September 18, 2019)
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.
Election 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.
Federal Reserve rescues markets twice, for the first (and second) time since 2008 financial crisis. (Daily KOS, September 18, 2019)
A 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 Capital Markets.
Let 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 one.
Key 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 inquiry.
Obstruction of Congress, Live on TV (Bloomberg, September 17, 2019)
Trump’s ex-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski wouldn’t answer legitimate questions at a hearing. There’s a word for that.
Examining AI’s Effect on Media and Truth (Mozilla, September 17, 2019)
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 everyday lives.
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.
After 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.
8 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.
The 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.
Saudi Arabia says weapons used to attack its oil facilities were Iranian. (
Washington 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.”
Computer 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 willing."
Joe Biden Is Problematic. (New York Times, September 15, 2019)
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.
Notre-Dame’s 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 risks.
Washington 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).
Beto 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 Americans anymore."
Whether 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.
Castro was Right: Biden Said "Buy In." MSNBC and Others Should Apologize for Bad "Fact Checking". (Daily KOS, September 13, 2019)
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.
Taliban visits Moscow days after Trump says talks ‘dead’. (Associated Press, September 13, 2019)
Trump 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 scrutiny.
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.
What 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 others.
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 systematically.
Justice 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.
Amid 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 allies.
Why the man Trump once called ‘my African American’ is leaving the GOP (PBS, September 12, 2019)
Trump’s 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 congressional oversight.
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.
‘You’re 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 dangerous.
“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 critical.”
“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.”

Trump's 9/11 speech includes lies and a threat to use something worse than nuclear bombs (Daily KOS, September 11, 2019)
When 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.
Serfing 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 the landlord.
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 feel.
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 revolution.
Girl 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.
Trump 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.
We're 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.
NOAA’s chief scientist will investigate why agency backed Trump over its experts on Dorian (Washington Post, September 9, 2019)
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.
Gas 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 gas.
Robot priests can bless you, advise you, and even perform your funeral. (Vox, September 9, 2019)
AI religion is upon us. Welcome to the future.
Russia's 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 protests.
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.
Trump's 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.
Fox 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.
How Trump’s Plan to Secretly Meet With the Taliban Came Together, and Fell Apart (New York Times, September 8, 2019)
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.
NEW: Trump 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 wall.
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 than money.
On 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.
The 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.
A 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 forecasting skills.
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 cowardice.”
Trump’s 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.
‘What 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.”
COBOL Turns 60: Why It Will Outlive Us All (ZDNet, September 5, 2019)
In the beginning, there was machine languages and assembler. Neither was easy to use, but then along came COBOL, and everything changed.
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.
Donald Trump Has Never Explained a Mysterious $50 Million Loan. Is It Evidence of Tax Fraud? (Mother Jones, September 5, 2019)
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 fraud.”
NEW: Bernie Sanders CRUSHED it at CNN’s climate change town hall! Joe Biden rambled. (14-min. video;The Young Turks, September 5, 2019)
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.
CNN commentators review
Democratic presidential candidates at last night's Climate Crisis Town Hall (CNN, September 5, 2019)
Video clips from last night's Climate Crisis Town Hall (CNN, September 5, 2019)
Democratic candidates unveil sweeping climate proposals ahead of CNN town hall - tonight, 5PM-Midnight, EDT! (CNN, September 4, 2019)
Here is tonight's tentative schedule.
Inslee: 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.
15 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.
Space 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.
Google 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.
'Always 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").
Days 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.

A 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.
One 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.
Answers 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.
Democrats' messy impeachment push hits critical phase (Politico, September 3, 2019)
The window to impeach Trump is closing, and senior lawmakers are sending mixed messages.
Democrats’ five-count political indictment of Trump (Washington Post, September 3, 2019)
Has Trump Broken the World Economy? It's Starting to Look Like It. (Daily KOS, September 3, 2019)
Trump 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 Sunday.
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.
More 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 wrote.
British lawmakers take control: What it means for Boris, Brexit and Britain (
Politico, 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.
Boris 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.
Alaska’s 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 it.”
Hurricanes 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 climate change.
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.
Atlantic 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.
Hurricane Dorian threatens millions in U.S. after pummeling Bahamas (CBS News, September 3, 2019)
Dorian won't make landfall in Florida, but the east coast is still under threat. (
CNN, September 3, 2019)
Synthetic Aperture Radar view of flooding in Freeport, Grand Bahama (Mike Rizzo Weather, September 3, 2019)
Hurricane Dorian is finally crawling away from the Bahamas, leaving terrible damage. 'We are in trouble,' lawmaker says. (CNN, September 3, 2019)
Hurricane Dorian kills 5 people in the Bahamas. (
CNN, September 2, 2019)
It’s time to bid farewell to Joe Biden. (
Washington Post, September 2, 2019)
Study shows some political beliefs are just historical accidents. (Ars Technica, September 2, 2019)
Early trend-setters swayed the group in experiments on party stances.
Cory 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.
NEW: Chasing 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.
Why 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.
The 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.
2016 taught us a lesson about Trump. Now we need to unlearn it. (
Washington 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.
London 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.
Incredible views of Category 5 Hurricane Dorian near peak intensity (
Washington Post, September 1, 2019)
Historic 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 on record.
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 time.
How a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a Windfall for the Rich (New York Times, August 31, 2019)
President Trump has portrayed America’s cities as wastelands, ravaged by crime and homelessness, infested by rats.
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.
Charleston church mass shooting victims may sue federal government over gun purchase, court rules. (Daily KOS, August 31, 2019)
CRISPR Now Cuts and Splices Whole Chromosomes (Slashdot, August 30, 2019)
NEW: This 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 to crack.
Google finds 'indiscriminate iPhone attack lasting years' (BBC News, August 30, 2019)
Trump 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.
'I 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 cowards."
84 Major Climate Change Rules the Trump Administration Is Reversing (New York Times, August 29, 2019)
NEW: Filling 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.
NEW: A step too far for the Appalachian Trail (Politico, August 29, 2019)
The Trump administration wants to allow a pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail on federal lands. Congress should say no.
‘Finish the wall’: Trump tells aides he’ll pardon misdeeds, say current and former officials (
Washington Post, August 29, 2019)
As he campaigns for president, Joe Biden tells a moving but false war story (Washington Post, August 29, 2019)

NEW: Democrats’ 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 better.
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.
NEW: The Elements (Bloomberg, August 28, 2019)
Special issue, for the 150th anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleev's Periodic Table of the Elements.
NEW: Putting 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.
NEW: Doorbell-camera firm Ring has partnered with 400 police forces, extending surveillance concerns. (Washington Post, August 28, 2019)
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 risk.
NEW: Huawei 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.
Eight-hour comms lags and shock discoveries: 30 years after Voyager 2 visited gas giant Neptune (The Register, August 27, 2019)
That time we found those lovely old geysers on one of the icy giant's MOONS.
NEW: How 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 life-or-death situation.
Jakarta 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.
Brazil’s 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.
Elizabeth 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 & 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 companies.
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 for $17bn.
Johnson & Johnson said it will appeal.
EU 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.
Flying above the Amazon fires, 'all you can see is death' (CNN, August 26, 2019)
The 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.
Trump 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 consequences.
Trump suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting U.S. (Axios, August 25, 2019)
Trump 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.
Psychiatrist 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 his person."
Israel 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 drones."
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.
Blame Economists for the Mess We’re In (New York Times, August 24, 2019)
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.
The Ravaging of Amazonia (
New York Times, August 24, 2019)
A global treasure lies at the mercy of the smallest, dullest, pettiest of men.
As the Amazon Burns, Europe Seizes Title of Climate Champion (New York Times, August 24, 2019)
‘Senseless disputes’: At G7 Summit, E.U.’s Tusk says Trump’s trade wars are damaging global economy (Washington Post, August 24, 2019)
“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.
Virginia marks the start of American slavery in 1619 with speeches, songs (
Washington 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.
The 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.
I Visited 47 Sites. Hundreds of Trackers Followed Me. (New York Times, August 23, 2019)
This 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.
Mr. 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.
Keystone 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.
David Koch, billionaire industrialist who influenced conservative politics, dies at 79 (Washington Post, August 23, 2019)
The 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 a
fter Google dropped a defense contract over employee pressure, Palantir’s leaders doubled down on controversial work with the U.S. government.
NEW: Joe 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 in Iowa.
Trump flips out on NBC reporter for pointing out his stupidity (Daily KOS, August 22, 2019)
Letter regarding Jeffrey Epstein and MIT (MIT, August 22, 2019)

Epstein 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 years.
Premier 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.
After claiming to be the 'King of Israel' and 'second coming of God,' Trump adds 'the chosen one' (Daily KOS, August 21, 2019)
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 disloyal.”
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.”
U.S. drone shot down over Yemen: officials (Reuters, August 21, 2019)
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.
How 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.
YouTube 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."
NEW: Trump appears to be guilty of yet another (financial) crime (Daily KOS, August 20, 2019)
Pig to human heart transplants 'possible within three years' (The Guardian, August 19, 2019)
On the 40th anniversary of the first successful heart transplant, p
ioneer 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 issue.”
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.”
NEW: Oil Lobbyist Touts Success in Effort to Criminalize Pipeline Protests, Leaked Recording Shows (The Intercept, August 19, 2019)
Why 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.
Wind 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.
NEW: 4 Tools to Prevent Fraud (AARP, August 16, 2019)
How 'Informed Delivery' and password managers add protection against scammers.
NEW: Memo reveals a House Republican strategy on shootings: downplay white nationalism, blame left (Tampa Bay Times, August 16, 2019)
The GOP memo falsely pinned the El Paso massacre and other notable mass shootings on the left.
Trump 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.
Trump 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
Federal court slams Georgia for security failures and bans use of paperless voting machines for 2020 (
Daily KOS, August 15, 2019)
Autopsy results add to questions surrounding Epstein's death (Daily KOS, August 15, 2019)
Experts: Broken Bones in Jeffrey Epstein's Neck 'Are Common In Victims of Homicide by Strangulation' (PJ Media, August 15, 2019)
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."
Mitch 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.
How 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.
Why 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.
Could 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 companies.”
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 Facebook.
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 incumbent institutions.
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 organizations.
NEW: Facebook 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.
NEW: Hack 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.
Elon 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 ways.
With 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 PC-based choice.
(LibreOffice is free, it's excellent, and we use it.)
NEW: Huawei 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.
Trump 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 firms.
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.)

Keeping 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.]
NEW: It's 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.
Another Russian nuclear accident seems to be characterized by lies (Washington Post, August 13, 2019)
Russian 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 times.
Russian 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 March 2018.
What Happened at Russia’s Missile Test Site? (New York Times, August 12, 2019)
Don’t expect a straight answer from Vladimir Putin’s government.
University 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 response."
Arctic 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.
Canadians 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.”
‘Using 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 other Christians.
The Day Jeffrey Epstein Told Me He Had Dirt on Powerful People (New York Times, August 12, 2019)

Epstein’s Death Has a Simpler Explanation (The Atlantic, August 11, 2019)
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.

Armed man who sowed panic at Springfield, MO Walmart claimed he was testing his Second Amendment rights, police say  (
Washington Post, August 11, 2019)
New Electric Motor Design Massively Boosts Power, Torque, and Efficiency (Slashdot, August 11, 2019)
NEW: Are 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 dangerous.
"A violation of realism": The future can change the past (Daily KOS, August 10, 2019)
It's about modern physics, not about impeaching Trump.
The 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 workers out.
Jeffrey 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 happen.
AI 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.
The World’s Smartest Chimp Has Died (New York Times, August 9, 2019)
Sarah's life helped us answer the question: What do animals think about?
NEW: Bolsonaro 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 ruined.
Increasingly 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 thought."
"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."
Something Big Just Slammed Into Jupiter (Gizmodo, August 9, 2019)
ZAP! The Shocking Truth About ESD (Ask Bob Rankin, August 9, 2019)
White 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 speech police."
Trump’s 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.
Leading Civil Rights Lawyer Shows 20 Ways Trump Is Copying Hitler’s Early Rhetoric and Policies (Common Cause, August 9, 2019)
Burt Neuborne questions whether federal government can contain Trump and GOP power grabs.
NEW: Amazon’s 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, Gizmodo, 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 circumvents regulation.

Fresh Produce, Brought to You by Robots (Atlas Obscura, August 8, 2019)
A family-owned market in California is now selling robot-reared leafy greens.
Big 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.
Here's 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.
ICE 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 breadwinner."
Why 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.
Trump 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.)
Trump Visits Dayton and El Paso (New York Times, August 7, 2019)
The president took sharp aim at opponents even as he visited two cities in mourning after horrific mass shootings in Ohio and Texas.
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.
‘We 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 far-right extremists.
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.
Why 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.
We 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.
Security research is not a crime (Electronic Frontier Foundation, August 7, 2019)
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.
Tutanota 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.
Weather 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.
We’ve 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.
Toni Morrison Taught Me How to Think (New York Times, August 7, 2019)
The 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)
The 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.
Slander 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.
This 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.
‘Red 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.
The 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
NEW: Florida 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.
World 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 educates them.”
A 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.
How 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.
‘A 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.
Ohio Republican facing calls from party to resign after blaming gay marriage, Obama for shootings (Daily KOS, August 5, 2019)
"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.
America’s 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.

Hours after El Paso shooting, Mitch McConnell tweeted photo of a graveyard with name of his opponent (Daily KOS, August 5, 2019)

Trump 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.
Facebook let Trump's campaign run over 2,000 ads referring to immigration as an “invasion” (Media Matters, August 5,  2019)
At least nine other Republicans have also pushed the white supremacist, anti-immigrant talking point in Facebook ads.
‘How 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 statement.'
On Saturday, a 21-year-old white man entered a shopping center in El Paso, according to police, and allegedly decided to 'shoot them.'
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.'
Terror 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.
El Paso shooting suspect could face federal hate crime charges (Washington Post, August 4, 2019)
A weekend of mass murder reflects how American violence goes viral (Washington Post, August 4, 2019)
2 cities, 13 hours, 29 dead.
NEW: Timeline: 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 control.
Back-to-Back 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 President Trump.
NEW: ICE’s 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 testing’s accuracy.

40 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 efficiency.
The Opioid and Trump Addictions: Symptoms of the Same Malaise (
Counterpunch, August 2, 2019)
'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 opioid country.
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.
Did 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 conditions.
AI system 'should be recognised as inventor' (BBC News, August 1, 2019)
(Almost as wrong as claiming that corporations are people.)
NEW: Notre 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.
NEW: ‘Moscow 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.
Scientists 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.
China’s army just released a video showing soldiers practicing shooting protesters (Washington Post, August 1, 2019)
LightSail 2 Spacecraft Successfully Demonstrates Flight by Light (The Planetary Society, July 31, 2019)
NEW: Paddling 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
Jeffrey 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.
NEW: Dutch cheesed off at Microsoft, call for Rexit from Office Online, Mobile apps over Redmond data slurping (The Register, July 30, 2019)
Bernie Sanders’s bold ideas are transforming Democratic politics (
Washington Post, July 30, 2019)
Sanders is shaping the race in ways that are often underappreciated by a media that often marginalizes and misrepresents him.
Drain 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.
NEW: The 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.
‘Moscow Mitch’ Tag Enrages McConnell and Squeezes G.O.P. on Election Security (New York Times, July 30, 2019)
Why 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.

Capital 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.
Trump’s 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.
Trump '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?'
NEW: Tenants 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 move out
Trump's racism is about to have an impact (
Daily KOS, July 28, 2019)
Obama 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.
The 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 Boeing.'
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 safety.
NEW: Russia 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 reasons.
NEW: Water Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the U.S. (NASA, July 26, 2019)
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.
‘It 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?
Brain-eating 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.
NEW: Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset (
Washington Post, July 26, 2019)
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.
There is a strategy behind Trump's madness, and it's already much later than you think (Daily KOS, July  26, 2019)
Supreme Court Lets Trump Proceed on Border Wall (New York Times, July 26, 2019)
Mind-boggling 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 Election Interference'
'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 Interference'
'Mueller States that Trump Can Be Indicted When He Leaves Office'
'Mueller Says that DOJ Policy Prevented Indictment Against Trump'
'Republicans Devote Hearing to Debunked and Unsubstantiated Conspiracy Theories'
The 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.
NEW: Where 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 demands.
Ilhan 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.
An 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.
U.S. 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.
No 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 affairs.
Inside Chris Hughes’s campaign to break up Facebook, the tech ‘monopoly’ he helped create (Washington Post, July 25, 2019)
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 network.

FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra's dissenting statement re Facebook case (US Federal Trade Commission, July 24, 2019)
"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 it.
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.
(Trump appointed Chopra because FTC rules prohibit more than three members from any political party.)
Calls 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 deal.'
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.
Facebook 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!)
Ricardo Rosselló, Puerto Rico’s Governor, Resigns After Protests (
New York Times, July 24, 2019)
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.
In 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 all-time records.
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.
The 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.
How 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.
Robert Mueller testifies (
CNN, July 24 2019)
Here's 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 many years.'
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.
Robert Mueller sticks to the script in high-profile hearings (CNN
, July 24, 2019)
NEW: Fighting 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.
NEW: "Anonymous" 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.
NEW: LightSail 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.
NEW: How 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 Moon.
(NASA, July 20, 2019 - 10:38PM EDT)
"Replay of original Moonwalk broadcast from July 20, 1969.
Apollo 11: The final 13 minutes that took humans to the Moon (BBC,
July 20, 2019)
Are 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 cope.
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 last.'
Huge area of the United States broils on what could be the hottest weekend in U.S. history (Daily KOS, July 20, 2019)
Refineries Across America Could Create Catastrophic Acid Clouds. It Almost Happened In Philly. (Huffington Post, July 20, 2019)
Last month’s explosion at a 150-year-old oil refinery in Philadelphia could have forced 1.1 million people to evacuate.
An 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.
Iran seizes British tanker in Strait of Hormuz (BBC, July 20, 2019)
NEW: Ranked-Choice 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 runoff occurs.
'We’re all here in this shared effort to ensure that every voter in Massachusetts has a greater voice when they go to the polls.'
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.'
NEW: The 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 control
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.
Trump Is Stuck In A Racist Catch-22: Saturday's Good News (
Daily KOS, July 20, 2019)
‘He 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.
What 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.
Trump 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 than garbage.'”
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.'
The 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 interventions.
DHS head says 'fewer than 1,000' kids recently separated, like it's something to be proud of (Daily KOS, July 19, 2019)
Trump 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 vote/

Altered 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, 2019)
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 being-in-the-world.
NEW: Car parts from weeds: The future of green motoring? (BBC, July 19, 2019)
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 the EU.
NEW: 'Unprecedented' 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 change."
E.P.A. 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.
Collins pays for allegiance to Trump, plummets further in approval ratings than any other senator (Daily KOS, July 18, 2019)
'Hot weather is dangerous and can kill:' City officials urge residents to prepare for grueling heat wave (Accuweather, July 18, 2019)
NEW: WeWork 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
I found your data. It’s for sale. (Washington Post, July 18, 2019)
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, Helper, FairShare Unlock and PanelMeasurement.

(Note that these are independent extensions. Firefix is not a problem; Chrome IS.)
Microsoft 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 election cycle.
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 2020 election.
Microsoft, 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 informed consent.
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.'

Turkey crosses “red line,” gets booted from F-35 partnership (
Ars Technica, July 17, 2019)
"Erdoğan's welcome of Russian missiles puts nail in coffin of F-35 buy.
Tesla 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 public roads.
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.
Elon 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'.
Musk’s 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.
76 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 2012.
Neo-Nazi troll Anglin's celebratory mood crushed by $14 million judgment against him (Daily KOS, July 16, 2019)
NEW: Amazon 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 is.
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 color.
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.
DuckDuckGo, A Feisty Google Adversary, Tests How Much People Care About Privacy (New York Times, July 15, 2019)
White 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.
Parents say Border Patrol asked migrant toddler to pick which parent got to stay with her in US (
The Hill, July 15, 2019)
‘His 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.
Lindsey 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.
About Trump's Racist Tweets (Public Citizen, July 15, 2019)
What 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.
The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: Here's how to choose a president (The Hill, July 14, 2019)
Trump’s 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 diversity.
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 superiority?
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 anti-immigrant xenophobia.
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.
Trump Fans the Flames of a Racial Fire (New York Times, July 14, 2019)
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.
Trump 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.'
American 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.
Former Southwest Key leader who ran migrant child shelters for U.S. government earned $3.6 million in 2017 (
Washington Post, July 13, 2019)
Donald Trump is right about bitcoin (Market Watch, July 13, 2019)
Cryptocurrencies are a pure gamble with no discernible fundamentals whatsoever.
Goldbugs for Trump (New York Times, July 13, 2019)
They sold their principles a long time ago.
‘It works out actually better’: When Trump loses, he’s quick to tout Plan B as the real victory (Washington Post, Ju
ly 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.
Following protests, hotel chains say they won't let ICE use their rooms for temporary detention (Daily KOS, July 12, 2019)
Prosecutors unlikely to charge Trump Org executives, sources say (CNN, July 12, 2019)
Trump's 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 agitators.
This is the No. 1 most obese state in America (Market Watch, July 12, 2019)
The sad individual and societal costs of the obesity epidemic.
PFAS 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 unconscionable.'
Billions 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.
'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life (Vice, July 11, 2019)
It's super painful to be a human being right now at this point in history.
NEW: Thank 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 week.
We still don't know how to fight the 'big lie,' and that's what makes it truly the biggest threat (Daily KOS, July 11, 2019)
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 all-too-typical morning.
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 1940s.
Japan’s Hayabusa2 Spacecraft Lands on Asteroid It Blasted a Hole In (
New 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.

Microsoft 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.
Font gives away false document but it’s blamed on time travel (Office Watch, July 10, 2019)
NEW: State 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.
Following the Money That Undermines Climate Science (New York Times, July 10, 2019)
Ilhan 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)
‘It Could Have Been Any of Us’: Disdain for Trump Runs Among Ambassadors (New York Times, July 10, 2019)
U.S.-U.K. ‘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.
Detained migrant kids describe sexual assault, verbal abuse, retaliation by border agents (Daily KOS, July 10, 2019)
Mayor: 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.
‘Outright disrespectful’: Four House women struggle as Pelosi isolates them (
Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
NEW: It Sure Looks Like Jeffrey Epstein Was a Spy - But Whose? (Observer, July 10, 2019)
The 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 threshold.
How 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.
Steve Wozniak thinks that you should quit Facebook (Cult Of Mac, July 9, 2019)
ICE 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.
NEW:  Trump 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.
NEW: Jeffrey 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 Epstein.
NEW: So remember that 2018 BBC documentary alleging Trump preyed on underage models? (Daily KOS, July 8, 2019)
NEW: Jeffrey 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.
Congressional 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 statement.
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.'
For 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)
NEW: The sinkhole that saved the Internet (TechCrunch, July 8, 2019)
Keeping the 'kill switch' alive is the only thing preventing another WannaCry outbreak.
FBI, ICE find state driver’s license photos are a gold mine for facial-recognition searches (Washington Post, July 7, 2019)
A cache of records shared with The Washington Post reveals that agents are scanning millions of Americans’ faces without their knowledge or consent.
Water 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 were detected.
Trump 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.
DOJ 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.
Donald Trump’s "Inoffensive" War on Reality (New Yorker, July 5, 2019)
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 exist.
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.
Anchorage, 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 city’s history.
Biggest 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 morning.
Russian submarine hit by deadly fire is nuclear-powered, Putin confirms (CBS News, July 4, 2019)
U.K. 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.

Justin 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 20, 2019.)
Where 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.
Trump’s 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 January 2017.
Trump’s 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.
Scenes 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.
Inside the effort to build suspense - and crowds - for Trump’s Fourth of July  (Washington Post, July 3, 2019)
Trump 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.'
3 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.
NEW: New York attorney general claps back after Trump attacks her on Twitter: 'My name is Letitia James' (Daily KOS, July 3, 2019)
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 citizenship question.
Neanderthals’ history is as complicated as ours (Ars Technica, July 3, 2019)
New study hints at Neanderthal population turnover in Siberia 90,000-120,000 years ago.
NEW: US 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.
Bitcoin's energy consumption 'equals that of Switzerland' (BBC News, July 3, 2019)
NEW: ‘Fingerprinting’ 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 your identity.
NEW: It’s 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.
Trump 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 Twitter.

Trump 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.

House 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.
Government 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 America.'
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’ descriptions.
National 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'.
Is There Earth-Friendly Disposable Dishware? (Sierra Club, June 2, 2019)
Not paper, not styrofoam and most plastics. When in doubt, avoid single-use items.
New 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 some areas.
Climate 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.
Hailstorm 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.'
‘It Is Our Fault’: El Salvador’s President Takes Blame for Migrant Deaths in Rio Grande (New York Times, July 1, 2019)
This Trump critic’s cartoon went viral and, within hours, he lost his contract. He says that’s no coincidence. (Washington Post, July 1, 2019)
The 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 abortion.
Republican 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.
NEW: The 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.
The 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.
The Welcome Humiliation of John Bolton (New York Times, July 1, 2019)
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.
Ivanka 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.
NEW: What The Hell Is Nancy Pelosi Doing? (Huffington Post, June 30, 2019)
House Democrats have lost their moral compass.
The 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.
The 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 law.'
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.
Pennsylvania 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.
Trump 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.
Judge 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.
Donald 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.
Donald Trump Says Huawei Can Buy American Products Again (Softpedia, June 29, 2019)
The policy hasn't been implemented, it's just a statement.
Wearable 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.'"
France 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.
Microbes 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 web.
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 these consequences.
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.
Renewable electricity beat out coal for the first time in April (Ars Technica, June 28, 2019)
Seasonal shifts helped, but long-term changes underlie the record.
Frederick Douglass would be outraged at Trump’s Fourth of July self-celebration (
Washington Post, June 28, 2019)
Conscientious 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.'”
Trump joking with Putin over eliminating journalists is a betrayal of America. So is ignoring it. (Washington Post, June 28, 2019)
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.
NEW: House 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. Pelosi.
NEW: Op-Ed: The Supreme Court just abdicated its most important role: enforcing the Constitution (Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019)
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.
Supreme 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.
Western 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.
NEW: Trump officials weigh encryption crackdown (Politico, June 27, 2019)
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 investigations.
(And nobody's mentioning infringement of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment
guarantee of privacy?)
NEW: It 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.
NEW: NASA's 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.
Twitter 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 rules.
Trump 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 hell.

The 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.'

Elizabeth 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.'
NEW: Please 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.
NEW: The 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.
NEW: 3M admits to unlawful release of PFAS in Alabama
(Chemical & Engineering News, June 25, 2019)
"US EPA barred company from discharging two substances to water.
A 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 family.
Justice 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 25, 2019)
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.
FedEx 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.
NEW: What’s wrong with the North Pole? (New Scientist, June 25, 2019)
"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.
With a Poof, Mars Methane Is Gone (New York Times, June 25, 2019)
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.
NEW: Upset about the plastic crisis? Stop trying so hard. (The Guardian, June 24, 2019)
NEW: Humans 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.
Raspberry 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.
NEW: The power of Ravelry’s stance against white supremacy reaches beyond the knitting community (TechCrunch, June 23, 2019)
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.
NEW: Agriculture 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.”
High-stakes 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.'
Automation 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.

Biden is the least electable candidate - here's why (The Hill, June 23, 2019)
NEW: Exploring 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.
NEW: NASA 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.
Scientists 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.
Trump 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 be 'proportionate.'
The administration on Saturday warned industry officials to be alert for cyberattacks originating from Iran.
Pompeo, 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 Emirates.
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.
Neil 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 the mission.
Mysterious 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.
Green 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 disappear.
Google 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.
Trump 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 Vladimir Putin.
Trump 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.
Strikes 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 deliberations.
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.
Microsoft 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!
Scientists 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.'
NEW: DNA 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 traditional microscope.
Printing 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.
The 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.
NEW: More 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 their efficacy.
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 corrected.
Engineering superbugs, accidentally or otherwise (Ars Technica, June
19, 2019)
Synthetic biology and hacking viruses sounds great until you wipe out humanity.
We should create a global DNA threat-detection network to fight future pathogens (
Ars Technica, June 19, 2019)
eneticist George Church talks about early detection and surveillance.
Slack 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.
The 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.
Alphabet 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.
Activists 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 Inc as they face a political and public backlash over privacy issues and the power they now wield over the world’s information.
Scary 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.
How Not To Prevent a Cyberwar With Russia (Wired, June 18, 2019)
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.'
Trump's 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.
Quinnipiac 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 states surveyed.
Orlando 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.
Our Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump | Editorial (Orlando FL Sentinel, June 18. 2019)
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: Donald Trump.
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.
Trump 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 political institutions.
Scientists 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 years.
Photograph 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.
Egypt's ousted President Morsi buried after courtroom death (Associated Press, June 18, 2019)
What 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.
Undocumented immigrants fired from Trump golf clubs to crash his 2020 campaign kickoff in Florida (NY Daily News, June 17, 2019)
'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.'
Where 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.
China 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.
Mysterious 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.
Why 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.)
Supreme Court dismisses challenge to findings of racial gerrymandering in Virginia districts (Washington Post, June 17, 2019)
The decision could give an advantage to the state’s Democrats. All 140 seats in the state legislature are on the ballot this fall, and the GOP holds two-seat majorities in both the House and the Senate.
We still have questions about whether Russia meddled in North Carolina. That’s a bad sign. (
Washington Post, June 17, 2019)
Trump campaign cutting ties with three members of polling team after grim numbers leaked (
Washington Post, June 17, 2019)
Privately, the president was livid that the numbers leaked out, according to White House and campaign officials. 'He is madder that the numbers are out than that the numbers exist,' said one senior administration official.
Trump’s 'kill the messenger' strategy in response to the leaked polling data reflects his desire to show strength at all times, even in the face of less-than-favorable news from within his own campaign. On Monday morning, Trump seemingly continued to deny the authenticity of the numbers.
Trump lost an escape route. SCOTUS: States & Feds can prosecute for similar behavior. (Daily KOS, June 17, 2019)
Jon 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.

Sharia court orders jail for rape victim unless kids handed to rapist. No, wait. That was in Alabama. (Daily KOS, June 16, 2019)
"In Alabama, a rapist is entitled to visitation rights to children resulting from his crimes, and can even sue for custody. Alabama is one of only two states that allow this. However, this horror takes on new meaning in Alabama, because last month the state passed a law outlawing the destruction of embryos for all victims of sexual assault. The law even prescribes jail for doctors who perform abortions.
NEW: 340+ organisations call on the EU to immediately halt trade negotiations with Brazil (Seattle To Brussels, June 16, 2019)
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.
U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid (New York Times, June 15, 2019)
Power grids have been a low-intensity battleground for years. Since at least 2012, current and former officials say, the United States has put reconnaissance probes into the control systems of the Russian electric grid.
But now the American strategy has shifted more toward offense, officials say, with the placement of potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system at a depth and with an aggressiveness that had never been tried before. It is intended partly as a warning, and partly to be poised to conduct cyberstrikes if a major conflict broke out between Washington and Moscow.
Two administration officials said they believed Mr. Trump had not been briefed in any detail about the steps to place 'implants' - software code that can be used for surveillance or attack - inside the Russian grid. Pentagon and intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction - and the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign officials, as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in Syria to the Russian foreign minister.

2020 Democrats shine: Bernie on the meaning of freedom, Warren on the wealth gap, and more (Daily KOS, June 15, 2019)

Trump makes it clear he can't speak under oath because he just can't stop lying (Daily KOS, June 14, 2019)
Lying is what Donald Trump does. And in his ABC interview Thursday, Trump admitted straight up that that’s why he didn’t want to answer questions for Robert Mueller.
'If you answer these questions to me now,' asked host George Stephanopoulos, 'why not answer them to Robert Mueller under oath?'
'Because they were looking to get us for lies or slight misstatements,' replied Trump. 'I looked at what happened to people, and it was very unfair. Very, very unfair. Very unfair.'
Trump could not have laid it out more neatly: It’s just dandy to lie to the public and the press because … what are they going to do about it? But lying under oath has consequences. So he won’t speak under oath.
DC may review Trump hotel's liquor license over challenge to President's 'good character' (CNN, June 14, 2019)
An attorney who is representing the group challenging the license renewal told CNN on Friday that the board's order is 'a solid victory for the rule of law. Despite Trump's efforts to silence the public and hold himself above the law, the board correctly denied his motion to dismiss and found that the public can protest the owner's character on renewal of their liquor license.'
President Donald Trump says it 'doesn't matter' what former White House counsel Don McGahn told Mueller (
ABC News, June 14, 2019)
President Trump’s internal polling data from March showed him far behind Joe Biden in key battleground states (ABC News, June 14, 2019)
‘Flying Object’ Struck Tanker in Gulf of Oman, Operator Says, Not a Mine (
New York Times, June 14, 2019)
Trump rejects Iran’s denials that it attacked tankers, citing video released by US Central Command (Washington Post, June 14, 2019)
President Trump cited a video released by the U.S. military that it said showed Iranian vessels retrieving a mine from one of the damaged ships. Earlier, Iran accused the Trump administration of sabotage and 'economic terrorism.'
Google: We're not killing ad blockers. Translation: We made them too powerful, we'll cram this genie back in its bottle
(The Register, June 13, 2019)
We want to make Chrome safer... by taking away the API we used to race Firefox.
CERN 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.
Chinese Cyberattack Hits Telegram, App Used by Hong Kong Protesters (
New York Times, June 13, 2019)
A network of computers in China bombarded Telegram, a secure messaging app used by many of the protesters, with a huge volume of traffic that disrupted service. The app’s founder, Pavel Durov, said the attack coincided with the Hong Kong protests, a phenomenon that Telegram had seen before.
The Hong Kong police made their own move to limit digital communications. On Tuesday night, as demonstrators gathered near Hong Kong’s legislative building, the authorities arrested the administrator of a Telegram chat group with 20,000 members, even though he was at his home miles from the protest site. 'I never thought that just speaking on the internet, just sharing information, could be regarded as a speech crime,' the chat leader, Ivan Ip, 22, said in an interview.
Past the tear gas, rubber bullets and pepper spray, the Hong Kong protests are also unfolding on a largely invisible, digital front. Protesters and police officers alike have brought a new technological savvy to the standoff.
Demonstrators are using today’s networking tools to muster their ranks, share safety tips and organize caches of food and water, even as they take steps to hide their identities.
The Hong Kong authorities are responding by tracking the protesters in the digital places where they plan their moves, suggesting they are taking cues from the ways China polices the internet.
Big businesses paying even less than expected under GOP tax law (Politico, June  13, 2019)
Though profits remain up and the economy is strong, total corporate taxes are at the lowest levels seen in more than 50 years.
Mitch McConnell, Too, Welcomes Russian Interference (New York Times, June 13, 2019)
Or at least he won’t let Congress do anything to stop it.

‘He’s just a psychotic’: Letterman looks back with regret on his dozens of Trump interviews (Washington Post, June 13, 2019)
"'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 a psychotic.'
'Everybody in the country should be totally appalled' by Trump comments on foreign interference: Pelosi (
ABC News, June 13, 2019)
Trump claimed he’s never called the FBI. He has - when he wanted its help. (Washington Post, June 13, 2019)
'You don’t call the FBI,' Trump said. 'Life doesn’t work that way.' Except it did for Trump.
'I think I’d take it': In exclusive interview, Trump says he would listen if foreigners offered dirt on opponents (ABC News, June 12, 2019)
President Donald Trump may not alert the FBI if foreign governments offered damaging information against his 2020 rivals during the upcoming presidential race, he said, despite the deluge of investigations stemming from his campaign's interactions with Russians during the 2016 campaign. Trump disputed the idea that if a foreign government provided information on a political opponent, it would be considered interference in our election process.
NEW: 3M 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.
NEW: How citizen sleuths cracked the Wolverine tannery pollution case (MLive, June 12, 2019)
Top AI researchers race to detect ‘deepfake’ videos: ‘We are outgunned’ (Washington Post, June 12, 2019)
The threat of deepfakes, named for the 'deep learning' AI techniques used to create them, has become a personal one on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers believe the videos could threaten national security, the voting process - and, potentially, their reputations. The House Intelligence Committee will hold a hearing Thursday in which AI experts are expected to discuss how deepfakes could evade detection and leave an 'enduring psychological impact.' Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), who chairs the committee, said Thursday, 'I don’t think we’re well prepared at all. And I don’t think the public is aware of what’s coming.'
A disinformation campaign using deepfake videos probably would catch fire because of the reward structure of the modern Web, in which shocking material drives bigger audiences - and can spread further and faster than the truth.
We Read 150 Privacy Policies. They Were an Incomprehensible Disaster. (New York Times, June 12, 2019)
Most privacy policies are verbose and full of legal jargon - and opaquely establish companies’ justifications for collecting and selling your data. The data market has become the engine of the internet, and these privacy policies we agree to but don't fully understand help fuel it.
Voting machine password leak in North Carolina grows murkier the more we learn (Daily KOS, June 11, 2019)
Hopefully, the silver lining to this incident’s dark cloud will prove to be the shaming of DHS into upping its game (which is my personal interest in reporting this story). Because if DHS isn’t at least as good as Vickery at finding the chinks in our electoral armor, it sure as hell isn’t as good as Russia’s GRU.
Perhaps DHS and the state Board of Elections might even consider enlisting Vickery’s help, rather than vilifying his efforts.
NEW: What 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%)
The World Is a Mess. We Need Fully Automated Luxury Communism. (New York Times, June 11, 2019)
Asteroid mining. Gene editing. Synthetic meat. We could provide for the needs of everyone, in style. It just takes some imagination.
NEW: PFAS Nation: Toxic Discharges Suspected From Almost 500 Industrial Facilities Across U.S. (Environmental Working Group, June 11, 2019)
Calls to break up Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple get louder (CNet, June 11, 2019)
Regulators are gearing up to investigate Big Tech. But are breakups of these companies on the horizon?
Chinese Cash That Powered Silicon Valley Is Suddenly Toxic (Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2019)
As U.S. startups reject their money, Chinese venture-capital firms in U.S. are dialing back investments, structuring deals to avoid regulators or shutting down."
Money laundering and crypto-coin legislation could hurt open-source ecosystem – activists (The Register, June 11, 2019)
Rights groups slam's customer due diligence plans.
Trump Cared About His Campaign Spending When It Was His Money - Not Anymore (New York Magazine, June 11, 2019)
For his 2020 bid, Trump is eagerly taking advantage of the big donors he once scorned. Super-PACs, which he’s called a 'scam' and 'very unfair,' are now supporting him with hundreds of millions of dollars. And his campaign has collected gobs of cash, bringing in $30 million in the first quarter of 2019. The shift in how the money has come in is also affecting how it’s going out. In 2016, Trump had a skeleton staff and routinely stiffed vendors, including a group of little girls who sang at his rallies. But that’s when he was spending his own money. Now he’s spending other people’s money, and according to the New York Times, he doesn’t care where it goes.
It’s not surprising that Trump, who managed to convince millions of people that he could spend Mexico’s money on a border wall, is careless with money that isn’t his. He’s openly eager to spend other people’s money, as he admitted on the campaign trail in 2016. 'It’s called OPM. I do that all the time in business,' he said. 'It’s called other people’s money. There’s nothing like doing things with other people’s money.'
Democratic Presidential Debates Could Reignite Warren-Biden Bankruptcy Fight (National Public Radio, June 11, 2019)
Warren advised Hillary Clinton to vote against the bankruptcy bill that Joe Biden supported, and talked about her disappointment in a 2004 interview with journalist Bill Moyers:
WARREN: She voted in favor of it.
WARREN: As Sen. Clinton, the pressures are very different. It's a well-financed industry. You know, a lot of people don't realize that the industry that gave the most money to Washington over the past few years was not the oil industry. It was not pharmaceuticals. It was consumer credit products. Credit card companies have been giving money, and they have influence.
MOYERS: And Mrs. Clinton was one of them as senator.
WARREN: She has taken money from the groups, and more to the point, she worries about them as a constituency.
'If you talk to many independent voters, they worry that both parties are funded by the same corporate interests,' said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, which has endorsed Warren ahead of 2020. 'Elizabeth Warren has been part of the solution trying to re-brand the Democratic Party as being of the people. The credit card fight was just one chapter of that ongoing struggle.'
US border cops confirm: Maker of America's license-plate, driver recognition tech hacked, camera images swiped (
The Register, June 10, 2019)
That story we broke in May? It is still true – and perhaps even worse than first thought.
IBM raising axe for 'significant workforce balancing in Europe', says staffer rep council (The Register, June 10, 2019)
GTS to shoulder third of cuts, with UK and DACH hit hardest.
Former White House counsel Dean describes parallels between Trump and Nixon (Washington Post, June 10, 2019)
'In many ways the Mueller report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate roadmap … was to President Richard Nixon,' said Dean, whose congressional testimony in 1973 ultimately led to the resignation of Nixon. 'Special counsel Mueller has provided this committee with a roadmap.' Dean highlighted similarities he saw between the two presidents, particularly on the matter of pardons and whether they were used to obstruct justice. Mueller identified 10 potential cases of obstruction of justice by Trump in his report.
Mexico denies Trump's claim of secret concessions in deal (CTPost, June 10, 2019)

‘He needs some victories’: Trump lashes out over his Mexico deal (Politico, June 10, 2019)
"As Trump's presidency reaches the 2.5-year mark, he is more aggrieved than ever, telling advisers that he believes he’ll never get fair treatment.
NEW: Trump Needs a Target to Stay Interested in His Campaign. For Now, It’s Biden. (New York Times, June 10, 2019)
"After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win, even though he is also trailing in public polls from key states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And when top-line details of the polling leaked, including numbers showing the president lagging in a cluster of critical Rust Belt states, Mr. Trump instructed aides to say publicly that other data showed him doing well.
Trump’s latest rage-threat gives Democrats a big opening. One just took it. (
Washington Post, June 10, 2019)
Beto O’Rourke used this situation as a window into a much broader indictment of Trump’s nationalist agenda. He stressed that the threat of tariffs against Mexico is only serving to 'jeopardize' our 'most important trading relationship'; that this places at risk markets that our farmers have cultivated; and that they are already taking a beating from Trump’s trade wars with China. Importantly, O’Rourke made the case that precisely the opposite approach - strengthened, reality-based international integration - is the answer both on trade and on immigration. O’Rourke called for trade arrangements in farmers’ and workers’ interests and for increased investments in Central America 'to ensure that no family has to make that 2,000-mile journey.'
Republicans peddle grotesque abortion-slavery comparison (
Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
State-sanctioned slavery justified by a dogma of religious paternalism is a monstrous crime unequaled in American history. All of which is why analogizing any political controversy to slavery isn’t merely wrong, but obscene. Nevertheless, today’s Republicans routinely compare slavery to Obamacare, gun control, the national debt, the social safety net, and just about any other political development they hate. And as their wave of draconian bans in Georgia, Ohio, Alabama, Missouri and other states shows, the Republicans equation of abortion to slavery is the most insidious of them of all.
Trump administration denied requests to fly pride flags. These U.S. embassies are still flying them (
Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
The Trump administration has made big changes in the way it is approaching pride. Last year, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made the approval process a whole lot harder. In past years, embassy staffers could submit their requests directly to the ambassador, who could approve them. Under Pompeo’s rules, every embassy has to submit requests to fly the pride flag to the State Department.
This year, the State Department rejected every single request.

Climate Crisis Comes Home to Roost in the Midwest (Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
"As of June 2 only 33 percent of Ohio’s corn acreage and 18 percent of the state’s soybean acreage had been planted. By this time of year, at least 90 percent of corn should have been planted, and 79 percent of soybeans should have been planted. And that’s based only on the most recent five-year average. Years ago, plantings were made much earlier in the spring.
Pretty hate machine: bot nation threatens our national discourse (
Daily KOS, June 9, 2019)
"While 2016 is behind us, the work on behalf of bot networks for 2020 is already underway, and so is the influence that bot networks have on our political discussions. Despite Donald Trump’s pronouncements, the overwhelming majority of fake news shares, according to studies, were conservative. How much impact these bot networks have through faked articles and shared content is difficult to say, but the bans at Facebook hint that much bigger problems may be lurking.
Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have fought hard against any real oversight of how their businesses may be manipulated by armies of imaginary accounts. It is time for the U.S. House to begin asking serious questions of Facebook and Twitter, about their advertisement policies, reporting policies, data services, and what plans, if any, they have to prevent online hordes from overwhelming any real discussion of issues in 2020.
Caleb Cain was a college dropout looking for direction. He turned to YouTube. (New York Times, June 8, 2019)
"Mr. Cain, 26, recently swore off the alt-right nearly five years after discovering it, and has become a vocal critic of the movement. He is scarred by his experience of being radicalized by what he calls a 'decentralized cult' of far-right YouTube personalities, who convinced him that Western civilization was under threat from Muslim immigrants and cultural Marxists, that innate I.Q. differences explained racial disparities, and that feminism was a dangerous ideology. 'I just kept falling deeper and deeper into this, and it appealed to me because it made me feel a sense of belonging,' he said. 'I was brainwashed.'
YouTube has inadvertently created a dangerous on-ramp to extremism by combining two things: a business model that rewards provocative videos with exposure and advertising dollars, and an algorithm that guides users down personalized paths meant to keep them glued to their screens.
The Linux Foundation in 2019: Over 100 Million Dollars in Income, But Cannot Maintain (TechRights, June 8, 2019)
The Linux Foundation isn’t what it seems; it isn’t even what it’s called. Our readers and guests often urge us to investigate further, getting to the bottom of what goes on at this relatively secretive nonprofit. Without going too deep into the 2017 IRS filing, one can easily see that it’s not a nonprofit and it’s totally out of control. It’s more like a corporate PAC or pressure group. There are aspects to it that we weren’t aware of before. And readers be forewarned… it’s not pretty, to say the least.
University of Alabama robs students of $26.5 million because the donor spoke out for women's rights (Daily KOS, June 8, 2019)
Culverhouse said, 'My love for Alabama is exactly why I was so horrified to watch its lawmakers trample over the Constitution last month. The ban on abortion they passed wasn’t just an attack against women, it was an affront to the rule of law itself. Part of being an American is engaging in public debate, and we can disagree over this issue. But the courts settled this matter a long time ago: Abortion is legal. So it was shocking to see legislators ignore this and pass a bill that turned women and health professionals into criminals, and it felt important to say so publicly.'
But the punishment that Culverhouse is getting for this is … no punishment at all. He’s getting his money back. The people being punished are the University of Alabama students who are being deprived of the facilities and staff that money would have supported; the students who will now have to open their own wallets, or take out more loans, to make up the difference.
NEW: Trump’s 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 country.
83 Environmental Rules Being Rolled Back Under Trump (New York Times, June 7, 2019)
A New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law School, Columbia Law School and other sources, counts more than 80 environmental rules and regulations on the way out under Mr. Trump. Our list represents two types of policy changes: rules that were officially reversed and rollbacks still in progress. The Trump administration has released an aggressive schedule to try to finalize many of these rollbacks this year.
All told, the Trump administration’s environmental rollbacks could significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions and lead to thousands of extra deaths from poor air quality every year, according to a recent report prepared by New York University Law School's State Energy and Environmental Impact Center.
The Climate Rebellion Inside Amazon (Huffington Post, June 7, 2019)
'It’s so easy to just say, oh, we’re building some new solar panels here, but at the same time we haven’t actually reduced our emissions,' said an Amazon engineer.
Bloomberg to put $500M into closing all remaining coal plants by 2030 (CBS News, June 7, 2019)
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is plunging $500 million into an effort to close all of the nation's remaining coal plants by 2030 and put the United States on track toward a 100% clean energy economy. The billionaire Bloomberg's investment in the Beyond Carbon initiative marks the largest ever philanthropic effort to combat climate change, according to the mayor's foundation. The organization will bypass the federal government and instead seek to pass climate and clean energy policies, as well as back political candidates, at the state and local level.
'We're in a race against time with climate change, and yet there is virtually no hope of bold federal action on this issue for at least another two years. Mother Nature is not waiting on our political calendar, and neither can we,' Bloomberg said.
Real life Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr. launches climate change coalition to clean up the world with technology (Good Morning America, June 5, 2019)
Downey's new venture, called the Footprint Coalition, will launch in April 2020. 'Between robotics and nanotechnology, we could clean up the planet significantly, if not totally, in 10 years,' Downey said.
Corporations say they'll lose nearly $1 trillion to climate change (
CBS News, June 5, 2019)
215 of the world's largest companies predict they stand to lose $970 billion to climate-change-related disruptions over the next seven years. Risks include paying more for insurance, writing off facilities in threatened locations and customers shifting to more environmentally friendly companies. The same companies say they could make $2 trillion from adapting to climate change.
Health-care worker shortages would be even worse without immigrants (Washington Post, June 5, 2019)
The study finds more than one-fourth of direct care workers and 30.3 percent of nursing home housekeeping and maintenance workers are immigrants, underscoring their key role as the U.S. population ages. They make up 18.2 percent of the total health-care workforce at more than 3 million people.

Software vendor may have opened a gap for hackers in 2016 swing state (Politico, June 5, 2019)
"A Florida election software company targeted by Russians in 2016 inadvertently opened a potential pathway for hackers to tamper with voter records in North Carolina on the eve of the presidential election, according to a document reviewed by Politico and a person with knowledge of the episode. VR Systems, based in Tallahassee but with customers in eight states, used what’s known as remote-access software to connect for several hours to a central computer in Durham County, N.C., to troubleshoot problems with the company's voter list management tool, the person said. The software distributes voter lists to so-called electronic poll books, which poll workers use to check in voters and verify their eligibility to cast a ballot.
Last year, top voting machine maker Election Systems & Software admitted that for years it had installed and used remote access software on election-management systems it sold to counties, after initially denying it. Election-management systems are even more critical to elections because they are used first to program voting machines and then to tally the results. The revelation about VR Systems, however, indicates that the practice of remotely accessing critical election infrastructure is more widespread than previously believed.

The Linux Foundation Fires All Staff and Editors at Future Uncertain. (TechRights, June 5, 2019)
Carla Schroder, author, former editor of Linux Today and so many other things (also a technical writer in spoke out less than an hour ago in response to our article about the Linux Foundation. In her own words, 'The Linux Foundation sucks. Remember when they took over and promised to be good stewards? In short order they made it a corporate shill site, and then in April laid off all writers and editors without so much as a word of thanks or explanation. All along they’ve been paying lip service to community, while bending over for their corporate members. The individual membership was discontinued years ago. @linuxfoundation needs a housecleaning at the top, and some real leadership.'
I 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."
Joe Biden's long evolution on abortion rights still holds surprises (NBC News, June 5, 2019)
As a senator from Delaware, he once supported stripping exceptions for rape and incest from federal funding.
Let’s Ditch MitchMcConnell (New York Times, June 5, 2019)
The Senate majority leader comes out of his shell.
State Dept. Forces Out Official Who Worked on Plan That Led to Ex-Employer’s Arms Deals (Wall Street Journal, June 5, 2019)
Ex-Raytheon outside lobbyist took part in department’s decision to fast-track sales, according to current and former U.S. officials.
Here are dozens of hilarious images from the British resistance during Trump's London visit (Daily KOS, June 4, 2019)
Also, 'Kids in cages have heartbeats, too.'
NEW: Donald 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.

London's mayor compared President Trump to an 11-year-old child (CNN, June 4, 2019)
NBC’s Richard Engel: Trump’s London Fanfare Claim Is ‘Delusional,’ ‘Deeply Disturbing’ (Huffington Post, June 4, 2019)
'There were thousands of people on the streets. They were protesting Trump, not celebrating his arrival,' the journalist said.
GOP support for Trump has moved from transactional to fanatical (Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2019)
Support for Trump is coming to define what it means to be a conservative. One reason Trump has become a conservative litmus test is that there’s a policy vacuum on the right and Trump’s personality is filling the void. Another is the GOP voter base, which has imposed a binary choice of its own: You’re either with the president or you’re with 'the left.'
Republicans have internalized Trumpism so deeply that they now see the world through his eyes. It’s perfectly 'reasonable' for a White House staffer to think the commander in chief should be shielded from even the name of his late adversary because Trump’s feelings are all that matter.
After a biblically wet spring, this is the week that could break the Corn Belt (Washington Post, June 4, 2019)
In recent years, corn plants have typically emerged on about 84 percent of planned corn acres by this point. This year, it is at 46 percent. Illinois (32 percent) and Indiana (18 percent) are even farther behind. And the acres remaining to plant were always going to be the hardest. The farmers have already planted all their driest fields - the ones that are left are the ones that become most challenging in wet conditions. Some acres just won’t get planted.
For many farmers, the clock has run out on corn for 2019. Even if they work around the clock under optimal conditions, there just are not enough hours to finish planting. About 10 million acres will either go unplanted for insurance purposes or be switched to soybeans. For perspective, that lost acreage would have been the third largest corn state this year, behind the predicted totals for Iowa and Illinois.
Farmers could switch to soybeans, but then they would find themselves even more exposed to President Trump’s trade war with China, the world’s largest soybean market. And beans face many of the same planting issues as corn. For many farmers, the alternative is to bow out and collect crop insurance. As more farmers give up on 2019, alarmed traders will probably bid up prices on corn and soybeans, making costs soar for ethanol producers, hog farmers and others who are already caught in the president’s escalating two-front trade war.
(As Trump sows, so shall we reap.)

NEW: Climate change could pose 'existential threat' by 2050: report (CNN, June 4, 2019)
"Twenty days of lethal heat per year. Collapsed ecosystems. And more than 1 billion people displaced. Those are all probable scenarios that could devastate societies by 2050 if swift and dramatic action isn't taken to curb climate change.

More mangroves? Economies recover faster after tropical cyclones (Ars Technica, June 4, 2019)
Analysis measures economic losses with satellite images of nighttime lights.
Firefox starts blocking third-party cookies by default (Venture Beat, June 4, 2019)
A Brief History of How Your Privacy Was Stolen (New York Times, June 3, 2019)
Google and Facebook took our data - and made a ton of money from it. We must fight back.
Windows 10 Apps Serving Malicious Ads Warning of Virus Infections (Softpedia News, June 3, 2019)
Ads bundled into Windows 10 apps available for users from the Microsoft Store point users to deceptive campaigns eventually trying to deploy malware on their devices.

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 America.
GM and Fiat Chrysler Unmasked as Tesla's Secret Source of Cash (Bloomberg, June 3, 2019)
"Detroit carmakers disclose deals to buy regulatory credits. GM says it’s hedging against ‘future regulatory uncertainties.’ These are the first acknowledgments from carmakers that they’re turning to Tesla for help to comply with intensifying U.S. environmental regulations.
Surprise inspection finds 900 people crammed into Border Patrol facility meant to detain 125 (Daily KOS, June 3, 2019)
ICE Detainee Deaths Were Preventable: Document (The Young Turks, June 3, 2019)
One ICE official told TYT the problem is 'systemic.' 'IHSC [ICE’s Health Services Corps] is severely dysfunctional and unfortunately preventable harm and death to detainees has occurred.'
Campaign Money Helping Make Up For Tenant Shortage At Trump Tower (Huffington Post, June 3, 2019)
As commercial renters flee, Trump keeps spending $37,500 a month in campaign funds at his own building - even though much of the Republican Party’s leased space in Virginia is going unused.
NEW: Southeast Asia Doesn't Want to Be the World's Dumping Ground. Here's How Some Countries Are Pushing Back (Time, June 3, 2019)
The global trash trade has reached a turning point; wealthier nations have long shipped their plastic waste to the developing world to be processed, but in recent months, some nations in Southeast Asia have begun sending the exports - much of it contaminated plastic and trash that is unrecyclable - back to where it came from.
The pushback comes as containers of trash continue to accumulate on the shores of countries like Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines, which are increasingly worried that the environmental costs are greater than the income they bring in from importing the waste.
NEW: Google and Amazon Are at the Center of a Storm Brewing Over Big Tech (New York Times, June 2, 2019)
The Justice Department is exploring an investigation of Google, underlining a major shift in the United States’ attitude toward the big technology companies.
Pelosi promises 'ironclad case' against Trump (The Hill, June 1, 2019)
In his report, special counsel Mueller warned us in the starkest terms that there was an attack on our election and an attack on our democracy. Why won't the president defend us from this attack? What is the president covering up? We must investigate the president's welcoming of the assault on our democracy.
Trump's evolving remarks on Russian election interference (The Hill, June 1, 2019)
NEW: For the U.S. and China, it’s not a trade war anymore - it’s something worse (Los Angeles Times, June 1, 2019)
Beneath the surface, a new tone has begun to emerge since trade talks broke down in early May and Trump ratcheted up tariffs on imported goods from China, an action met with retaliatory duties from Beijing. Officials on both sides of the Pacific have begun to portray the U.S.-China relationship in nationalistic and emotion-charged terms that suggest a much deeper conflict.
President Lopez Obrador of Mexico responds to Trump's tariff threat & it’s a beautiful thing (Daily KOS, May 31, 2019)
Russian trolls fueled anti-vaccination debate in U.S. by spreading misinformation on Twitter, study finds (CBS News, May 31, 2019)
Russian Twitter trolls have attempted to fuel the anti-vaccination debate in the U.S., posting about the issue far more than the average Twitter user last year, a study out of George Washington University has found. The "sophisticated" bots shared opinions from both sides of the anti-vaxxer debate, which took the U.S. by storm and prompted tech companies to crack down on the spread of misinformation surrounding vaccinations.
NEW: Abortion Rights Are More Popular Than You Think (Jacobin, May 31, 2019)
Don't let the slate of new anti-abortion bills fool you - support for abortion rights has actually increased in the last decade. Defeating these draconian measures will mean defeating the elite minority that imposes them.
Swedish Startup To Bring Pogo Sticks To San Francisco As E-Scooter Alternative (SF CBS, May 31, 2019)
(A sure sign of massive traffic congestion?)
Ohio lawmakers pass bill to cut renewable requirement, help nuclear and coal (Ars Technica, May 31, 2019)
Critics say the bill unnecessarily bails out nuclear, coal owner FirstEnergy Solutions.
Meteorologist says there's 'no doubt' climate change impacts tornadoes (The Hill, May 31, 2019)
Microsoft issues second warning about patching BlueKeep as PoC code goes public (ZDNet, May 31, 2019)
Time's running out on patching older systems against the BlueKeep vulnerability. An exploit exists for this vulnerability, and if recent reports are accurate, nearly one million computers connected directly to the internet are still vulnerable.
Russian military moves closer to replacing Windows with Astra Linux (
ZDNet, May 31, 2019)
The Chinese military is also working on a similar plan to replace Windows with a custom OS.
Huawei a key beneficiary of China subsidies that US wants ended (
Agence France Presse, May 30, 2019)
A replica of the Palace of Versailles, medieval turrets, and spires rise across Huawei's new campus in southern China, a monument to the telecom giant's growing fortune - and the benefits of state aid. The fairytale-like facilities rest on land that was sold by the local government at cut-rate prices to woo and bolster a strategic, high-tech company like Huawei.
Export Restrictions, Membership Organizations and Huawei (Consortium Info, May 30, 2019)
New U.S. sanctions against Huawei in the escalating U.S.–China trade war have thrown another wrench into the gears of global commerce. But how do these sanctions affect standards organizations and open source development? The high level answer is that the impact will be significant for most standards organizations, and negligible for most open source projects. The major differentiator will be the degree of transparency of the organization in question.
NEW: Google Chrome May Block Ad Blockers: What This Means for You (Tom's Guide, May 30, 2019)
NEW: Twitter 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.
White House USS McCain cover-up story gets even more embarrassing for Trump, if that's possible (Daily KOS, May 30, 2019)
NEW: Deceased G.O.P. Strategist’s Hard Drives Reveal New Details on the Census Citizenship Question (New York Times, May 30, 2019)
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.
Trump Tweets, and Then Retracts, Statement That Russia Helped Him Get Elected (New York Times, May 30, 2019)
Mueller says his investigation did not exonerate Trump (Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2019)
In his first and perhaps last public comments on the Russia investigation, outgoing special counsel Robert S. Mueller III pointedly refused Wednesday to clear President Trump of a possible crime, while urging Americans to confront foreign interference in U.S. elections. Appearing at the Justice Department, Mueller sought to put a capstone on his nearly two-year investigation, reading a statement but taking no questions from reporters. He did not definitively rule out testifying to Congress but said he would not go beyond the redacted 448-page report released six weeks ago.
He stopped far short of Trump’s claims, and those of Atty. Gen. William Barr, that the investigation found no obstruction of justice by the president and 'no collusion' between Trump’s campaign and Russian operatives. Mueller said Justice Department guidelines prevented indicting a sitting president, a remark that suggested it was the rules, not the lack of evidence, that spared Trump from criminal charges. 'If we had confidence that the president did not commit a crime, we would have said so.'
'There were multiple systematic efforts to interfere in our [2016] election,' Mueller said. 'And that allegation deserves the attention of every American.'
Bannon described Trump Organization as 'criminal enterprise', Michael Wolff book claims (The Guardian, May 29, 2019)
The former White House adviser Steve Bannon has described the Trump Organization as a criminal entity and predicted that investigations into the president’s finances will lead to his political downfall, when he is revealed to be 'not the billionaire he said he was, just another scumbag.'
The Department of Energy Is Now Calling Fossil Fuels “Molecules of Freedom” and “Freedom Gas” (Slate, May 29, 2019)
The Trump administration loves fossil fuels, but apparently has decided that they need some rebranding.
Renewable Energy Costs Take Another Tumble, Making Fossil Fuels Look More Expensive Than Ever (Forbes, May 29, 2019)
Almost every source of green energy can now compete on cost with oil, coal and gas-fired power plants, according to new data released today.
How the 1919 Solar Eclipse Made Einstein the World's Most Famous Scientist (Discover Magazine, May 29, 2019)
Heaven and earth moved to make Albert Einstein a star, a century ago today.
"We believe the internet can be better," Mozilla to the International Grand Committee (Mozilla, May 29, 2019)
'We believe the internet can be better. And to build an internet that is both innovative and worthy of people’s trust, we will need better technology and better policy,' said Alan. In his testimony Alan Davidson, Vice President of Global Policy, Trust and Security focused on the need for better product design to protect privacy; getting privacy policy and regulation right; and the complexities of content policy issues. Against the backdrop of tech’s numerous missteps over the last year, our mission-driven work is a clear alternative to much of what is wrong with the web today.
Professor: Dems need to impeach Trump to win 2020 (2-min. video; CNN, May 29, 2019)
NEW: Study Finds Trump Tax Cuts Failed to Do Anything But Give Rich People Money (New York Magazine, May 29, 2019)
Supporters of the Trump tax cuts insisted not only that they would promote growth, but that they would promote so much growth the measure would pay for itself. Even moderates like Susan Collins repeated assurances by the party’s pseudo-economists that the plan would not increase the deficit. So far, the growth feedback from the tax cuts has made up about 5 percent of the plan’s revenue loss, a mere 95 percent shy of the predictions. The passage of the plan was met with a coordinated wave of corporate public-relations announcements of worker bonuses. But the paper finds no widespread increase in bonuses or worker compensation.
When assessing these arguments, keep a close eye on the number of Republican officials or conservative policy-makers who revise their position on the Trump tax cuts in light of the data. If their true primary goal was to increase business investment, then the complete failure of a highly expensive program to achieve its stated goal would lead them to question their support. Why not cancel the Trump tax cuts and use the couple trillion dollars in lost revenue to fund a more effective growth-promoting policy?
So far, the number of Republicans reassessing their support for the Trump tax cuts is, give or take, zero. What this suggests is that the alleged growth-incentivizing secondary effects of the plan were rationales, and the primary effect - giving business owners more money - was the hidden main goal all along.
A devastating analysis of the tax cut shows it’s done virtually no economic good (Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2019)
You may remember all the glowing predictions made for the December 2017 tax cuts by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration: Wages would soar for the rank-and-file, corporate investments would surge, and the cuts would pay for themselves.
The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has just published a deep dive into the economic impact of the cuts in their first year, and emerges from the water with a different picture. The CRS finds that the cuts have had virtually no effect on wages, haven’t contributed to a surge in investment, and haven’t come close to paying for themselves. Nor have they delivered a cut to the average taxpayer. The negligible (at best) economic impact of the cuts shouldn’t surprise anyone, the CRS says. 'Much of the tax cut was directed at businesses and higher-income individuals who are less likely to spend,' its analysts write. 'Fiscal stimulus is limited in an economy that is at or near full employment.'
Mueller drew up obstruction indictment against Trump, Michael Wolff book says (The Guardian, May 28, 2019)
A new book from Fire and Fury author Michael Wolff says special counsel Robert Mueller drew up a three-count obstruction of justice indictment against Donald Trump before deciding to shelve it a year later – an explosive claim which a spokesman for Mueller flatly denied.
According to a document seen by the Guardian, the first count, under Title 18, United States code, Section 1505, charged the president with corruptly – or by threats of force or threatening communication – influencing, obstructing or impeding a pending proceeding before a department or agency of the United States.
The second count, under section 1512, charged the president with tampering with a witness, victim or informant.
The third count, under section 1513, charged the president with retaliating against a witness, victim or informant.
Trying Not To Ruin The World By Visiting It (Wisconsin Public Radio, May 28, 2019)
How We Might Make Tourism More Ethical.
NEW: Government researchers sound alarm over spraying antibiotics on FL citrus (Florida Phoenix, May 28, 2019)
The Trump administration in December gave the go-ahead for agricultural operations to spray antibiotic pesticides on nearly a half-million acres of Florida citrus, despite warnings from scientists and government health officials that it could increase the problem of antibiotic resistance in people and in the air, water, and soil. Antibiotic pesticides have been sprayed in Florida before, but this scale is unprecedented.
Now, newly uncovered documents show that researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control – the federal agency that deals with America’s public health and disease outbreaks – concluded two years ago that spraying streptomycin and oxytetracycline is tied to antibiotic resistance in bacteria that cause serious health threats – including the MRSA, CRE and VRE infections. The most alarming finding of the Centers for Disease Control’s study is that when antibiotic pesticides are sprayed on bacteria (in soil, water, air and on trees and fruit), the bacteria can pass the resistance to other bacteria, and then that resistance can adapt to “one or more unrelated antibiotics used to treat infections.”
The Military Is Locked in a Power Struggle With Wind Farms (Wired, May 28, 2019)
A 2018 Pentagon-commissioned study by researchers at MIT found that the 104 turbines at Amazon’s North Carolina wind farm did not interfere with a local Naval radar facility, despite claims by state legislators. The greatest threat to the viability of military facilities in eastern North Carolina is not wind farms, it’s the encroachment of houses and homes on the training area.
Still, politicians in some rural areas seem convinced that the military has a stronger argument. Texas legislators removed tax breaks for wind farms near military bases and are debating further cuts to federal and state incentives.
Some Texas observers note that anti-wind legislators in Texas are supported by groups that also deny climate change, such as the Texas Public Policy Foundation that works to support oil and gas interests at the statehouse. 'This is nothing but pure politics,' says Fred Beach, assistant director for policy studies at the University of Texas Energy Institute and a former naval aviator. 'People don’t want the wind turbines for whatever reason, and they raise this false issue to scare people.'
Alabama 4channer with body armor guns down three police officers, one fatally (Daily KOS, May 27, 2019)
Three police officers were shot, one of them fatally, when they responded to a domestic disturbance call in Auburn on Sunday night. The man arrested shortly afterward, it soon emerged - Grady Wayne Wilkes, 29, a veteran from Auburn - was fond of posting memes from the alt-right online gathering spot 4chan, most of them mock humor about guns, white nationalist trolling signals, and encouragement for Proud Boys-style violence against left-wing protesters, who he described as 'leftist scum.'
NEW: Trump 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 emissions.
'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.'
Lawmakers, Trump agencies set for clash over chemicals in water (The Hill, May 27, 2019)
PFAS has been linked with kidney and thyroid cancer along with high cholesterol and other illnesses. Contamination has spread to 43 states, and a 2015 study found 98 percent of Americans tested now have the chemical in their blood.
Britain’s main parties hammered in E.U. elections - voters opt for those with clearer stances on Brexit (Washington Post, May 27, 2019)
Nigel Farage’s single-issue Brexit Party was the clear winner of the elections, with the potential to impact the race over who becomes the next British prime minister.  The pro-E.U. Liberal Democrats and the Greens - who also have a simple message on Brexit: stop it - made significant gains as well. Overall, support for all the parties that are unabashedly pro-European was slightly higher than those that are pushing for a hard Brexit.  In other words, Britain is as divided as ever.
European Election Results Show Growing Split Over Union’s Future (
New York Times, May 26, 2019)
Populists and nationalists who want to chip away at the European Union’s powers increased their share in Europe’s Parliament after four days of continent-wide elections, but it was not the deluge that many traditionalists had feared. When the vote counting is done, the populists are expected to get around 25 percent of the 751 seats, up from 20 percent five years ago, figures released by the European Union showed on Sunday. But a higher than usual turnout suggested that pro-European voters were also more motivated than before.

‘Wow, What Is That?’ Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects (New York Times, May 26, 2019)
In Baltimore and Beyond, a Stolen N.S.A. Tool Wreaks Havoc (New York Times, May 25, 2019)
Since 2017, when the N.S.A. lost control of the tool, EternalBlue, it has been picked up by state hackers in North Korea, Russia and, more recently, China, to cut a path of destruction around the world, leaving billions of dollars in damage. But over the past year, the cyberweapon has boomeranged back and is now showing up in the N.S.A.’s own backyard.
Before it leaked, EternalBlue was one of the most useful exploits in the N.S.A.’s cyberarsenal. According to three former N.S.A. operators who spoke on the condition of anonymity, analysts spent almost a year finding a flaw in Microsoft’s software and writing the code to target it. Initially, they referred to it as EternalBluescreen because it often crashed computers - a risk that could tip off their targets. But it went on to become a reliable tool used in countless intelligence-gathering and counterterrorism missions. EternalBlue was so valuable, former N.S.A. employees said, that the agency never seriously considered alerting Microsoft about the vulnerabilities, and held on to it for more than five years before the breach forced its hand.
Trump’s allies insist he is winning in feud with Pelosi. Her backers say she showed up the president. (Washington Post, May 25, 2019)
Taking stock of the feud, each side insisted they got the upper hand in a fight that shows no sign of waning 18 months before the 2020 elections, with implications for the economy as the budget and federal borrowing limit remain unresolved while the dispute regarding oversight between the White House and Congress rages.
Pelosi’s allies said she showed up the president and reinforced an image of a chief executive behaving so badly and childishly that he is unfit for office - a clear message to voters next year. But to Trump’s backers, the president succeeded in highlighting that an already unpopular politician is struggling not only with the far-left liberals in the Democratic ranks, but even some on her leadership team.
(Focus. Which one stomped out of his conference?)
Theresa May announces she will resign on 7 June (The Guardian, May 24, 2019)
Prime minister to leave Downing Street, drawing three-year tenure to a close. May’s announcement came after a meeting with Graham Brady, the chair of the backbench Tory 1922 Committee, which was prepared to trigger a second vote of no confidence in her leadership if she refused to resign. Her fate was sealed after a 10-point 'new Brexit deal', announced in a speech on Tuesday, infuriated Tory backbenchers and many of her own cabinet – while falling flat with the Labour MPs it was meant to persuade. The leader of the House of Commons, Andrea Leadsom, resigned on Wednesday, rather than present the Brexit bill to parliament.
First American Financial Corp. Leaked Hundreds of Millions of Title Insurance Records (Krebs On Security, May 24, 2019)
In policy switch, Spectrum and AT&T say if you cancel early, they’re keeping your cash (Los Angels Times, May 23, 2019)
A Charter/Spectrum spokesman, declined to explain why the company is dropping prorated bills. He said only that 'this is a common approach to billing among other providers of monthly subscription services, including wireless and video streaming services.' Which is to say, Johnny took a cookie so I took a cookie. Most parents will agree this isn’t a very satisfactory defense of cookie consumption.
Federal judge in California halts Trump’s plan to build parts of border wall (Los Angeles Times, May 24, 2019)
Trump declared a national emergency in February after losing a fight with the Democratic-led House over fully paying for the wall that led to a 35-day government shutdown. Congress set aside $1.375 billion to extend or replace existing barriers in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. But Trump wanted to spend $8 billion on wall construction, so he declared the emergency to siphon money from other government accounts.
Critics had objected to the Trump administration’s move, saying it overstepped its authority by funneling billions of dollars toward the president’s signature campaign promise without authorization from Congress. In granting the preliminary injunction to stop the work, Gilliam cited Congress’ 'absolute' control over federal expenditures under the Constitution, 'even when that control may frustrate the desires of the executive branch regarding initiatives it views as important.'
Maestro Pelosi bests Trump every time and he never knows it until it's too late (Daily KOS, May 23, 2019)
On Wednesday, he once again signed on for ownership of governing gridlock when, in a fit of spite, he huffed out of a meeting with Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, marched out to the Rose Garden, and reported back to the American people that he wouldn't be doing any of America's business as long as congressional Democrats continued their investigations into him and his administration. 'You can’t do it under these circumstances,' Trump said.
Actually, one can do it, just as President Bill Clinton piled up signature achievements during a presidency dominated by a sweeping four-year investigation into him, his wife, their financial dealings, and an affair he conducted with a White House intern that ultimately resulted in his impeachment but not his removal from office. To be perfectly clear, Trump is simply choosing not to do America's business. His new 2020 campaign slogan: Trump First!
Following Trump's Rose Garden rumble, Pelosi did a series of media events. In one, she speculated that Trump had perhaps taken a pass on doing infrastructure out of 'a lack of confidence on his part that he couldn’t match the greatness of the challenge before him.' Pluck. In another, she took her impeachment comments a step further, saying Trump is obstructing justice 'in plain sight' and 'that could be an impeachable offense.' Pluck.
Trump is just where Pelosi wants him to be. The question is, has he figured that out yet?
Evidence Russia Tipped Election for Trump ‘Staggering,’ Says Former U.S. Intel Chief James Clapper (Newsweek, May 23, 2019)
Describing a report on Russian interference presented by the intelligence community to president-elect Trump in January 2017, Clapper writes, 'I remember just how staggering the assessment felt the first time I read it through from start to finish, and just how specific our conclusions and evidence were.' In the intelligence chief's view, 'We showed unambiguously that Putin had ordered the campaign to influence the election…and how the entire operation had begun with attempts to undermine U.S. democracy and demean Secretary Clinton, then shifted to promoting Mr. Trump when Russia assessed he was a viable candidate who would serve their strategic goals.'
Clapper warns of the threat posed by Trump’s dismissal of inconvenient facts as fake news. 'I don’t believe our democracy can function for long on lies, particularly when inconvenient and difficult facts spoken by the practitioners of truth are dismissed as fake news,' Clapper writes. 'I know that the Intelligence Community cannot serve our nation if facts are negotiable.'
'House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said they would not support a bipartisan statement that might hurt their nominee for president,' Clapper writes in an excerpt of the book published by NPR. 'I was disappointed but not surprised. It seemed they had decided by then that they didn't care who their nominee was, how he got elected or what effects having a foreign power influence our election would have on the nation, as long as they won.'
NEW: UK says it warned 16 NATO allies of Russian hacking activities over the last 18 months. (ZDNet, May 23, 2019)
UK warns of Russian global hacking campaign targeting critical infrastructure and government networks.
NEW: The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich (Bloomberg, May 23, 2019)
Thirty-two-year-old French economist Gabriel Zucman scours spreadsheets to find secret offshore accounts.
Zucman sees ominous signs in the rise of the far right - the threat that has preoccupied him since he was a teenager on the streets of Paris. Inequality, he says, paves the way for demagogues. The causes he’s identified for the widening gap in the U.S. are a host of policy changes that started in the 1980s: lower taxes on the wealthy, weaker labor protections, lax antitrust enforcement, runaway education and health-care costs, and a stagnant minimum wage. America’s skyrocketing wealth disparity, he says, reflects that 'it’s also the country where the policy changes have been the most extreme.'
The actual effect of lower taxes on the rich, he argues, isn’t to stimulate the economy but to further enrich the rich and further incentivize greed.
NEW: EPA Plan on Rocket Fuel in Drinking Water Will Make You Sick (Natural Resources Defence Fund, May 23, 2019)
As a result, millions of Americans will be at risk of exposure to dangerous levels of this toxic chemical in their drinking water.  Fetuses and infants are especially vulnerable to harm from perchlorate. EPA has more than tripled the amount of perchlorate it now recommends allowing in water.  Scientists recommend a limit that is 10 to more than 50 times lower than what the agency is proposing.  This is another Trump administration gift to polluters and water utilities that have lobbied to be off the hook for cleaning up the problem.
NEW: Senate passes bill cracking down on robocalls (CNN, May 23, 2019)
The legislation would impose stiffer fines of as much as $10,000 per call on robocallers who knowingly flout the rules on calls and would increase the statute of limitations to three years, up from one year. It also instructs the Federal Communications Commission to develop further regulations that could shield consumers from unwanted calls.
Net Neutrality: Comcast does so much lobbying that it says disclosing it all is too hard (Ars Technica, May 23, 2019)
Shareholders say Comcast should stop being secretive about lobbying activity.
NEW: We’re Controlling The Wrong Bodies. Why are women’s bodies always up for discussion and control? (Scary Mommy, May 22, 2019)
If a woman has sex with 100 random men in a year, she can still only produce one full term pregnancy. If a guy has sex with 100 random women in a year, he can produce 100 full term pregnancies. So why exactly are we only talking about regulating women?' This tweet is going viral right now. It has over a half a million 'likes' and nearly 200k retweets. We seem to know at our cores that men are the ones predominantly responsible for pregnancies, but it’s something that remains unspoken.
Mississippi GOP Rep. Accused Of Punching Wife In The Face For Undressing Too Slowly For Sex (Talking Points Memo, May 22, 2019)
Senior military officers rebel against Trump plan to pardon troops accused of war crimes (Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2019)
Aides to President Trump have been examining high-profile war crimes cases from Iraq and Afghanistan, preparing paperwork so Trump could issue pardons during Memorial Day commemorations next week, according to two senior U.S. officials.
But the possibility that Trump could issue pardons has brought a flood of opposition from current and former high-ranking officers, who say it would encourage misconduct by showing that violations of laws prohibiting attacks on civilians and prisoners of war will be treated with leniency.
A 10-year-old migrant girl died last year in government care, officials acknowledge (CBS News, May 22, 2019)
In an interview with CBS News Wednesday, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, accused the administration of concealing the girl's death. 'I have not seen any indication that the Trump administration disclosed the death of this young girl to the public or even to Congress,' Castro said. 'And if that's the case, they covered up her death for eight months, even though we were actively asking the question about whether any child had died or been seriously injured. We began asking that question last fall.'
She was the first of six migrant children to die in U.S. custody - or soon after being released - in the past eight months.
Trump’s fight with Huawei could threaten internet access in rural areas (
Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2019)
Rural broadband carriers could be forced to rip out and replace entire networks because they wouldn’t be able to import spare parts or software updates to maintain infrastructure, said Roger Entner, a telecom analyst at Recon Analytics. 'If something breaks, what are you going to tell your customer? "I’m sorry you have an outage. We don’t know when we are going to fix it because it’s Huawei equipment. Until then, sorry. No internet for you." 'You don’t want to tell that to a customer.'
Google allows Huawei to keep using Android until August (UPI, May 21, 2019)
After U.S. officials gave a 90-day reprieve to Huawei, Google said Tuesday it will suspend a plan to quit providing its Android operating system to the Chinese smartphone maker.
Huawei Considers Rivals to Google's Android After U.S. Ban (Bloomberg, May 21, 2019)
Should Google’s system no longer be available, "then the alternative option will naturally come out - either from Huawei or someone else,' Abraham Liu, Huawei’s representative to the European Union institutions, said at an event in Brussels on Tuesday. Liu said Huawei had been working on its own operating system but that he didn’t have the details about when this would be ready. Huawei would do everything in its power to mitigate the impact of the U.S. decisions, Liu said.
The Trump administration late last week signed an order that could restrict Huawei - which it says is obliged to support Beijing spying - from selling equipment in the U.S. Washington also put Huawei on a blacklist, threatening its supply of American components from semiconductors to the Google apps that run on its smartphones.
Google suspends some business with Huawei after Trump blacklist (Reuters, May 19, 2019)
Alphabet Inc’s Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday, in a blow to the Chinese technology company and third largest smartphone manufacturer that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world.
WannaCry? Hundreds of US schools still haven’t patched servers (Ars Technica, May 21 2019)
A dive into vulnerability data shows even big districts' servers still offering up SMB v. 1.
X-rays reveal the colors of a 3 million-year-old fossil mouse (Ars Technica, May 21, 2019)
We can now see the Neogene period in color. Thanks to new imaging methods and a better understanding of the chemistry behind pigment in animal fur and feathers, we now know that it had reddish-brown fur with a white underbelly. Paleontologists have had the tools to detect patterns of light and dark coloring in fossil feathers for a few years, but this is their first real glimpse of a colored pigment.
Natural cycles had little to do with 20th-century temperature trends (
Ars Technica, May 21, 2019)
Humans, volcanoes, and the Sun can cover it; ocean cycles need not apply.
Moondust Could Cloud Our Lunar Ambitions (Wired, May 20, 2019)
In the public imagination, the American astronauts who landed on the moon five decades ago were square-jawed superhumans, not the types to worry about something as banal as housekeeping. But they did, obsessively. Each time they got back to the Apollo Lunar Module after a moonwalk, they were shocked at how much dust they'd tracked in and how hard it was to banish. This was no earthly grime; it was preternaturally sticky and abrasive, scratching the visors on the astronauts' helmets, weakening the seals on their pressure suits, irritating their eyes, and giving some of them sinus trouble.
We Are Tenants on Our Own Devices (Wired, May 20, 2019)
Today, we may think we own things because we paid for them and brought them home, but as long as they run software or have digital connectivity, the sellers continue to have control over the product. We are renters of our own objects, there by the grace of the true owner. Connectivity and embedded intelligence are being used by large corporations to increase their profits and to exercise as much control as they can get away with.
Your Car Knows When You Gain Weight (New York Times, May 20, 2019)
Vehicles collect a lot of unusual data. But who owns it?
Cars produced today are essentially smartphones with wheels. For drivers, this has meant many new features: automatic braking, turn-by-turn directions, infotainment. But for all the things we’re getting out of our connected vehicles, carmakers are getting much, much more: They’re constantly collecting data from our vehicles. Today’s cars are equipped with telematics, in the form of an always-on wireless transmitter that constantly sends vehicle performance and maintenance data to the manufacturer. Modern cars collect as much as 25 gigabytes of data per hour, and it’s about much more than performance and maintenance.
Susan Collins just voted to put another forced birther judge on an important court (Daily KOS, May 21, 2019)
There are two nominally pro-choice women in the Senate Republican conference: Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine. Both voted Tuesday to confirm an aggressively anti-choice nominee to the 9th Circuit, Daniel Collins. That's the federal appeals court that's been most crucial in stopping Donald Trump's actions, and it's about to flip in his favor.
One of those senators, Susan Collins, is up for re-election in 2020. Apparently she's more worried about fending off a primary opponent that standing up for what used to be her principles, or for the people who have helped get her elected all these years. In fact, this is at least her ninth vote for an anti-choice nominee, with Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh topping the list.
Susan Collins (R. - Maine) on new abortion laws: 'I’m not sure exactly why we're seeing this happen' (Daily KOS, May 20, 2019)
(Because you supported Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, that's why.)
Russian Oil Sales to U.S. ‘on Steroids’ Amid Venezuela Sanctions (Bloomberg, May 20, 2019)
Monthly Russian crude oil deliveries to U.S. may triple soon. Venezuela and Iran sanctions, OPEC+ cuts curb crude supply.
Republicans 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.

Deutsche Bank employees reportedly flagged suspicious transactions involving Trump and Kushner (NBC News, May 19, 2019)
Over the past few years, Deutsche Bank has been punished by both U.S. and European authorities for its role in money laundering schemes, paying hundreds of millions in fines as a result. The bank has a substantial relationship with Trump, as it was the only major financial institution to continue lending to Trump after he went through a financial downturn in the 1990s. Deutsche Bank lent Trump and his businesses more than $2.5 billion and, when he became president, the bank held more than $300 million in Trump's debt.
Deutsche Bank Staff Saw Suspicious Activity in Trump and Kushner Accounts (New York Times, May 19, 2019)
Former Deutsche Bank employees said the decision not to report the Trump and Kushner transactions reflected the bank’s generally lax approach to money laundering laws. The employees - most of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve their ability to work in the industry - said it was part of a pattern of the bank’s executives rejecting valid reports to protect relationships with lucrative clients.
Deutsche Bank’s decision not to report the transactions is the latest twist in Mr. Trump’s long, complicated relationship with the German bank - the only mainstream financial institution consistently willing to do business with the real estate developer. Congressional and state authorities are investigating that relationship and have demanded the bank’s records related to the president, his family and their companies. Subpoenas from two House committees seek, among other things, documents related to any suspicious activities detected in Mr. Trump’s personal and business bank accounts since 2010, according to a copy of a subpoena included in a federal court filing.
Ted Lieu shames Trump over plan to pardon war criminals: 'You never served' (Daily KOS, May 19, 2019)
First GOP lawmaker says Trump’s conduct meets ‘threshold for impeachment’ (Washington Post, May 18, 2019)
Representative Justin Amash (Republican, Michigan) wrote that after reading the 448-page report, he had concluded that not only did Mueller’s team show Trump attempting to obstruct justice, but that Attorney General William P. Barr had 'deliberately misrepresented' the findings. He added that 'few members of Congress even read Mueller’s report. Contrary to Barr’s portrayal, Mueller’s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meet the threshold for impeachment.'
Amash, a libertarian, considers himself a strict constitutionalist and in February was the lone Republican to join a Democratic bill to stop Trump from declaring a national emergency to fund his border wall. 'From the time the president was elected, I was urging them to remain independent and to be willing to push back against the president where they thought he was wrong,' Amash told CNN in March. 'They’ve decided to stick with the president time and again, even where they disagree with him privately.
When loyalty to a political party or to an individual trumps loyalty to the Constitution, the Rule of Law - the foundation of liberty - crumbles.'
After Barr Billbarrs, Trump Tweets (Twitter, May 17, 2019)
(See the Comments thread.)
Barr Again Casts Doubt on Russia Inquiry’s Origins, Aligning With Trump’s Attacks (New York Times, May 17, 2019)
AG Bill Barr doesn’t bother with the pretense of propriety (Rachel Maddow Show, May 17, 2019)
Last October, when the fate of Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was uncertain, the conservative jurist scrambled to find his political footing. To that end, Kavanaugh adopted a specific media strategy, doing an interview with Fox News and writing a piece for the Wall Street Journal. The choices were not accidental. Fox News, of course, is closely aligned with Republican politics, and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal is arguably the most GOP-friendly space in all of major American print media.
Seven months later, Attorney General Bill Barr is under fire for a series of abuses, which yesterday led him to turn to - you guessed it - Fox News and the Wall Street Journal.
These 19 undocumented immigrants worked for Trump (CNN, May 17, 2019)
CNN interviewed 19 undocumented immigrants who say they worked for the Trump Organization and that Donald Trump had to have known they were undocumented during their employment. CNN's Randi Kaye reports.
Google uses Gmail to track a history of things you buy - and it’s hard to delete (CNBC, May 17, 2019)
Google tracks a lot of what you buy, even if you purchased it elsewhere, like in a store or from Amazon.
Last week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai wrote a New York Times op-ed that said 'privacy cannot be a luxury good.' But behind the scenes, Google is still collecting a lot of personal information from the services you use, such as Gmail, and some of it can’t be easily deleted.
C.E.O. Pay, America’s Economic ‘Miracle’
  (New York Times, May 17, 2019)
"No matter how their companies do, the top bosses do better.
NEW: Gregory Jaczko: I Oversaw the US Nuclear Power Industry. Now I Think It Should Be Banned. (Common Cause, May 17, 2019)
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."
Citrus Farmers Facing Deadly Bacteria Turn to Antibiotics, Alarming Health Officials (New York Times, May 17, 2019)
"In its decision to approve two drugs for orange and grapefruit trees, the E.P.A. largely ignored objections from the C.D.C. and the F.D.A., which fear that expanding their use in cash crops could fuel antibiotic resistance in humans.
The European Union has banned the agricultural use of both streptomycin and oxytetracycline. So, too, has Brazil, where orange growers are battling the same bacterial scourge, called huanglongbing, also commonly known as citrus greening disease. 'To allow such a massive increase of these drugs in agriculture is a recipe for disaster,' said Steven Roach, a senior analyst for the advocacy group Keep Antibiotics Working. 'It’s putting the needs of the citrus industry ahead of human health.'
AOC Calls Out GOP on Abortion Bans: "a creepy theological order led by a mad king. (Daily KOS, May 18, 2019)
Rick Wiles: ‘We Are Going to Impose Christian Rule in this Country’ (Right Wing Watch, May 17, 2019)
"On Wednesday night’s episode of his 'TruNews' program, during which he praised Alabama’s radical new anti-abortion law and warned that those who support reproductive rights will spend eternity being 'aborted continuously forever' by demons in Hell, End Times broadcaster Rick Wiles also found time to blame Jews for the legalization of abortion in this nation in the first place, declaring that 'we would not have abortion in America if it was not for powerful, influential rich Jews in America.'
Some court decisions deserve to be overruled. Roe vs. Wade isn’t one of them (Los Angeles Times, May 16, 2019)
"Writing for himself and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, Justice Stephen G. Breyer said that needlessly overturning previous decisions threatens the stability of the law. He warned his colleagues that the court should cast aside previous rulings 'only when the circumstances demand it.' Breyer’s dissent has created a minor sensation, but not because of his comments about the importance of consistency in the law. Conservative justices have said similar things. It’s what appears between the lines that has attracted attention: an implicit plea to the court’s conservatives not to overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision legalizing abortion.
What happened to the Trump counterintelligence investigation? House investigators don’t know. (Washington Post, May 16, 2019)
"But not for lack of asking.

Mark Morgan, Trump’s pick for ICE director: 'I can tell which migrant children will become gang members by looking into their eyes' (Politico, May 16, 2019)

How Fox News Anointed Mark Morgan, Trump’s Pick For ICE Chief (Huffington Post, May 15, 2019)
"Making at least 80 appearances there to praise the president on immigration breathed new life into Mark Morgan’s career.
NEW: Women Are Using #YouKnowMe To Tell Their Abortion Stories (Scary Mommy, May 15, 2019)
"In the wake of terrifying abortion laws being enacted in multiple states, women are rightly infuriated and scared at what looks like the crumbling of reproductive rights as we’ve long known them. It’s prompting women to share stories about their own abortions using #YouKnowMe.
No bill that criminalizes abortion will stop anyone from making this incredibly personal choice, but these laws will put more women at risk. Every woman deserves compassion and care, not judgment and interference when it comes to their own bodies. The statistic is that one in four women will have an abortion before age 45.
'If men got pregnant, you could get an abortion at an ATM.' --Selina Meyer, from HBO's Veep
NEW: Every Single Vote For Alabama’s Abortion Ban Came From A Man (
Scary Mommy, May 15, 2019)
"White men who will never, ever know what it’s like to have a woman’s reproductive system are banning people with uteruses from making their own decisions about their uteruses. It’s barbaric, it’s irresponsible in a million ways, and it proves the entire abortion “debate” isn’t about when life begins - it’s about making sure women are treated unequally and inhumanely in the eyes of the law.
The Republican party won’t regulate guns in order to prevent the loss of human lives - not even children’s lives - yet they purport themselves as “champions” of embryos. They are seizing our reproductive freedom, one state at a time.
In addition to banning abortion access throughout the entire state, Alabama would also be able to punish doctors who perform abortions on patients - even in cases of rape and incest - with a prison sentence of up to 99 years. Which is a more severe punishment than rapists receive in Alabama. Oh, and if you’re wondering: no, there isn’t any consequence for a man who impregnates a woman who has no desire to carry a fetus to term. Other than an obligation to pay child support - in some cases.
In response to the bill, Alabama state senator Vivian Davis Figures filed an amendment to the bill that would make it a felony for a man to have a vasectomy. Predictably, it failed.
NEW: New York Rejects Keystone-Like Pipeline in Fierce Battle Over the State’s Energy Future (New York Times, May 15, 2019)
"Regulators denied an application for a $1 billion natural gas pipeline that environmentalists said would set back the fight against climate change.
In a major victory for environmental activists, New York regulators on Wednesday rejected the construction of a heavily disputed, nearly $1 billion natural gas pipeline, even as business leaders and energy companies warned that the decision could devastate the state’s economy and bring a gas moratorium to New York City and Long Island. The pipeline was planned to run 37 miles, connecting natural gas fields in Pennsylvania to New Jersey and New York. Its operator, the Oklahoma-based Williams Companies, pitched it as a crucial addition to the region’s energy infrastructure, one that would deliver enough fuel to satisfy New York’s booming energy needs and stave off a looming shortage.
But environmental groups said Williams was manufacturing a crisis to justify a project that would rip apart fragile ecosystems, handcuff New York to fossil fuels and hobble the state’s march toward renewable resources.
NEW: 6 facts about U.S. political independents (Pew Research Center, May 15, 2019)
"Though about four-in-ten Americans call themselves ‘independents,’ few are truly independent.
The 3.5% Rule: How A Small Minority Can Change The World (BBC, May 14, 2019)
"Overall, nonviolent campaigns were twice as likely to succeed as violent campaigns: they led to political change 53% of the time compared to 26% for the violent protests. This was partly the result of strength in numbers. Chenoweth argues that nonviolent campaigns are more likely to succeed because they can recruit many more participants from a much broader demographic, which can cause severe disruption that paralyses normal urban life and the functioning of society.
New Jersey's AG and DEP Announce Suit Against 3M, DuPont, Others for Making, Selling Toxic Chemicals in Firefighting Foam Product State of New Jersey, May 14, 2019)
At issue in the State’s lawsuit is the manufacture, advertising, and sale in New Jersey of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) products that contain - or break down into when released into the environment – chemicals known as PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonic acid) and PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid). The State’s complaint names the following manufacturers and sellers as defendants: The 3M Company, Tyco Fire Products LP, Chemguard, Inc., Buckeye Fire Equipment Company, Kidde-Fenwal, Inc., National Foam, Inc., E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, and The Chemours Company.
'The corporations we’re suing today knew full well the health and environmental risks associated with this foam, and yet they sold it to New Jersey’s firefighters anyway,' said Attorney General Grewal. 'Their conduct was unconscionable, and we’re going to hold these companies accountable.'
'To protect our environment and ensure the restoration of damaged natural resources, we must hold responsible the manufacturers who knew of the dangers of these products,' said DEP Commissioner McCabe.
NRA Board Members Say Its New President Lied About Disclosing Financial Troubles (Huffington Post, May 14, 2019)
Leaked documents reveal the National Rifle Association is drowning in legal fees. Board members say they didn’t know.
Trump's across-the-board legal stonewalling appears poised to backfire big time (Daily KOS, May 14, 2019)
If Tuesday's first fight over Trump's financial records turns out to represent a trend in how judges approach these cases, Trump's attorneys will likely be facing an expedited schedule of hearings in which they are armed with exceedingly weak legal rationales. And Democrats don't have to win every subpoena battle being mounted; they only have to win most of them in order to gain access to critical information. Indeed, many pressing issues regarding presidential matters have been adjudicated quickly by the courts. The constitutional fight between George W. Bush and Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election wrapped up in just over a month - 36 days - and that included two trips to the Supreme Court.
How Gerrymandering Leads to Radical Abortion Laws (The New Republic, May 14, 2019)
Georgia's 'fetal heartbeat' bill never would have passed if the state legislature truly reflected the voters' political preferences.
5G likely to mess with weather forecasts, but FCC auctions spectrum anyway
(Ars Technica, May 14, 2019)
"A US Navy memo warns that 5G mobile networks are likely to interfere with weather satellites, and senators are urging the Federal Communications Commission to avoid issuing new spectrum licenses to wireless carriers until changes are made to prevent harms to weather forecasting.
The FCC has already begun an auction of 24GHz spectrum that would be used in 5G networks. But Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) today wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, asking him to avoid issuing licenses to winning bidders 'until the FCC approves the passive band protection limits that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) determine are necessary to protect critical satellite‐based measurements of atmospheric water vapor needed to forecast the weather.' Wyden and Cantwell said that the 'ongoing sale of wireless airwaves could damage the effectiveness of US weather satellites and harm forecasts and predictions relied on to protect safety, property, and national security.' They chided the FCC for beginning the auction 'over the objections of NASA, NOAA, and members of the American Meteorological Society (AMS). These entities all argued that out-of-band emissions from future commercial broadband transmissions in the 24GHz band would disrupt the ability to collect water-vapor data measured in a neighboring frequency band (23.6 to 24GHZ) that meteorologists rely on to forecast the weather.'
The internal Navy memo on the topic, written on March 27 by Capt. Marc Eckardt, a Naval oceanographer, was made public by Wyden and Cantwell today.
Fourth-largest coal producer in the US files for bankruptcy (Ars Technica, May 14, 2019)
Cloud Peak Energy staved off bankruptcy for years but continued to face lean markets.
Wettest 12-month period on record leaves US nearly drought-free amid rampant flooding (AccuWeather, May 14, 2019)
It was 84 degrees near the Arctic Ocean this weekend as carbon dioxide hit its highest level in human history (Washington Post, May 14, 2019)
Over the weekend, the climate system sounded simultaneous alarms. Near the entrance to the Arctic Ocean in northwest Russia, the temperature surged to 84 degrees Fahrenheit (29 Celsius). Meanwhile, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eclipsed 415 parts per million for the first time in human history. By themselves, these are just data points. But taken together with so many indicators of an altered atmosphere and rising temperatures, they blend into the unmistakable portrait of human-induced climate change.
There is more CO2 in the atmosphere today than any point since the evolution of humans (CNN, May 13, 2019)
This is the first time in human history our planet's atmosphere has had more than 415ppm CO2. Not just in recorded history, not just since the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago. Since before modern humans existed millions of years ago. We don't know a planet like this.
Intel Discloses Four New Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) Vulnerabilities (Softpedia, May 14, 2019)
Security researchers have publicly disclosed today a series of potential security vulnerabilities affecting various Intel microprocessors, which may allow information disclosure on users' machines.
It’s Almost Impossible to Tell if Your iPhone Has Been Hacked (Vice, May 14, 2019)
A recent vulnerability in WhatsApp shows that there’s little defenders can do to detect and analyze iPhone hacks.
As of today, there is no specific tool that an iPhone user can download to analyze their phone and figure out if it has been compromised. In 2016, Apple took down an app made by Esser that was specifically designed to detect malicious jailbreaks. Moreover, iOS is so locked down that without hacking or jailbreaking it first, even a talented security researcher can do very little analysis on it.
'These security controls have made mobile devices extremely difficult to inspect, especially remotely, and particularly for those of us working in human rights organizations lacking access to adequate forensics technology. Because of this, we are rarely able to confirm infections of those who we even already suspect being targeted. Quite frankly, we are on the losing side of a disheartening asymmetry of capabilities that favors attackers over us, defenders.'
It's 2019 and a WhatsApp call can hack a phone: Zero-day exploit infects mobiles with spyware (The Register, May 14, 2019)
A security flaw in WhatsApp can be, and has been, exploited to inject spyware into victims' smartphones: all a snoop needs to do is make a booby-trapped voice call to a target's number, and they're in. The victim doesn't need to do a thing other than leave their phone on.
A Cisco Router Bug Has Massive Global Implications (Wired, May 13, 2019)
Researchers have found a way to break Cisco's secure boot process, which could affect millions of devices around the world.
Could abortion become illegal in America? All signs point to yes (The Guardian, May 14, 2019)
America is facing a full-frontal attack on Roe v Wade. There is no guarantee that the supreme court will protect the right to terminate a pregnancy.
These 25 Republicans – all white men – just voted to ban abortion in Alabama (The Guardian, May 14, 2019)
Legislation makes abortion a crime at any stage of pregnancy, with the only exception for a serious threat to the health of the woman.

Bill Nye explains climate change with John Oliver (0.5-min. video; YouTube, May 13, 2019)
Poll says that 56% of Americans don't want kids taught Arabic numerals. We have some bad news. (Daily KOS, May 13, 2019)
China announces tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods, vows to ‘never surrender’ (Los Angeles Times, May 13, 2019)
'I say openly to President Xi [Jinping] & all of my many friends in China that China will be hurt very badly if you don’t make a deal because companies will be forced to leave China for other countries. Too expensive to buy in China. You had a great deal, almost completed, & you backed out!' he said in another tweet.
Beijing’s new tariff action was expected after trade talks in Washington broke off Friday and the Trump administration went ahead and hiked taxes on $200 billion of imported Chinese goods to 25% from 10%.
NEW: Before Trump’s purge at DHS, top officials challenged plan for mass family arrests (Washington Post, May 13, 2019)
In the weeks before they were ousted last month, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and top immigration enforcement official Ronald Vitiello challenged a secret White House plan to arrest thousands of parents and children in a blitz operation against migrants in 10 major U.S. cities. According to seven current and former Department of Homeland Security officials, the administration wanted to target the crush of families that had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border after the president’s failed 'zero tolerance' prosecution push in early 2018. The ultimate purpose, the officials said, was a show of force to send the message that the United States was going to get tough by swiftly moving to detain and deport recent immigrants - including families with children.
Sen. Lindsey Graham tells Don Jr. to obstruct justice, says the Senate has his back (Daily KOS, May 13, 2019)
Supreme Court’s conservatives overturn precedent as liberals ask ‘which cases the court will overrule next’ (Washington Post, May 13, 2019)
The issue in Monday’s 5 to 4 ruling was one of limited impact: whether states have sovereign immunity from private lawsuits in the courts of other states. In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled that there is no constitutional right to such immunity, although states are free to extend it to one another and often do. But the court’s conservative majority overruled that decision, saying there was an implied right in the Constitution that means states 'could not be haled involuntarily before each other’s courts,' in the words of Justice Clarence Thomas, who wrote Monday’s decision. Thomas acknowledged the departure from the legal doctrine of stare decisis, in which courts are to abide by settled law without a compelling reason to overrule the decision.
Dear Delta Air Lines: video games and beer cannot compete with joining a union (The Guardian, May 11, 2019)
The airline is telling employees that unions take money they could spend on entertainment instead. Will anyone really fall for that anti-union tactic?
Leaked Documents: NRA Racked Up $24 Million in Legal Bills (Daily Beast, May 11, 2019)
Docs show former president Oliver North warning that legal fees 'pose an existential threat to the financial stability of the National Rifle Association.'
Internal documents show 3M hid PFAS dangers for decades (Detroit Free Press, May 11, 2019)
A 3M environmental specialist, in a scathing resignation letter, accused company officials of being 'unethical' and more 'concerned with markets, legal defensibility and image over environmental safety' when it came to PFOS, the emerging contaminant causing a potential crisis throughout Michigan and the country. PFOS, one of 3M's chief PFAS products, 'is the most insidious pollutant since PCB,' Richard Purdy stated in his March 28, 1999, resignation letter, referring to a compound used in 3M's ScotchGard stain-protection product line, among other uses. 'It is probably more damaging than PCB because it does not degrade, whereas PCB does; it is more toxic to wildlife,' he stated, adding that PFOS's end point in the environment appeared to be plants and animals, not soil and sediment like PCB.
NEW: Plant 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.
When a reporter would not betray his source, police came to his home with guns and a sledgehammer (Los Angeles Times, May 11, 2019)
Carmody, 49, said he has not shared the name of his source with anyone, and no markings on the document could be traced to the person who provided it. Fellow journalists in the Bay Area and beyond were outraged by the search of Carmody’s home and office. And the incident provided a new wrinkle into the evolving aftermath of the unexpected death of Adachi, who left behind a legacy of championing civil rights. Initial reports said the 59-year-old public defender had been traveling when he suddenly had a heart attack.
How the creators of a database are stamping out all-male panels (Nature, May 10, 2019)
Developers of ‘Request a Woman Scientist’ hope that its 10,000 participants can help to boost gender diversity in scientific talks and in the media.
Europe 'takes too much of Earth resources' (BBC News, May 10, 2019)
A new report for the green group WWF and the Global Footprint Network says that Europeans contribute disproportionately to depleting resources.
It says Europeans emit too much carbon, eat too much food, use large amounts of timber and occupy too much built space.
Here’s Why It Matters That Airlines Are Starting To Run ‘Zero-Waste’ Flights (UPROXX, May 10, 2019)
The FBI is investigating whether Florida spa owner funneled money from China to the Trump campaign (Daily KOS, May 10, 2019)
Who could’ve ever guessed New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft getting arrested for soliciting prostitution would lead to the FBI investigating whether the Chinese have been funneling money to the Trump re-election campaign? But, here we are.
To recap, after Kraft was arrested, the Miami Herald noted the spa’s founder, Cindy Yang, was a frequent guest at Mar-a-Lago and had been photographed with Donald Trump at the private club on several occasions. She used these photos to prove she had access to the president and others could as well, for a price. The grift began from the moment Donald Trump took office. Yang hosted an event at Trump’s inauguration in Washington, D.C., and those funds have never been accounted for to this day.
James Comey on why he isn't Republican anymore: ‘You cannot have a president who is a chronic liar' (Daily KOS, May 10, 2019)
You cannot have a president who is a chronic liar. I don’t care what your passions about tax cuts, or regulations, or immigration - I respect difference there. But the President of the United States cannot be someone who lies constantly. I thought the Republicans agreed with that. It’s one of the reasons I am no longer a Republican.
I hope the American people will realize we have to start at that values level, no matter what our political background, and answer that question first. And if that's a close question in an election, then get to the important policy differences.
Americans' support for impeaching Trump rises: Reuters/Ipsos poll (Reuters, May 9, 2019)
The number of Americans who said President Donald Trump should be impeached rose 5 percentage points to 45 percent since mid-April, while more than half said multiple congressional probes of Trump interfered with important government business, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday."
Pelosi's delay in bringing Barr's contempt vote to the House floor isn't weakness - it's a plan (Daily KOS, May 9, 2019)
The House Judiciary Committee voted on a resolution to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress, but Barr is not in contempt. He won’t be until that resolution is brought to the floor and a citation of contempt is issued by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. And, according to Roll Call, that may not happen anytime soon. On Thursday, Pelosi suggested that there may be a delay before any vote is held on Barr.
But that delay doesn’t represent disinterest on Pelosi’s part, or an intention to keep Democrats from moving down a path that could lead to impeachment. Instead, her actions seem to be part of a plan that Democrats have been discussing over the last few days, one that involves bringing multiple instances of Donald Trump blocking access to information to the courts at the same time.
Is This the Official Trump Constitutional Crisis? (New Yorker Magazine, May 9, 2019)
Washington has been bracing for a full-blown constitutional crisis since the first day of the Trump Presidency, and during the last two and a half years each new boundary-pushing move by the boundary-pushing President has been greeted with fresh warnings that this time is really it.
This is not just a fight about getting William Barr to testify or hand over the unredacted parts of the Mueller report or its underlying evidence. In recent weeks, Trump has ordered his Administration to take a maximally defiant attitude toward Congress as it pursues an array of investigations of him and his Administration. The President, essentially, is arguing that his Democratic tormenters in the House have no right at all to pursue information and testimony related to him.
Politically, Trump seems to be trying to goad the Democrats into taking further action against him. Perhaps he is even looking to push them into a partisan impeachment fight. There’s no question that Trump, for all his bullying, actually loves to play the victim. Whatever he is after, the President has adopted a far more aggressive legal strategy than that of his predecessors, ordering his Administration to carry out a 'true structural assault on the idea of congressional subpoena power,' Stephen Vladeck, a legal professor at the University of Texas, told me. 'Even at the height of Watergate, I don’t think we ever heard Richard Nixon make such a categorical claim.'
Right after the Democrats won the House in last fall’s midterm elections, Vladeck wrote a prescient piece in the Washington Post, anticipating just this scenario of 'serious conflict and, perhaps, even a slow-motion constitutional crisis' between a Democratic House bent on investigations and Trump. He correctly foresaw that Trump was likely to trigger the fight by refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena and also that, though fighting him would take time, the courts were likely to side with Democrats in any such argument. Will Trump defy a court order against him? That would be a crisis. Will he set a new standard for future Presidents eroding Congress’s previously 'extremely broad and encompassing' authority to investigate? That, too, would be a crisis.
But there’s another possibility, and it is an unsettling one. Many of President Trump’s assertions of sweeping executive authority, and also his defiance of Congress, may well be legal, if highly confrontational. In area after area during the past few years, Trump has taken advantage of decades of congressional inaction or has flouted norms that were long assumed but not explicitly enshrined in law. That’s what happens when a President is willing to defy convention in the way that Trump is. There’s no law requiring him to hold a regular White House press briefing, any more than there is a law explicitly saying that 'because I don’t want to' is not a proper reason for refusing a legitimate congressional inquiry. In the past, the presumed blowback acted as a constraint on Presidents. (Though, of course, many of them, long before Trump, sought to expand their executive authority.) What’s different now is that Trump acts as though he is immune from the political pressure to operate within the accepted system that his predecessors felt. 'To me, that is what has broken down over the last thirty months, that those constraints have proved utterly ineffective,' Vladeck said. 'All of these are of a piece, where we have a President and an Administration that is absolutely shameless when it comes to bleeding every legal authority it has for every ounce of support it can drain.'
Which is how we ended up with a President who deliberately keeps Cabinet positions open for months at a time rather than have Senate-confirmed officials there. It’s how we got a state of national 'emergency' at the southern border, so that Trump could spend military money on the border wall that Congress refused to give him. And it’s why there’s a fight now over Congress even being allowed to see the Mueller report and its underlying evidence, although Mueller explicitly envisioned that Congress would use that evidence to determine whether to accuse Trump of obstructing justice. In Washington, the scandal is often what’s legal - and that was true before Donald Trump was President and will almost certainly be the case long after he is gone.
Sarah Sanders purges reporters she doesn't like from the White House (ShareBlue Media, May 9, 2019)
Sarah Huckabee Sanders instituted new rules that effectively deem the entire White House press corps unqualified to possess permanent press passes.
NEW: Facebook’s 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.
NEW: It’s Time to Break Up Facebook, by Chris Hughes (
New York Times, May 9, 2019)
Mr. Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook, is a co-chairman of the Economic Security Project and a senior adviser at the Roosevelt Institute.
'Mark Zuckerberg’s personal reputation and the reputation of Facebook have taken a nose-dive. The company’s mistakes - the sloppy privacy practices that dropped tens of millions of users’ data into a political consulting firm’s lap; the slow response to Russian agents, violent rhetoric and fake news; and the unbounded drive to capture ever more of our time and attention - dominate the headlines.
Mark’s influence is staggering, far beyond that of anyone else in the private sector or in government. He controls three core communications platforms - Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp - that billions of people use every day. Facebook’s board works more like an advisory committee than an overseer, because Mark controls around 60 percent of voting shares. Mark alone can decide how to configure Facebook’s algorithms to determine what people see in their News Feeds, what privacy settings they can use and even which messages get delivered. He sets the rules for how to distinguish violent and incendiary speech from the merely offensive, and he can choose to shut down a competitor by acquiring, blocking or copying it.
Mark is a good, kind person. But I’m angry that his focus on growth led him to sacrifice security and civility for clicks. I’m disappointed in myself and the early Facebook team for not thinking more about how the News Feed algorithm could change our culture, influence elections and empower nationalist leaders. And I’m worried that Mark has surrounded himself with a team that reinforces his beliefs instead of challenging them. The government must hold Mark accountable.'
F.T.C. Commissioners Back Privacy Law to Regulate Tech Companies (
New York Times, May 8, 2019)
Lawmakers are considering a national privacy law to regulate the collection and handling of user data, the most valuable currency of the internet economy. The idea has won the support of some Silicon Valley executives, and drew Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, to meet with lawmakers this week. But progress has stalled over disagreements on the details of such a law, putting the United States far behind nations in Europe and beyond that have led a global charge to curb the growing power of big tech companies.
'We urge Congress to enact privacy and data security legislation, enforceable by the F.T.C.,' Joseph Simons, the agency’s chairman, said at the hearing.
Henry Waxman: Congress should act now to ensure a free and open internet (Los Angeles Times, May 8, 2019)
"Since the rise of the internet, there have been concerns that the dominance of a relatively small number of internet service providers could potentially threaten its open nature. I sought to prevent that outcome during my time in Congress by writing principles of net neutrality into law. Under net neutrality, ISPs would be prohibited from blocking, throttling and allowing for paid prioritization of content. In other words, they could not prevent subscribers from accessing websites, slow down or speed up websites, or receive payment from content providers seeking to put particular websites or content 'first in line.' While we have come close to this goal, we have not yet achieved it. Instead, for more than 15 years, policymakers have been locked in an epic arm-wrestling match over net neutrality.

For a Split Second, a Quantum Computer Made History Go Backward (New York Times, May 8, 2019)
"A team of quantum physicists reported earlier this year that they had succeeded in creating a computer algorithm that acts like the Fountain of Youth. Using an IBM quantum computer, they managed to undo the aging of a single, simulated elementary particle by one millionth of a second. But it was a Pyrrhic victory at best, requiring manipulations so unlikely to occur naturally that it only reinforced the notion that we are helplessly trapped in the flow of time.
'We demonstrate that time-reversing even ONE quantum particle is an unsurmountable task for nature alone. The system comprising two particles is even more irreversible, let alone the eggs - comprising billions of particles - we break to prepare an omelet.'
Climate Activists Are Rebelling. Are Politicians Finally Listening? (Sierra Club, May 8, 2019)
Extinction Rebellion's bold antics seem to be getting results.
E.P.A. Leaders Disregarded Agency’s Experts in Issuing Asbestos Rule, Memos Show (New York Times, May 8, 2019)
Senior officials at the Environmental Protection Agency disregarded the advice of their own scientists and lawyers in April when the agency issued a rule that restricted but did not ban asbestos, according to two internal memos. Because of its fiber strength and resistance to heat, asbestos has long been used in insulation and construction materials. It is also is a known carcinogen.
Last month’s rule kept open a way for manufacturers to adopt new uses for asbestos, or return to certain older uses, but only with E.P.A. approval. Andrew Wheeler, the E.P.A. administrator, said when the rule was issued that it would significantly strengthen public health protections. But in the memos, dated Aug. 10, more than a dozen of E.P.A.’s own experts urged the agency to ban asbestos outright, as do most other industrialized nations.
Young Turks' Uygur: Nancy Pelosi is not a progressive (The Hill, May 8, 2019)
Why did House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) not defend Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) by name recently when she was attacked by President Trump? Why did Speaker Pelosi attend a dinner with Democratic donors where they discussed how to thwart Senator Sanders, arguably the most progressive person in Congress? Why did Pelosi minimize the progressives in Congress by saying there are just five of them?
I’ll solve the big mystery for you: She isn't a progressive. Not even close. In fact, she works against every progressive priority in Congress.
A ‘democratic socialist’ agenda is appealing. No wonder Trump attacks it. (Washington Post, May 8, 2019)
Through much of this spring, President Trump has made a big deal out of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) calling themselves democratic socialists. He likens them to Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro. But no one in the United States is advocating a government takeover of coal mines or oil fields - not Ocasio-Cortez, not Sanders, not anybody. Trump is merely engaging in an old-fashioned smear campaign, hoping to turn voters against democratic socialism by conflating ideas.
I prefer another name, 'progressive capitalism,' to describe the agenda of curbing the excesses of markets; restoring a balance among markets, government and civil society; and ensuring that all Americans can attain a middle-class life. The term emphasizes that markets with private enterprise are at the core of any successful economy, but it also recognizes that unfettered markets are not efficient, stable or fair.
HHS Finalizes Rule Requiring Manufacturers Disclose Drug Prices in TV Ads to Increase Drug Pricing Transparency (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, May 8, 2019)
On Wednesday, Health and Human Services announced a final rule from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that will require direct-to-consumer television advertisements for prescription pharmaceuticals covered by Medicare or Medicaid to include the list price – the Wholesale Acquisition Cost – if that price is equal to or greater than $35 for a month’s supply or the usual course of therapy.
Mnuchin defies the law by withholding Trump tax returns. Congress can't let this stand. (USA Today, May 8, 2019)
The law in this case is unambiguous. It clearly states that the Secretary of Treasury 'shall furnish . . . any return or return information' requested in writing by the House Ways and Means Committee. Instead of complying with this requirement, the secretary asserted that he was not fulfilling the request on the grounds that he had determined that the 'request lacks a legitimate legislative purpose.'
This is not a determination the secretary is empowered to make, and it is also not correct.This need is particularly acute in the case of a president who has decided, unlike every president before him, to retain a large network of privately-held business interests that expose him to corruption risks all over the world. The public record alone discloses more than 1,400 points of contact during Trump's first two years in office involving the government, those trying to influence it, and the Trump Organization.
Particularly troubling facts specific to Trump provide additional compelling justifications for congressional oversight. News reporting suggests that the Trump family, including the president, engaged in an elaborate, decades-long scheme to minimize tax liability. Trump’s sister, a former federal judge, retired from the bench just 10 days after a judicial panel began an inquiry into her role in the scheme; her retirement ended that inquiry. In addition, as we recently discovered, the current head of the IRS has earned as much as $1 million in income from a rental property he owns - at a Trump-branded development. Only willful blindness would allow Congress to simply assume all is well.
Trump denies access to full Mueller report; Barr’s contempt vote clears House panel (Washington Post, May 8, 2019)
President Trump asserted executive privilege, a rare presidential prerogative, to deny congressional Democrats the unredacted version of the report.
Democrats could vote as early as next week on holding William P. Barr in contempt, according to an individual familiar with internal discussions.
The Subpoena and Contempt Fight Between Trump and Congress, Explained (New York Times, May 8, 2019)
President Trump invoked executive privilege for the first time in his presidency on Wednesday to justify shielding the full Mueller report from Congress, even as the House Judiciary Committee considered whether to recommend holding Attorney General William P. Barr in contempt for defying its subpoena for the document.
The clash brings to a head the first of a series of fights over the scope and limits of Congress’s power to obtain information that the president wants to keep secret from lawmakers. More are coming: Mr. Trump has has vowed to resist 'all' subpoenas issued by House Democrats in their oversight investigations. And Mr. Trump has sued his banks and the House Oversight Committee to block subpoenas for his financial records held by his accountants and financial firms.
The strategy of unabashedly stonewalling Democrats’ oversight investigations raises the question of what lawmakers can do about it - and whether, even if they ultimately prevail, the court fight will take so long that the Trump team will run out the clock before the next election. 'We are now in a constitutional crisis,'
said Representative Jerrold Nadler, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
White House asserts executive privilege over Mueller report in latest confrontation with Congress (Washington Post, May 8, 2019)
"Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd wrote in a letter to Congress that Trump had 'asserted executive privilege over the entirety of the subpoenaed materials.' Boyd wrote that Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler’s push to hold Barr in contempt had 'terminated' their negotiations over what materials lawmakers would be allowed to view from Mueller’s investigation. 'As we have repeatedly explained, the Attorney General could not comply with your subpoena in its current form without violating the law, court rules, and court orders, and without threatening the independence of the Department of Justice’s prosecutorial functions,' Boyd wrote.
'The attorney general of the United States refused to provide information that is not privilege and is subject to a subpoena,” said .
Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) responded, 'There is no privilege for this information. Executive privilege is not a cloak of secrecy that drapes across Washington.'
(Q: How many facts can a con man hide, if a con man can hide facts?
 A: Ten years' worth less than yesterday.)
Decade in the Red: Trump Tax Figures Show Over $1 Billion in Business Losses (New York Times, May 7, 2019)
"By the time his master-of-the-universe memoir 'Trump: The Art of the Deal' hit bookstores in 1987, Donald J. Trump was already in deep financial distress, losing tens of millions of dollars on troubled business deals, according to previously unrevealed figures from his federal income tax returns. Mr. Trump was propelled to the presidency, in part, by a self-spun narrative of business success and of setbacks triumphantly overcome. He has attributed his first run of reversals and bankruptcies to the recession that took hold in 1990. But 10 years of tax information obtained by The New York Times paints a different, and far bleaker, picture of his deal-making abilities and financial condition.
The data - printouts from Mr. Trump’s official Internal Revenue Service tax transcripts, with the figures from his federal tax form, the 1040, for the years 1985 to 1994 - represents the fullest and most detailed look to date at the president’s taxes, information he has kept from public view. Though the information does not cover the tax years at the center of an escalating battle between the Trump administration and Congress, it traces the most tumultuous chapter in a long business career - an era of fevered acquisition and spectacular collapse.
Mueller reportedly about to leave DOJ in 'coming days' - and derail efforts to derail his testimony (Daily KOS, May 7, 2019)
"Earlier today, White House Press Secretary/Information Minister/Princess of Lies Sarah Huckabee Sanders hinted loudly that her boss could potentially block Robert Mueller from testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. Under this scenario, Trump could tell Attorney General William Barr to order Mueller not to testify. Since Mueller is still employed by the Department of Justice, Barr at least on paper would have the right to give such an order.
But there’s just one problem. In a few days, that order could just be hot air. Mueller is reportedly about to leave the federal government.
Doc Searls: We Need to Save What Made Linux and FOSS Possible (Linux Journal, May 8, 2019)
"If we take freedom and openness for granted, we'll lose both. That's already happening, and we need to fight back. The question is how.
Bad News! Windows 10 Will Soon Have a Real Linux Kernel (It's FOSS, May 7, 2019)
Microsoft is infamous for its Embrace, Extend, Extinguish policy. It has started ‘loving’ open source and Linux in the last few years, but before that Linux was cancer. The so-called ‘love for Linux’ seems more like ‘lust for Linux’ to me. The Linux community is behaving like a teen-aged girl madly in love with a brute. Who benefits from this Microsoft-Linux relationship? Clearly, Microsoft has more to gain here. WSL
(Windows Subsystem for Linux) has the capacity of shrinking (desktop) Linux to a mere desktop app in this partnership.
WSL is a Linux kernel compatibility layer for Windows. It allows many Linux programs (mainly the command line ones) to run inside Windows. This feature is also called ‘bash on Windows’. To use WSL, you can install bash on Windows through Ubuntu, Kali Linux and OpenSUSE. These Linux distributions are available in Windows 10 Store. Instead of a slow virtual machine, the WSL allows you to natively run the Linux commands on Windows - up to 20x faster!
In WSL 2, the Linux kernel compatibility layer has been replaced by the real Linux kernel. By bringing Linux kernel to Windows 10 desktop, programmers and software developers will be able to use Linux for setting up programming environments and use tools like Docker for deployment. They won’t have to leave the Windows ecosystem or use a virtual machine or log in to a remote Linux system through Putty or other SSH clients. In the coming years, a significant population of future generation of programmers won’t even bother to try Linux desktop because they’ll get everything right in their systems that come pre-installed with Windows. The Linux kernel will continue to grow in the IT infrastructure, thanks to the efforts of the Linux Foundation backed by the enterprise giants for their own interests.
Desktop Linux will unfortunately see a decline. The Linux Foundation already doesn’t care about desktop Linux. Out of the millions it gets, literally nothing goes for the development of desktop Linux (as far as I know). Linux Foundation doesn’t make any effort to support desktop Linux - probably because it doesn’t generate any money.
Microsoft Will Have You Sued for Not Hosting GNU/Linux on Azure (Paying Rents) (TechRights, May 7, 2019)
In order for 'Microsoft Azure IP Advantage' to be sell-able (or become a selling point), Microsoft must ensure that many FOSS users get attacked by patent trolls.

NEW: Google CEO Sundar Pichai: Privacy Should Not Be a Luxury Good (New York Times, May 7, 2019)
"Yes, we use data to make products more helpful for everyone. But we also protect your information.
(Or, maybe not.)
French man arrives in Caribbean after crossing Atlantic in giant barrel (CNN, May 7, 2019)
"Jean-Jacques Savin set off from the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa, on December 26, 2018 - heading west in a barrel-shaped capsule he'd built himself. Savin, 71 at the time of his departure, spent the first four months of 2019 inside his barrel, traveling at about two miles an hour with no engine, and relying entirely on the ocean current to guide his journey.The septuagenarian traveled alone in his handmade vessel, which measures about 10 feet long and seven feet wide and includes a small kitchen and bed, and space for storage. He fed himself on fish caught from the ocean.
The trip was not Savin's first major adventure. He previously worked as a military paratrooper and a private pilot, and climbed Mont Blanc in 2015, according to his project's website.
Scientists discover a game-changing way to remove salt from water (CNET, May 7, 2019)
Temperature Swing Solvent Extraction te
chnology could have massive implications for the future of our drinking water.
UN Report: Nature’s Dangerous Decline ‘Unprecedented’; Species Extinction Rates ‘Accelerating’ (United Nations, May 6, 2019)
The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of reef-forming corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species had been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture had become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.
To increase the policy-relevance of the Report, the assessment’s authors have ranked, for the first time at this scale and based on a thorough analysis of the available evidence, the five direct drivers of change in nature with the largest relative global impacts so far. These culprits are, in descending order: (1) changes in land and sea use; (2) direct exploitation of organisms; (3) climate change; (4) pollution and (5) invasive alien species.
The Report notes that, since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius – with climate change already impacting nature from the level of ecosystems to that of genetics – impacts expected to increase over the coming decades, in some cases surpassing the impact of land and sea use change and other drivers.
NEW: Five things we've learned from nature crisis study (BBC News, May 6, 2019)
One in four species are at risk of extinction. Some ecologists argue that a financial definition is very damaging for nature, allowing it to be commodified and treated as just another good.
Forget the Anthropocene: we’ve entered the Synthetic Age (Aeon, May 6, 2019)
We are changing how the planet works. It is not just that human activities have stained every corner of the entire planet. The simultaneous arrival of a range of powerful new technologies are starting to signal a potential takeover of Earth’s most basic operations by its most audacious species. From this time forward, technologies such as the gene-editing technique CRISPR and climate engineering will transform an already tainted planet into an increasingly synthetic whole.
Trump move raises pressure on Barr (The Hill, May 6, 2019)
Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are angling to bring Mueller in to testify on May 15 and are said to be negotiating directly with the special counsel. Mueller is still employed at the Justice Department, meaning Barr would need to sign off on his testimony and could in theory block him from appearing. Mueller is also expected to leave the Justice Department soon, which could leave the administration with little control over his actions as a private citizen.
House panel sets Wednesday vote to hold Barr in contempt after DOJ doesn't turn over Mueller report (CNN, May 6, 2019)
The vote to hold Barr in contempt marks the first time that House Democrats are moving to punish a Trump administration official for defying a congressional subpoena and represents a dramatic escalation in tensions between Democrats and the White House.
STATEMENT BY OVER 700 FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTORS (U.S. Dept. of Justice Alumni Statement) (Medium, May 6, 2019)
We are former federal prosecutors. We served under both Republican and Democratic administrations at different levels of the federal system: as line attorneys, supervisors, special prosecutors, United States Attorneys, and senior officials at the Department of Justice. The offices in which we served were small, medium, and large; urban, suburban, and rural; and located in all parts of our country.
Each of us believes that the conduct of President Trump described in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report would, in the case of any other person not covered by the Office of Legal Counsel policy against indicting a sitting President, result in multiple felony charges for obstruction of justice.
The Mueller report describes several acts that satisfy all of the elements for an obstruction charge: conduct that obstructed or attempted to obstruct the truth-finding process, as to which the evidence of corrupt intent and connection to pending proceedings is overwhelming. These include:
· The President’s efforts to fire Mueller and to falsify evidence about that effort;
· The President’s efforts to limit the scope of Mueller’s investigation to exclude his conduct; and
· The President’s efforts to prevent witnesses from cooperating with investigators probing him and his campaign.
Attempts to fire Mueller and then create false evidence:
Despite being advised by then-White House Counsel Don McGahn that he could face legal jeopardy for doing so, Trump directed McGahn on multiple occasions to fire Mueller or to gin up false conflicts of interest as a pretext for getting rid of the Special Counsel. When these acts began to come into public view, Trump made 'repeated efforts to have McGahn deny the story' - going so far as to tell McGahn to write a letter 'for our files' falsely denying that Trump had directed Mueller’s termination.
Firing Mueller would have seriously impeded the investigation of the President and his associates - obstruction in its most literal sense. Directing the creation of false government records in order to prevent or discredit truthful testimony is similarly unlawful. The Special Counsel’s report states: 'Substantial evidence indicates that in repeatedly urging McGahn to dispute that he was ordered to have the Special Counsel terminated, the President acted for the purpose of influencing McGahn’s account in order to deflect or prevent scrutiny of the President’s conduct toward the investigation.'
Attempts to limit the Mueller investigation:
The report describes multiple efforts by the president to curtail the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation.
First, the President repeatedly pressured then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse his legally-mandated decision to recuse himself from the investigation. The President’s stated reason was that he wanted an attorney general who would 'protect' him, including from the Special Counsel investigation. He also directed then-White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to fire Sessions and Priebus refused.
Second, after McGahn told the President that he could not contact Sessions himself to discuss the investigation, Trump went outside the White House, instructing his former campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, to carry a demand to Sessions to direct Mueller to confine his investigation to future elections. Lewandowski tried and failed to contact Sessions in private. After a second meeting with Trump, Lewandowski passed Trump’s message to senior White House official Rick Dearborn, who Lewandowski thought would be a better messenger because of his prior relationship with Sessions. Dearborn did not pass along Trump’s message.
As the report explains, 'substantial evidence indicates that the President’s effort to have Sessions limit the scope of the Special Counsel’s investigation to future election interference was intended to prevent further investigative scrutiny of the President’s and his campaign’s conduct' - in other words, the President employed a private citizen to try to get the Attorney General to limit the scope of an ongoing investigation into the President and his associates.
All of this conduct - trying to control and impede the investigation against the President by leveraging his authority over others - is similar to conduct we have seen charged against other public officials and people in powerful positions.
Witness tampering and intimidation:
The Special Counsel’s report establishes that the President tried to influence the decisions of both Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort with regard to cooperating with investigators. Some of this tampering and intimidation, including the dangling of pardons, was done in plain sight via tweets and public statements; other such behavior was done via private messages through private attorneys, such as Trump counsel Rudy Giuliani’s message to Cohen’s lawyer that Cohen should 'sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places.'
Of course, these aren’t the only acts of potential obstruction detailed by the Special Counsel. It would be well within the purview of normal prosecutorial judgment also to charge other acts detailed in the report.
We emphasize that these are not matters of close professional judgment. Of course, there are potential defenses or arguments that could be raised in response to an indictment of the nature we describe here. In our system, every accused person is presumed innocent and it is always the government’s burden to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. But, to look at these facts and say that a prosecutor could not probably sustain a conviction for obstruction of justice - the standard set out in Principles of Federal Prosecution - runs counter to logic and our experience.
As former federal prosecutors, we recognize that prosecuting obstruction of justice cases is critical because unchecked obstruction - which allows intentional interference with criminal investigations to go unpunished - puts our whole system of justice at risk. We believe strongly that, but for the OLC memo, the overwhelming weight of professional judgment would come down in favor of prosecution for the conduct outlined in the Mueller Report.
We’ll be looking at an entirely different political landscape before this day is over (Palmer Report, May 6, 2019)
Two of Donald Trump’s most notorious cabinet members are facing hard deadlines today, and we’re finally about to get a look at what House Democrats have up their sleeve in terms of consequences. That means today was already going to be a huge day, even before Robert Mueller and Donald Trump each decided to interject themselves into the timeline. Now we’re facing an entirely different political landscape before sundown.
If Trump’s first 2 years don’t count, here’s everything he did that can be cancelled (ThinkProgress, May 6, 2019)
The president re-tweeted a demand from Jerry Falwell Jr. that his term be extended by two years to make up for the Russia investigation.
Trump Keeps Alluding to Extending His Presidency. Does He Mean It? (Fortune, May 6, 2019)
The president made similar comments last year in a speech to Republican donors at Mar-A-Lago, where he praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for consolidating his power and doing away with term limits. 'He’s now president for life. President for life. And he’s great,' Trump said. 'I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot someday.'
Trump says Mueller shouldn’t testify to Congress, escalating fight with Democrats (Los Angeles Times, May 5, 2019)
House Democrats have said they have a tentative deal for Mueller to testify on May 15, and Atty. Gen. William Barr previously told Congress that he had no objection to Mueller testifying.
NEW: What 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)
Scott Walker has a new job (Daily KOS, May 5, 2019)
Scott Walker, a man who has never worked a day in his life, has a new job that fits his grifting ways. He is now the honorary chair of The Center for State-led National Debt Solutions. In other words, he is pushing for a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
A balanced budget amendment is an utterly bad idea that the American Right has been pushing for years. It is an idea that ignores the reality that a national budget is not the same thing as a family budget.
The Civil War At Fox News Is About To Get Much Worse (5-min. video; The Young Turks, May 5, 2019)
Tensions behind the scenes at Fox News are reaching a boiling point as more and more advertisers flee and shareholders are starting to see their profits fall. People like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham are scaring away the ad dollars in spite of their high ratings, and executives don’t know if they should be placating the on-air hosts or the people who actually pay their bills. Ring of Fire’s Farron Cousins explains what’s happening.
U.S. Air Force Says It Has Successfully Shot Down Multiple Missiles Using a Laser Prototype (Gizmodo, May 5, 2019)
The U.S. military has been interested in lasers essentially since they were invented. But one key hindrance has been the miniaturizing the technologies necessary to create a powerful enough beam to destroy anything quickly - and previous failures include a $5 billion project involving a Boeing 747 retrofitted to carry a laser that failed in 2012. A photograph released by the Air Force shows the current surrogate being used in testing is really, really big.
Japanese government to create and maintain defensive malware (ZDnet, May 5, 2019)
The Japanese government plans to expand its military's reach into "cyber," which NATO formally declared as an official battlefield in June 2016, next to air, ground, and sea. Japan becomes just the latest country to formally recognize that it owns and develops cyber-weapons. The others include the US, the UK, and Germany.
Global Meat-Eating Is On the Rise, Bringing Surprising Benefits (Slashdot, May 5, 2019)
Almost four-fifths of all agricultural land is dedicated to feeding livestock, if you count not just pasture but also cropland used to grow animal feed. The shift from pork to beef in China, the world's most populous country, is bad news for the environment. Because pigs require no pasture, and are efficient at converting feed into flesh, pork is among the greenest of meats. Cattle are usually much less efficient, although they can be farmed in different ways. And because cows are ruminants, they belch methane, a powerful greenhouse gas. A study of American farm data in 2014 estimated that, calorie for calorie, beef production requires three times as much animal feed as pork production and produces almost five times as much greenhouse gases. Other estimates suggest it uses two and a half times as much water.
Saving my Schwinn... and other stuff (Daily KOS, May 4, 2019)
Bike lanes need physical protection from car traffic, study shows (Ars Technica, May 4, 2019)
Drivers left bikes less room in the presence of parked cars and painted bike lanes.
Trumpers beware: Remember who you were and what you stood for - before it's too late (Los Angeles Times, May 4, 2019)
At the very least, Trumpites seem to recognize that they will need to atone. Even Trump’s mouthpiece lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani may see the writing on the wall. He told a reporter, 'I am afraid it will be on my gravestone: Rudy Giuliani, he lied for Trump.'
To all Trumpites - rank-and-file or highly public - who likewise may be starting to grapple with what will happen to them when they meet their makers, Cohen, Comey and McHugh offer guidance: Remember who you were and what you stood for - before Donald and before it’s too late. For you and the nation.
NEW: Pelosi Warns Democrats: Stay in the Center or Trump May Contest Election Results (New York Times, May 4, 2019)
Speaker Nancy Pelosi does not believe President Trump can be removed through impeachment - the only way to do it, she said this week, is to defeat him in 2020 by a margin so 'big' he cannot challenge the legitimacy of a Democratic victory.
NEW: The Intercept’s ‘Bodies in the Borderland’ Documents Criminalization of Arizona Humanitarian Aid Worker (The Intercept, May 4,
"In the borderlands separating Arizona from the Sonora desert in Mexico, activist Scott Warren worked to provide transiting migrants with water and shelter, and to account for the bodies of those who died trying to get into the U.S. Because of this, the U.S. government wants to put him in prison.

Guam: DOD contractor that spilled jet fuel, contaminated water pays off tiny fine (KUAM News, May 3, 2019)
The Guam Environmental Protection Agency is about to close the book on a DOD contractor that spilled jet fuel and contaminated water, forcing the removal of tons of soil in 2017. The federal contractor is worth billions, but the local agency reduced its fine to a virtual slap on the wrist.
Trump gives oil companies $1.5B gift by removing regulations that protect against oil spills (Daily KOS, May 3, 2019)
When the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform exploded in April 2010, it not only immediately killed 11 workers; it also spilled an eventual total of more than three million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. That record spill destroyed the fishing and tourism industry in the area for years, and left an environmental scar that’s still visible. It took more than three months to cap the well and staunch the flow.
Following that disaster, President Obama directed the Interior Department to develop new guidelines for oil companies conducting drilling for oil under deep water. Which seems reasonable. But as the Associated Press reports, Donald Trump is 'easing' those regulations. As in, removing them.
The Interior Department will give oil companies 'flexibility' that allows them to take any approach they want to drilling so long as they maintain safety levels. If that sounds like permission for drilling companies to select their own level of risk and walk away with fat profits - so long as disaster doesn’t hit - it’s because that’s what it is.
Court strikes down Ohio gerrymander: GOP maps 'so skewed' they 'predetermined' election results (Daily KOS, May 3, 2019)
On Friday, a federal district court delivered a major win against Republican gerrymandering when it struck down Ohio's congressional map for violating the constitutional rights of Democratic voters. The court ordered legislators to devise a new map by June 14 for the 2020 elections that would be much fairer than the existing lines. If lawmakers don't pass a new map, or if the Republicans - who have total control over state government - simply pass a new replacement gerrymander, the court itself could draw its own districts.
This ruling could also have major consequences for redistricting after the 2020 census, when Ohio, like every other state, was already set to draw a new map beginning with the 2022 elections. Although Ohio legislators passed a "compromise" constitutional amendment in 2018 to reform congressional redistricting in an ostensibly bipartisan manner, that supposed reform was actually a cunning Republican scheme to thwart a 2018 ballot initiative effort at the time that was aiming to create a more independent and fairer process.
NEW: This City Has A Radical Plan To Get Rid Of Bosses (Huffington Post, May 3, 2019)
As the baby boomers retire, Berkeley, California, wants them to sell their businesses to their workers.
NEW: Measles-stricken cruise ship quarantined, reportedly owned by Scientologists (Ars Technica, May 2, 2019)
Passengers are not allowed to disembark in St. Lucia, which eliminated measles in 2016.
NEW: Climate change: UK 'can cut emissions to nearly zero' by 2050 (BBC, May 2, 2019)
The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) maintains this can be done at no added cost from previous estimates. Its report says that if other countries follow the UK, there’s a 50-50 chance of staying below the recommended 1.5C temperature rise by 2100. A 1.5C rise is considered the threshold for dangerous climate change.
Machine learning reveals links between climate misinformation and philanthropy (Physics World, May 2, 2019)
Over the 20 years to 2017, the network of actors spreading scientific misinformation about climate change has been increasingly integrated into US political philanthropy. That’s according to a study that used natural language processing to analyse connections between the two fields.
Farrell employed novel machine learning capabilities to recognize and classify repeating themes and links in lists of attendees and speakers at philanthropic meetings, millions of words of written materials, and lists of board members and lifetime achievement award winners.
(You've been out-spending sanity 20:1; but now, Little Brother is watching you.)
A homeless Oakland couple moved into a $4 million Piedmont home. Then came the calls to police (San Francisco Chronicle, May 2, 2019)
I asked McGrath why he’d let people off the street live with him. 'It’s helped bring me back to my roots as a young kid,' he said. 'I cannot avoid the responsibility I have to life around me. I have a personal obligation to take responsibility when I see injustices. And to me, this is a clear injustice.'
How Mass Surveillance Works in Xinjiang, China (Human Rights Watch, May 1, 2019)
Reverse-Engineering a Police App Reveals Invasive Profiling and Monitoring Strategies.
A new vision for neuroscience (Science Daily, May 1, 2019)
How live recordings of neural electricity could revolutionize how we see the brain.
Cousins, once removed - Finally, a Denisovan specimen from somewhere beyond Denisova Cave (Ars Technica, May 1, 2019)
The 160,000-year-old jawbone is the first Denisovan fossil found outside Siberia.
Human influence on drought started a century ago (Ars Technica, May 1, 2019)
Aerosol pollution from the '50s to the '70s may have complicated the picture.
The alleged synagogue shooter was a churchgoer who talked Christian theology, raising tough questions for evangelical pastors (Washington Post, May 1, 2019)
Before he allegedly walked into a synagogue in Poway, Calif., and opened fire, John Earnest appears to have written a seven-page letter spelling out his core beliefs: that Jewish people, guilty in his view of faults ranging from killing Jesus to controlling the media, deserved to die. That his intention to kill Jews would glorify God.
Days later, the Rev. Mika Edmondson read those words and was stunned. 'It certainly calls for a good amount of soul-searching, said Edmondson, a pastor in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, a small evangelical denomination founded to counter liberalism in mainline Presbyterianism. Earnest, 19, was a member of an OPC congregation. His father was an elder. He attended regularly. And in the manifesto, the writer spewed not only invective against Jews and racial minorities but also cogent Christian theology he heard in the pews. So the pastor read those seven pages, trying to understand. 'We can’t pretend as though we didn’t have some responsibility for him. He was radicalized into white nationalism from within the very midst of our church.'
California’s population growth is the slowest in recorded history (Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2019)
The overall profile of immigrants to California is higher education, which correlates to lower fertility. With native-born, we see a long-running trend throughout the U.S where fertility has been trending downward.
Perhaps the biggest force behind the change is higher education rates among women. That broader trend historically has been masked by high immigration from Latin America, but that is no longer the case. More education of women translates into later marriage, later childbirth and then fewer children.
Barr reminds Mueller: If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog (Washington Post, May 1, 2019)
Now, just weeks on the job as President Trump’s attorney general, William Barr has disgraced himself. The speed with which Barr trashed a reputation built over decades is stunning, even by Trump administration standards. Before, Barr was known as the attorney general to President George H.W. Bush and an éminence grise of the Washington legal community. Now he is known for betraying a friend, lying to Congress and misrepresenting the Mueller report in a way that excused the president’s misbehavior and let Russia off the hook.
Repeatedly, Barr said it didn’t matter that Trump had deceived the public. 'I’m not in the business of determining when lies are told to the American people,' he said. But now Barr, by misrepresenting his dealings with Mueller, has gotten himself into the business of lying to the American people.
NEW: Today in Tech – 1964 - BASIC programming language developers John Kemeny and Thomas Kurtz launched a time-sharing system at Dartmouth College (SourceForge, May 1, 2019)
Confronting linguistic bias: The case for an open human language (Open Source, April 30, 2019)
Just as computer languages shape our models, our choice of spoken languages impacts research and pedagogy. Do scholars need an open human language, too? Esperanto has provided this globally for more than a century.
The NRA's troubles stem from its total war mentality (Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2019)
The National Rifle Association has big troubles. It’s wildly in debt. The attorney general of New York - where the NRA was founded in 1871 and where it remains incorporated - is investigating the tax-exempt status of what she has called a 'terrorist organization.' The NRA’s longtime chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, is in a bitter feud with its outgoing president Oliver North. Accusations are flying, including of attempted extortion and misuse of perhaps millions of dollars.
Mueller’s complaints show Barr has a whole lot of explaining to do (Washington Post, April 30, 2019)
Attorney General William P. Barr’s handling of the Mueller report was already controversial. Tonight, it became a whole lot more controversial. We knew based upon previous reporting that members of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team were concerned about Barr’s characterization of their report ahead of its release. But now we know Mueller himself shared in the concerns - and spoke up. The Post’s Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky report that Mueller went so far as to send a letter to the Justice Department after Barr summarized Mueller’s principal conclusions in late March.
NEW: Trump EPA insists Monsanto's Roundup is safe, despite cancer cases (The Guardian, April 30, 2019)
Administration to keep weedkiller on the market after landmark court rulings and concerns over food.
NEW: Unconscious 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 third-party candidates.
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.
White supremacists invade D.C. bookstore, chant 'This land is our land' during race discussion (Daily KOS, April 30, 2019)
Troubling portrait of synagogue shooting suspect emerges: ‘Attracted to such darkness’ (Los Angeles Times, April 30, 2019)
As John T. Earnest was charged in the Poway synagogue attack Monday, a clearer portrait began to emerge of a troubled 19-year-old consumed by hate.
'To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries,' the man’s family said in an open letter. 'How our son was attracted to such darkness is a terrifying mystery to us.'

L.A. terror plot thwarted: Army vet planned ‘mass casualties,’ FBI says (Los Angeles Times, April 29, 2019)
"A U.S. Army veteran who wanted revenge for attacks on Muslims around the globe was planning to detonate a bomb at a Long Beach rally this past weekend before he was intercepted by law enforcement officials, authorities said Monday. Mark Steven Domingo, 26, was arrested Friday night after he took delivery of what he thought was an improvised explosive device from an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a bomb-maker, officials said. He was charged with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and, if convicted, could face up to 15 years in prison. According to a federal affidavit, Domingo considered 'various attacks - including targeting Jews, churches and police officers' before he decided 'to detonate an IED at a rally scheduled to take place in Long Beach this past weekend.'
NEW: President Trump has made more than 10,000 false or misleading claims (Washington Post, April 29, 2019)
"It took President Trump 601 days to top 5,000 false and misleading claims in The Fact Checker’s database, an average of eight claims a day. But on April 26, just 226 days later, the president crossed the 10,000 mark - an average of nearly 23 claims a day in this seven-month period, which included the many rallies he held before the midterm elections, the partial government shutdown over his promised border wall, and the release of the special counsel’s report on Russian interference in the presidential election.
Trump Sues Deutsche Bank and Capital One to Block Compliance With Subpoenas (New York Times, April 29, 2019)
The House’s Intelligence and Financial Services Committees issued subpoenas to Deutsche Bank, a longtime lender to Mr. Trump’s real estate company, and other financial institutions two weeks ago, seeking a long list of documents and other materials related to Deutsche Bank’s history of lending and providing accounts to Mr. Trump and his family. People with knowledge of the investigation said it related to possible money laundering by people in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Representative Maxine Waters of California, the chairwoman of the Financial Services Committee, and Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, called the lawsuit 'meritless' in a joint statement, and said it demonstrated 'the depths to which President Trump will go to obstruct Congress’s constitutional oversight authority. As a private businessman, Trump routinely used his well-known litigiousness and the threat of lawsuits to intimidate others, but he will find that Congress will not be deterred from carrying out its constitutional responsibilities. This lawsuit is not designed to succeed; it is only designed to put off meaningful accountability as long as possible.'
As security officials prepare for Russian attack on 2020 presidential race, Trump and aides play down threat  (Washington Post, April 29, 2019)
Officials insist that they have made progress since 2016 in hardening defenses. And top security officials, including the director of national intelligence, say the president has given them 'full support' in their efforts to counter malign activities. But some analysts worry that by not sending a clear, public signal that he understands the threat foreign interference poses, Trump is inviting more of it.
In the past week, Justice Department prosecutors indicated that Russia’s efforts to disrupt the 2016 election are part of a long-term strategy that the United States continues to confront.
For more than two years, however, Trump has recoiled when aides broached Russia’s 2016 theft and dissemination of Democratic emails and its ma­nipu­la­tion of social media  in an effort to sway the election. 'It’s a goddamn hoax,' Trump said in one meeting with advisers in 2017 when they tried to discuss what the government should do to deter Russian operations. People who were present or were briefed about the meeting and other administration discussions spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
Last week, some of Trump’s top advisers echoed his sentiments. Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser, dismissed the significance of the 2016 interference as Russia 'buying some Facebook ads.' And former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, one of Trump’s lawyers, implied that future Kremlin assistance might even be welcome when he told CNN that 'there’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.'
Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) on 'Face the Nation' strongly disputed Kushner’s analysis. 'I like Jared a lot, but . . . this is a big deal. It’s not just a few Facebook ads. They were very successful in pitting one American against the other . . . and they actually got into the campaign email system of the Democratic Party. An attack on one party is an attack on all.'
Homeland Security Used a Private Intelligence Firm to Monitor Family Separation Protests (The Intercept, April 29, 2019)
Jess Morales Rocketto, co-chair of Families Belong Together and a lead organizer of last year’s protests, condemned the monitoring of the demonstrations. 'Those protests represented the best of democracy,' she told The Intercept. 'It’s especially concerning given that these protests were basically thousands of moms and their kids, thousands of families, and that the Trump administration’s response to that was to put them on a watch list.'
The emails confirming the protest surveillance were released in an ongoing freedom of information battle that the American Immigration Council, or AIC - in collaboration with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project, the National Immigrant Justice Center, Kids in Need of Defense, Women’s Refugee Commission, and Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP - is waging to pry documents surrounding family separation from the government. 'We’ve been getting them in drips,' Emily Creighton, deputy legal director at the AIC, said of the documents beginning to surface as a result of the litigation. 'We have been told in litigation that ICE, DHS, and CBP have hundreds of thousands of responsive records.'
New York State investigating National Rifle Association's finances (Business Insider, April 29, 2019)
uring her campaign last year, the NY Attorney-General, a Democrat, promised to investigate the NRA's not-for-profit status if elected.
The NRA has clashed repeatedly with New York elected officials aiming to curb the organization's influence. The group filed a last year against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state officials after New York fined insurance broker Lockton Cos. LLC $7 million for underwriting an NRA-branded insurance program called Carry Guard.
(Also see NRA problems on August 4, 2018 and April 11, 2018, below.)
Here are all the current members of Congress who have doubted or denied climate change (Business Insider, April 29, 2019)
- Over 97% of scientists agree that human activity has contributed to the steady warming of the Earth's climate.
- Legislation that hopes to mitigate the potentially disastrous effects of climate change is dependent on the curbing human activity that has a large carbon footprint.
- Despite the consensus among scientists about the urgent need to curb emissions, there are more than 100 current members of Congress who have expressed skepticism about the role humans have played in climate change and the value of limiting our emissions.  The climate change deniers in Congress are overwhelmingly Republican.
Boys, the wealthy, and Canadians (?) talk the most BS (Ars Technica, April 28, 2019)
Students were asked how well they've mastered math concepts that don't exist.
5 persistent myths about the Mueller report (Washington Post, April 27, 2019)
No matter how damaging the evidence, Mueller decided it wasn’t his place to accuse the president of crimes; he could only clear him of crimes. And if you look more closely, there are five different events on which Mueller seems to have found evidence of the three key criteria required for an obstruction charge.
The GOP war on itself and the USA for 150 years (Daily KOS, April 27, 2019)
Shirkey: GOP won’t rule out Nessel impeachment (Detroit News, April 27, 2019)
Michigan’s Republican-led Senate appears to be putting the squeeze on Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel and is not ruling out the possibility of pursuing impeachment if she refuses to enforce state laws to which she objects. A 2020 budget unveiled this week by the Senate GOP proposes a 10% 'administrative reduction' for Nessel’s office and other language attempting to limit her discretion in lawsuits. It also proposes funding cuts for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office to pay for the creation of a new independent redistricting commission voters approved last fall.
NEW: ‘I 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.
NEW: Global 5G wireless networks threaten weather forecasts (Nature, April 26, 2019)
The US government has begun auctioning off blocks of wireless radio frequencies to be used for the next-generation mobile communications network known as 5G. But some of these frequencies lie close to those that satellites use for crucial Earth observations - and meteorologists are worried that 5G transmissions from cellphones and other equipment could interfere with their data collection.
Unless regulators or telecommunications companies take steps to reduce the risk of interference, Earth-observing satellites flying over areas of the United States with 5G wireless coverage won’t be able to detect concentrations of water vapour in the atmosphere accurately. Meteorologists in the United States and other countries rely on those data to feed into their models; without that information, weather forecasts worldwide are likely to suffer." 
NEW: Stung by Trump’s Trade Wars, Wisconsin’s Milk Farmers Face Extinction (New York Times, April 26, 2019)
The flagship industry in a pivotal swing state faces a Trump-trade-war and GOP-encouraged-overproduction economic crisis.
Biden leads Trump by 6 points in first post-announcement poll (The Hill, April 26, 2019)
Poll: Majority in U.S. opposes impeaching Trump but believes he lied to the public. (Washington Post, April 26, 2019)
A Post-ABC poll finds agreement across partisan lines that the Mueller report was fair - but there is a partisan divide over what it concluded.
Mueller Prosecutors: Trump Did Obstruct Justice (New York Review of Books, April 26, 2019)
Prosecutors working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded last year that they had sufficient evidence to seek criminal charges against President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice over the president’s alleged pressuring of then FBI Director James Comey in February 2017 to shut down an FBI investigation of the president’s then national security adviser, Michael Flynn.
Privately, the two prosecutors, who were then employed in the special counsel’s office, told other Justice Department officials that had it not been for the unique nature of the case - the investigation of a sitting president of the United States, and one who tried to use the powers of his office to thwart and even close down the special counsel’s investigation - they would have advocated that he face federal criminal charges.
Trump says he made Obama wiretapping accusation on 'a little bit of a hunch' (Daily KOS, April 26, 2019)
On Thursday night, Trump finally admitted during a 45-minute interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity that he made the allegation based on 'a little bit of a hunch.' Trump also expressed surprise at how his baseless accusation had blown up 'like you’ve never seen.'
Trump insists there was ‘an attempted overthrow’ of US government (Rachel Maddow Show, April 26, 2019)
He added, 'This was a coup. This wasn’t stealing information from an office in the Watergate apartments. This was an attempted coup. And it’s like a third world country – and inconceivable.'
I can appreciate the fact that we’ve all grown quite inured to Donald Trump appearing on Fox News and saying strange things. It’s an understandable reaction. But it’s worth pausing to appreciate just how extraordinary the circumstances are. For the first time in our history, the sitting American president has told the world that there was 'an attempted overthrow of the United States government' – a declaration that has been greeted with widespread shrugs, as if it were a routine Thursday night.
Because, by and large, it was. This is our life now. When a leader of dubious legitimacy makes up claims of attempted coups, that is, in fact, 'like a third-world country.' As of last night, it also happens to be our country.
Seven alternative spires for Notre-Dame Cathedral (Dezeen, April 25, 2019)
Since the fire devastated Notre-Dame Cathedral and the French prime minister announced a competition to replace its spire, a flurry of designers have offered alternative proposals.
10 electric cars unveiled by Chinese car companies at Auto Shanghai 2019 (Dezeen, April 25, 2019)
China, the world's largest car market, is heavily pushing for zero-emissions vehicles to combat its pollution issues, so this year's Auto Shanghai is packed with electric cars. Here are ten of the best made by Chinese companies.
Bernie Sanders is the new No. 1 in our 2020 Democrat rankings (CNN, April 25, 2019)
Why? Well, lots of reasons. But here are a few:
- That national organization built over the last four years and assiduously maintained by Sanders and his political allies is more robust than anything any other candidates in the race - including Joe Biden, who officially announced on Thursday - have at the moment.
- Sanders is likely to raise the most money of anyone in the field. He brought in north of $18 million in the first three months of 2019, with 84% of those contributions coming in at under $200. That was the biggest total of any 2020 Democrat. And there's every reason to think he can keep it up; he raised $237 million for his 2016 race against Clinton.
- His path to the nomination is the easiest to see, with Iowa's caucuses dominated by liberals and his geographic proximity to New Hampshire.
- Sanders' liberalism - once considered radical - is now very much en vogue within the party. And he's been in that space for a very long time.
US voters’ capacity for being appalled by Trump is waning (Irish Times, April 25, 2019)
A relaxation of civic mores is a deadlier threat to democracy than the president. If US president Donald Trump is not brought down for his alleged wrongdoing, it will not be because his inquisitor, Robert Mueller, lacked thoroughness or because his political enemy, the Democratic Party, lacked nerve. It is because not quite enough voters minded quite enough. If they did, the pressure would tell on Democrats to seek his impeachment and on Republicans to at least consider voting for it, on pain of electoral rout. In the absence of such an incentive, it is only rational for them to demur.
ACLU Of Massachusetts: Charges against state judge have more to do with politics than justice (ACLUM, April 25, 2019)
The Department of Justice’s decision to bring this case is preposterous, ironic, and deeply damaging to the rule of law.
In contrast to Attorney General William Barr’s famously narrow view of what constitutes obstruction of justice - at least when it comes to President Trump - the Department of Justice has now charged a state judge and court security officer based on a theory of obstruction that is shockingly aggressive. In this case, like so many others across Massachusetts, an ICE officer staked out a state court and made it difficult for court officials to do their job, which is to ensure that people in state court have access to justice. But instead of rethinking its own awful behavior, the federal government has now charged a judge and a court officer with crimes. This decision seems to have little to do with the actual facts, and everything to do with enforcing the president’s anti-immigrant agenda.
This prosecution is nothing less than an assault on justice in Massachusetts courts, and it will further undermine community trust and safety. If Attorney General Barr really meant what he said about obstruction of justice when he held his press conference about President Trump - and even if he didn’t mean a word of it - he should immediately order that this case be dropped.”
Rosenstein fires back at critics over Mueller report (Washington Post, April 25, 2019)
Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein hit back hard against politicians and the press Thursday night, and warned that hacking and social media ma­nipu­la­tion are 'only the tip of the iceberg' when it comes to Russian efforts to influence American elections. Speaking at the Public Servants Dinner of the Armenian Bar Association, Rosenstein unleashed his sharpest critique yet of those who have attacked his handling of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigative report into Russian election interference and President Trump’s conduct.
EPA administrator asked to back up climate claims made on TV with science (Ars Technica, April 24, 2019)
Freedom of Information Act seems to be latest weapon to fight climate misinformation.
Trump Throws a Tantrum Over Twitter Followers and Tests the Power of Congress (7-min. video; The Daily Show, April 24, 2019)
Donald Trump launches attacks against Twitter’s bot purge, the U.S. Constitution, congressional Democrats and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
As usual, a brutal and brilliant takedown by Trevor Noah. But when you step back from the laughter for a minute and think objectively about what you just heard, it is shocking and not a little frightening, to see the state of the US Presidency today.
Trump declares that if Democrats try to impeach, he'll 'head to the U.S. Supreme Court' (Daily KOS, April 24, 2019)
When the first question being asked of potential candidates for 2020 is 'Do you support impeachment right now?' it seems like a good distraction is in order. Over the last few days, Trump has tried playing his hand with the same kind of blowhard bluster that has seen him through most occasions, even lecturing the kids who came to the White House Easter Egg Roll about how he had made the economy just ... the best. But with his poll numbers on a slide and the impeachment discussion moving from 'if' to 'when,' Trump clearly needs bigger, better distractions.
So on Wednesday morning, he ran through accusing the U.K. of spying on him, threatening war on Mexico, and promising to use the Supreme Court to solidify his position as a literally unimpeachable dictator. All of which the major media will now report as if it’s a partisan scuffle. Pass the popcorn.
Trump never makes clear just why he would head for the Supreme Court, but his position seems to be that since Barr gave him a waiver on obstruction and obstruction, and those precious DOJ rules spared him a charge of conspiracy, he could run to the court and it would tell the Democrats no, they are not allowed to impeach Trump. This would be counter to a 1993 ruling that declared impeachment a political matter in which the court had no say. But since the court is now full of 'traditionalists' who are willing to throw out every precedent, it’s not at all clear that that ruling or other past positions would keep Kavanaugh and Co. from declaring that Trump is literally unimpeachable.
Don McGahn vs. Lying Donald (Jamie Dupree, April 24, 2019)
When the President tweets today, 'I never told then White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Robert Mueller,' there is a lot of evidence to the contrary in the Mueller Report.
Giuliani destroys Trump’s repeated excuse for hiding tax returns (Think Progress, April 24, 2019)
Donald Trump has promised time and again that he'll release his taxes after the IRS's 'routine audit.' Guiliani says that's completed.
Every other modern president has voluntarily released his tax returns - and during his 2016 campaign for the presidency, Trump initially promised to do so as well. But Trump hasn’t followed through, repeatedly claiming that he cannot be transparent with the American people until the conclusion of what he calls a 'routine audit' by the Internal Revenue Service. (The IRS has stated that no law prohibits releasing a tax return that is under audit, and Trump has never offered any evidence to back up his audit claim.)
Corruption, Gerrymandering, and Voter Suppression: How North Carolina’s GOP Made a Great Big Mess (Mother Jones, April 24, 2019)
The argument over gerrymandering North Carolina began when its electoral maps were redrawn following the 2010 census. Those were eventually thrown out as racial gerrymanders, and the replacement maps are being challenged as partisan by a local voting rights group. The state map is headed for trial in July in the Superior Court Division of Wake County; the federal map is before the Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in late March. That means that every electoral map used since 2010 has basically been declared illegal, in one sense or another. All of these different bits and pieces of the election apparatus in North Carolina have been bent in the favor of entrenchment of one party at the expense of everything else.
NEW: Twitter CEO Gently Tells Trump: Your ‘Lost’ Followers Are Bots and Spam Accounts (Daily Beast, April 23, 2019)
Jack Dorsey may have wanted to use Tuesday’s meeting to talk up Twitter’s efforts to fight the opioid epidemic, but the president had more important things on his mind. Trump has repeatedly griped to associates about how Obama has had more Twitter followers than he has, even though - by Trump’s own assessment - he is so much better at Twitter than Obama is.
NEW: ‘Very Unsettling’: Facial Recognition Technology at Airports Sparks Privacy Concerns (NBC New York, April 23, 2019)
In new Delta and JetBlue test installations at some US airports, U.S. Customs and Border Protection verifies identities using facial scans at the gate, then cross-checks the scans with travelers’ passport photos, which are already on file.
The information from the scan is only supposed to be used once. Airlines say it’s deleted out of the system within a few hours. In a tweet, JetBlue said the photos are 'securely transmitted to the Customs and Border Protection database,' noting that the airline 'does not have direct access to the photos and doesn’t store them.'
CBP plans to rolls out systems at the nation’s 20 biggest airports by the end of 2020.
NEW: Did the Romans build seismic invisibility cloaks? (Physics World, April 23, 2019)
Brûlé reckons that the ancient Romans may have got there first – although unwittingly. He was on holiday looking at archaeological remains in the town of Autun in central France when he saw an aerial photograph showing the foundations of a Gallo-Roman theatre buried under a field just up the road. Although barely discernable, the markings in the field showed the outline of the first century AD building and he reckoned the semi-circular structure bore an uncanny resemblance to one half of an invisibility cloak.
It’s Complicated: Mozilla’s 2019 Internet Health Report (Mozilla, April 23, 2019)
Our annual open-source report examines how humanity and the internet intersect.
Sri Lanka blasts were retaliation for New Zealand shootings, official says (Washington Post, April 23, 2019)
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the bombings that killed at least 321 people. Sri Lanka’s defense minister said investigations show the attacks were carried out in response to deadly shootings at mosques in Christchurch last month.
In a statement carried Tuesday by the Islamic State’s Amaq News Agency, the extremist group said Sunday’s attacks targeted Christians and 'coalition countries' and were carried out by fighters from its organization. The claim could not immediately be confirmed, and the group has been known to make opportunistic claims of responsibility for previous attacks conducted without its involvement.
Stop & Shop Strike Ends With Union Claiming Victory on Pay and Health Care (New York Times, April 22, 2019)
After more than three months of negotiations and 11 days on strike, over 30,000 Stop & Shop workers have reached a tentative agreement with the supermarket chain that they said met their demands for better pay and health care coverage. The employees, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union at more than 240 Stop & Shops across Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, returned to work on Monday morning after reaching the deal on Sunday.
The union said that t
he new contract does satisfy the different points of contention; it preserves health care and retirement benefits, provides wage increases, and maintains time-and-a-half pay on Sunday for current members.
During negotiations, Stop & Shop employees argued that the chain’s parent company, Ahold Delhaize, reported profits of more than $2 billion to its shareholders last year and, instead of cutting benefits, could afford to compensate workers better. The strike drew support from several likely and current Democratic presidential candidates, including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., as well as Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, whose campaign staff is represented by a unit of the U.F.C.W.
NEW: The N.R.A.’s Financial Mess (New Yorker Magazine, April 22, 2019)
Last March, Wayne LaPierre, the N.R.A.’s top executive, sent a fund-raising letter to his members—an urgent plea for money. He described an unprecedented attack on the Second Amendment. But, in reality, what threatens the N.R.A. isn’t constitutional law; it’s destructive business relationships that have damaged the organization financially and put it in legal jeopardy.
Searching through N.R.A. tax forms, charity records, contracts, and internal communications, the reporter Mike Spies discovered that 'a small group of N.R.A. executives, contractors, and venders have extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from the nonprofit’s budget, enriching themselves in the process.' Although the organization is quick to lay blame on its political opponents, Spies says, it is questionable financial practices that have weakened it from the inside.
With the White House Easter celebration as a backdrop, Sarah Sanders delivers a whopper of a lie (Daily KOS, April 22, 2019)
(Interesting Comments thread, re SHS over-reacting to a euphemism while ignoring her own lies, and ignoring separation of children at the border.)
Sri Lanka’s social media shutdown illustrates global discontent with Silicon Valley (Washington Post, April 22, 2019)
Authoritarian-leaning countries have long worked to rein in social media when it challenged their ability to control information. But over the past year, more democratic governments have started to target social media sites, considering new regulations to stamp out disinformation during elections and to prevent their use as rallying points for hatred and extremism.
Islamist group believed responsible for Sri Lanka attacks (Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2019)
The coordinated Easter Sunday bombings were carried out by seven suicide bombers from a domestic militant group named National Thowfeek Jamaath, a government official said. All the suicide bombers were local. An investigation would determine whether the bombers acted with support from international jihadist organizations to carry out the attacks, which were unprecedented in the South Asian nation’s history.
(Except for its Buddhist attacks on Muslims during March 2018; see article at April 21, 2019, below.)
Authorities have arrested 24 people. No group has claimed responsibility.
Sri Lanka attacks: More than 200 killed as churches and hotels targeted (BBC, April 21, 2019)
Sunday's attacks are the deadliest seen in Sri Lanka since the end of the country's civil war in 2009. The civil war ended with the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, who had fought for 26 years for an independent homeland for the minority ethnic Tamils. The war is thought to have killed between 70,000 and 80,000 people.
The nation has seen sporadic violence since. In March 2018 a state of emergency was declared after members of the majority Buddhist Sinhala community attacked mosques and Muslim-owned properties.

After the Barr hoax, press has no reason to ever believe Trump team again (Daily KOS, April 21, 2019)
"The Trump White House's habitual lying isn't going to change. But it's long past time for the press to break its habit of believing administration utterances - of treating its statements as remotely factual, even when it comes to extraordinary issues such as colluding with a foreign government and obstructing justice. I realize that's an extreme premise for the Beltway press to adopt, since it often prefers to cling to “Both Sides” journalism in order to prove it's not liberally biased and deflect allegations that it's out to 'get' Trump.
But here's the bottom line: Barr embarrassed the press corps and made them look foolish when he issued a four-page press release in March supposedly summarizing Mueller's 448-page (!) report. Reporters and editors then ran with it, on the assumption that Barr was being honest and factual, which we now know was a huge mistake.
Professor Who Scanned All of Notre Dame Died Months Before Fire (Daily Beast, April 20, 2019)
The late Vassar professor Andrew Tallon had one obsession: Notre Dame
de Paris. And luckily he made documenting every inch of the Gothic cathedral his life’s work.
Donald Trump is no Richard Nixon. He’s worse. (Los Angeles Times, April 20, 2019)
Nothing in Nixon’s presidency became him like the leaving it. For two generations, his downfall served as a cautionary tale for subsequent presidents who might be tempted to interfere with a federal investigation for personal or political reasons. Firing a special prosecutor, in particular, was almost universally understood to be political suicide. As Watergate showed, the American people simply would not stand for a president who sought to place himself above the law. This broadly shared understanding served as a crucial safeguard against the abuse of presidential power.
Then came Trump. After smashing through dozens of other deeply rooted norms of American politics to win the presidency, he treated the post-Watergate consensus with similar contempt. Just weeks after he took the oath of office, as the Mueller report details, Trump asked FBI Director James B. Comey to drop the investigation of national security advisor Michael Flynn. Before making this request, the president cleared the room, strongly suggesting that he knew his actions were improper. Requesting that the FBI drop an investigation of his friends is exactly what Nixon was caught doing on the famous “smoking gun” tape that sealed his fate.
Yet for Trump, this was just the beginning.
How living on the wrong side of a time zone can be hazardous to your health (Washington Post, April 19, 2019)
People on the late side of sunset across U.S. time zones were 11 percent more likely, on average, to be overweight and 21 percent more likely to be obese. Diabetes was more prevalent, and the risk of heart attack increased by 19 percent. Breast cancer rates were slightly elevated, too - about 5 percent higher than average.
NEW: Cartoonists skewer Barr and Trump amid release of Mueller report (
Washington Post, April 19, 2019)
What Attorney General Barr said vs. what the Mueller report said (
Washington Post, April 19, 2019)
"Before the special counsel’s report on Russia and President Trump was released to the public, Attorney General William P. Barr made several statements about what was in its 448 pages. Barr received special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report last month and outlined its principal conclusions in a letter dated March 24. Barr then held a news conference on Thursday, shortly before releasing a redacted version of Mueller’s report.
As it turns out, in some cases, Barr’s characterizations were incomplete or misleading. The Mueller report is more damning of Trump than the attorney general indicated.
NEW: Through email leaks and propaganda, Russians sought to elect Trump, Mueller finds (Washington Post, April 18, 2019)
"The special counsel’s investigation shows the Trump campaign tried to turn Russia’s election interference to its advantage. In what will stand as among the most definitive public accounts of the Kremlin’s attack on the American political system, the report of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation laid out in precise, chronological detail how 'the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.'
The Russians’ goal, Mueller emphasized at several points, was to assist Donald Trump’s run for the White House and to damage Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. And the Republican candidate took notice, looking for ways to turn leaks of stolen emails to his advantage and even telling campaign associates to find people who might get their hands on Clinton’s personal emails.
BBC One: Climate Change - The Facts (BBC, April 18, 2019)
After one of the hottest years on record, Sir David Attenborough looks at the science of climate change and potential solutions to this global threat. Interviews with some of the world’s leading climate scientists explore recent extreme weather conditions such as unprecedented storms and catastrophic wildfires. They also reveal what dangerous levels of climate change could mean for both human populations and the natural world in the future.
How the Boeing 737 Max Disaster Looks to a Software Developer (IEEE Spectrum, April 18, 2019)
Design shortcuts meant to make a new plane seem like an old, familiar one are to blame.
Militia in New Mexico Detains Asylum Seekers at Gunpoint (New York Times, April 18, 2019)
A right-wing militia group operating in southern New Mexico has begun stopping groups of migrant families and detaining them at gunpoint before handing them over to Border Patrol agents, raising tension over the tactics of armed vigilantes along the border between the United States and Mexico. Members of the group, which calls itself the United Constitutional Patriots, filmed several of their actions in recent days, including the detention this week of a group of about 200 migrants who had recently crossed the border near Sunland Park, N.M., with the intention of seeking asylum. They uploaded videos to social media of exhausted looking migrant families, blinking in the darkness in the glare of what appeared to be the militia’s spotlights.
Professed militias have long operated along the border with attempts to curb the flow of undocumented migrants into the United States. But targeting the recent influx of families, who are legally allowed to request asylum and often quickly surrender to Border Patrol agents, is raising tension with human rights activists in this part of the West.
The American Civil Liberties Union denounced the militia’s actions in a letter on Thursday that asked New Mexico’s governor and attorney general to investigate the group. The A.C.L.U. said the militia had no legal authority under New Mexico or federal law to detain or arrest migrants in the United States: 'We cannot allow racist and armed vigilantes to kidnap and detain people seeking asylum.'
Remember when Mitch McConnell covered up Putin's interference to elect Trump? (
Daily KOS, April 18, 2019)
Remember that in 2016, when it became clear (after Trump had secured the nomination) that Russia was interfering, and the nation's intelligence agencies had that information and presented it to congressional leadership, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell covered it up. He and then Democratic Minority Leader Harry Reid were told that Putin was overseeing an operation to disrupt the election and to help Trump. McConnell's reaction, in the words of Washington Post reporter Greg Miller, who initially broke this story: McConnell is basically telling [the CIA], 'You're telling us that Russia is trying to help elect Trump. If you try to come forward with this, I'm not going to sign onto any sort of public statement that would condemn Russian interference. But I will condemn you and the Obama administration for trying to mess up this election.'
Mueller explains why his family left Trump's golf club (CNN, April 18, 2019)
Special counsel Robert Mueller explained for the first time why he and his family left President Donald Trump's Virginia golf club in the redacted version of his report released on Thursday. The footnote on pages 80 and 81 of the redacted report released by the Justice Department on Thursday was one of the only times Mueller defended himself against criticism from the President. Trump had previously used the fact that Mueller and his family left the club to claim that he had a conflict of interest.
Mueller made an impeachment referral, and Steny Hoyer had best figure that out or step down (Daily KOS, April 18, 2019)
The redacted Mueller report is damning in so many ways, and even a partial brief summary of what we know of Mueller’s conclusions would include the following:
1. Trump obstructed justice, but because of DOJ guidelines on indicting a sitting president he can't be prosecuted while in office.
. It's Congress's job to provide justice.
. The extensive and assiduous cover-up had a purpose, and hid something far more serious.
. The cover-up largely succeeded.
. There were many more criminal referrals to other jurisdictions, about most of which we as yet know nothing.
. Given Barr's obstruction and the GOP's full complicity, this is a Constitutional crisis. Right now.
And this is Steny Hoyer, House Majority 'Leader':
'Based on what we have seen to date, going forward on impeachment is not worthwhile at this point. Very frankly, there is an election in 18 months and the American people will make a judgement.'
Very frankly, if this level of criminality and complicity isn’t fully investigated by Congress, and there isn’t at least an attempt to provide the justice that Mueller clearly indicates is Congress’s sole responsibility, there’s no reason to believe there will be a fair election in 18 months.
Read Mueller’s (REDACTED-by-White-House) Report Here (Common Cause, April 18, 2019)
...and then sign our petition to demand full transparency.
(Or, read it on the U.S. Dept. of Justice website.)
NEW: Russia’s Gas Web Ensnares Europe (Foreign Policy, April 17, 2019)
As Washington readies itself for a diminished role in the Middle East, Moscow is laying the groundwork for a significant long-term presence. Russia already supplies 35 percent of Europe’s total gas imports, and it has long worked to head off any European efforts to diversify energy supplies. By acquiring pipelines and explo