MONEY IS NOT WEALTH
by A. Richard Miller
Begun September 29, 2008; last updated February 16, 2019.

Skip to the newest News Posts.
(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 WhoWhatWhy.org. But we keep a sense of perspective; know which news is biased, and how.

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



You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. What I mean by that, is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.

- Rahm Emanuel (Wall Street Journal Weekend Interview, Nov. 7, 2008)

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

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

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

- Woody Guthrie, Dust Bowl Ballads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fragile States Index (Fund For Peace)

US National Debt Clock, by Ed Hall

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

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

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

Calculated Risk (blog)

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

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

OurFuture.org (Campaign for America's Future)

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

NEW: 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."

NEW: 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) 

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

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

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

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

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

NEW: 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)

NEW: 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

NEW: Yale Climate Opinion Maps, U.S. 2016

NEW: Scientists Are Pro-Testing (Science, 2017)

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

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

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

MichaelMoore.com

Our Revolution

Angry White House Staffer

GOP Rape Advisory Chart

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

Vote Sleuth: Investigating Democracyngeles Times, 2017)

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

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

PutinTrump.org

Donald Trump (Vice)

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

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

NEW: "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."

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

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

NEW: Atlas Of Utopias (Transformative Cities, 2018)

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

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

NEW: Smoking bans in private vehicles (Wikipedia)

NEW:  Light Cycles, by Quinn Norton

NEW: "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.

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

NEW: 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."

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

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

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

NEW: 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."

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

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

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



Pertinent Posts

Pope Defrocks Theodore McCarrick, Ex-Cardinal Accused of Sexual Abuse (New York Times, February 16, 2019)
"The move appears to be the first time any cardinal has been defrocked for sexual abuse - marking a critical moment in the Vatican’s handling of a scandal that has gripped the church. It is also the first time an American cardinal has been removed from the priesthood."
Noam Chomsky: Those who failed to recognize Trump as the greater evil made ‘a bad mistake’ (Raw Story, February 16, 2019)
Democrats on ‘reassurance tour’ for European allies worried about Trump (Washington Post, February 16, 2019)
"Even Graham, a security hawk in line with McCain, has become a close ally of Trump in the past year. He has cheered on some actions - such as the national emergency declaration to try to build the U.S.-Mexico border wall - that traditionalist conservatives have rejected as a power grab.
It’s left a sense of confusion in Europe. On Friday, as he began his remarks in Munich, Vice President Pence said: 'I bring greetings' from Trump. The audience just remained silent, not cheering, not jeering.
All that has made the Democratic voices, from the chairmen to the newcomers, a sought-after commodity for understanding what course the United States is charting."
Trump’s Attempt to Circumvent Congress Leaves Uneasy Senate Republicans With Hard Choice (New York Times, February 16, 2019)
"On Friday, President Trump mounted one of the most serious executive branch challenges to congressional authority in decades, circumventing Congress with an emergency declaration. It would allow him to unilaterally divert billions of dollars to a border wall and presented his Republican allies on Capitol Hill, who labored on a legislative compromise, with the excruciating choice of either defending their institution or bowing to his whims.
The president’s move left Senate Republicans sharply divided, and it remains to be seen whether they will act collectively to try to stop Mr. Trump or how far into uncharted territory they are willing to follow a headstrong president operating with no road map beyond his own demands."
The War That Wasn’t: Trump Claims Obama Was Ready to Strike North Korea (New York Times, February 16, 2019)
"Wait a minute - don’t remember Mr. Obama’s near-war with North Korea? Neither do the people who were working for Mr. Obama at the time. But President Trump has been telling audiences lately that his predecessor was on the precipice of an all-out confrontation with the nuclear-armed maverick state."
A fuming Trump told aides to find a way to fund wall without Congress (Washington Post, February 16, 2019)
"The emergency declaration followed months of intense internal deliberations between the White House Counsel’s Office, Justice Department, Office of Management and Budget, lawmakers and the president."
Donald Trump's rambling emergency announcement was an hour of absolute insanity (Daily KOS, February 15, 2019)
"Trump stumbled out of the White House, apparently breathless and confused, and opened by fumbling around about trade negotiations in China, but had nothing really to report on those other than 'who knows' if anything would actually be done. Then he wandered around the world, talking about the UK, Syria, North Korea … anything but getting to the point. And then, without any transition, he began talking about the border, then the economy, then the stock market, then the border again. Then he smiled and chuckled over the joys of his El Paso rally, then he zigged to Israel, then he genuinely fell into his fantasy of women, 'three, four women,' being tied up in the back of a van with tape over their mouths. Yes, Trump's emergency declaration included his women-with-tape-on-their-mouths fantasy, and Trump insisted that 'Nancy knows, and Chuck knows' that these women won't be coming through ports of entry. Finally, in words that will surely ring through history, Trump declared, 'So, I’m going to be signing a national emergency, it's been signed many times before,' before going on to claim that it was no big deal, and nothing to make a fuss about."
Trump ripped his 'national emergency' move straight from the playbook of dictator Ferdinand Marcos (Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2019)
"As fellow narcissists risking constitutional showdowns for personal political advantage, their similarities are alarming enough to justify a closer look."
‘Off the rails’: Inside Trump’s attempt to claim victory in his border wall defeat (Washington Post, February 14, 2019)
"Several top White House officials said they were hoping to keep whatever emerged from Congress as a congressional product and something the president could later dismiss as inadequate as he seeks to rally his core voters for his 2020 reelection campaign, as he did Monday at a rally in El Paso. 'There's power in that,' said Marc Short, Trump’s former White House legislative affairs director. 'It's under-reported how being able to run against D.C. and Congress as an outsider helped him in 2016, and he can make that case again.'"
Trump's 'national emergency' just played the Democrats for suckers (Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2019)
Congress passes bill to avert shutdown as Trump vows to declare national emergency to build wall (Los Angeles Times, February 14, 2019)
Anti-Semitism has spread through the Islamic world like a cancer (Washington Post, February 14, 2019)
"In 2014, the Anti-Defamation League did a survey in more than 100 countries of attitudes toward Jews and found that anti-Semitism was twice as common among Muslims than among Christians, and it’s far more prevalent in the Middle East than the Americas. It has sometimes tragically gone beyond feelings, morphing into terrorist attacks against Jews, even children, in countries such as France.
It might surprise people to know that it wasn’t always this way. In fact, through much of history, the Muslim Middle East was hospitable to Jews when Christian Europe was killing or expelling them. The great historian Bernard Lewis once said to me, 'People often note that in the late 1940s and 1950s, hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Arab countries. They rarely ask why so many Jews were living in those lands in the first place.'"
Heaviest rain, strongest wind and coldest temperature: Snow in Hawaii follows a year of extreme weather (Washington Post, February 12, 2019)
"Highlighting the state’s year of wild weather: A U.S. rainfall record, nearly 50 inches in 24 hours."
If being a twat was a TV show, Trump would be the boxed set. (Democratic Underground, February 12, 2019)
"In Britain, we traditionally side with David, not Goliath. All our heroes are plucky underdogs: Robin Hood, Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist. Trump is neither plucky, nor an underdog. He is the exact opposite of that. He’s not even a spoiled rich-boy, or a greedy fat-cat. He’s more a fat white slug. A Jabba the Hutt of privilege.
And worse, he is that most unforgivable of all things to the British: a bully. That is, except when he is among bullies; then he suddenly transforms into a sniveling sidekick, instead."
(There's more. Also see the US version.)

Proposed US Migrant Shelter May Be Polluted, Green Group Warns (Voice Of America, February 12, 2019)
"'If allowed to happen, approximately 7,500 migrant children will be detained in an area contaminated with lead, arsenic, benzene, PFAS, and myriad other harmful chemicals associated with increased risk of cancer and permanent neurodevelopmental damage,' the Earthjustice report said."

McConnell says Senate will vote on ‘Green New Deal’ as he seeks to portray Democrats as radical (Washington Post, February 12, 2019)
"By bringing the legislation up for a vote, the majority leader will force Democrats to take a position on a plan that is increasingly a target of attacks by President Trump and other Republicans."
The Senate just passed the decade’s biggest public lands package. Here’s what’s in it. (Washington Post, February 12, 2019)
"The bipartisan measure would create more than 1.3 million acres of wilderness out West, add three national park units and expand eight others."
Lawmakers say they have reached an ‘agreement in principle’ to avoid government shutdown (Washington Post, February 12, 2019)
"At a rally in El Paso on Monday night, Trump told a crowd of supporters that he was briefed on the conference committee’s progress as he was walking onstage. 'Just so you know - we’re building the wall anyway,' Trump declared to the audience.
And Trump defended the ­record-long 35-day government shutdown that ended late last month - even though polling suggests voters largely blamed him for the impasse. 'If we didn’t do that shutdown, we would not have been able to show this country, these politicians, the world, what the hell is happening with the border. That was a very important thing we did,' Trump said.
The discussions are the first major political test for Democrats and Republicans after the last government shutdown froze the paychecks of 800,000 federal workers. A partial shutdown could have a broad impact on the country. Funding lapses would go beyond DHS to hit a number of other federal departments, including the Housing and Urban Development, Treasury, Agriculture and Interior departments, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Internal Revenue Service."
White woman tells black cop he’ll get a visit from the KKK after he busts her for drunk driving (Raw Story, February 11, 2019)
Bezos, the National Enquirer, the Saudis, Trump, and the blackmailing of U.S. democracy (Philadelphia Inquirer, February 10, 2019)
"A nation founded in the ideals of democracy has been increasingly fallen prey to a new dystopian regime that melds the new 21st century dark arts of illegal hacking and media manipulation with the oldest tricks in the book: blackmail and extortion."
What happens when billionaires battle gossipmongers? Prepare for explosions. (Washington Post, February 9, 2019)
"Theirs is a tale of two billionaires - Jeffrey P. Bezos of Amazon.com fame and Peter Thiel, who birthed PayPal. So different in style and temperament, the two men have each found their sex lives splashed in public against their wills in separate tabloid 'gotchas.' But they have tangled with the merchants of salacity in completely opposite ways."
Jeff Bezos' civic lesson in how to defuse fear in Trump times (Los Angeles Times, February 9, 2019)
"In a supernova flash, the post illuminated Trumpworld's whole modus operandi. There it is - the daft gangsterism, the tabloid ribaldry, the media attacks. And less amusingly: deals by Americans to cover for unseemly foreign powers. In Trump times, learning to defuse fear is a civic lesson for a populace that has just been through the president's brinkmanship over the border wall: 'If your elected representatives don't give me $5.7 billion to prosecute my xenophobic fantasies, I'll shut the country down."
US Senators ask DHS to look into US government workers using foreign VPNs (ZDnet, February 8, 2019)
"Senators alarmed that US government workers may be sending sensitive traffic to China or Russia."
Matthew Whitaker's Bizarre Congressional Testimony Contained a Trump Easter Egg (Rolling Stone, February 8, 2019)
"Trump's attorney general nominee made a statement about the president the Mueller investigation that may come back to bite him."

Inside the Spy Scandal at the Heart of Jeff Bezos' War With the National Enquirer (Observer, February 8, 2019)
"The Amazon CEO is more than hinting that Riyadh is mixed up in AMI activities in a nefarious way, something which Pecker is desperate to obscure. If Saudi intelligence possesses the ability to intercept text messages inside the United States, that may be the key to this mystery."
Jeff Bezos' Damning Medium Post Pulls Back the Curtain on Something Much Larger (Rolling Stone, February 8, 2019)
"The Amazon CEO's dick-pic-blackmail story about the 'National Enquirer' might, in the end, involve President Trump."
Jeff Bezos Has Maybe Outdone The Great Carol Burnett (Daily KOS, February 8, 2019)
"She was smart, talented, funny and it turns out tough as nails. She was still hugely well known and popular in 1976 when the National Enquirer (a scumball rag even then) chose to slander her, claiming she ran around a restaurant (where Henry Kissinger was also dining - a way to hype their 'story') in a drunken state. Trashing celebrities has always been their stock in trade. But they made a mistake in taking on Burnett. Carol Burnett sued the National Enquirer. And won. The original judgement awarded $300,000 in compensatory damages and 1.3 million in punitive damages for a total of 1.6 million."
(The article's Comments thread makes great reading, too.)
Jeff Bezos (Amazon): 'No thank you, Mr. Pecker' (National Enquirer) (Medium, February 7, 2019)
The Mueller investigation has sprouted. Therein lies the jeopardy for Trump. (Washington Post, February 7, 2019)
"What started as an FBI investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election has spawned multiple investigations of other possible crimes. And that increases the legal exposure for Trump."
Trump keeps complaining about ‘presidential harassment’ - which is actually just ‘oversight’ (Washington Post, February 7, 2019)
Democrats go bold on economic plans, a deliberate contrast to 2016 (Los Angeles Times, February  7, 2019)
Today’s Earth looks a lot like it did 115,000 years ago. All we’re missing is massive sea level rise. (Washington Post, February 6, 2019)
"New research suggests the planet is already paralleling the most recent major warm period in its past. Now the only question is how fast Antarctica could collapse."
The glaring hole in Trump’s State of the Union address: Climate change (Washington Post, February 6, 2019)
"President Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday night zigzagged between paeans to unity and sops to his hardcore base. He eulogized World War II soldiers and then wheeled on immigrants and leftist rivals at home. But absent amid the nativist demagoguery and partisan jockeying was any reference to the threat looming above all others: climate change. That’s no surprise. Trump is an avowed climate skeptic who casts environmentalist efforts as challenges to American sovereignty, not ways to stave off a planet-wide disaster."
Trump delivered the Eddie Haskell State of the Union (E.J. Dionne, February 6, 2019)
Fact Checking the State of the Union (Fact Check, February 6,  2019)
"The president strayed from the facts, mainly on immigration and the economy."
Almost All U.S. Teens Falling Short on Sleep, Exercise (U.S. News, February 5, 2019)
"The study found that only 5 percent were meeting experts' recommendations on three critical health habits: sleep,exercise, and time spent gazing at digital media and television."
N//M to withdraw National Guard from Mexican border (Albequerque Journal, February 5, 2019)
"I reject the federal contention that there exists an overwhelming national security crisis at the southern border, along which are some of the safest communities in the country. However, I recognize and appreciate the legitimate concerns of residents and officials in southwestern New Mexico, particularly Hidalgo County, who have asked for our assistance, as migrants and asylum-seekers continue to appear at their doorsteps."
Trump’s State of the Union gave us the same old polarizing demagoguery - at great length (Washington Post, February 5, 2019)
"Having been forced to delay his State of the Union address by a government shutdown that he precipitated, President Trump seemed as though he might never yield the podium once he got his chance Tuesday night. In a speech that reflected endurance if not eloquence, Mr. Trump offered a thin sheen of 'unity' over large helpings of the same old polarizing demagoguery.
'We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions,' Mr. Trump declared. If those were truly his goals, he would have committed not to declare a phony state of emergency in order to build his wall against congressional wishes. He would not have recycled at great length his inflammatory and false portrayal of a 'tremendous onslaught' of illegal immigrants. He would not have slandered the governor of Virginia as having pledged to 'execute' newborn babies, and he would not have made the absurd and nervous-sounding claim that 'ridiculous partisan investigations' threaten national prosperity and security."
Sharing the State of the Union spotlight, Pelosi softly makes her own statement (Washington Post, February 5, 2019)
"Pelosi’s guests, announced by her office Tuesday afternoon, include two active-duty transgender Army officers - an implicit critique of Trump’s decision to implement a ban on transgender servicemembers - and survivors of last February’s mass shooting at a Florida high school, a protest of the Republican stance against stricter gun control. Also attending as Pelosi’s guest is Leana Wen, Planned Parenthood’s new president, who is set to appear amid a new uproar over Democratic state lawmakers’ attempts to expand abortion rights in New York and Virginia."
Trump will call for ‘unity’ tonight. It’s a scam, and here’s the proof. (Washington Post, February 5, 2019)
"It’s one of the most dispiriting rituals that attend State of the Union addresses in the Trump era: White House advisers piously promise us that President Trump will issue new calls for unity and bipartisan comity, and for reasons that remain baffling, far too many observers then feel obliged to pretend that these soothing exhortations are real.
But this time around, there’s just no excuse for playing along. That’s because we’ve already seen what happens in the real world after Trump stands before Congress and carries out his unity routine - not once, but twice."
We may finally see Trump’s tax returns, and Republicans are panicking (Washington Post, February 5, 2019)
"Washington is terribly divided these days, but there is at least one thing everyone - the Trump administration, members of Congress from both parties, journalists, cabdrivers - clearly agrees on: If the public ever got to see President Trump’s tax returns, it would be utterly disastrous for him.
Though they haven’t done it yet, Democrats are planning to utilize a law allowing the House Ways and Means Committee to obtain any American’s tax returns to demand that the IRS turn them over. Once they have them, the committee can vote to release them to the entire House. Terrified of that prospect, the administration is preparing to do everything in its power to keep it from happening."
Trump inaugural committee suspected of conspiracy to defraud the United States, wire fraud and money laundering, subpoena indicates (Yahoo, February 5, 2019)
Fire chief charged with pulling gun on Boy Scout who had placed flyer on South Whitehall home (Morning Call PA, February 5, 2019)
Countries With Zero Rating Have More Expensive Wireless Broadband Than Countries Without It (Electronic Freedom Foundation, February 5, 2019)
"The entire wireless industry knows from their own studies that zero rating drives their customers to prefer zero rated content over alternatives. Hence zero rating serves as a powerful means for ISPs to pick winners and losers and shape consumers’ Internet experience. EFF raised these concerns specifically regarding the AT&T merger with Time Warner–HBO, where we predicted the ISP network would self-deal with its newly acquired content to the disadvantage of alternative video providers - which is exactly what it did."
The North Magnetic Pole’s Mysterious Journey Across the Arctic (New York Times, February 4, 2019)
"Scientists accelerated the update of a model of Earth’s fluctuating magnetic field, which is needed to keep navigational systems functioning. The north magnetic pole, the point on the Earth where a compass needle would point down, is sliding about 35 miles closer to Russia each year. Many wonder what’s happening inside the planet’s core."
Trump's wall bulldozers have arrived at Texas' National Butterfly Center (Daily KOS, February 4, 2019)
First signs of border wall construction spotted at National Butterfly Center (San Antonio TX Express-News, February 4, 2019)
"The existing funding will pay for 33 miles of new fencing in the Rio Grande Valley, including 6 miles that are under contract near McAllen, including the stretch through the butterfly center. The steel-and-concrete bollard fencing will cut off 70 of the sanctuary’s 100 acres, with gates for access."
Path to Trump’s Border Wall Narrows as Republicans Balk at Emergency Declaration (New York Times, February 4, 2019)
"As he prepares to make his case to the largest national audience of the year, Mr. Trump appeared to be in an increasingly precarious position, unable to sway the wider public to his cause and unwilling, at least so far, to apply the persuasion and compromise that have gotten previous presidents out of political jams. Anxiety over the damage being inflicted on the party is growing."
Trump Inaugural Committee Ordered to Hand Over Documents to Federal Investigators (New York Times, February 4, 2019)
"A lawyer working with President Trump's inaugural committee received a subpoena on Monday evening seeking documents related to all of the committee’s donors and event attendees; any benefits handed out, including tickets and photo opportunities with the president; federal disclosure filings; vendors; contracts; and more, one of the people said. Prosecutors also showed interest in whether any foreigners illegally donated to the committee, as well as whether committee staff knew that such donations were illegal, asking for documents laying out legal requirements for donations. Federal law prohibits foreign contributions to federal campaigns, political action committees and inaugural funds."

Trump's 'willful ignorance' towards his intelligence community (MSNBC, February 4, 2019)
Insider leaks Trump's "Executive Time"-filled private schedules (Axios, February 3, 2019)
"
Trump has spent around 60% of his scheduled time over the past 3 months in unstructured 'Executive Time'."
'We must retrain people's minds to be human first': A pastor weighs in on Trump's politics of fear (Daily KOS, February 2, 2019)
"White evangelicals love Donald Trump. Given that his words, actions, and policy stances are the very opposite of Christ-like, this is both bizarre and disturbing. Nonetheless, Trump consistently enjoys a more than 70 percent approval rating among this demographic group."
Why Trump likely erased protections from the legal definitions of domestic violence/sexual assault (Daily KOS, February 2, 2019)
Google Play apps with >4.3 million downloads stole pics and pushed porn ads (Ars Technica, February 1, 2019)
"The 29 apps concealed their malice and were hard for many infected users to uninstall.
Some apps falsely promised to allow users to 'beautify' their pictures by uploading them to a designated server. Instead of delivering an edited photo, however, the server provided a picture with a fake update prompt in nine different languages. The apps made it possible for the developers to collect the uploaded photos, possibly for use in fake profile pics or for other malicious purposes. The developers took pains to prevent users from detecting what was happening."
NEW: Trump’s Cabinet is So Corrupt, Polluters Don’t Even Need Lobbyists Any More (Daily KOS, February 1, 2019)
"Despite campaigning with a promise to 'drain the swamp,' Trump has since his first day in office appointed numerous lobbyists to run the federal government, including Andrew Wheeler at the EPA and David Bernhardt at Interior. Basically everyone was suspicious about whether these appointees would serve the public or their former employers - and rightfully so. While these lobbyists could use their deep understanding of the regulatory system and industry they’re regulating to protect the public and environment, that hasn’t been the way things played out."
Why the shutdown didn’t tank the January jobs report (Washington Post, February 1, 2019)
Cable-TV company is planning a 20% fee hike for local channels as pay-TV customers dwindle (Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2019)
"'I’m looking into alternatives,' Hartman said. 'What do you think of satellite?'
Different technology, same business model.
My advice is to cut the cord and stream content via a broadband internet connection."
U.S. announces withdrawal from major nuclear arms treaty with Russia (Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2019)
"The American withdrawal had been expected for months. It follows years of unresolved dispute over Russian compliance with the 1987 pact, which bans certain ground-launched cruise missiles. Russia denies violating the treaty. Pompeo said the U.S. will suspend its obligations to the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty on Saturday. He said that if Russia doesn't come into compliance, the treaty 'will terminate.'
U.S. officials also have expressed concern that China, which isn't part of the treaty, is deploying large numbers of missiles in Asia that the U.S. can't counter because it's bound by the treaty."
European colonisation of the Americas killed 10% of world population and caused global cooling (The Conversation, January 31, 2019)
"While Europe was in the early days of the Renaissance, there were empires in the Americas sustaining more than 60 million people. But the first European contact in 1492 brought diseases to the Americas which devastated the native population, and the resultant collapse of farming in the Americas was so significant that it may have even cooled the global climate."
The fascinating backstory of the periodic table, which is about to turn 150 years old (Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2019)
White House Abruptly Canceled Trump’s Meeting With Intel Chiefs (Daily Beast, January 31, 2019)
"The cancellation came a day after CIA Director Gina Haspel and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, along with a number of other senior intelligence officials, discussed their assessment of national security threats in a way that undermined a number of Trump’s recent claims. In an open session before the Senate intelligence committee on Tuesday, Haspel said Iran is currently complying with the terms of the Iran nuclear deal, which Trump has called a foreign policy disaster. Coats, meanwhile, said that ISIS remains a threat - a statement that appears at odds with Trump’s assertions that the U.S. has defeated ISIS in Syria.
The next morning, the White House canceled the president’s daily briefing as Trump lambasted his intelligence chiefs on Twitter over their congressional testimony. By Thursday, Trump’s tone had changed, at least publicly. He met with Haspel, Coats, and Deputy Director of National Intelligence Edward Gistaro in the Oval Office that afternoon, tweeting a picture of their conversation. He also blamed the media for making it appear that they had contradicted him in their congressional testimony."
Trump, in Interview, Calls Wall Talks ‘Waste of Time’ and Dismisses Investigations (New York Times, January 31, 2019)
"Mr. Trump made no mention of closing the government again, a move that backfired on him, but instead suggested he plans to declare a national emergency to build the wall."
Lawmakers introduce bill to withhold pay from Congress, president during shutdowns (WCVB News, January 30, 2019)
"This legislation will help prevent the American people from being political pawns for party leaders and help return sanity to the task of funding the government. The Solidarity in Salary Act of 2019 would place the pay of the president, vice president and members of Congress into escrow for each day of a shutdown."
The Media Cannot Talk About One Fundamental Truth Regarding Mueller's Investigation. (Daily KOS, January 29, 2019)
"Take absolutely nothing from the fact that not a single American has been indicted on the conspiracy, yet. Nothing. Nada. Zip.
Robert Mueller has to 'price-in' the fact that if - and when, ‘cause it’s comin’ - he files something that directly links someone close to the president with conspiring against the United States, he might have one hour left on the job."
Trump always dismisses climate change when it's cold. Not so fast, experts say. (Washington Post, January 29, 2019)
"Millions of Americans are bracing for a life-threatening cold snap. Flights are grounded. Schools are closed. At one Chicago zoo, only polar bears will be allowed outside."
Arctic Weather Plunges into North America (NASA, January 29, 2019)
Gone in a Generation (Washington Post, January 29, 2019)
"Across America, climate change is already disrupting lives."
Apple has disabled group FaceTime calls after it was humiliated on Data Privacy Day by a bug that lets people listen in on you (Business Insider, January 29, 2019)
"The bug allows an iPhone or iPad user to secretly hear what someone else is saying before that person answers the call."
PG&E files for bankruptcy. Electricity prices are likely to rise for millions of Californians (Los Angeles Times, January 29, 2019)
"PG&E says a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, which will allow the company to continue operating while it comes up with a plan to reorganize its debts, is the only way to deal with billions of dollars in potential liabilities from a series of deadly wildfires, many of which were sparked by the company’s infrastructure. A bankruptcy filing 'is ultimately the only viable option to restore PG&E’s financial stability to fund ongoing operations and provide safe service to customers,' the company told the Securities and Exchange Commission this month.
State lawmakers will have no formal role in the process, but some PG&E critics have called for the Legislature and Gov. Gavin Newsom to break up the company into smaller pieces or convert it to a public entity. San Francisco officials have said they will study the possibility of acquiring PG&E’s electrical infrastructure in the city.
Financial pressure has been mounting on PG&E since October 2017, when a series of wildfires ravaged Northern California, killing 44 people. State investigators determined that PG&E’s equipment sparked or contributed to more than a dozen of those fires, which killed 22 people. The company’s crisis only grew with the November 2018 Camp fire, which killed 86 people and destroyed most of the town of Paradise. The utility company’s stock has lost more than 80% of its value since the 2017 fires broke out, and its credit rating has been downgraded to junk status.
The Chairman of the Assembly Utilities and Energy Committee lamented the bankruptcy filing: 'The impacts to fire victims and ratepayers may be severe. Our goal all along was to protect the most vulnerable, but now the Bankruptcy Court will be managing the future of PG&E and its creditors, including the damages of fire victims for which the utility is deemed responsible.'
PG&E has blamed its wildfire costs, in part, on climate change, which scientists say is contributing to bigger and hotter fires in California and across the Western United States."
Democrats’ 2020 presidential contest is wide open as danger mounts for Trump, new poll shows (Washington Post, January 29, 2019)
If Trump Wants Another Shutdown, Republicans Won’t Stop Him (Bloomberg, January 29, 2019)
"The GOP didn’t prepare for the last one and took a political beating. History is repeating itself."
Clemson’s Black Players Refused to Accept Donald Trump’s Invitation to the McCookout (The Root, January 29, 2019)
Online travel agencies, supermarkets, laptops: The hidden monopolies that may cost you money (Los Angeles Times, January 28, 2019)
"Sometimes the secret isn’t shared ownership, but shared technology or a shared supply chain. You may consider yourself a MacBook aficionado or a Windows PC person, but there’s a good chance your laptop is manufactured in China by Quanta Computer, a hardware maker that counts among its clients Apple, Dell, Hewlett-Packard, Alienware (a subsidiary of Dell), Lenovo and Toshiba, among many other brands."
The Secrets of Lyndon Johnson’s Archives (New Yorker, January 28, 2018)
"On a Presidential paper trail."
Does Journalism Have a Future?, by Jill Lepore (New Yorker, January 28, 2018)
"In an era of social media and fake news, journalists who have survived the print plunge have new foes to face."
Howard Schultz Gets Shouted Down At Book Event: ‘Don’t Help Elect Trump!’ (Daily Beast, January 28, 2019)
Trump brags that he goaded Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz into running for president because it will 'help him' (Raw Story, January 28, 2019)
Howard Schultz Blames Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for His Decision to Run as Independent (Daily Beast, January 28, 2019)
(Because she would tax his $3.4Billon...)
Mitch McConnell reportedly linked to Putin, Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and Russian companies (Daily KOS, January 28, 2019)
Mueller's case against Roger Stone is open and shut (Daily KOS, January 28, 2019)
The Fox News knives come out for Ann Coulter after her disastrous order to shut down the government (Daily KOS, January 28, 2019)
Republican senators all disclaim shutdown as a really bad idea that totally wasn't their fault (Daily KOS, January 28, 2019)
Shutdown Damage Will Persist Long After U.S. Government Reopens (Bloomberg, January 28, 2019)
"Many fire crews missed their window for controlled burns to prevent wildfires. Irreplaceable relics may have been damaged in unguarded national parks. Science experiments were abandoned. And a generation of talent may now think twice about signing up for government, while workers returning to a month of unopened emails and missed meetings will have to decide which of their priorities to sacrifice this year. And there’s the threat it could happen all over again."
Border Patrol urgently seeking evidence that Trump's mouth-tape fantasy is grounded in reality (Daily KOS, January 28, 2019)
"In her newscast Monday, January 28, 2019, Rachel Maddow described how Trump’s claims exactly matched scenes in the 2018 fictional film 'Sicario: Day of the Soldado', including women duct-taped and abducted, smugglers with supercars, and 'prayer rugs in the desert'. Rachel Maddow's report on this begins at the 18:30 mark of her show, linked here:
http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show/episodes/watch/rachel-maddow-1-28-19-episode"
Trump's Approach to Governing? A Utah man nails it accurately! (Daily KOS, January 27, 2019)
U.S., Canadian Jets Scrambled To Escort Russian Bombers Away From North American Coastline (Radio Free Europe, January 27, 2019)
Millions of Americans Believe God Made Trump President (Politico, January 27, 2019)
"From early in Trump’s presidential candidacy, his biggest religious supporters - indeed, his only religious supporters for a while - were charismatic Christians like pastors Paula White and Darrell Scott. They were drawn to Trump, and he to them, because of their embrace of the prosperity gospel. Also sometimes referred to as 'health and wealth' theology, this belief holds that God rewards faith with good health and financial success. By those very simple metrics, a billionaire like Donald Trump, whether his fortune came from family, scams or a higher power, must be a very faithful man."
Trump ordered 15,000 new border and immigration officers - but got thousands of vacancies instead (Los Angeles Times, January 27, 2019)
"And shutdown jitters will probably make recruiting even harder."
Trump golf club fired 10 workers living in the U.S. illegally, lawyer says (NBC News, January 27, 2019)
"'The only thing I did wrong was work, work and work,' one of the former employees said."
NEW: Here’s an Especially Terrifying New Danger from the Rise in Wildfires (Mother Jones, January 27, 2019)
They can spawn their own thunderstorms, a phenomenon scientists believe can spark additional blazes far away.
Glacial melts in the Canadian Arctic reveal land that hasn't been seen in more than 40,000 years (Business Insider, January 25, 2019)
"Researchers  believe the Canadian Arctic is experiencing its warmest century of the past 115,000 years."
NEW: The Trump administration tells its ... um ... biggest lie to date (Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2019)
"Why would the white House go to such efforts to create a lie out of a truthful image? Well, the easy answer is because that's what they do over there at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., the nation's home of alternative facts. The president himself uttered at least 8,158 lies or misleading statements in the first two years of his presidency, according to the Washington Post's tracker.
And the president's press office has had its own struggles with the truth, from Sean Spicer's claims of crowd sizes at the inauguration - an atrocious lie before the administration even really got started - to Sarah Huckabee Sanders' routine shadings of reality."
Trump Agrees to Reopen Government for 3 Weeks in Surprise Retreat From Wall (New York Times, January 25, 2019)
"The surprise announcement was a remarkable surrender for a president who made the wall his nonnegotiable condition for reopening the government. Mr. Trump relented as the effects of the shutdown rippled across the Northeast, with effects far beyond paychecks, such as air traffic slowing Friday because of a shortage of air traffic controllers, who called in sick. The F.B.I. director said he was as angry as he had ever been over his agents not being paid, and workers at the Internal Revenue Service called in sick."
Trump announces deal for government to reopen for three weeks, ending longest shutdown; no money for his border wall (Washington Post, January 25, 2019)
"President Trump on Friday announced a deal with congressional leaders to temporarily reopen the government while talks continue on his demand for border wall money, handing Democrats a major victory in the protracted standoff."
Instead of visiting White House during DC trip, Warriors meet with Barack Obama (San Francisco Chronicle, January 25, 2019)
Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax proposal is constitutional, experts say - and necessary (Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2019)
Former CIA Director Brennan: Indictments with names 'quite familiar to the average American' are coming (Daily KOS, January 25, 2019)
"I expect that over the next 60 days you're going to have - a significant number of indictments. I think people are waiting for the report that is coming out from Mueller, but what I look for most is the indictments, and it's just so rich in detail. To me, I think all of these indictments are going to be basically the compendium of the Robert Mueller investigation, special counsel’s investigation. So I expect there to be a significant number, and a significant number of names that are going to be quite familiar to the average American."
Who’s been charged in Mueller-linked probes, and why (Washington Post, January 25, 2019)
Russia Investigation Summary/Mueller Probe Overview: Documents Filed (Teri Kanefield, January 25, 2019)   
Two Important Points About Today’s Stone Indictment (Daily KOS, January 25, 2019)
Mueller indicts Roger Stone, says he was coordinating with Trump officials about WikiLeaks' stolen emails (CNN, January 25, 2019)
Trump has ruined two of the GOP's strongest messages (Daily KOS, January 25, 2019)
One Man’s Obsessive Fight to Reclaim His Cambridge Analytica Data (Wired, January 25, 2019))
"David Carroll has been locked in a legal war to force the infamous company to turn over its files on him. He’s won a battle, but the struggle continues."
Romney Snaps at Tillis. Johnson Blames Yurtle. GOP in Disarray Prior to Votes to End Shutdown. (Daily KOS, January 25, 2019)
‘This is your fault’: GOP senators clash over shutdown inside private luncheon (Washington Post, January 24, 2019)
"Republican senators clashed with one another and confronted Vice President Pence inside a private luncheon on Thursday, as anger hit a boiling point over the longest government shutdown in history. 'This is your fault,' Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) told Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) at one point, according to two Republicans who attended the lunch and witnessed the exchange. 'Are you suggesting I’m enjoying this?' McConnell snapped back, according to the people who attended the lunch."

Feeling anxious? It’s not just you, it’s our philosophical era of neuroexistentialism (Quartz, January 25, 2019)
"We have no soul, no fixed self, and no inherent purpose. We exist simply because we exist, tiny specks on a small planet in an infinite universe, and not because a god made the Earth for us. This conception, called 'naturalism,' leaves many people feeling deeply uneasy - consciously or unconsciously - and casting about for meaning."
Lost humanity at the border and the farce of the national emergency (Daily KOS, January 24, 2019)
A History of People Power: Six times (so far) the American people have overruled SCOTUS to secure the rights of Americans (American Promise, January 24, 2019)
America's most expensive home sells for $238m to hedge fund boss (The Guardian, January 24, 2019)
"Penthouse at 220 Central Park South is 34 times bigger than average Manhattan apartment: 'Hope he got a lot of bathrooms,' says an advocate for the homeless."
New Horizons' Newest and Best-Yet View of Ultima Thule (Johns Hopkins University, January 24, 2019)
"The wonders – and mysteries – of Kuiper Belt object 2014 MU69 continue to multiply as NASA's New Horizons spacecraft beams home new images of its New Year's Day 2019 flyby target."
Why free software evangelist Richard Stallman is haunted by Stalin’s dream (in India, January 23, 2019)
NEW: Trump team accused of posting edited images on social media (BBC News, January 23, 2019)
"President Trump has said that his 'stamina and strength' are some of his greatest assets and has boasted about his 'great genes'. But now he has been accused of sharing doctored images in which his physical condition has been visibly enhanced. A number of pictures, first identified by the website Gizmodo, appear to show the president looking slimmer and neater than in the original version. (To see, just use the slider.)"
NEW: How Trump Offered NASA Unlimited Funding to Go to Mars in His First Term (New York Magazine, January 22, 2019)
"Trump asked about Mars. 'Tell me, Mars - what do you see a timing for actually sending humans?' he said. Whitson responded by noting that just a month earlier, Trump had signed a bill outlining such timing. 'Well, I think as your bill directed, it would be in the 2030s,' she said. 'Unfortunately spaceflight takes a lot of time and money, so getting there will take some international cooperation.'
Trump didn’t accept her answer. 'Well, I think we want to do it in my first term or at worst in my second term,' he said. 'So I think we’ll have to speed that up a little bit.'"
NEW: Democratic Senator Introduces ‘Stop Stupidity Act’ to Prohibit Future Government Shutdowns (Newsweek, January 22, 2019)
"The bill, called the Stop Stupidity (Shutdowns Transferring Unnecessary Pain and Inflicting Damage in the Coming Years) Act, would automatically renew the previous year's funding, ensuring the government will remain open if legislators cannot agree on a budget. The renewed funding would not include the legislative branch and the president's office."
NEW: Editorial: Shutdown (WCVB,  Jan. 22, 2019)
"As President Trump and Speaker Pelosi wage their high stakes game of political football, holding close to a million virtual hostages, solutions to the partial federal government shutdown remain elusive. Imagine if their creativity - in trying to upstage each other - were solely applied toward putting those federal employees and contractors back to work?
Perhaps it is time to acknowledge two things that should be obvious. First, why do the president and members of Congress and their staffs get paid, when others - who are simply pawns in their power play - do not? Second, why not agree then to first release the hostages in other words reopen the government and then hash out the many and reasonable but not insurmountable differences on border security and immigration? They are not linked, except by political force. There is simply no rational argument for continuing to inflict pain and suffering on the pawns in this mess. Our elected leaders on both sides are expected to lead those they serve. Not punish them."
NEW: Lady Gaga stops concert to pummel Mike Pence's Christianity and Trump's shutdown - the crowd goes wild (Daily KOS, January 22, 2019)
NEW: En garde! 'Cyber-war has begun' – and France will hack first, its defence sec declares. (The Register, January 22, 2019)
"Parly-vous cyber-security? No plan to surrender, military bug bounty coming."
NEW: NASA and ESA will attempt to knock an asteroid out of orbit for the first time in 2022 (Business Insider, January 22, 2019)
"Lindley Johnson, planetary defense officer at NASA: 'DART would be NASA's first mission to demonstrate what's known as the kinetic impactor technique - striking the asteroid to shift its orbit - to defend against a potential future asteroid impact.'"
We Just Got Lab-Made Evidence of Stephen Hawking's Greatest Prediction About Black Holes (Science Alert, January 21, 2019)
"Using an optical fibre analogue of an event horizon - a lab-created model of black hole physics - researchers from Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel report that they have created stimulated Hawking radiation."
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Crusher of Sacred Cows (Rolling Stone, January 21, 2019)
"With its silly swipes at AOC, the American political establishment is once again revealing its blindness to its own unpopularity. There is a whole range of popular policy ideas the Washington political consensus has been beating back for decades with smoke and mirrors, from universal health care to legalized weed to free tuition to expanded Social Security to those higher taxes on the rich.
As we’ve seen over and over with these swipes on Ocasio-Cortez, the people opposing those ideas don’t realize how powerful a stimulant for change is their own negative attention. If they were smart, they’d ignore her.
Then again, if politicians were smart, they’d also already be representing people, not donors. And they wouldn’t have this problem."
NEW: President Trump Posts Altered Photos to Facebook and Instagram That Make Him Look Thinner (Gizmodo, January 21, 2019)
"President Donald Trump's social media accounts are filled with vile racism, idiotic xenophobia, and inaccurate statistics. And now we can add another category to the list: fake photos. In recent months, Trump's official Facebook and Instagram accounts have published photos of the president that have been manipulated to make him look thinner."
Trump's losing the shutdown showdown but can't admit it (Daily KOS, January 21, 2019)
The Trump Administration Quietly Changed the Definition of Domestic Violence and We Have No Idea What For (Slate, January 21, 2019)
"The Obama-era definition was expansive, vetted by experts including the National Center for Victims of Crime and the National Domestic Violence Hotline. The Trump administration’s definition is substantially more limited and less informed, effectively denying the experiences of victims of abuse by attempting to cast domestic violence as an exclusively criminal concern."

NEW:
It Was Not Impeachment That Doomed Richard Nixon, It Was Open Session Senate Hearings (Daily KOS, January 21 2019)
"I believe that It was the fact that Congress did not rush to impeach Richard Nixon that ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation. In addition, decades later, it was the Republican Party’s rush to impeachment that ultimately helped Bill Clinton to survive his Presidential impeachment."
Remember the subprime mortgage mess? $1.2 trillion in risky corporate debt is flashing similar warning signs (Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2019)

Popular elected official suspended by DeSantis and replaced with republican, cuz that's a thing now (Daily KOS, January 20, 2019)
Steve King broke the first rule of White Club (Daily KOS, January 20, 2019)
"When Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King lamented that language like 'White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization' had 'become offensive,' GOP leaders like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appeared horrified. But if they were shocked - SHOCKED! - to find Steve King’s racism going on in their Republican Party, they shouldn’t have been. King, after all, has a long history of incendiary rhetoric aimed at African-Americans, Latinos, and other minorities."
E.J. Dionne: Hating the government won’t improve it (Washington Post, January 20, 2019)
"In practice, conservatives regularly vote for lots of government - so long as it serves the interests they represent. Start with farm subsidies, massive defense spending, regulations that disempower unions and measures that sharply tilt the tax code in favor of corporate interests and the wealthy.
As for the power of states and localities, conservatives regularly propose federal action to override state governments that issue safety and environmental regulations that business regards as too robust. Somehow, they think we need national 'consistency' on these matters but not on, say, voting rights. And right-wing state legislatures regularly preempt laws passed by more liberal local governments."
Moscow Skyscraper Talks Continued Through ‘the Day I Won,’ Trump Is Said to Acknowledge (New York Times, January 20, 2019)
"The new timetable means that Mr. Trump was seeking a deal at the time he was calling for an end to economic sanctions against Russia imposed by the Obama administration. He was seeking a deal when he gave interviews questioning the legitimacy of NATO, a favorite talking point of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia. And he was seeking a deal when, in July 2016, he called on Russia to release hacked Democratic emails that Mr. Putin’s government was rumored at the time to have stolen."
Five reasons Trump may be a one-termer (Washington Post, January 20, 2019)
"President Trump’s critics have repeatedly complained that when it comes to his rhetoric, attacks on Democratic norms and incompetence, 'Nothing matters.' We’ve learned in the last couple of months just how wrong that is: His approval has cratered; Democrats won the House with a 40-seat trouncing; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) continues to run rings around him; and Republicans now part with him on Russia policy matters - and a smaller number on reopening the government."
In Business and Governing, Trump Seeks Victory in Chaos (New York Times, January 20, 2019)
"As president, Mr. Trump has displayed a fixation in his standoff with Congress over leveraging a government shutdown to gain funding for a wall on the Mexican border. As he did during decades in business, Mr. Trump has insulted adversaries, undermined his aides, repeatedly changed course, extolled his primacy as a negotiator and induced chaos. 'He hasn’t changed at all,' said Jack O’Donnell, who ran a casino for Mr. Trump in the 1980s and wrote a book about it."
Nancy Pelosi hands Donald Trump a lesson in the art of politics (The Guardian, January 20, 2019)
"Trump delights in inventing nicknames for political adversaries but he refers to the House speaker as 'Nancy', a sign he may have met his match."
Nancy Pelosi is winning in her battle with Trump. Here's why. (Los Angeles Times, January 20, 2019)
Trump takes aim at Pelosi amid stalled shutdown negotiations (Washington Post, January 20, 2019)

NEW: EXvangelicals #ExposeChristianSchools. Want to understand Trump base? Read these horror stories (Daily KOS, January 19, 2019)
"It’s mind-blowing, horrific, sickening. And for me - an epiphany about why white evangelicals support Trump despite his frequent and obvious violations of what purport to be Christian values. They’ve formed a cult of Trump because they were raised in a cult. They support an abuser because they grew up with routine abuse of every imaginable kind at school. They cannot see through his lies because their education was lies, and extinguished critical thinking. They worship a hateful man because they were taught that secretly hating themselves and outwardly hating others was sacred."
Shouting, near fisticuffs, emotions high: Today’s Washington could get worse (Washington Post, January 19, 2019)
"By early Thursday afternoon, President Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had traded insults several times. Pelosi called for a delay of Trump’s planned Jan. 29 State of the Union address as long as portions of the government were shut down. The president then revoked military support for her weekend trip to visit troops in Afghanistan.
A couple of days earlier, the House rebu
ked Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) for a history of racially and ethnically charged remarks, the latest in his questioning of how white supremacy had become offensive.
'We have just been through a very difficult week,' House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) lamented."
A Trump supporter yells 'Go back to Puerto Rico!' at Dem rep. Turns out it was a GOP congressman. (Daily KOS, January 18, 2019)
"Rep. Cárdenas, who, by the way, has Mexican rather than Puerto Rican heritage, wouldn’t let the matter drop. Eventually, the culprit came forward. Rep. Jason T. Smith (R-MO) finally admitted to shouting it - several hours later."
A reckoning for political journalism (Axios, January 19, 2019)
"Last night's rare on-the-record statement from the Mueller team is a reckoning that journalism had coming: Amid some of the most impressive reporting of our lifetimes, there's plenty of questionable coverage in this shock-a-minute era. Why it matters: BuzzFeed's report that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, if true, would put this presidency at existential risk.
- The story, as written, was as clean as it gets: Trump directed Cohen to lie about the Trump Tower in Moscow project, and there’s tons of evidence to support that.
- Very rarely has a story been so unequivocal - usually there are more hedges and acknowledgments of what isn't known.
- And unlike most other reportage in this saga, this accused the president of a felony - a very different bar."
U.S. House of Representatives: Delivery of the State Of The Union Speech (H.R. Archives, reported January 18, 2019)
Robert Mueller’s “Iron Triangles” Speech in Full (Millenial Politics, January 18, 2019)
"FBI archives contain 'The Evolving Organized Crime Threat,' a speech Mueller gave January 27, 2011, to the Citizens Crime Commission of New York. Reading it in full in light of current events is critical, and truly, the duty of all Americans.
One highlight: Rather than running discrete operations, on their own turf, they are running multi-national, multi-billion dollar schemes from start to finish. We are investigating groups in Asia, Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East. And we are seeing cross-pollination between groups that historically have not worked together. Criminals who may never meet, but who share one thing in common: greed. They may be former members of nation-state governments, security services, or the military… They are capitalists and entrepreneurs. But they are also master criminals who move easily between the licit and illicit worlds…They may provide logistical support to hostile foreign powers. They may try to manipulate those at the highest levels of government. Indeed, these so-called 'iron triangles' of organized criminals, corrupt government officials, and business leaders pose a significant national security threat."
Rudy G. Drives Bus over Trump Campaigners, and They Noticed. Now it's Circular-Firing-Squad-Time (Daily KOS, January 18, 2019)
"The habit of pitting his employees against each other, has been a dog-eared page in Donald Trump’s playbook for decades. He has bragged about using this tactic to find out who’s loyal to him, and who isn’t. Plus, he’s a bit of a sadist at heart. He appears to enjoy hurting people. Putting them in their place. Making them into losers. And watching them hurt each other.
Trouble is, this tactic doesn’t pan out so well, when you’re all being investigated by a Special Counsel’s Office of the United States Department of Justice. When that’s happening, it’s every man, woman, and toddler for themselves."
NEW: Trump is Not a Self-Made Billionaire (Daily KOS, January 18, 2019)
"When dealing with Trump supporters, make sure they know he was born rich and that whatever wealth he has now wasn't the result of his 'great deal making' or any kind of super business acumen on his part. He was given all the advantages in the world by his very wealthy father and fed money by him over and over again each time his business ventures failed.
Maybe all those handouts from his father spoiled any native business skill young Donald might have had until he'd burned all his bridges and couldn't borrow money from anyone anymore… and he had to turn to the Russians as the only ones still willing to keep giving him money. He's not a self-made man who did good for himself. He's a Richie Rich who had everything given to him on a silver platter, and he still made bad."
NEW: Judge blocks Trump’s evangelical assault on women in 13 states (Daily KOS, January 18, 2019)
NEW: Mitch McConnell calls House Democrats' anti-corruption bill a 'power grab' (Vox, January 18, 2019)
"McConnell just outlined his opposition to HR 1 in scathing detail."
Cooperation, collusion, conspiracy, and the constant game of redefining what Trump can get away with (Daily KOS, January 17, 2019)
"On Wednesday evening, Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani conducted another of his numerous goalpost adjustments - this time by just carrying them right off the field. In an interview with CNN, Giuliani responded to challenges over the latest revelations about Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort by saying that he never said something that he’d said dozens, if not hundreds, of times.
Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion between the campaign or between people in the campaign.'
Except, of course, he has. And after claiming that he never said 'no collusion,' Giuliani went on to make an even more eye-rolling claim: 'Neither has Donald Trump.'"
Rudy Giuliani just contradicted nearly all the Trump team’s past collusion denials (Washington Post, January 17, 2019)
"This is at least the 10th time the denials have been watered down. It might be the most significant rollback."
Michael Cohen Paid A Tech Firm Owned By Jerry Falwell To Manipulate Online Polls In Trump's Favor (Daily KOS, January 17, 2019)
Thousands More Migrant Children Were Probably Taken From Families Than Reported (New York Times, January 17, 2019)
How does a Ford SUV = a T-Rex? (Sierra Club, January 17, 2019)
Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono calls Trump child, apologizes to children (Daily KOS, January 17, 2019)
Pelosi is destroying Trump so badly on the shutdown that reporters feel sorry for him (Daily KOS, January 17, 2019)
"On Thursday, she added another rationale: fairness. 'Let's pay the employees,' Pelosi told reporters. 'Maybe [Trump] thinks it is okay not to pay people who do work. I don't. My caucus doesn't, either.'"
Ninja Nancy Pelosi Is on a Roll. Her Letter to Trump Is more Proof. (Daily KOS, January 16, 2019)
"Today Nancy Pelosi told Trump he could shove his State of the Union. Yesterday no Democrats attended Trump’s shutdown lunch summit/photo op. And this follows her sunglassed, James Bond style, ass-kicking of Trump in December’s 'I'll own the shutdown' whine-fest."
In a West Wing in Transition, Trump Tries to Stand Firm on the Shutdown (New York Times, January 16, 2019)
"President Trump has insisted that he is not going to compromise with Democrats to end the government shutdown, and that he is comfortable in his unbendable position. But privately, it’s sometimes a different story. 'We are getting crushed!' Mr. Trump told his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, after watching some recent coverage of the shutdown, according to one person familiar with the conversation. 'Why can’t we get a deal?'"

ISIS Attack In Syria Kills 19 Including 4 Americans, Raising New Worries About Troop Withdrawal (New York Times, January 16, 2019)
NEW: No pay. No retirement. No stink bugs by mail. The shutdown pain is spreading (Science, January 16, 2019)
"The impasse has already meant a lost paycheck for some 800,000 federal employees, as well as missed payments for thousands more contractors and academic researchers. Agencies have canceled dozens of meetings to review thousands of funding proposals, at one of the busiest times for federal grantmaking. Researchers inside and outside of government have postponed, restructured, or just given up entirely on planned studies.
The shutdown could soon paralyze federally funded scientific facilities and research centers that have been largely insulated from the pain because they are operated by contractors who get paid in advance, often on a quarterly basis. 'But now that quarterly check may or may not be coming,' says Benjamin Corb, public affairs director at the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in Rockville, Maryland. 'The uncertainty is creating a real mess.'"

Trump is ignoring the law to keep the shutdown from causing him political pain ()Washington Post, January 15, 2019)
"In past shutdowns, more of the government ceased operating. Since the Constitution says the government can spend only money that has been appropriated by Congress, there’s only so much that can legally be done during a shutdown to mitigate harm. The government provides a wide range of important services, and when it has no funding, most of those services must stop, and the people who provide them cannot get their paychecks. The law limits what activities can continue during a shutdown: those necessary to protect life or property, to carry out the president’s core constitutional responsibilities, and to operate programs that Congress has said should continue in the absence of funding.
But Trump has shunted aside legal and programmatic considerations in favor of two imperatives: keeping bad press to a minimum and keeping influential supporters happy."
Dahr Jamail, "We Can't Undo This" (Tom Dispatch, January 15, 2019)
"Dahr Jamail’s just-published book, The End of Ice, focuses on climate change. TomDispatch author and naturalist William DeBuys has this to say about it: 'In a sane world, The End of Ice would be the end of lame excuses that climate change is too abstract to get worked up about. From the Arctic to the Amazon, from doomed Miami to the Great Barrier Reef, Dahr Jamail brings every frontier in our ongoing calamity into close focus. The losses are tangible. And so is the grief. This is more than a good book. It is a wise one.'"
Flowers can hear buzzing bees - and it makes their nectar sweeter. (National Geographic, January 15, 2019)
"I’d like people to understand that hearing is not only for ears."
IBM, Which Will Soon be Buying Red Hat, is Promoting Software Patents in Europe (Techrights, January 15, 2019)
This obscure company is doing more to destroy a free press in America than Trump (Philadelphia Inquirer, January 15, 2019)
"The newspaper’s shrinkage was the direct result of a distant Wall Street hedge fund that - through its investment vehicle with the Orwellian-like dishonest name of Digital First Media - had since 2013 been sucking money in full vampire-squid mode out of the Daily Camera’s newsroom revenue stream. Much of the cash that formerly paid reporters, editors and photojournalists instead went into the pocket of billionaire Randall Smith as Smith added to his collection of multi-million-dollar mansions around Palm Beach and the Hamptons (said at one point to be 18 - that’s not a typo - and counting).
For America’s news consumers, reality is probably about to get even worse. Digital First Media, a sister firm called MNG and their hedge-fund parent - the Smith-led Alden Global Capital - have launched a hostile takeover bid to gain control of America’s other biggest owner of daily newspapers, Gannett."
Why Doesn’t Donald Trump’s Cozy Relationship With Vladimir Putin Worry His Supporters? Jefferson Davis’s Treason Case Holds a Clue. (The Intercept, January 15, 2019)
(And President Andrew Johnson was a bad role model, too.)
William Barr carefully distances himself from Trump on key issues (Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2019)
'Do As I Say, Not As I Do:' Rand 'Socialized-Medicine-Is-Slavery' Paul Headed to Canada for Some Surgery (Common Dreams, January 14, 2019)
"When a 'libertarian' goes for some socialized medicine..."
Passenger gets gun through TSA checkpoint on Atlanta to Tokyo flight, two agents fired (NBC News, January 14, 2019)
"The agency said in a statement that the security breach was not due to the partial government shutdown."
NEW: It's not a shutdown as a means to an end; the shutdown is its own end. (Sarah Kendzior, January 14, 2019)
"Once again, people are relying on norms and expectations that do not apply to Trump. There is no leverage in poll numbers; this is not about the base. This is not about the wall. This is about the end. 
The GOP ideology of the 2013 shutdown -- weaken government, deem federal services unnecessary, and ultimately privatize and profit -- has merged with the kleptocratic agenda of a Russian asset who wants to not only destroy federal services, but destroy the US itself."
Trump Discussed Pulling U.S. From NATO, Aides Say Amid New Concerns Over Russia (New York Times, January 14, 2019)
"There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years. Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States."
Even FOX News Can't Avoid How Badly the Trump Shutdown is Going Over with the American People (Daily KOS, January 14, 2019)
"At least six polls show that America blames Trump for the shutdown and opposes his exploitation of it for a stupid vanity wall. Trump is also fielding questions about whether he is a Russian asset. And it's been discovered that he has been suppressing information about his private meetings with Vladimir Putin. If Trump isn't a Russian asset, he's doing an awfully good imitation of one."
Trump, on shutdown’s 24th day, says he’s ‘not looking’ to call national emergency (Los Angeles Times, January 14, 2019)
"Speaking as he departed for New Orleans, where he will address a convention of farmers, Trump claimed of Democrats that many of them are calling and saying, ‘We agree with you,’ although he offered no names. He added, 'Many of them are calling and many of them are breaking. The Republicans are rock solid.' In reality, the Democrats have stood firm behind their leaders, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.
Republicans, however, are showing splits. Some politically vulnerable Senate Republicans have stated publicly that they would prefer to end the shutdown and fight separately for additional border security funding, including a wall. (And remember that BOTH Chambers unanimously approved that action, before Trump vetoed it!) But hard-line conservatives tell the president that would be tantamount to accepting defeat and would disappoint his supporters."
The horrifying purpose of Special Atomic Demolition Munition units: 'We all knew it was a one-way mission, a suicide mission.' (Army Times, January 14, 2019)
"The hand-carried nukes evolved out of even smaller nuclear weapons that had been developed in the 1950s. Those included the Davy Crockett nuclear warheads that could be fired from bazookas and even recoilless rifles. The problem was, the blast range was larger than the trajectory."
Donald Trump, the Kremlin and the ghost of Alger Hiss (Spectator USA, January 14, 2019)
"The anti-Trump 'Resistance' ought to prepare itself for disappointment, since the unclassified version of the Mueller report will be lacking in detail."
NEW: Trump's call-in to Fox News backfires, and he may have committed a felony in the process (Daily KOS, January 14, 2019)
Ajit Pai Refuses to Brief Congress About Why Bounty Hunters Can Buy Cell Phone Location Data (Vice, January 14, 2019)
"The Chairman's staff said the selling of location data is not a 'threat to the safety of human life or property that the FCC will address during the Trump shutdown.'"
Judge blocks Trump birth control rules in 13 states and D.C. (NBC News, January 13, 2019)
"The new rules, allowing more employers to opt out of providing free birth control under Obamacare, are set to take effect elsewhere on Monday."
Federal worker with diabetes says she can’t afford to pay for insulin during shutdown (The Hill, January 13, 2019)
Trump concealed details of his face-to-face encounters with Putin from senior officials in administration (Washington Post, January 13, 2019)
"The constraints that Trump imposed are part of a broader pattern by the president of shielding his communications with Putin from public scrutiny and preventing even high-ranking officials in his own administration from fully knowing what he has told one of the United States’ main adversaries. As a result, U.S. officials said there is no detailed record, even in classified files, of Trump’s face-to-face interactions with the Russian leader at five locations over the past two years. Such a gap would be unusual in any presidency, let alone one that Russia sought to install through what U.S. intelligence agencies have described as an unprecedented campaign of election interference."
Mueller investigation isn't only probing Trump's role as a conspirator, but as a closet Chekist (Daily KOS, January 12, 2019)
All signs point the same way: Vladimir Putin has compromising information on Donald Trump (USA Today, January 13, 2019)
"The existence of the counterintelligence investigation is not a scandal. Indeed, it would be scandal if we had found out today that the FBI had not launched an investigation. Trump’s behavior regarding Russia has always presented a serious security concern. But when Trump fires the director of the FBI, and then brags about it to actual Russians, only the most stupid or craven law enforcement agency would decline to investigate what to any counterintelligence officer would be the brightest of dozens of flashing red lights."
'This is the biggest political story ever' - experts react to the Trump-Russia FBI investigation (Daily KOS, January 12, 2019)
NEW: Cambridge Analytica, DARPA , Watson = Political Psyops (Karol Cummins, January 12, 2019)
"We will learn a great deal when the indictments fall on the witting American assets who conspired with RU to psyops/influence USA & EU voters with military precision. Here are a few clues."
How Trump’s border wall would fit with previous national emergency declarations (Washington Post, January 12, 2019)
"Trump has said repeatedly that he has the power to declare the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border a national emergency, calling the law '100 percent on my side.' But with the number of apprehensions far down from 2000, he may have a difficult time making that justification politically."
National park visitors cut down protected Joshua trees during partial government shutdown (CNN, January 12, 2019)
D.C. Laughing Because WH Water Bill Past Due, Trump Plans To Mis-Appropriate Funds To Build Wall (Daily KOS, January 12, 2019)
"Seeing the knowledge level demonstrated by White House staff, in this case Kellyanne Conway, I am thankful that she is pushing that the emergency escape hatch for the Republicans of Donald taking control of the budget. One has to wonder if she is aware that declaring a National Emergency immediately allows the House to vote as to the legitimacy of the 'Emergency' and should they declare it a Phony Emergency, the Senate MUST hold a vote of the House’s action? No refusal to bring it to the floor of the Senate or hide it in a committee. ​​​​​​​That’s not my definition of a escape hatch, more likely giving us even more fodder for 2020 knowing each and everyone one of them MUST show whether this is legit.
Don isn’t mentally ill. He is an Adderall drug addict and been one for a long time. What we are seeing is the advanced stages of Illegal (snorting) Adderall use. Megalomania. Irrationality. Self delusion. Persecution complex. Detachment from reality. Unable to control self. Reacting emotionally. Unable to focus. Nuts."
TSA workers can expect a paycheck this week as their boss gives them a bonus (Washington Post, January 12, 2019)
Air traffic controllers sue Trump for being forced to work with no pay (Washington Post, January 11, 2019)
Trump sold $35 million in real estate in 2018 - over half came from a deal requiring HUD approval (Daily KOS, January 11, 2019)
Trump administration official knows what women need: magic semen and life at home with the kids (Daily KOS, January 11, 2019)
One day our sun will solidify into a giant crystal orb (Los Angeles Times, January 11, 2019)
Will the Media Be Trump's Accomplice Again in 2020? (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
"We have a second chance. Let’s not blow it."
If Trump declares a national emergency, Nancy Pelosi can immediately force a vote on rolling it back (Daily KOS, January 11, 2019)
"As soon as Trump declares an emergency, Nancy Pelosi can force a vote over whether or not that emergency continues."
Trump prepares to declare a unitary government, as Republicans cheer him on (Daily KOS, January 11, 2019)
"When the executive wants something and can’t get it through Congress, the answer is … no. You don’t get it. When President Obama was negotiating for health care, it took repeated, drastic compromises and counter offers to secure the bare majority that saw the Affordable Care Act go through on a narrow majority. At no point did Obama say, 'Screw this, the public option is so vital, I’m going to declare a national emergency and just implement it anyway.' And he could have. Health care represented a much, much, much larger problem than anything that’s happening on the southern border. So does the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. So do any number of other issues. Republicans aren’t just opening the door to Trump bypassing Congress to get his wall; they’re making it clear that he always has an out. That Congress is not allowed to say no to Trump."
Voters to Trump: Knock it off (Washington Post, January 11, 2019)
"Polling continues to show the shutdown is a loser with voters, and Trump is to blame. A new NPR/Ipsos polls tells us that three-quarters of Americans say the government shutdown, now tied for the longest in U.S. history, is 'embarrassing for the country,' including a majority of Republicans. . . . [and] about 7 in 10 in the NPR/Ipsos poll also say the government shutdown is going to hurt the country, that it will hurt the economy and that Congress should pass a bill to reopen the government now while budget talks continue. Contrary to Trump’s strategy, 'Just 3 in 10 believe the government should remain closed until there is funding for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.'"
F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.
The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice. Agents and senior F.B.I. officials had grown suspicious of Mr. Trump’s ties to Russia during the 2016 campaign but held off on opening an investigation into him, the people said, in part because they were uncertain how to proceed with an inquiry of such sensitivity and magnitude. But the president’s activities before and after Mr. Comey’s firing in May 2017, particularly two instances in which Mr. Trump tied the Comey dismissal to the Russia investigation, helped prompt the counterintelligence aspect of the inquiry, the people said.
The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, took over the inquiry into Mr. Trump when he was appointed, days after F.B.I. officials opened it. That inquiry is part of Mr. Mueller’s broader examination of how Russian operatives interfered in the 2016 election and whether any Trump associates conspired with them.
Fact Check of the Day: The Many Ways Trump Has Said Mexico Will Pay for the Wall (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
T.S.A. Agents Refuse to Work During Shutdown, Raising Fears of Airport Turmoil (New York Times, January 11, 2019)
Trump's Shutdown could cost the economy $13 billion a month (MSN, January 11, 2019)
1958 TV Show Had Conman ‘Trump’ Selling Mystical ‘Wall’ To Hysterical Townspeople (Talking Points Memo, January 10, 2019)
FBI Agents Complain To Trump That Shutdown Undermines The Bureau - Maybe That's The Plan? (Daily KOS, January 10, 2019)
Air traffic controllers get their first shutdown pay stub: $0.00 (Washington Post, January 10, 2019)
(We're glad we flew home cross-country early this week!)
Trump’s ‘forrest’ mismanagement threats are as disturbingly uninformed as they are authoritarian (Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2019)
EPA backs down from plan that could have allowed youth farmworkers to handle pesticides (Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2019)
Trump could take billions from disaster areas to fund wall (NBC News, January 10, 2019)
"Under the proposal, Trump could dip into money set aside to fund civil works projects all over the country including storm-damaged areas of Puerto Rico.
Rep. Nydia Velázquez, D-N.Y., said the Democrats would fight 'with every ounce of energy we have' to stop the president from using Army Corps funds to build a southern border wall. 'It would be beyond appalling for the president to take money from places like Puerto Rico that have suffered enormous catastrophes, costing thousands of American citizens lives, in order to pay for Donald Trump’s foolish, offensive and hateful wall,' Velázquez said. 'Siphoning funding from real disasters to pay for a crisis manufactured by the president is wholly unacceptable and the American people won’t fall for it.'"
‘If there’s a concrete wall in front of you, go through it,’ Trump said in 2004 speech (Washington Post, January 10, 2019)
‘Totally bonkers!’: Trump slams media in late-night tweets after failed shutdown meeting (Washington Post, January 10, 2019)
Trump's PR stunt accidentally proves that his wall won't work (Daily KOS, January 10, 2019)
Broadcasting from Deep Space, a Mysterious Series of Radio Signals (New York Times, January 10, 2019)
Earth’s magnetic field is acting up and geologists don’t know why (Nature, January 9, 2019)
Google Knows You Better Than Your Doctor Ever Could (Bloomberg, January 9, 2019)
"It's not intended as a substitute for medical professionals, but it has become one - free, convenient and crowdsourced."
Trump’s wall isn’t evil. It’s medieval. (Washington Post, January 9, 2019)
NEW: Science's blind spot (Aeon, January 8, 2019)
"It’s tempting to think science gives a God’s-eye view of reality. But we forget the place of human experience at our peril."
This Highway Sign Gave Me An Out-of-Body Experience (Daily KOS, January 8, 2019)
A Paul Manafort court filing just accidentally connected some big dots between the Trump campaign and Russia (Washington Post, January 8, 2019)
Trump Gets Instant Fact-Check From Fox News' Shepard Smith After Oval Office Speech (Daily Beast, January 8, 2019)
The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell, on Trump's "Empty" Oval Office Speech (MSNBC, January 8, 2019)
Rachel Maddow Show, on Trump's "Empty" Oval Office Speech (MSNBC, January 8, 2019)
Trump Cites Misleading Statistics of Crisis and Crime Along Border in New Appeal for Wall (New York Times, January 8, 2019)
A Look at Trump’s Biggest Border Lies (ACLU, January 8, 2019)
Pence explains Trump’s dubious claim: He’s not lying; he just doesn’t know any better (Washington Post, January 8, 2019)
Your fact-checking cheat sheet for Trump’s immigration address (Washington Post, January 7, 2019)
U.S. top court rejects Exxon in climate change document dispute (Reuters, January 7, 2019)
"The Massachusetts and New York investigations were launched following 2015 news reports that Exxon’s own scientists had determined that fossil fuel combustion must be reduced to mitigate the impact of climate change. Those news reports, by InsideClimate News and the Los Angeles Times, were based on documents from the 1970s and 1980s. Exxon said the documents were not inconsistent with its public positions.
Massachusetts A.G. Maura Healey in 2016 issued a civil investigative demand to Exxon seeking documents to investigate whether it had violated the state’s consumer-protection law through its marketing and sale of fossil fuel products. Exxon said that because it is incorporated in Texas and New Jersey, Healey had no basis to seek documents to conduct a Massachusetts-based investigation. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in April held that jurisdiction existed because of Exxon’s control over advertising conducted for about 300 franchise gas stations operating under the Exxon and Mobil brands in Massachusetts. Exxon appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and now that appeal has been rejected."
What’s behind the confidence of the incompetent? This suddenly popular psychological phenomenon. (Washington Post, January 7, 2019)
"The Dunning-Kruger Effect explains why unskilled people think they know it all and tend to be overconfident."
The Border Wall: How a Potent Symbol Is Now Boxing Trump In (New York Times, January 5, 2019)
"Before it became the chief sticking point in a government shutdown drama that threatens to consume his presidency at a critical moment, President Trump’s promise to build a wall on the southwestern border was a memory trick for an undisciplined candidate."
The Border Wall: What Has Trump Built So Far? (New York Times, January 5, 2019)
Shutdown spares federal park rangers at site in Trump's Washington hotel (Los Angeles Times, January 5, 2019)
Pay raises frozen for Pence, Cabinet members until shutdown is over (CNN, January 5, 2019)
Enough Is Enough. The Air Lines Pilots Association Writes Trump A Letter Telling Him To Get Real (Daily KOS, January 5, 2019)
"The president of the Air Line Pilots Association, International, representing 61,000 pilots, wrote a candid letter to his nibs, breaking down the reality of the situation. Basically, in human terms, the safety and security of the entire airspace system is in jeopardy and its workers are unfairly being asked to put themselves in egregious financial straits, from which they may never recover. So the pilots are asking Trump to stop the shutdown 'immediately.'"
Milky Way to face a one-two punch of galaxy collisions (Ars Technica, January 5, 2019)
"The Large Magellanic Cloud will hit us before Andromeda can get here."
Our privacy regime is broken. Congress needs to create new norms for a digital age. (Washington Post, January 5, 2019)
Lawsuit: Weather Channel illegally shared user location data with advertisers. (Ars Technica, January 4, 2019)
"IBM-owned company accused of tricking app users with false disclosures."
German politicians’ personal data posted online; government probes source of attack (Los Angeles Times, January 4, 2019)
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shuts down 'DanceGate' nonsense in 11-second video (Daily KOS, January 4, 2019)
This shutdown is already one of the longest ever. Here’s how others ended. (Washington Post, January 4, 2019)
Pressure builds on McConnell in shutdown as Republicans start to peel away (Daily KOS, January 4, 2019)
Recently reelected Maine state lawmaker leaves Republican Party (The Hill, January 4, 2019)
Dem rep asks for pay to be withheld during government shutdown (The Hill, January 4, 2019)
NEW: House Democrats officially unveil HR-1, their first bill in the majority: a sweeping anti-corruption proposal (Vox, January 4, 2019)
"Democrats will take up voting rights, campaign finance reform, and a lobbying crackdown — all in their first bill of the year."
The lies Comcast allegedly told customers to hide full cost of service (Ars Technica, January 3, 2019)
"Minnesota AG seeks refunds, saying thousands of Comcast customers were harmed."
Machine learning can offer new tools, fresh insights for the humanities (Ars Technica, January 3, 2019)
"From the French Revolution to the history of the novel, Big Data makes its mark."
NEW: New polling shows voters - including independents - want Congress to pass an anti-corruption bill (Vox, January 3, 2019)
"Democrats’ anti-corruption bill HR 1 has good poll numbers behind it. But can they make it law?"
GOP senator calls on Congress to end government shutdown without border deal (The Hill, January 3, 2019)
"Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), who faces a potentially tough reelection in 2020, says Congress should re-open the federal government, even without a deal on funding President Trump’s border wall. Gardner is the first Senate Republican to call for ending the partial shutdown even without a deal on Trump’s demand for $5 billion to fund a border wall."
China's Yutu 2 Rover Is Driving on the Far Side of the Moon (Space.com, January 3, 2019)
China Makes Historic 1st Landing on Mysterious Far Side of the Moon (Space.com, January 3, 2019)
With Ultima Thule Flyby, NASA Probe Helps Unlock Secrets of Planetary Formation (Space.com, January 3, 2019)
'Meet Ultima Thule': 1st Color Photo of New Horizons Target Reveals a Red 'Snowman' (Space.com, January 2, 2019)
Ocasio-Cortez Breaks With Pelosi in Key Early Vote for Democrats (Bloomberg, January 2, 2019)
"Ocasio-Cortez, a 29-year-old representative-elect from New York City, said on Twitter Wednesday that the system referred to as paygo 'isn’t only bad economics,' but is 'also a dark political maneuver designed to hamstring progress on healthcare+other leg. We shouldn’t hinder ourselves from the start.'"

Source: Trump tells Schumer he can't accept Dems' offer because he'd 'look foolish' (CNN, January 2, 2019)
NBC News veteran warns of 'Trump circus' in 2,228-word farewell (CNN, January 2, 2019)
"William Arkin's frustrated farewell memo to NBC News says that his time at NBC News has been 'gratifying.' But he bluntly expresses his displeasure with the 'Trump circus,' US foreign policy failures, and the state of television news. 'In our day-to-day whirlwind and hostage status as prisoners of Donald Trump, I think — like everyone else does — that we miss so much,' Arkin says. He is a sharp critic of what he calls 'perpetual war' and the 'creeping fascism of homeland security.'"
Harry Reid Has a Few Words for Washington (New York Times, January 2, 2019)
"The former Senate majority leader on President Trump and Senator Chuck Schumer, and on why he doesn’t regret ending the filibuster for judicial appointments. Reid had dismissed Trump as a 'spoiled brat,' a 'con man' and a 'human leech.'
Mitt Romney: The president shapes the public character of the nation. Trump’s character falls short. (Washington Post, January 1, 2019)

NEW: AP FACT CHECK: Trump’s political spin on migrant deaths (Associated Press, December 31, 2018)
Record Breaker! NASA Probe Slips into Orbit Around Asteroid Bennu (Space.com, December 31, 2018)
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris: Everyone Gets Sick. And We Deserve Better. (New York Times, December 29, 2018)
"What my mother’s death taught me about the health care system America needs."
Markets poised to finish year with worst performance in a decade - and the volatility seems certain to continue (Washington Post, December 29, 2018)
"The past three months have been brutal for stocks, with key markets down 15 to 20 percent from their peaks. Analysts are predicting that the roller-coaster ride is likely to continue into the new year. The Federal Reserve is pushing forward with a campaign of ­interest-rate hikes that will slow economic growth. President Trump’s trade conflicts, particularly with China, are continuing and could escalate. The global economy is slowing. And the turmoil engulfing the White House appears to be intensifying."
In Yemen, an unnatural disaster (Washington Post, December 27, 2018)
"The country’s hunger crisis is born of deliberate policies, pursued primarily by a Saudi-led coalition backed by the United States."
Iraqi politicians, fuming after Trump's visit, demand U.S. forces leave the country (Los Angeles Times, December 27, 2018)
"Iraqi leaders are demanding U.S. troops leave the country after President Trump’s surprise visit to Iraq, which lawmakers characterized as an arrogant affront to the nation’s sovereignty. Trump made a three-hour sojourn in Iraq, traveling to Asad Air Base, some 115 miles northwest of Baghdad, but he did not meet with any Iraqi officials. And in Iraq’s parliament, that perceived slight left both Washington’s allies and its foes fuming."
Trump, visiting troops in Iraq, makes false claims about raising military pay (Los Angeles Times, December 26, 2018)
"President Trump bragged Wednesday to troops stationed in Iraq that he had secured them a massive pay raise, repeating a false claim he's made repeatedly on the campaign trail. Trump made the boast during his first visit as president to troops in a combat zone.
The president also stated - incorrectly - that he had authorized the first military pay increase in a decade. 'You haven't gotten one in more than 10 years,' Trump said. 'More than 10 years. And we got you a big one. I got you a big one. I got you a big one.' Military pay, in fact, has risen every year for three decades.
Presenting himself as an ardent supporter of the military just days after the resignation of respected Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, who cited policy disagreements with the president in an astonishing resignation letter, Trump also repeated another common falsehood - his claim that the new Pentagon budget is the largest increase in defense funding ever."
Erdogan’s Anti-Semitism Will Sink Turkey’s Economy (Foreign Policy, December 24, 2018)
"The Turkish president’s racist conspiracy theories are a threat to economic stability."
700 Tage im Amt – 7.546 Mal gelogen (T-Online, Germany's top Webnews; December 23, 2018)
(Do you really need a translation?)
NEW: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Says Congressional Salaries Should Be Furloughed During a Shutdown (Rolling Stone, December 23, 2018)
"'Have some integrity,' the congresswoman-elect tweeted."
Based on Trump’s 'detailed diagram' of his slat wall, here is some advanced mathematics (Washington Post, December 23, 2018)
"For probably the first time in American history, part of the government is shut down for lack of funding because of a dispute over a construction project. No longer would the wall be concrete planks, Trump now says, but instead 'artistically designed steel slats' - between which, drugs and even slim people could pass through. For all of the slats, we’d need about 9 million cubic feet of steel. As CNBC notes, that steel is a lot pricier than it was a year ago, thanks to the tariffs Trump imposed on foreign steel. At the beginning of 2018, this barrier would have cost 25 percent less. A civil engineer wrote in to note that, at current prices of $160 per cubic foot, the steel alone would cost about $1.5 billion -- excluding steel that would need to be used to extend the slats into the ground. She also noted that a 1-inch-thick wall wouldn’t be terribly sturdy."
Trump can launch nuclear weapons whenever he wants, with or without Mattis (Washington Post, December 23, 2018)
"No defense secretary can stop an impulsive president - yet.
Patrick Shanahan, Trump’s pick for acting defense secretary, steps into spotlight after Mattis’s ouster (Washington Post, December 23, 2018)
"Patrick Shanahan, a former Boeing executive, has no military experience, no previous government experience and little experience with foreign policy."
Trump Is Pushing Defense Secretary Mattis Out Of His Post Two Months Early (BuzzFeed, December 23, 2018)
"The president is replacing Defense Secretary James Mattis two months earlier than his planned retirement, amid concerns from Congress and the defense community over Mattis' exit from the administration. Trump tweeted on Sunday that he will replace Mattis with Deputy Secretary of Defense, Patrick Shanahan, who will take on the role of Acting Secretary of Defense on January 1."
The US Envoy On ISIS, Brett McGurk, Quit In Protest Over Trump's Withdrawal From Syria (BuzzFeed, December 23, 2018)
"It's the second major resignation over the president's decision in as many days."
For Trump, ‘a War Every Day,’ Waged Increasingly Alone (New York Times, December 22, 2018)
"At the midpoint of his term, the president has grown more sure of his own judgment and more isolated from anyone else’s than at any point since he took office."
Robert Reich: The end is near for Trump (Alternet, December 22, 2018)
"Trump is a 'dangerous menace.'"
 ‘A rogue presidency’: The era of containing Trump is over (Washington Post, December 22, 2018)
"For two years, they tried to tutor and confine him. They taught him history, explained nuances and gamed out reverberations. They urged careful deliberation, counseled restraint and prepared talking points to try to sell mainstream actions to a restive conservative base hungry for disruption. But in the end, they failed.
For President Trump, the era of containment is over. One by one, the seasoned advisers seen as bulwarks against Trump’s most reckless impulses have been cast aside or, as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis did Thursday, resigned in an extraordinary act of protest. What Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) once dubbed an 'adult day care center' has gone out of business."
‘This is tyranny of talk radio hosts, right?’: Limbaugh and Coulter blamed for Trump’s shutdown (Washington Post, December 22, 2018)
"On his radio show Wednesday, Limbaugh said the president was 'getting ready to cave' on getting money for the wall in the budget.  'It’s a textbook example of what the drive-by media calls compromise,' Limbaugh said. 'Trump gets nothing, and the Democrats get everything, including control of the House.'
Coulter, during a podcast on the Daily Caller, said Trump’s White House would become 'a joke presidency who scammed the American people' if he didn’t build the wall, adding that 'he’ll have no legacy whatsoever.' She also wrote a scathing column about the president and launched a flurry of criticisms on Twitter."
'Fear grips Republican officeholders': Conservative writer explains why Trump's chances of impeachment are rising (Alternet, December 21, 2018)

"If you're worried about getting impeached, don't spook the Senate."

'They're going to absolutely crush him': Trump is reportedly panicking and 'losing it' as Democrats finally gain the upper hand (Alternet, December 21, 2018)
"He didn't realize he's playing a losing game."

How Russian Money Helped Save Trump’s Business (Foreign Policy, December 21, 2018)
"After his financial disasters two decades ago, no U.S. bank would touch him. Then foreign money began flowing in."
Top US Intelligence Official Confirms Russian Propagandists Tried To Meddle In The Midterms (BuzzFeed, December 21, 2018)
"In a classified report, the US director of national intelligence confirmed that Russia, and to an extent China and Iran, tried to influence American voters in November."
NEW (Update): Former Member of Obama's NSC Says Mattis Has Inserted Himself in the Nuke Chain of Command (Daily KOS, December 21, 2018)
Glee in Russia Over Trump’s Foreign Policy Largess (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"'Trump is God’s gift that keeps on giving,' said Vladimir Frolov, a Russian columnist and foreign affairs analyst. 'Trump implements Russia’s negative agenda by default, undermining the U.S.–led world order, U.S. alliances, U.S. credibility as a partner and an ally. All of this on his own. Russia can just relax and watch and root for Trump, which Putin does at every TV appearance.'"
America’s Allies Fear That Traditional Ties No Longer Matter Under Trump (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"America’s allies in Europe and Asia thought they had learned to digest and compensate for the instinctive unpredictability of President Trump. But the bitter resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and the abrupt announcement of plans to withdraw troops from Syria and Afghanistan are being viewed as watershed moments for Washington’s relations with the world."
In a Flash, U.S. Military Policy Turns Inward and Echoes Across the Globe (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"On Friday morning, America’s 1.3 million active-duty service members woke up to a new reality: Their leader, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, had resigned over the Syria withdrawal and Mr. Trump’s rejection of international alliances, and everything he and other military leaders had told them through three presidencies had suddenly been abandoned."
In Afghanistan, Alarm and a Sense of Betrayal Over U.S. Drawdown (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"Afghan officials said they had not been consulted or even warned about the drawdown. And the timing was likely to complicate the American push for peace talks with the Taliban, which requires maintaining pressure, or at least holding the line, on the battlefield.
Just this week, senior American diplomats had conducted two days of extensive talks with representatives of the insurgency, with the future of the United States military presence among the topics discussed. And hours before the troop pulldown became public knowledge, Zalmay Khalilzad, the most senior American diplomat involved in the talks, said he had made it clear to the Taliban that the American commitment was firm."
Opinion: Shutdown? More Like a Breakdown (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"This is what happens when the nation’s chief executive holds a leadership philosophy akin to that of the Petyr Baelish character on 'Game of Thrones' - namely, that 'chaos is a ladder.' For most people, uncertainty and disorder are scary, unsettling forces to be avoided. But for Mr. Trump, they are cherished friends and strategic assets, in part specifically because other people are so anxious to avoid them. The president clearly believes that throwing everyone else off balance gives him an edge - that is, if he can make the turmoil fierce enough, those around him will give up and give in.
Better still, even when he doesn’t get his way, piling on the pandemonium keeps people from focusing on any one piece of it. The normal human mind can cope with only so much drama before it gets overloaded. Mr. Trump grasps better than most that a single scandal is cause for public outrage, while a million scandals is a statistic.
There’s no doubt that Mr. Trump was upset about conservatives trashing him for flirting with a wall-free spending bill. This president is driven by an insatiable need for adulation. The less popular he becomes with the bulk of the nation, the more vital it is for him - emotionally and politically - to keep his base happy.
Revving up the wall fight allows Mr. Trump to divert attention from so much of the other drama threatening to swallow him up. Even by Trumpian standards, the president has been enduring a bumpy patch. This week alone, Wall Street had its worst stretch in a decade; the Trump Foundation agreed to close up shop following accusations of 'a shocking pattern of illegality'; the Supreme Court declined to allow enforcement of Mr. Trump’s planned asylum ban, with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg casting her vote shortly before undergoing surgery for lung cancer; and a backlash erupted over Mr. Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria and Afghanistan. This move proved too much for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who tendered his resignation on Thursday with a letter widely received as a rebuke to the president’s approach to foreign policy and national security. At this rate, the only person left in the administration by Valentine’s Day will be Mick Mulvaney, the incoming acting White House chief of staff. Then again, word around Washington is that the president has been displeased with Mr. Mulvaney’s failure to come up with shutdown solutions, and in 2015, Mr. Mulvaney called Mr. Trump’s ideas about a border wall 'absurd and almost childish.' So who knows how long until that relationship sours? And, of course, hovering above it all, the president’s legal troubles keep mounting as the Russia investigation churns on.
Faced with all that, who wouldn’t rather throw himself into a fight - maybe even shut down parts of the government - over a border wall? At least with his wall, Mr. Trump gets to pretend that he is still in control, even as his administration sinks further and further into the swamp. "
U.S. Federal Agencies Partial Shutdown to Take Effect at Midnight as Talks Fail to Break Impasse (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"With the clock ticking toward a shutdown on Friday, Mr. Trump remained adamant and appeared resigned to a shutdown, saying he hoped to keep funds flowing past midnight but that his adversaries must agree to fund his border wall. 'Now it’s up to the Democrats as to whether or not we have a shutdown tonight,' Mr. Trump said at the White House on Friday morning, moments after meeting with Senate Republicans. 'I hope we don’t, but we are totally prepared for a very long shutdown. This is our only chance that we will ever have, in our opinion.'
It was a striking reversal from his televised declaration during the Oval Office meeting a week ago that he relished the prospect of shuttering the government to force Democrats to accept a wall, and that he would not blame them for the outcome."
Bill Barr Just Argued Himself Out of a Job (New York Times, December 21, 2018)
"His recent memo to President Trump seriously damages his credibility and raises questions about his fitness for the Justice Department’s top position."
The Truth Behind This Bomb That Took Down Pan Am 103 Over Lockerbie Remains a 30-Year Mystery (Observer, December 21, 2018)
"It is troubling that what U.S. intelligence confidently believed about the attack never translated into judicial or political action. The atrocity that took place over Scotland 30 years ago remains the deadliest terror attack on American civilians except for 9/11."
For the First Time in More Than 20 Years, Copyrighted Works Will Enter the Public Domain (Smithsonian Magazine, December 21, 2018)
"It's been 21 years since the last mass expiration of copyright in the U.S. The release is unprecedented, and its impact on culture and creativity could be huge. We have never seen such a mass entry into the public domain in the digital age. The last one - in 1998, when 1922 slipped its copyright bond - predated Google. 'We have shortchanged a generation,' said Brewster Kahle, founder of the Internet Archive. 'The 20th century is largely missing from the internet.'"
Juul, the vape device teens are getting hooked on, explained (Vox, December 20, 2018)
"If you’ve seen people sucking on what look like USB flash drives, they’re probably 'Juuling.'"
Winters are warming faster than summers. These US cities could lose weeks of freezing days by 2050. (Vox, December 20, 2018)
"The dire consequences of having fewer days below freezing, explained."
‘A tailspin’: Under siege, Trump propels the government and markets into crisis (Washington Post, December 20, 2018)
"President Trump began Thursday under siege, listening to howls of indignation from conservatives over his border wall and thrusting the government toward a shutdown. He ended it by announcing the exit of the man U.S. allies see as the last guardrail against the president’s erratic behavior: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, whose resignation letter was a scathing rebuke of Trump’s worldview.
At perhaps the most fragile moment of his presidency — and vulnerable to convulsions on the political right — Trump single-handedly propelled the U.S. government into crisis and sent markets tumbling with his gambits this week to salvage signature campaign promises.
The president’s decisions and conduct have led to a fracturing of Trump’s coalition. Hawks condemned his sudden decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria. Conservatives called him a “gutless president” and questioned whether he would ever build a wall. Political friends began privately questioning whether Trump needed to be reined in."
What to Expect When Expecting a Government Shutdown (New York Times, December 20, 2018)
"Here are the agencies and services that would shutter if the government shuts down Saturday.
With ninety percent of their personnel considered essential, the Department of Homeland Security will be hit the hardest. Nearly 54,000 Customs and Border Protection agents and 42,000 Coast Guard employees are projected to work without pay, and as travelers flood the nation’s airports and train stations, 53,000 T.S.A. agents will keep working, as will air traffic controllers and aviation and railroad safety inspectors.
Law enforcement officers at the Justice Department will also be expected to continue working over the holidays without pay, including nearly 17,000 correctional officers, 14,000 F.B.I. agents, and 4,000 Drug Enforcement Administration agents. And after a long year battling ferocious wildfires, about 5,000 firefighters with the U.S. Forest Service will also remain on duty.
With funding for the Department of the Interior slated to expire, all 58 of the country’s national parks would shutter over the holidays. Tourists visiting the nation’s capital would also find themselves shut out of many of the district’s headline attractions, including the National Zoo and Smithsonian museums, the National Gallery of Art and the National Archives."
Trump pushes government toward a shutdown or a Wall 'with metal slats,' says he won't sign stopgap money bill (Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2018)
"Trump’s veto threat deepened the chaos in the House as Republican leaders confronted the impending deadline. Funding for about a quarter of federal agencies expires at midnight EST Friday, and a shutdown of the affected agencies would threaten paychecks for hundreds of thousands of federal workers over the holidays.
Forced to shelve the Senate-passed measure, House Republicans planned to vote late Thursday on a government funding bill that included $5 billion for the border wall and $8 billion in disaster relief for a number of states. While the bill could pass the House, it would be all but certain to fail in the Senate, where Republicans’ narrow majority means that Democratic votes would be required for passage. Lawmakers would be back to square one within a day of their shutdown deadline."
NEW: Former Member of Obama's NSC Says Mattis Has Inserted Himself in the Nuke Chain of Command (Daily KOS, December 20, 2018)
Opinion: Jim Mattis Was Right (New York Times, December 20, 2018)
"Who will protect America now?"
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Resigns, Rebuking Trump’s Worldview (New York Times, December 20, 2018)
"Officials said Mr. Mattis went to the White House on Thursday afternoon in a last attempt to convince Mr. Trump to keep American troops in Syria, where they have been fighting the Islamic State. He was rebuffed, and told the president that he was resigning as a result. His departure leaves the Trump administration without one of the few officials viewed as standing between a mercurial president and global tumult. The president said he would name Mr. Mattis’s replacement shortly."
A Bunch Of Countries Just Joined The US In Condemning Chinese Hacking (BuzzFeed, December 20, 2018)
"The accusations that China steals secrets from companies and gives the secrets to its own businesses isn't new, but a joint international condemnation is."
Chinese hackers charged with stealing data from Navy, JPL and U.S. companies (Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2018)
"Among other targets, the two hackers allegedly stole confidential data from the Navy, including the names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, salary information, phone numbers and email addresses of more than 100,000 sailors and other personnel.
They also infiltrated computers linked to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge, the Energy Department’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, and more than 45 companies in at least a dozen states, according to the indictment."
Be Careful of “Innovative” Financial Services (Ask Bob Rankin, December 20, 2018)
"Behind this growing wave of automation that saves banks money at the expense of your time (which has monetary value) has come another breed of fintech services which purports to make money management easier and more profitable to you. But the startup firms behind these new services are just as self-serving and disingenuous as the banks."
NEW: Fake LGBTQ youth hotline set up by Russian election trolls (Daily KOS, December 19, 2018)
Facebook Violates Its Users' Privacy Yet Again (Free Press, December 19, 2018)
"In response to criticism about how it violated its users’ privacy and failed to stop foreign-election interference on the platform, Facebook  paid a conservative PR firm to tie advocacy groups to philanthropist George Soros, tapping into hateful anti-Semitic tropes and tactics. Specifically, Facebook went after company critics including racial-justice nonprofit Color Of Change and groups that launched the Freedom from Facebook campaign. Facebook also worked feverishly to undermine the Russia investigation. Again and again, revelation after revelation shows that Facebook fails to protect its users’ information. Instead of respecting its users’ wishes and controls on privacy, it’s repeatedly granted large companies access to private data."
‘It’s about time’: Facebook faces first lawsuit from U.S. regulators after Cambridge Analytica scandal (Washington Post, December 19, 2018)
"In the months since the Cambridge Analytica scandal began, Facebook has fielded considerable criticism for a series of privacy missteps. Last week, Facebook admitted
that as many as 6.8 million users' photos may have been improperly accessed by third-party apps. On Tuesday, new details emerged about Facebook’s extensive data-sharing arrangements with corporate partners including Amazon and Spotify. The report from The New York Times quickly triggered another round of calls from Capitol Hill for the tech giant to be penalized."
Quark-gluon plasma reveals viscosity-free properties (Ars Technica, December 19, 2018)
"Recreation of the early Universe in the form of quark-gluon plasmas was first reported in collisions of heavy atoms by teams at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider. But then the Large Hadron Collider came along and found that there might be signs of this material in collisions with light atoms. Following LHC observations, the folks at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider reexamined their data and found that they, too, seem to make a quark-gluon plasma without needing heavy atoms. As detectors were upgraded, new experiments revealed more and more details."
Cleveland man alleges racial profiling after bank refuses to cash check, calls 9-1-1 (Cleveland 19 News, December 19, 2018)
Have You Ever Visited Putin's Russia? (Washington Post, December 19, 2018)
"1975 d'étente recalled."
Is Denaturalization the Next Front in the Trump Administration’s War on Immigration? (New York Times, December 19, 2018)
"The prosecution of naturalized United States citizens is a sign of a gathering storm."
All indications are that Michael Flynn covered up something VERY BIG (Daily KOS, December 19, 2018)
"A series of events punctuated most recently by a sentencing hearing gone awry suggest that whatever former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn was covering up when he lied about his Russia contacts, it was a whopper. During Tuesday's sentencing hearing for Flynn, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan worked himself into a lather, noting his disgust and disdain for Flynn's criminal conduct. 'Arguably, that undermines everything this flag over here stands for,' Sullivan charged, pointing to the American flag behind him. 'Arguably, you sold your country out!'"
Opinion: Trump’s Decision to Withdraw From Syria Is Alarming. Just Ask His Advisers. (New York Times, December  19, 2018)
"This isn’t the first time the president and his administration have sent mixed messages."
Trump signed letter of intent on Moscow Project in the middle of his campaign (Daily KOS, December 19, 2018)
"On Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani fell back on Donald Trump’s last line of legal defense. As CNN reported, when Donald Trump’s attorney was confronted by the point that Trump had repeatedly lied to the press and the public about his knowledge of issues around the Russia investigation, he had a ready answer: 'The President's not under oath.'
That’s true enough - though in the past, people seem to have thought that public officials continually lying on important topics was a point of concern. But that new line has already received a heavy workout in court. And it’s about to get tested even more. Because Trump didn’t just send Felix Sater and Michael Cohen off to negotiate a real estate deal in Moscow, he put his signature on the agreement."
Trump signed letter of intent for Trump Tower Moscow project despite Giuliani insisting he didn't (
CNN, December 18, 2018)
"CNN's Chris Cuomo obtained a copy of the signed letter of intent that set the stage for negotiations for Trump condominiums, a hotel and commercial property in the heart of Moscow. The letter is dated October 28, 2015, and bears the President's signature.
When asked on Sunday about the letter, Giuliani incorrectly told CNN's Dana Bash that it had not been signed."
NEW: An Epidemic Is Killing Thousands Of Coal Miners. Regulators Could Have Stopped It (National Public Radio, December 18, 2018)
"For decades, government regulators had evidence of excessive and toxic mine dust exposures, the kind that can cause the advanced stage of black lung disease, known as complicated black lung or progressive massive fibrosis, as they were happening. They knew that miners like Kelly and Smith were likely to become sick and die. They were urged to take specific and direct action to stop it. But they didn't."
As Facebook Raised a Privacy Wall, It Carved an Opening for Tech Giants (New York Times, December 18, 2018)
"Internal documents show that the social network gave Microsoft, Amazon, Spotify and others far greater access to people’s data than it has disclosed."
These Democrats Will Soon Have the Power to Investigate the White House. How Far Will They Go? (New York Times, December 17, 2018)
"In two weeks, congressional Democrats will return to Washington with the authority to investigate a White House that is suspected of foreign collusion, conflicts of interest and mismanagement of the federal government. 'The oversight job after two years of Donald Trump is like coming upon a 73-car pileup on the highway.'"
Rudy Giuliani's truly remarkable answer on Donald Trump's lying (CNN, December 17, 2018)
"GIULIANI: 'The President's not under oath. And the President tried to do the best he can to remember what happened back at a time when he was the busiest man in the world.' This doesn't work on so many levels."
New Reports Shed Light on (Russian) Internet Research Agency’s Social Media Tactics (U.S. Intelligence Committee, December 17, 2018)
"Today, third-party experts released two independent analyses of social media tactics used by Russia’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) in their attempts to influence U.S. political discourse. The reports are the first comprehensive analyses of their kind conducted by entities other than social media companies themselves, and are based in part on data provided by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI). The reports, titled “The Tactics and Tropes of the Internet Research Agency” and “The IRA and Political Polarization in the United States, 2015-2017,” were authored by New Knowledge, and University of Oxford and Graphika, respectively."
Republicans freak out over Obamacare decision, with Pelosi and Schumer promising to bring the pain (Daily KOS, December 17, 2018)
"Incoming Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised immediately after the ruling that House Democrats will intervene in the appeals process to save the law. What's more, they'll force that vote even though they don't technically have to. 'They intend to put all House Members on record and send a clear message to the court that the House as a body endorses defending the Affordable Care Act and its protections for people with pre-existing conditions. That extremist partisan judge just put his party in a world of hurt."
NEW: Just in Time for Supreme Court, Kavanaugh’s Cancer Powder Keg Blows Up (WhoWhatWhy, December 17, 2018)
"Johnson & Johnson has fought those claims aggressively, continues to deny that asbestos in any quantity or form sufficient to cause cancer appears in its baby powder, and has appealed several big jury awards to the contrary. Reuters confirms our reporting that J&J executives and paid lobbyists at the trade group, the Cosmetic, Fragrance & Toiletries Association (CFTA, now called Personal Care Products Council, PCPC), refused to disclose those studies to victims who sued the company, an omission one judge branded as 'misrepresentation.' What other outlets failed to report so far, however, is that the industry’s longtime chief lawyer-lobbyist, Edward Kavanaugh, now retired as president of the CFTA, is the father of Brett Kavanaugh, now an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Should any of the talc cases reach the court as expected, perhaps as soon as the coming session, lawyers for the plaintiffs in the talc cases tell WhoWhatWhy they are likely to ask that Kavanaugh recuse himself."
NEW:
A Rule with No Exceptions? Ain't a Rule/ DOJ's Holding on Indictability (Daily KOS, December 17, 2018)
"This is the text of the ruling:
'A sitting President’s Amenability to Indictment and Crimimal Prosecution
The indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions.'
I do not dispute that Mueller would not deviate from this policy. I’ll leave it to legal scholars to ask whether the policy precludes Mueller from naming Trump as an unindicted co-conspirator and what the signifcance of his doing this would be. He has, it would seem by all accounts, to have actually participated in conspiracies which other people have already pleaded guilty to or are likely to be indicted for including members of his family.
Many of you have probably read or heard Harvard constitutional law professor Lawrence Tribe’s scathing take-down of DOJ policy that bars prosecutors from indicting a sitting presidents: 'Just because DOJ has a policy doesn’t make it reasonable, or not open to Supreme Court challenge.':
'Nothin" in the text, structure, or history of the U.S. Constitution says a sitting President cannot be indicted,' Tribe said. 'Some people claim that, even if Rosenstein gives Mueller permission to indict Trump as DOJ rules allow, the Constitution forbids such indictment. No! Nothing in its text, structure, or history supports that 'POTUS-is- above-the-law' view, nor does any SCOTUS precedent support it.'"
AND: Actually, there is an exception for extraordinary circumstances.
NEW: Should we be able to indict a sitting president? Consider Spiro Agnew. (Washington Post, December 16, 2018)
"What does the nation do if it turns out that a president of the United States has committed serious crimes that a prosecutor can prove beyond a reasonable doubt? One possible resolution would be to offer a plea bargain in which the commander in chief agreed to resign the presidency in exchange for utmost leniency. Perversely, the more financially corrupt or psychologically unstable the White House occupant, the greater his or her bargaining power: Only if you let my client go scot-free, a president’s lawyers could argue, will you be allowed to pry the nuclear codes from his hands.
That is a powerful bargaining chip but one with an expiration date. At the strike of noon on his successor’s Inauguration Day, when the (former) president’s Air Force One turns into a pumpkin, he loses that leverage and becomes like any other citizen before the bar of justice. That gives a provably corrupt president a great incentive to end his term early - and on his terms.
The end of Spiro T. Agnew’s vice presidency is instructive - and provides a good example for why we should be able to indict a sitting president."
The California Nurse Who Was Deported To Mexico In Trump Crackdown Is Back At Home In The US With Her Children (BuzzFeed News, December 15, 2018)
"Maria Mendoza-Sanchez, who had lived in the Bay Area for 20 years, became a local cause célèbre when ICE deported her in 2017. Saturday she returned to the US."
Climate Negotiators Reach an Overtime Deal to Keep Paris Pact Alive (New York Times, December 15, 2018)
"The United States agreed to the deal despite President Trump’s vow to abandon the Paris Agreement. Diplomats and climate change activists said they hoped that fact would make it easier for the administration to change its mind and stay in the Paris Agreement, or for a future president to embrace the accord once again. The United States cannot formally withdraw from the agreement until late 2020."
Donald Trump's crimes: This is deadly serious
(New York Daily News, December 15, 2018)
"Trump told a subordinate to commit a crime, a felony violation of United States campaign finance law. He conspired with an allied supermarket tabloid newspaper chain to do the same. Whatever, says the President."
Inauguration planner expressed concern about inflated Trump hotel charges 'when this is audited' (Daily KOS, December 15, 2018)
"The reason this is so believable is because it’s Trump. Of course he used donations solicited for his inauguration to enrich himself. And of course he overcharged the inaugural committee. And of course his daughter was complicit in this scheme. It’s what Trumps do."
As the Trumps Dodged Taxes, Their Tenants Paid a Price
(New York Times, December 15, 2018)
"They were collateral damage as Donald J. Trump and his siblings dodged inheritance taxes and gained control of their father’s fortune: thousands of renters in an empire of unassuming red-brick buildings scattered across Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Those buildings have been home to generations of strivers, municipal workers and newly arrived immigrants. When their regulated rents started rising more quickly in the 1990s, many tenants had no idea why. Some heard that the Trump family had spent millions on building improvements, but they remained suspicious."
‘Stop,’ ‘I wasn’t there,’ ‘I don’t know anything about that’: Republicans dodge or dismiss Trump’s legal woes (Washington Post, December 15, 2018)

Mounting legal threats surround Trump as nearly every organization he has led is under investigation (Washington Post, December 15, 2018)
Zinke, Face of Trump Environmental Rollbacks, Resigns Under Pressure (New York Times, December 15, 2018)
"Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is the latest Trump administration official to exit his position facing questions of ethical conflict. He has been a key figure in the president’s plan to reshape the nation’s environmental framework.
Mr. Zinke is the latest Trump official to exit an administration plagued by questions of ethical conflict. And his departure comes as Mr. Trump has begun a shake-up in his administration. In early November, the president fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and last weekend he announced that his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, was leaving. In one of the final acts of Mr. Kelly’s tenure, his team told Mr. Zinke that he should leave by year’s end or risk being fired in a potentially humiliating way, two people familiar with the discussion said."
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to Leave His Job (Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2018)
"Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who has been the subject of more than a dozen government investigations, will leave his position by the end of the year, President Trump said Saturday, adding to the list of top officials to exit the administration."
The Young Turks: Rudy Giuliani Is Starting To CRACK (10-min. video; YouTube, December 14, 2018)
"Giuliani is acting like he is on trial, not Trump. His arguments are confusing, comical and cringe-worthy. This is the man who said, 'Truth is not truth.'"
Trump is toast: This week really was the beginning of the end for the President (New York Daily News, December 14, 2018)
"He is done. Donald Trump will be forced to resign the presidency before November 2020. It's always looked like this might be where we were heading. But now it is far easier to believe it’s going to happen. The case against Trump has barreled past the tipping point. And there’s nothing he can do to reverse it. Let’s break it all down."
The Racketeer, The Evangelist, And The Pool Boy (The Soundings, December 14, 2018)
"Donald Trump is, was, and has always been a racketeer specializing in the crimes of extortion, bribery, money laundering, with some former US Attorneys now openly saying that his company resembles a criminal organization. Back in early 2016, Trump was feverishly trying to round up support from the conservative establishment, especially the evangelical base, as he tried to disavow the pro-choice rhetoric from earlier in his career. But, surprisingly, both Trump and Michael Cohen seemed totally assured that one of those evangelical leaders, Jerry Falwell, Jr., would be forthcoming with his endorsement. Josh Marshall at TPM has put together a story based on multiple reports of why that might be."
‘A breakdown in trust’: Revelations about hush money and Russian interference renew debate over the legitimacy of Trump’s 2016 win (Washington Post, December 14, 2018)
"The evidence emerging in recent days and months of crimes committed to help Trump win the presidency is fueling arguments from Democrats and other Trump critics that the man in the Oval Office got the job through nefarious means. Even without proof that those crimes swayed votes, the critics say Trump has no moral hold on the office. In the past week, the legitimacy debate has swelled with each new court filing in cases stemming from the investigations into Trump’s 2016 campaign."
NEW: Cohen says Trump knew hush-money payments were wrong, contradicting his former boss (Washington Post, December 14, 2018)
"Michael Cohen, the former lawyer and Trump fixer, added: 'He knows the truth. I know the truth. Others know the truth. And here is the truth: People of the United States of America, people of the world, don’t believe what he is saying. The man doesn’t tell the truth. And it is sad that I should take responsibility for his dirty deeds.'"
NEW: Facebook says a new bug allowed apps to access private photos of up to 6.8 million users (Washington Post, December 14, 2018)
"The mishap, which occurred over a 12-day period in September, adds to Facebook’s mounting privacy headaches after incidents earlier this year in which it failed to fully safeguard the personal data of its users. It has already prompted European regulators to investigate - and brought fresh calls for the company to be fined.
In general, Facebook allows apps by third-party developers to obtain users' permission and access photos shared on their timeline. Because of the bug, though, roughly 1,500 apps could access 'a broader set of photos than usual,' Facebook explained in a blog post. That includes photos that a user may have started to post, but abandoned before actually publishing, because Facebook keeps a copy of the draft in the event a user might want to finish uploading it later.
The software bug also may have allowed developers to access photos they weren’t supposed to on Marketplace, a Facebook hub for users to buy and sell goods, and some posted in Stories, where users can share short photo or video updates that appear for 24 hours.
Facebook’s latest revelation drew sharp rebukes from privacy advocates. 'It’s stunning that Facebook has the ability to send user photos to third parties when the user has not fully uploaded the photo,' said Marc Rotenberg, the executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. 'It’s like a provider sending draft emails.' 'You can call this a bug, or you can call it what it is: yet another instance of Facebook failing to protect its users’ privacy and running afoul of its 2011 consent decree,' Democratic Sen. Edward J. Markey (Mass.) echoed in a tweet Friday."
Quoting 'The Lorax,' Court Pulls Permit For Pipeline Crossing Appalachian Trail (National Public Radio, December 14, 2018)
"This conclusion is particularly informed by the Forest Service's serious environmental concerns that were suddenly, and mysteriously, assuaged in time to meet a private pipeline company's deadlines. 'I think what happened here is for years the Forest Service was asking tough questions about this project and requesting additional information and it turned on a dime when the Trump administration came into power.' - Patrick Hunter, a lawyer with the Southern Environmental Law Center. The court concluded that the Forest Service's decisions violated both the National Forest Management Act and the National Environmental Policy Act, and found the Forest Service lacked the authority to grant the pipeline a right of way across the Appalachian Trail."
The nonprofit whose top exec earns more than Apple’s CEO (
Daily KOS, December 14, 2018)
"Delta Dental of California, which operates plans using the Delta name in 16 states, is a tax-exempt nonprofit/ Because of the public good it supposedly does, you subsidize it. That, however, hasn’t stopped it from paying its CEO as if he ran a for-profit company 20 or 40 times as big. The $14.3 million it paid him in 2016 is more than the CEO compensation paid by 30 of the 100 largest companies in America, including Apple and Anthem, the giant health insurer."
Federal judge in Texas strikes down Affordable Care Act (Daily KOS, December 14, 2018)
"U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Fort Worth agreed with a coalition of Republican states led by Texas that he had to eviscerate the Affordable Care Act, the signature health-care overhaul by President Barack Obama, after Congress last year zeroed out a key provision -- the tax penalty for not complying with the requirement to buy insurance. Texas and an alliance of 19 states argued to the judge that they’ve been harmed by an increase in the number of people on state-supported insurance rolls. They claimed that when Congress repealed the tax penalty last year, it eliminated the U.S. Supreme Court’s rationale for finding the ACA constitutional in 2012.
The decision [was stalled from February to after November elections, to the closing days of enrollment in many States, and] is almost certain to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court."
Exclusive: Paul Manafort advised White House on how to attack and discredit investigation of President Trump (Vox, December 14, 2018)
"We now have details as to how the indicted former campaign manager worked with the president to undermine federal law enforcement."
In filing intended to be under seal, U.S. prosecutors ask to transport Maria Butina, possibly to testify at grand jury (Washington Post, December 14, 2018
Washington Post, December 13, 2018Washington Post, December 13, 2018)
"Butina, 30, pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiring to act as an unregistered agent of the Russian government to infiltrate the National Rifle Association and the wider conservative movement to set up back-channel communications with leading Republicans around the time of the 2016 U.S. presidential election. As part of her plea deal, she agreed to cooperate with prosecutors."
Russian Maria Butina pleads guilty in case to forge Kremlin bond with U.S. conservatives (
Washington Post, December 13, 2018Washington Post, December 13, 2018)
A Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (The Soundings, December 13, 2018)
"Hillary Clinton's warnings about Trump’s Russian connections were largely ridiculed at the time but have proven to be prescient. But perhaps the comments she was most harshly criticized and ridiculed for were her comments describing the Whitewater/Lewinsky/Paula Jones/Ken Starr/impeachment saga as the result of a 'vast right wing conspiracy', a claim that was subsequently largely proven to be true."
NEW: William Barr: Worse Than Jeff Sessions? David Cole on Trump’s nominee for attorney general.  (The Nation, December 13, 2018)
"Bill Barr for decades has been a very strong proponent of the view that the president has to have untrammeled power to remove executive officials without restriction from Congress. That, of course, is exactly what the issue will be if Donald Trump seeks to get rid of Bob Mueller. Mueller right now is appointed pursuant to a set of rules that limit the terms under which he can be removed, but Bill Barr thinks those kinds of limits are unconstitutional. He has a very broad view of the power of the executive, so broad that his views were relied upon by lawyers in the George W. Bush administration to argue that President Bush could order torture of Al Qaeda suspects—when federal law, international law, and the Constitution all forbade it.
A number of the Iran/Contra pardons were issued before there was even a criminal charge. Caspar Weinberger, Reagan’s secretary of defense, essentially got an advance pardon. So that’s yet another reason that Donald Trump may have found William Barr to be a very appealing choice. "
Verizon cuts 10,000 jobs and admits its Yahoo/AOL division is a failure (Ars Technica, December 13, 2018)
"Verizon is parting ways with 10,400 employees in 'a voluntary separation program,' despite the Trump administration providing a tax cut and various deregulatory changes that were supposed to increase investment in jobs and broadband networks. The cuts represent nearly seven percent of Verizon's workforce and were announced along with a $4.6 billion charge related to struggles in Verizon's Yahoo/AOL business division."
T-Mobile lied to the FCC about its 4G coverage, small carriers say (Ars Technica, December 13, 2018)
"FCC filing: T-Mobile claimed to cover areas where it hadn't installed 4G cells."

Bomb threat at Framingham DPW, many threats across Massachusetts (MetroWest Daily News, December 13, 2018)
"Police have also confirm e-mailed bomb threats to the Opera House in downtown Boston; businesses in Hingham and Braintree; and Cross Point in Lowell."
Gun deaths in US reach highest level in nearly 40 years, CDC data reveal (CNN, December 13, 2018)

Pelosi says she expects a House committee will ‘take the first steps’ toward obtaining Trump’s tax returns (
Washington Post, December 13, 2018)
In Michigan, Wisconsin and elsewhere, losers seek to undermine election results (Los Angeles Times, December 13, 2018)
"In Congress, GOP leaders have echoed President Trump and sought to undermine the legitimacy of Democrats’ strong midterm performance, raising unsubstantiated allegations of fraud and political malfeasance."
Senate rebukes Trump, Saudis over Khashoggi’s death with Yemen vote (Washington Post, December 13, 2018)
"Lawmakers voted to end U.S. military involvement in Yemen, expressing outrage and frustration with the president's refusal to condemn Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi despite the CIA’s finding that Mohammed likely is responsible."
NEW: Former Apprentice Staffer Claims Trump Was ‘Speed Freak,’ Invited Teen Beauty Queens to His Suite (Mediaite, December 13, 2018)
Trump's former friends flip as he faces a new reality (CNN, December 13, 2018)
"His former fixer has now been sentenced to prison and his tabloid friend's company landed an immunity deal. Trump separately admitted that his campaign did have interactions with Russians, which, even if it is the 'peanut stuff' he claims, is an important shift from the blanket denials he had made previously. The threads - hush money for claims of affairs and interactions with Russians - are becoming impossible to keep separate. But the pattern is clear: Schemes Trump repeatedly denied were hatched to help him get elected keep being proved true, and former friends and members of his inner circle keep heading to jail."

Trump claims ‘money we save’ from trade deal means ‘Mexico is paying’ for border wall (
Washington Post, December 13, 2018)
"The president’s argument in a morning tweet comes amid renewed criticism that he has abandoned his campaign promise to make Mexico pay for the wall."
Senate votes to overturn Trump donor disclosure rule (Politico, December 12, 2018)
"The Senate passed legislation Wednesday to reverse a Trump administration policy limiting donor disclosure requirements for political nonprofits in a rare rebuke to the White House."
Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees (The Atlantic, December 12, 2018)
"The White House again wants to expel certain groups of protected immigrants, a reversal after backing away from the policy months ago."
In the Trump era, job satisfaction tumbles in the federal workforce (Washington Post, December 12, 2018)
"After three years of steady improvement as the economy rebounded from the recession, the number of employees who would recommend their agency as a good place to work dropped at 60 percent of federal offices, the annual 'Best Places to Work in the Federal Government' rankings found. Less than 40 percent of agencies improved their ratings on the scorecard of job satisfaction at federal workplaces, compared with more than 70 percent in the Obama administration’s final years and Trump’s first."
Trump: Proud to shut down government over wall (
CNN, December 11, 2018)
"President Trump met with Democratic leaders Sen. Chuck Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi amid talk over border security and funding the government."
Trump says he ‘never directed’ Cohen to break the law with hush money paid to women (
Washington Post, December 13, 2018)
"President Trump said that Michael Cohen, his former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to charges related to the payments 'in order to embarrass the president.'"
NEW: 'No Collusion'? Here Are All the Trump Associates and Family Members Who Had Contact With Russians During the 2016 Campaign (Newsweek, December 11, 2018)
"Mueller’s team has spent more than 18 months looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether members of the campaign worked with Russia to influence the outcome of the presidential race. So far, at least 33 people have been indicted or pleaded guilty, including five former Trump advisers. In total, at least 16 different Trump associates had contact with Russians during the Trump campaign for presidency or during the transition into the White House. Here’s what we know so far."
Trump says he is not concerned about being impeached, defends payments to women (Reuters, December 11, 2018)
"'It’s hard to impeach somebody who hasn’t done anything wrong and who’s created the greatest economy in the history of our country,' Trump told Reuters in an Oval Office interview. 'I’m not concerned, no. I think that the people would revolt if that happened,' he said."As Trump slides in a new poll, reality begins piercing the bubble (Washington Post, December 11, 2018)
"President Trump has steadfastly hewed to a simple M.O., which is to always claim he is winning, no matter how overwhelming the evidence grows to the contrary. Trump just raged at Democrats for failing to fund his wall, while simultaneously boasting that he has already secured the border and that the wall is indeed on track to getting built. Last week, Trump buffoonishly claimed that the news implicating him in his former lawyer’s felony 'totally clears the president.' But, while such outward displays of brash confidence may snooker his more gullible MAGA-hat-wearing supporters, the evidence is everywhere that a very different reality has begun to pierce the bubble. Meanwhile, new data shows that outside this bubble, majorities of the American people fully grasp that reality, and have done so for a long time now."
China-U.S. trade war will get a lot more personal (
Reuters, December 11, 2018)
"American executives who prayed for a trade war truce are a disappointed lot. Following the arrest of China telco Huawei’s chief financial officer in Canada, they’ve been sent to the front lines. Meng Wanzhou could be the first big casualty of American extraterritorial force. The United States alleges the Huawei executive violated its sanctions on Iran. Whether she did or not, arresting the daughter of the telco’s iconic founder Ren Zhengfei fires a loud shot across China Inc.’s bow. Ditto for the October extradition of a Chinese intelligence agent from Belgium to face U.S. industrial espionage charges."
Supervisors OK 19,000-home development at Tejon Ranch (Los Angeles Times, December 11, 2018)
"The Centennial development has pitted environmental groups, which argue it will destroy an important natural habitat and worsen greenhouse gas emissions as residents commute by car to faraway cities, against a private landowner and some local residents who say it will bring badly needed housing and services to the region.
The vote on the project also comes on the heels of catastrophic wildfires that tore through the communities of Paradise, Calif., and Malibu, raising questions about whether homes in the state should continue to be built in fire-prone areas near wildland. All of the Centennial project site would sit within 'high' and 'very high' fire hazard severity zones as identified by state fire officials."
‘It’s now or never’: Trump’s moment of truth on border wall (Washington Post, December 11, 2018)
"President Trump has wielded calls for a wall along the southern border as a political cudgel, a bargaining chip and a rallying cry. Now, with time running out to build it, the wall is threatening to be a drag on his presidency."
44 former senators urge Senate to defend democracy as Mueller probe intensifies (
MSNBC, December 10, 2018)
"In a letter published in the Washington Post, 44 former U.S. Senators write to current and future members, urging them to 'be steadfast and zealous guardians of our democracy' as the Mueller probe intensifies."
NEW: Prosecutors Say Donald Trump Committed a Crime: A Closer Look (12-min video: YouTube, December 10, 2018)
"Seth Meyers takes a closer look at the Justice Department effectively calling the President of the United States a criminal and Trump announcing the departure of his chief of staff."
Laurence Tribe: Trump can be indicted for federal crimes (MSNBC, December 10, 2018)
"Trump might think that he has immunity from prosecution, but Laurence Tribe explains there's nothing in the Constitution that prevents the indictment of a sitting president."
A devastating report details a ‘monumental’ assault on science at the Department of the Interior (Los Angeles Times, December 10, 2018)
"Among the up-is-down, night-is-day practices of the Trump administration, one of the most dangerous and disturbing is its habit of turning America’s leading science agencies into hives of anti-science policy-making. A new report lays out how this has produced a 'monumental disaster' for science at the Department of the Interior. The report by the Union of Concerned Scientists details how Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke and his minions have in the space of two years turned Interior from a steward of public lands and natural resources into a front for the mining and oil and gas industries."
Charlottesville victim's death 'was like an explosion,' mom says during James Fields' sentencing hearing (CNN, December 10, 2018)
"Fields, 21, was attending last year's 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville when counterprotesters demonstrated against the white nationalists. That afternoon, Fields got in his Dodge Challenger and plowed into the counterprotesters at about 28 mph, killing Bro's daughter, 32-year-old Heather Heyer."
NEW: William Barr, Trump’s Attorney General Pick, Wanted Government to ‘Restrain Sexual Immorality’ (Daily Beast, December 9, 2018)
"In a 1995 essay, Barr expressed an extreme view that American government should not be secular, but instead should impose 'a transcendent moral order with objective standards of right and wrong that… flows from God’s eternal law.' Barr went on to blame everything from crime to sexually transmitted diseases on a government-led attack on 'traditional values.' He explicitly called for the government to subsidize Catholic religious education and to promote laws which 'restrain sexual immorality,' a reference to homosexuality and extramarital sex.
These views are no longer those of a private citizen. As attorney general, Barr would have more influence than anyone else in the country in how laws dealing with religion, LGBT rights, civil rights, and women’s rights are enforced or not."
NEW: Manafort, Cohen, and Individual 1 Are in Grave Danger (The Atlantic, December 8, 2018)
"Robert Mueller is closing in on the president and all his men."
NEW: Millions Of Comments About The FCC's Net Neutrality Rules Were Fake. Now The Feds Are Investigating. (BuzzFeed News, December 8, 2018)
"People's names and addresses were listed on the FCC's website beside anti-net-neutrality comments they didn't make. Now the FBI is interested."
Plants Are Being Engineered to Earn Their Keep (WhoWhatWhy, December 8, 2018)
"Genetic modification is met with great skepticism for a variety of reasons by a populace wary of messing with nature. Now, some scientists are planning what seems to be a charm offensive - proposing that genetically modified houseplants could work for their owners, even replacing table lamps, and that trees could double as street lights."
 It’s safe and emissions free. So why is California in the doldrums around offshore wind? (Los Angeles Times, December 8, 2018)
"Gleaning energy from ocean wind would seem to be a California ideal: It emits no greenhouse gases, has nearly no environmental footprint, and harnesses one of the state’s most powerful and plentiful natural resources. But engineering challenges, regulatory hurdles and concerns about the turbines’ impact on wildlife have, until recently, mucked any forward progress."
Why driving is hard - even for AIs (Ars Technica, December 7, 2018)
"Despite promises of "soon," the infrastructure to support the driverless future isn't there yet."
NEW: Trump is failing everywhere. Here are some fresh signs of it. (Washington Post, December 7, 2018)
"In a speech this week in Brussels, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gamely tried to place a coherent gloss on the jumble of fictions, fantasies, hatreds and seemingly unquenchable impulses toward self-dealing that make up President Trump’s worldview. But right on cue, this week has produced a string of new events that underscore once again that this worldview, as a basis for major policy decisions, is failing spectacularly."
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar responds to conservative pastor over Muslim comments: 'You’re gonna have to just deal' (The Hill, December 7, 2018)
The 6 reasons why Huawei gives the US and its allies security nightmares (MIT Technology Review, December 7, 2018)
"The biggest fear is that China could exploit the telecom giant’s gear to wreak havoc in a crisis."
Australia passes new law to thwart strong encryption (Ars Technica, December 6, 2018)
"Apple previously decried Australian efforts: Encryption is simply math."
NEW: Millennials Didn’t Kill the Economy. The Economy Killed Millennials. (The Atlantic, December 6, 2018)
"The American system has thrown them into debt, depressed their wages, kept them from buying homes—and then blamed them for everything."
Many states expanded voting rights at the ballot box in 2018. These states could be next (
Daily KOS, December 6, 2018)
"States with policies that encourage voting consistently have some of the highest turnout rates in the country. Every state should adopt reforms that make voting as easy and accessible as possible, so that citizens can exercise the most sacred right in any democracy - the right to vote and shape the very government that governs them."
NEW: Stunning state power grabs expose a GOP uneasy with democracy itself (CNN, December 6, 2018)
"After an election that saw the highest voter turnout for a midterm election in 100 years, we are witnessing an effort to roll back election results in big swing states. In Michigan and Wisconsin, Republicans who control the state legislatures are trying to use year-end 'lame duck' sessions to rein in the governors' power now that Democrats have won those seats.
Make no mistake: This is an end run around the election result. Some folks have called it a 'legislative coup.' It's also a troubling sign of how toxic the situational ethics afflicting our politics has become. Situational ethics are when alleged principles are conveniently forgotten in favor of partisan interests."
Republican officials had early warnings of voting irregularities in North Carolina
(Washington Post, December 6, 2018)
"Since reports of irregularities in the 9th District emerged last month, GOP leaders in the state - including Dallas Woodhouse, the state GOP executive director - initially played down concerns that laws were broken. They repeatedly cast the situation in political terms, asserting that any voting irregularities were not widespread enough to change the outcome of the election.
In recent days, amid mounting allegations of a ballot-harvesting operation, state Republicans have shifted their rhetoric. Woodhouse told The Post on Thursday that if the state elections board can 'show a substantial likelihood' that possible fraud could have changed the outcome of November’s vote, 'then we fully would support a new election.'"
NEW: Trump faces subpoenas that could win one lawsuit and launch a thousand others (Daily KOS, December 6, 2018)
"Twenty-eight subpoenas from D.C.’s and Maryland’s attorneys general totaling nearly 500 pages have revealed the outline of what will be a remarkable, first-of-its-kind trial. The attorneys general, joined by Norman Eisen and Deepak Gupta of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), argue that the president is accepting income from foreign and domestic governments via entities in which he has a financial interest, in this case the Trump International Hotel and BLT Prime, the restaurant inside it. That, they say, violates the Constitution’s emoluments clause."
Coal falls to level not seen since 1979, as Trump prepares final effort to bail out failing industry (Daily KOS, December 6, 2018)
"Donald Trump has done everything he can think of to try and make it appear as if he’s “saving coal.” He’s signed a bill to allow more coal waste to be dumped into streams and rivers without remediation. He’s halted a study on the health issues of coal miners and another on the health effects of surface mining on nearby residents. He’s relaxed regulations on emissions from coal power plants, killed the entire Clean Power Plan, opened up new areas of federal land for mining, relaxed emissions standards, and put forward a plan that would simply nullify most federal regulations over coal power plants. He’s disbanded the EPA’s air pollution panel and proposed allowing power plants to send more mercury and heavy metals into the atmosphere. Along with can-you-believe-he’s-still-Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, Trump even tried to use emergency powers not touched since the 1950s to force utility companies to use more coal. That last attempt was stopped at the last minute, because Trump’s own advisers finally convinced him—for the moment at least—that it was both idiotic and illegal."

The U.S. Appetite for Sugar Has Skyrocketed (The Atlantic, December 5, 2018)

"Americans are eating too much of the sweet stuff, and a staggering portion of it is coming from drinks like soda."
What the President Could Do If He Declares a State of Emergency (The Atlantic, December 5, 2018)
"From seizing control of the internet to declaring martial law,
President Trump may legally do all kinds of extraordinary things."
NEW: What's Next for NASA's OSIRIS-REx Probe at Asteroid Bennu? (Space.com, December 4, 2018)
NEW: Mitch McConnell's Brother-in-Law Is One of the Masterminds of Trump-Russia (Reddit, December 4, 2018))
"- Mitch McConnell's brother-in-law was an integral part of Russia using Facebook for its disinformation campaign.
 - Mitch McConnell's wife proposed an infrastructure plan that'll make Mitch McConnell's brother-in-law rich.
 - Three weeks after Saudi Arabia ordered the murder of Jamal khashoggi, Saudi Arabia's prince pledged $20 billion to a company run by Mitch McConnell's brother-in-law.
Sounds like this was the plan for the right-wing traitors (aka the Republican Establishment) all along: Use Russian gangster money to 'invest in' social media companies, not to make a direct profit but to distort and influence American elections to shape an American government that the traitors can then loot."
NEW: Republicans Have Decided Democracy Is Not Good for Them (Vice, December 4, 2018)
"From Michigan to North Carolina, GOP legislators are proving they care more about clinging to power than the will of the voters."
'Our leaders are like children,' school strike founder tells climate summit (The Guardian, December 4, 2018)
"Greta Thunberg, 15, told UN summit that students are acting in absence of global leadership."
George H.W. Bush, Icon of the WASP Establishment - and of Brutal US Repression in the Third World (The Nation, December 4, 2018)

"Obituaries have transformed the terror that Bush inflicted, depicting it as heroism."
"Monumental Disaster at the Department of the Interior (Scientific American, December 4, 2018)
"A new report documents suppression of science, denial of climate change, the silencing and intimidation of staff."
George H.W. Bush Shaped History - But Not the Way We’re Told (WhoWhatWhy, December 3, 2018)
"George H.W. Bush and his associates had a profound effect in shaping a power equation - mostly in ways they sought to obscure - that protected and advanced their interests."
In the Blink of an Eye, a Hunt for Oil Threatens Pristine Alaska (New York Times, December 3, 2018)
"For decades, opposition to drilling has left the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off limits. Now the Trump administration is hurriedly clearing the way for oil exploration."
Hello, Bennu! NASA Asteroid-Sampling Probe Reaches Its Target Space Rock (Space.com, December 3, 2018)
NASA's New Horizons Just Made the Most Distant Flyby in Space History. So, What's Next? (
Space.com, December 2, 2018)
Paris Is Burning as French Say, ‘Macron, Listen to Us!’ (Daily Beast, December 2, 2018)
"'La catastrophe' has been so extreme and shocking these last two weekends that any flexibility on
President Macron’s part will be seen as capitulation to violence."
Putin's Media Roasts Trump: Russia 'Should Spit' on Him and the United States (Daily Beast, December 2, 2018)
Major Fraud by Republicans alleged in North Carolina's 9th District - A do-over election next? (Daily KOS, December 2, 2018)
"Among the allegations is that an individual who worked for the Harris campaign coordinated an effort to collect and fill in, or discard, the ballots of Democratic voters who might have otherwise voted for McCready. Several of the affidavits come from elderly African American voters. It is illegal to take someone else’s ballot, whether to turn it in or discard it. Officials are also examining unusually high numbers of absentee ballots cast in some precincts in the 9th District - and unusually high numbers of ballots requested but never returned."
Despite Big House Losses, G.O.P. Shows No Signs of Course Correction (New York Times, December 2, 2018)
"the party’s leaders are constrained from fully grappling with the damage Mr. Trump inflicted with those voters, because he remains popular with the party’s core supporters and with the conservatives who will dominate the caucus even more in the next Congress. But now a cadre of Republican lawmakers are speaking out and urging party officials to come to terms with why their 23-seat majority unraveled so spectacularly and Democrats gained the most seats they had since 1974."
George H.W. Bush was the accidental catalyst that built the new Republican Party (Washington Post, December 2, 2018)
"The statement in the name of then-President George H.W. Bush was posted quietly in the White House pressroom on the morning of June 26, 1990, but there was nothing innocuous about its contents. It was a political thunderclap, the beginning of the remaking of the Republican Party and part of the unintended legacy of Bush’s presidency. It was a statement designed to jump-start budget talks that had been stalled for months. It did that and more, providing the catalyst that changed the Republican Party into an aggressive and hard-edge brand of conservatism that would hold sway for two decades."
George H.W. Bush, the anti-Trump (
Washington Post, December 1, 2018)
AP FACT CHECK: Trump's thin grasp of trade, science policy (Fox News, December 1, 2018)
(Yes, this AP story was published in the Business section of Fox News!)
America Didn’t Always Lock Up Immigrants (New York Times, December 1, 2018)
"How did we move so far away from the notion that detention - and not just family separation and tear-gassing - is inhumane? How did holding more than 40,000 migrants behind bars come to be seen as normal?"
Senate’s lone black Republican blocks Trump judge accused of racial bias (Los Angeles Times, December 1, 2018)
"Farr was plainly unqualified for a lifetime judicial appointment, especially in the Eastern District of North Carolina, where he actively worked to suppress the vote and had ties to a white supremacist group."
Robert Mueller Is No Match for Fox News (
New York Times, December 1, 2018)
"The evidence from the special counsel's investigation is already damning, but it must contend with a haze of lies, confusion and 'alternative facts.'"
Mueller Exposes the Culture of Lying That Surrounds Trump (New York Times, December 1, 2018)
"Even more Trump associates are under investigation for the same offense. They are part of a group of people surrounding Mr. Trump — including some White House and cabinet officials - who contribute to a culture of bending, if not outright breaking, the truth, and whose leading exemplar is Mr. Trump himself.
Mr. Trump looks for people who share his disregard for the truth and are willing to parrot him, 'even if it’s a lie, even if they know it’s a lie, and even if he said the opposite the day before,' said Gwenda Blair, a Trump biographer. They must be 'loyal to what he is saying right now,' she said, or he sees them as 'a traitor.'"
Michael Cohen, Ex-Trump Lawyer, Asks U.S. Judge for Leniency (
New York Times, December 1, 2018)
"The Cohen memo ... shed new light on Mr. Cohen’s role in the various investigations being conducted into Mr. Trump and his inner circle, and on his frequent contact with the president’s legal counsel and advisers as he prepared for congressional testimony that he later admitted was false."

NEW: Are We One ‘Trigger Event’ Away From the Next Holocaust? (WhoWhatWhy, November 30, 2018)
House Democrats unveil their first bill in the majority: a sweeping anti-corruption proposal (Vox, November 30, 2018)
"Democrats will take up voting rights, campaign finance reform, and a lobbying crackdown - all in their first bill of the year."
Vice President Pence criticized for not mentioning gay community in World AIDS Day speech (NBC News, November 30, 2018)
"For the second straight year, the Trump administration does not acknowledge the LGBTQ community in World AIDS Day statements."
Trump says he's not meeting with Putin, Putin says they're meeting ... guess what happens next  (Daily KOS, November 30, 2018)
There’s No Right to Jail a President in the Constitution Because The Founders Never Imagined a Crook Like Trump (Daily Beast, November 30, 2018)
"Whining about 'the witch hunt' is one thing. But endorsing the view that Robert Mueller and Rod Rosenstein are traitors is libelous. If he weren’t the president, they could sue him. If he weren’t the president… It’s worth stepping back here as the dragnet closes in on him to think about that. If Trump were a senator or governor, there’s very little doubt in my mind he’d have long ago been indicted on a range of counts. Indeed he might be in jail by now. He’s broken laws in plain sight, in front of all of us."
In Mueller investigation, Trump is now "Individual 1" (Axios, November 30, 2018)
"This week's disclosures show that Trump was in close contact with his lieutenants as they made outreach to both Russia and WikiLeaks - and that they tried to conceal the extent of their activities."
NEW: Deutsche Bank, Trump, and Russia: A WhoWhatWhy Primer (WhoWhatWhy, November 30, 2018)
"International banking colossus Deutsche Bank has a track record of deploying illegal financial trading, money laundering, and shady offshore tax shelters in the service of the global elite."
The German Government Goes After Trump’s German Banker for Alleged Money Laundering (Daily Beast, November 30, 2018)
"Thursday’s raids on its Frankfurt headquarters are likely to be just the beginning of Deutsche Bank’s troubles with Berlin, but the ripple effects can be felt as far as Washington."
"Trump Was Totally Caught Off Guard by the Cohen Plea": Inside Trumpworld, Some Fear Mueller Has Laid a Perjury Trap (Vanity Fair, November 29, 2018)
"Rudy Giuliani is frustrated at Mueller's tactics. The White House is in a defensive crouch. 'It's an untethered situation,' a person close to the president said."
Cohen lied. Manafort lied. Corsi lied. And the bottom is falling out for Donald Trump. (Daily KOS, November 29, 2018)
"Cohen’s deal clears the way for his continued testimony to both federal prosecutors and the special counsel. But his testimony is just one event in a list of jaw-dropping events related to the Trump-Russia investigation. It’s a week in which Robert Mueller seems to be busy knocking down lies, clearing the path to the truth about Donald Trump."
Feds Raid Office of Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, Who Handled Trump Organization Illinois Property Tax Issues (Hinterland Gazette, November 29, 2018)
Trump borrows his rhetoric - and his view of power - from the mob (Washington Post, November 29, 2018)
"The president’s background in New York real estate taught mob values that still persist."
The Trump Organization Planned To Give Vladimir Putin The $50 Million Penthouse In Trump Tower Moscow (BuzzFeed, November 29, 2018)
"During the presidential campaign, Michael Cohen discussed the matter with a representative of Putin’s press secretary, according to two US sources. The revelation that representatives of the Trump Organization planned to forge direct financial links with the leader of a hostile nation at the height of the campaign raises fresh questions about President Trump's relationship with the Kremlin."
Michael Cohen pleads guilty to lying to Congress in new deal with Mueller in Trump-Russia probe (ABC News, November 29, 2018)
"In court, Cohen admitted that he made the false statements to be consistent with Individual 1’s messaging and to be loyal to Individual 1. Individual 1 was believed to be Trump, based on the description in court documents."
The Senate’s Yemen Vote Is a Historic First (Truthout November 29, 2018)
"This marks the first time in US history that the Senate has voted to advance a bill to withdraw military forces from an unauthorized war using the War Powers Resolution Act. Wednesday's vote sets the stage for a possible final vote on the measure within days, and has been seen as a rebuke of President Trump's handling of the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi."
Nailing down the nature of 'Oumuamua - it's probably a comet, but… (Ars Technica, November 29, 2018)
"We spoke at length with Harvard astronomy chair Avi Loeb, and there's a lot to unpack."
California: Cox declares victory after adding to lead over Valadao in last contested Congressional race (Fresno Bee, November 28, 2018)
Trump officials accused of using deadly wildfires to boost logging (
The Guardian, November 28, 2018)
"Interior secretary Ryan Zinke says he hopes new laws will end environmental reviews and allow 'thinning’ of forests'.
Forest ecologist: 'They are trying to use this tragedy to help logging interests, which is one of the most disgusting things I’ve seen in my career. They are trying to eliminate half a century of environmental protections and turn over forests to the logging industry.'"
Why tear gas, lobbed at migrants on the southern border, is banned in warfare (Washington Post, November 27, 2018)
"Gavin Newsom, the Democratic governor-elect of California, argued that images of kids sprinting from tear gas run counter to American ideals. 'These children are barefoot. In diapers. Choking on tear gas,' he tweeted. 'Women and children who left their lives behind - seeking peace and asylum - were met with violence and fear. That’s not my America. We’re a land of refuge. Of hope. Of freedom. And we will not stand for this.'"
Manafort plea deal may have started as a set up for Robert Mueller ... and ended as a trap for Trump (
Daily  KOS, November 27, 2018)
"There’s more to it then just Manafort being unable to find the off button on his lies. The way this is playing out suggests there’s another angle: One in which Manafort and Trump were together all along in hopes of upsetting the special counsel investigation. Except this dirty trick may be backfiring."
Manafort’s Lawyer Said to Brief Trump Attorneys on What He Told Mueller (New York Times, November 27, 2018)
"The arrangement was highly unusual and inflamed tensions with the special counsel’s office when prosecutors discovered it after Mr. Manafort began cooperating two months ago, the people said. Some legal experts speculated that it was a bid by Mr. Manafort for a presidential pardon even as he worked with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, in hopes of a lighter sentence."
Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy, sources say (The Guardian, November 27, 2018)
"Trump ally met WikiLeaks founder months before emails hacked by Russia were published."
Manafort's screwed; Trump's implicated; and parts of Mueller's investigation may become public (Daily  KOS, November 27, 2018)
Manafort Breached Plea Deal by Repeatedly Lying, Mueller Says (
New York Times, November 27, 2018)
"Everybody who lies to Mueller gets called on it - so he had to know that Mueller would catch him. So the question is: What was he hiding that is worse than going to jail for the rest of your life?"

How the murders of two elderly Jewish women shook France (The Guardian, November 27, 2018)
"Two killings in Paris, one year apart, have inflamed the bitter French debate over antisemitism, race and religion."
US 'slams the brakes' on UN Yemen ceasefire resolution (CNN, November 27, 2018)
New GOP bill would tweak Trump tax law, extend perks set to expire (Washington Post, November  27, 2018)
"The proposal faced criticism for not being crafted with Democratic support, as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said he was not consulted on the package. Congressional Democrats may not be interested in helping Republicans fix a tax law the GOP passed without bipartisan input, at least without adding Democratic priorities or legislation to the bill."
Australia: Companies 'can sack workers for refusing to use fingerprint scanners' (The Guardian, November 27, 2018)
"Fair Work Commission rejects case by Queensland sawmill worker who said scanning system was a breach of his privacy."
Facebook Accused of New Russia Breach as Lawmakers Shame Zuckerberg For No-Show (Daily Beast, November 27, 2018)
"Facebook's CEO repeatedly turned down approaches from the ostentatiously-titled International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News to appear before them for questioning at the British parliament. But the global group of parliamentarians made sure people knew he ducked the debate."
Euro consumer groups: We think Android tracking is illegal (The Register, November 27, 2018)
"There is no real option to turn off Location History once it has been enabled; users can only pause it after the Google account has been created. Users who attempt to 'pause' location history receive vague warnings that this will limit some functionalities.
GDPR requires that informed consent must be given without coercion or deception, and that no means no. However, according to the complaint, the design of the application leaves users with little choice but to turn everything on using behavioural deception: design patterns and biased notices, de facto forcing [the user] to give such consent in the end."
Rogue Chinese CRISPR scientist cited US report as his green light (