by A. Richard Miller
Begun September 29, 2008; last updated November 13, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

- Woody Guthrie, Dust Bowl Ballads

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Fragile States Index (Fund For Peace)

US National Debt Clock, by Ed Hall

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

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

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

Calculated Risk (blog)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Death Of God, by Friedrich Nietzsche (1885)

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

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

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

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

Freethinkers and Libertarianism, by David Niose

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

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

Yale Climate Opinion Maps, U.S. 2016

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

Scientists Are Pro-Testing (Science, 2017)

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

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

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

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

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

Our Revolution

Angry White House Staffer

GOP Rape Advisory Chart

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

Vote Sleuth: Investigating Democracyngeles Times, 2017)

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

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

Donald Trump (Vice)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Atlas Of Utopias (Transformative Cities, 2018)

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

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

Smoking bans in private vehicles (Wikipedia)

Light Cycles, by Quinn Norton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Climate Change (United Nations)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United States Of Plastic (The Guardian, August 2019)

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

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

Pertinent Posts

Finding Truth Online Is Hard Enough. (New York Times Magazine, November 13, 2019)
On Saturday, April 29, 2017, Turkey banned Wikipedia. This came as a shock, even in a country with a history of banning everything from novels (Albert Camus’s “The Plague,” from public schools in 1987) to films (“Nymphomaniac,” in 2014) to entire genres of music (arabesk, from state channels in the ’70s and ’80s).
The Turks were perhaps more prepared than many to deal with two of the most bewildering new features of what is now our shared global predicament: the chaos of the internet and the populist subterfuge of one-man regimes. But in recent years, both have accelerated to a scary degree in Turkey. What was once a semi-predictable stranglehold on official information has become a chaotic, repressive race to protect Erdogan’s interests.
Israel Kills Senior Islamic Jihad Commander in Gaza. (New York Times, November 12, 2019)
Israel described the Gaza commander, Baha Abu al-Ata, as a “ticking bomb” who was “responsible for most of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s activity in the Gaza Strip.”
Before 6 a.m., militants in Gaza began firing barrages of rockets toward southern and central Israel from the Palestinian coastal enclave. Islamic Jihad called the Israeli strike “a declaration of war against the Palestinian people” and said, “Our response to this crime will have no limits.”
Don’t Get Confused By The Ukraine Scandal: Here Are The Key Facts. (
Huffington Post, November 12, 2019)
It seems like it’s getting more complicated, but it really isn’t.
In private speech, Bolton suggests some of Trump's foreign policy decisions are guided by personal interest. (5-min. video; NBC News, November 12, 2019)
Former national security adviser John Bolton derided President Donald Trump’s daughter and son-in-law during a private speech last week and suggested his former boss’ approach to U.S. policy on Turkey is motivated by personal or financial interests. Bolton also questioned the merits of Trump applying his business acumen to foreign policy, saying such issues can’t be approached like the win-or-lose edict that drives real estate deals: When one deal doesn’t work, you move on to the next.
The description was part of a broader portrait Bolton outlined of a president who lacks an understanding of the interconnected nature of relationships in foreign policy and the need for consistency.
Bolton's pointed comments, at a private gathering last Wednesday at Morgan Stanley’s global investment event in Miami, painted a dark image of a president and his family whose potential personal gain is at the heart of decision-making, according to people who were present for his remarks. Bolton is a potential linchpin witness in the inquiry into Trump’s efforts to elicit help from the Ukrainian government to investigate the family of former Vice President Joe Biden, given his central role in the White House during that time. The impeachment inquiry moves to public testimony this week.
The Impeachment Of Donald Trump Is Starting. Here’s What To Know.
(Huffington Post, November 12, 2019)
The proceedings will be televised and give the most visible look yet at the effort to impeach the president.
Leaked Emails Show Stephen Miller Is Exactly Who You Think He Is. (Huffington Post, November 12, 2019)
Emails sent to Breitbart editors promoted white nationalism and xenophobia, and bemoaned opposition to Confederate symbols.
US violated Constitution by searching phones for no good reason, judge rules.
(Ars Technica, November 12, 2019)
ICE and Customs violated 4th Amendment with suspicionless searches, ruling says.

Google’s ‘Project Nightingale’ Gathers Personal Health Data on Millions of Americans. (Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2019)
Search giant is amassing health records from Ascension facilities in 21 states; patients not yet informed.
Republican: You Can’t Impeach Trump for a Crime He Does ‘All the Time’. (New York Magazine, November 11, 2019)
“It is inappropriate for a president to ask a foreign leader to investigate a political rival,” Thornberry conceded. Nonetheless, he argued for acquittal. Leaning hard into Republican objections to the impeachment process, Thornberry argued that the entire impeachment proceeding is null and void, however damning the evidence may be. Batting away a question about his focus on “process,” Thornberry replied: “And process — you know, you all always want to say substance, not process. There’s a reason we let murderers and robbers and rapists go free when their due process rights have been violated.”
Impeachment: how Trump's hardball tactics put the Constitution in peril. (The Guardian, November 9, 2019)
Adam Schiff, chairman of the House intelligence committee, told reporters this week the executive branch refusal to cooperate amounted to evidence of obstruction of the inquiry, suggesting Trump, like Nixon, might face an article of impeachment along those lines. “The White House excuses keep changing,” Schiff said. “First it was: the House hasn’t held a vote. Then, a claim of immunity never upheld by a court. Now they want their lawyers to participate, which is against the rules Republicans wrote. It doesn’t add up – except as evidence of obstruction.”
Dems release testimony of White House officials who raised Ukraine alarms. (ABC News, November 8, 2019)
Transcripts of Army Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill were made public. The two top White House officials said they were so disturbed by the Trump administration’s handling of Ukrainian policy that they reported their concerns directly to National Security Council Legal Adviser John Eisenberg, at one point relaying concerns that U.S.-Ukraine interactions were akin to a “drug deal” being cooked up by the White House chief of staff.
Trump Came SO CLOSE To Getting Ukraine To Do His Bidding. Trump Defenders Grasping At Disposable Straws.
(8-min. video: The Young Turks, November 8, 2019)
In the face of growing, and increasingly overwhelming, evidence of a quid pro quo over Ukraine, Trump’s defenders are grasping ever-more desperately at inane, bizarre and often risible justifications for the president’s actions. Case in point: South Carolina Republican senator Lindsey Graham, who recently offered up two “defenses” of Trump, each patently comical in their own way.
As Cenk and Ana discuss in this clip, Graham has chosen a - shall we say - interesting explanation for why EU ambassador Gordon Sondland has asked to revise his original testimony in front of House committees from “I wasn’t aware of any quid pro quo” to “Oh yeah, there was definitely a quid pro quo.” Sondland’s change of heart arose after many others in the administration offered damning evidence that contradicted with Sondland’s, and he clearly saw the possibility of a perjury charge in his future. But that’s not how Lindsey Graham sees it - Graham instead has floated a bizarre conspiracy that House Dems like Adam Schiff somehow “got to” Sondland. Although, as Ana notes, Graham for some reason seems to think his name is “Sunderland,” which it isn’t.
The other crazy justification may have a little more validity, at least according to Cenk. Graham told reporters that Trump couldn’t possibly have demanded a quid pro quo from Ukraine because the administration’s Ukraine policy is too incoherent. Or, as Ana puts it, “Trump is too stupid to do a quid pro quo.” Cenk loves this defense as well, wondering if this is sufficient evidence to conclusively prove that people who hang out with Trump become more stupid by osmosis, citing as another corroborating data point: Rudy Giuliani.
Someone went into Barnes & Noble and replaced the covers of Trump Jr.'s new book. (Daily KOS, November 8, 2019)
Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump. (The Hill, November 7, 2019)
Senate Republicans discover their silver impeachment bullet is backfiring. (Daily KOS, November 7, 2019)
It wasn't supposed to be like this. After House Democrats opened an impeachment inquiry, Republicans were supposed to be able to flail around wildly hurling words like "witch hunt" and "socialist" and "Soviet," at which point frenzied GOP voters would rush to the polls and deliver whopping, stinging electoral defeats to Democrats. That was the plan—and even the conventional wisdom—until Tuesday, when Democrats bested Republicans in yet another off-year election as we move toward the all-important 2020 presidential contest.
Actually, voters did go to the polls in droves but, if there was a motivating factor, it seemed more about sending Trump the signal that many, many Americans are damn sick and tired of watching him defile our republic. There is simply no other way to read the results in Virginia, where turnout surged from 29% in 2015 to nearly 40% four years later and delivered control of both legislative chambers to Democrats. Some observers wondered whether scandals that have plagued Democrats in Virginia's executive branch might offset some of the anti-Trump fervor. Nope. The issues were also clearly on the side of Democratic candidates in Virginia, but the notable spike in turnout seems to be as much a product of anti-Trump rage voting as anything else.
And in Kentucky, no amount of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin railing against impeachment and Trump begging voters to protect his reputation could save a candidate who Kentuckians despise, though Bevin has not conceded defeat to Democrat Andy Beshear yet. Turnout also surged in Kentucky to 42%, 11 points above what the secretary of state had projected.
Trump just lost his last impeachment defense: Bombshell evidence of quid pro quo. (6-min. video; The Young Turks, November 7, 2019)
Trump tax cuts hiked the deficit, now $1 trillion, so guess what Republicans want for 2020? (USA Today's Editorial Board, November 7, 2019)
The 2017 tax cuts produced only a brief sugar high for the economy. America can't afford Round 2!
Trump ordered to pay $2M after misusing his charity in 'shocking pattern of illegality'. (3-min. video; MSNBC, November 7, 2019)
President Donald Trump must pay a $2 million judgment for improperly using his Trump Foundation to further his 2016 presidential campaign, a New York state judge ruled Thursday. The order appears to bring to an end the New York attorney general's lawsuit against the president and three of his adult children over the now-shuttered foundation, which the attorney general alleged had engaged in repeated "self-dealing."
Bill Gates challenges Elizabeth Warren to discuss wealth tax, and she calls his bluff. (Daily KOS, November 7, 2019)
Could the world cope if GPS stopped working? (BBC, November 6, 2019)
Knowing that you're lost is one thing; being wrongly convinced you know where you are is another problem altogether.
How terrible software design decisions led to Uber’s deadly 2018 crash. (Ars Technica, November 6, 2019)
NTSB says the system "did not include consideration for jaywalking pedestrians."
Election Results 2019: Democrats Take Control of Virginia Legislature. (Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2019)
Democrats now have a trifecta, giving them unified control of both chambers and governor’s office.
3 takeaways from the stunning victory for Democrats in Kentucky (maybe) and Virginia yesterday (Boston Globe, November 6, 2019)
Senate president: Kentucky governor's race could be decided by state legislature. (Louisville KY Courier Journal, November 6, 2019)
Congrats, Gov.-Elect Andy Beshear! Kentucky dumps Matt Bevin, despite Trump's selfish pleas. (Daily KOS, November 5, 2019)
New York City just became the largest place in America to adopt instant-runoff voting (also known as ranked-choice voting). (Daily KOS, November 5, 2019)
A recent special election for public advocate took place without any primary or runoff and saw the winner prevail with just 33% in a field of 17 candidates, an outcome that will no longer be possible. Given the city's prominence in the media, this switch could accelerate the adoption of instant runoffs elsewhere as more citizens become aware of how the system works.
When America Tried to Deport Its Radicals (New Yorker, November 4, 2019)
A hundred years ago, the Palmer Raids imperilled thousands of immigrants. Then a wily official got in the way.
Republicans Seek to Swamp Democratic Offices With Anti-Impeachment Calls. (New York Times, November 4, 2019)
The Republican National Committee’s effort was meant to tie up phone lines of congressional Democrats as part of a broader plan to defend the president.
NEW: MSNBC’s former Republican Rep. David Jolly: Today’s Republican Party Is ‘Spineless Politicians Rotten to the Core’. (2-min. video; Breitbart, November 4, 2019)
"These are, in today’s Republican party, spineless politicians, rotten to the core without virtue, without any level of human integrity, devoid of self-respect, self-reflection, without courage, and without the moral compass to recognize their own malevolence. And one day, maybe, they will have the recognition of how they failed the country and themselves in this moment, but that would be giving them credit that somewhere down deep they have the goodness to recognize how to reconcile their own failings with what is right and just in American politics—and frankly, what is right and wrong in the eyes of adults and children alike.”
A federal appeals court just demolished Trump’s claim that he is immune from criminal investigation. (Vox, November 4, 2019)
One of Trump’s most audacious legal claims had a terrible day in court.
Less than two weeks ago, President Trump’s personal attorney William Consovoy stood before a panel of federal appellate judges and told them that the president is immune from criminal investigation even if Trump shoots someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue. It didn’t take long for that panel to reject this extraordinary argument. On Monday, an unanimous panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that Trump is not immune from such investigations. The case is Trump v. Vance.
Vance arises from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s effort to secure many of Trump’s financial documents from Trump’s accounting firm, including his tax forms. Vance seeks these documents as part of a fairly broad-reaching criminal investigation that may ultimately implicate Trump himself, but that may also only wind up implicating some of Trump’s companies or his business associates.
Vance’s investigation is a state investigation and is entirely separate from the House impeachment inquiry. Indeed, Trump’s lawyers argued that one reason why Trump should be immune from this investigation is because it is being conducted by state officials and not the federal government.
Yet, as Chief Judge Robert Katzmann, a Clinton appointee, explains for his court, Trump’s immunity claim is especially weak because Vance seeks personal documents that are unrelated to Trump’s conduct in office. Though prior Supreme Court decisions establish that the president enjoys “absolute immunity from damages liability predicated on his official acts,” this case does not involve Trump’s conduct in office. Nor does it even involve an “order that compels the President himself to do anything.”
Microsoft's Hybrid 2.0 strategy: Azure Arc, Azure Stack Hub, Azure Stack Edge explained (ZDNet, November 4, 2019)
At Ignite 2019, Microsoft is announcing new branding and a new strategy meant to make Azure the place IT pros will manage their edge, on-premises and multi-cloud software and services. Here's my best attempt to demystify the new hybrid announcements.
White House lawyer defies House subpoena; Trump sees ‘no reason’ to summon witnesses on Ukraine call. (Washington Post, November 4, 2019)
Lawmakers wanted to question John Eisenberg, the deputy counsel on the National Security Council, about what transpired after President Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Nine things we learned from the New York Times series on Trump’s Twitter habits. (Boston Globe, November 4, 2019)
Donald Trump has exploited social media like no other US president, using it as a springboard to change policy.
NEW: Gov. Newsom fires back at Trump's Twitter threat to cut off California's wildfire aid. (Daily KOS, November 3, 2019)
NYT reviewed all of Trump's tweets. Conclusion: He's a vicious, narcissistic, dictator-loving loon. (Daily KOS, November 3, 2019)
What did the paper of record find? A lot of what you’ve probably already concluded. He loves dictators, isn’t so fond of our traditional allies, likes to insult people, loves himself, hates minorities.
Nearly two-thirds of US voters say Trump has not made them better off. (Financial Times, November 3, 2019)
FT-Peterson poll casts doubt on whether economic arguments will boost president’s campaign.
White House calls claim that Jared Kushner gave Saudi ruler permission to arrest Jamal Khashoggi before journalist was killed and dismembered 'false nonsense'. (UK Daily Mail, November 3, 2019)
- White House calls claim in British conservative news magazine's gossip column  that Jared Kushner green-lighted Jamal Khashoggi's arrest.
- Article claims more whistle-blowers have come forward to Democrat-led House of Representatives with claims of wrongdoing by Trump officials.
- Report says one whistle-blower is alleging that Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, approved Saudi plans to arrest Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
- According to Spectator, Turkey intercepted call between Kushner and Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and then used it to gain leverage over Trump.
- Trump agreed to remove American troops from northern Syria after a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
- White House official calls report 'false nonsense'.' Spectator acknowledged of its own report, 'whether any of this is true is another matter'.
Forget the habitable exoplanets—here are some of our galaxy’s freaks. (Ars Technica, November 2, 2019)
One of these worlds is darker than coal, with an atmosphere as hot as lava.
Children were told to ‘build the wall’ at White House Halloween party. (Yahoo News, November 2, 2019)
Trump’s proposed border wall has drawn criticism for its cost and because opponents argue his rhetoric toward Latino immigrants is racist, an accusation Trump has denied. Former officials told Yahoo News they thought the “Build the Wall” display at the EEOB Halloween party was disturbing.
“To the extent the wall is just a xenophobic symbol, this is obviously a gross thing to have children do,” Ben Rohrbaugh, who worked on National Security Council on border security in the Obama administration, told Yahoo News. “To the extent it’s a representation of an actual wall on the southwest border, the kids have made nearly as much progress as the president has since 2017.”
“Floridian” Trump may not qualify, and his NY audit just got more interesting and personal. (Daily KOS, November 1, 2019)
All hands, abandon ship! I repeat all hands abandon ship as Fox News staff jump overboard. (Daily KOS, October 31, 2019)
White House Backing Off Proposed Fuel-Efficiency Freeze. (Wall Street Journal, October 31, 2019)
Trump administration plans for annual efficiency increases of 1.5%; rule likely to come by year’s end.
The DNA database used to find the Golden State Killer is a national security leak waiting to happen. (MIT Technology Review, October 29, 2019)
Here’s how spies could use a crowd-sourced genetic ancestry service to compromise your privacy—even if you’re not a member.
WhatsApp is suing the world’s top hacking company. (
MIT Technology Review, October 29, 2019)
One of the most powerful tech firms on earth takes on the Israeli cyber surveillance firm NSO Group.
New poll shows why Trump’s defenders are more focused on impeachment process than substance. (Washington Post, October 29, 2019)
Most polls have asked Americans in specific terms what they think of President Trump requesting that his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky order an investigation into Joe Biden’s son. A new national survey from Grinnell College, conducted by the respected Iowa pollster Ann Selzer, probes public attitudes in more plain language – and gets revealing results.
"Is it okay with you or not okay for political candidates in the U.S. to ask for assistance from a foreign government to help them win an election?" In response to that question, only 7 percent of U.S. adults say it’s okay. Eighty-one percent say it is not okay. More than 80 percent of self-identified Republicans, evangelicals and rural dwellers say it’s not okay for a president to ask for assistance from a foreign government to help win an election.
This helps explain why Trump defenders on Capitol Hill have fixated more on complaining about the impeachment process than offering a substantive defense of Trump’s conduct toward Ukraine or his public call for China, from the White House lawn, to investigate the Bidens. The rough transcript of the July 25 call released by Trump shows the president asking explicitly for a "favor" right after Zelensky raised the subject of military aid to Ukraine. Additional reporting, along with sworn testimony from administration officials, has established that this was part of a broader campaign to compel Kyiv to help Trump tar Democrats generally and Biden specifically.
Last week, even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took the rare step of distancing himself from a tweet by Trump that likened his impeachment to "a lynching."
Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) said on Monday that they will join Mitt Romney in not co-sponsoring a resolution spearheaded by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to condemn the House’s impeachment process.
Russians are meddling in the Democratic primary. Is anyone paying attention? (Washington Post, October 29, 2019)
Contrary to the aims of a traditional intelligence operation, discovery and attribution will be the point, derailing the primary with news of yet another Russian disinformation campaign and driving a wedge between the Democratic factions. As media coverage mounts, Trump will feel justified in launching an investigation, ensuring that his political rivals are not “profiting” from the efforts of a foreign power (and possibly distracting from other operations working to his own benefit.) All the old narratives will be turned on their head. It will be Democrats, not Republicans, who suffer Russia as a campaign issue, no matter how loudly they disavow the operations conducted in their name.
Although foreign interference remains the gravest threat to the future of free and fair U.S. elections, the issue of foreign interference represents a counterproductive and potentially dangerous one for the Democratic primary. Democratic campaigns must give each other the benefit of the doubt. If they use the existence of foreign influence operations to score cheap political points against fellow Democrats, it will be the party — and the country — that ultimately pays the price.
NEW: Baghdadi's death: More details emerge from US raid. (CNN, October 29, 2019)
White House Ukraine Expert Sought to Correct Transcript of Trump Call. (New York Times, October 29, 2019)
Lt. Col. Alexander S. Vindman, who heard President Trump’s July phone call with Ukraine’s president and was alarmed, testified that he tried and failed to add key details to the rough transcript. The omissions, Colonel Vindman said, included Mr. Trump’s assertion that there were recordings of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. discussing Ukraine corruption, and an explicit mention by Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, of Burisma Holdings, the energy company whose board employed Mr. Biden’s son Hunter.
Colonel Vindman, who appeared on Capitol Hill wearing his dark blue Army dress uniform and military medals, told House impeachment investigators that he tried to change the reconstructed transcript made by the White House staff to reflect the omissions. But while some of his edits appeared to have been successful, he said, those two corrections were not made.

Sea-level rise could flood hundreds of millions more than expected. (MIT Technology Review, October 29, 2019)
Princeton researchers found that far more people are living closer to the ocean than previously believed.
Rising Seas Will Erase More Cities by 2050, New Research Shows. (
New York Times, October 29, 2019)
Some 150 million people are now living on land that will be below the high-tide line by mid-century, according to scientists.
New Declaration of War (Daily KOS, October 28, 2019)
I live in Humboldt County. We’ve had our power shut off twice now, even though we’re not in a fire area. Here are my thoughts: Like all natural monopolies, the People should own the power grid. And Water. And Roads,  and Cable Internet. The people who run our utilities need to be answerable to US, not to shareholders. If WE were in charge of our utilities, we would have allocated the funds where they should have gone, instead of in someone’s pocket.
Slap anyone who asks "how are we going to pay for it?" That’s a straw man. When we want to do something — anything — like going to war, or giving tax breaks to zillionaires, we ALWAYS find the money. Always. Every single time. Remember when the Iraq war was estimated to cost $85 million. Real cost? Last I heard, CBO said $2.4 trillion. TRILLION.
I say, we "declare war" on the Climate Crisis, and spend whatever the heck it takes to win that war.
PG&E outages: Almost 2 million Californians could face blackouts Tuesday. (San Francisco Chronicle, October 28, 2019)
The warning came even as PG&E issued the all-clear Monday to start restoring power to the bulk of the 970,000 customers whose electricity was shut down over the weekend as part of the utility’s wildfire prevention efforts. As of Monday evening, PG&E had restored power to 375,000, or roughly 39% of those customers; progress varied greatly, from none in Alpine and Yuba counties to 95% in Colusa County, according to PG&E. Some people who lost power over the weekend may not have it restored until Friday.
Trump turns announcement of ISIS leader's death into disturbing rant, says U.S. will take Syrian oil. (Daily KOS, October 27, 2019)
Trump delivered his speech with such bloody glee, that clips of it could be used for any number of terrorist recruiting videos. He repeatedly returned to claims that al-Baghdadi had “screamed, cried, and whimpered,” that he had “run like a dog, like a coward.” And, according to Trump, the ISIS founder was eventually pursued into a dead-end tunnel by dogs brought to the compound by U.S. forces. He then died by setting off a suicide vest. In the process he also killed three children.
No one mourns al-Baghdadi. The level of fanaticism, intolerance, and violence he brought to ISIS was disturbing even to other terrorist leaders. However, the way that Trump painted his end, including his emphasis on the use of dogs, his calling al-Baghdadi a dog, and repeatedly talking about the ISIS leader crying and screaming … will not go down well in the Middle East. Additionally, the idea that al-Baghdadi ultimately evaded capture and died by his own hand will also be seen as a “victory” of sort by his followers.

NEW: Inside the dramatic US military raid that killed ISIS leader Baghdadi (CNN, October 27, 2019)

Trump's announcement on Sunday morning was remarkable in its own right. He teased the news on Twitter the night before, saying "something very big just happened!" And in a contrast with Obama's sober address to the nation about bin Laden, Trump's freewheeling appearance before the cameras was filled with descriptions of gruesome imagery -- "his body was mutilated by the blast" -- and he openly mocked the terror leader, saying he died "whimpering and crying and screaming all the way."
With Baghdadi in their sights, U.S. troops launched a ‘dangerous and daring nighttime raid’ (Washington Post, October 27, 2019)
As President Trump and senior advisers settled into the Situation Room on Saturday evening, elite U.S. forces more than 6,000 miles away launched one of the most significant counterterrorism operations in the campaign against the Islamic State. Taking off in eight helicopters from Iraq, the troops flew over hostile territory for hundreds of miles in the early Sunday morning darkness.
Their target, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the brutal founder and leader of the Islamic State, was holed up in a compound in northwestern Syria with family members and terrorist associates, and the United States had been watching him for days. A tip from a disaffected Islamic State militant set the operation in motion, according to a U.S. official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive operation.
What followed was what Trump called a “dangerous and daring nighttime raid” that was carried off “in grand style.” It ended, he said, with Baghdadi fleeing from advancing U.S. forces into a dead-end tunnel and detonating a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children.
Kamala Harris drops out, then rejoins an Historically Black Colleges and Universities event after Trump honor. (ABC News, October 27, 2019)
"Let’s just deal with the elephant in the room which is the events of the last 24-48 hours," Harris said. "Mayor Benjamin called me and told me that it was shifting and it was going to change ... that it was only right and a reflection of this most honorable institution that
this event would be opened to students,, that it would not be a paid event and that everyone would be able to participate," Harris said.
Fellow presidential candidate, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said, "[Trump’s] remarks were offensive. Talking about being the best president ever for black people is an offensive lie, because he’s actually doing things to hurt the African-American community."
US Army finds that the 'military could collapse within twenty years' thanks to climate breakdown. (Daily KOS, October 26, 2019)
According to a new report prepared by the US Army and, commissioned by the Pentagon, found that the next couple of decades will be so chaotic due to a warming climate that we will be unable to adapt in time. Our inability to change will be the result of years of inaction by ‘leaders' who have kicked the proverbial can of worms down the road for future generations to solve.
The report predicts that within the next twenty years, our power grid infrastructure will be unable to adapt to the expected extreme temperatures that are bearing down upon us. During this time, people will be hungry, thirsty, and unable to cope with unbearable heat. The PGE crisis provides a glimpse into the future, Millions Of Californians Brace For Power Outages As Wildfires Ravage State.
The key players in the study were NASA, the military, and defense intelligence agencies, and they warned the Pentagon 'to urgently prepare for the possibility that domestic power, water, and food systems might collapse due to the impacts of climate change as we reach mid-century.'
California: A race against time to slow Sonoma fire before monster winds return (Los Angeles Times, October 26, 2019)
The Kincade fire has burned 21,900 acres in northern Sonoma County and was only 5% contained as of Friday afternoon. The entire town of Geyserville and vineyards in the region were ordered to evacuate, though some stayed, using generators for power. Fire officials said 49 structures, including 21 homes, were destroyed, and the Geysers geothermal facilities run by Calpine Corp. reported some damage.
Tomorrow, conditions are likely to worsen. The winds are expected to head down slope, reaching urban areas as far as Oakland, San Francisco and Sacramento. These winds are what brought devastation to rural communities in the foothills of the North Bay hills when fires struck in 2017. The Tubbs fire in Sonoma and Napa counties killed 22 people and destroyed more than 5,000 homes.
The return of socialism is about the political divide. (The Hill, October 26, 2019)
Young people extolling socialism have caused conservatives to sound alarms about the direction the country is going. But the reappearance of socialism is more a sign of a wide partisan divide than it is evidence that people want to change America’s economic system.
When Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning spokespeople talk about socialism — or democratic socialism — they’re not talking about changing the means of production. When your college sophomore nephew expresses some sympathy for socialism at Thanksgiving dinner, he’ll likely be talking about just expanding the social welfare programs that already exist and maybe importing others from Europe. We’ve already got a lot of this kind of socialism in America. There’s Social Security and Medicare, and states keep mandating that businesses offer paid leave to employees. When the people on the left talk glowingly of socialism, they tend to talk about a socialism that is a couple large steps down the path of bigger government.
U.S. deficit hit $984 billion in 2019, soaring during Trump era. (Washington Post, October 25, 2019)
Budget experts say it is unprecedented for America’s deficit to expand this much during relatively good economic times.
In 2013, when federal debt totaled $16.7 trillion, Trump tweeted: “Obama is the most profligate deficit & debt spender in our nation’s history.” The federal government is now more than $22 trillion in debt, according to the White House.
The U.S. government’s budget deficit ballooned to nearly $1 trillion in 2019, the Treasury Department announced Friday, as the United States’ fiscal imbalance widened for a fourth consecutive year despite a sustained run of economic growth. The deficit grew $205 billion, or 26 percent, in the past year.
The country’s worsening fiscal picture runs in sharp contrast to President Trump’s campaign promise to eliminate the federal debt within eight years. The deficit is up nearly 50 percent in the Trump era. Since taking office, Trump has endorsed big spending increases and steered most Republicans to abandon the deficit obsession they held during the Obama administration.
Scientists Were Hunting for the Next Ebola. Now the U.S. Has Cut Off Their Funding. (New York Times, October 25, 2019)
Predict, a government research program, sought to identify animal viruses that might infect humans and to head off new pandemics.
Microsoft Wins Pentagon’s $10 Billion JEDI Contract, Thwarting Amazon. (New York Times, October 25, 2019)
The decision was a surprise because Amazon had been considered the front-runner, in part because it had built cloud services for the Central Intelligence Agency. But that was before Mr. Trump became publicly hostile to Mr. Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post. The president often refers to the newspaper as the “Amazon Washington Post” and has accused it of spreading “fake news.” In public, Mr. Trump said there were other “great companies” that should have a chance at the contract. But a speechwriter for former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says in a book scheduled for publication next week that Mr. Trump had wanted to foil Amazon and give the contract to another company.
The issue quickly became radioactive at the Pentagon. The new defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, at first said he wanted to take several months to review the issue and then, a few days ago, recused himself from the bidding. He said he could not participate because his son worked for IBM, one of the competitors for the contract.
As recently as this month, the betting was that Microsoft would, at most, get only part of the contract and that the Pentagon would use multiple suppliers for its cloud services, as do many private companies. Microsoft was considered in the lead for other government cloud programs, including an intelligence contract; only recently has Microsoft opened enough classified server facilities to be able to handle data on the scale of the Pentagon contract.
Microsoft did not immediately have a comment. Amazon, which calls its cloud platform Amazon Web Services, or AWS, said in a statement that it was surprised by the decision. “AWS is the clear leader in cloud computing, and a detailed assessment purely on the comparative offerings clearly led to a different conclusion. We remain deeply committed to continuing to innovate for the new digital battlefield where security, efficiency, resiliency and scalability of resources can be the difference between success and failure.”
The award to Microsoft is likely to fuel suspicions that Mr. Trump may have weighed in privately as well as publicly against Amazon. Experts on federal contracting said it would be highly improper for a president to intervene in the awarding of a contract. Price Floyd, a former head of public affairs at the Pentagon who consulted briefly for Amazon, said he thought Mr. Trump’s vocal criticism of Amazon would give it ample grounds to protest the award to Microsoft. “He’s the commander in chief, and he hasn’t been subtle about his hostility toward Amazon,” Mr. Floyd said.
Microsoft’s win has implications for the cloud computing industry, in which businesses rent space on technology companies’ server computers, giving them cheap and fast access to storage and processing. Amazon has long been the dominant player, with about 45 percent of the market, trailed by Microsoft with around 25 percent.
Landing the JEDI contract puts Microsoft in a prime position to earn the roughly $40 billion that the federal government is expected to spend on cloud computing over the next several years, he said. Losing the bid is also a hit to the reputation of Amazon, which decided last year to open a large outpost in Northern Virginia that will eventually employ at least 25,000 people.
Pentagon awards controversial $10 billion cloud computing deal to Microsoft, spurning Amazon. (Washington Post, October 25, 2019)
The Pentagon awarded its controversial $10 billion cloud computing contract to Microsoft Friday evening, spurning a bid from Amazon after President Trump expressed opposition to giving the lucrative award to a company led by Jeff Bezos, one of his longtime rivals.
Amazon was openly described by competitors and industry analysts as a clear front runner to win the massive award, due to its years of experience handling classified data for the CIA. The company this year chose to build a massive second headquarters, a few miles from the Pentagon’s campus.
After a lawsuit and bid protests from Oracle and IBM failed to block the award this summer, Amazon appeared poised to win the contract, partly because the military already had designated the company with the highest data management certification. Microsoft’s designation was below Amazon’s.
Update Complete: U.S. Nuclear Weapons No Longer Need Floppy Disks. (New York Times, October 24, 2019)
Rest easy, people of Earth: The United States’ nuclear arsenal will no longer rely on a computer system that uses eight-inch floppy disks, in an update the Defense Department has cast as a step into the future but which some observers might be surprised to learn was required at all. The system, called Strategic Automated Command and Control System, or SACCS, “is still in use today but no longer uses floppy disks,” David Faggard, a spokesman for the Air Force Global Strike Command, which manages the Air Force portion of the arsenal, said in an email. “Air Force Global Strike Command is committed to modernizing for the future.”
The update is part of a broader overhaul of the United States’ atomic weapons that began under President Barack Obama and has continued under President Trump. The move away from floppy disks was completed in June but was not widely reported at the time. It was reported last week by C4ISRNET, a website that covers military technology.
U.S. Military Could Collapse Within 20 Years Due to Climate Change, Report Commissioned By Pentagon Says. (Vice, October 24, 2019)
The report says a combination of global starvation, war, disease, drought, and a fragile power grid could have cascading, devastating effects.
We’ve officially annihilated a second strain of polio. Only one remains. (Ars Technica, October 24, 2019)
Still a tough road ahead, but we're getting closer.
Ivanka Trump tries to take credit for Kansas economy, state legislator torches her. (Daily KOS, October 24, 2019)
Ivanka Trump doesn’t bother with the facts. Instead, she points to the success of Kansas since the 2016 election. This misunderstanding of Kansas politics — which led to the election of a Democratic governor and Democratic US House members in 2018 — gets a big correction as Stephanie Clayton, once a Republican who switched parties after 2018, takes Ivanka down.
‘The highest of high crimes’: Rudy Giuliani accidentally blows up Trump’s defense against impeachment on Twitter. (Raw Story, October 24, 2019)
Giuliani is contradicting himself here. He has previously described his efforts to get Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden, the DNC, and the 2016 campaign as unrelated to his legal work. “I’m not acting as a lawyer,” Giuliani told The Atlantic last month of his activities in Ukraine. “I’m acting as someone who has devoted most of his life to straightening out government.”
But while Giuliani’s new version of events may help him if he wants to make a claim of attorney-client privilege, it actually makes Trump’s role in the scheme look even more damning than it already is. Legal experts argued that it only strengthened the case for impeachment.
“This merely confirms what was so outrageous: Giuliani wasn’t a representative or employee of the United States; his duty of loyalty was 100% to his (personal capacity) client. And yet Trump told Ukraine it had to dance to Rudy’s tune,” said Marty Lederman, a law professor at Georgetown University Law Center. “[A] a tune designed to advance Trump’s personal interests–in order to remain in the U.S.’s good graces (e.g., to secure access, aid, etc.). This is the highest of high crimes–using the leverage of his position as chief diplomat to advance his own interests.”
Fox News legal analyst surprises Fox & Friends by destroying impeachment talking points. (Daily KOS, October 24, 2019)
Andrew Napolitano: "As frustrating as it might be to have these hearings going on behind closed doors, the hearings over which Congressman Schiff is presiding, they are consistent with the rules. And when were the rules written last? In January of 2015. And who signed them? John Boehner. And who enacted them? A Republican majority.
WSJ editorial says Trump shouldn’t be impeached because he was too ‘inept’ to carry out quid pro quo. (Raw Story, October 24, 2019)

An editorial from the conservative Wall Street Journal argues that President Donald Trump does not deserve to be impeached because he was too incompetent to properly carry out a corrupt act.
In an editorial that criticizes Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for holding impeachment inquiry testimony behind closed doors so far, the editorial board argues that ambassador Bill Taylor’s testimony that Trump directly tied military aid to Ukraine to investigating his political opponents shouldn’t be seen as an impeachable offense because the president got caught doing it.
Despite the Journal’s assertions that Trump cannot be impeached for bungling his attempt at extorting Ukraine, at least one Republican legal scholar believes that the president may face real legal jeopardy for his actions. Philip Zelikow, a history professor at the University of Virginia who served as an official in the George W. Bush administration, argued on Thursday that Trump may have run afoul of 18 U.S.C. § 201(b), which states that any public official who “corruptly demands, seeks, receives, accepts, or agrees to receive or accept anything of value personally or for any other person or entity, in return for… being influenced in the performance of any official act” is breaking the law.”
Graham to introduce desperate resolution attacking Democrats' inquiry. It's an admission of failure. (Daily KOS, October 24, 2019)
Lindsey Graham is in big trouble with the orange menace in the Oval Office. Not only has Graham criticized Trump's Syria policy, but as Senate Judiciary Committee chair he has failed to hold sham hearings exploring the Biden and DNC server conspiracy theories that Trump has been counting on.
Graham's first effort to get back in Trump's good graces was hailing Trump for "thinking outside the box" on his inane plan to control Syrian oil fields by partnering with the Kurds, who Trump just completely screwed over. Days later Graham leapt to the defense of Trump's racially offensive comparison between the impeachment inquiry into him and a "lynching." Even House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy wouldn't defend Trump on that, but Graham stood up wholeheartedly for Trump's racially charged ignorance, claiming "this is a lynching in every sense" and assailing impeachment—a constitutionally outlined remedy—as "un-American."
Graham plans to outdo himself later Thursday, introducing a joint resolution with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell “condemning the House of Representatives’ closed door, illegitimate impeachment inquiry." Because contrary to popular belief, the U.S. Constitution gave Graham and McConnell "the sole Power of Impeachment," not the House of Representatives. Graham will turn the tables on House Democrats' impeachment inquiry into Trump's shadow foreign policy by naming the inquiry "a shadow process." Clever.
So, in essence, yet another lame Republican jab at process for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to whisk off her shoulder like a pesky fly. In actuality, Graham's resolution is an admission of defeat.
Roll discredits: here are the Repubs who barged in on a CLASSIFIED hearing. (
Daily KOS, October 23, 2019)
Trump-approved House Republican disruption of impeachment testimony ends. (
Daily KOS, October 23, 2019)
The move by a group of roughly two dozen House Republicans to "storm" the House sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF, compromising the secure space by refusing to turn over private cell phones or submit to other screening, has now ended.
The extent to which the Republican action was intended purely as a pro-Trump publicity stunt can be discovered by looking at the list of participants: Twelve of those Republicans are actually on the three impeachment-relevant committees, and have had access to witness testimony from the beginning. A full 46 House Republicans sit on those committees, and all of them have heard witness testimony. (You may recall the constant presence of those members leaving each deposition to insist to assembled reporters that the testimony they were hearing was untrustworthy, or not at all damaging to Trump, or simply boring.)
The latest updates:
• Donald Trump himself reportedly approved the stunt, only the latest display of White House contempt for both the law and national security considerations.
• Also approving the stunt in advance: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy dismissed the security implications of Republican members bringing cell phones into the secure space, bafflingly telling a reporter, “These are individuals who have never been in Intel Committee before or anywhere else. So it’s nothing serious from that matter.”
• Rather than the action being an unintentional oversight, some Republicans explicitly refused to turn over their unsecured cell phones to security when entering the facility.
• Rep. Alex Mooney brazenly recorded a "report from inside" the secure space, the latest House Republican to brag about committing a national security breach.
• Rep. Matt Gaetz's office handed out expired congressional passes to uncredentialed reporters and an HBO crew in an effort to boost publicity for the event.
• Rep. Adam Schiff, who is leading the House impeachment inquiry: “Clearly the White House was devastated by yesterday’s testimony. These witnesses have been willing to defy the administration and follow the law and come testify, so the president’s allies are trying to stop them through other means.”
Republicans invade impeachment hearing, disrupt testimony, and violate security protocol. (
Daily KOS, October 23, 2019)
The impeachment inquiry isn’t just happening behind closed doors; it’s happening in a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF) intended to prevent electronic eavesdropping. The purpose of this is both to protect the witnesses who come forward to speak after attempts by the White House to cut off their testimony, and to keep potential witnesses from listening in and calibrating their stories to what has already been said. But on Wednesday morning, a horde of Republican representatives let by Matt Gaetz charged into the impeachment inquiry, violating the security of a witness, and defying the ironclad rules around SCIF by bringing their cell phones into the confidential space.
Trump is now calling Republicans who oppose him 'human scum'. (Daily KOS, October 23, 2019)
The eliminationist and Nazi-like rhetoric from the White House ratcheted up dramatically on Wednesday as the ramifications of Ambassador William Taylor’s Tuesday testimony before a House Committee became public knowledge. In one tweet Trump labeled “Never Trump” Republicans—those in the GOP who are firmly and vocally opposed to his presidency—as “human scum,” noting that their numbers had been severely lessened.
Donald Trump's last defense against charges of extortion is more extortion. (Daily KOS, October 23, 2019)
On Wednesday morning, Donald Trump spent most of his early “executive time” retweeting items that, notably, had appeared before the impeachment inquiry testimony of Ambassador William Taylor on Tuesday, but eventually Trump staked out a new, fingers-clutching-the-edge-of-the-cliff position in his own defense. There can be no quid pro quo, declared Trump, because neither Taylor nor other witnesses have said that the Ukrainians knew that aid was being withheld.
Trump’s fallback position represents an extraordinary retreat. It would seem to acknowledge the indisputable fact that he was withholding military aid—a fact for which Trump has provided multiple, mutually exclusive excuses—and it would absorb the idea that Taylor and others knew that this aid was being withheld in order to gain the investigations that Trump sought.
There are only a few problems with this. First of all, of course the Ukrainians realized that the military aid had not appeared. Because it hadn’t appeared.
Phoenix officer fired after threatening to shoot parents of 4-year-old who 'stole' doll from Family Dollar. (Daily KOS, October 23, 2019)
In May, after visiting a dollar store in Phoenix, Arizona, with their young children, and heading back to an apartment complex to drop the kids at a babysitter, Dravon Ames and Iesha Harper found themselves descended upon by a swarm of police. You see their four-year-old daughter—not their other one-year-old daughter who doesn’t walk yet—had taken a doll out of the store without paying for it. After shouting Ames into his car, with the door closed, they pulled out their guns, trained them on Iesha Harper—who was holding her kids in the backseat of the car. The situation escalated with police officers treating the family and their children like they had just come out of a bank brandishing semi-automatic rifles. Expletives and threats to kill both parents were hurled by officers at the family during the arrests.
Ants are “immune” to traffic jams. (Ars Technica, October 23, 2019)
Unlike self-interested humans, ants have a common goal: The colony's survival.
Paul Krugman: The hole elected Republicans, especially in the Senate, have dug for themselves. (New York Times, October 23, 2019)
Many — perhaps most — Republican senators have always known that Trump is morally, emotionally and intellectually unfit for high office; they’re cynics, not idiots. At first, however, they decided that it was worth supporting him anyway.
Maybe I still have too much faith in human nature, but I’d like to imagine that there are some Republicans who look at themselves in the mirror and feel self-loathing, who might yet seize a chance at redemption. But how many G.O.P. senators still have a conscience? We’re probably going to find out in a few months.
Indicted Giuliani Associate Ties Case to Trump. (New York Times, October 23, 2019)
The connection was made as two associates of Rudolph W. Giuliani pleaded not guilty in federal court in Manhattan. One of the two indicted associates of President Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, on Wednesday tied the case to the president himself, saying that some of the evidence gathered in the campaign-finance investigation could be subject to executive privilege.
The unusual argument was raised by a defense lawyer in federal court in Manhattan as the two associates, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, pleaded not guilty to federal charges that they had made illegal campaign contributions to political candidates in the United States in exchange for potential influence. Mr. Parnas and Mr. Fruman have become unexpected figures in the events at the heart of the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, having played a role in helping Mr. Giuliani’s efforts on behalf of President Trump to dig up information in Ukraine that could damage former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a prospective Democratic challenger.
New Evidence Hints at Another Justice Department Coverup. Mother Jones, October 22, 2019)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) released evidence on Tuesday that the Justice Department buried the whistle-blower complaint about President Donald Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president by failing to refer the matter to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Klobuchar suggested the Justice Department violated a longstanding agreement between the agencies to share information about possible campaign finance violations for potential enforcement action.
To recap: The whistle-blower complaint at the heart of the impeachment inquiry didn’t just contain evidence that the president pressured a foreign government to help him win reelection. It also contained evidence of a potential campaign finance violation.
NEW: Sorry—organic farming is actually worse for climate change. (MIT Technology Review, October 22, 2019)
The practice cuts greenhouse-gas emissions only if you ignore the inconvenient fact that it requires a lot more land.
Facebook takedowns show new Russian activity targeted Biden, praised Trump. (Democratic Underground, October 21, 2019)
Facebook said the network bears the hallmark of the same Kremlin-backed group that interfered in the 2016 election by sowing social discord, boosting Trump and attacking Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. The new disinformation campaign appears to follow the same playbook.
Trump urges GOP to ‘get tougher and fight’ impeachment as Pelosi details his ‘shakedown’ of Ukraine. (Washington Post, October 21, 2019)
NEW: A Top DHS Staffer Who Defended The Muslim Travel Ban Now Works At Google. (BuzzFeed, October 21, 2019)
Former DHS staffer Miles Taylor once defended a “tough” but “tailored” version of Trump’s controversial travel ban and served under Kirstjen Nielsen during the implementation of the family separation policy at the US–Mexico border.
NEW: Omniviolence Is Coming and the World Isn’t Ready. (Nautilus, October 21, 2019)
Technology is, in other words, enabling criminals to target anyone anywhere and, due to democratization, increasingly at scale. Emerging bio-, nano-, and cyber-technologies are becoming more and more accessible. The political scientist Daniel Deudney has a word for what can result: “omniviolence.” The ratio of killers to killed, or “K/K ratio,” is falling. For example, computer scientist Stuart Russell has vividly described how a small group of malicious agents might engage in omniviolence: “A very, very small quadcopter, one inch in diameter can carry a one-or two-gram shaped charge,” he says. “You can order them from a drone manufacturer in China. You can program the code to say: ‘Here are thousands of photographs of the kinds of things I want to target.’ A one-gram shaped charge can punch a hole in nine millimeters of steel, so presumably you can also punch a hole in someone’s head. You can fit about three million of those in a semi-tractor-trailer. You can drive up I-95 with three trucks and have 10 million weapons attacking New York City. They don’t have to be very effective, only 5 or 10% of them have to find the target.” Manufacturers will be producing millions of these drones, available for purchase just as with guns now, Russell points out, “except millions of guns don’t matter unless you have a million soldiers. You need only three guys to write the program and launch.” In this scenario, the K/K ratio could be perhaps 3/1,000,000, assuming a 10-percent accuracy and only a single one-gram shaped charge per drone.
Civilization is an experiment. We may not get the results we’re expecting. So humanity would do well to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
How the Butterfly Discovered Daylight (New York Times, October 21, 2019)
Nocturnal moths evolved into daytime butterflies not to escape bats, as biologists once thought, but to enjoy an abundant new drink: the nectar of flowering plants.
The speaker’s “fact sheet” outlines what her office characterized as a gross abuse of power by Trump, including a “shakedown,” “pressure campaign” and “cover up.”
Unsafe Used Cars for Sale; Unrepaired, recalled vehicles at AutoNation dealerships (USPIRG, October 20, 2019)
None of us want to drive unsafe cars -- but AutoNation is selling them. Our research partners at MASSPIRG Education Fund found unsafe, recalled used cars for sale at every AutoNation location surveyed. AutoNation claims to make buying a used vehicle "worry-free." But 1 in 9 cars at their surveyed locations had risky, unrepaired recalls.
AutoNation needs to do better to keep their customers safe. We know they're capable, because they promised once, in 2015, not to sell used vehicles with unrepaired recalls. But they changed their minds just a year later, and now dangerous recalls still put people at risk at their dealerships.
The Liberation of Mitt Romney (The Atlantic, October 20, 2019)
The newly rebellious senator has become an outspoken dissident in Trump’s Republican Party, just in time for the president’s impeachment trial.
John Feffer: The Far Right's War on Culture (TomDispatch, October 20, 2019)
It really does boil down to Us Versus Them.
Here’s a simple, if grim, reality: we are living in an ever more extreme world, as the residents of significant parts of California undoubtedly realized recently when the electricity went off amid ever increasing fears of wildfires; or the residents of the Houston area after it was drenched, in a mere two days, with a 40-inch flood of rain from a fierce tropical cyclone; or the residents of Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas after it was essentially leveled by Dorian, a devastating category five hurricane; or those who live in Tokyo and nearby parts of Japan after the worst typhoon in more than six decades whacked that island nation. And so it not only goes but will go, as ever more greenhouse gas emissions head into the atmosphere, whether from the burning peatlands of Siberia, the still-burning rainforests of Brazil and Indonesia, or simply fossil-fuel companies intent, according to the Guardian, on flooding energy markets with ever increasing numbers of barrels of oil in the coming years. (“New research commissioned by the Guardian forecasts Shell and ExxonMobil will be among the leaders with a projected production increase of more than 35% between 2018 and 2030 -- a sharper rise than over the previous 12 years.”)
This, in turn, means that, barring change, our present extremity is only a taste of what’s to come as significant parts of the planet are ruled by leaders who are clearly pyromaniacs. Of course, these days when we talk about extremism -- especially in a nation whose citizenry is armed to the teeth, often with military-style weaponry, in a way no other country on Earth comes close to, not even Yemen -- we mean something else entirely. That word brings to mind a grim litany of white nationalism, racism, and repetitive mass slaughter.
If you’re not a member of the far right, if you don’t subscribe to its YouTube channels or follow its burgeoning Twitter accounts, you might have only scant acquaintance with this story. But once you start looking for it, the great replacement turns out to be omnipresent. Between 2012 and 2019, for instance, 1.5 million tweets in English, French, and German referenced it. You could hear an echo of the phrase at the Unite the Right gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017, when neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other demonstrators chanted, “You will not replace us!” But the phrase really broke into the headlines in March 2019 when a mass shooter who opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 51 people, titled the online manifesto he prepared for the occasion, “The Great Replacement.”
Erdogan’s Ambitions Go Beyond Syria. He Says He Wants Nuclear Weapons. (New York Times, October 20, 2019)
A month before invading Kurdish areas in Syria, Turkey’s president said he “cannot accept” the West’s restrictions that keep him from a bomb.
Already Turkey has the makings of a bomb program: uranium deposits and research reactors — and mysterious ties to the nuclear world’s most famous black marketeer, Abdul Qadeer Khan of Pakistan. It is also building its first big power reactor to generate electricity with Russia’s help. That could pose a concern because Mr. Erdogan has not said how he would handle its nuclear waste, which could provide the fuel for a weapon. Russia also built Iran’s Bushehr reactor.
With Turkey now in open confrontation with its NATO allies, having gambled and won a bet that it could conduct a military incursion into Syria and get away with it, Mr. Erdogan’s threat takes on new meaning. If the United States could not prevent the Turkish leader from routing our Kurdish allies, how can it stop him from building a nuclear weapon or following Iran in gathering the technology to do so?
Trump reversed course on hosting G-7 at his club after learning that impeachment-weary Republicans were tired of defending him. (Washington Post, October 20, 2019)
Trump blamed his G-7 reversal on critics, saying on Twitter that his decision to scrap plans for a summit at the Doral club was “based on both Media & Democrat Crazed and Irrational Hostility.”
But behind closed doors, several aides and allies said, Trump changed his mind in response to pressure and frustration from his own party.
Russian Media Cheers Trump’s Moves in Syria: ‘Putin Won the Lottery!’ (Daily Beast, October 19, 2019)
For Russia, Trump’s presidency is a gift that keeps on giving. The Kremlin’s propagandists see no acceptable alternative among any viable presidential candidates in 2020.
By now, it’s become alarmingly clear that an increasing number of people are taking this bizarre, historically deficient, and thoroughly warped story to heart.
GOP panics after Graham challenger breaks fundraising record, and new poll shows 7-point gap. (Daily KOS, October 19, 2019)
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham may soon learn that his plan to convert himself into Trump’s bootlicker wasn’t such a hot idea after all. Although Graham is still currently the favorite to win in this safe Trump state, he is trending downward after several major embarrassments, with a historically low approval rating for an incumbent: 35%. Additionally, 58% said they want someone other than Graham representing them in the Senate. Although Graham remade himself into a sycophant, it has not helped him much as he tries to ride Trump’s coattails.
On the flip side, Democratic challenger Jaime Harrison has been steadily rising in the polls, with the latest national poll indicating that Harrison only trails Graham by seven points.
Sanders New York rally marks largest of primary campaign. (Washington Examiner, October 19, 2019)
Bernie Sanders's campaign rally in New York City brought in nearly 26,000 attendants, making it the largest audience of the entire Democratic primary thus far. At the "Bernie is Back" event in Queens, the Vermont senator sought to fight back against concerns that his White House run is in jeopardy following his heart attack earlier this month. The rally featured a number of high-profile speakers who offered their endorsements, including liberal filmmaker Michael Moore and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Trump’s season of weakness: A president who prizes strength enters key stretch in a fragile state. (Washington Post, October 19, 2019)
Trump now finds himself mired in a season of weakness. Foreign leaders feel emboldened to reject his pleas or contradict him. Officials inside his administration are openly defying his wishes by participating in the impeachment probe. Federal courts have ruled against him. Republican lawmakers are criticizing him. He has lost control over major conservative media organs. And polling shows a growing share of Americans disapprove of his job performance and support his impeachment.
Many of Trump’s Republican allies revolted over his decision to withdraw U.S. troops in Syria, which triggered a bloody Turkish invasion that killed Kurdish fighters and civilians. Trump bragged about sending a “very powerful letter” warning Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan not to invade Syria. “Don’t be a fool!” Trump wrote. But Turkish officials leaked word that their leader had thrown the letter in the trash, and Erdogan then took Trump to task for his “lack of respect.”
Hamilton pushed for impeachment powers. Trump is what he had in mind. (
Washington Post, October 19, 2019)
He wanted a strong president — and a way to get rid of the demagogic ones.
Michael Moore: Trump Is Heading For Impeachment Because Of 'High Crimes' Like We've Never Seen. (9-min. video; MSNBC, October 18, 2019)
Mitch McConnell: Withdrawing From Syria Is A Grave Mistake. (
Washington Post, October 18, 2019)
The combination of a U.S. pullback and the escalating Turkish-Kurdish hostilities is creating a strategic nightmare for our country. Even if the five-day cease-fire announced Thursday holds, events of the past week have set back the United States’ campaign against the Islamic State and other terrorists. Unless halted, our retreat will invite the brutal Assad regime in Syria and its Iranian backers to expand their influence. And we are ignoring Russia’s efforts to leverage its increasingly dominant position in Syria to amass power and influence throughout the Middle East and beyond.
As neo-isolationism rears its head on both the left and the right, we can expect to hear more talk of “endless wars.” But rhetoric cannot change the fact that wars do not just end; wars are won or lost.
Bankrupted PG&E rejects San Francisco's bid to buy back the power grid. (Daily KOS, October 18, 2019)
After being convicted of felony obstruction “of knowingly failing to inspect and test its gas lines for potential dangers,” PG&E continued to choose to pad their executives’ bonuses and shareholder prices instead of upgrading their infrastructure and performing speedy safety analysis of their power grid. Those decisions have led to forced blackouts affecting millions of people.
In Hamburg, ‘Gesundheit’ Means More Than A Wish For Good Health. (Kaiser Health News, October 18, 2019)
Researchers around the world hail Germany for its robust health care system: universal coverage, plentiful primary care, low drug prices and minimal out-of-pocket costs for residents. But it turns out that tending to the health needs of low-income patients still presents universal challenges.
Life expectancy in the poorest areas of Hamburg is estimated to trail that in its wealthier neighborhoods by 13 years ― about equivalent to the gap between Piedmont, a particularly wealthy California suburb, and neighboring West Oakland. In Hamburg, the difference persists even though residents never skip out on doctors’ visits or medication because of cost.
Medical care is only part of the equation. An array of other factors ― known collectively as the “social determinants of health” ― factor strongly into these populations’ well-being. They include big-picture items like affordable healthy food and safe areas to exercise as well as small ones, like having the time and money to get to the doctor.
Republican Christians Credit God for Killing Elijah Cummings. (Daily KOS, October 17, 2019)
After flooding US with opioids, industry giants offer $50 billion settlement. (Ars Technica, October 17, 2019)
Settlement is uncertain as some plaintiffs want more details.
Press secretary tells Fox News that grieving parents lied about meeting with Trump. (Daily KOS, October 17, 2019)
And this, while there are thousands of families that have been separated and continue to be separated, their children put in cages, that Donald Trump doesn’t seem to care about at all.

'News to us': DOJ distances itself from Mulvaney claim that Ukraine aid was tied to investigation. (Washington Examiner, October 17, 2019)
“The president has not spoken with the attorney general about having Ukraine investigate anything relating to former Vice President Biden or his son,” DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec said immediately after the transcript's release. “The president has not asked the attorney general to contact Ukraine — on this or any other matter. The attorney general has not communicated with Ukraine — on this or any other subject. Nor has the attorney general discussed this matter, or anything relating to Ukraine, with Rudy Giuliani.”
“Let me ask you this — if we wanted to cover this up, would we have called the Department of Justice almost immediately and have them look at the transcript of the tape?” Mulvaney asked rhetorically on Thursday. “Which we did, by the way.”
The DOJ told the Washington Examiner that it "was first made aware of the June 25th transcript in mid-August."
Mulvaney emerges as a key facilitator of the campaign to pressure Ukraine. (Washington Post, October 16, 2019)
In late May, acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney organized a meeting that stripped control of the country’s relationship with Ukraine from those who had the most expertise at the National Security Council and the State Department.
Instead, Mulvaney put an unlikely trio in charge of managing the U.S.-Ukraine account amid worrisome signs of a new priority, congressional officials said Tuesday: pressuring the fledgling government in Kiev to deliver material that would be politically valuable to President Trump. The work of those “three amigos,” as they came to call themselves — diplomats Gordon Sondland and Kurt Volker, plus Energy Secretary Rick Perry — has come to light in recent days through newly disclosed text messages and the testimony of government witnesses appearing before an impeachment inquiry in Congress.
Former FBI assistant director: Trump is 'spiraling downward, incredibly vulnerable' to foreign actors. (Daily KOS, October 16 2019)
The fullness of Trump's deteriorating mental state led Kellyanne Conway spouse George to tweet out, "Are we ready yet to have a full national conversation about the diseased mental state of the president of the United States?"
NEW: Trump Is Winning the Online War. (New York Times, October 16, 2019)
The technical superiority and sophistication of the president’s digital campaign is a hidden advantage of incumbency.
Both the Democratic and Republican parties maintain and regularly update massive voter and non-voter lists that include details of credit card usage — magazine subscriptions, church and club dues, hunting and fishing licenses — that are all useful in predicting which candidates voters are more likely to choose.
Now, imagine a file with that, and every piece of information taken from your smartphone. This is the world we’re moving to. In this new terrain, the G.O.P. is running pretty far ahead of the Democrats innovating online, mostly because of its financial advantage.
Never-Before-Seen Trump Tax Documents Show Major Inconsistencies. (Pro Publica, October 16, 2019)
The president’s businesses made themselves appear more profitable to lenders and less profitable to tax officials. One expert calls the differing numbers “versions of fraud.”
Extremists Thank Trump for ISIS’ Chance to Return to Europe. (Daily Beast, October 16, 2019)
France won’t be the only country threatened by jihadis escaping in Syria thanks to Trump’s disastrous decisions, but it knows a lot about the people already planning new attacks.
Thanks to U.S. President Donald Trump pulling troops out of northeast Syria, French ISIS fighters, captured in recent years by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria, are said to be escaping their captors—and rejoining their former comrades in what could mean a renaissance for the once mighty Islamic State. Between 400 and 450 French ISIS fighters have been detained in Kurdish camps in northeastern Syria. Last week, Turkey launched Operation Peace Spring after Trump gave the de facto go-ahead by moving U.S. troops out of the way. The Kurds, desperate after being abandoned by the U.S., are now aligning themselves with the hated President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and no longer have the manpower to guard their prisons. As The Daily Beast reported, the American forces now withdrawing have had to turn their attention away from pursuing ISIS and focus on the risk that ISIS will be pursuing them.
Full October 15th Democratic Candidates Debate (coming soon; CNN, October 16, 2019)
October Democratic debate highlights (3 45-min. videos; Washington Post, October 15, 2019)
The fourth Democratic debate has wrapped. On the stage were former vice president Joe Biden | Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) | Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) | Sen. Kamala D. Harris (Calif.) | South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg | former congressman Beto O’Rourke of Texas | Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) | businessman Andrew Yang | Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) | former housing and urban development secretary Julián Castro | Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) | businessman Tom Steyer.
Never Again? The Halle Attack and Everyday Anti-Semitism in Germany (Der Speigel, October 15, 2019)
Jews in Germany are taunted and harassed every day, often -- but by no means exclusively -- by the far right. This daily discrimination also sets the stage for violence against Jewish people.
Reporter: "20 years ago, you said not complying with a subpoena was an impeachable offense." Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham: "Nothing's changed." (The Hill, October 15, 2019)
Hysterical Impeachment Syndrome: Now Trump is Attacking Both CNN and FOX News. (Daily KOS, October 15, 2019)
The severity of Trump's psychotic breakdown is leading him to ever more bizarre outbursts and tantrums. As his mental infirmity declines, his incoherent raving accelerates. In just the past few days this has manifested in absurd threats to sue Nancy Pelosi, nauseating mimicry of orgasms, and hypocritical assaults on the business affairs of wealthy, politically connected children.
The four biggest foes of America that gain from Trump’s Syria pullout. (
Washington Post, October 14, 2019)
When President Trump announced his decision to pull troops from northern Syria, his critics immediately warned that the move would pave the way for a Turkish offensive with potentially catastrophic repercussions. State Department officials swiftly denied that Trump supported the Turkish incursion. Meanwhile, Trump appeared convinced he had made the right choice. “Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to figure the situation out,” Trump wrote.
They now indeed are, but not to the advantage of the United States. “What’s clear is that the U.S. has shot itself into the foot,” said Ali Fathollah-Nejad, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.
The U.S. pullout has enabled Turkey to pursue its military incursion without having to fear U.S. interference, but it has also created opportunities for four of the United States’ key foes: Iran, the Assad regime, Russia and — potentially — the Islamic State group.
The biggest losers — it appears at this stage — are the allies who fought alongside U.S. soldiers in Syria: Europe and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
GOP Rep. Liz Cheney Tells Fox News Turkey Invaded Syria Because Democrats Launched Impeachment Inquiry Against Trump. (1-min. video; Newsweek, October 14, 2019)
Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney claimed in an interview with Fox News on Monday morning that Democrats are to blame for Turkey's invasion of Syria because they launched an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, despite the fact that the president withdrew U.S. forces from the Middle Eastern nation to give the Turkish forces the greenlight to enter. "I also want to say that the impeachment proceedings that are going on and what the Democrats are doing themselves to try to weaken this president is part of this," Cheney, who represents Wyoming and is the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, argued. "It was not an accident that the Turks chose this moment to roll across the border," she claimed. "And I think the Democrats have got to pay very careful attention to the damage that they're doing with the impeachment proceedings."
Although Cheney may have attempted to shift the blame to Democrats on Monday, many other Republican lawmakers have directly attacked the president for his decision and its repercussions.
U.S. Cedes Syrian City to Russia in Battlefield 'Handover' as Turkey Tries to Take It. (Newsweek, October 14, 2019)
The U.S. was scheduled as of Monday to officially withdraw from Manbij within 24-hours, leaving the mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces behind as two rival factions—the Syrian government, backed by Russia and Iran, and the Turkey-backed Syrian insurgents opposed to it—sought to seize control of the strategic location. A senior Pentagon official told Newsweek that U.S. personnel, "having been in the area for longer, has been assisting the Russian forces to navigate through previously unsafe areas quickly."
"It is essentially a handover," the official said. "However, it's a quick out, not something that will include walk-throughs, etc., everything is about making out with as much as possible of our things while destroying any sensitive equipment that cannot be moved."
Trump’s retreat in Syria turns into a mess. (
Washington Post, October 14, 2019)
A week ago, President Trump shocked Washington and announced he wouldn’t impede an imminent Turkish invasion of northeastern Syria. Now, in the space of just a few days, his administration is already reaping what it sowed.
Turkey’s incursions at various points along its border with Syria began on Wednesday and, by the weekend, had already plunged the region into chaos. Turkish artillery pounded Syrian Kurdish positions, while footage emerged appearing to show Turkish-affiliated militiamen carrying out grisly roadside executions of Kurdish fighters allied to the United States. Tens of thousands of panicked civilians attempted to flee the Turkish-led advance, raising fears of an eventual exodus into Iraqi Kurdistan, where more than a million people displaced by conflict still live in camps.
Trump, who spent part of the weekend at one of his golf courses, insisted on Twitter that his country ought to be rid of its commitments in the “quicksand” of the Middle East. Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper told CBS’s “Face the Nation" on Sunday that the United States was now in “a very untenable situation” and would evacuate its roughly 1,000 troops in northeastern Syria entirely. The order to remove troops came Saturday, toward the end of a chaotic day in which the viability of the U.S. mission in Syria rapidly unraveled after Turkish troops and their Syrian rebel proxies advanced deep into Syrian territory and cut U.S. supply lines.
It flew in the face of the Pentagon’s assurances last week that the United States would not “abandon” its Syrian Kurdish partners, who have been on the front lines in the war against the Islamic State and borne the brunt of the casualties in a U.S.-led campaign.
Syrian troops enter towns in northeast as Erdogan warns of wider offensive. (Washington Post, October 14, 2019)
The abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria has unleashed dramatic developments, with Syrian government forces retaking territory long held by U.S. allies and Turkish-led forces expanding their offensive. Here’s what we know so far.
- Syrian government troops have moved back into towns in northeastern Syria for the first time in years after U.S.-allied Kurdish fighters, in a stunning reversal, reached a deal with the government.
- Turkish-backed rebels have begun a push to retake the northern city of Manbij, which has long been a flash point.
- Hundreds of Islamic State family members have escaped a detention camp in Ain Issa, which has been the administrative capital of the Kurdish-led government in northeastern Syria.
Hobby Lobby Scandal Widens as Museum of the Bible Admits Oxford Prof Sold Illicit Papyri to Green Family. (Daily Beast, October 14, 2019)
The Museum of the Bible revealed today that at least 13 biblical fragments in its collection were illicitly sold by a Oxford professor to Hobby Lobby's Green family.
NEW: Goodbye, Columbus. (First Nations News and Views, October 14, 2019)
What we need is not only a name change of the federal holiday from Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day but an honest exploration of our painful history. We need to show our children we can look at “heroes” with clear eyes and use that clarity to build a society which we can truly be proud of and pass on to future generations.
Biden vs. Warren: A Difference of Philosophy, Not Just Policy (Wall Street Journal, October 14, 2019)
Do Democratic voters want a period of calm and order post-Trump or a crusade that promises more disruption of the status quo?
Biden goes old. Sanders goes young. Warren is in-between. What Facebook ads reveal about 2020. (New York Times, October 14, 2019)
It's about time: Biden, Democratic candidates punch back against shoddy press coverage. (Daily KOS, October 13, 2019)
No longer willing to stoically suffer through bad, misleading press coverage, Democrats are borrowing a page from Republicans by going public with their complaints and demanding journalists do better. But unlike Republicans who often “work the refs” by griping about imaginary slights in hopes of better treatment in the future, Democrats are calling out the press with wholly accurate claims of media malpractice.
Last week, Joe Biden's presidential campaign sent a blistering letter to New York Times editor Dean Baquet, reprimanding the paper for helping spread Donald Trump's debunked conspiracy theory about Joe Biden and his son's business dealings in Ukraine. It's "part of a larger strategy not to let the same coverage that corrupted the 2016 election happen this time around," a campaign source told CNN's Brian Stelter.
The stinging critique from Biden came one day after the Times published an opinion column from discredited right-wing author Peter Schweizer, once again hyping the Biden/Ukraine story. Schweizer, who wrote a patently dishonest book about Hillary Clinton in 2015 alleging all sorts of made-up crimes—a book the Times helped market and promote during the campaign—has been peddling the Biden smear all year within the far-right media ecosystem.
Macabre Video of Fake Trump Shooting Media and Critics Is Shown at His Resort. (New York Times, October 13, 2019)
A video depicting a macabre scene of a fake President Trump shooting, stabbing and brutally assaulting members of the news media and his political opponents was shown at a conference for his supporters at his Miami resort last week. Several of Mr. Trump’s top surrogates — including his son Donald Trump Jr., his former spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders and the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis — were scheduled to speak at the three-day conference, which was held by a pro-Trump group, American Priority, at Trump National Doral Miami.
Every time, it's the same long con job. (Daily KOS, October 13, 2019)
You know what it is when you recognize it: It's a scam. It's a con job. It's the same con job that Donals Trump has been playing since the beginning. 
In 2016 he used rumors, innuendo, and blatant smears to sully Hillary Clinton's reputation and defeat her in the Electoral College with ardent help from Russia—and reluctant, half-hearted help from then-FBI director James Comey. Trump did this while he was caught up in a scandal of numerous sexual assault allegations, while he was attempting to forge a secret deal to build a billion-dollar Trump Tower in Moscow, and also was secretly paying off two former mistresses not to reveal his secret in the 11th hour of the election.
Each time, he's corrupt as a crooked scarecrow. He's violated security protocols, clearances, and rules of sketchy foreign entanglements while pointing the finger the other way. He's a hustler. He's a grifter. And he been caught red-handed, again and again and again.
Donald Trump is a national emergency, and the Republicans own it. (Daily KOS, October 13, 2019)
The Republican Party owns Donald Trump. Every Republican who has done nothing to stop him is fully complicit, and that includes every Republican member of the Senate. That also includes the invertebrate Republicans who posture and do nothing. Trump's corruption is their corruption. Trump's failures are their failures. Trump's devastation of national security is their devastation of national security. Trump's attempts to destroy the republic are their attempts to destroy the republic. This is who the Republicans are. This is not a drill.
Who's afraid of Donald Trump? No one. And for Trump, that's the real end game. (Daily KOS, October 12, 2019)
There’s a genuine dilemma for Trump here. In past impeachment efforts, the cover-up has been worse than the crime. But in this case, the crime—extorting an allied nation for personal political gain—is worse than any cover-up. Still, that doesn’t make the cover-up any less a crime in its own right. Trump is damned if he does obstruct, damned if he doesn’t. Because he has already damned himself, but good.
Yesterday, former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch provided the House impeachment inquiry with 10 hours of testimony detailing how she had been hounded by Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani; how she had been forced to resist repeated attempts to break both protocol and law to forward Trump and Giuliani’s schemes in Ukraine; and how she was ultimately removed from her position on the basis of conspiracy theories and lies. And the best talking point the White House could generate, the best thing that Republicans had to offer, was that it was unfair to make Yovanovitch explain how Giuliani set her up and Trump knocked her down. It was bullying to have her stand up and tell Congress how Trump chopped off a 30-year career of service so he could find someone willing to go along with an international shakedown.
But far more important than any particular detail that Yovanovitch shared was the fact that she was there and talking at all, despite an order to defy Congress and stay silent. She did not. Instead she obeyed a congressional subpoena and testified. That action alone shows that the walls are down. Trump’s castle of lies is crumbling.
Man calls police for wellness check on black neighbor's home, white cop shoots and kills her instead. (Daily KOS, October 12, 2019)
A Fort Worth woman was shot and killed in her own home early Saturday by one of the police officers sent to do a wellness check on her residence.
This is the seventh shooting of a civilian by the department since June 1, and the sixth to be fatal. “It makes you not want to call the police department,” James Smith told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Smith is struggling in the wake of the shooting: He’s the one who dialed a Fort Worth non-emergency number after noticing his neighbor’s door was ajar and lights were on in the home of Atatiana Jefferson, 28, her aunt, and an 8-year-old nephew.
Activists’ phones were targeted by one of the world’s most advanced spyware apps. (Ars Technica, October 12, 2019)
"Pegasus," developed by Israel-based NSO Group, stalks 2 Moroccans, researchers say.
Turkey’s invasion of Syria puts Islamic State fight on hold at a critical time. (Washington Post, October 11, 2019)
A senior official with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces said anti-ISIS operations had come to a complete halt because U.S. troops need partners on the ground and the SDF is too busy confronting Turkey.
Trump administration threatens sanctions against Turkey if incursion into Syria destabilizes region.
Israelis see Trump’s Syria pullout as a ‘betrayal’.
This Isn't a Drill, It's the Catastrophe. (Der Speigel, October 11, 2019)
On Wednesday, a terrorist in the city of Halle, located in former East Germany, went on a shooting spree targeting Jews. Armed with a rifle, a bulletproof vest, and four kilograms of explosives in the trunk of his car, the man drove to the synagogue. There were 51 people inside. The only reason he didn't make it into the synagogue was because the door didn't give way when he fired at it. Instead, he murdered two other people.
Germany is a country where hatred for those who are perceived to be different slides effortlessly from a tick on the election ballot to genocide. It's not enough to install a few security cameras -- it's time for an antifascist consensus.
Trump's disastrous impeachment polling sends shock waves through GOP. (Daily KOS,
October 11, 2019)
It didn't matter which poll you looked at this week—they were all bad news for Donald Trump, as well as for GOP lawmakers seeking reelection in 2020. Public support for impeachment grew rapidly in every poll, with nearly all of them finding majority support for the inquiry and two finding 50% support or more for Trump's impeachment and removal from office.
Rounding out the week, the NPR/Marist/PBS poll found 52% support for the impeachment inquiry in a survey that showed independent voters had flipped in mere weeks from majority opposition to the inquiry (50%-44%) to majority support for it (54%-41%). That's a 19-point swing for independents from late September to now.
The poll also found that 61% of respondents don't think Trump shares the moral values that most Americans try to live by. And with regard to a president asking a foreign leader to investigate a political rival, fully 68% of Americans said it was not acceptable, including 64% of independents and even 40% of Republicans.
These polls, including the Fox News poll that found majority support for Trump's removal, have reportedly sent shock waves through both Washington and Republican circles.
Trump loses appeal to stop House subpoena of his tax documents. (CNN, October 11, 2019)
The opinion is a strong signal that the White House's letter earlier this week refusing to cooperate with the impeachment probe without a full House vote authorizing it would not hold up in court. The court specifically weighed in on this idea, writing it has "no authority" to require the House to take a full vote in support of a subpoena to investigate the President, citing the Constitution. "The courts lack the power to invalidate a duly authorized congressional subpoena merely because it might have been 'better [if]...the full House' had specifically authorized or issued it," the court wrote. "Unless and until Congress adopts a rule that offends the Constitution, the courts get no vote in how each chamber chooses to run its internal affairs."
NEW: See Elizabeth Warren's simple response to a marriage equality question. (4-min. video; CNN, October 11, 2019)
What to Know About Eleanor Roosevelt’s Radical Progressive Legacy (Teen Vogue, October 11, 2019)
On the 135th anniversary of Eleanor Roosevelt's birthday, the Roosevelt Network's Katie Kirchner celebrates the former first lady's advocacy for social justice.
Extreme disasters are costing more but killing fewer. (Ars Technica, October 11, 2019)
While the average cost isn't changing much, the most costly disasters are rising.
Massive California Power Outage Triggers Chaos in Science Labs. (
Scientific American, October 11, 2019)
Researchers without access to backup power scramble to save invaluable specimens and expensive reagents.
A mob of horny tarantulas is prowling San Francisco. (CNet, October 10, 2019)
Tarantula mating season in Northern California is extended, thanks to higher temperatures.
It’s Lights Out in California to Deal With Climate Risks. (Scientific American, October 10, 2019)
More than a million people in Northern California lost power yesterday in an intentional blackout that reveals the stunning measures utilities and state officials will take to ameliorate the risk of wildfire as the effects of climate change become more apparent.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which provides electric service to 5.4 million customers in California, said it cut power to 800,000 of them to protect people, work crews and property from a potential outbreak of wildfires. It’s unclear how many people would be affected, but it stands to far surpass the number of homes and buildings that would lose power. The move comes as California grapples with an extraordinary string of destructive wildfire seasons. Last year’s was worse than any other. More than 8,000 fires burned 1.8 million acres statewide, shattering past records and punctuating scientific warnings that climate change is altering the frequency and ferocity of wildfires.
Rudy Giuliani is in over his head! A thorough analysis of U.S. political corruption in action. (18-min. video; The Young Turks, October 10, 2019)
"The American government is for sale." Details follow.
At least four national security officials raised alarms about Ukraine policy before and after Trump call with Ukrainian president. (Washington Post, October 10, 2019)
At least four national security officials were so alarmed by the Trump administration’s attempts to pressure Ukraine for political purposes that they raised concerns with a White House lawyer both before and immediately after President Trump’s July 25 call with that country’s president, according to U.S. officials and other people familiar with the matter. The nature and timing of the previously undisclosed discussions with National Security Council legal adviser John Eisenberg indicate that officials were delivering warnings through official White House channels earlier than previously understood — including before the call that precipitated a whistleblower complaint and the impeachment inquiry of the president.
As Trump Administration Downplays Warming, Agencies Chronicle Climate Impacts. (
Scientific American, October 9, 2019)
Environmental reviews emphasize the relatively small contributions from individual infrastructure projects, ignoring the bigger picture.
“The reality is that the administration is in a corner,” Hayes said. “It’s denied the science, but scientists that participate in the preparation of [environmental reviews] have no choice but to explain what’s really happening. And as a result ... the courts are not willing to defer to the administration, given its hypocrisy.”
Republican anger at Trump grows as Turkey launches 'sickening' attack on US allies. (CNN, October 9, 2019)
Turkey launched its military operation to flush Kurds allied with the US out of northeastern Syria Wednesday, sparking outrage in Congress and creating rare bipartisan unity about the risks to Kurds, US national security interests, regional stability and the fight against ISIS. The attack has highlighted a rare Republican willingness to directly criticize President Donald Trump, who apparently gave Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the go-ahead on Sunday to proceed with his long-planned move against Kurdish fighters who make up part of the Syrian Defense Forces who had fought against ISIS with the US.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland on Wednesday announced a framework to place immediate sanctions on senior Turkish government officials, ban all US military business and military transactions with Turkey, and immediately activate 2017 sanctions on the country to remain in place until Ankara stops its operations against the Kurds. "This unlawful and unwarranted attack against an American friend and partner threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of civilians, many of whom have already fled from their homes elsewhere in Syria to find safety in this region," Graham and Van Hollen said in a statement. "This invasion will ensure the resurgence of ISIS in Syria, embolden America's enemies including Al Qaeda, Iran, and Russia, and launch yet another endless conflict in what had been, until today, one of the most safe and stable areas of Syria and a region experimenting with the best model of local governance currently available in that war-torn country."
The White House announced that US troops would move out the way and would not support or be involved in the operation.
Turkey Launches Syria Offensive, Targeting U.S.-Backed Kurds. (New York Times, October 9, 2019)
Turkey’s long-planned move to root out United States-allied Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria has accelerated rapidly since President Trump  gave the operation a green light in a call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Sunday. The operation could open a dangerous new front in Syria’s eight-year-old war, pitting two United States allies against each other and raising the specter of sectarian bloodletting. Even before it began, it had set off fierce debates in Washington over Mr. Trump’s Syria policy.
On Wednesday, after the operation had begun, Mr. Trump clarified his position. “The United States does not endorse this attack and has made it clear to Turkey that this operation is a bad idea,” he said in a statement. “Turkey,” he added, “has committed to protecting civilians, protecting religious minorities, including Christians, and ensuring no humanitarian crisis takes place — and we will hold them to this commitment.”
Celebrating 50 Years of Unix (Bell Labs, October 9, 2019)
The summer of 1969 was one of the most culturally significant times in modern American history. It was the summer when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, more than 400,000 people attended the legendary Woodstock music festival, and the Stonewall riots brought the fight for gay rights to the national stage.
However, something else happened that summer which you won’t find in most history books… a Bell Labs researcher named Ken Thompson created the first version of Unix, which turned out to be one of the most important pieces of computer software ever invented.
A Chemistry Nobel we can use: Lithium-ion batteries (Ars Technica, October 9, 2019)
A Nobel in chemistry for figuring out how to do a bit less chemistry.
This is the constitutional crisis we feared. (Washington Post, October 9, 2019)
The White House has released an extraordinary letter from White House Counsel Pat Cipollone to congressional Democrats, a document that will live on in infamy from this day forward as evidence of how profoundly Trump corrupted the office of the president and everyone around him.
Despite the fact that it appears under the signature of the chief lawyer of the White House, the letter reads like some combination of a deeply misinformed seventh-grader’s social studies paper and a rant from Sean Hannity, randomly tossing around terms like “civil liberties” and “separation of powers” without any apparent understanding of what they mean.
Boiled down to its essence, the letter asserts that Trump is beyond the reach of oversight, of impeachment and of any checks and balances from the legislative branch. Because he thinks Congress is not treating him “fairly” (the word “fair” appears eight times in the letter), Trump has decided that he can issue a blanket refusal to “participate in your partisan and unconstitutional inquiry.” All requests for documents and testimony will be rejected, and all subpoenas will be thrown in the trash.
Trump's Tantrum Over Impeachment Just Got Official. (Reason, October 9, 2019)
Trump seems to think that as the House is trying to determine whether impeachment is even warranted—and before the White House answers any questions at all or submits to any information requests—he is entitled to the same rights as a defendant in a criminal trial. The letter accuses House Democrats of denying Trump "the right to cross-examine witnesses, to call witnesses, to receive transcripts of testimony, to have access to evidence, to have counsel present, and many other basic rights," and asserts that this is one of the reasons Trump will not cooperate.
But as lawyer and national security analyst Mieke Eoyang points out, "the White House doesn't get to tell Congress how to conduct impeachment." Indeed, the president's "due process rights kick in when the proceedings move to the Senate" and the trial phase of impeachment begins. Any "due process concerns raised by the WH counsel's letter" can be negotiated at that stage.
"Impeachment in the House is akin to a grand jury & indictment," notes Eoyang, and the House has already made allowances beyond what's permitted for the targets of a grand jury. In a grand jury proceeding, for instance, witnesses can't bring in personal lawyers and "the target's counsel does not get to sit and hear the evidence." But the House is allowing personal counsel for witnesses and letting all sides hear witness testimony. Overall, they're being quite fair.
'Coup!' and other defences against Trump impeachment. (BBC, October 8, 2019)
Whether or not US President Donald Trump would get convicted in an impeachment trial could come down to the Republican majority in the Senate.
But what do Republican politicians and commentators think of impeachment and Trump's call with Ukraine?
Trump's Mar-a-Lago cancels hate group event, and the vilest of Trump supporters are very upset. (Daily KOS, October 8, 2019)
Trump throws fit after Minneapolis mayor sends estimated security bill in advance of campaign rally. (Daily KOS, October 8, 2019)
With impeachment threatening to end the Donald Trump gravy train, the white supremacist con man in chief is retreating to what he does best: holding fact-free campaign rallies. The problem with Trump’s rallies is that they cost a ton, and, as with everything Trump, the bill for them is never paid. Some cities, such as Orlando, have asked that the costs for the rallies be covered upfront. Minneapolis, Minnesota, is expecting a Trump Nazi rally on Thursday. It has reportedly sent a $500,000 bill to the campaign to cover security costs and the use of the Target Center.
NEW: FBI’s Use of Surveillance Database Violated Americans’ Privacy Rights, Court Found. (Wall Street Journal, October 8, 2019)
The intelligence community disclosed Tuesday that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court last year found that the FBI’s efforts to search data about Americans ensnared in a warrantless internet-surveillance program intended to target foreign suspects have violated the law authorizing the program, as well as the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches. The issue was made public by the government only after it lost an appeal of the judgment earlier this year before another secret court.
The court concluded that in at least a handful of cases, the FBI had been improperly searching a database of raw intelligence for information on Americans—raising concerns about oversight of the program, which as a spy program operates in near total secrecy.
The father of the yield curve indicator says now is the time to prepare for a recession. (CNBC, October 8, 2019)
Duke University professor Campbell Harvey says the bond yield curve is “flashing code red” for a recession. The yield for the 3-month Treasury has been above the 10-year since May, a condition known as an inverted yield curve that has predicted the past seven recessions.
Harvey encourages investors, business executives and consumers to prepare now. The inversion is not a coincident indicator but rather one that points to downturns six to 18 months or so in the future. So businesses can react to it, for instance, by delaying spending plans until the storm passes.
Why Everything Is Getting Louder (The Atlantic, October 8, 2019)
The tech industry is producing a rising din. Our bodies can’t adapt.
Everyone’s AirPods will die. We’ve got the trick to replacing them. (Washington Post, October 8, 2019)
We shouldn’t let Apple turn headphones into expensive, disposable products because of bad battery design.
Dick's CEO says they melted $5 million worth of assault rifles after halting sales. (Daily KOS, October 8, 2019)
Ed Stack, the CEO of Dick’s Sporting Goods (and son of the company’s founder), told CBS News that he didn’t stop with his highly publicized move of stopping sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and all gun sales to people under 21 after the Parkland school shooting, a move he made after finding out that the shooter had bought a shotgun at Dick’s, and a move that cost the chain around $250 million.
Stack was faced with the decision of what to do with the assault-style weapons Dick’s had in stock at the time the chain stopped selling the guns. “I said, 'You know what? If we really think these things should be off the street, we need to destroy them.
'” So they did, turning $5 million of guns into scrap metal.
600,000 California customers could be impacted by PG&E power shutoffs; most of San Francisco Bay Area under watch. (San Francisco ABC News, October 8, 2019)
The dry, windy weather pattern (during which sparks can ignite more forest fires) is expected to reach from the northern portions of PG&E's service territory and down through the Sacramento Valley before spreading into the central areas of the state including most of the Bay Area. Beginning Wednesday morning, the danger period is expected to last five days or longer.
PG&E may cut electricity during high wind and fire danger, here's how to be ready for a blackout. (San Francisco
ABC News, October 7, 2019)
PG&E has announced that it may proactively cut electrical power during days of strong winds and extreme fire danger to prevent a tragedy like the deadly and destructive Camp Fire where it's believed PG&E power lines caused the fire. A forced blackout would leave residents in the dark, in more ways than one. That's because devices we have come to rely on need electricity to function, like WiFi transmitters, streaming televisions and digital assistants like Amazon's Echo and Google Home.
Our groundwater use is destroying freshwater ecosystems. (Ars Technica, October 7, 2019)
And the situation is set to get much, much worse.
Trump’s defiance of oversight challenges Congress’s ability to rein in the executive branch. (Washington Post, October 7, 2019)
Experts and lawmakers worry the president’s hostile stance toward congressional oversight and Democrats’ flailing response are undermining the separation of powers and could have long-term implications for the democracy.
Trump Throws Middle East Policy Into Turmoil Over Syria. (New York Times, October 7, 2019)
President Trump threw Middle East policy into turmoil with a series of conflicting signals on Monday as his vow to withdraw American forces from the region touched off an uprising among congressional Republicans and protests by America’s allies.
Defending his decision to clear the way for a Turkish military operation against America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria, Mr. Trump said it was “time for us to get out” and let others “figure the situation out.”
But after Republican allies condemned the move, he pivoted sharply and said he would restrain Turkey. “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!),” the president wrote on Twitter, without explaining what exactly he would consider off limits.
Even after Mr. Trump walked back his decision, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, warned him against “a precipitous withdrawal” that would benefit Russia, Iran, President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and the Islamic State. Mr. McConnell sharply urged the president to “exercise American leadership.”
A federal judge takes a sledgehammer to Trump’s stonewalling. (
Washington Post, October 7, 2019)
It was no great surprise that a federal court Monday morning rejected President Trump’s argument that, as a sitting president, he is immune even from being investigated by the Manhattan district attorney. Nor that the court of appeals swiftly granted a stay of the order, thus preserving its ability to hear an appeal.
But the district court’s scathing assessment of the implications of Trump’s argument is telling, and the tale it tells should greatly concern the White House in the looming impeachment battle.
Recall that Trump brought the action in federal court to prevent Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. from subpoenaing Trump’s accountants for his tax returns as part of Vance’s criminal investigation. (This is the same case that the Justice Department recently entered, on behalf of Trump.)
The court’s technical ruling Monday is that it would abstain from entering the fray based on a general court-made doctrine — it’s known as the Younger abstention — that instructs federal courts not to meddle in pending state criminal prosecutions. Trump (and the Justice Department) had argued that fundamental questions of presidential immunity justified ignoring that doctrine here. The court’s rejection of the president’s position could not have been more emphatic.
Notably, the 75-page opinion by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero came just two weeks after oral arguments, blindingly fast by litigation standards. Its length and complexity suggest that the court was already working on the opinion from the time Trump filed his hyperaggressive claim.
Most important, Marrero, who could have made quick and summary work of Trump’s argument, went on at substantial length to explain just how lawless and brazen the position was.
Trump Taxes: President Ordered to Turn Over Returns to Manhattan D.A. (New York Times, October 7, 2019)
A judge rejected the president’s argument that he was immune from criminal investigations. In a 75-page ruling, Judge Marrero called the president’s argument that the Constitution shields sitting presidents from any criminal investigation “repugnant to the nation’s governmental structure and constitutional values.” Presidents, their families and businesses are not above the law, wrote the judge.
A 17-year-old planned to shoot up his school until his mother turned him in to police. (CBS News, October 7, 2019)
She called the police after finding and reading her son's journal. He wrote about attacking his school on a specific date: April 20, 2020 — the anniversary of Columbine. The journal went into chilling detail. He would detonate pipe bombs, and use multiple firearms to "blast anyone in sight" and "execute survivors."
When asked how it feels as a mother to turn her son in, Nicole responded, "Like I've done something wrong." Police believe she did everything right.
Trump is about to become the right-wing smear machine's biggest unintended casualty of all time. (Daily KOS, October 6, 2019)
In what is truly the richest of ironies, Donald Trump is now poised to become just another piece of right-wing roadkill, an unintended casualty of his own disinformation machine, the exact same machine that cemented his electoral victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016. By extorting foreign leaders to manufacture dirt involving former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Trump stupidly fell into the trap of believing his own team’s propaganda, a result that those who created the Biden-Ukraine fairy tale in the first place completely failed to foresee. And now he’s looking at impeachment for believing their lies and taking them to their logical conclusion.
The Justice Department is oddly incurious about potential criminality in the Trump-Ukraine mess. (Washington Post, October 6, 2019)
Something is not adding up about the Justice Department’s account of its decision not to open a criminal investigation based on a complaint by a whistleblower in the U.S. intelligence community about President Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. The complaint was passed on to the Justice Department through both the acting director of national intelligence, Joseph Maguire, and, as NBC News reported Friday, the CIA’s general counsel, Courtney Simmons Elwood.
The Justice Department appears to have conducted a wholly cursory examination. It interviewed no witnesses and examined no evidence other than the complaint. Text messages within the State Department that might have provided evidence of criminality were not examined. Justice closed the file without opening a formal investigation.
Since then, the department has supplied somewhat shifting defenses of its decision. One point the department has maintained consistently is that the final decision was made by Brian Benczkowski, the head of the Criminal Division, in consultation with career attorneys at the Public Integrity Section. Benczkowski is a political appointee with zero prosecutorial experience. Likewise, neither Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen nor Attorney General William P. Barr spent a day as a prosecutor. If it has ever happened before that the three top officials in the Justice Department’s criminal chain of command lacked prosecutorial experience, the idea was as terrible then as it is now.
But that doesn’t mean — and it can’t mean — that the Justice Department is closed for business regarding any possible new criminal violations by others in the administration. The department’s Public Integrity Section exists for this purpose. The prosecutors there need to do their job.
Trump’s $7.5 Billion Victory Could Cost Trillions. (Yahoo Finance, October 5, 2019)
Trump’s new trade war: According to the October 2 statement by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (or USTR), “The United States today has requested that the WTO schedule a meeting on October 14 to approve a U.S. request for authorization to take countermeasures against the EU.” Notably, the EU can’t retaliate like China for WTO-approved countermeasures, and the EU cannot appeal. The Trump administration is empowered to impose tariffs up to 100% over “affected products” at any time. However, the USTR decided to impose a 10% tariff on civil aircraft. Agricultural and other products would be subject to a 25% tariff.
Plus, Trump appears to have opened a new front in the tariff war. In a September 3 tweet, he warned the EU about unfair trade practices. The timing of this decision might adversely impact the global economy, and business investment decisions could be impacted around the world. According to IHS Markit data, world real GDP could be reduced by 0.8% and 1.4% in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Moreover, this model assumes a “protectionism scenario.” In nominal GDP terms, this decline could worth over $1 trillion.

Microsoft's embrace of Google's Android software is bigger than its new phone. (
C/Net, October 5, 2019)
Microsoft's Surface reputation and the adoption of a once-rival platform gets the software titan back into the mobile game.
The Invention of the Conspiracy Theory on Biden and Ukraine
(New Yorker, October 4, 2019)
How a conservative dark-money group that targeted Hillary Clinton in 2016 spread the discredited story that may lead to Donald Trump’s impeachment.
NEW: Worker pay is stagnant — economists blame robots. (CBS News, October 4, 2019)
American workers are more productive than ever, but their paychecks haven't kept pace. Researchers with the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco have a culprit: robots.
Economists Sylvain Leduc and Zheng Liu theorize that automation is sapping employees' bargaining power, making it harder for them to demand higher wages. Companies across a range of industries increasingly have the option of using technology to handle work formerly done by people, giving employers the upper hand in setting pay. The result — a widening gulf between wages and productivity.

NEW: Misery of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan would be global. (Ars Technica, October 4, 2019)
50-125 million immediate deaths, and then the weather changes.
NEW: Plate tectonics runs deeper than we thought. (Ars Technica, October 3, 2019)
At 52 years old, plate tectonics has given geologists a whole new level to explore.
75% of Iraq's internet shut down amid mass protests. (C/Net, October 3, 2019)
An internet watchdog reports the blackout started with social media.
NEW: Giuliani mocked in anonymous NYC subway ad: 'Need a lawyer? Call crazy Rudy.' (The Hill, October 3, 2019)
North Korea tests submarine-capable missile fired from sea. (BBC, October 3, 2019)
North Korea has confirmed it test-fired a new type of a ballistic missile, a significant escalation from the short-range tests it has conducted since May. The missile - which was able to carry a nuclear weapon - was the North's 11th test this year.
But this one, fired from a platform at sea, was capable of being launched from a submarine. Being submarine-capable is important as it means North Korea could launch missiles far outside its territory.
According to South Korean officials, the missile flew about 450km (280 miles) and reached an altitude of 910km before landing in the sea. That means the missile flew twice as high as the International Space Station, but previous North Korean tests have gone higher. It came down in the Sea of Japan, also known in South Korea as the East Sea. Japan said it landed in its exclusive economic zone - a band of 200km around Japanese territory.
The test came hours after North Korea said nuclear talks with the US would resume.
IBM and Canonical work together in financial services. (ZDNet, October 2, 2019)
Just because IBM owns Red Hat doesn't mean it's not working with other Linux powers such as Ubuntu Linux.
NEW: Hong Kong Rallies Around Teen Protester Shot by Police. (Breitbart, October 2, 2019)
Thousands of Hong Kong citizens, many of them fellow students, marched on Wednesday to support Tony Tsang Chi-kin, the 18-year-old demonstrator shot in the chest by police with live ammunition on Tuesday afternoon. Police officials defended the shooting as a justifiable act of self-defense, while protesters accused the police of looking for excuses to murder them.
NEW: Comcast lawsuit in Supreme Court could cause ‘irreparable harm’ to minority protections, NAACP warns. (Philadelphia Inquirer, October 2, 2019)
Comcast says, “This case arises from a frivolous discrimination claim that cannot detract from Comcast’s strong civil rights and diversity record or our outstanding record of supporting and fostering diverse programming from African American-owned channels.
“We have been forced to appeal this decision to defend against a meritless $20 billion claim, but have kept our argument narrowly focused. We are not seeking to roll back the civil rights laws — all we are asking is that the court apply Section 1981 in our case the same way it has been interpreted for decades across the country.”
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, called the Comcast petition “the most important civil rights case to be heard by the Supreme Court in term. A negative ruling stands to all but shut the courthouse door on a vast number of victims of discrimination all across the country.”
Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 says all people in the United States have the same rights to make and enforce contracts “enjoyed by white citizens.” It was enacted to help newly freed African Americans engage in work fairly, without laws that created conditions that “paralleled chattel slavery,” according to the Lawyers’ Committee brief. “In light of the increasing visibility of minority populations, civil rights laws like Section 1981 must be strengthened, not weakened.... Petitioner [Comcast] asks this court also to ignore its past pronouncements and allow race to play some role in contracting decisions, so long as race discrimination is not the but-for cause of a refusal to contract.”
NEW: Trump amps up attacks on whistleblower as some Republicans call for more strategic response to impeachment. (MSN, October 1, 2019)
President Trump continued to escalate his scorched-earth campaign against a whistle-blower who accused him of pressuring Ukraine to investigate his political rivals, even as new evidence emerged Monday that he and his administration are urging other governments to provide assistance to a related Justice Department inquiry that has been pushed by the president. Trump said he was trying to “find out about” the whistleblower Monday, the latest move in an increasingly frenetic counterassault targeting the anonymous intelligence officer and top Democrats leading the impeachment inquiry.
Court Upholds Net Neutrality Repeal, With Some Caveats. (New York Times, October 1, 2019)
Over all, the decision Tuesday was a victory for the Trump administration, which has encouraged deregulation across the government. The F.C.C. chairman, Ajit Pai, who was appointed by President Trump, made the repeal of the rules a top priority, saying it would encourage innovation and help propel the economy.
The agency voted to throw out the rules in a 3-to-2 party-line vote in 2017, reversing a decision made during the Obama administration. The rules had prohibited broadband internet providers like Comcast and AT&T from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The appeals court upheld the F.C.C.’s decision to no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, or a “common carrier,” like phone service.
Satellites are tracking an enormous iceberg that broke off from the Antarctic ice shelf. (
MIT Technology Review, September 30, 2019)
Is “Planet 9” actually a primordial black hole? (MIT Technology Review, September 30, 2019)
Astronomers think there’s another planet in our solar system, but no one has been able to see it. That could be because it’s not a conventional planet at all.
Fox News outs two Fox analysts as working 'off the books' with Trump, Giuliani to find Biden dirt. (Daily KOS, September 30, 2019)
Note to the Impeachment Investigators: Trump Rarely Acts Alone. (New York Times, September 29, 2019)
President Trump’s assaults on democracy are rarely solo endeavors. His schemes often entangle, by chance or by choice, an array of accomplices, enablers, observers and victims — many of whom will need to be heard from as House members begin investigating the Ukraine scandal as part of the impeachment inquiry announced last week.
NEW: Trump is using Facebook to run thousands of ads about impeachment. (CNN, September 30, 2019)
President Donald Trump is using his powerful social media presence to push back against the impeachment inquiry, tweeting and retweeting more than 100 times over the weekend and his reelection campaign has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook ads on the topic over the past week.
More than 1,800 ads on Trump's Facebook page mentioning "impeachment" have run in the past seven days. The ads have been viewed between 16 and 18 million times on Facebook and the campaign has spent between $600,000 and $2,000,000 on the effort. The President is using ads to enlist people in what his campaign is calling the "Official Impeachment Defense Task Force."
5 ways impeachment could play out (Politico, September 29, 2019)
If you’re looking at history to provide a guide to the impending impeachment saga … don’t. With only three past examples, involving three very different controversies, there’s thin gruel that will provide little nourishment. We’re in unprecedented territory.
What 2 Deep-Dive Books on Kavanaugh Taught Me About Truth in the Trump Era (Politico, September 29, 2019)
Last September, the country was torn apart by decades-old allegations of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh as he headed into his Supreme Court confirmation hearing. Now, the recent frenzy around the possible impeachment of Donald Trump and the whistle-blower report that started it has prompted the same kinds of questions. Which stories and which storytellers should we believe in our hyper-partisan era?
No, the GOP won't abandon Trump no matter what for one reason: he's the last. (Daily KOS, September 28, 2019)
Long before Trump, today’s GOP lost any ability to be constructive on just about anything. If something is good, they reflexively oppose it.  People having healthcare? Oppose. People going to college? Oppose. Stopping gun massacres? Oppose.  Renewable energy? Oppose.
Their entire policy on immigration is bigotry and hate. Their policy on the budget is to cut taxes for the wealthy. Their policy on elections is to have as few people as possible voting. Also, I’m not quite sure how a political party would be opposed to saving our environment, but here we are.
Then 2016 happened. Republicans have surrendered everything--their duty, their patriotism, and their principles—in order to pledge fealty to a man too stupid to be trusted to manage his own social media account. He remade the party in his ugly image, so now those who haven't  left can largely be divided into just three groups: the rich, the racists, and the rubes. This is who they have to work with now. Every demographic the GOP had been working on gaining has been forever lost.
Staring down impeachment, Trump sees himself as a victim of historic proportions. (Washington Post, September 28, 2019)
In the five days since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) opened an impeachment inquiry following revelations about President Trump’s conduct with his Ukrainian counterpart, Trump has been determined to cast himself as a singular victim in a warped reality — a portrayal that seems part political survival strategy, part virtual therapy session.
As Trump tells it, he is a hard-working and honorable president whose conduct has been “perfect” but who is being harassed and tormented by “Do Nothing Democrat Savages” and a corrupt intelligence community resolved to perpetuate a hoax, defraud the public and, ultimately, undo the 2016 election.
Trump impeachment inquiry sparks 'bedlam' at Fox News. (The Guardian, September 28, 2019)
Donald Trump’s impeachment inquiry is causing chaos at Fox News, with reports of “management bedlam” as hosts battle over how to approach a political drama that threatens its ratings as well as its valuable presidential TV star.
After mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, prime-time host Tucker Carlson disputed that Trump ever “endorsed white supremacy or came close to endorsing white supremacy” and dismissed white supremacy as “actually not a real problem in America”. According to Media Matters, the number of ads supporting Carlson’s show plummeted. The host left on vacation – which Fox New flacks claimed was planned in advance – as advertisers, including Stein Mart, HelloFresh, and Nestlé severed ties with Tucker Carlson Tonight and the fast food chain Long John Silver’s pulled advertising from Fox News entirely. Nearly 50 companies have issued statements dropping Carlson’s show since December, when he asserted that migrants make America “poorer and dirtier” – and dozens more quietly cut ties without saying anything publicly.
Democrats answer their call to duty, leaving Republicans shell-shocked. (Daily KOS, September 28, 2019)
Polling conducted by Morning Consult/Politico over last weekend showed no increase in support for impeachment, with the pro-impeachment needle stuck right about where it's been for months at 36%. For Democrats and Pelosi alike, this was a moment of moral clarity as they coalesced around protecting the republic from the gravest threat it has faced in nearly half a century.
The shift was also so decisive it knocked congressional Republicans back on their heels. Just as quickly as Democrats found their footing, GOP Senators rapidly evolved from spouting Trump's talking points about the Bidens on Monday to uniformly zipping their lips on the matter by Wednesday. GOP Senators are now in bunker mode until they can wrap their minds around the new political calculus they are facing vis-a-vis impeachment and 2020.
Did the White House Hide a Bombshell Memo From Mueller? (Slate, September 28, 2019)
If there was a memorandum of that meeting, how is it possible that it was not produced to Mueller? It’s awfully hard to believe that Mueller didn’t ask for any readout or memorandum from that meeting; a meeting at which the president explained that he fired Comey in part because he was being pressured by the Russia investigation. That admission to his Russian visitors is part of one of the obstructive acts Mueller found.
So, assuming the Post is correct that a memorandum of that meeting exists, what happened to it? Assuming Mueller is capable of drafting a document request, why was that memorandum not produced? Was it logged and redacted? Was it deemed classified under the newly discovered separate server used only for hiding catastrophic missteps or worse? Or was it produced to Mueller, and its contents did not make it into the report because for unknown reason Mueller chose not to include it?
Robert Reich: Trump can do more damage than Nixon. His impeachment is imperative. (The Guardian, September 28, 2019)
Watergate brought down a second-term president. If Trump survives and wins the White House again, all bets are off.
Amid the impeachment furor, don’t lose sight of the renewed importance of protecting the integrity of the 2020 election. The difference between Richard Nixon’s abuse of power (trying to get dirt on political opponents to help with his 1972 re-election, and then covering it up) and Donald Trump’s abuse (trying to get Ukraine’s president to get dirt on a political opponent to help with his 2020 reelection, and then covering it up) isn’t just that Nixon’s involved a botched robbery at the Watergate while Trump’s involves a foreign nation. It’s that Nixon’s abuse of power was discovered during his second term, after he was re-elected. He was still a dangerous crook, but by that time he had no reason to inflict still more damage on American democracy.
Greta in Canada today while Millions of Young Activists around the Planet March for Climate Action. (Daily KOS, September 27, 2019)
NRA Was 'Foreign Asset' To Russia Ahead of 2016, New Senate Report Reveals. (National Public Radio, September 27, 2019)

Drawing on contemporaneous emails and private interviews, an 18-month probe by the Senate Finance Committee's Democratic staff found that the NRA underwrote political access for Russian nationals Maria Butina and Alexander Torshin more than previously known — even though the two had declared their ties to the Kremlin.
The report, available here, also describes how closely the gun rights group was involved with organizing a 2015 visit by some of its leaders to Moscow.
Trump told Russian officials he was unconcerned about election interference. (The Guardian, September 27, 2019)
White House reportedly restricted access to comments in 2017 meeting, allowing only a few officials to see transcript.
Trump told Russian officials in 2017 he wasn’t concerned about Moscow’s interference in U.S. election. (Washington Post, September 27, 2019)
Intelligence community strikes back — an impeachment game-changer (The Hill, September 27, 2019)
I have never seen a more buttoned-up set of whistleblower allegations than these. To me, the whistleblower appears to have taken a leadership role, sticking his neck out to protect subordinates in the intelligence community while conveying their information to appropriate authorities through appropriate channels. It’s easy to see how the intelligence community inspector general steered it to the Congressional Intelligence Committees, under the cover of great credibility, through a gauntlet of resisters.
In this one brief complaint, the whistleblower managed to do what former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation could not: ensnare the president of the United States himself in a shameful abuse of his power. Trump held back military aid to Ukraine then asked Ukraine for “a favor” — to dig up or create dirt on a political rival for the forthcoming election. The complaint, once it was made public, has upended the impeachment chessboard in the House.

President Donald J. Trump will be impeached — maybe not convicted by the Senate but impeached by the House. That’s my prediction, given the rapidly unfolding events in Ukrainegate. The catalyst for impeachment is the alleged CIA whistleblower and the team of intelligence community officials he is going to bat for. Trump picked a fight with the wrong crowd. Now, they’re fighting back, with the Constitution in one hand and evidence of Trump’s corruption in the other. Game on.
You might call this team, collectively, “Deep State Throat.” They’re a deep state, all right, but not like Trump thinks. They’re not rogues. They’re patriots. Let’s just buckle up and watch how this plays out over the coming weeks and months.

Barry Blitt’s “Whack Job” (The New Yorker, September 27, 2019)
When Impeachment Meets a Broken Congress (Politico, September
27, 2019)
The most essential branch of the U.S. government is collapsing before our eyes—right as it faces a historic showdown. Even in the most basic relationship-forming aspect of things, there’s this division. And it becomes clear that you’re supposed to be divided.
Trump is in a world of trouble. (7-min. video; The Young Turks, September 26, 2019)
The Whistle-Blower Complaint Is Democracy at Work, Not the Deep State. (The New Yorker, September 26, 2019)
In his testimony, Maguire praised the whistle-blower. “As public servants, we have a solemn duty to report waste and abuse,” he said. So far, the whistle-blower and the inspector general appear to be committed public servants. Both learned of potential abuse and reported it. Both appear to have followed the law. The whistle-blower system worked.
The checks and balances also appear to be working. When threatened with impeachment by the House, the President released a summary of his call, as well as the full whistle-blower complaint. In the weeks ahead, transparency should be increased, not decreased. When grave abuses of power are alleged, information should be made public, not kept secret. Citizens should read the call summary and the whistle-blower complaint themselves, and make their own judgments. This is not a deep state. This is American democracy.
Listen: Audio of Trump discussing whistleblower at private event: ‘That’s close to a spy.’ (Los Angeles Times, September 26, 2019)
Trump, as he continued to speak, expressed further dismay that he is the one being investigated, not Biden. “They’re talking about me and I didn’t do anything,” he said, hedging slightly. “I don’t know if I’m the most innocent person in the world.”
(But WE do!)
Document: Read the Whistle-Blower Complaint. (New York Times, September 26, 2019)
Whistleblower's written complaint about Trump's misconduct (Los Angeles Times, September 26, 2019)
Whistleblower claimed Trump abused his office and that White House officials tried to cover it up. (Washington Post, September 26, 2019)
In forceful language, the unidentified whistleblower alleged that the commander in chief pushed his foreign counterpart to investigate former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden and that senior White House officials then tried to “lock down” records related to the matter. The pressure, the whistleblower alleged, came in a phone call July 25 between Trump and President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, an exchange that turned so politically problematic that White House lawyers directed other officials to remove the electronic transcript of the conversation from the computer system where it was stored. The transcript, the whistleblower alleged, was then loaded onto a separate system meant for classified information. And according to White House officials who informed the whistleblower, that was “not the first time” a transcript was put there due to concerns about politics rather than national security, the complaint alleged.
Trump, the whistleblower wrote, was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
While the whistleblower’s primary concern is the president’s phone call with Zelensky, it is clear from the document released Thursday that its author also was troubled by what appeared then to be a four-month pattern of election season misconduct involving the president, his lawyer and White House aides who sought to keep the whole thing quiet. “I am also concerned that these actions pose risks to U.S. national security and undermine the U.S. government’s efforts to deter and counter foreign interference in U.S. elections,” the person wrote.
According to the complaint, the whistleblower was not alone in harboring concerns. “The White House officials who told me this information were deeply disturbed by what had transpired in the phone call,” the whistleblower wrote. “They told me there was already a ‘discussion ongoing’ with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain.” About a dozen White House officials listened in on the call, which is common when heads of state speak directly. The alarm was so great, the whistleblower alleged, that White House officials sought to limit access to the written record of the call.
The whistleblower also alleged that in May, Trump instructed Vice President Pence to cancel planned travel to Ukraine for Zelensky’s inauguration — sending Energy Secretary Rick Perry in his place — and that it was “made clear” to U.S. officials that Trump did not want to meet with Zelensky until he saw how Zelensky “chose to act” in office.
NEW: Jeff Bezos says Amazon is writing its own facial recognition laws to pitch to lawmakers. (Vox, September 26, 2019)
The tech giant’s hope is that federal lawmakers will adopt much of its draft legislation.
How an Architect Who Designs ‘Half-Houses’ Rebuilt a City (City Lab, September 26, 2019)
Alejandro Aravena, who helped a city recover from an earthquake and a tsunami, says participatory design is not just inclusive but “more efficient.”
Getting to Know the People You Love (Rikleen Institute, September 26, 2019)
How often do we truly see beloved relatives as the individuals that lie beneath the surface of their familiar faces?
Warren Vaults into the Lead in California’s Democratic Presidential Primary. (Berkeley IGS Poll, September 25, 2019)
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has pulled into the lead in California among voters likely to be participating in California’s March Democratic presidential primary. The latest Berkeley IGS Poll finds Warren to be the choice of 29% of likely voters, up eleven points from June. While support for Warren has grown significantly over the past three months, backing for her two principal rivals,former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, has remained fairly static, with Biden polling 20%, down two points from June and Sanders at 19%, up two points. Meanwhile, support for California’s home-state Senator Kamala Harris has declined five points since June and is now in single digits (8%). South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg has also slipped four points from June to 6%. None of the other Democratic candidates received more than 3% of likely voter support, while 8% of likely voters have no preference.
The strength of Warren’s candidacy is further demonstrated when voters are asked which candidates they are giving at least some consideration to supporting in the Democratic primary. In this setting 68% of likely voters citeWarren, twenty-three points higher than any of her opponents. In addition, a 54% majority of likely voters lists Warren among their top two choices, twenty-one points greater than any of her Democratic rivals.
‘Shut up, moron’: Rudy Giuliani lashes out at critics, defends his Ukraine involvement. (
Washington Post, September 25, 2019)
On Fox News, Giuliani vigorously defended himself and Trump. He argued that he only contacted Ukrainian officials at the request of the State Department, called for investigations of “corrupt” Democrats, and repeatedly alleged that former vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter had done wrong in Ukraine. The allegation about the Bidens, which Trump has also voiced, has not been backed up by any official evidence thus far.
A tale of two Lindseys: 1999 video reminds us how the South Carolina senator once viewed impeachment. (Daily KOS, September 25, 2019)
The 1999 version of Lindsey Graham sought to take down a Democrat, then-President Bill Clinton; now that Donald Trump is in office, Graham’s hypocrisy has long-since ramped up far beyond threat level midnight.
REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM, 1999: So the point I’m trying to make is (this): You don’t even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic, if this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role. [...] because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.
REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM, 1999: He (Clinton) doesn’t have to say, “Go lie for me,” (for it) to be a crime. You don’t have to say, “Let’s obstruct justice” for it to be a crime. You judge people on their conduct, not magic phrases.
“Do Us a Favor”: The Forty-eight Hours That Sealed Trump’s Impeachment (The New Yorker, September 25, 2019)
The most interesting moments to be in Washington are when the conventional wisdom is shifting and not everyone knows it yet, or when an old certainty has been shredded and nothing has emerged to replace it. As of Monday morning, the political world was pretty sure that Donald Trump would not be impeached by the Democratic House of Representatives, and that he would enter the 2020 campaign and race to win re-election, before the economy betrayed him with a recession that forecasters increasingly see as inevitable. Instead, over a remarkable day and a half, a new reality emerged: Donald Trump appears to have got himself impeached. Trump now seems all but certain not only to face an impeachment investigation but an actual impeachment vote in the House. And, whenever it happens, and whatever the specifics of the indictment turn out to be, the impeachment vote will have been triggered by a new scandal very much of his own making.
MSNBC cuts away from Trump: ‘We hate to do this, but the president isn’t telling the truth.’ (Daily KOS, September 25, 2019)
"These allegations against Joe Biden and Hunter Biden that he has been repeating have been investigated by the Ukrainians. None other than the Wall Street Journal included in their report, on Friday, that the Ukrainians view this issue as having been investigated and adjudicated, and what’s amazing is that what Trump appears to be trying to do is to turn his own impeachment into a big deflection."
Trump incredulous after his moves on transparency failed to stop Pelosi. (CNN, September 25, 2019)
He had felt confident after phoning Pelosi earlier that morning. The drive for impeachment in her caucus had ramped up amid reports he pushed the Ukrainian President to investigate Joe Biden, and Trump was hoping to head off a clash. He figured he could de-escalate tensions by speaking with her directly. It was after that call that Trump made the decision to release an "unredacted" version of the transcript of his July call -- against the advice of aides such as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who warned him it would set a risky precedent. Trump wanted to undercut the argument from Democrats that he acted inappropriately, he said, and felt he had nothing to hide.
But when the announcement he would release the transcript did little to quell the growing calls for his impeachment, Trump was in disbelief. Democrats immediately argued that it wouldn't be enough. They also wanted to see the whistleblower's complaint, which had been found urgent and credible by the inspector general for the intelligence community and was mandated by law to be handed over to the intelligence committees. Administration officials began working out a plan to declassify and redact the complaint so it could be turned over too, all in the hope of easing escalated tensions with lawmakers.
After Pelosi's historic announcement, Trump immediately began lashing out, accusing Democrats of distracting from his successes at the United Nations General Assembly and arguing it was just "more breaking news Witch Hunt garbage."
Number of House members supporting impeachment inquiry swells to 200. (Washington Post, September 25, 2019)
Key developments are playing out Wednesday in a controversy that has ignited a drive for impeachment of the president by House Democrats.
Trump accidentally sends his talking points on Ukraine to House Democrats, then 'recalls' them. (Daily KOS, September 25, 2019)

Zelensky adviser: Ukraine 'understood' discussing Biden was condition for talking to Trump. (The Hill, September 25, 2019)
Trump Asks Ukraine’s Leader to ‘Do Us a Favor’ and Also Urges Inquiry of Biden. (New York Times, September 25, 2019)
“I would like you to do us a favor,” Mr. Trump said in response to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine raising the prospect of acquiring military equipment from the United States. The president then also asked for another inquiry: that the Ukrainians examine an unsubstantiated theory about stolen Democratic emails.
After a whistle-blower raised concerns about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the director of national intelligence and the inspector general for the intelligence community each referred the complaint for a possible criminal investigation into the president’s actions, according to a Justice Department official.
Mr. Trump’s suggestion that American law enforcement be directly involved and in contact with Ukraine’s government marks the first evidence that the president personally sought to harness the power of the United States government to further a politically-motivated investigation.

Trump offered to meet Ukraine leader at White House after he promised an investigation. (Washington Post, September 25, 2019)
In his July 25 phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, President Trump told his Ukrainian counterpart to work with the U.S. attorney general to investigate the conduct of Joe Biden, a political rival.
Trump's pressuring for an investigation of Biden isn't even the worst part of Ukraine 'transcript', (Daily KOS, September 25, 2019)
Donald Trump has long been convinced that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue without losing the support of his followers. Now the question is: Can he threaten an entire nation, repeatedly, without losing the support of Republicans in the Senate? Because, despite a history of altering transcripts to massage Trump’s fumbles, misstatements, lies, and insults, the document that the White House put out on Tuesday morning is sufficient on its own merits to convict Trump in any court. It is terrible.
The White House transcript is replete with language that would make a Mafia boss blush. It’s absolutely chock-a-block with descriptions of political opponents as “very bad people,” with praise for a pro-Russian prosecutor who resigned in disgrace, and with pressure from Trump to not just investigate Joe Biden’s son, but dig into a laundry list of disproved conspiracy theories.
Transcript: Trump’s Call With the Ukrainian President (New York Times, September 25, 2019)
Here is the transcript released by the White House on Wednesday morning of a July 25 call between President Trump and Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine.
Teacher's union head says GM ending insurance for striking workers is 'obscene'. (The Hill, September 25, 2019)
GM spokesperson David Barnas disputed Weingarten's remarks, telling the The Hill that the company has not cut off benefits for striking workers. “Medical and prescription drug benefits are continuous for striking workers, and benefits are even retroactive to the beginning of the strike for those that enroll in COBRA coverage," Barnas said in a statement.
A UAW spokesman told The Associated Press that the company and auto workers are “still talking.” But, as auto workers are on strike, GM has stopped paying striking workers’ health insurance and shifted the cost onto the UAW union. Brian Rothenberg, a spokesman for the UAW strikers, told The Hill the "UAW strike fund is funding health insurance."
Weingarten's comments come as nearly 49,000 GM workers are on strike.
Sub carrying $165 million worth of cocaine intercepted by Coast Guard cutter in Pacific. (WDBJ, September 25, 2019)
How to fight deepfakes and ransomware: Better security training (The Enterprisers Project, September 24, 2019)
Did you hear about the CEO who was recently duped by an AI-powered deepfake voice scam? It’s time to increase security training for everyone - especially the Corporate Suite
This Day in History: Little Rock Nine enroll at Central High School in Arkansas. (
WCVB, September 24, 2019)
On this day in 1957, nine black students entered Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, an all-white school. The students, known as the Little Rock Nine, were escorted into the school by the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division.
Congress Steps Up, Trump Blinks. (New York Times, September 24, 2019)
It’s a start, maybe. It turns out President Trump can push his fellow Republicans too far. Senate Republicans stuck up for themselves, and their institution, on Tuesday by joining unanimously with their Democratic colleagues to call on the president to stop stonewalling. They asked him to release to the relevant congressional committees the complaint from a whistle-blower that an inspector general had said raised an “urgent concern” about the president’s behavior.
On the need for greater transparency from this White House, lawmakers from both parties are in unusual agreement, at least for now. And the White House showed signs of backing down, signaling not that it would release the full complaint but that it might not block the whistle-blower from testifying.
How impeachment works and what’s happened with previous presidents (WCVB, September 24, 2019)
'You can't gaslight us, sir!': Chuck Todd shuts down Sen. John Kennedy's anti-impeachment nonsense. (Daily KOS, September 24, 2019)
Why are Republicans silent about the Ukraine whistleblower scandal? This one chart explains. (
Washington Post, September 24, 2019)
Comparing the political fortunes of Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake tells you a lot.
Nancy Pelosi Announces Formal Impeachment Inquiry of Trump. (New York Times, September 24, 2019)
Faced with new allegations against President Trump and administration stonewalling, Democrats have ended months of caution.
Google wins "right to be forgotten" case in Europe. (ZDNet, September 24, 2019)
The right to the protection of personal data is not an absolute right, the European Court of Justice ruled Tuesday.
Sprint took FCC cash for “serving” 885,000 people it wasn’t actually serving. (Ars Technica, September 24, 2019)
Sprint admits mistake, promises to pay money back but could be punished by FCC.
Ring experimented with activating all nearby cameras after a 911 call. (The Verge, September 24, 2019)
Ring seemed to be aware of potential privacy concerns around this automatic activation — Ring owners would have had to opt in to allow nearby 911 calls to activate the cameras on their doorbells, according to the emails seen by CNET. But this feature, if it was implemented, could have significantly added to concerns about Ring’s ability to collect data on and potentially surveil citizens.
This year, Ring has come under continued press scrutiny of its partnerships with police and cities, including working with police to help them request security camera footage from customers, and some city governments subsidizing the costs of Ring products for citizens. Ring itself revealed in August that it has partnered with more than 400 law enforcement agencies across the US.
Amazon Is Working on a Device That Can Read Human Emotions. (Bloomberg, September 23, 2019)
The notion of building machines that can understand human emotions has long been a staple of science fiction, from stories by Isaac Asimov to Star Trek’s android Data. Amid advances in machine learning and voice and image recognition, the concept has recently marched toward reality. Companies including Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.’s Google and IBM Corp., among a host of other firms, are developing technologies designed to derive emotional states from images, audio data and other inputs.
The technology could help the company gain insights for potential health products or be used to better target advertising or product recommendations. The concept is likely to add fuel to the debate about the amount and type of personal data scooped up by technology giants, which already collect reams of information about their customers.
Security gadgets 'making people more vulnerable' from hackers. (BBC, September 23, 2019)
Did Google Just Achieve Quantum Supremacy? (Popular Mechanics, September 23, 2019)
A deleted paper—from NASA, no less—hints at the major computing benchmark. But what does it mean?
Once Considered 'Simple,' the Ancient Edomites Were Actually Tech Geniuses. (
Popular Mechanics, September 23, 2019)
Copper was the must-have tech of the ancient world, and Edomites were its master.
Is This The New Normal? Hawaii Wrestles With Record Heat. (Honolulu Civil Beat, September 23, 2019)
Hawaii has broken a heat record almost every day since April. It’s hot. It’s muggy. And it’s exactly what climate experts have been telling us would happen for decades — increasingly warmer weather as we emit ever more carbon dioxide and heat-trapping gases into the atmosphere.
Climatologists are frustrated by the lack of action in response to man-made global warming, but there are some simple solutions that could provide relief.

NEW: Trump loses it in front of world's 'fake' media, rails about Biden deserving 'the electric chair'. (Daily KOS, September 23, 2019)
Donald Trump is losing it. Again. In a bilateral sitdown with Polish President Andrzej Duda, a sweating, red-faced Trump railed at the “fake media,” at Joe Biden and his son, and at the fake media again when asked about Ukraine and the intelligence whistleblower's allegations against him. "Joe Biden and his son are corrupt," he spewed. "But the fake news doesn't want to report it because they're Democrats. If a Republican ever did what Joe Biden did, if a Republican ever said what Joe Biden said, they'd be getting the electric chair by right now." The electric chair. Maybe it's that prospect that's got him so worked up. He ended by almost screaming at the press corps, "You're all crooked as hell." Then, barely taking a beat, he concluded with, "Okay thank you very much, I hope you enjoyed it."
Trump Said to Have Frozen Aid to Ukraine Before Call With Its Leader. (New York Times, September 23, 2019)
The revelation came as leading congressional Democrats demanded that the administration turn over documentation about the matter and calls for impeachment grew.
‘Opening the Door to Hell Itself’: Bahamas Confronts Life After Hurricane Dorian. (Wall Street Journal
, September 22, 2019)
With 1,300 people still missing and neighborhoods flattened, leaders aren’t yet sure how long the recovery will take.
NEW:  Trump’s takeover of GOP forces many House Republicans to head for the exits. (Washington Post, September 22, 2019)
Paul Mitchell is among a growing list of House Republicans — 18 to date — who have announced plans to resign, retire or run for another office, part of a snowballing exodus that many Republicans fear is imperiling their chances of regaining control of the House in the 2020 elections.
And the problem for the GOP is bigger than retirements. Since Trump’s inauguration, a Washington Post analysis shows, nearly 40 percent of the 241 Republicans who were in office in January 2017 are gone or leaving because of election losses, retirements including former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.), and some, such as Mitchell, who are simply quitting in disgust.
The vast turnover is a reminder of just how much Trump has remade the GOP — and of the purge of those who dare to oppose him. Former congressman Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) lost his June 2018 primary after challenging Trump; he’s now a Republican presidential candidate. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), the only Republican to accuse Trump of impeachable acts, quit the GOP in July citing the “partisan death spiral.” His political future is uncertain.
Trump's top officials rush to Sunday shows to defend apparent Ukraine extortion scheme. (Daily KOS, September 22, 2019)
We do not know the full details of the whistle-blower complaint that appears, via reporting, to center on a "promise" Donald Trump made and on repeated efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to find compromising information on one of Trump's potential 2020 election opponents. But we do know that Trump personally led that effort; we also know that Trump withheld, without explanation, desperately needed military aid to Ukraine until after a series of conversations with Ukrainian leaders.
Trump using the office of the presidency to apparently extort an allied power for his personal gain would be, of course, corruption on an international scale. That does not mean, however, that his staff and other top Republicans are not rushing to defend those acts.
Trump Acknowledges Discussing Biden in Call With Ukrainian Leader. (New York Times, September 22, 2019)
“The conversation I had was largely congratulatory, with largely corruption, all of the corruption taking place and largely the fact that we don’t want our people like Vice President Biden and his son creating to the corruption already in the Ukraine,” Mr. Trump told reporters before leaving for a trip to Texas and Ohio. Mr. Trump did not directly confirm news reports that he pressured Mr. Zelensky for an investigation. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Mr. Trump urged Mr. Zelensky about eight times during the July 25 phone call to work with the president’s lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, on an investigation of Mr. Biden and his son.
Mr. Giuliani has already publicly acknowledged pressing Ukrainian officials to investigate the Bidens, and Mr. Trump told reporters on Friday and again over the weekend that the former vice president should be investigated without saying whether it came up during the phone call.
The president’s interest over the summer in a Ukrainian investigation into Mr. Biden, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination and the right to run against Mr. Trump in next year’s election, coincided with his administration’s decision to hold up $250 million in security aid to Ukraine. But there have been no indications that Mr. Trump mentioned the money during the call. The president finally agreed to release the money this month after coming under bipartisan pressure from Congress.
Trump Repeatedly Pressed Ukraine President to Investigate Biden’s Son. (Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2019)
Interactions under focus amid whistle-blower complaint on U.S. president’s dealings with a world leader
Study shows that almost a third of all birds have vanished in the last fifty years. (Daily KOS, September 21, 2019)
As much as people enjoy watching birds for their colorful plumage and complex behaviors, there is much more to them than the joy they bring by their presence. Many plants depend on birds to spread their seeds. Birds are second only to insects in pollinating flowers. And many insect-eating birds chow down on exactly the kind of insects that bring bites and disease to humans. Their loss hurts us aesthetically, and in the stomach, and in the blood.
The suspected culprits for the decline are no great surprise—loss of habitat and chemicals in the environment. Pesticides have not just given us shinier apples, but eliminated insects that fed sparrows. Herbicides have wiped out plants whose seeds were staples for dozens of species. Both have run into waters and destroyed populations of fish and frogs that fed shorebirds.
Inside a Deadly American Summer (New York Times, September 21, 2019)
One massacre followed the next, sometimes on the very same day. In sudden bursts of misery, they played out in big cities, along rural roads, inside trim suburbs. They left behind shaken neighborhoods, tearful memorials and calls for change, but little concrete action.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, America endured 26 mass shootings in 18 states, killing 126 and wounding many more. 
A New York Times review of every shooting, from the first, on the late afternoon of May 31, to the last, the night of Sept. 2, found that each one was distinct. Yet clear patterns emerged. The suspect in every shooting was male, and no case went unsolved.
What Elizabeth Warren Will Do (Warren Plans Page, September 21, 2019)
Elizabeth has a lot of plans, but they’re really one simple plan: We need to tackle the corruption in Washington that makes our government work for the wealthy and well-connected, but kicks dirt on everyone else, and put economic and political power back in the hands of the people.
Urgent Concern: This Unambiguously Constitutes an Impeachable Offense. (Slate, September 20, 2019)
Gaining insight into the whistleblower situation.
Trump Pressed Ukraine’s Leader on Inquiry Into Biden’s Son. (New York Times, September 20, 2019)
President Trump pressed the Ukrainian president in a July call to investigate former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son, according to a person familiar with the conversation, an apparently blatant mixture of foreign policy with his 2020 re-election campaign. Mr. Trump also repeatedly told the Ukrainian leader, Volodymyr Zelensky, to talk with his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, who had been urging the government in Kiev to investigate Mr. Biden and his family, according to two other people briefed on the call.
The revelations added urgency to questions about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, which is battling Russian-controlled separatists in the country’s east. When the president sought the Biden investigation, the Trump administration’s military aid to Ukraine had been frozen for weeks.
For Democrats who want to examine the whistle-blower complaint — itself the subject of an internal administration dispute over whether to hand it over to Congress, as is generally required by law — the key question is whether Mr. Trump was demanding a quid pro quo, explicitly or implicitly. Democratic House committee chairmen are already investigating whether he manipulated American foreign policy for personal political advantage and have requested the transcript of the Zelensky call.
As a foreign reporter visiting the US I was stunned by Trump's press conference. (The Guardian, September 20, 2019)
Despite being subjected to a daily diet of Trump headlines, I was unprepared for the president’s alarming incoherence.
The wall was “amazing”, “world class”, “virtually impenetrable” and also “a good, strong rust colour” that could later be painted. It was designed to absorb heat, so it was “hot enough to fry an egg on”. There were no eggs to hand, but the president did sign his name on it and spoke for so long the TV feed eventually cut away, promising to return if news was ever made.
He did, at one point, concede that would-be immigrants, unable to scale, burrow, blow torch or risk being burned, could always walk around the incomplete structure, but that would require them walking a long way. This seemed to me to be an important point, but the monologue quickly returned to the concrete.
In writing about this not-especially-important or unusual press conference I’ve run into what US reporters must encounter every day. I’ve edited skittering, half-finished sentences to present them in some kind of consequential order and repeated remarks that made little sense. In most circumstances, presenting information in as intelligible a form as possible is what we are trained for. But the shock I felt hearing half an hour of unfiltered meanderings from the president of the United States made me wonder whether the editing does our readers a disservice. I’d understood the dilemma of normalising Trump’s ideas and policies – the racism, misogyny and demonisation of the free press. But watching just one press conference from Otay Mesa helped me understand how the process of reporting about this president can mask and normalise his full and alarming incoherence.
Greta Thunberg hopes today's Student Climate Strikes will be 'social tipping point'. (Yahoo, September 20, 2019)
Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg told AFP that she hoped Friday's massive worldwide climate strikes would mark a turning point in persuading leaders to take decisive action on global warming. (4-min. video w/Greta Thunberg and George Monbiot.) The 16-year-old described the numbers of people who took to the streets as "unbelievable" -- from Asia-Pacific to Europe and Africa, culminating in New York where a million students have been permitted to skip school.
‘We will make them hear us’: Millions of youths around the world strike for action. (w/2-min. video; Washington Post, September 20, 2019)
The strikes come three days before world leaders are set to gather at the United Nations for a much-anticipated climate summit.
After hours of marching and chants and speeches in New York, the sea of protesters roared as Greta Thunberg finally took the stage.
“The eyes of the world will be upon them,” she said of the national leaders gathering next week at the U.N. summit. “They have a chance to take leadership. To prove they actually hear us.” She paused. “Do you think they hear us?”
The crowd screamed back: “No.”
She smiled. “We will make them hear us,” Thunberg said, adding, “Change is coming. Whether they like it or not.”
NEW: Amazon just pledged to hit net zero climate emissions by 2040. (MIT Technology Review, September 19, 2019)
The plan was generally met with praise, but as ever, the devil is in the details. In part it could be dismissed as climate accounting: investing in solar and wind power elsewhere to offset the portion of fossil-fuel-generated electricity that’s actually being used. In addition, accurately measuring forest offsets, which the company will need to balance out emissions from plane flights and other carbon-heavy aspects of its operations, is notoriously difficult.
The company’s own climate activist employee group, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, trumpeted the pledge as a “huge win” but said it didn’t go far enough. “As long as Amazon uses its power to help oil and gas companies discover and extract more fossil fuel, donates to climate-denying politicians and think tanks, and enables the oppression of climate refugees, employees will keep raising our voices,” they said. More than 1,500 workers there still plan to walk out tomorrow.
NEW: Silent Skies: Billions of North American Birds Have Vanished. (Scientific American, September 19, 2019)
Though waterfowl and raptor populations have made recoveries, bird populations have declined since 1970 across nearly all habitats
Decline of the North American avifauna (Science, September 19, 2019)
Species extinctions have defined the global biodiversity crisis, but extinction begins with loss in abundance of individuals that can result in compositional and functional changes of ecosystems. Using multiple and independent monitoring networks, we report population losses across much of the North American avifauna over 48 years, including once common species and from most biomes. Integration of range-wide population trajectories and size estimates indicates a net loss approaching 3 billion birds, or 29% of 1970 abundance. A continent-wide weather radar network also reveals a similarly steep decline in biomass passage of migrating birds over a recent 10-year period. This loss of bird abundance signals an urgent need to address threats to avert future avifaunal collapse and associated loss of ecosystem integrity, function and services.
SF’s Treasure Island, poised for building boom, escaped listing as Superfund site. (San Francisco Chronicle, September 19, 2019)
San Francisco’s Treasure Island, the former naval base being transformed into a $6 billion development of condos and shops, was once considered hazardous enough to be a federal Superfund waste site but was never officially named one, newly disclosed documents show. While it’s not clear why Treasure Island was never named a Superfund site, a designation given to some of the most polluted places in the country, the release of the records prompted calls Wednesday from some environmentalists for more federal examination.
However, the island’s developers, who have plans to put more than 8,000 homes on the site by 2035, said the cleanup has been heavily scrutinized and handled effectively by multiple government agencies, dismissing any suggestion that the area is not safe for habitation.
Iraqi Kids Test Positive for Depleted Uranium Remnants Near Former US Air Base. (TruthOut, September 19, 2019)
or the first time, independent researchers have found that the bodies of Iraqi children born with congenital disabilities, such as heart disease and malformed limbs, near a former United States air base in southern Iraq are contaminated with high levels of radioactive heavy metals associated with toxic depleted uranium pollution leftover from the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
The findings appear to bolster claims made by Iraqi doctors who observed high rates of congenital disabilities in babies born in areas that experienced heavy fighting during the bloody first year of the most recent Iraq war. In 2016, researchers tested the hair and teeth of children from villages in proximity to the Talil Air Base, a former U.S. air base, located south of Baghdad and near the city Nasiriyah. They found elevated levels of uranium and of thorium, two slightly radioactive heavy metals linked to cancer and used to make nuclear fuel.
Thorium is a direct decay product of depleted uranium, a chemically toxic byproduct of the nuclear power industry that was added to weapons used during the first year of the war in Iraq. Thanks to its high density, depleted uranium can reinforce tank armor and allow bullets and other munitions to penetrate armored vehicles and other heavy defenses. Depleted uranium was also released into the environment from trash dumps and burn pits outside U.S. military bases.
NEW: Consciousness Goes Deeper Than You Think. (Scientific American, September 19, 2019)
Awareness can be part of it, but it’s much more than that.
Rudy Giuliani lost his mind on CNN and admitted he was a co-conspirator in Ukraine deal. (Daily KOS, September 19, 2019)
Rudy Giuliani appeared on CNN with Chris Cuomo on Thursday night to try and spin the unfolding story that Donald Trump asked newly elected leader Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden’s son, who has worked on matters in the Ukraine, in exchange for $250 million in aid to the Ukraine. The day after the call, U.S. Special Representative Kurt Volker was dispatched to meet with Ukrainian leaders and later, Rudy Giuliani himself was dispatched to the Spanish countryside, where he met with Prime Minister Zelensky’s right-hand man.
In short, this is a serious matter and very likely a federal crime. With that in mind, Giuliani hit CNN and there he had a serious meltdown, shouting, yelling about the “Deep State”, claiming Biden is corrupt and most importantly, ended up confessing that yes, he did it.
Rudy Giuliani denies asking Ukraine to investigate Biden -- before admitting it. (CNN, September 19, 2019)
"So you did ask Ukraine to look into Joe Biden?" Cuomo pressed. "Of course I did," Giuliani said.
When asked about his contradicting answer, Giuliani said he "didn't ask" for Biden to be investigated specifically, but asked Ukraine "to look into the allegations that related to my client, which tangentially involved Joe Biden in a massive bribery scheme."
Giuliani's remarks come the same day The Washington Post and The New York Times reported that a recent whistleblower complaint about Trump making a "promise" to a foreign leader involves Ukraine. As CNN previously reported, the complaint has led to a standoff between Congress and acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire, who has refused to turn over the complaint to the House Intelligence Committee.

Whistle-Blower Complaint Is Said to Involve Trump and Ukraine. (New York Times, September 19, 2019)
The complaint, from a member of the intelligence community, remained opaque but involved at least one of the president’s communications with a foreign leader.
Though it is not clear how Ukraine fits into the allegation, questions have already emerged about Mr. Trump’s dealings with its government. In late July, he told the country’s new president, Volodymyr Zelensky, that Ukraine could improve its reputation and its “interaction” with the United States by investigating corruption, according to a Ukrainian government summary of the call. Some of Mr. Trump’s close allies were also urging the Ukrainian government to investigate matters that could hurt the president’s political rivals, including former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his family
Trump’s communications with foreign leader are part of whistleblower complaint that spurred standoff between spy chief and Congress, former officials say. (Washington Post, September 18, 2019)
The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress involves President Trump’s communications with a foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
Trump’s interaction with the foreign leader included a “promise” that was regarded as so troubling that it prompted an official in the U.S. intelligence community to file a formal whistleblower complaint with the inspector general for the intelligence community, said the former officials.
It was not immediately clear which foreign leader Trump was speaking with or what he pledged to deliver, but his direct involvement in the matter has not been previously disclosed. It raises new questions about the president’s handling of sensitive information and may further strain his relationship with U.S. spy agencies. One former official said the communication was a phone call.

Israelis Just Saved Their Democracy (Bloomberg, September 18, 2019)
Netanyahu wanted to annex Palestinian land, neuter the Supreme Court and put himself above the law. This week’s election means those things won’t happen.
Election fraud: Is there an open source solution? (Open Source, September 18, 2019)
The Trust The Vote project is developing open source technology to help keep elections honest.
Federal Reserve rescues markets twice, for the first (and second) time since 2008 financial crisis. (Daily KOS, September 18, 2019)
A crack just emerged in the financial markets: The NY Fed spends $53 billion to rescue the overnight lending market (CNN, September 18, 2019)
The spike in overnight borrowing rates forced the New York Federal Reserve to come to the rescue with a special operation aimed at easing stress in financial markets. It was the NY Fed's first such rescue operation in a decade, the last occurring in late 2008.
"It's unprecedented, at least in the post-crisis era," said Mark Cabana, rates strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
"The funding markets are clearly stressed," said Guy LeBas of Janney Capital Markets.
Let the Lewandowski Circus Change Congressional Hearings Forever (New York Times, September 18, 2019)
Because the status quo is just terrible. To call Corey Lewandowski’s appearance before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday problematic would be generous. It was a strutting spectacle of contempt for democratic processes worthy of President Trump himself. Mr. Lewandowski’s performance requires a serious response. Maybe more than one.
Key Moments From Corey Lewandowski’s Testimony Before Congress
(New York Times, September 17, 2019)
Mr. Lewandowski, President Trump’s former campaign manager, testified before lawmakers conducting an impeachment inquiry.
Obstruction of Congress, Live on TV (Bloomberg, September 17, 2019)
Trump’s ex-campaign manager Corey Lewandowski wouldn’t answer legitimate questions at a hearing. There’s a word for that.
Examining AI’s Effect on Media and Truth (Mozilla, September 17, 2019)
Mozilla is announcing its eight latest Creative Media Awards. These art and advocacy projects highlight how AI intersects with online media and truth — and impacts our everyday lives.
Today, one of the biggest issues facing the internet — and society — is misinformation. It’s a complicated issue, but this much is certain: The artificial intelligence (AI) powering the internet is complicit. Platforms like YouTube and Facebook recommend and amplify content that will keep us clicking, even if it’s radical or flat out wrong.
NEW: Paul Krugman: Republicans Don’t Believe in Democracy. (New York Times, September 16, 2019)
Do Democrats understand what they’re facing?
What the stories have in common is that they illustrate contempt for democracy and constitutional government. Elections are supposed to have consequences, conveying power to the winners. But when Democrats win an election, the modern G.O.P. does its best to negate the results, flouting norms and, if necessary, the law to carry on as if the voters hadn’t spoken.
After Sacklers shift at least $1 billion around, Purdue files for bankruptcy. (Ars Technica, September 16, 2019)
NEW: House committee launches investigation into Transportation Secretary Chao. (The Hill, September 16, 2019)
The House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday launched an investigation into Mitch McConnell's wife, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, over whether she is using her office to benefit herself and her family. The investigation follows a series of reports alleging that Chao used her role in the Trump administration to boost Foremost Group, a shipping company founded by her father, and initially didn't divest from stock in a major construction company.
8 Years of Trump Tax Returns Are Subpoenaed by Manhattan D.A. (New York Times, September 16, 2019)
Investigators demanded the president’s personal and corporate tax returns as they examine hush money paid to Stormy Daniels.
The Northern Hemisphere just had its warmest summer on record. (Washington Post, September 16, 2019)
The 5 hottest summers have occurred in the past 5 years. What’s remarkable about 2019′s record warmth is that it comes in the absence of a strong El Niño event in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Such events tend to boost global temperatures by warming the seas and sending more heat into the atmosphere. Instead, a weak El Niño has been present at times during 2019 but nothing like what occurred in 2016, which was the last time a Northern Hemisphere summer was this warm.
As global average temperatures continue to rise in response to increasing levels of human-produced greenhouse gases, it is becoming easier to exceed climate benchmarks even without strong El Niño events.
Saudi Arabia says weapons used to attack its oil facilities were Iranian. (
Washington Post, September 16, 2019)
Saudi Arabia charged Monday that Iranian weapons were used to attack the kingdom’s oil installations, dismissing claims of responsibility by Yemen’s Houthi rebels, who threatened additional assaults amid U.S. warnings of retaliation. The Houthis’ new threat, reported Monday by the group’s al-Masirah TV, came two days after they claimed a crippling assault on facilities in the desert kingdom - adding that drones modified with jet engines were used in the operation Saturday.
U.S. officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have blamed Iran directly for the attacks, saying that the assault did not come from Yemen. Pompeo did not offer evidence for the claim, which he tweeted on Saturday. The Houthis also have not provided any proof to support their assertion that they carried out the strikes on the Saudi oil installations, using what they said was a fleet of 10 drones.
Trump had said late Sunday that the United States was prepared to respond to the devastating attacks on two oil installations in Saudi Arabia that halved the state oil company’s output. “There is reason to believe that we know the culprit,” Trump said in a tweet Sunday evening. He said the United States was “locked and loaded depending on verification.”
NEW: Richard Stallman, or The Passion Of Saint iGNUcius (Jack Baruth, September
16, 2019)
Stallman has no way to understand how people feel about something; he doesn’t feel that way. The community of actual computer scientists and clued-in tech people has long accepted this because — and I cannot emphasize this enough — Richard Stallman is responsible for computing as we know it.
In a world where Richard Stallman did not exist, neither would Apple, or the Android phone, or “cloud computing”, or That’s just the tip of the iceberg. The world without Stallman would be a world where you still used a Windows 95 computer, where you paid real money for every single piece of software on it. Internet Explorer would be the browser. Computing would be limited to the upper-middle-class, the way it was in 1985. No matter how you are reading this website, both you and I are using systems which incorporate GNU software. Even if you’re using Windows, which nowadays runs on a very GNU-like operating system beneath the covers.
The idea of truly free software given to the world for humanitarian purposes would not exist without Stallman. He was the only person who ever had the thought. Which means it is more radical than calculus, heavier-than-air flight, the theory of relativity, or the atomic bomb. It took someone with Stallman’s particular blend of Promethean IQ and mentally handicapped social skills to push it all the way to reality. You live in Richard Stallman’s world, whether you like it or not. He has had more influence on how we communicate in 2019 than any other single human being currently living. Any sane society would consider him a national treasure of greater importance than Fort Knox, to be cherished and protected accordingly.
Computer Scientist Richard Stallman Resigns From MIT Over Epstein Comments. (Vice, September 16, 2019)
Stallman said the "most plausible scenario" is that one of the trafficking victims "presented herself to him as entirely willing."
Joe Biden Is Problematic. (New York Times, September 15, 2019)
Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner and may well be the nominee. He is by far the favorite candidate among black voters. He was a loyal vice president to Barack Obama, and the two men seem to have shared a deep and true friendship. He, like the other Democratic candidates, would be a vast improvement over Donald Trump.
And, Biden’s positioning on racial issues has been problematic. No amount of growth or good intentions will change this fact.
Notre-Dame’s Toxic Fallout (New York Times, September 14, 2019)
PARIS — The April fire that engulfed Notre-Dame contaminated the cathedral site with clouds of toxic dust and exposed nearby schools, day care centers, public parks and other parts of Paris to alarming levels of lead. The lead came from the cathedral’s incinerated roof and spire, and it created a public health threat that stirred increasing anxiety in Paris throughout the summer.
Flames engulfed 460 tons of lead when Notre-Dame’s roof and spire burned, scattering dangerous dust onto the streets and parks of Paris. Five months after the fire, the French authorities have refused to fully disclose the results of their testing for lead contamination, sowing public confusion, while issuing reassuring statements intended to play down the risks.
Washington analysts start seeing the strength of Warren's slow but steady rise. (Daily KOS, September 14, 2019)
Washington pundits appear to have finally turned the corner this week on starting every conversation about Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s candidacy by questioning whether a woman is electable. Her slow but steady upward trend in the polls combined with Vice President's Joe Biden's slow but steady slope downward has finally convinced at least some professional analysts that Warren's gradual build could in fact be a strength not a weakness.
As Dave Weigel, one of the smarter and less group-thinky campaign reporters, noted, this week's CNN poll showing Biden as the frontrunner at 24% with Warren at 18% and Sanders at 17% is perhaps best viewed by where things began in April, when Biden first announced. By that measure, Biden's support has consistently eroded (-15 points) while the opposite is true for Warren (+10 points).
NEW: What was it with Biden's reparations word-salad 'answer,' and his scoffing at the question? (Daily KOS, September 13, 2019)
Beto O'Rourke: Finally, a profile in courage. (Daily KOS,
September 13, 2019)
"Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We're not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore."
Whether You Like Him Or Hate Him, Bernie Sanders Was Right About The Media and Insurers. (
Daily KOS, September 13, 2019)
George Stephanopoulos wanted to get Sanders and Warren to admit that middle class taxes will go up. And as both candidates pointed out, total costs for Americans will go DOWN with Medicare for All. Stephanopoulos was doing his corporate master’s bidding by trying to kill Medicare for All with a Republican talking point. Thank God Sanders and Warren are sticking to their guns on this.
Note: Republicans NEVER get asked the question of how are you going to pay for all those tax cuts and wars they initiate. It’s only Democrats who propose some government spending that get asked about costs.
Castro was Right: Biden Said "Buy In." MSNBC and Others Should Apologize for Bad "Fact Checking". (Daily KOS, September 13, 2019)
Immediately after last night's Democratic Presidential Debate, MSNBC debunked Castro’s claim that Biden said that under his plan people who became unemployed would have to “buy in” to his plan. Castro was correct.
Castro brings up a couple of important issues in these interviews. Our candidate needs to be able to face off against Trump. We do ourselves no favors by assuming that our front runners should not be called out for what they say. Biden couldn’t keep his story straight on this.
Biden’s healthcare plan does not clarify what he said. There seems to be automatic enrollment for people who enroll in SNAP benefits, but enrolling in SNAP is not automatic for low income people. There is also no reason to believe that people who lose their jobs will necessarily apply for SNAP benefits, so enrollment would not be automatic as some have suggested. It would make them automatically eligible to apply, which may have been what Biden meant. Biden’s main plan requires individuals to buy in to receive it, but provides tax breaks to some recipients. Given that his plan is unclear, it would have been helpful if he could have been more precise in explaining it on the debate stage.
Taliban visits Moscow days after Trump says talks ‘dead’. (Associated Press, September 13, 2019)
NEW: Trump’s Acting National Security Adviser Said Nuclear War With USSR Was Winnable. (Huffington Post, September 13, 2019)
Questioning “mutual assured destruction,” Charles Kupperman called nuclear conflict “in large part a physics problem.”
Trump Finances Closer to Scrutiny as U.S. Court Revives Suit. (Bloomberg, September 13, 2019)
Decision in New York could force Trump to open his finances. Group claims Trump businesses violate emoluments clauses.
The decision intensifies a legal threat to Trump over the mixing of his business interests with his authority as president. Unless an expanded panel of judges or the Supreme Court reverses the decision, Trump may be forced to defend his actions and open his business and personal finances to scrutiny.
Trump has been accused of a range of conflicts, including encouraging foreign dignitaries and U.S. service members to stay at his hotels. He attracted fresh criticism last month when he suggested that next year’s meeting of Group of Seven leaders, to be hosted by the U.S., should be held at his resort in southern Florida.
NEW: Microsoft Secretly Includes Telemetry Software in More Windows Updates. (Softpedia, September 13, 2019)
Windows 7 and 8.1 updates coming with telemetry tasks.
NEW: Huge decline in songbirds is linked to common insecticide. (National Geographic, September 12, 2019)
Neonics—pesticides introduced to plants at the seed stage—act like an appetite suppressant for birds, making them lose weight within hours.
NEW: September Democratic Candidates Debate (2.5-hour video; ABC News, September 12, 2019)
What People Say About the Economy Can Set Off a Recession, (New York Times, September 12, 2019)
Hardly any of us have precise formulas to decide our economic plans. So we allow ourselves to be influenced by the emotions, theories and scripts suggested in the stories we hear from others.
Fortunately, the widespread digitization of text, combined with enhanced capabilities for natural-language processing, is beginning to give us new insights into the history of economic narratives. We are beginning to develop a new economics, one that studies these changing economic stories and metaphors systematically.
Justice Sotomayor warns the Supreme Court is doing “extraordinary” favors for Trump. (Vox, September 12, 2019)
The Trump administration thinks the court is its personal fixer. The court isn’t doing much to disabuse it of this idea.
The Supreme Court rarely granted such stays in the past, and for good reason. Because the Supreme Court is the final word on any legal dispute, it typically likes to hang back for a while as lower court judges wrestle with new legal questions. If a lower court hands down an erroneous order, and the Supreme Court does not take immediate action, then the erroneous order may remain in place for months. But a lower court decision will eventually work its way through the appeals process and can be reversed by the Supreme Court if it is wrong about the law.
If the Supreme Court acts prematurely, however, its erroneous decision could last forever because no higher court can overrule the justices.
Thus, out of a healthy fear that its mistakes could linger, the Court historically has preferred to give lower court judges time to consider novel legal questions so that the justices can be informed by those judges’ opinions before the Supreme Court hands down a final word. Sotomayor’s warning is that her Court may no longer be exercising such caution — at least when the Trump administration comes knocking.
Amid Bipartisan Outcry, White House Agrees to Release Ukraine Aid (New York Times, September 12, 2019)
The White House had previously requested a review of the spending, ostensibly to ensure that it was being used to further American foreign policy interests. But the delay prompted a swift backlash from Republicans and Democrats in Congress, where there has long been strong support from both parties for Ukraine’s efforts to stave off Russian aggression.
And some Democrats suggested that the delay was intended to pressure the government of the newly elected Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, to start investigations of Mr. Trump’s political rivals, including the family of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. The inquiries have been sought by Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani and other allies.
Why the man Trump once called ‘my African American’ is leaving the GOP (PBS, September 12, 2019)
NEW: Trump's People Tried to Rush This Judge Through the Senate. I Can See Why. (Esquire, September 11, 2019)
Steven Menashi has quite a record, both in and out of the current administration*.
NEW: Steven Menashi Made His Senate Confirmation Hearing Even Worse Than Expected. (Huffington Post, September 11 2019)
The controversial judicial nominee angered Republicans and Democrats by not addressing the work he’s done for Trump.
NEW: Menashi's Confirmation Hearing Devolves Into 'Worthless Exercise,' Exasperating Democrats and Republicans. (National Law Journal, September 11, 2019)
“I’m out of time. You took a lot of it by not answering my questions,” Republican Sen. John Kennedy said to Steven Menashi.
Trump’s Going to Manipulate the Government to Stay in Power. (Daily Beast, September 11, 2019)
The president has given us ample signs that he will use the powers of the presidency in ways previously unimaginable. How come Democrats seem so relaxed about it?
The power of an incumbent president to aid re-election by abusing the executive branch has in the past been limited by a few powerful forces: Presidential integrity; the fear of a scandal emerging in the media; and the prospect of aggressive congressional oversight.
Due to forces outside their control, the Democratic nominee won’t be saved by the first two “norms based” options. And as a result of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s strategy of not “focusing on Trump,” the president has every reason to scoff at the prospect of aggressive congressional oversight, up to and including a genuine “go big” effort at impeachment.
Combined, these elements must force us to consider a truly horrifying series of questions: Does President Trump have the means, motive, and opportunity to tilt the 2020 election? The answer, unfortunately, is yes, yes, and yes. And it behooves Democrats to understand that now, before it is too late.
‘You’re a prop in the back’: Advisers struggle to obey Trump’s Kafkaesque rules (Washington Post, September 11, 2019)
“There is no person that is part of the daily Trump decision-making process that can survive long term,” said a former senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to offer a candid assessment. “The president doesn’t like people to get good press. He doesn’t like people to get bad press. Yet he expects everyone to be relevant and important and supportive at all times. Even if a person could do all those things, the president would grow tired of anyone in his immediate orbit.”
Leon Panetta, who served as a defense secretary, CIA director and White House chief of staff in past Democratic administrations, said Trump’s eclectic management style can be dangerous.
“The presidency is an isolated position to begin with, and it is incredibly important to have people around you who will tell you when they think you’re wrong,” Panetta said. “Presidents need to appreciate that information and not then take it out on that individual. This president has a real blind spot in that he does not want anybody around him who is critical.”
“He has become more convinced than ever that he is the ‘chosen one,’ ” said Tony Schwartz, who co-wrote Trump’s 1987 bestseller, “The Art of the Deal,” but has since become critical of the president. “The blend of the megalomania and the insecurity make him ultimately dismissive of anybody’s opinion that doesn’t match his own.”

Trump's 9/11 speech includes lies and a threat to use something worse than nuclear bombs (Daily KOS, September 11, 2019)
When will Michael Hayden explain why the NSA did not predict 9/11? (IT Wire, September 11, 2019)
As America marks the anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Centre towers by terrorists, it is a good time to ask when General Michael Hayden, head of the NSA at the time of 9/11, will come forward and explain why the agency was unable to detect the chatter among those who had banded together to wreak havoc in the US.
Before I continue, let me point out that nothing of what appears below is new; it was all reported some four years ago, but mainstream media have conspicuously avoided pursuing the topic because it would probably trouble some people in power.
NEW: US lawmakers introduce bill to stop tear gas sales to Hong Kong. (South China Morning Post, September 11, 2019)
Bill would prohibit US companies from exporting non-lethal crowd control and defence items to Hong Kong.
Serfing the Internet: We’re living in an era of digital feudalism. Blockchain is how to take your data and identity back. (Quartz, September 11, 2019)
We’re over two decades into an era of digital feudalism. Feudalism is a centuries-old concept. In medieval times, the nobility owned vast amounts of land. Serfs worked the land to create value, but most of that value was confiscated by the landlord.
Instead of farm produce, today the new asset class is data—created by us, but captured by digital landlords such as social-media companies, search engines, online retailers, governments, and banks. “Surfing the internet” has become “serfing the internet,” with users giving up intimate details of their lives for the internet lordships to aggregate, expropriate, and monetize. We, as the serfs, only get left with a few lousy cabbages.
This is important, because this data isn’t just the biproduct of your labor. It is the stuff of your identity in the digital age. All this data constitutes a “virtual you.” The digital crumbs that you leave in daily life create a mirror image that knows more about you than you do. You probably can’t remember dozens of your personal identifiers: your driver’s licence details, credit-card numbers, government information. But you definitely don’t know your exact location a year ago; what you bought or what amount of money you transacted; what you said online; or what medication you took or diagnosis you received. And that’s just the beginning. In the future, the virtual you will contain detailed medical information like your heart rate, blood pressure, or myriad other real-time measures of what you do, how you function, where you are, and even how you feel.
The trouble is that the virtual you is not owned by you. “Imagine if General Motors did not pay for its steel, rubber, or glass—its inputs,” economist Robert J. Shapiro once said. “That’s what it’s like for the big internet companies. It’s a sweet deal.” We create the asset: They expropriate it. Yet we still thank them for use of their land, rather than demanding what is rightfully ours.
What we need is a wholesale shift in how we define and assign ownership of data assets and how we establish, manage, and protect our identities in a digital world. Change those rules, and we end up changing everything. It is a revolution to be sure. We’ve called it the blockchain revolution.
NEW: Dangerous new hot zones are spreading around the world. (Prince George Citizen, September 11, 2019)
LA CORONILLA, Uruguay - The day the yellow clams turned black is seared in Ramón Agüero's memory. It was the summer of 1994. A few days earlier, he had collected a generous haul, 20 buckets of the thin-shelled, cold-water clams, which burrow a foot deep into the sand along a 13-mile stretch of beach near Barra del Chuy, just south of the Brazilian border. Agüero had been digging up these clams since childhood, a livelihood passed on for generations along these shores.
 But on this day, Agüero returned to find a disastrous sight: the beach covered in dead clams. "Kilometer after kilometer, as far as our eyes could see. All of them dead, rotten, opened up," remembered Agüero, now 70. "They were all black, and had a fetid odor." He wept at the sight.
Girl power: Hasbro brings gender pay gap debate to game night with new Ms. Monopoly (USA Today, September 10, 2019)
The debate over equal pay starts before shuffling the cards, choosing a token and rolling the dice. The banker doles out $1,900 in Monopoly Money to each female player and $1,500 to each male. The gap continues every time a player passes go with women collecting $240 and men $200. Instead of investing in real estate properties like the classic game, players invest in inventions and innovations made by women, including chocolate chip cookies, bulletproof vests, solar heating and ladies’ modern shapewear.
Trump Ousts John Bolton as National Security Adviser. (New York Times, September 10, 2019)
Mr. Bolton disputed the president’s version of how the end came in his own tweet shortly afterward. “I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, ‘Let’s talk about it tomorrow,’” Mr. Bolton wrote, without elaborating.
NEW: Controversial Trump Court Pick Gets Expedited Senate Confirmation Hearing. (September 9, 2019)
Steven Menashi, a White House aide with a record of denouncing feminism and diversity, is on track to become a lifetime federal judge.
We're starting to see the scale of Trump's personal corruption — and it's massive. (Salon, September 9, 2019)
Mandatory stops at Trump resorts are the tip of the iceberg. This president has been "wetting his beak" all along.
NEW: At least 100 Hurricane Dorian evacuees booted from boat headed to U.S. over lack of visa. (Daily KOS, September 9, 2019)
NOAA’s chief scientist will investigate why agency backed Trump over its experts on Dorian. (Washington Post, September 9, 2019)
Scientists attacked NOAA officials for conceding to Trump during a weather emergency, when accuracy and messaging are vital to keep the public safe. The American Meteorological Society issued a statement of support for the NWS, writing: “AMS believes the criticism of the Birmingham forecast office is unwarranted; rather they should have been commended for their quick action based on science in clearly communicating the lack of threat to the citizens of Alabama."
In his email to employees Sunday, NOAA’s acting director Craig McLean criticized his agency’s public statement, saying it prioritized politics over NOAA’s mission. “The NWS Forecaster(s) corrected any public misunderstanding in an expert and timely way, as they should,” McLean wrote. “There followed, last Friday, an unsigned news release from 'NOAA’ that inappropriately and incorrectly contradicted the NWS forecaster. My understanding is that this intervention to contradict the forecaster was not based on science but on external factors including reputation and appearance, or simply put, political. The content of this news release is very concerning as it compromises the ability of NOAA to convey life-saving information necessary to avoid substantial and specific danger to public health and safety."
McLean is investigating whether the agency’s response to President Trump’s Hurricane Dorian tweets constituted a violation of NOAA policies and ethics.
National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini has also broken with NOAA's political leadership.
NEW: Amazon Employees Will Walk Out Over the Company's Climate Change Inaction. (Wired, September 9, 2019)
The planned event will mark the first time in Amazon's 25-year history that workers at the company's Seattle headquarters have participated in a strike.
Gas Plants Will Get Crushed by Wind and Solar Power by 2035, Study Says. (Bloomberg, September 9, 2019)
Generators now on drawing boards will be left uneconomical. This development will be a dramatic reversal of fortune for gas.
Robot priests can bless you, advise you, and even perform your funeral. (Vox, September 9, 2019)
AI religion is upon us. Welcome to the future.
Russia's ruling party hit badly in Moscow election (BBC News, September 9, 2019)
The party lost nearly a third of the seats in the 45-member parliament, but remains on course to retain its majority with about 26 seats. With most opposition candidates disqualified, the Communists, independents and others gained seats. The exclusion of the opposition candidates triggered mass protests.
Unlike Moscow, Kremlin-backed candidates dominated in other local and regional elections held across the country on 8 September. They look set to win in all 16 regions that were electing their governors.
Trump's leak forced US to extract top spy from inside Russia in 2017. (CNN, September 9, 2019)
The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.
At the time, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo told other senior Trump administration officials that too much information was coming out regarding the covert source, known as an asset. An extraction, or "exfiltration" as such an operation is referred to by intelligence officials, is an extraordinary remedy when US intelligence believes an asset is in immediate danger.
Fox News, GOP media now warn of bloodshed if Democrats win in 2020. (Daily KOS, September 8, 2019)
"The core philosophy of the Three Percenter movement, whose adherents have engaged in violence, is that citizens would be justified in taking up arms to violently overthrow the government if the government enacted stronger gun regulations," Media Matters recently noted.
Yet, when a Democrat was in the White House, typically gun-happy Fox News warned that the federal government had too many guns. In 2015, when it was reported that the Environmental Protection Agency law enforcement had a sizeable budget for weapons, conservative pundits freaked out, portraying the government as needlessly armed.
How Trump’s Plan to Secretly Meet With the Taliban Came Together, and Fell Apart. (New York Times, September 8, 2019)
The proposed Taliban visit to Camp David, which would have been one of the biggest headline-grabbing moments of Trump's tenure, was put together on the spur of the moment and then canceled on the spur of the moment. The usual National Security Council process was dispensed with; only a small circle of advisers was even clued in.
For Mr. Trump, ending the war in Afghanistan has been a focus since taking office, a signature accomplishment that could help him win re-election next year. For nearly a year, a former ambassador to Afghanistan has engaged in secret talks with the Taliban to make that happen.
On September 1st, that U.S. negotiator with the Taliban proposed that they visit Washington. Taliban leaders said they accepted the idea — as long as the visit came after the deal was announced. That would become a fundamental dividing point contributing to the collapse of the talks. Mr. Trump did not want the Camp David meeting to be a celebration of the deal; after staying out of the details of what has been a delicate effort in a complicated region, Mr. Trump wanted to be the dealmaker who would put the final parts together himself, or at least be perceived to be.
After the deal fell apart, Mr. Trump took it upon himself to disclose the secret machinations in a string of Saturday night Twitter messages that surprised not only many national security officials across the government but even some of the few who were part of the deliberations.
NEW: Today I learned some interesting history of Abaco, the island in the Bahamas hit hardest by hurricane Dorian. (Michael Harriot, September 7, 2019)
Abaco vs. U.S. Slavery and the Hermosa (1840). (The black-rap is not a literal translation. :-)
NEW: Trump is putting his right-wing colleagues in a tough spot. (13-min. video; The Young Turks, September 6, 2019)
It turns out that whatever border wall funding Donald Trump gets is, shockingly enough, NOT going to come from Mexico after all. No, it’s going to come from Kentucky. And Utah. And Arizona. And a number of other states, as well as government-funded projects across the globe that congress appropriated money for, but which is now being diverted to the wall.
And as John, Jayar and Adrienne note in this clip, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is livid. At Democrats. For not funding the wall in the first place, and thereby forcing Trump to steal money that was supposed to help with Puerto Rico’s recovery, to bolster US cybersecurity, to store hazardous waste materials and dozens of other projects more worthy than a stupid, pointless wall.
Other Republican senators, like Mitt Romney, Martha McSally and Susan Collins, expressed disappointment at this turn of events, but offered up primarily weak sauce, pathetic criticism of Trump, knowing full well that they all owe fealty to him and can’t contradict the president without losing the support of the Republican base.
The three hosts wonder if this may be the moment when Trump DOES lose some support, with Adrienne noting that he’s now taking billions of dollars away from “the troops,” who remain popular, and Jayar suggesting this is the opening Democrats need to take on mealymouthed wafflers like Susan Collins.
John, meanwhile, wonders why, when Trump’s whole campaign was built around the premise of a wall, paid for by Mexico, this won’t become his “Read my lips” or “You can keep your insurance” moment. The three agree that it likely won’t and Trump’s fans will continue to let him slide, happy that even though they’re the ones paying for the wall rather than Mexico, at least Trump is “triggering” the left and “owning the libs,” and for many on the right that’s even more valuable than money.
On Dorian-Battered Island, What’s Left? Virtually Nothing. (New York Times, September 6, 2019)
No schools. No banks. No gas stations. No supermarkets. No restaurants. No churches. No pharmacies. No hardware stores. No water, no electricity and no phone lines. In this part of the Bahamas, nearly everything is gone. Hurricane Dorian didn’t just upend life in Marsh Harbour, the biggest town in the Abaco Islands. Dorian crushed it, stripping all essentials, schedules and routines — everything residents and visitors had taken for granted. And there’s no sense when those things might be restored.
The Real Donald Trump Is a Character on TV (
New York Times, September 6, 2019)
To ask who the “real” Donald Trump is, is to ignore the obvious. You already know who Donald Trump is. All the evidence you need is right there on your screen. He’s half-man, half-TV, with a camera for an eye that is constantly focused on itself. The red light is pulsing, 24/7, and it does not appear to have an off switch.
A Presidential Storm Leaves Forecasters Rebuked (New York Times, September 6, 2019)
The hurricane was accelerating away from the Mid-Atlantic coast. In the Bahamas, victims were picking through the devastation. In the Southeast, they were cleaning up debris. And in Washington, President Trump waged war over his forecasting skills.
On Friday, for the sixth straight day, Mr. Trump continued his relentless campaign to prove that he was right when he predicted that Hurricane Dorian could hit Alabama regardless of what the scientists said, a quest that has come to consume his White House and put his veracity to the test. And once again, Mr. Trump’s government came to his aid. Late Friday afternoon, the parent agency of the National Weather Service issued a statement declaring that its Birmingham, Ala., office was wrong to dispute the president’s warning that Alabama “will most likely be hit” by the hurricane despite forecasts to the contrary.
Dan Sobien, the president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, called NOAA’s statement “utterly disgusting and disingenuous,” emphasizing that Weather Service employees had nothing to do with it.
Rear Adm. David W. Titley, a retired Navy officer who previously served as NOAA’s chief operating officer, was even more scathing about his former agency. “Perhaps the darkest day ever for @noaa leadership,” he tweeted. “Don’t know how they will ever look their workforce in the eye again. Moral cowardice.”
Trump’s Sharpie-doctored hurricane map embodies the man. (
Washington Post, September 5, 2019)
President Trump showed us again this week how spectacularly ignorant, vainglorious and obsessive he can be. This time, he did it with a clumsily doctored map.
‘What I said was accurate!’: Trump stays fixated on his Alabama error as hurricane pounds the Carolinas (Washington Post, September 5, 2019)
Trump’s fixation on his erroneous Dorian warnings underscores a long history of defending inaccurate claims — from the crowd size at his inaugural address to false claims of voter fraud in 2016 to fictional “unknown Middle Easterners” streaming across the southern border in migrant caravans.
Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer and executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion, said the Alabama claims underscore the president’s belief that admitting error is a sign of weakness. “He’s doubling down on the worst sides of his troubled personality — to never admit an error and to continue obsessing about it, and emphasizing it, when it doesn’t serve him well to do so,” he said. “He doesn’t move along because he is incapable of moving along.”
COBOL Turns 60: Why It Will Outlive Us All (ZDNet, September 5, 2019)
In the beginning, there was machine languages and assembler. Neither was easy to use, but then along came COBOL, and everything changed.
In computing's early years, the only languages were machine and assembler. Clearly, there needed to be an easier language for programming those hulking early mainframes. That language, named in September 1959, became Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL). The credit for coming up with the basic idea goes to Mary Hawes, a Burroughs Corp. programmer.
In 2016, the Government Accountability Office reported the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Social Security Administration, to name just three, were still using COBOL. 200 billion lines of COBOL code are still in use today and 90% of Fortune 500 companies still having COBOL code keeping the lights on. If you've received cash out of an ATM recently, it's almost certain COBOL was running behind the scenes.
Donald Trump Has Never Explained a Mysterious $50 Million Loan. Is It Evidence of Tax Fraud? (Mother Jones, September 5, 2019)
Donald Trump’s massive debts—he owes hundreds of millions of dollars—are the subject of continuous congressional and journalistic scrutiny. But for years, one Trump loan has been particularly mystifying: a debt of more than $50 million that Trump claims he owes to one of his own companies. According to tax and financial experts, the loan, which Trump has never fully explained, might be part of a controversial tax avoidance scheme known as debt parking. Yet a Mother Jones investigation has uncovered information that raises questions about the very existence of this loan, presenting the possibility that this debt was concocted as a ploy to evade income taxes—a move that could constitute tax fraud.
In short, Trump claims he bought a debt related to his Chicago venture, but neither of the two loans associated with this property appear to have been purchased. The Deutsche Bank loan was refinanced. The Fortress debt, according to sources with knowledge of the transaction, was canceled. And this raises a question: Did Trump create a bogus loan to evade a whopping tax bill on about $48 million of income?
Several legal and real estate finance experts say it’s possible to fabricate a loan. Doing so would be as easy as creating some paperwork and declaring the debt on your tax returns, though such a scheme would also violate federal tax law. “When you see it, if you lay all this out, it’s pretty brazen,” says Adam Levitin, a law professor specializing in commercial real estate finance at Georgetown University. “If he didn’t actually buy the loan, this is just garden-variety fraud.”
NEW: Bernie Sanders CRUSHED it at CNN’s climate change town hall! Joe Biden rambled. (14-min. video;The Young Turks, September 5, 2019)
Many candidates ARE going after fossil fuel companies, which is unprecedented for major party presidential aspirants and has only happened since Bernie changed the rules of the game back in 2016 by clearing a lane for candidates to call out major corporations by name and industry.
The less said about Joe Biden’s rambling performance, the better, except that Cenk observes how sharp and in command of his positions Bernie Sanders appears by comparison. The age question may dog Biden and Trump in this presidential race, but after this town hall there can be little question that Bernie retains all his faculties.
CNN commentators review
Democratic presidential candidates at last night's Climate Crisis Town Hall (CNN, September 5, 2019)
Video clips from last night's Climate Crisis Town Hall (CNN, September 5, 2019)
Democratic candidates unveil sweeping climate proposals ahead of CNN town hall - tonight, 5PM-Midnight, EDT! (CNN, September 4, 2019)
Here is tonight's tentative schedule.
Inslee: Majority of 2020 Democrats have shown 'intense interest' in climate plan. (The Hill, September 4, 2019)
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a former Democratic presidential candidate, said Wednesday that several candidates have expressed interest in his climate plan after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) adopted his plan as part of her presidential platform.
15 things a president can actually do to tackle the climate crisis (CNN, September 4, 2019)
Candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination and most scientists say the climate crisis is the existential threat of our time, while President Donald Trump once claimed it's a hoax cooked up by the Chinese. Trump also said at last month's G7 meeting that "I'm an environmentalist," citing his experience filing environmental impact statements as a businessperson, though he skipped an actual session about climate change that his fellow world leaders attended.
That pretty much sums up the difference between how a Democrat would treat climate change compared with Trump: as an emergency as opposed to as a joke.
Space age solar solution moves toward production (PV Magazine, September 4, 2019)
A consortium of European research institutes has received €10.6 million in EU funding to establish pilot production of a high efficiency module concept developed by Swiss startup Insolight. The module combines high efficiency multijunction cells with a solar concentrator lens and has previously demonstrated 29% efficiency.
Google and YouTube Will Pay Record $170 Million for Alleged Violations of Children’s Privacy Law (U.S. Federal Trade Commission, September 4, 2019)
FTC, New York Attorney General allege YouTube channels collected kids’ personal information without parental consent.
'Always About the Con': Ocasio-Cortez Says 'Virtually Every' Trump Policy Is Designed to Loot Public Coffers and Enrich His Cronies (Common Dreams, September 4, 2019)
"Since corruption isn't popular policy, racism works as the cover for the con. That's why addressing racism isn’t a 'distraction'—it's key to understanding the hustle against working people. Virtually every policy Trump pursues works to steal public money and personally enrich himself and his friends," said the New York Democrat, who said Trump deploys racism and xenophobia as a "cover for the con."
As concrete examples, Ocasio-Cortez cited the Trump administration's decision to open national monuments to corporate exploitation (which enriches fossil fuel executives), expand "border concentration camps" (which enriches private prison CEOs), and appoint Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (which enriches "loan sharks").
Days after leaving post, ex-Interior official who pushed drilling in Alaska takes oil company job (Washington Post, September 4, 2019)
Joe Balash, who served as the Interior Department’s top official overseeing oil and gas leasing on federal land until Friday, is joining a firm that's expanding drilling operations on the North Slope.

A cynical way to make poor people disappear (Politico, September 4, 2019)
The Trump administration is redefining poverty in order to reduce safety net benefits for low-income Americans.
One of the most iconic photos of American workers is not what it seems. (Washington Post, September 3, 2019)
But Lunch Atop A Skyscraper, which was taken during the Great Depression, has come to represent the country's resilience, especially on Labor Day.
Answers to Your Questions About the Dark Side of the Internet (Mozilla, September 3, 2019)
A mom and her teenage son answer your questions about the dark side of the internet.
Democrats' messy impeachment push hits critical phase (Politico, September 3, 2019)
The window to impeach Trump is closing, and senior lawmakers are sending mixed messages.
Democrats’ five-count political indictment of Trump (Washington Post, September 3, 2019)
Has Trump Broken the World Economy? It's Starting to Look Like It. (Daily KOS, September 3, 2019)
Trump was so angry after China’s trade retaliation that he wanted to double tariffs (CNBC, September 3, 2019)
The revelation that Trump wanted to double duties comes on a day when fears about the trade war between the world’s two largest economies helped to sink major U.S. stock indexes. Both the U.S. and China imposed new tariffs on some goods Sunday.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump suggested he could take even more drastic action to crack down on China’s trade practices if he wins reelection next year without a new trade agreement in place. “Deal would get MUCH TOUGHER!” he wrote in a tweet.
The trade war has contributed to investor concerns about a global economic slowdown. New economic data Tuesday did not help: The U.S. manufacturing sector contracted in August for the first time in three years.
More emoluments: Trump encouraged Pence to stay at his golf resort in Ireland. (Washington Post, September 3, 2019)
The Constitution bars presidents from taking “any other Emolument from the United States” beyond the presidential salary. Trump’s critics have charged that he is violating that provision when his hotels take payments from the federal government. Trump says there is no violation if the government is only paying him for services rendered.
Conservative commentator Bill Kristol, a frequent Trump critic, also faulted the arrangement, suggesting Pence was trying to curry favor with Trump so that he would remain on the Republican ticket next year. “How worried must Pence be about being dumped from the ticket to go these lengths to spend . . . taxpayer dollars at a Trump resort?” Kristol wrote.
British lawmakers take control: What it means for Boris, Brexit and Britain (
Politico, September 3, 2019)
The House of Commons took the unprecedented step of usurping government control of Parliament — a dramatic move that raises more questions than it answers.
Boris Johnson defeated as UK's MPs seek to stop no-deal Brexit (Politico, September 3, 2019)
The prime minister said he regarded the vote as one of confidence in his premiership.
Alaska’s Sea Ice Completely Melted for First Time in Recorded History (TruthOut, September 3, 2019)
The country of Iceland has held a funeral for its first glacier lost to the climate crisis. The once massive Okjökull glacier, now completely gone, has been commemorated with a plaque that reads: “A letter to the future. Ok is the first Icelandic glacier to lose its status as a glacier. In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it.”
Hurricanes Are Getting Worse. (
New York Times, September 3, 2019)
Why are so many people afraid to talk about climate change?
The frequency of severe hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean has roughly doubled over the last two decades, and climate change appears to be the reason. Yet much of the conversation about Hurricane Dorian — including most media coverage — ignores climate change.
That’s a mistake. It’s akin to talking about lung cancer and being afraid to mention smoking, or talking about traffic deaths and being afraid to talk about drunken driving. Sure, no single road death can be attributed solely to drunken driving — and many people who drive under the influence of alcohol don’t crash — but you can’t talk meaningfully about vehicle crashes without talking about alcohol.
Atlantic basin popping to life with tropical activity (Accuweather, September 3, 2019)
The Atlantic may soon be a three-ring circus of tropical activity with Dorian in the center ring and other areas brewing to the left over the Gulf of Mexico and to the right over the central and eastern part of the main ocean.
Hurricane Dorian threatens millions in U.S. after pummeling Bahamas (CBS News, September 3, 2019)
Dorian won't make landfall in Florida, but the east coast is still under threat. (
CNN, September 3, 2019)
Synthetic Aperture Radar view of flooding in Freeport, Grand Bahama (Mike Rizzo Weather, September 3, 2019)
Hurricane Dorian is finally crawling away from the Bahamas, leaving terrible damage. 'We are in trouble,' lawmaker says. (CNN, September 3, 2019)
Hurricane Dorian kills 5 people in the Bahamas. (
CNN, September 2, 2019)
It’s time to bid farewell to Joe Biden. (
Washington Post, September 2, 2019)
Study shows some political beliefs are just historical accidents. (Ars Technica, September 2, 2019)
Early trend-setters swayed the group in experiments on party stances.
Cory Doctorow: DRM (Digital Rights Management) Broke Its Promise (Locus Magazine, September 2, 2019)
There’s a name for societies where a small elite own property and everyone else rents that prop­erty from them: it’s called feudalism. DRM never delivered a world of flexible consumer choice, but it was never supposed to. Instead, twenty years on, DRM is revealed to be exactly what we feared: an oligarchic gambit to end property ownership for the people, who become tenants in the fields of greedy, confiscatory tech and media companies, whose in­ventiveness is not devoted to marvelous new market propositions, but, rather, to new ways to coerce us into spending more for less.
NEW: Chasing The Methane Dragon That Lurks In The Deep Sea (Huffington Post, September 2 2019)
We went into the depths of the ocean with a scientist seeking to understand how frozen gas deposits might respond in a rapidly warming world.
Methane is among the most potent greenhouse gases. And while the numerous sources of methane are well understood, what’s driving the recent surge in global emission levels remains a matter of scientific debate.
Surges in atmospheric methane have been blamed for past planetary warming events. The most severe, the “The Great Dying,” occurred 250 million years ago and wiped out approximately 90% of all species.
Why Has Trump’s Exceptional Corruption Gone Unchecked? (New York Times, September 2, 2019)
“Drain the swamp” suggests that all political corruption is the same. It isn’t, and the distinctions matter.
The Great Tax Break Heist (
New York Times, September 2, 2019)
A few days ago The Times reported on widespread abuse of a provision in the 2017 Trump tax cut that was supposed to help struggling urban workers. The provision created a tax break for investment in so-called “opportunity zones,” which would supposedly help create jobs in low-income areas. In reality the tax break has been used to support high-end hotels and apartment buildings, warehouses that employ hardly any people and so on. And it has made a handful of wealthy, well-connected investors — including the family of Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law — even wealthier.
It’s quite a story. But it should be seen in a broader context, as a symptom of the Republican Party’s unwillingness to perform the basic functions of government.
2016 taught us a lesson about Trump. Now we need to unlearn it. (
Washington Post, September 2, 2019)
I mean the other lesson: Don’t underestimate Donald Trump. All good lessons, however, are eventually over-learned, especially by once-burned political commentators. In this case, our reticence disguises just how weak Trump really is. While it is absurd at this point to predict anything about the 2020 presidential election, no sane candidate would prefer to be playing Trump’s hand.
London mayor mocks Trump for dealing with hurricane ‘out on the golf course’. (Politico, September 2, 2019)
Sadiq Khan renews beef with US president, criticizing him for canceling trip to Poland to commemorate start of World War II.
Incredible views of Category 5 Hurricane Dorian near peak intensity (
Washington Post, September 1, 2019)
Historic Hurricane Dorian unleashing ‘catastrophic’ blow in northern Bahamas, takes aim at Southeast U.S. (Washington Post, September 1, 2019)
With peak winds of 185 mph, Hurricane Dorian is the strongest storm on record to strike the Bahamas, and threatens to bring hurricane force winds, coastal flooding and other impacts to the east coast of Florida and Southeast U.S. It also ranks as the 2nd-strongest storm (as judged by its maximum sustained winds) ever to form in the Atlantic Ocean, behind Hurricane Allen of 1980. The storm’s peak sustained winds are the strongest so far north in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida on record.
Dorian is unleashing wind gusts over 220 mph, along with storm surge flooding of 18 to 23 feet above normal tide levels. The storm
is still intensifying. Over the northern Bahamas, the storm’s core of devastating wind and torrential rain may sit for at least 24 hours as steering currents in the atmosphere collapse, causing Dorian to meander slowly, if not stall outright, for a time.
How a Trump Tax Break to Help Poor Communities Became a Windfall for the Rich (New York Times, August 31, 2019)
President Trump has portrayed America’s cities as wastelands, ravaged by crime and homelessness, infested by rats.
But the Trump administration’s signature plan to lift them — a multibillion-dollar tax break that is supposed to help low-income areas — has fueled a wave of developments financed by and built for the wealthiest Americans. Among the early beneficiaries of the tax incentive are billionaire financiers like Leon Cooperman and business magnates like Sidney Kohl — and Mr. Trump’s family members and advisers.
Charleston church mass shooting victims may sue federal government over gun purchase, court rules. (Daily KOS, August 31, 2019)
CRISPR Now Cuts and Splices Whole Chromosomes (Slashdot, August 30, 2019)
NEW: This Has Been the Worst Year for iPhone Security Yet. (Vice, August 30, 2019)
After several high profile attacks and embarrassing slip-ups, Apple’s perception as the secure consumer device is starting to crack.
Google finds 'indiscriminate iPhone attack lasting years' (BBC News, August 30, 2019)
Trump and Biden have the same message: You may not like me, but you must vote for me. (Washington Post, August 29, 2019)
They're giving voters an ultimatum rather than inspiration.
'I am talking directly to you': US attorney delivers powerful rebuke to white nationalists (ABC News, August 29, 2019)
In powerful remarks, U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman calls out white supremacists while announcing charges against a man accused of threatening an attack on Jewish community center. "Those actions don't make you soldiers; they make you cowards."
84 Major Climate Change Rules the Trump Administration Is Reversing (New York Times, August 29, 2019)
NEW: Filling the Empty Seats at the F.E.C. Won’t Fix America’s Corrupt Elections (New Yorker, August 29, 2019)
The Federal Election Commission stood by while foreign regimes used the Internet to undermine social cohesion, relying on the reach of Facebook and Google, in particular, to seed misleading, uncredited advertisements online. Between 2017 and 2018, as the F.E.C. debated requiring digital platforms to adhere to the same disclosure laws as political ads that are broadcast on television, the agency received more than three hundred and fourteen thousand public comments about digital-ad transparency. In a memorandum sent in June, Ellen Weintraub, the sole Democratic F.E.C. commissioner and its current chair, laid out amendments to the U.S. code that would bring digital ads in line with broadcast ads. Her recommendations went nowhere. Now that Petersen has resigned, unless the Trump Administration nominates new commissioners, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allows them to be confirmed—and the new commissioners demonstrate more commitment to the public interest than their predecessors—the identities of digital-ad buyers will continue to be shielded by the F.E.C.’s inertia.
NEW: A step too far for the Appalachian Trail (Politico, August 29, 2019)
The Trump administration wants to allow a pipeline to cross the Appalachian Trail on federal lands. Congress should say no.
‘Finish the wall’: Trump tells aides he’ll pardon misdeeds, say current and former officials (
Washington Post, August 29, 2019)
As he campaigns for president, Joe Biden tells a moving but false war story (Washington Post, August 29, 2019)

NEW: Democrats’ chances of taking the Senate just got better. (Washington Post, August 28, 2019)
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) just announced that because of health concerns, he will retire from the Senate at the end of 2019. It’s only a slight exaggeration to say that the fate of the republic could rest on what happens in Georgia next November, and the chance that a Democratic president could actually implement their agenda just got significantly better.
There was already going to be one Georgia Senate race on the ballot in 2020, as Sen. David Perdue is up for reelection. The state is one of a few that have been solidly Republican in recent years but have been moving away from the GOP year by year as they grow more diverse, a list that includes Arizona and Texas.
NEW: The Misogyny of Climate Deniers (New Republic, August 28, 2019)
Why do right-wing men hate Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez so much? Researchers have some troubling answers to that question.
“There is a package of values and behaviors connected to a form of masculinity that I call ‘industrial breadwinner masculinity.’ They see the world as separated between humans and nature. They believe humans are obliged to use nature and its resources to make products out of them. And they have a risk perception that nature will tolerate all types of waste. It’s a risk perception that doesn’t think of nature as vulnerable and as something that is possible to be destroyed. For them, economic growth is more important than the environment” Hultman told Deutsche Welle last year.
The corollary to this is that climate science, for skeptics, becomes feminized—or viewed as “oppositional to assumed entitlements of masculine primacy,”
NEW: The Elements (Bloomberg, August 28, 2019)
Special issue, for the 150th anniversary of Dmitri Mendeleev's Periodic Table of the Elements.
NEW: Putting an end to Retadup: A malicious worm that infected hundreds of thousands (Avast, August 28, 2019)
We were able to determine that the most infected computers had either two or four cores (the average number of infected computer cores was 2.94) and that the majority of victims used Windows 7. Over 85% of Retadup’s victims also had no third-party antivirus software installed. Some also had it disabled, which left them completely vulnerable to the worm and allowed them to unwittingly spread the infection further.
NEW: Doorbell-camera firm Ring has partnered with 400 police forces, extending surveillance concerns. (Washington Post, August 28, 2019)
Ring is owned by Amazon, which bought the firm last year for more than $800 million, financial filings show.
Ring officials and law enforcement partners portray the vast camera network as an irrepressible shield for neighborhoods, saying it can assist police investigators and protect homes from criminals, intruders and thieves.
“The mission has always been making the neighborhood safer,” said Eric Kuhn, the general manager of Neighbors, Ring’s crime-focused companion app. “We’ve had a lot of success in terms of deterring crime and solving crimes that would otherwise not be solved as quickly.”
But legal experts and privacy advocates have voiced alarm about the company’s eyes-everywhere ambitions and increasingly close relationship with police, saying the program could threaten civil liberties, turn residents into informants, and subject innocent people, including those who Ring users have flagged as “suspicious,” to greater surveillance and potential risk.
NEW: Huawei Could End Up Replacing Android with a Russian Operating System (Softpedia, August 27, 2019)
Barred from using US software, Chinese smartphone manufacturer is considering using Aurora OS on its devices.
Eight-hour comms lags and shock discoveries: 30 years after Voyager 2 visited gas giant Neptune (The Register, August 27, 2019)
That time we found those lovely old geysers on one of the icy giant's MOONS.
NEW: How should we talk about what’s happening to our planet? (Washington Post, August 27, 2019)
Those who are talking about it have ratcheted up their rhetoric. In May, the Swedish activist Greta Thunberg ditched “climate change” for “climate breakdown” or “climate emergency.” The Guardian now uses “climate catastrophe” in its articles. A resistance movement born in Europe last year named itself Extinction Rebellion, partly to normalize the notion of aggressive action in a life-or-death situation.
Jakarta has sunk by up to 4 meters, forcing Indonesia to build a new capital (Ars Technica, August
27, 2019)
Ten million people live in the Indonesian capital, but the city is going under.
Brazil’s Bolsonaro says he might accept G-7 offer to help fight Amazon fires — if Macron apologizes
(Washington Post, August 27, 2019)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro appeared to walk back an initial rejection of funds to help fight fires sweeping through the Amazon rainforest, but he said any consideration of the aid remained tied up in his dispute with the French president.
Elizabeth Warren Manages to Woo the Democratic Establishment (The Atlantic, August 26, 2019)
The party insiders at the DNC’s summer meeting seemed unexpectedly drawn to the senator from Massachusetts.
Johnson & Johnson to pay $572m for fueling Oklahoma opioid crisis, judge rules (The Guardian, August 26, 2019)
Oklahoma becomes first state to successfully sue an opioid manufacturer, a ruling that is sure to affect other drug companies.
In a damning 42-page decision, Judge Thad Balkman ruled that the company bore a wide responsibility for helping to create the worst drug epidemic in US history. He said it not only aggressively pushed false claims about the safety and effectiveness of its own narcotic painkillers, but that it changed medical practice with “deceptive” claims intended to break down caution among doctors about prescribing opioids. That included using its huge resources to fund organisations and research to promote narcotics.
Balkman ordered the company to pay $572m in compensation initially with additional payments to be negotiated to cover treatment, overdose prevention and other costs of abating the epidemic in Oklahoma in the coming years. The state had asked for $17bn.
Johnson & Johnson said it will appeal.
EU ambassador says Mercosur trade deal unaffected by Amazon wildfires (Euractiv, August 26, 2019)
In light of the worst wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, one of the world’s largest carbon sinks, Ybáñez -
the EU's ambassador to Brazil - said, “The Mercosur agreement contains some commitments of how we want our future relationship to be. For example, on the environmental issue, there is a clear commitment to compliance with the Paris agreement and international agreements by Brazil and Mercosur”.
But the lack of action from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to tackle the critical situation in the Amazon has triggered the strong reaction of some EU member states. France and Ireland threatened to block the Mercosur deal, while conservative Bolsonaro warned French President Emmanuel Macron not to meddle in his country and stop using the issue for domestic political reasons.
EURACTIV France reported that Amazon has become a hot topic in the country as many politicians highlighted the threat of a new environmental tragedy. “Fires burning in the Amazon are a crime against humanity and those responsible must be held accountable”, said Anne Hidalgo, head of the coalition of cities for the climate C40.
Flying above the Amazon fires, 'all you can see is death' (CNN, August 26, 2019)
Eunice Newton Foote, The Hidden Figure in Climate Science (Scientific American, August 26, 2019)
John Tyndall is credited with the link between carbon dioxide and climate—but Eunice Newton Foote got there first.
The spy in your wallet: Credit cards have a privacy problem (Washington Post, August 26, 2019)
In a privacy experiment, we bought one banana with the new Apple Card — and another with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa from Chase. Here’s who tracked, mined and shared our data.
Trump and the Art of the Flail, by Paul Krugman (New York Times, August 26, 2019)
Protectionism is worse when it’s erratic and unpredictable. The “very stable genius” in the Oval Office is, in fact, extremely unstable, in word and deed. That’s not a psychological diagnosis, although you can make that case too. It’s just a straightforward description of his behavior. And his instability is starting to have serious economic consequences.
Trump suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting U.S. (Axios, August 25, 2019)
Trump again lashes out at Fox News: 'Not what it used to be' (The Hill, August 25, 2019)
He's repeatedly lashed out at the network over its polling during the past two months. He knocked the network last week after a survey showed him losing to former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) in hypothetical 2020 matchups. "I don't know what's happening with Fox," he told reporters, adding he doesn't "believe" the polls.
Psychiatrist to CNN's Stelter: Trump 'may be responsible for many more million deaths' than Hitler, Stalin, Mao (
The Hill, August 25, 2019)
"Calling Trump crazy hides the fact that we’re crazy for having elected him," Allen Frances, the author of "Twilight of American Sanity," said on CNN's "Reliable Sources." "And even crazier for allowing his crazy policies to persist. Trump is as destructive a person in this century as Hitler, Stalin and Mao were in the last century. He may be responsible for many million more deaths than they were. He needs to be contained, but he needs to be contained by attacking his policies, not his person."
Israel says it stopped 'killer drone' attacks from Iran (The Hill, August 25, 2019)
Israeli military spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus told reporters that "a number of attack drones" were planned to hit northern Israel on Thursday but the plan was thwarted. He did not disclose how Israel stopped the “killer drones."
The IRGC denied that Iranian targets had been hit late on Saturday and said its military “advisory centers have not been harmed," according to Reuters.
Blame Economists for the Mess We’re In (New York Times, August 24, 2019)
Why did America listen to the people who thought we needed “more millionaires and more bankrupts?” Willful indifference to the distribution of prosperity over the last half century is an important reason the very survival of liberal democracy is now being tested by nationalist demagogues.
Accounts of the rise of inequality often take a fatalistic view. The problem is described as a natural consequence of capitalism, or it is blamed on forces, like globalization or technological change, that are beyond the direct control of policymakers. But much of the fault lies in ourselves, in our collective decision to embrace policies that prioritized efficiency and encouraged the concentration of wealth, and to neglect policies that equalized opportunity and distributed rewards. The rise of economics is a primary reason for the rise of inequality.
And the fact that we caused the problem means the solution is in our power, too.
The Ravaging of Amazonia (
New York Times, August 24, 2019)
A global treasure lies at the mercy of the smallest, dullest, pettiest of men.
As the Amazon Burns, Europe Seizes Title of Climate Champion (New York Times, August 24, 2019)
‘Senseless disputes’: At G7 Summit, E.U.’s Tusk says Trump’s trade wars are damaging global economy (Washington Post, August 24, 2019)
“This may be the last moment to restore our political community,” he told reporters at the beginning of the Group of Seven summit here. Tusk’s comments came one day after Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping dramatically escalated a fierce trade war between the two countries. Tusk is attending the G-7 summit with Trump and leaders from France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada and Japan, and he said the summit comes at a perilous time. “Trade wars will lead to recession while trade deals will boost the economy,” he said.
Virginia marks the start of American slavery in 1619 with speeches, songs (
Washington Post, August 24, 2019)
The commemoration of the arrival of the first enslaved Africans 400 years ago began at dawn at Fort Monroe with the rhythm of drums and a cleansing ritual.
The Police Photoshopped His Mug Shot for a Lineup. He’s Not the Only One. (
New York Times, August 24, 2019)
When witness descriptions made no mention of a suspect’s facial tattoos, the police airbrushed them away for an identification lineup. The practice goes beyond one case.
I Visited 47 Sites. Hundreds of Trackers Followed Me. (New York Times, August 23, 2019)
This Is How Trump Will Tank the Economy and His Presidency (New York Magazine, August 23, 2019)
What the president showed us today is he’s prepared to hit the gas as he approaches the cliff. That should make us all worried about the economic outlook — and it should make Republicans very worried about the political outlook.
Mr. President, a tweet could end your trade war and avoid recession.
But hurry. (Philadelphia Inquirer, August 23, 2019)
The risk of recession is uncomfortably high and rising. President Donald Trump’s trade war is the proximate cause of what ails the economy. Indeed, if the president follows through on his most recent threat to raise tariffs on Chinese imports, the odds of a downturn between now and this time next year are better than even.
The economy’s growth has already slowed sharply. Real GDP and job growth have throttled way back from this time last year, and unemployment is no longer declining. The slowdown is due, in part, to the winding down of the deficit-financed tax cuts. The president had argued that the tax cuts, which went mostly to corporations and wealthy households, would significantly lift long-term growth. Not so. The stimulus from the tax cuts has already faded.
But the economy’s growing struggles are increasingly about the president’s trade war. The most direct hit to the economy is from the tariffs. They act as a significant tax increase on American businesses and consumers.
Keystone XL Pipeline Plan Is Approved by Nebraska Supreme Court (
New York Times, August 23, 2019)
Many Republican politicians and labor groups see Keystone XL as an economic boon, a way to create jobs and satisfy the world’s demand for oil. But for environmentalists and some Native Americans and farmers along the planned route, the pipeline is seen as a grave threat to the warming climate and to fertile land it would run through.
David Koch, billionaire industrialist who influenced conservative politics, dies at 79 (Washington Post, August 23, 2019)
The war inside Palantir: Data-mining firm’s ties to ICE under attack by employees (
Washington Post, August 22, 2019)
CEO Alex Karp faced a dilemma last year, when employees of the data-mining company Palantir confronted the chief executive with their concerns over a partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, according to three people familiar with the incident. Palantir provided digital profiling tools to the federal agency as it carried out President Trump’s increasingly controversial policies for apprehending and deporting undocumented immigrants, troubling more than 200 employees who signed a letter to Karp, the people said.
Karp, a Democrat, has long been aware that the nature of Palantir’s data-mining work would expose the company to ethical concerns. Early on, he created a privacy and civil liberties team to review ethical issues in government contracts. This group’s key tenet, according to its public statement of principles, is to hold the company accountable for answering one question: “Do I want to live in the kind of world that the technology we’re building would enable?”
But a
fter Google dropped a defense contract over employee pressure, Palantir’s leaders doubled down on controversial work with the U.S. government.
NEW: Joe Biden’s Poll Numbers Mask an Enthusiasm Challenge. (New York Times, August 22, 2019)
There are signs of a disconnect between support for Mr. Biden in polls and excitement for his campaign on the ground in Iowa.
Trump flips out on NBC reporter for pointing out his stupidity (Daily KOS, August 22, 2019)
Letter regarding Jeffrey Epstein and MIT (MIT, August 22, 2019)

Epstein may have gamed the system from beyond the grave (Yahoo, August 21, 2019)
The will that Jeffrey Epstein signed just two days before his jailhouse suicide puts more than $577 million in assets into a trust fund that could make it more difficult for his dozens of accusers to collect damages. Estate lawyers and other experts say prying open the trust and dividing up the financier's riches is not going to be easy and could take years.
Premier of Greenland: Greenland considering buying America (
Daily KOS, August 21, 2019)
According to the Danish newspaper Politiken, the Premier of Greenland (Kim Kielsen) is considering buying the US back. In a (clearly snarky) statement, Kielsen pointed out that Leifr “The Lucky” Eiríksson was the first European to settle America, and as a consequence Greenland has a prior claim on the country. “So it’s only natural for the Greenlandic nation to get USA back.”
Asked about the price, the premier said that they haven’t decided on a specific price yet, but that the vast debt of the US would be taken into consideration. And if Trump is included in the deal, then the price would be even lower.
After claiming to be the 'King of Israel' and 'second coming of God,' Trump adds 'the chosen one' (Daily KOS, August 21, 2019)
On Wednesday alone, Donald Trump first tweeted a quote in which he was described as the “King of Israel” and “the second coming of God.” Which seems like it would be enough maximum-scale delusions of grandeur for anyone on a single day, especially when it was given a boost by Trump’s claim that American Jews who didn’t support him were “deeply disloyal.”
However, it turns out that Trump wasn’t done. Standing on the South Lawn of the White House on Wednesday afternoon, Trump set out to explain why he, and only he, can solve the trade war with China. And no. The answer was not “because I created this trade war out of my own fundamental misunderstandings of economics and finally recognize that the American consumer is shelling out billions to defend my fragile ego.” Instead Trump looked to the sky and declared “I am the chosen one.”
U.S. drone shot down over Yemen: officials (Reuters, August 21, 2019)
Officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the drone was shot down late on Tuesday. This is not the first time a U.S. drone has been shot down in Yemen. In June, the U.S. military said that Houthi rebels had shot down a U.S. government-operated drone with assistance from Iran.
How to stop Facebook tracking your web browsing activity (The Independent, August 21, 2019)
Facebook will finally stop tracking you across other websites, but only if you ask them.
YouTube Removes Videos of Robots Fighting For 'Animal Cruelty' (Slashdot, August 20, 2019)
Channels posting robot combat videos saw their content removed and received a notice from YouTube explaining that the videos were in breach of its community guidelines. Each notice cited the same section of these guidelines, which states: "Content that displays the deliberate infliction of animal suffering or the forcing of animals to fight is not allowed on YouTube." It goes on to state: "Examples include, but are not limited to, dog fighting and cock fighting."
NEW: Trump appears to be guilty of yet another (financial) crime (Daily KOS, August 20, 2019)
Pig to human heart transplants 'possible within three years' (The Guardian, August 19, 2019)
On the 40th anniversary of the first successful heart transplant, p
ioneer UK surgeon Sir Terence English told The Sunday Telegraph that his protege from that operation would try to replace a human kidney with a pig’s this year. “If the result of xenotransplantation is satisfactory with porcine kidneys to humans, then it is likely that hearts would be used with good effects in humans within a few years. If it works with a kidney, it will work with a heart. That will transform the issue.”
During the research, scientists delivered microRNA-199 into pigs after a myocardial infarction. There was “almost complete recovery” of cardiac function after a month. A treatment that helps the heart repair itself after a heart attack is the holy grail for cardiologists. This study convincingly demonstrates for the first time that this might actually be feasible and not just a pipe dream.”
NEW: Oil Lobbyist Touts Success in Effort to Criminalize Pipeline Protests, Leaked Recording Shows (The Intercept, August 19, 2019)
Why Some Christians ‘Love the Meanest Parts’ of Trump (The Atlantic, August 18, 2019)
The writer Ben Howe grew up in the world of conservative evangelicalism. When he looks at the religious right now, all he sees is a thirst for power and domination.
Wind power prices now lower than the cost of natural gas (Ars Technica, August 17, 2019)
In the US, it's cheaper to build and operate wind farms than buy fossil fuels.
NEW: 4 Tools to Prevent Fraud (AARP, August 16, 2019)
How 'Informed Delivery' and password managers add protection against scammers.
NEW: Memo reveals a House Republican strategy on shootings: downplay white nationalism, blame left (Tampa Bay Times, August 16, 2019)
The GOP memo falsely pinned the El Paso massacre and other notable mass shootings on the left.
Trump nominates advocate of 'ethnonationalism' for judgeship (MSNBC, August 15, 2019)
Rachel Maddow shares passages from a law journal article by Donald Trump's federal court nominee Steven Menashi in which he argues democratic countries work better when everyone is the same ethnicity.
Trump suggests opening more mental institutions to deal with mass shootings (CNN, August 15, 2019)
Trump's comments come less than two weeks after back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, killed dozens. The suggestions also come a day after a man shot six police officers when he barricaded himself for several hours in his Philadelphia home, where police were attempting to come in with a narcotics warrant.
The emphasis on mental illness -- an approach favored by pro-gun groups -- marked a slight change from earlier this week. On Tuesday, he claimed that many Republicans support his push for strengthening background checks on gun sales -- a view that appears at odds with what lawmakers are telling the President in private
Federal court slams Georgia for security failures and bans use of paperless voting machines for 2020 (
Daily KOS, August 15, 2019)
Autopsy results add to questions surrounding Epstein's death (Daily KOS, August 15, 2019)
Experts: Broken Bones in Jeffrey Epstein's Neck 'Are Common In Victims of Homicide by Strangulation' (PJ Media, August 15, 2019)
According to the official story released by the authorities, Epstein's guards fell asleep while on duty and failed to check on him for three hours, which supposedly gave him time enough to hang himself. Simultaneously, the camera system failed to work. Oh, and he magically found some tools to hang himself -- in a maximum-security prison. And then there's the fact that his cellmate was removed from his cell, meaning that Epstein was all alone, which "violated the jail's procedures."
Mitch McConnell: Favorable/Unfavorable (RealClearPolitics, accessed August 14, 2019)
"Moscow Mitch" McConnell is the #1 most unpopular member of the entire U.S. Senate with his own voters.
How a McConnell-backed effort to lift Russian sanctions boosted a Kentucky project (Washington Post, August 14, 2019)
In January, as the Senate debated whether to permit the Trump administration to lift sanctions on Russia’s largest aluminum producer, two men with millions of dollars riding on the outcome met for dinner at a restaurant in Zurich. On one side of the table sat the head of sales for Rusal, the Russian aluminum producer that would benefit most immediately from a favorable Senate vote. The U.S. government had imposed sanctions on Rusal as part of a campaign to punish Russia for “malign activity around the globe,” including attempts to sway the 2016 presidential election.
On the other side sat Craig Bouchard, an American entrepreneur who had gained favor with officials in Kentucky, the home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Bouchard was trying to build the first new aluminum-rolling mill in the United States in nearly four decades, in a corner of northeastern Kentucky ravaged by job losses and the opioid epidemic — a project that stood to benefit enormously if Rusal were able to get involved.
The timing of their meeting shows how much a major venture in McConnell’s home state had riding on the Democratic-backed effort in January to keep sanctions in place. By the next day, McConnell had successfully blocked the bill, despite the defection of 11 Republicans.
Why an Heiress Spent Her Fortune Trying to Keep Immigrants Out (New York Times, August 14, 2019)
She was an heiress without a cause — an indifferent student, an unhappy young bride, a miscast socialite. Her most enduring passion was for birds. But Cordelia Scaife May eventually found her life’s purpose: curbing what she perceived as the lethal threat of overpopulation by trying to shut America’s doors to immigrants.
Could Facebook become an independent state? (Boston Globe, August 14, 2019)
The assault on Facebook has been the big story of late. A month ago, “the Federal Trade Commission approved a fine of roughly $5 billion against Facebook for mishandling users’ personal information,” The New York Times reported, calling it “a landmark settlement that signals a newly aggressive stance by regulators toward the country’s most powerful technology companies.”
Facebook has responded by (1) preparing to lease vast amounts of office space in mid-town Manhattan, (2) announcing its intention to create a global cryptocurrency — Libra — that will “bank the unbanked” and completely disrupt the remittance business, and (3) declaring its intention to rebrand WhatsApp and Instagram as WhatsApp from Facebook and Instagram from Facebook.
The exploring of office space in Manhattan was an unsubtle message to Wall Street that Facebook is deadly serious about entering the financial services arena and unconcerned about competing with the incumbent banks. With about 1.6 billion daily average users, Facebook’s entrance into any business is almost automatically disruptive, because it is able to operate at almost unimaginable scale. If it takes dead aim at the endless cascade of fees on overdrafts, credit cards, remittances (and the like) that the banking business depends on, Facebook immediately poses an existential threat to those incumbent institutions.
Facebook’s entrance into the cryptocurrency arena was less an unveiling of a “Facebook Bitcoin” and more like the introduction of a sovereign currency. No less than the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, Jay Powell, took note, saying: “While the project’s sponsors hold out the possibility of public benefits, including improved financial access for consumers, Libra raises many serious concerns regarding privacy, money laundering, consumer protection, and financial stability. These are concerns that should be thoroughly and publicly addressed before proceeding.”
Putin had this to say two years ago: “Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also [with] threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.” Who is the leader in AI research at the moment? It depends on how you measure it, but the rough consensus is: The United States leads, followed by China, England, Canada, Japan, and Germany. The United States is the leader in large measure because of the research being done at Facebook and Google.
According to Machine Box CEO Aaron Edell, “80 percent of all machine learning engineers work at Google or Facebook.” What happens if Facebook and Google grow tired of what they almost certainly regard as regulatory encroachment and government overreach? What happens if Facebook and Google spin off their AI research companies and re-domicile those companies in, say, Canada? One thing that happens is that Canada becomes the world’s leading superpower, overnight, by virtue of its being the new home to the world’s two greatest AI research organizations.
NEW: Facebook cryptocurrency scams offering to sell Libra for bitcoin plague social network (Independent, August 13, 2019)
Cyber criminals are using Facebook's own platform to run scams about the tech giant's new cryptocurrency.
NEW: Hack in the box: Hacking into companies with “warshipping” (Ars Technica, August 13, 2019)
For under $100, compact hardware can turn a shipped package into a Trojan horse for attacks.
Elon Musk’s Neuralink: Both an evolution and a plan for radical change (Ars Technica, August 13, 2019)
Neuralink will probably fail in interesting and worthwhile ways.
With Microsoft dumping MS Office, consider LibreOffice for your next PC office suite (ZDNet, August 13, 2019)
If you want a standalone office suite for your computer, LibreOffice may soon not just be your best choice, it will be close to your only PC-based choice.
(LibreOffice is free, it's excellent, and we use it.)
NEW: UN: Credible Evidence Hong Kong Police Use Banned Tactics to Suppress Protesters. (Voice Of America, August 13, 2019)
"OHCHR (United Nations' Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) has reviewed credible evidence of law enforcement officials employing less lethal weapons in ways that are prohibited by international norms and standards,” Colville said. “For example, officials can be seen firing tear gas canisters into crowded, enclosed areas and directly at individual protesters on multiple occasions, creating a considerable risk of death or serious injury." Colville said there are clear guidelines on how supposed non-lethal weapons, such as tear gas, batons and rubber bullets should be used."Law enforcement officials should only employ tear gas to disperse crowds as a last resort when widespread violence creates an imminent threat of serious injury or damage to property. And, in this situation, the canisters must be fired at a high angle to create indirect fire." 
The U.N. human rights office is calling on Hong Kong authorities to investigate these incidents immediately and ensure security personnel comply with the rules of engagement.  It warns excessive use of force will only inflame tensions and worsen the situation.
NEW: Huawei to help create nation's first open-source foundation (China Today, August 13, 2019)
The plan for the software foundation came after GitHub, the world's largest host of source code, prevented in July users in Iran and other nations sanctioned by the United States government from accessing portions of its service. The incident highlights increasing geopolitical interference with global open-source tech communities, which are supposed to be fair and open to all, analysts said.
Wang Chenglu, president of the software department at Huawei's consumer business group, said software development relies on open-source codes and communities. "If China does not have its own open-source community to maintain, manage and host these open-source codes, the domestic software industry will be vulnerable in the face of uncontrollable factors," Wang said.
Trump delays some China tariffs to Dec. 15th to limit impact on holiday shopping (Washington Post, August 13, 2019)
The White House on Tuesday said it would delay imposing tariffs on Chinese imports of cellphones, laptop computers, video game consoles, and certain types of footwear and clothing until Dec. 15, significantly later than the Sept. 1 deadline President Trump had repeatedly threatened. The announcement ensures that Apple products and other major consumer goods would be shielded from the import tax until at least December, potentially keeping costs on these products down during the holiday shopping season. A number of companies had petitioned to the White House to exempt items they import from the new tariffs, saying the costs would be either passed along to the consumer or threaten the solvency of individual firms.
Trump told reporters that he delayed the tariffs “just in case” they would have a negative impact on U.S. shoppers this holiday season, marking the most explicit admission he’s made so far that the tariffs could have raised costs for American consumers and businesses and had a negative impact on the economy. USTR said the 10 percent tariff would still go into effect in September on some items, including many food products, gloves, coats and suits. But it said tariffs on other items would be waived completely “based on health, safety, national security and other factors.”
(Primarily, other factors like Trump overcharging his supporters and losing his re-election bid.)

Keeping Focus on Gun Bills, Democrats Urge McConnell and Senate to Act (New York Times, August 13, 2019)
Six top Democrats called on Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, to bring senators back to Washington to pass two House bills: one mandating background checks on all gun purchases, including at gun shows and on the internet, and another extending the time the F.B.I. has to complete background checks. “The time is not simply for reflection,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the Democratic leader. “The time is not for a moment of silence. The time for the Senate is to act. The time is to listen to the American people.” [Read more about mass shootings in 2019.]
NEW: It's raining plastic: microscopic fibers fall from the sky in Rocky Mountains (The Guardian, August 13, 2019)
Discovery raises new questions about the amount of plastic waste permeating the air, water, and soil virtually everywhere on Earth.
Another Russian nuclear accident seems to be characterized by lies (Washington Post, August 13, 2019)
Russian village evacuation as rocket blast sparks radiation fears (
Al Jazeera, August 13, 2019)
Nyonoksa residents asked to leave within a day after last week's explosion that spiked radiation levels up to 16 times.
Russian nuclear engineers buried after 'Skyfall nuclear' blast (Al Jazeera, August 13, 2019)
Experts link the explosion to the Burevestnik nuclear-powered cruise missile touted by President Putin in March 2018.
What Happened at Russia’s Missile Test Site? (New York Times, August 12, 2019)
Don’t expect a straight answer from Vladimir Putin’s government.
University bans hamburgers 'to tackle climate change' (BBC News, August 12, 2019)
Rosie Rogers, of Greenpeace UK, said: "It's encouraging to see an institution like Goldsmiths not simply declaring a climate emergency but acting on it. From energy use, to food sales and plastic pollution - all universities and organisations with campus sites can make changes across their facilities that are better for our planet. We call on others to urgently follow suit and to include cutting all ties from fossil fuel funding in their climate-emergency response."
Arctic wildfires spew soot and smoke cloud bigger than EU (The Guardian, August 12, 2019)
Plume from unprecedented blazes forecast to reach Alaska as fires rage for third month.
The normally frozen region, which is a crucial part of the planet’s cooling system, is spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and worsening the man-made climate disruption that created the tinderbox conditions.
A spate of huge fires in northern Russia, Alaska, Greenland and Canada discharged 50 megatonnes of CO2 in June and 79 megatonnes in July, far exceeding the previous record for the Arctic. The intensity of the blazes continues with 25 megatonnes in the first 11 days of August – extending the duration beyond even the most persistent fires in the 17-year dataset of Europe’s satellite monitoring system.
Canadians are hopping mad about Trump’s drug importation plan. Some of them are trying to stop it (STAT, August 12, 2019)
“You are coming as Americans to poach our drug supply, and I don’t have any polite words for that,” said Amir Attaran, a professor at the University of Ottawa, who calls the plan “deplorable” and “atrociously unethical.” “Our drugs are not for you, period.”
‘Using the Lord’s name in vain’: Evangelicals chafe at Trump’s blasphemy (Politico, August 12, 2019)
Trump enjoys the support of the religious right — and losing the group’s support would be catastrophic for his reelection bid. About 80 percent of white evangelicals cast their ballots for Trump in 2016 and 61 percent of the broader evangelical voting bloc believes the U.S. is heading in the right direction under his administration, according to a 2018 survey by the Public Religion Research Institute.
Evangelicals are also more likely to vote than other demographic groups and gravitate toward Republican candidates when they do. And in swing states such as Florida, North Carolina and Michigan, evangelicals dominate the religious composition, eclipsing Catholics, mainline Protestants and other Christians.
The Day Jeffrey Epstein Told Me He Had Dirt on Powerful People (New York Times, August 12, 2019)

Epstein’s Death Has a Simpler Explanation (The Atlantic, August 11, 2019)
On social media yesterday, many people speculated, without evidence, about who besides Epstein might be responsible for his death. Tellingly, many criminal-justice experts pointed instead to a broader issue: Suicide has been a lingering problem in detention facilities, and systemic factors—such as inattention, understaffing, or inadequate training—generally offer a simpler explanation for a prisoner’s death than nefarious intent.

Armed man who sowed panic at Springfield, MO Walmart claimed he was testing his Second Amendment rights, police say  (
Washington Post, August 11, 2019)
New Electric Motor Design Massively Boosts Power, Torque, and Efficiency (Slashdot, August 11, 2019)
NEW: Are We Living in a Computer Simulation? Let’s Not Find Out (New York Times, August 10, 2019)
Experimental findings will be either boring or extremely dangerous.
"A violation of realism": The future can change the past (Daily KOS, August 10, 2019)
It's about modern physics, not about impeaching Trump.
The administration said it was moving these agencies for efficiency. Now the truth comes out. (
Washington Post, August 10, 2019)
“What a wonderful way to streamline government,” said acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney at a gala last week, referring to the Agriculture Department’s plan to move two of its science agencies out of the D.C. area to the Kansas City region. In celebrating this controversial decision, Mr. Mulvaney laid bare the thinly-veiled motivations behind uprooting researchers: not efficiency, but to drive talented workers out.
Jeffrey Epstein’s apparent suicide is unfathomable (Washington Post, August 10, 2019)
If any prisoner in the federal system should have been a candidate for suspicion of suicide, it was the high-profile and disgraced Epstein. All administrative and structural measures should have been in place to ensure it could not happen.
AI pioneer accused of having sex with trafficking victim on Jeffrey Epstein’s island (The Verge, August 9, 2019)
Marvin Minsky was named alongside several other prominent men.
The World’s Smartest Chimp Has Died (New York Times, August 9, 2019)
Sarah's life helped us answer the question: What do animals think about?
NEW: Bolsonaro has blessed ‘brutal' assault on Amazon, sacked scientist warns (The Guardian, August 9, 2019)
In interview with the Guardian, Ricardo Galvão says if the far-right leader doesn’t change tack the Amazon will be ruined.
Increasingly frequent marine heatwaves can lead to the almost instant death of corals, scientists working on the Great Barrier Reef have found. (BBC News, August 9, 2019)
These episodes of unusually high water temperatures are - like heatwaves on land - associated with climate change.
"This is a new phenomenon that's being caused by climate change. And the impacts are even more severe than we had thought."
"This could be 'the canary in the coal mine' for these ecosystems. The findings were a strong warning that things are going wrong on some reefs around the world."
"It's hard to know just how much we have to keep saying that this is a big problem before policy-makers decide to do something about it."
Something Big Just Slammed Into Jupiter (Gizmodo, August 9, 2019)
ZAP! The Shocking Truth About ESD (Ask Bob Rankin, August 9, 2019)
White House proposal would have FCC and FTC police alleged social media censorship (CNN, August 9, 2019)
"The (existing) law that I wrote, Section 230, allows platforms to get this kind of slime and hate off the platform," Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said in an interview with CNN on Friday, referring to hate speech that has appeared on forums such as 8chan. By comparison, according to the summary, the White House draft order asks the FCC to restrict the government's view of the good-faith provision. Under the draft proposal, the FCC will be asked to find that social media sites do not qualify for the good-faith immunity if they remove or suppress content without notifying the user who posted the material, or if the decision is proven to be evidence of anticompetitive, unfair or deceptive practices.
Wyden, in the interview, called the proposal "horrible" and said neither the FTC nor the FCC are "exactly tripping over themselves... to carry it out. I bet you scores of conservatives are turning over in their grave right now listening to all of these big government approaches," Wyden said. "Their proposal today amounts to nothing short of a speech police."
Trump’s Trip to Dayton and El Paso: The Back Story (New York Times, August 9, 2019)
By the time President Trump arrived in El Paso on Wednesday, on the second leg of a trip to meet with people affected by mass shootings in two cities, he was frustrated that his attacks on his political adversaries had resulted in more coverage than the cheery reception he received at a hospital in Dayton, Ohio, the first stop on his trip. So he screamed at his aides to begin producing proof that in El Paso people were happy to see him.
Leading Civil Rights Lawyer Shows 20 Ways Trump Is Copying Hitler’s Early Rhetoric and Policies (Common Cause, August 9, 2019)
Burt Neuborne questions whether federal government can contain Trump and GOP power grabs.
NEW: Amazon’s Ring Is a Perfect Storm of Privacy Threats (Electronic Frontier Foundation, August 8, 2019)
Doors across the United States are now fitted with Amazon’s Ring, a combination doorbell-security camera that records and transmits video straight to users’ phones, to Amazon’s cloud—and often to the local police department. By sending photos and alerts every time the camera detects motion or someone rings the doorbell, the app can create an illusion of a household under siege. It turns what seems like a perfectly safe neighborhood into a source of anxiety and fear.

Thanks to in-depth reporting from Motherboard, Gizmodo, CNET, and others, we know a lot about the symbiotic relationship between Amazon’s Ring and local police departments, and how that relationship jeopardizes privacy and circumvents regulation.

Fresh Produce, Brought to You by Robots (Atlas Obscura, August 8, 2019)
A family-owned market in California is now selling robot-reared leafy greens.
Big Pharma is using faux generics to keep drug prices high, critics say (Ars Technica, August 8, 2019)
Drug makers have mastered gaming the system to beat generic competition. High-profile examples of "authorized generics" include Mylan’s cheaper form of its EpiPen, a life-saving epinephrine autoinjector that curbs deadly allergic reactions. In 2016, under political and public pressure to lower drug prices, Mylan introduced the authorized generic of EpiPen priced at $300 for a two-pack. That’s half the price of a two-pack of the brand-name version, which has a list price of around $600. But it’s still a staggering hike from EpiPen’s original cost of around $50 per injector in 2007. That year, Mylan bought the rights to EpiPen and then raised the price more than 400% in the years that followed. The authorized generic is essentially triple the price of what two injectors used to cost.
As of July 2019, there are nearly 1,200 authorized generics on the market in the US.
Here's the data on white supremacist terrorism the Trump administration has been 'unable or unwilling' to give to Congress (Yahoo News, August 8, 2019)
Alleged white supremacists were responsible for all race-based domestic terrorism incidents in 2018, according to a government document distributed earlier this year to state, local and federal law enforcement. The document, which has not been previously reported on, becomes public as the Trump administration’s Justice Department has been unable or unwilling to provide data to Congress on white supremacist domestic terrorism. The data in this document, titled “Domestic Terrorism in 2018,” appears to be what Congress has been asking for — and didn’t get.
ICE rounds up over 600 undocumented workers in immigration sweeps in Mississippi (CBS News, August 8, 2019)
Many children of those arrested across the state were left with nowhere to go. Children, some as young as toddlers, were relying on neighbors and even strangers to pick them up and drive them to the gym, where people tried to keep them calm. But many of them couldn't stop crying for their parents.
Julia Solórzano, a legal fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said these types of large-scale workplace operations "terrorize" and "destroy" communities, while accomplishing little for the administration. "For a lot of the cities where these raids occurred, it was the first day of school. We know from past immigration enforcement actions of this type, that there are going to be children who go home tonight and their parents will be gone. It's extremely disruptive to families. It's — in many cases — depriving the family of the primary breadwinner."
Why the El Paso shooter isn’t being charged with terrorism (Vox, August 8, 2019)
How the law defines terrorism, and what that means for the fight against white nationalist terror, explained.
Trump attacks local leaders as he visits two cities grieving from mass shootings  (Washington Post, August 8, 2019)
None of the eight patients still being treated at University Medical Center in El Paso agreed to meet with Trump when he visited the hospital. Before Trump’s visit Wednesday, however, some of the hospitalized victims accepted visits from a number of city and county elected officials, as well as Reps. Veronica Escobar (D-Tex.) and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.). And the White House version?...
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the president and first lady Melania Trump met with “victims of the tragedy while at the hospital” and were “received very warmly by not just victims and their families, but by the many members of medical staff who lined the hallways to meet them. It was a moving visit for all involved.”
(The White House says what it wants to say.)
Trump Visits Dayton and El Paso (New York Times, August 7, 2019)
The president took sharp aim at opponents even as he visited two cities in mourning after horrific mass shootings in Ohio and Texas.
The White House had signaled that Mr. Trump would play the traditional role of healer in chief on Wednesday, eschewing photo-ops in favor of private sessions with emergency and hospital workers and victims of the shootings that shocked both cities and the nation. But Mr. Trump proved unwilling to completely refrain from his usual combative style. On his way to El Paso from Dayton, he tweeted attacks on the Democratic mayor of Dayton and a Democratic senator who he said had not accurately described the closed-door sessions at a Dayton hospital earlier in the day. And earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Trump held a 20-minute session with reporters in which he unloaded many of his usual grievances, displaying little hesitation to engage in politics on a day of grief for many people around the country.
‘We don’t want him here’: Trump to face protests and skepticism as he visits El Paso and Dayton after mass shootings (Washington Post, August 7, 2019)
“He’s made this bed and he’s got to lie in it. His rhetoric has been painful for many in our community,” Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (D) told reporters Tuesday, adding that she supported the planned protests against Trump. “Watching the president for the past few years over the issue of guns, I don’t think he knows what he believes, frankly.”
The open repudiation of a visiting president in the aftermath of a mass tragedy was striking Tuesday as a growing chorus of critics made clear that Trump would not be universally welcome during a pair of condolence visits that will take Air Force One from the Rust Belt to the southern border.
In a statement Monday, Trump denounced “racism, bigotry and white supremacy,” without acknowledging his own rhetoric — which has at times included warnings of “an invasion” across the southern border. Trump’s language has been embraced by far-right extremists.
The president has offered several proposals for reducing gun violence but has given few specifics and has largely steered clear of anything that would restrict broader access to firearms. Instead, he pointed to “gruesome and grisly video games” and online radicalization as drivers of the kind of violence that left at least 31 people dead in back-to-back mass shootings in the span of about 13 hours last weekend.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who has so far refused to allow a vote on a universal background check bill passed by the House in February, said Monday that he was willing to work with the White House and Democratic lawmakers on legislation to address mass killings. In Louisville, Ky., dozens of people upset with McConnell’s inaction on gun control and other legislation held a protest late into the night outside his house. They banged pots and drums — at times even scraping a shovel across a sidewalk. It was one of several demonstrations calling for stricter gun laws that erupted in cities across the country this week.
Why video games aren’t causing America’s gun problem, in one chart (Vox, August 7, 2019)
Trump says they are. But when we look at the top video game–consuming countries, there’s one clear outlier.
We Took a Ride on NYC’s First Self-Driving Shuttle (Futurism, August 7, 2019)
New York City just got its first autonomous vehicles. Futurism was on the scene.
Security research is not a crime (Electronic Frontier Foundation, August 7, 2019)
Ola Bini is Swedish citizen and open source developer who has worked for years to improve the security and privacy of the Internet. He was arrested in Ecuador on a warrant for a “Russian hacker.” With the most basic research, we knew that he is neither of these.
Tutanota Interviews Tim Verheyden, the Journalist Who Broke the Story on Google Employees Listening to People's Audio Recordings (Linux Journal, August 7, 2019)
How he got hold of the story, why he is now using the encrypted contact form Secure Connect by Tutanota and why the growing number of "ghost workers" in and around Silicon Valley is becoming a big issue in Tech.
Weather forecasters fear 5G wireless technology will muck up their predictions (Science Magazine, August 7, 2019)
Neil Jacobs, NOAA's acting administrator, testified to Congress in May that an internal study had found 5G-related interference could cost NOAA 77% of the water vapor data it collects at 23.8 GHz, and could degrade weather forecasts by up to 30%, to 1980 levels. "It's a critical data set for us," Jacobs said. Bridenstine has echoed Jacobs's concerns, and the Navy also worries about deteriorating forecast quality. But NOAA has not released the studies publicly or submitted them to FCC—the result, suggest some congressional sources, of pressure from the White House, which has strongly backed 5G.
NOAA's experts misunderstand 5G technology, FCC Chairman (and former Verizon lawyer) Ajit Pai said in his own congressional testimony in June.
We’ve finally gotten a look at the microbe that might have been our ancestor (Ars Technica, August 7, 2019)
A very strange cell structure hints at how complex cells originated. Welcome to Asgard.
Toni Morrison Taught Me How to Think (New York Times, August 7, 2019)
The late Toni Morrison on the Power of Language: Her Spectacular Nobel Acceptance Speech After Becoming the First African American Woman Awarded the Accolade (Brain Pickings, August 6, 2019)
The Eric Lundgren Case and Similar High-Profile Plea ‘Bargains’ - Aaron Swartz and Marcus Hutchins (
Tech Rights, August 6, 2019)
Innocence is irrelevant. This is the age of the plea bargain. Most people adjudicated in the criminal-justice system today waive the right to a trial and the host of protections that go along with one, including the right to appeal. Instead, they plead guilty. The vast majority of felony convictions are now the result of plea bargains—some 94 percent at the state level, and some 97 percent at the federal level. Estimates for misdemeanor convictions run even higher. These are astonishing statistics, and they reveal a stark new truth about the American criminal-justice system: Very few cases go to trial.
Slander and Libel From Microsoft; Demonising the Victim (Tech Rights, August 6, 2019)
Microsoft may not understand this (yet), but each time it lies it’s digging itself deeper in the electronic grave.
This Incredible Real-Time Voice Language Translator Is Also a Global WIFI Hotspot (Futurism, August 6, 2019)
The Langogo uses advanced AI to tear down barriers between 105 languages and counting.
‘Red Flag’ Gun Control Bills Pick Up Momentum With G.O.P. in Congress (New York Times, August 6, 2019)
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia already have red flag laws. But the push for them on Capitol Hill stops well short of the legislation mandating universal background checks that Democrats and gun control advocates — as well as a handful of Republicans — have been clamoring for. Already, Democrats are warning that Republicans will use Mr. Graham’s proposal to skirt the larger issue.
The mainstream media is failing to do its job (The Young Turks, August 6, 2019)
A New York Times headline read “Trump Urges Unity vs Racism,” which garnered its own share of headlines - mainly for its abysmal, Trump-favoring slant that neglected the support and cover Trump has given to white supremacists. Focusing on the few lines Trump devoted to criticizing white nationalism, while ignoring the majority of his speech and subsequent tweets attacking his political enemies and demanding stronger anti-immigrant measures, does a major disservice to readers
NEW: Florida Republican is finished with his party, tells voters to 'Beat every single one of them!' (Daily KOS, August 6, 2019)
Republicans will never do anything on gun control. Nothing. Ever. They won't. Think about Las Vegas. They did nothing when 500 people were injured. The Pulse nightclub, 50 killed. The question for the nation was, do we allow terrorists, suspected terrorists, to buy firearms, Republicans did nothing. Parkland, they did nothing. Emanuel AME in South Carolina, nothing. Go to Sandy Hook in Connecticut, nothing. The Jewish temple in Pittsburgh, nothing. The Jewish temple in San Diego, nothing. Sutherland Springs Evangelical Church in Texas, nothing. Now we have Texas, now we have Ohio in the same weekend, and all we get is silence. So I say that because if this is the issue that informs your ideology, as a voter, the strength to draw in this moment is to commit to beating Republicans. Beat ‘em. Beat every single one of ‘em. Even the safe ones in the House—beat ‘em.
World Reacts to El Paso Shooting and the Hate That Fueled It (
New York Times, August 6, 2019)
After an attack targeting Latinos, international reactions depicted America’s mass shooting epidemic as violence in a country at war with itself. “White nationalist terrorism.” “America’s new civil war.” “‘Domestic terrorists’ devastate the U.S.” After two mass shootings rocked the United States last weekend, headlines from Sydney to Paris depicted the bloodshed as America battling itself.
International reactions to previous mass shootings focused on the ubiquity of guns in the United States — a culture that many people around the globe see as alien — and their role in making it the world’s most violent highly developed country.
But in the days since a gunman killed 22 people and injured dozens more at a Walmart store in El Paso, Tex., attention has shifted to the toxic mixture of racism, nationalism and terrorism — along with the easy availability of firearms — and to President Trump’s role in inflaming ethnic divisions. The horror was only compounded by a shooting hours later in Dayton, Ohio, that left nine people dead.
“People are used to the fact that in the United States, every month, a lot of people are killed by someone for no apparent reason,” said Josef Janning, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, based in Berlin. “And now it comes together with this trend in Western society of gut-feeling, tribal politics that inflames people rather than educates them.”
A Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crises (
New York Times, August 6, 2019)
 Climate change heightens the risk. As rainfall becomes more erratic, the water supply becomes less reliable. At the same time, as the days grow hotter, more water evaporates from reservoirs just as demand for water increases.
Water-stressed places are sometimes cursed by two extremes. São Paulo was ravaged by floods a year after its taps nearly ran dry. Chennai suffered fatal floods four years ago, and now its reservoirs are almost empty.
Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, is drawing groundwater so fast that the city is literally sinking. Dhaka, Bangladesh, relies so heavily on its groundwater for both its residents and its water-guzzling garment factories that it now draws water from aquifers hundreds of feet deep. Chennai’s thirsty residents, accustomed to relying on groundwater for years, are now finding there’s none left. Across India and Pakistan, farmers are draining aquifers to grow water-intensive crops like cotton and rice.
How Hot Was July? Hotter Than Ever, Global Data Shows (
New York Times, August 5, 2019)
Last month is part of a long-term trend: As human-related emissions of greenhouse gases have continued, the atmosphere has continued to warm. The past five years have been the hottest on record, including the record single year in 2016. The 10 hottest years have all occurred in the past two decades. This June was the warmest on record, and the previous five months were among the four warmest for their respective months, the climate researchers said. That puts this year on track to be in the top five, or perhaps the hottest ever.
‘A cesspool of hate’: U.S. web firm drops 8chan after El Paso shooting (
Washington Post, August 5, 2019)
Calls to de-platform the site had intensified Sunday as authorities worked to confirm that Patrick Crusius, the 21-year-old suspect in the El Paso shooting, had posted a manifesto decrying a 'Hispanic invasion of Texas' to 8chan before the attack. The suspected shooters at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and a synagogue in San Diego also reportedly posted on the site before carrying out their attacks. On Sunday, some 8chan message boards celebrated the El Paso massacre.
The site’s founder, Fredrick Brennan, was among those calling for 8chan to be shut down after the El Paso shooting.
Ohio Republican facing calls from party to resign after blaming gay marriage, Obama for shootings (Daily KOS, August 5, 2019)
"Why not place the blame where it belongs," complained state Rep. Candice Keller, proceeding to point to "the breakdown of the traditional American family (thank you, transgender, homosexual marriage, and drag queen advocates)”—interestingly, no mention of a thrice-married president—“open borders,” “hatred of our veterans,” “violent video games,” “snowflakes,” “failed school policies,” and “professional athletes,” just to name a few.
There was no mention of mass killing machines, or of white supremacy, which definitely led to the killing of 22 in El Paso. Nor did Keller clarify why “open borders” led to that massacre, when it was the white supremacist who drove nine hours to terrorize this peaceful community.
America’s unique gun violence problem, explained in 16 maps and charts (Vox, August 5, 2019)
In the developed world, these levels of gun violence are a uniquely American problem. Here’s why.

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

Trump Condemns White Supremacy but Doesn’t Propose Gun Laws After Shootings (New York Times, August 5, 2019)
Mr. Trump stopped well short of endorsing the kind of broad gun control measures that activists and Democrats have sought for years, instead falling back on time-honored Republican remedies, calling for stronger action to address mental illness, violence in the media and in video games. He warned of “the perils of the internet and social media” with no acknowledgment of his use of those platforms to promote his brand of divisive politics.
Facebook let Trump's campaign run over 2,000 ads referring to immigration as an “invasion” (Media Matters, August 5,  2019)
At least nine other Republicans have also pushed the white supremacist, anti-immigrant talking point in Facebook ads.
‘How do you stop these people?’: Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric looms over El Paso massacre (
Washington Post, August 4, 2019)
President Trump has relentlessly used his bully pulpit to decry Latino migration as 'an invasion of our country.' He has demonized undocumented immigrants as 'thugs' and 'animals.' He has defended the detention of migrant children, hundreds of whom have been held in squalor. And he has warned that without a wall to prevent people from crossing the border from Mexico, America would no longer be America.
'How do you stop these people? You can’t,' Trump lamented at a May rally in Panama City Beach, Fla. Someone in the crowd yelled back one idea: 'Shoot them.' The audience of thousands cheered and Trump smiled. Shrugging off the suggestion, he quipped, 'Only in the Panhandle can you get away with that statement.'
On Saturday, a 21-year-old white man entered a shopping center in El Paso, according to police, and allegedly decided to 'shoot them.'
To experts in the field, the El Paso rampage was predictable. Frank Figliuzzi, a former head of counterintelligence at the FBI, wrote in a column published just four days earlier in the New York Times that Trump’s words eventually could incite bloodshed. 'The president has fallen short of calling for overt violence against minorities and immigrants, but unbalanced minds among us may fail to note the distinction,' Figliuzzi wrote. 'If a president paints people of color as the enemy, encourages them to be sent back to where they came from and implies that no humans want to live in certain American cities, he gives license to those who feel compelled to eradicate what Mr. Trump calls an infestation.'
Terror and Policy: 2 Sides of White Nationalism (New York Times, August 4, 2019)
The white supremacist terrorists and the white supremacist policymakers share the same mission.
El Paso shooting suspect could face federal hate crime charges (Washington Post, August 4, 2019)
A weekend of mass murder reflects how American violence goes viral (Washington Post, August 4, 2019)
2 cities, 13 hours, 29 dead.
NEW: Timeline: The deadliest mass shootings in the US (Al Jazeera, August 4, 2019)
Thirty people die in two mass shootings within hours, shocking the country and prompting calls for tighter gun control.
Back-to-Back Bursts of Gun Violence in El Paso and Dayton Stun Country (New York Times, August 4, 2019)
In a country that has become nearly numb to men with guns opening fire in schools, at concerts and in churches, the back-to-back bursts of gun violence in less than 24 hours were enough to leave the public stunned and shaken. The shootings ground the 2020 presidential campaign to a halt, reignited a debate on gun control and called into question the increasingly angry words directed at immigrants on the southern border in recent weeks by right-wing pundits and President Trump.
NEW: ICE’s Rapid DNA Testing on Migrants at the Border Is Yet Another Iteration of Family Separation (Electronic Frontier Foundation, August 2, 2019)
Numerous issues were reported with similar systems related to the hardware, firmware, software as well as the cartridges. The most severe issues are the retrieval of an incorrect DNA profile, PCR product or sample leakage and the low success rate. In total 36% of the runs had problems or errors effecting two or more samples resulting in a 77% success rate for samples consisting of . . . amounts where complete DNA profiles are expected.
The PIA states that a biological parent-child match must be verified by a 99.5% accuracy. But we don’t even know the baseline rate of success that these Rapid DNA testing companies have established: the government has provided no statistical information or peer-reviewed studies as to the testing’s accuracy.

40 Ways Ohio Now Proposes Nuclear Suicide (Counterpunch, August 2, 2019)
A bought, gerrymandered Ohio Legislature has just handed a much-hated $150 million/year public bailout to two dinosaur nuke reactors primed to explode. It also bails out two filthy 50-year-old coal burners and guts programs for increased efficiency.
The Opioid and Trump Addictions: Symptoms of the Same Malaise (
Counterpunch, August 2, 2019)
'Socioeconomic conditions' account for only about two-thirds of the Trump-opioid connection - which is to say, the economic decline is not sufficient to explain it. Many equally precarious Black and Hispanic communities elsewhere in the country have neither turned massively to Trump or to opioids. Clearly there is something different about the culture of opioid country.
What is immediately different for indigent people in rural Kentucky or the Mahoning Valley of Ohio is that so far as they are concerned, they didn’t simply lose their jobs; the Blacks got them - because the Government favors Blacks.
Did you say, ‘Hey, Siri’? Apple and Amazon curtail human review of voice recordings. (Washington Post, August 2, 2019)
The tech giant is suspending the review of how its voice assistant activates after privacy concerns were raised.
Many smart-speaker owners don’t realize that Siri, Alexa and, until recently Google’s Assistant, keep recordings of everything they hear after their so-called “wake word” to help train their artificial intelligences. Google quietly changed its defaults last year, and Assistant no longer automatically records what it hears after the prompt “Hey, Google.”
Apple said it uses the data “to help Siri and dictation . . . understand you better and recognize what you say,” Apple said. But this wasn’t made clear to users in Apple’s terms and conditions.
AI system 'should be recognised as inventor' (BBC News, August 1, 2019)
(Almost as wrong as claiming that corporations are people.)
NEW: Notre Dame Reconstruction Work On Hold Over Lead Fears (Wall Street Journal, August 1, 2019)
Work on the 850-year-old landmark stopped after inspection raises concerns over lead poisoning. Lead-poisoning concerns have loomed since the fire caused Notre Dame’s majestic roof to collapse, leaving craterlike holes in the cathedral ceiling and its nave exposed to the elements. The roof was made of more than 1,300 lead tiles, each about a quarter-inch thick, adding up to 210 tons of lead. Notre Dame’s massive spire, also destroyed, was built with 250 tons of lead.
NEW: ‘Moscow Mitch’ McConnell ‘fuming’ with trolling (9-min. video; MSNBC, August 1, 2019)
New pressure on the top Republican in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, who blocked a series of elections security bills despite warnings from Bob Mueller and American intelligence that Russia is still at it. McConnell is furious with his new ‘Moscow Mitch’ nickname as progressive groups put up billboards in McConnell's home state of Kentucky showing McConnell in a Russian military uniform. Senator Richard Blumenthal and Malcom Nance, a former counter-intelligence operative in the U-S military join The Beat.
Scientists are making human-monkey hybrids in China (MIT Technology Review, August 1, 2019)
The US, China and Spain are involved in the controversial research, designed to grow human organ transplants. In the US, the National Institutes of Health says federal funds can never be used to create mixed human-monkey embryos. However, there is no such rule in China, which is probably why the research is occurring there.
China’s army just released a video showing soldiers practicing shooting protesters (Washington Post, August 1, 2019)
LightSail 2 Spacecraft Successfully Demonstrates Flight by Light (The Planetary Society, July 31, 2019)
NEW: What's the last piece of software you'd expect to spy on you? Maybe your enterprise security suite? Bad news. (The Register, July 31, 2019)
Report finds enterprise software collecting and shipping out sensitive customer information.
NEW: Paddling in plastic: meet the man swimming the Pacific garbage patch (The Guardian, July 31, 2019)
Ben Lecomte is making a trans-Pacific journey to better understand how plastics pollution is affecting our oceans
Jeffrey Epstein Hoped to Seed Human Race With His DNA (New York Times, July 31, 2019)
Mr. Epstein, who was charged in July with the sexual trafficking of girls as young as 14, was a serial illusionist: He lied about the identities of his clients, his wealth, his financial prowess, his personal achievements. But he managed to use connections and charisma to cultivate valuable relationships with business and political leaders.
Interviews with more than a dozen of his acquaintances, as well as public documents, show that he used the same tactics to insinuate himself into an elite scientific community, thus allowing him to pursue his interests in eugenics and other fringe fields like cryonics.
NEW: Dutch cheesed off at Microsoft, call for Rexit from Office Online, Mobile apps over Redmond data slurping (The Register, July 30, 2019)
Bernie Sanders’s bold ideas are transforming Democratic politics (
Washington Post, July 30, 2019)
Sanders is shaping the race in ways that are often underappreciated by a media that often marginalizes and misrepresents him.
Drain Big Money Out of Politics. Overturn Citizens United. Pass the 28th Amendment (Newsweek, July 30,  2019)
Today, Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) introduces the Democracy for All Amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and get big money out of politics.
NEW: Bulk of Trump's U.S. farm aid goes to biggest and wealthiest farmers: advocacy group. (Reuters, July 30, 2019)
More than half of the Trump administration’s $8.4 billion in trade aid payments to U.S. farmers through April was received by the top 10% of recipients, the country’s biggest and most successful farmers, a study by an advocacy group showed on Tuesday. Highlighting an uneven distribution of the bailout, which was designed to help offset effects of the U.S.-China trade war, the Environmental Working Group said the top 1% of aid recipients received an average of more than $180,000 while the bottom 80% were paid less than $5,000 in aid.
NEW: The Turmoil at the BLM Is Threatening Public Lands (Outside, July  30, 2019)
All signs point to a massive selloff of federally managed public lands, as BLM officials defy congressional oversight.
‘Moscow Mitch’ Tag Enrages McConnell and Squeezes G.O.P. on Election Security (New York Times, July 30, 2019)
Why Mitch McConnell Won't Protect U.S. Voting (The Young Turks, July 29, 2019)
McConnell (R.-Kentucky) recently refused to bring two voting security measures that had passed the House up for a vote in the Senate. Republicans are constantly bandying conspiracy theories about tech companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google cheating them. And those firms have a widely reported liberal bias, so shouldn’t McConnell want to protect his GOP colleagues from digital manipulation by Silicon Valley? Cenk proposes two theories to explain McConnell’s actions - one, corruption and two, that if foreign actors are interfering in elections to help the GOP, he doesn’t want to do anything to hamper those efforts.
Then, on a completely unrelated note, John mentions that Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska’s company, recently removed from the sanctions list, mind you, has opted to invest millions of dollars in an aluminum plant in - get this - Kentucky. Fun to at least enjoy this wild coincidence as the integrity of our voting system disintegrates.

Capital One Data Breach Compromises Data of Over 100 Million (New York Times, July 29, 2019)
"While the breach was possible because of a security lapse by Capital One, it was aided by Ms. Thompson’s expertise.
Trump’s new intelligence pick could make Russian interference more likely (Washington Post, July 29, 2019)
"President Trump has announced that he will nominate ultraconservative Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) to be the new director of national intelligence, replacing Daniel Coats to oversee an intelligence apparatus that sprawls across 17 different federal agencies and touches the most sensitive and complex national security challenges faced by our country. It’s not because he has served on the House Intelligence Committee for six whole months. It’s because Donald Trump saw him on TV yelling about how the Russia investigation was a big witch hunt.
Trump 'richly deserves' impeachment, says House Judiciary chair (Daily KOS, July 29, 2019)
Donald Trump 'richly deserves' to be impeached, House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler said on Sunday, but despite growing support, House Democrats are still holding back. Trump 'has done many impeachable offenses' and 'violated the law six ways from Sunday,' Nadler said on CNN, but 'That’s not the question. The question is, can we develop enough evidence to put before the American people?'
NEW: Tenants say 'slumlord' Jared Kushner's Maryland properties are crawling with mice and maggots - even as father-in-law Trump tweets about 'rodent infested' Baltimore (Daily Mail, July 28, 2019)
- President Trump was slammed as racist over weekend because of tweets about 'rodent infested' Baltimore
- Trump targeted House Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democrat who represents Maryland's seventh congressional district
- Baltimore County officials, however, noted that it was ironic Trump was talking about 'infestation' when his son-in-law is an accused 'slumlord'
- Jared Kushner owns thousands of rental units in Baltimore County, which tenants say are infested with mice and maggots
- Kushner's property management company has also been accused of using aggressive tactics to collect debts from tenants who move out
Trump's racism is about to have an impact (
Daily KOS, July 28, 2019)
Obama shares impassioned anti-Trump op-ed on Twitter (Daily KOS, July 27, 2019)
There is truly nothing more un-American than calling on fellow citizens to leave our country - by citing their immigrant roots, or ancestry, or their unwillingness to sit in quiet obedience while democracy is being undermined.
We refuse to sit idly by as racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia are wielded by the president and any elected official complicit in the poisoning of our democracy.
The Roots of Boeing’s 737 Max Crisis: A Regulator Relaxes Its Oversight (New York Times, July 27, 2019)
For decades, the F.A.A. relied on engineers inside Boeing to help certify aircraft. But after intense lobbying by industry, the agency adopted rules in 2005 that would give manufacturers like Boeing even more control. Previously, the agency selected the company engineers to work on its behalf; under the new regulations, Boeing could choose them.
But some F.A.A. engineers were concerned that they were no longer able to effectively monitor what was happening inside Boeing. In a PowerPoint presentation to agency managers in 2016, union representatives raised concerns about a 'brain drain' and the 'inability to hire and retain qualified personnel.' By 2018, the F.A.A. was letting the company certify 96 percent of its own work, according to an agency official. Nicole Potter, an F.A.A. propulsion and fuel systems engineer who worked on the Max, said supervisors repeatedly asked her to give up the right to approve safety documents. She often had to fight to keep the work. 'Leadership was targeting a high level of delegation,' Ms. Potter said. When F.A.A. employees didn’t have time to approve a critical document, she said, 'managers could delegate it back to Boeing.'
It was a process Mr. Bahrami championed to lawmakers. After spending more than two decades at the F.A.A., he left the agency in 2013 and took a job at the Aerospace Industries Association, a trade group that represents Boeing and other manufacturers. 'We urge the F.A.A. to allow maximum use of delegation,' Mr. Bahrami told Congress in his new lobbying role, arguing it would help American manufacturers compete.
In 2017, Mr. Bahrami returned to the F.A.A. as the head of safety.
NEW: Russia protests: Thousand arrests at Moscow rally (BBC News, July 27, 2019)
Demonstrators were dragged away from the city hall as security forces used batons against the crowd. People were protesting against the exclusion of opposition candidates from local polls. The opposition say they were barred for political reasons.
NEW: Water Cycle is Speeding Up Over Much of the U.S. (NASA, July 26, 2019)
Scientists have developed a new way to measure water cycle intensity over time. Regions with weakening water cycles and low soil moisture  (parts of the southeast, northwest, and upper midwestern U.S.) should be carefully tracked over the next few decades because they could become increasingly dry. That would make agriculture more difficult or require more irrigation. On the other hand, too much rain or soil moisture storage, such as in the northeast U.S. or Texas, could lead to increased flooding.
‘It snuck up on us’: Scientists stunned by ‘city-killer’ asteroid that just missed Earth (
Washington Post, July 26, 2019)
NASA confirmed that on July 25, Asteroid 2019 OK passed about 73,000 kilometers from Earth, roughly one-fifth the distance to the Moon. What would we do if an near-Earth object (NEO) were found to be on a collision course with Earth? Could we deflect the asteroid
to prevent the impact?
Brain-eating amoeba kills again - here’s how it kills and how to avoid it (Ars Technica, July 26, 2019)
It kills more than 97% of its victims. Only four people in the US have ever survived it.
NEW: Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset (
Washington Post, July 26, 2019)
Russia attacked our country in 2016. It is attacking us today. Its attacks will intensify in 2020. Yet each time we try to raise our defenses to repel the attack, McConnell, the Senate majority leader, blocks us from defending ourselves.
Let’s call this what it is: unpatriotic. The Kentucky Republican is, arguably more than any other American, doing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bidding.
There is a strategy behind Trump's madness, and it's already much later than you think (Daily KOS, July  26, 2019)
Supreme Court Lets Trump Proceed on Border Wall (New York Times, July 26, 2019)
Mind-boggling press malpractice (Daily KOS, July 25, 2019)
This was their do-over and their chance to make up for all those 'Attorney General Barr Says That Trump is Innocent and King' headlines. Here are the headlines that should have been out there today:
'Mueller Says Russia is DOING IT AGAIN'
'Mueller Says Trump was Untruthful in Written Answers'
'Mueller Blasts Trump’s Gleeful Encouragement of Foreign Election Interference'
'Mueller States that Numerous Members of Trump Administration Lied During Investigation, Obscuring Deeper Truths About the Trump Campaign’s Role in Assisting or Cheering Russian Interference'
'Mueller States that Trump Can Be Indicted When He Leaves Office'
'Mueller Says that DOJ Policy Prevented Indictment Against Trump'
'Republicans Devote Hearing to Debunked and Unsubstantiated Conspiracy Theories'
The IRS turned over Nixon’s tax returns the same day a congressional panel asked for them (Washington Post, July 25, 2019)
The newly released documents appear to contradict the Trump administration’s claims that House Democrats’ demands for the president’s tax returns are 'unprecedented,' and suggest a split between this administration and past IRS officials over the interpretation of the law.
NEW: Where the Trump administration is thwarting House oversight (
Washington Post, July 25, 2019)
Since taking control of the House after the 2018 midterms, Democrats have sought to exert their oversight power over the Trump administration by opening up dozens of investigations and inquiries. The White House has pushed back, refusing to provide information and challenging Congressional subpoenas in court. Here’s where the most important oversight battles stand, and which House committee chairs are making the demands.
Ilhan Omar: It Is Not Enough to Condemn Trump’s Racism (New  York Times, July 25, 2019)
The nation’s ideals are under attack, and it is up to all of us to defend them.
The reasons for weaponizing division are not mysterious. Racial fear prevents Americans from building community with one another - and community is the lifeblood of a functioning democratic society. Throughout our history, racist language has been used to turn American against American in order to benefit the wealthy elite. Every time Mr. Trump attacks refugees is a time that could be spent discussing the president’s unwillingness to raise the federal minimum wage for up to 33 million Americans. Every racist attack on four members of Congress is a moment he doesn’t have to address why his choice for labor secretary has spent his career defending Wall Street banks and Walmart at the expense of workers. When he is launching attacks on the free press, he isn’t talking about why his Environmental Protection Agency just refused to ban a pesticide linked to brain damage in children.
His efforts to pit religious minorities against one another stem from the same playbook. If working Americans are too busy fighting with one another, we will never address the very real and deep problems our country faces - from climate change to soaring inequality to lack of quality affordable health care.
An Ecstatic Homecoming for AOC (Jacobin, July 25, 2019)
At a recent town hall in Queens, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez received a rapturous reception from constituents, many of them activists who spoke out about their local organizing work. The lesson was clear: to keep up the fight, she and her Congressional colleagues will need more than applause - they’ll need a movement behind them.
U.S. Justice Department Resumes Use of Death Penalty, Schedules Five Executions (Reuters, July 25, 2019)
U.S. public support for the death penalty has declined since the 1990s, according to opinion polls, and all European Union nations have abolished it. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres believes the practice should not happen anywhere, spokesman Farhan Haq said.
No climate event of the last 2,000 years looks like this humanity-caused one (Ars Technica, July 25, 2019)
Warm or cool periods you may have heard of were regional affairs.
Inside Chris Hughes’s campaign to break up Facebook, the tech ‘monopoly’ he helped create (Washington Post, July 25, 2019)
Facebook’s wealth and power and massive user base have pushed it into monopoly territory, and its acquisitions of rivals have squashed competition. Co-founder Hughes, who left the social media giant in 2007 and cashed out his nearly $500 million worth of stock, has been making the rounds in the nation’s capital to press the case for breaking up the social network.

FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra's dissenting statement re Facebook case (US Federal Trade Commission, July 24, 2019)
"The case against Facebook is about more than just privacy - it is also about the power to control and manipulate. Global regulators and policymakers need to confront the dangers associated with mass surveillance and the resulting ability to control and influence us. The behavioral advertising business incentives of technology platforms spur practices that are dividing our society. The harm from this conduct is immeasurable, and regulators and policymakers must confront it.
We should reasonably assume Facebook seeks to advance its own financial gains. Here, Facebook’s behavioral advertising business model is both the company’s profit engine and arguably the root cause of its widespread and systemic problems. Behavioral advertising generates profits by turning users into products, their activity into assets, their communities into targets, and social media platforms into weapons of mass manipulation. We need to recognize the dangerous threat that this business model can pose to our democracy and economy.
(Trump appointed Chopra because FTC rules prohibit more than three members from any political party.)
Calls Mount to Ease Big Tech’s Grip on Your Data (New York Times, July 24, 2019)
"We all create valuable data points with every tap on a screen or keystroke - clicks, searches, likes, posts, purchases and more. We hand it over willingly for free services. But the biggest economic windfall goes to the tech giants like Google and Facebook. Their corporate wealth is built on harvesting and commercializing the information supplied by the online multitudes.
'Imagine if General Motors did not pay for its steel, rubber or glass - its inputs,' said Robert J. Shapiro, an economist who recently did an analysis of the value of data. 'That’s what it’s like for the big internet companies. It’s a sweet deal.'
But there is a growing collection of people seeking ways to alter that arrangement. As a disparate group of academics, economists, technologists and lawmakers, their politics range from moderately liberal to free-market conservative.
The rising calls for a better data bargain come during an intensifying backlash against Big Tech and its handling of user data. Lawmakers and regulators in several countries are investigating the companies’ market power, their role as gatekeepers of communication and their handling of data, especially in failing to protect users’ privacy.
Facebook to pay massive $5.1B fines in settlement with FTC, SEC (Housing Wire, July 24, 2019)
"Social media giant will cough up serious change for Cambridge Analytica debacle.
(But that's NOT serious change for Facebook!)
Ricardo Rosselló, Puerto Rico’s Governor, Resigns After Protests (
New York Times, July 24, 2019)
Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico announced his resignation on Wednesday night, conceding that he could no longer credibly remain in power after an extraordinary popular uprising and looming impeachment proceedings had derailed his administration. In a statement posted online just before midnight, Mr. Rosselló, 40, said he would step down on Aug. 2.
In Europe, a historic heat wave is shattering records with astonishing ease, may hasten Arctic melt (Washington Post, July 24, 2019)
Climate studies have consistently shown that heat waves are becoming more common, severe and longer-lasting as the global average surface temperature warms. In other words, heat waves are now hotter than they used to be, making it easier to set all-time records.
A published earlier this year found a record-breaking summer heat wave in Japan during 2018 'could not have happened without human-induced global warming.' And a recent rapid attribution analysis, which has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed science journal, showed that the early summer heat wave in Europe was made at least five times more likely to occur in the current climate than if human-caused warming had not occurred.
The GOP’s questions to Mueller seemed bizarre - unless you watch Fox News (Washington Post, July 24, 2019)
Treating right-wing conspiracy theories as smoking guns shows that Republicans are mostly speaking to their base.
How to Take Down Trump (New York Times, July 24, 2019)
Robert Mueller is just not good at drama. Think of him as Robert 'I’d Refer You to the Report for That' Mueller. The hearing was a miscalculation on the part of the Democrats, who were a little frustrated that Mueller’s report, although damning for Trump, did not have the kind of juicy language that makes for memorable headlines. His big quote, after all, was: 'If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime we would have said so.' But you don’t have to be thrilling if you’re willing.
Robert Mueller testifies (
CNN, July 24 2019)
Here's what you need to know about Mueller's day (
CNN, July 24, 2019)
Right at the outset, Mueller clarified the most significant exchange from earlier in the day. He did not intend to say they did not indict the president because of the OLC guidance. He clarified that he meant that because of the OLC guidance there was no decision either way on whether to indict.
In clear and concise language, Mueller reminded the panel why his investigation matters: 'We spent substantial time ensuring the integrity of the report understanding that it would be our living - a message to those who come after us. But it also is a signal, a flag to those of us who have some responsibility in this area to exercise those responsibilities swiftly and don't let this problem continue to linger as it has over so many years.'
Mueller defended not subpoenaing the President because of the prolonged process to fight over it. But asked if anyone tried to stop it, Mueller made clear they could have subpoenaed if they wanted to.
Mueller condemned the behavior of the President and his son. On Trump’s WikiLeaks comments, Mueller said 'problematic is an understatement.' An exchange between Donald Trump, Jr. and WikiLeaks was 'disturbing and also subject to investigation.' At another point, he refused to weigh in on the President’s credibility. He also said he felt the president was not truthful in his written answers.
Robert Mueller sticks to the script in high-profile hearings (CNN
, July 24, 2019)
NEW: Fighting Deepfakes Gets Real (Fortune, July 24, 2019)
Like a zombie horde, they keep coming. First, there were the pixelated likenesses of actresses Gal Gadot and Scarlett Johansson brushstroked into dodgy user-generated adult films. Then a disembodied digital Barack Obama and Donald Trump appeared in clips they never agreed to, saying things the real Obama and Trump never said. And in June, a machine-learning-generated version of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg making scary comments about privacy went viral.
Welcome to the age of deepfakes, an emerging threat powered by artificial intelligence that puts words in the mouths of people in video or audio clips, conjures convincing headshots from a sea of selfies, and even puts individuals in places they’ve never been, interacting with people they’ve never met.
NEW: "Anonymous" Data Won't Protect Your Identity (Scientific American, July 23, 2019)
In the U.S., on average, if you have 15 characteristics (including age, gender or marital status), that is enough to reidentify Americans in any anonymized data set 99.98 percent of the time. Although 15 pieces of demographic information may sound like a lot, it represents a drop in the bucket in terms of what is really out there: in 2017 a marketing analytics company landed in hot water for accidentally publishing an anonymized data set that contained 248 attributes for each of 123 million American households.
NEW: LightSail 2 Unfurls, Next Step Toward Space Travel by Solar Sail (New York Times, July 23, 2019)
The ability to sail across the cosmos, powered by the     energy of the sun, is finally becoming a reality. Engineers in California pressed a button on Tuesday that unfurled the sails on a satellite that can be steered around Earth, advancing long held hopes for an inexhaustible form of spaceflight and expanding the possibilities for navigating the voids between worlds.
NEW: How an Oil Theft Investigation Laid the Groundwork for the Koch Playbook (Politico, July 22, 2019)
In the late 1980s, Charles Koch faced a federal probe, rallied all of his resources to fight it off and came away with lessons that would guide the Kochs for decades.
NASA TV special coverage: 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 first steps on the Moon.
(NASA, July 20, 2019 - 10:38PM EDT)
"Replay of original Moonwalk broadcast from July 20, 1969.
Apollo 11: The final 13 minutes that took humans to the Moon (BBC,
July 20, 2019)
Are We Heading Toward Extinction? (
Huffington Post, July 20, 2019)
"The Earth’s species - plants, animals and humans, alike - are facing imminent demise. How we got here, and how to cope.
You will find yourself among the throngs of humanity who are easily distracted and amused, playing with their toys as the house burns, 'tranquilized by the trivial,' as Kierkegaard said, and speaking of the future as though it was going to go on as it has. After all, we made it this far. We have proven our superiority at figuring things out and removing obstacles to our desires. We killed off most of the large wild mammals and most of the indigenous peoples in order to take their lands. We bent nature to our will, paved over her forests and grasslands, rerouted and dammed her rivers, dug up what journalist Thom Hartmann calls her 'ancient sunlight,' and burned that dead creature goo into the atmosphere so that our vehicles could motor us around on land, sea, and air and our weapons could keep our enemies in check. And now we have given her atmosphere a high fever. But, as the old adage has it, (a phrase I first heard in the 1980s, which has informed me ever since), 'Nature bats last.'
Huge area of the United States broils on what could be the hottest weekend in U.S. history (Daily KOS, July 20, 2019)
Refineries Across America Could Create Catastrophic Acid Clouds. It Almost Happened In Philly. (Huffington Post, July 20, 2019)
Last month’s explosion at a 150-year-old oil refinery in Philadelphia could have forced 1.1 million people to evacuate.
An onslaught of pills, hundreds of thousands of deaths: Who is accountable? (Washington Post, July 20, 2019)
The origin, evolution and astonishing scale of America’s catastrophic opioid epidemic just got a lot clearer. The drug industry - the pill manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers - found it profitable to flood some of the most vulnerable communities in America with billions of painkillers. They continued to move their product, and the medical community and government agencies failed to take effective action, even when it became apparent that these pills were fueling addiction and overdoses and were getting diverted to the streets.
This has been broadly known for years, but this past week, the more precise details became public for the first time in a trove of data released after a legal challenge.
Iran seizes British tanker in Strait of Hormuz (BBC, July 20, 2019)
NEW: Ranked-Choice Voting pitched as inclusive election reform (Boston Metrowest Daily News, July 20, 2019)
Ranked choice voting would allow voters to rank multiple candidates in order of preference. If no candidate gets a majority of the vote when the election is tallied, an instant runoff occurs.
'We’re all here in this shared effort to ensure that every voter in Massachusetts has a greater voice when they go to the polls.'
At minimum, we as a Legislature, should provide an easy path forward for our towns and cities to say, ‘Yes, we want ranked choice voting for our community.'
NEW: The Great Hack: the film that goes behind the scenes of the Facebook data scandal (The Guardian, July 20, 2019)
This week, a Netflix documentary on Cambridge Analytica sheds light on one of the most complex scandals of our time. Carole Cadwalladr, who broke the story and appears in the film, looks at the fallout – and finds 'surveillance capitalism' out of control
Carroll’s doomed attempt to lift the veil from the data-industrial complex that underpinned Cambridge Analytica is the dark heart of the film. Because although he proved that the firm had illegally processed his data, ultimately his attempt to retrieve that data was thwarted by Cambridge Analytica’s decision to liquidate.
Carroll’s experience is just one of the many unknowns that still surround this story. We still know very little about what the company actually did with the data. Who was targeted? With what ads? In what locations? Carroll knows nothing about the nature of the 5,000 data points the firm claimed, in its own marketing, to have on 230 million American voters, including himself. We still have no clear picture what Cambridge Analytica did for Trump. Or what it did in any of the dozens of elections worldwide it claimed to have worked on – what Carroll calls 'subversion on an industrial scale'. All we know is that both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have gone to extraordinary lengths to prevent the facts coming out.
The data swamp remains dark, toxic and invisible. But what the film tries to do through creative and unusual graphics is to make the invisible visible: pixels representing data bytes float off Carroll as he rides the subway – the informational exhaust fumes we give off, hundreds of thousands of data points every day, which are hoovered up and monetised by the tech monopoly giants in ways we can’t see or understand.
Trump Is Stuck In A Racist Catch-22: Saturday's Good News (
Daily KOS, July 20, 2019)
‘He always doubles down’: Inside the political crisis caused by Trump’s racist tweets  (
Washington Post, July 20, 2019)
Trump ordered an all-hands White House effort to keep the GOP caucus together. White House aides told allies on the Hill that it was okay to criticize Trump, as long as they didn’t vote with Democrats. Trump was obsessed with the vote tally and received regular briefings. Aides fed him a constant stream of lawmaker reactions and put him on the phone himself with several lawmakers. He told his team to tell any wafflers that he loves America and that they needed to pick sides.
What do ‘Lock her up’ and ‘Send her back’ have in common? It’s pretty obvious. (Washington Post, July 20, 2019)
In the Trump vernacular, any woman could become one who should be locked up or sent back. Trump asserts no one should criticize the U.S. as he resumes attacks on four legislators. ‘Send her back!’: Trump, Ilhan Omar and the complicated history of back to Africa.
Trump vows congresswomen ‘can’t get away with’ criticizing U.S. (Washington Post, July 19, 2019)
President Trump broadly declared Friday that no one should criticize the United States while he is president, part of a renewed attack on four minority congresswomen whom he has targeted as un-American. Trump also praised his supporters who chanted at a rally, 'Send her back!,' a refrain directed at one of the lawmakers, ­Somali-born Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). The president called the campaign crowd 'incredible patriots' - a day after saying he disagreed with the chant.
Speaking to reporters Friday afternoon, he claimed that the congresswomen have talked about 'evil Jews,' which they haven’t, and inaccurately said ­Ocasio-Cortez had called America 'garbage,' when she was actually talking about not settling for incremental policies that were '10 percent better than garbage.'”
Trump’s shift Friday was reminiscent of how he responded to the deadly clash between white nationalists and protesters in Charlottesville in August 2017. He initially denounced the bigotry and hatred, then issued a stronger statement calling the racism practiced by hate groups 'evil,' but the next day he spoke of 'very fine people on both sides.'
The lesson of Ivanka Trump’s latest reported intervention with her father  (Washington Post, July 19, 2019)
President Trump issued the subtlest of rebukes Thursday to his supporters who chanted 'send her back' about Somali American Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.). He said he disagreed with the chant and that he tried to stop it. (He didn’t.)
And who reportedly advocated for that course-correction? You guessed it: his daughter, Ivanka Trump. Thursday was merely the latest time the president’s daughter has been reported to have intervened to guard against her father’s worst impulses.
Trump has already downplayed the severity of the 'send her back' chants, and if he had to be persuaded to say he disagreed with them, that shows you what he really thinks. That’s really the lesson of Ivanka Trump’s repeated, reported interventions.
DHS head says 'fewer than 1,000' kids recently separated, like it's something to be proud of (Daily KOS, July 19, 2019)
Trump Win on Health Plans Advances Effort to Undo Obamacare (Bloomberg, July 19, 2019)
Judge rejects challenge to short-term plans that flout the ACA. Trouble for Republicans is also possible in wake of 2018 vote/

Altered States of Consciousness: The Neuropsychology of How Time Perception Modulates Our Experience of Self, from Depression to Boredom to Creative Flow (Brain Pickings, July 19, 2019)
The brain does not simply represent the world in a disembodied way as an intellectual construct… Our mind is body-bound. We think, feel, and act with our body in the world. All experience is embedded in this body-related being-in-the-world.
NEW: Car parts from weeds: The future of green motoring? (BBC, July 19, 2019)
The carbon footprint of making a new car varies greatly depending on the model, but it is usually big. Some have calculated that as much carbon is emitted to manufacture a car as is emitted by driving it across its lifetime.
That's why Selena, a research group in Poland, is turning to plants that are not used in the human food chain as a potential source of eco-friendly plastics. It's called the Biomotive project and it has been awarded €15m (£13.5m) from the EU.
NEW: 'Unprecedented' Decline of Plants and Animals as Global 'Red List' Reveals Nearly One-Third of Assessed Species Under Threat (Common Dreams, July 18, 2019)
"We must act now both on biodiversity loss and climate change."
E.P.A. Won’t Ban Chlorpyrifos, Pesticide Tied to Children’s Health Problems (New York Times, July 18, 2019)
The Trump administration took a major step to weaken the regulation of toxic chemicals on Thursday when the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would not ban a widely used pesticide that its own experts have linked to serious health problems in children. The decision by Andrew R. Wheeler, the E.P.A. administrator, represents a victory for the chemical industry and for farmers who have lobbied to continue using the substance, chlorpyrifos, arguing it is necessary to protect crops.
It was the administration’s second major move this year to roll back or eliminate chemical safety rules. In April, the agency disregarded the advice of its own experts when officials issued a rule that restricted but did not ban asbestos, a known carcinogen. Agency scientists and lawyers had urged the E.P.A. to ban asbestos outright, as do most other industrialized nations.
Collins pays for allegiance to Trump, plummets further in approval ratings than any other senator (Daily KOS, July 18, 2019)
'Hot weather is dangerous and can kill:' City officials urge residents to prepare for grueling heat wave (Accuweather, July 18, 2019)
NEW: WeWork Co-Founder Has Cashed Out at Least $700 Million Via Sales, Loans (Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2019)
Adam Neumann has sold some of his WeWork stake and borrowed against some of his holdings, investing the proceeds in real estate and startups
I found your data. It’s for sale. (Washington Post, July 18, 2019)
Computers using Chrome and Firefox extensions to collect your browser data are putting your privacy at risk. As many as 4 million people have Web browser extensions that sell their every click. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In total, Jadali’s research identified six suspect Chrome and Firefox extensions with more than a few users: Hover Zoom, SpeakIt!, SuperZoom, Helper, FairShare Unlock and PanelMeasurement.

(Note that these are independent extensions. Firefix is not a problem; Chrome IS.)
Microsoft will give away software to guard U.S. voting machines (NBC News, July 17, 2019)
The tech giant said it had tracked 781 cyberattacks by foreign adversaries targeting political organizations so far this election cycle.
The company said it was rolling out the free, open-source software product called ElectionGuard, which it said uses encryption to 'enable a new era of secure, verifiable voting.' The company is working with election machine vendors and local governments to deploy the system in a pilot program for the 2020 election.
Microsoft, Google and Apple clouds banned in Hesse/Germany’s schools (Sophos, July 17, 2019)
The problem is twofold, it explained. Firstly, it isn’t happy with Microsoft storing personal data (especially children’s data) in a European cloud that could be accessed by US authorities, adding, 'The digital sovereignty of state data processing must be guaranteed.'
Its other issue is with Microsoft’s data slurping. It warned: 'With the use of the Windows 10 operating system, a wealth of telemetry data is transmitted to Microsoft, whose content has not been finally clarified despite repeated inquiries to Microsoft. Such data is also transmitted when using Office 365.' HBDI is taking its lead from the Federal Office for Information Security, which posted a technical analysis of Windows 10 telemetry in November 2018 (chapters 1.2 onwards are in English).
You can’t solve this problem by asking users for consent, the HBDI added. If you can’t be certain what data Microsoft collects or how the company will use it, then you can’t give informed consent.
Although the majority of the report focused on Microsoft Office 365, HBDI explicitly called out other cloud service providers, so schools can’t use Google Docs or Apple’s iWork either: 'What is true for Microsoft is also true for the Google and Apple cloud solutions. The cloud solutions of these providers have so far not been transparent and comprehensible set out. Therefore, it is also true that for schools, privacy-compliant use is currently not possible.'

Turkey crosses “red line,” gets booted from F-35 partnership (
Ars Technica, July 17, 2019)
"Erdoğan's welcome of Russian missiles puts nail in coffin of F-35 buy.
NEW: Record shows close Donald Trump relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. (Rachel Maddow, July 17, 2019)
Rachel Maddow reviews the well-documented evidence of Donald Trump's close relationship with sex criminal Jeffrey Epstein, evidence that may be freaking Trump out a little as the new case against Epstein builds momentum.
NEW: Happy 200th birthday to Eunice Foote, hidden climate science pioneer. (NOAA, July 17, 2019)
American Eunice Foote was an amateur scientist from the mid-1800s whose experiments foreshadowed the discovery of Earth's greenhouse effect. Her experiments comparing the temperature within cylinders filled with different gases revealed the ability of water vapor and carbonic acid gas (carbon dioxide) to raise temperature. The studies inspired her to hypothesize that Earth would have been much warmer in the past if its carbon dioxide levels were higher.
Tesla floats fully self-driving cars as soon as this year. Many are worried about what that will unleash. (Washington Post,  July 17, 2019)
The electric-car maker said it will do that without light detection and ranging, or lidar, complex sensors that use laser lights to map the environment - technology most autonomous vehicle makers consider necessary. Even with lidar, many of those manufacturers have adopted a slow and deliberate approach to self-driving vehicles, with limited testing on public roads.
Tesla shows little sign of such caution, officials said. And because autonomous vehicles are largely self-regulated - guided by industry standards but with no clearly enforceable rules - no one can stop the automaker from moving ahead.
Elon Musk Announces Plan to 'Merge' Human Brains With AI (Vice, July 17, 2019)
Neuralink wants to start by treating brain injuries, and eventually 'achieve a symbiosis with artificial intelligence'.
Musk’s newest startup is venturing into a series of hard problems (Ars Technica, July 16, 2019)
Elon Musk will describe his plans for Neuralink, a brain-computer interface company.
76 billion opioid pills: Newly released federal data unmasks the epidemic (Washington Post, July 16, 2019)
America’s largest drug companies saturated the country with 76 billion oxycodone and hydrocodone pain pills from 2006 through 2012 as the nation’s deadliest drug epidemic spun out of control, according to previously undisclosed company data released as part of the largest civil action in U.S. history. The information comes from a database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration that tracks the path of every single pain pill sold in the United States - from manufacturers and distributors to pharmacies in every town and city. The data provides an unprecedented look at the surge of legal pain pills that fueled the prescription opioid epidemic, which has resulted in nearly 100,000 deaths from 2006 through 2012.
Neo-Nazi troll Anglin's celebratory mood crushed by $14 million judgment against him (Daily KOS, July 16, 2019)
NEW: Amazon Prime Day could usher in a new wave of fear-based social media usage. (Vox, July 16, 2019)
Ring and its attendant app Neighbors let people in a given community report crimes and share footage of those crimes — often people stealing Amazon packages — that they collect via their Amazon Ring video cameras. In practice, that means a lot of reports of “suspicious” brown people on porches and a general perception that the world is a scarier place than it is.
People of color are still disproportionally featured in Ring videos of “crimes,” and racist language describing alleged criminals is commonplace, especially in the comments on the Neighbors app. Ring and Neighbors users are also encouraged to share the videos with law enforcement, a practice that can exacerbate dangerous interactions with police among people of color.
As Steven Renderos, senior campaigns director at the Center for Media Justice, previously told me, “These apps are not the definitive guides to crime in a neighborhood — it is merely a reflection of people’s own bias, which criminalizes people of color, the unhoused, and other marginalized communities.”
It’s also bad for the mental health of the people who own the devices. Since these apps focus on crime nearby, it can feel like there’s more imminent danger than there really is. Indeed, Americans perceive crime to be going up even as national statistics from the FBI and the Bureau of Justice Statistics show crime rates are declining.
Amazon’s Ring was a Prime Day bestseller. Get ready for more neighborhood surveillance and fear-based social media.
DuckDuckGo, A Feisty Google Adversary, Tests How Much People Care About Privacy (New York Times, July 15, 2019)
White House projects $1 trillion deficit for 2019 (The Hill, July 15, 2019)
The White House projects that the federal deficit will surpass $1 trillion this year, the only time in the nation's history the deficit has exceeded that level excluding the 5-year period following the Great Recession. As a candidate, President Trump had promised to not only wipe out the deficit, but the entire federal debt, which has surpassed $22 trillion.
Parents say Border Patrol asked migrant toddler to pick which parent got to stay with her in US (
The Hill, July 15, 2019)
‘His own fiefdom’: Mulvaney builds ‘an empire for the right wing’ as Trump’s chief of staff (
Washington Post, July 15, 2019)
He has helped install more than a dozen ideologically aligned advisers in the West Wing since his December hiring. Cabinet members are pressed weekly on what regulations they can strip from the books and have been told their performance will be judged on how many they remove. Policy and spending decisions are now made by the White House and dictated to Cabinet agencies, instead of vice versa.
Lindsey Graham’s and the GOP’s initial responses to Trump’s ‘go back’ tweets are a mess (Washington Post, July 15, 2019)
They’re all over the place, and they’re often nonsensical.
About Trump's Racist Tweets (Public Citizen, July 15, 2019)
What Pelosi Versus the Squad Really Means (New York Times, July 15, 2019)
The progressive-liberal civil war isn’t just a conflict of what’s too far left.
Liberalism loves sympathy, suspects rage and detests cruelty. Politics is inevitably a dialogue between partial truths. Compromise is a virtue, not a sign of cowardice. Moreover, means determine ends.
Many of today’s young leaders, and their older allies, don’t want to work within the established liberal system. They want to blow it up. They embrace essentialism, which is the antithesis of liberalism. Essentialism is the belief that people are defined by a single identity that never changes.
So which side will prevail? Over the short term, I’d put my money on the anti-liberals.
The Young Turks' Cenk Uygur: Here's how to choose a president (The Hill, July 14, 2019)
Trump’s Tweets Prove That He Is a Raging Racist, by Charles M. Blow (
New York Times, July 14, 2019)
It is undeniably true that America’s president opposes diversity.
The central framing of this kind of thinking is that this is a white country, founded and built by white men, and destined to be maintained as a white country. For anyone to be accepted as truly American they must assimilate and acquiesce to that narrative, to bow to that heritage and bend to those customs. It sees a country from which black and brown people come as deficient - 'a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world' - because, at its base, it sees black and brown people as deficient.
It is a form of white identitarianism, which opposes multiculturalism, but refuses to deem that opposition racist.
And so, it chafes when these black and brown women from exotic-sounding places with exotic-sounding names would dare to challenge the white patriarchy in this country. Why do they not know their place? Why do they not genuflect to the gentry? Why do they not recognize - and honor - the white man’s superiority?
Start here: because the entire white supremacist ideology and ethos is a lie. America expanded much of its territory through the shedding of blood and breaking of treaties with Native Americans. It established much of its wealth through 250 years of exploiting black bodies for free labor. And, for the entire history of this country, some degree of anti-blackness has existed. Now, there is an intensifying anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant xenophobia.
America was born with a congenital illness and it has been in need of active rehabilitation ever since, although it has often rejected the curative treatments and regressed. Challenging America to own its sins and live up to its ideals isn’t a vicious attack, it’s an act of patriotism. As James Baldwin once put it, 'I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.'
And, who better to lead the charge than four women who represent the future face of America?
White people and whiteness are the center of the Trump presidency. His primary concern is to defend, protect and promote it. All that threatens it must be attacked and assaulted. Trump is bringing the force of the American presidency to the rescue of white supremacy. And, self-identified Republicans absolutely love him for it. We are watching a very dark chapter in this nation’s history unfold in real time. We are watching as a president returns naked racism to the White House. And we are watching as fellow citizens - possibly a third of them - reveal to us their open animus for us through their continued support of him.
Trump Fans the Flames of a Racial Fire (New York Times, July 14, 2019)
His Twitter harangue goading Democratic congresswomen of color to 'go back' to the country they came from, even though most of them were actually born in the United States, shocked many. But it should have surprised few who have watched the way he has governed a multicultural, multiracial country the last two and a half years. When it comes to race, Mr. Trump plays with fire like no other president in a century.
Trump Attacks Democratic Congresswomen With White Nationalist Rhetoric (New York Magazine, July 14, 2019)
President Trump launched a white nationalist–themed attack on Sunday against four Democratic congresswomen of color who have been outspoken critics of his administration’s war on immigrants and attention-earning proponents of more progressive government policies. The attack deployed one of the most obnoxious clichés of racist and xenophobic hate speech: telling an immigrant or descendent of immigrants to 'go back to your country.'
American Soccer: Where Men Are Men, and Women Are Repeat World Cup Champions (New York Times, July 13, 2019)
They are unequaled in play and unequal in pay.
Former Southwest Key leader who ran migrant child shelters for U.S. government earned $3.6 million in 2017 (
Washington Post, July 13, 2019)
Donald Trump is right about bitcoin (Market Watch, July 13, 2019)
Cryptocurrencies are a pure gamble with no discernible fundamentals whatsoever.
Goldbugs for Trump (New York Times, July 13, 2019)
They sold their principles a long time ago.
‘It works out actually better’: When Trump loses, he’s quick to tout Plan B as the real victory (Washington Post, Ju
ly 13, 2019)
"After fighting for months in court to try to get a citizenship question on the 2020 Census - and briefly overruling his own Justice Department’s legal surrender - Trump abandoned the effort in a manner that had a familiar plot twist: A surprise backup plan that, in Trump’s view, is actually better than the original plan.
Politically, for his base, he has already won. The thing Trump’s base talks about more than anything is how he 'fights.' So as long as he shows that he’s fighting, his base is happy. It’s a rare example of the process being more important than the outcome.
Following protests, hotel chains say they won't let ICE use their rooms for temporary detention (Daily KOS, July 12, 2019)
Prosecutors unlikely to charge Trump Org executives, sources say (CNN, July 12, 2019)
Trump's far-right Twitter summit: the most bizarre highlights (The Guardian, July 12, 2019)
Here are some of the ‘highlights’ from the gathering of far-right propagandists, conspiracy theorists and YouTube agitators.
This is the No. 1 most obese state in America (Market Watch, July 12, 2019)
The sad individual and societal costs of the obesity epidemic.
PFAS Contamination Crisis Grows as House Passes Critical Cleanup Bill (Environmental Working Group, July 12, 2019)
This week EWG released an updated map and analysis that shows the extent of American communities’ confirmed contamination with the highly toxic fluorinated compounds known as PFAS. The latest update adds 53 Air Force bases, five Air National Guard bases and 44 civilian airports that are also used by Air National Guard units. 'Despite knowing the risks posed by PFAS in firefighting foam, the Pentagon continued to put military families at risk for decades,' said Melanie Benesh, EWG’s legislative attorney. 'Now, when it’s time to clean up its PFAS pollution, the military is dragging its feet. It’s unconscionable.'
Billions of air pollution particles found in hearts of city dwellers (The Guardian, July 12, 2019)
Study shows associated damage to critical pumping muscles, even in children.
'Climate Despair' Is Making People Give Up on Life (Vice, July 11, 2019)
It's super painful to be a human being right now at this point in history.
NEW: Thank God it’s Thursday: the four-day workweek some want to bring to the U.S. (Washington Post, July 11, 2019)
Some economists have speculated that American attitudes about work may make it particularly inhospitable for a four-day week.
We still don't know how to fight the 'big lie,' and that's what makes it truly the biggest threat (Daily KOS, July 11, 2019)
On Thursday, Donald Trump is proclaiming the victory of social media over traditional media, and using that opportunity not just to continue his assault on the press, but to launch a whole new attack on the basic nature of democracy and the judiciary branch of the government. Trump charging into the Rose Garden to declare that his name on a placard means the Supreme Court can pack up its robes may seem worthy of stop-the-presses, all-hands-on-deck, full-on emergency coverage. Because it is. But so is Trump bellowing an entire series of lies to justify a new generation of nuclear brinkmanship in the Middle East. So is Trump issuing a series of misogynistic and racist statements about a presidential candidate. So is Trump declaring his support for hate speech, violent rhetoric, and autocratic white nationalism. And all of that came in just a few hours of what has come to be an all-too-typical morning.
It’s a moment that can’t pass without us referencing this description of Hitler's psychological profile as developed by the United States Office of Strategic Services during the 1940s.
Japan’s Hayabusa2 Spacecraft Lands on Asteroid It Blasted a Hole In (
New York Times, July 11, 2019)
The robotic probe attempted to collect a sample scattered from a crater made on the surface of the space rock Ryugu in April.

Microsoft Putting Patent Traps Inside Linux While Blackmailing Companies Using Patents Associated With These Traps (TechRights, July  11, 2019)
In an effort to make exFAT (a patent trap) the ‘industry standard’, even inside Linux, Microsoft now wants exFAT inside the very heart of Linux and people are pushing back.
Font gives away false document but it’s blamed on time travel (Office Watch, July 10, 2019)
NEW: State Department Analyst Resigns After White House Blocked Climate Change Testimony (Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
Rod Schoonover was prohibited from including evidence and data supporting his assessments in testimony to House committee.
Following the Money That Undermines Climate Science (New York Times, July 10, 2019)
Ilhan Omar Responds to Tucker Carlson's Xenophobic Tirade: 'Kinda Fun Watching a Racist Fool Like This Weeping About My Presence in Congress' (Common Dreams, July 10, 2019)
‘It Could Have Been Any of Us’: Disdain for Trump Runs Among Ambassadors (New York Times, July 10, 2019)
U.S.-U.K. ‘special relationship’ is in tatters after British ambassador, under fire, resigns (
Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
President Trump saw an opportunity to embarrass the British government, already divided by Brexit, and used it to drive a wedge into another country.
Detained migrant kids describe sexual assault, verbal abuse, retaliation by border agents (Daily KOS, July 10, 2019)
Mayor: Trump’s July 4 event and related protests have bankrupted D.C. security fund (Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
The celebration cost the District $1.7 million, an amount that - combined with police expenses for related protests - has depleted a city fund used to protect the nation’s capital from terrorist threats and secure rallies and state funerals. In a letter to the president Tuesday, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) warned that the fund has now been depleted and is estimated to be running a $6 million deficit by Sept. 30. The mayor also noted that the account was never reimbursed for $7.3 million in expenses from Trump’s 2017 inauguration.
‘Outright disrespectful’: Four House women struggle as Pelosi isolates them (
Washington Post, July 10, 2019)
NEW: It Sure Looks Like Jeffrey Epstein Was a Spy - But Whose? (Observer, July 10, 2019)
The earthquakes in southern California were centered near a naval station contaminated with 'forever chemicals' (SFGate, July 9, 2019)
A report from Northeastern University and the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) found that the water source at the China Lake station contained PFAS levels of 8 million parts per trillion - more than 114,000 times the EPA threshold.
How Thoreau’s 19th-Century Observations Are Helping Shape Science Today (Atlas Obscura, July 9, 2019)
For one thing, they tell us that plants aren’t blooming when they used to at Walden Pond - or most anywhere else.
Steve Wozniak thinks that you should quit Facebook (Cult Of Mac, July 9, 2019)
ICE Just Quietly Opened Three New Detention Centers, Flouting Congress’ Limits (Mother Jones, July 9, 2019)
The facilities are all run by private prison companies, and one experienced a violent riot.
NEW:  Trump dossier author Steele gets 16-hour DOJ grilling (Politico, July 9, 2019)
The interview was contentious at first, according to two people familiar with the matter, but investigators ultimately found his testimony credible and even surprising.
NEW: Jeffrey Epstein Was a ‘Terrific Guy,’ Donald Trump Once Said. Now He’s ‘Not a Fan.’ (
New York Times, July 9, 2019)
It was supposed to be an exclusive party at Mar-a-Lago, Donald J. Trump’s members-only club in Palm Beach, Fla. But other than the two dozen or so women flown in to provide the entertainment, the only guests were Mr. Trump and Jeffrey Epstein.
NEW: So remember that 2018 BBC documentary alleging Trump preyed on underage models? (Daily KOS, July 8, 2019)
NEW: Jeffrey Epstein Is the Ultimate Symbol of Plutocratic Rot (New York Times, July 8, 2019)
Powerful elites enabled the financier accused of trafficking underage girls. Epstein was arrested after getting off a private flight from Paris. He has been accused of exploiting and abusing “dozens” of minor girls, some as young as 14, and conspiring with others to traffic them. Epstein’s arrest was the rare event that gratified right and left alike, both because it seemed that justice might finally be done, and because each side has reason to believe that if Epstein goes down, he could bring some of its enemies with him.
Congressional Democrats subpoena Trump’s financial, business records (Washington Post, July 8, 2019)
Congressional Democrats began issuing dozens of subpoenas Monday for financial records and other documents from President Trump’s private entities as part of an ongoing lawsuit alleging that his businesses violate the Constitution’s ban on gifts or payments from foreign governments. 'We are seeking a targeted set of documents to obtain the information that we need to ensure that the President can no longer shirk his constitutional responsibility,' Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement.
The Constitution’s emoluments provision - barring payments or gifts from foreign governments without prior approval from Congress - was designed to prevent undue influence over the nation’s leaders. Attorneys for the lawmakers say Trump is violating the ban when his businesses accept payments and other benefits from foreign governments. Democrats are seeking information related to not only the president’s hotels but office buildings, trademarks and the trust in which Trump is storing his business interests while in office. Three properties - the two hotels and Mar-a-Lago - have hosted foreign governments or large foreign delegations since Trump entered office. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has booked blocks of rooms at both hotels, and the D.C. hotel has hosted the governments of Kuwait, Bahrain and Malaysia, among others.
The demands for detailed information about the president’s closely held finances came on the same day the Trump administration asked an appeals court in Washington to halt the lawsuit and block the subpoenas, saying the case is based on 'novel and flawed constitutional premises.'
For massive new plants, Formosa wants OK to double amount of chemicals released into St. James Parish air (The Advocate/Baton Rouge LA, July 8, 2019)
NEW: The sinkhole that saved the Internet (TechCrunch, July 8, 2019)
Keeping the 'kill switch' alive is the only thing preventing another WannaCry outbreak.
FBI, ICE find state driver’s license photos are a gold mine for facial-recognition searches (Washington Post, July 7, 2019)
A cache of records shared with The Washington Post reveals that agents are scanning millions of Americans’ faces without their knowledge or consent.
Water quality forum in Harvard, Mass.: Many PFAS questions, few answers (The Harvard Press, July 6, 2019)
At a June 19 water quality forum held in Town Hall, the only thing that was clear was that Harvard’s PFAS story is still being written. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) officials revealed new test results on three public water supplies in Harvard that showed PFAS levels in the Ayer Road Properties water are significantly higher than those from previous tests, and two new PFAS compounds were detected.
Trump and Barr are crossing another line (Washington Post, July 5, 2019)
From his very first day in office, President Trump has had a strange and, at times, strained relationship with the U.S. intelligence community. The president and his political aides have often challenged the honesty and integrity of the community, damaging morale, undercutting its mission and making the already difficult challenge of uncovering threats to our nation even harder.
But, by putting the CIA’s analytic judgment (that one of Russia’s objectives in interfering in the 2016 election was to help then-candidate Trump) into the crosshairs of the Justice Department, as reported by several news organizations, the president and Attorney General William P. Barr are crossing another line. A Justice-led review of the quality of intelligence analysis represents yet another weakening of the intelligence community as an institution. The country could be paying for these kinds of decisions for years to come.
DOJ Is Still Looking For ‘New’ Reason To Add Citizenship Question To Census (Talking Points Memo, July 5, 2019)
BUT... "Judge Hazel ordered discovery to begin in a letter issued less than two hours after the DOJ asked for it to be delayed. 'Plaintiffs’ remaining claims are based on the premise that the genesis of the citizenship question was steeped in discriminatory motive,' Hazel wrote. 'Regardless of the justification Defendants may now find for a 'new' decision, discovery related to the origins of the question will remain relevant.' Hazel has been trying to keep the new round of discovery on a tight 45-day schedule and has expressed dismay with a confusing series of statements by DOJ lawyers and President Trump this week.
Per an earlier injunction, census forms will continue to be printed without the question, the government assured U.S. District Judge George Hazel in the Friday filing.
Donald Trump’s "Inoffensive" War on Reality (New Yorker, July 5, 2019)
Donald Trump’s Fourth of July address was most remarkable for the things it did not contain. Immediately afterward, commentators noted that Trump didn’t use the opportunity to attack the Democratic Party, to issue explicit campaign slogans, or, it would appear, make any impromptu additions (with the possible exception of the claim that American troops commandeered enemy airports during the Revolutionary War). Campaign slogans and glaring Trumpisms were not the only things absent from the speech. Immigrants were missing. Trump has retired the myth of America as a nation of immigrants because he staked his election campaign and his legitimacy as president on the demonization of immigrants - and on mobilizing Americans for a war against immigrants.
Two days before the July 4th celebration, the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General issued an urgent report on the conditions in migrant detention facilities in the Rio Grande Valley. Photographs in the report showed children and adults in crowded cages. Other pictures showed people in extremely crowded holding rooms raising up signs in windows, apparently attempting to attract the attention of government inspectors. The document reported 'serious overcrowding' and prolonged detention that violated federal guidelines. Children had no access to showers and hadn’t been provided with hot meals. At one facility, the report said, adults were held in standing-room-only conditions. The report left no doubt that 'concentration camps' was an accurate term for the facilities it described. On the eve of Independence Day, the media reported the story, which looked obscene among other stories. How could we read, write, or talk about anything else?
The President responded in a series of tweets in which he blamed the Democrats and the immigrants themselves. 'If Illegal Immigrants are unhappy with the conditions in the quickly built or refitted detentions centers, just tell them not to come. All problems solved!,' he tweeted. Most of Trump’s tweeting day, though, was spent on other issues: railing against the Supreme Court’s decision not to allow a citizenship question on the census, for example, and hyping expectations for his Fourth of July extravaganza. In the Trumpian universe, immigrants pose a superhuman threat but are themselves of subhuman significance. Through his tweets, his attacks on the media, and his lying, Trump has been waging a battle to define reality to the exclusion of documented facts. In Trump’s reality, it’s not just that the Administration refuses to be held accountable for running concentration camps - it’s that the camps, and the suffering in them, do not exist.
Following his speech, Trump kept retweeting images of his own limo leaving the White House, of fighter jets flying, of the red stage and a strange cross-like formation of red elevated platforms, and of himself speaking. In these pictures, Trump is the supreme ruler of the mightiest military empire in the history of the world and his people are with him in the public square. Nothing else exists.
A common maxim of the Trump era has it that two Americas exist, each with its own media and consequently limited view of the world. In fact, though, in one America there is only Trump, his tanks and planes and ships. In the America that a majority of us inhabit, however, there are concentration camps - and Trump with his flyovers.
In less than three years, as our senses were dulled by the crudeness of the tweets, the speed of the news cycle, the blatant quality of the lies, and the brutality of official rhetoric, Trump has reframed America, stripping it of its ideals, dumbing it down, and reducing it to a nation at war against people who want to join it.
Anchorage, Alaska, Shatters All-Time Heat Record, And It Could Get Hotter Still (Huffington Post, July 5, 2019)
Temperatures spiked to 90 degrees for the first time in the city’s history.
Biggest earthquake in years rattles Southern California (Los Angeles Times, July 5, 2019)
The largest earthquake in two decades rattled Southern California on Thursday morning, shaking communities from Las Vegas to Long Beach and ending a quiet period in the state’s seismic history. Striking at 10:33 a.m., the magnitude 6.4 temblor was centered about 125 miles northeast of Los Angeles in the remote Searles Valley area near where Inyo, San Bernardino and Kern counties meet. It was felt as far away as Ensenada and Mexicali in Mexico, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Reno and Chico, Calif. A 5.4 magnitude aftershock awoke many Friday morning.
Russian submarine hit by deadly fire is nuclear-powered, Putin confirms (CBS News, July 4, 2019)
U.K. National Trust plans to dump fossil fuel shares (BBC News, July 4, 2019)
The National Trust is Europe's largest conservation charity. That same goal was also adopted by the Church of England in 2015. A year ago, the Church's General Synod voted to withdraw investment from companies that do not meet the terms of the Paris climate agreement by 2023. And last month, the Norwegian parliament approved plans for the country's sovereign wealth fund, which manages $1tn (£786bn) of the country's assets, to sell coal and oil investments worth $13bn and invest in renewable energy projects instead.

Justin Amash: Our politics is in a partisan death spiral. That’s why I’m leaving the GOP. (
Washington Post, July 4, 2019)
Rep. Justin Amash, the only Republican in Congress to have accused President Trump of impeachable acts, said Thursday that he is leaving the GOP and becoming an independent, bemoaning that 'modern politics is trapped in a partisan death spiral, but there is an escape.' In an op-ed in The Washington Post, the Michigan congressman described himself as a lifelong Republican who has grown disenchanted with party politics and frightened by a two-party system that has 'evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions.' Citing the warnings in George Washington’s farewell address, Amash said Americans 'have allowed government officials, under assertions of expediency and party unity, to ignore the most basic tenets of our constitutional order: separation of powers, federalism and the rule of law.'
(One Republican knew how to celebrate Independence Day! Read his - and George Washington's - warning. Also see May 20, 2019.)
Where a citizenship question could cause the census to miss millions of Hispanics (
Washington Post, July 4, 2019)
And why that’s a big deal. The data that forms the census are the foundation for the relative functioning of the U.S. economy and government at all levels. Census and its derived data provides the most accurate and reliable demographic, housing and economic data.
The data is a tool for local governments in decisions including budgeting, disaster response, land-use planning, and measuring economic or environmental impacts. Researchers rely on it to study topics as divergent as the spread of diseases and gentrification. For businesses, the data helps decide where to set up shop, who their prospective customers are, what products to launch and how to market them.
Members within all of those groups have voiced concern over the inclusion of a citizenship question and the potential undercount. The current Supreme Court case was brought, in part, by New York state, 16 other states, seven cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Friend-of-the-court briefings have been filed by research and business groups alike, including the American Statistical Association, polling firm Nielsen and ride-hailing company Uber.
Trump’s Fourth of July speech inserts politics and protests into national celebration (Los Angeles Times, July 4, 2019)
With tanks on the streets of the nation’s capital, military jet flyovers and a presidential address on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, President Trump injected his trademark over-the-top style - as well as his divisive personality - into the traditional fireworks display at the National Mall. While most presidents have steered clear of Fourth of July festivities to avoid politicizing the day, Trump has been personally involved in the details of the planning - much to the frustration of local officials and residents in the predominantly liberal city.
Ever since Trump’s 2017 visit to watch France’s Bastille Day celebration, he has pressed for a similar event at home. He initially tried to organize a military parade on Veterans Day, but plans fell apart amid opposition from the local government and estimates that the costs would run into the tens of millions of dollars. Even some Pentagon officials bristled at such an overt public display of American military power. The Trump administration has still not repaid the city for the nearly $7 million it spent to help fund his inauguration in January 2017.
Trump’s Fourth of July celebration thrills supporters, angers opponents (
Washington Post, July 4, 2019)
Americans gathered in Washington on Thursday as one nation, feeling a little divisible, struggling to maintain unity on the Fourth of July, a summer ritual that normally brings a day-long pause to partisan hostilities. But that was before President Trump updated the day with his unique stamp - speaking of 'one people chasing one dream and one magnificent destiny' from a Lincoln Memorial flanked by armored vehicles, with military jets passing overhead - his presence thrilling supporters, angering opponents and creating near-parallel celebrations of the country’s 243rd birthday.
Scenes From Trump’s Fourth of July Celebration (New York Times, July 4, 2019)
President Trump added flyovers, a display of tanks and a program in front of the Lincoln Memorial to the traditional lineup of festivities.
Inside the effort to build suspense - and crowds - for Trump’s Fourth of July  (Washington Post, July 3, 2019)
Trump says his generals are ‘thrilled’ with his Fourth of July salute. Their silence suggests otherwise. (Washington Post, July 3, 2019)
More than any president in modern history, Trump has ignored norms intended to keep the armed forces out of partisan fights. He has dispatched U.S. troops to the southern border and even suggested that it would be acceptable for them to open fire on unarmed migrants - a violation of the laws of war. He has tweeted orders at top generals in a brazen end run around the traditional chain of command and regularly refers to America’s fighting forces as 'my military.' His speeches to military audiences, such as at service academy graduations, have been filled with partisan broadsides and false statements. Trump’s July 4 celebration, which he’s calling 'Salute to America,' has elevated his norm-defying behavior.
Some former military officials said that if Trump’s speech devolves into an attack on his political enemies, the top brass should quietly step off the stage. 'The generals think they are adhering to norms and doing their duty” when they stand by the president. “What they don’t realize is that they’re paving the groundwork for further abuse. They are making it harder for the next guy to make the right call.'
3 Reasons Not to Worry About Trump’s Fourth of July - and 1 Big Reason to Worry (Politico, July 3, 2019))
Other presidents have celebrated the Fourth. It's hard to think of one who has less sense of what it's about.
Trump has been obsessed by the idea of a massive military parade ever since attending the Bastille Day celebration in Paris two years ago, first ordering up a Veterans Day parade for 2018 that was canceled only after the price tag proved embarrassingly high. For someone who literally cannot grasp the possibility that more people voted for his opponent than him, or that fewer people came to his inaugural than his predecessor’s, it is not much of a reach to imagine that in the president’s mind he will see the flyovers and the fireworks as a nation paying tribute to the greatness of a man, rather than the other way around.
It is true that, on some public occasions, Trump has been able to subordinate this vanity to a sense of occasion, at least in his literal words. He has delivered State of the Union speeches without describing Democrats in the House chamber as treasonous, or the media in the press sections as enemies of the people. What remains unsettling, however, is the thoroughly reasonable conviction that when the president delivers such homilies, he has no real connection to those words. At any moment, it’s plausible to expect that the id will drive the superego from the podium, and the explosion of grievance, self-pity and rage will erupt - dominating a day that has in recent times been free of political division.
NEW: New York attorney general claps back after Trump attacks her on Twitter: 'My name is Letitia James' (Daily KOS, July 3, 2019)
Sorry for not responding to your tweet earlier, Mr. President. We were a little busy standing up for the true values of our nation, and fighting for liberty & justice for all.
We’re glad the 2020 Census will begin printing without a citizenship question.
Neanderthals’ history is as complicated as ours (Ars Technica, July 3, 2019)
New study hints at Neanderthal population turnover in Siberia 90,000-120,000 years ago.
NEW: US produces far more waste and recycles far less of it than other developed countries (The Guardian, July 3, 2019)
US represents 4% of the world’s population but produces 12% of municipal solid waste, a stark contrast with China and India.
Bitcoin's energy consumption 'equals that of Switzerland' (BBC News, July 3, 2019)
NEW: ‘Fingerprinting’ to Track Us Online Is on the Rise. Here’s What to Do. (New York Times, July 3, 2019)
Advertisers are increasingly turning to an invisible method that pulls together information about your device to pinpoint your identity.
NEW: It’s Time to Rethink What Counts as a Voter Turnout Strategy (Behavioral Scientist, July 3, 2019)
Efforts to alleviate poverty and give people health care are critical priorities—and perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that improving access to basic needs increases the value people see in voting, or that it enables more people to cast a ballot. But this new evidence suggests that poverty alleviation and health care provision have the potential to improve the health of our democracy too.
Trump denies administration’s retreat on census citizenship question (The Globe and Mail, July 3, 2019)
'The News Reports about the Department of Commerce dropping its quest to put the Citizenship Question on the Census is incorrect or, to state it differently, FAKE! We are absolutely moving forward, as we must, because of the importance of the answer to this question,' Trump wrote on Twitter.
White House and Commerce Department officials had no immediate comment on Trump’s tweet.
'There’s nothing fake about the Department of Justice writing us saying printing is starting without the citizenship question,' the American Civil Liberties Union, which had challenged the citizenship question in court, wrote on Twitter.

Trump administration drops citizenship question from 2020 census (The Hill, July 2, 2019)
"The Trump administration said Tuesday it was dropping a citizenship question from the 2020 census, days after the Supreme Court ruled against the question’s inclusion.
President Trump had initially said that he wanted to delay the decennial census as his administration continued to push for the question to be included in the 2020 survey. But that effort appears to be over.

House Files Lawsuit Seeking Disclosure of Trump Tax Returns (New York Times, July 2, 2019)
In Tuesday’s filing, the House argued that the administration’s defiance of its request amounted to 'an extraordinary attack on the authority of Congress to obtain information needed to conduct oversight of Treasury, the I.R.S. and the tax laws on behalf of the American people.' It asked a judge to order the defendants to comply.
Government Watchdog Finds Squalid Conditions in Border Centers (
New York Times, July 2, 2019)
Overcrowded, squalid conditions are more widespread at migrant centers along the southern border than initially revealed, the Department of Homeland Security’s independent watchdog said Tuesday. Its report describes standing-room-only cells, children without showers and hot meals, and detainees clamoring desperately for release.
'The inspector general’s report provides a shocking window into the dangerous and dehumanizing conditions that the Trump administration is inflicting on children and families at the border,' Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement. 'This report is even more troubling after the discovery of the vile, crude comments made on social media by some of those in C.B.P. responsible for caring for migrant families and children. The inhumanity at the border is a challenge to the conscience of America.'
While senior Department of Homeland Security officials have for months sounded the alarm over a record number of Central American families crossing the southwestern border, officials in recent weeks have disputed the descriptions of the conditions of detained migrants. Mr. McAleenan last week described the allegations at the Clint facility as 'unsubstantiated' and called it 'clean and well managed.' But the government’s own report backed up the Democrats’ descriptions.
National Park Service diverts $2.5 million for Trump’s July 4 extravaganza (Washington Post, July 2, 2019)
The agency will dip into entrance and recreation fees primarily intended to improve parks across the country, according to two individuals familiar with the arrangement. Trump administration officials have consistently refused to say how much taxpayers will have to pay for the expanded celebration on the Mall this year, which the president has dubbed 'Salute to America'.
Is There Earth-Friendly Disposable Dishware? (Sierra Club, June 2, 2019)
Not paper, not styrofoam and most plastics. When in doubt, avoid single-use items.
New Maps Show How Groundwater Affects Lakes and Rivers (
Sierra Club, July 2, 2019)
100 years of pumping has reduced stream flows by 50 percent in some areas.
Climate Change Denialists Dubbed Auto Makers the ‘Opposition’ in Fight Over Trump’s Emissions Rollback (New York Times, July 2, 2019)
Automakers have balked at the Trump administration’s plan, which in its most extreme scenario proposes to substantially weaken Obama-era standards that would have doubled the fuel economy requirement of new cars by 2025. Last month, 17 automakers asked Mr. Trump to soften his approach, saying his plan threatened to hurt their profits and produce 'untenable' instability given that California and 13 other states, as well as Canada, are expected to stick with the stricter standards - raising the specter of a national auto market split in two, and a nasty legal battle.
Hailstorm leaves Mexican city looking like dead of winter in middle of summer (Accuweather, July 1, 2019)
In a tweet, Jalisco Governor Enrique Alfaro Ramirez said 'I witnessed scenes that I had never seen before' after surveying the results of the extreme weather on Sunday morning, and attributed the freak amount of hail to the effects of climate change. He added on Twitter, 'Hail more than a meter high, and then we wonder if climate change exists.'
‘It Is Our Fault’: El Salvador’s President Takes Blame for Migrant Deaths in Rio Grande (New York Times, July 1, 2019)
This Trump critic’s cartoon went viral and, within hours, he lost his contract. He says that’s no coincidence. (Washington Post, July 1, 2019)
The American Medical Association Is Taking a More Aggressive Approach on Abortion Legislation (Time, July 1, 2019)
The AMA is suing North Dakota to block two abortion-related laws, the latest signal the doctors’ group is shifting to a more aggressive stance as the Donald Trump administration and state conservatives ratchet up efforts to eliminate legal abortion.
Republican congressman offers amazing excuse for campaign money spent on extramarital affairs (Daily KOS, July 1, 2019)
Hunter is on trial for having spent campaign money for personal reasons, including not just affairs but vacations, clothes, and video games. His expenditures on affairs, then, are entirely relevant to the charges he faces. But! Hunter carried on these affairs with three lobbyists, a staffer in his own office, and a Republican National Committee official. So his lawyers are arguing that the money he spent in the course of having affairs with them should count as a legitimate political expenditure.
NEW: The Moochers of Middle America, by Paul Krugman (New York Times, July 1, 2019)
The Democrats aren’t radical, but Republicans are.
In what sense are the Dems moving too far left? What I’m seeing are three fairly distinct claims. First, that the party is endangering its electoral prospects. Second, that the party is being fiscally or economically irresponsible. Third, that Democrats are unfairly proposing to redistribute income from those who create wealth to those who don’t.
So you should know that the first claim is probably wrong, the second is definitely wrong, and the third ignores the extent to which we already do a lot of redistribution in this country - with Republican voters some of the biggest beneficiaries.
The new GOP attacks on Mueller will backfire on Trump - bigly. (Washington Post, July 1, 2019)
If Mueller’s investigation exonerated Trump, you would think the best strategy for Trump’s allies would be to simply sit back while Mueller describes his findings in as detailed and unvarnished way as possible. Oddly enough, that’s not what they’re planning on doing.
The monumental absurdity at the core of this disconnect is the reason this strategy is likely to backfire on Trump. Yet, at the same time, the very existence of this strategy, despite its obvious ridiculousness, opens a window on how the Trump propaganda network wields disinformation, and how in certain respects, it does serve his ends.
The Welcome Humiliation of John Bolton (New York Times, July 1, 2019)
A warmonger is the latest to lose his dignity to Donald Trump. Say this for Donald Trump. He may be transforming American politics into a kleptocratic fascist reality show and turning our once-great country into a global laughingstock, but as least he’s humiliating John Bolton in the process.
Ivanka Trump tried to talk to world leaders at G-20 Summit. The video is hard to watch (Daily KOS, June 30, 2019)
AOC: It may be shocking to some, but being someone’s daughter actually isn’t a career qualification. The US needs our President working the G20. Bringing a qualified diplomat couldn’t hurt either.
NEW: What The Hell Is Nancy Pelosi Doing? (Huffington Post, June 30, 2019)
House Democrats have lost their moral compass.
The Democrats agree with Trump in a surprising way (Washington Post, June 30, 2019)
The rich have way outperformed everyone else, exacerbating inequality and leaving many people feeling left behind. Economic disruption and dizzying technological changes have many parents doubting that their children will prosper. Student debt, rising drug prices, affordable-housing shortages, racist policing, fear of deportation, opioid abuse - these are all-consuming facts of life for many people.
President Trump has not solved these problems, and he has made some of them worse. In fact, he rejects solutions - on immigration, first and foremost - rather than give up his reelection platform of anger and hate. More, he is a major reason for the gloom. It is hard for many Americans to have faith in democracy when their elected leader is dishonest, malicious and incompetent. His lies and inaction on climate change intensify a sense of apocalyptic foreboding.
The Rule of Outlaws (WhoWhatWhy, June 30, 2019)
'Ms. Conway’s violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions,' special counsel Henry Kerner said in a June 12 letter to Trump. 'Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system - the rule of law.'
In the letter, OSC suggested that Conway should be fired. The president, again, did nothing. Well, that’s not entirely true, because the White House attacked OSC and suggested it was 'influenced by media pressure and liberal organizations.'
The House Oversight Committee then invited Conway to testify on the issue and, after she did not show up, voted to subpoena her on Wednesday.
The problem with all of this is apparent - and maybe it is just a symptom of something that has been festering for a while: It’s really no longer accurate to say the US is governed by the rule of law.
The president is a crook, his staff brazenly disregards laws, he dangles pardons in front of indicted former associates, and is considering pardoning war criminals. And while many companies are not breaking the law, they don’t have to because they helped write them, which means they no longer pay their fair share of taxes - if they pay any at all. And they don’t have to comply with regulations, e.g. to protect the environment, because those are being dismantled.
At the same time, the vast majority of Americans are at the mercy of a justice system that is stacked against them.
Pennsylvania Senate Session Descends Into Screaming Match Over Poverty Assistance Program (Time, June 29, 2019)
The Pennsylvania senate’s state budget negotiations descended into chaos on Wednesday when lawmakers and activists clashed over the elimination of a cash assistance program for the state’s neediest people. The PA General Assistance Program, which the house voted to end last week, provided roughly $200 a month to about 11,095 of the state’s poorest residents, including many who don’t qualify for other assistance programs or are waiting for approval.
Trump Consultant Is Trolling Democrats With Biden Site That Isn’t Biden’s (New York Times, June 29, 2019)
Armed with bogus websites that mock leading candidates, a Trump campaign worker is exploiting tensions on the left with Russian-style disinformation. His targets have included former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Kamala Harris.
All the site says about its creator is buried in the fine print at the bottom of the page. The site, it says, is a political parody built and paid for 'BY AN American citizen FOR American citizens,' and not the work of any campaign or political action committee.
There is indeed an American behind the website. But he is very much a political player, and a Republican one at that. His name is Patrick Mauldin, and he makes videos and other digital content for President’s Trump’s re-election campaign.
Judge Stops President Trump From Using $2.5 Billion in Military Funding to Build Border Wall (Time, June 29, 2019)
At issue is President Donald Trump’s February declaration of a national emergency so that he could divert $6.7 billion from military and other sources to begin construction of the wall, which could have begun as early as Monday. Trump declared the emergency after losing a fight with the Democratic-led House that led to a 35-day government shutdown.
Donald Trump Uses Stock Models To Act As His Supporters In Campaign Videos (Design Taxi, June 28, 2019)
Judd Legum, creator of political newsletter Popular Information, has revealed in a Twitter thread that the Trump committee has been coughing up 'significant resources on a highly manipulative online ad campaign' by using stock footage rather than recordings of real supporters.
Donald Trump Says Huawei Can Buy American Products Again (Softpedia, June 29, 2019)
The policy hasn't been implemented, it's just a statement.
Wearable technology started by tracking steps. Soon, it may allow your boss to track your performance. (Washington Post, June 28, 2019)
Researchers says they have developed a system that assesses worker performance with 80 percent accuracy. 'I can’t really look into a crystal ball, but I’m hopeful this passive sensing technology will be used to empower the workforce rather than used against them.'"
France Suffers Through Hottest Day In Its History - 113 Degrees Fahrenheit (NPR, June 28, 2019)
The European Environmental Agency says that as rising greenhouse gas emissions have warmed the climate, Europe's number of warm days doubled between 1960 and 2018. The continent is projected to have similar or worse heat waves as often as every two years in the second half of the 21st century, in the highest emission scenario of four scenarios used by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Microbes hold the balance in climate crisis (Climate News Network, June 28, 2019)
It is not as if climate researchers are unaware of the microbial connection: there is evidence of the powerful role microscopic life plays in ocean warming and on land. But the consensus statement says it documents the central role and global importance of micro-organisms in climate change biology. It also puts humanity on notice that the impact of climate change will depend heavily on the responses of micro-organisms, which are essential for achieving an environmentally sustainable future.
The scientists want to see more research, closer attention to the microbial underpinning of climate change, and more education. They point out that 90% of the mass of living things in the ocean is microbial. Marine phytoplankton take light energy from the sun, remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and provide the basis of the ocean’s life support system. A warming world could mean a diminished ocean food web.
On land, microbes are powerful agencies in both agriculture and disease. Farming ruminant animals releases vast quantities of methane from the microbes living in their rumen – so decisions about global farming practices need to consider these consequences.
And lastly, climate change worsens the impact of pathogenic microbes on animals (including humans) − that’s because climate change is stressing native life, making it easier for pathogens to cause disease.
Renewable electricity beat out coal for the first time in April (Ars Technica, June 28, 2019)
Seasonal shifts helped, but long-term changes underlie the record.
Frederick Douglass would be outraged at Trump’s Fourth of July self-celebration (
Washington Post, June 28, 2019)
Conscientious Objectors (ACLU, June 28, 2019)
The 100-years-old American Civil Liberties Union was born out of World War I and the repression that resulted when the U.S. joined the fight. In one of the most consequential speeches in U.S. history, President Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war that would take the country into the Great War’s killing fields in Europe. During his address that night, President Wilson called Americans to arms with the memorable pledge that 'the world must be made safe for democracy.'  Most Americans today are familiar with the phrase, or misinterpretations of it, such as 'a war to end all wars.' Few people, however, are familiar with what Wilson said next: 'If there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with a firm hand of stern repression.'”
Trump joking with Putin over eliminating journalists is a betrayal of America. So is ignoring it. (Washington Post, June 28, 2019)
According to Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs, who was traveling with the president to the G-20 summit in Osaka, Trump 'bonded with Putin' over his scorn for journalists. She quoted their exchange in a tweet:
'Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it?' Trump said. 'You don’t have this problem in Russia, but we do.'
'We also have,' Putin answered, in English. 'It’s the same.'
They then 'shared a chuckle,' she reported.
That this happened on the first anniversary of the massacre of five employees of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis probably never occurred to him - nor would his staff remind him of something as apparently inconsequential to the administration as that horror.
NEW: House Passes Senate Border Bill in Striking Defeat for Pelosi (New York Times, June 27, 2019)
Congress sent President Trump a $4.6 billion humanitarian aid package on Thursday after Speaker Nancy Pelosi capitulated to Republicans and Democratic moderates and dropped her insistence on stronger protections for migrant children in overcrowded border shelters. The vote came after a striking display of Democratic disunity and was a setback for Ms. Pelosi.
NEW: Op-Ed: The Supreme Court just abdicated its most important role: enforcing the Constitution (Los Angeles Times, June 27, 2019)
In a 5-4 decision, split along ideological lines, the court’s conservative majority acknowledged that partisan gerrymandering is 'incompatible with democratic principles,' but it nonetheless said that the issue should be regarded as a 'political question' and that federal courts thus lack jurisdiction to hear cases challenging it.
Supreme Court undermines free and fair elections by refusing to limit partisan gerrymandering (
Daily KOS, June 27, 2019)
On Thursday, the Supreme Court dealt a historic defeat to redistricting reformers when it ruled 5-4 along ideological lines that challenges to partisan gerrymandering could not be adjudicated under the U.S. Constitution, pushing the next battles over these maps to the states. The two cases under review dealt with congressional maps from a pair of states: a Democratic gerrymander in Maryland and a Republican gerrymander in North Carolina. Holding that there was no workable standard to determine when such maps go too far, the Supreme Court’s partisan Republican majority overturned two lower court decisions that had thrown out both maps last year.
Western intelligence hacked 'Russia's Google' Yandex to spy on accounts - sources (Reuters, June 27, 2019)
The malware, called Regin, is known to be used by the 'Five Eyes' intelligence-sharing alliance of the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, the sources said. Intelligence agencies in those countries declined to comment. Western cyberattacks against Russia are seldom acknowledged or spoken about in public. It could not be determined which of the five countries was behind the attack on Yandex, said sources in Russia and elsewhere, three of whom had direct knowledge of the hack. The breach took place between October and November 2018.
NEW: Trump officials weigh encryption crackdown (Politico, June 27, 2019)
A ban on end-to-end-encryption would make it easier for law enforcement and intelligence agents to access suspects' data. But such a measure would also make it easier for hackers and spies to steal Americans' private data, by creating loopholes in encryption that are designed for the government but accessible to anyone who reverse-engineers them. Watering down encryption would also endanger people who rely on scrambled communications to hide from stalkers and abusive ex-spouses.
The DOJ and the FBI argue that catching criminals and terrorists should be the top priority, even if watered-down encryption creates hacking risks. The Commerce and State Departments disagree, pointing to the economic, security and diplomatic consequences of mandating encryption 'backdoors.' DHS is internally divided. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency knows the importance of encrypting sensitive data, especially in critical infrastructure operations, but ICE and the Secret Service regularly run into encryption roadblocks during their investigations.
(And nobody's mentioning infringement of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment
guarantee of privacy?)
NEW: It turns out planes are even worse for the climate than we thought (NewScientist, June 27, 2019)
Their non-CO2 warming effect is set to triple by 2050, according to a study by Ulrike Burkhardt and Lisa Bock at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics in Germany. Altogether, flying is responsible for around 5 per cent of global warming, the team says, so this figure will soar even higher – and no meaningful actions are being taken to prevent this.
NEW: NASA's Dragonfly Will Fly Around Titan Looking for Origins, Signs of Life (NASA, June 27, 2019)
NASA has announced that our next destination in the solar system is the unique, richly organic world Titan. Advancing our search for the building blocks of life, the Dragonfly mission will fly multiple sorties to sample and examine sites around Saturn’s icy moon. Dragonfly will launch in 2026 and arrive in 2034. The rotorcraft will fly to dozens of promising locations on Titan looking for prebiotic chemical processes common on both Titan and Earth. Dragonfly marks the first time NASA will fly a multi-rotor vehicle for science on another planet; it has eight rotors and flies like a large drone. It will take advantage of Titan’s dense atmosphere – four times denser than Earth’s – to become the first vehicle ever to fly its entire science payload to new places for repeatable and targeted access to surface materials.
Twitter says it will label tweets from Trump and other leaders that break its rules (CNN,  June 27, 2019)
Twitter plans to place a disclaimer on future tweets from world leaders that break its rules but which Twitter decides are in the public interest, the company said in a blog post Thursday. This policy change could face its most prominent test in President Trump. Trump has repeatedly tested Twitter's community standards with his regular tirades on the platform and some of the president's tweets have run afoul of Twitter's rules.
Trump claims Mueller a criminal, is 'very happy' McCain is dead, and Fed chief is 'a pu— ' (Daily KOS, June 26, 2019)
In an interview today with Fox’s Maria Bartiromo, Donald Trump went on an extended rant that included repeating claims that his campaign was spied on, claiming that Robert Mueller 'illegally terminated the emails,' and declaring that the Federal Reserve chair isn’t a tough guy but … something not so tough. And then Trump moved to the stage at a meeting of the Christian organization Faith and Freedom Coalition and informed the Christian crowd that, if he hadn’t won in 2016, Iran would have conquered the entire Middle East. And, most Christian of all, he expressed his hope that John McCain is in hell.

The Republican Party has evolved into an American version of Europe's far-right neo-fascists (
Daily KOS, June 26, 2019)
"According to its 2016 manifesto, the Republican Party lies far from the Conservative Party in Britain and the Christian Democratic Union in Germany - mainstream right-leaning parties - and closer to far-right parties like Alternative for Germany, whose platform contains plainly xenophobic, anti-Muslim statements. In fact, the only significant difference between the U.S. Republican party and the far-right neo-fascists is that the Republican platform does not directly and explicitly espouse bigotry as policy. Instead, it uses culturally-coded 'dog whistles.'

Elizabeth Warren Just Released a Plan to Protect American Elections (Mother Jones, June 25, 2019)
A $20 billion effort would require audits and offer bonuses for high voter turnout. "Our elections should be as secure as Fort Knox," Warren wrote. 'But instead, they’re less secure than your Amazon account.'
NEW: Please Tax Us More, 19 U.S. Billionaires Plead In Letter To Presidential Candidates (Huffington Post, June 25, 2019)
We 'enjoy uncommon fortunes, but each of us wants to live in an America that solves the biggest challenges of our common future,' notes the plea.
NEW: The Earth’s climate is paying for our addiction to plastic (The Guardian, June 25, 2019)
Every stage of the plastic lifecycle releases harmful carbon emissions into the atmosphere, contributing to global heating.
NEW: 3M admits to unlawful release of PFAS in Alabama
(Chemical & Engineering News, June 25, 2019)
"US EPA barred company from discharging two substances to water.
A Plan to Mine the Minnesota Wilderness Hit a Dead End. Then Trump Became President. (New York Times, June 25, 2019)
The project’s reversal of fortunes has angered environmentalists and focused attention on an unusual connection between a Chilean billionaire and President Trump’s family.
Justice is what they deserve, justice is what we can deliver: Let's pay contractors back wages, by Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass. (
The Hill, June 25, 2019)
It’s been nearly six months since the longest government shutdown in our country’s history, and while federal government employees rightfully received backpay for the time they couldn’t go to work, thousands of government contractors have yet to be made whole for the wages lost over the course of the shutdown. Government contractors perform essential jobs that keep our government operating - janitors, security officers and food service workers who work diligently day in and day out, oftentimes on an hourly basis and at low wages, to keep our government buildings across the country safe and clean. We’ve made historic progress toward securing the back pay these contract workers are owed, but unless and until we do, these workers and their families will continue to struggle to catch up.
FedEx sues US over mandate to monitor Huawei shipments (Engadget, June 25, 2019)

"It says it can't monitor packages on the scale the government wants.
NEW: What’s wrong with the North Pole? (New Scientist, June 25, 2019)
"It isn’t just that your compass can be thrown off by local quirks in the magnetic field. The north pole itself isn’t what it used to be. In 1900, the pole was in Canada. A century later, it was near Greenland. In the past 18 years, it has raced eastwards at about 40 kilometres per year, and is currently heading for Siberia.
The weird behaviour of Earth’s magnetic field doesn’t end there. It also occasionally reverses its polarity: there were times in our planet’s history when a compass needle would have pointed to what we call south. Even now, there are spots under the surface where a compass would point the wrong way. What is going on? The mystery has deep implications for technology and the future of our planet.
With a Poof, Mars Methane Is Gone (New York Times, June 25, 2019)
Last week, NASA’s Curiosity rover detected a belch of natural gas on the red planet. The gas has since dissipated, leaving only a mystery.
NEW: Upset about the plastic crisis? Stop trying so hard. (The Guardian, June 24, 2019)
NEW: Humans have made 8.3bn tons of plastic since 1950. This is the illustrated story of where it's gone. (
The Guardian, June 24, 2019)
Until recently we didn’t know how much plastic was piling up around us. When we found out, the picture wasn’t pretty. We make good-faith efforts to help the planet by recycling, but what we really need to do is even simpler.
Raspberry Pi used to steal data from NASA lab (BBC, June 24, 2019)
An audit report reveals the gadget was used to take about 500MB of data. It said two of the files that were taken dealt with the international transfer of restricted military and space technology. The attacker who used the device to hack the network went undetected for about 10 months.
NEW: The power of Ravelry’s stance against white supremacy reaches beyond the knitting community (TechCrunch, June 23, 2019)
We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is undeniably support for white supremacy.
You can still participate if you do in fact support the administration, you just can’t talk about it here.
NEW: Agriculture Department buries studies showing dangers of climate change (Politico, June 23, 2019)
The Trump administration has stopped promoting government-funded research into how higher temperatures can damage crops and pose health risks. It has refused to publicize dozens of government-funded studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change, defying a longstanding practice of touting such findings by the Agriculture Department’s acclaimed in-house scientists. The studies range from a groundbreaking discovery that rice loses vitamins in a carbon-rich environment — a potentially serious health concern for the 600 million people world-wide whose diet consists mostly of rice — to a finding that climate change could exacerbate allergy seasons to a warning to farmers about the reduction in quality of grasses important for raising cattle.
All of these studies were peer-reviewed by scientists and cleared through the non-partisan Agricultural Research Service, one of the world’s leading sources of scientific information for farmers and consumers. None of the studies were focused on the causes of global warming – an often politically charged issue. Rather, the research examined the wide-ranging effects of rising carbon dioxide, increasing temperatures and volatile weather.
The administration, researchers said, appears to be trying to limit the circulation of evidence of climate change and avoid press coverage that may raise questions about the administration’s stance on the issue. “The intent is to try to suppress a message — in this case, the increasing danger of human-caused climate change,” said Michael Mann, a leading climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University. “Who loses out? The people, who are already suffering the impacts of sea level rise and unprecedented super storms, droughts, wildfires and heat waves.”
High-stakes legal fight looms over Trump pollution rule (The Hill, June 23, 2019)
At least nine attorneys general have criticized the new rule and are expected to file lawsuits soon. 'The coal lobbyists and climate deniers running the Trump Administration wrote every word of this unjustifiable and illegal rule that will pollute the air, explode emissions, and cost thousands of lives,' Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) said in a statement. 'Massachusetts is committed to addressing the climate crisis and the public health impacts on our residents, and we will be suing to stand up for science and federal law.'
Automation and robotics are bigger threats to American jobs than outsourcing (Daily KOS, June 23, 2019)
We will see wholesale job losses, and world economies flipped upside down. This will not happen overnight, but it could very well happen in my lifetime.

Biden is the least electable candidate - here's why (The Hill, June 23, 2019)
NEW: Exploring the rise of populism: 'It pops up in unexpected places' (The Guardian, June 22, 2019)
How we paired up with a network of political scientists to create a wide-ranging series and a groundbreaking database.
NEW: NASA Rover on Mars Detects Puff of Gas That Hints at Possibility of Life (New York Times, June 22, 2019)
The Curiosity mission’s scientists picked up the signal this week, and are seeking additional readings from the red planet.
Scientists have discovered a sea of fresh water under the ocean (Quartz, June 22, 2019)
Scientists from Columbia University and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution spent 10 days on a research ship towing electromagnetic sensors from New Jersey to Massachusetts. By measuring the way electromagnetic waves traveled through fresh and saline water, researchers mapped out fresh-water reservoirs for the first time.
It turns out the subterranean pools stretch for at least 50 miles off the US Atlantic coast, containing vast stores of low-salinity groundwater, about twice the volume of Lake Ontario. The deposits begin about 600 ft (183 m) below the seafloor and stretch for hundreds of miles. That rivals the size of even the largest terrestrial aquifers. The size and extent of the freshwater deposits suggest they are also being fed by modern-day runoff from land - and may exist elsewhere with similar topography.
Trump approved cyber-strikes against Iran’s missile systems (Washington Post, June 22, 2019)
The cyberstrikes, launched Thursday night by personnel with U.S. Cyber Command, were in the works for weeks if not months, according to two of these people, who said the Pentagon proposed launching them after Iran’s alleged attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this month. The strike against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was coordinated with U.S. Central Command, the military organization with purview of activity throughout the Middle East. Though crippling to Iran’s military command and control systems, the operation did not involve a loss of life or civilian casualties - a contrast to conventional strikes, which the president said he called back Thursday because they would not be 'proportionate.'
The administration on Saturday warned industry officials to be alert for cyberattacks originating from Iran.
Pompeo, a Steadfast Hawk, Coaxes a Hesitant Trump on Iran (New York Times, June 22, 2019)
In April, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Bolton pushed Mr. Trump to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, even though Pentagon and C.I.A. officials opposed the action, saying it could provoke attacks. Mr. Pompeo then announced the end of permission for eight governments, including American allies, to bypass sanctions in buying oil from Iran. Those moves, analysts say, have led to the current crisis.
In recent classified briefings to Congress and in public declarations, Mr. Pompeo has discussed ties between Iran and Al Qaeda. Democratic and some Republican lawmakers say that is a blatant attempt to lay the groundwork for bypassing the need for new congressional war authorization if Mr. Trump decides to strike Iran.
Lawmakers also question Mr. Pompeo’s role in stalled policy on other signature Trump issues, such as Venezuela and North Korea. The North, unlike Iran, actually has a nuclear arsenal.
And lawmakers have grilled Mr. Pompeo on his unwavering support of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, who American intelligence officials say was responsible for the killing of the columnist Jamal Khashoggi and who is leading an air war in Yemen that has resulted in a humanitarian disaster. Legislators are also furious that Mr. Pompeo has sought to circumvent the congressional approval process for arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Critics say that growing scrutiny of Mr. Pompeo is warranted given his unrelenting attacks on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the Benghazi hearings when he was a congressman - and given the potential threats to the United States resulting from the administration’s foreign policy.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were lost on the Moon. Really. (Fast Company, June 22, 2019)
Neither NASA nor the Apollo 11 astronauts knew exactly where they were when they landed on the Moon. Yet it didn’t impede the mission.
Mysterious glowing light on Mars captured by NASA's Curiosity probe (Independent, June 21, 2019)
Could it be a huge pile of aliens driving past? Probably not.
Green Bank: The Land Where the Internet Ends (New York Times, June 21, 2019)
To find real solitude, you have to go out of range. But every year that’s harder to do, as America’s off-the-grid places disappear.
Google Chrome has become surveillance software. It’s time to switch. (Washington Post, June 21, 2019)
Our latest privacy experiment found Chrome ushered more than 11,000 tracker cookies into our browser - in a single week. Having the world’s biggest advertising company make the most popular Web browser is about as smart as letting kids run a candy shop. Here’s why Firefox is better.
Trump reverses his earlier claim that he stopped Iran action on the brink of the attack (Daily KOS, June 21, 2019)
It’s not clear that Trump’s statement about planes not being in the air in advance of the attack is a lie, or plain ignorance. What is clear is that Trump’s earlier claim to have stopped the mission just ten minutes away from hitting Iranian targets was an out-and-out fabrication designed to add some fake drama to the situation. Trump cancelled the operation on Thursday evening before 7PM D.C. time, which was still several hours before the scheduled operation in Iran.
Trump’s claim that he got a last minute estimate of potential casualties is also a clear lie, both because Trump has dressed the tale up with all the knee-scrapping honorifics he usually adds when relating such stories, and because the Pentagon would have certainly made the results of such a strike clear before it was authorized. But there is another reason he might have changed his mind - Nancy Pelosi told him no.
But of course, Trump has been pretty good at not just ignoring Congress, but actively working to diminish congressional authority over everything. So … maybe it was some other warning he heeded. A warning like, 'I will say it straight, it would be a catastrophe, at a minimum for the region,' said Vladimir Putin.
Trump says he doesn't want war with Iran, but there will be 'obliteration' if it comes (NBC News, June 21, 2019)
Trump also discussed his decision-making process that led him to halt strikes on Iran on Thursday night, saying that he hadn't given final approval to any attack and adding that no planes were in the air.
Strikes on Iran Approved by Trump, Then Abruptly Pulled Back (New York Times, June 20, 2019)
As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.
Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries. The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down.
The strike was set to take place just before dawn Friday in Iran to minimize risk to the Iranian military and civilians.
The abrupt reversal put a halt to what would have been the president’s third military action against targets in the Middle East. Mr. Trump had struck twice at targets in Syria, in 2017 and 2018.
The retaliation plan was intended as a response to the shooting down of the RQ-4 Global Hawk, an
unmanned, $130 million surveillance drone made by Northrop Grumman, which was struck Thursday morning by an Iranian surface-to-air missile. Iran’s ability to target and destroy the high-altitude American drone, which was developed to evade the very surface-to-air missiles used to bring it down, surprised some Defense Department officials, who interpreted it as a show of how difficult Tehran can make things for the United States as it deploys more troops and steps up surveillance in the region.
Microsoft Still
Is Attempting to Destroy the Careers of Its Critics, Including Free Software Proponents (TechRights, June 20, 2019)
It’s very important to understand what Microsoft is up to: it’s not a friend, it’s just getting closer for the purpose of causing damage (from the inside). Earlier this month Dina Bass wrote a widely-syndicated (dozens of news sites) piece pretending that Microsoft was reaching for peace and had already appeased its biggest critics. It’s a lie, but if the media keeps repeating this lie, then more and more people will believe it. To appease the Linux Foundation and OSI, Microsoft just had to dump some money on them; that’s not about trust, it’s about corrupting people using money - not the same thing!
Scientists warn that climate change could hinge on microbes (MSN, June 20, 2019)
More than 30 microbiologists signed a statement published in Nature Reviews Microbiology yesterday (June 19) intended to put 'humanity on notice' about the risk of ignoring these tiny creatures. In the statement, titled 'Scientists’ warning to humanity: microorganisms and climate change,' they write that 'the microscopic majority can no longer be the unseen elephant in the room.'
NEW: DNA Microscope Sees ‘Through the Eyes of the Cell’ (New York Times, June 20, 2019)
A new imaging tool works more like Google Maps than a traditional microscope.
Printing vaccines at the pharmacy or at home will be the way of the future (Ars Technica, June 20, 2019)
Our current model of manufacturing stockpiles won't work against bioterror or superbugs.
The Himalayas Are in Even Worse Shape Than We Thought (Outside, June 19, 2019)
New research shows just how much global warming is eating away at the glaciers on the world’s highest peaks.
NEW: More Bad Buzz For Bees: Record Number Of Honeybee Colonies Died Last Winter (NPR, June 19, 2019)
Varroa mites are the number one concern around wintertime. They've become harder to control because some of the tools that beekeepers have been using - chemical strips that attract and kill mites, essential oils and organic acids - are losing their efficacy.
Pollinators are responsible for one of every three bites of food we take, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Most of these pollinators are domesticated honeybees.
Maryann Frazier, a retired senior extension associate for the College of Agricultural Sciences at Pennsylvania State University, says the results are troubling, if unsurprising. Stressed, sick bees in close proximity are likely to die during the winter months. And bees face increasing levels of stress. Until all parties work together to address the sources of that stress, she says, steep winter die-offs will continue. 'I don't expect to see a change in losses over time for this reason. There's been no significant effort to correct what's causing the decline,' she says.
Take pesticides, she says. 'There's a huge amount of data [and] research showing pesticides are a significant player in the decline of honeybees and other insect species. And yet there's been so little done to make a change on that front. The EPA has been incredibly ineffective.'
She says that pesticide industry leaders often try to shift blame for bee declines solely onto Varroa mites and viruses when in fact, she says, 'there is so much evidence that pesticides are a major player in the decline of honeybees. And these things are synergistic,' she adds. Pesticides can compromise immune systems, so when a mite or other pest hits a bee compromised by pesticides, it's a downward spiral. Other sources of stress, like changing landscapes, have not been corrected.
Engineering superbugs, accidentally or otherwise (Ars Technica, June
19, 2019)
Synthetic biology and hacking viruses sounds great until you wipe out humanity.
We should create a global DNA threat-detection network to fight future pathogens (
Ars Technica, June 19, 2019)
eneticist George Church talks about early detection and surveillance.
Slack Wants to Replace Email. Is That What We Want? (New York Times, June 19, 2019)
As the office chat start-up prepares to go public, some of us are still figuring out how available we want to be - and whether it’s O.K. to ping the C.E.O.
The rise of the only child: How America is coming around to the idea of ‘just one’ (Washington Post, June 19, 2019)
The proportion of mothers who had one child at the end of their childbearing years doubled from 11 percent in 1976 to 22 percent in 2015, according to Pew Research Center, and census data show the trend continuing to tick steadily upward.
Alphabet shareholder meeting draws protests over antitrust, human rights (CNet, June 19, 2019)
Google’s recent scandals take center stage at its parent company’s annual gathering of investors.
Activists urge Google to break up before regulators force it to. (Reuters, June 19, 2019)
The proposal and 13 other shareholder measures opposed by the company were voted down on Wednesday, according to its preliminary tally. Alphabet’s top two executives, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, hold 51.3 percent of shareholder votes.
Nevertheless, it shows a growing focus on the prospect of antitrust action against Alphabet and other big technology firms such as Facebook Inc and Inc as they face a political and public backlash over privacy issues and the power they now wield over the world’s information.
Scary Fast (Center for Public Integrity, June 19, 2019)
Hypersonic missiles are a revolutionary new type of weapon, one that would have the unprecedented ability to maneuver and then to strike almost any target in the world within a matter of minutes. Capable of traveling at more than 15 times the speed of sound, hypersonic missiles arrive at their targets in a blinding, destructive flash, before any sonic booms or other meaningful warning. So far, there are no surefire defenses. Fast, effective, precise and unstoppable - these are rare but highly desired characteristics on the modern battlefield. And the missiles are being developed not only by the United States but also by China, Russia and other countries.
How Not To Prevent a Cyberwar With Russia (Wired, June 18, 2019)
Since 2017, Trump has been elevating Cyber Command's authority and reversing Obama administration rules that required other agencies' sign-off before it launched an offensive hacking operation. But former White House cybersecurity officials caution against that cyberwar hawkishness. 'The idea that we can use cyber offense capabilities to impose sabotage-like effects, and to do so in increasingly large scale and costly ways until they get it through their head that they can’t win, I don’t think that's going to work,' says Tom Bossert, who served as White House homeland security advisor and the president's most senior cybersecurity-focused official until April of last year. 'I want to make sure we don’t end up in an escalatory cyber exchange where we lose more than they do.'
In many respects the US economy and infrastructure is far more reliant on digitization and automation than Russia's, giving the Kremlin an inherent advantage in any future no-holds-barred cyberwar. He paraphrases former secretary of defense Ash Carter: 'If you're doused in gasoline, don't start a match-throwing contest.'
Trump's plan to deport 'millions' likely not feasible  (ABC News, June 18, 2019)
President Donald Trump’s promise on the eve of a campaign rally to begin deporting next week 'millions' of people living in the U.S. illegally is raising the issue of how the administration could feasibly launch such a massive operation because it's out of space to hold them. Also in question would be whether the administration would further abandon its past focus of deporting undocumented migrants convicted of crimes in order to deport families, which at least one top official said was inevitable. Another concern would be that families could be separated, possibly leaving thousands of young children in limbo without guardians.
Quinnipiac Poll: Trump Losing Florida to Warren, Sanders, and Biden (Daily KOS, June 18, 2019)
A Quinnipiac University poll released today shows all Democratic candidates lead Donald Trump or are in a statistical dead heat in the swing state of Florida.Among Independent Florida voters, Sanders does the best, winning that group by 17% (51%-34%). But all the Democratic candidates beat Trump by at least 6% among Independents.
Quinnipiac follows other polls that show Trump in trouble in many battleground states. A leaked internal Republican poll from March showed Trump ahead in only 2 of 17 battleground states surveyed.
Orlando wants money upfront after Trump stiffs cities on campaign rally bills (Daily KOS, June 18, 2019)
Trump’s campaign has been doing what any Trump organization does - not paying its bills. In this case, it includes bills accrued for local law enforcement assistance at Trump campaign events, requested by the Secret Service. Looking through municipal records, the Center for Public Integrity found that Trump’s campaign still owes around $841,219, dating as far back as 2016, to at least nine city governments.
Our Orlando Sentinel endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump | Editorial (Orlando FL Sentinel, June 18. 2019)
Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign. We’re here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we’re not endorsing: Donald Trump.
Some readers will wonder how we could possibly eliminate a candidate so far before an election, and before knowing the identity of his opponent. Because there’s no point pretending we would ever recommend that readers vote for Trump. After 2½ years we’ve seen enough.
Trump was ready to ‘blow up everything’: Biographer Michael Wolff on why Mueller didn’t indict (Raw Story, June 18, 2019)
If Mueller had pushed Donald Trump into a corner he would blow up everything. Donald Trump would take the country’s political institutions down with him. Trump would take down the Department of Justice. Trump would not care. For somebody like Robert Mueller, this was a reality he had to confront. Mueller was likely thinking to himself, 'I have to deal with the fact that somebody who has as much power as I do, or more, can use this power in a way that could harm everybody in a much greater way.' Robert Mueller decided it was much better to let Donald Trump just run out the clock than to give Trump the opportunity and the cause to destroy everything, the country’s political institutions.
Scientists shocked by Arctic permafrost thawing 70 years sooner than predicted. (The Guardian, June 18, 2019)
Ice blocks frozen solid for thousands of years destabilized. The climate is now warmer than at any time in last 5,000 years.
Photograph lays bare reality of melting Greenland sea ice (
The Guardian, June 18, 2019)
Research teams traversing partially melted fjord to retrieve weather equipment release startling picture.
Egypt's ousted President Morsi buried after courtroom death (Associated Press, June 18, 2019)
What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane (The Atlantic, June 17, 2019)
Five years ago, Flight MH370 vanished into the Indian Ocean. Officials on land know more about why than they dare to say.
Undocumented immigrants fired fr