Tuesday Reads

Ginger Rogers reading Romola Nijinsky’s Life of Nijinsky, Lincoln Kirstein (1933)

Good Afternoon!!

UPDATE: News just broke that Sen. Diane Feinstein has released the Senate testimony of Fusion GPS’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Take that Sen. Grassley! 

Finally, the Boston area has emerged from the deep freeze and back to more normal January temperatures. It’s 41 degrees here today and it might hit 56 degrees on Friday.

On another front, though, Massachusetts may be headed for an ugly fight thanks to good old Jeff Sessions and his anti-marijuana crusade. The Boston Globe: US attorney throws future of legal pot in Mass. into doubt.

The state’s top federal prosecutor on Monday refused to rule out a crackdown on the voter-authorized marijuana industry, prompting howls from advocates and politicians and moving Massachusetts to the forefront of the battle between the Trump administration and the dozens of states where cannabis is legal.

“I cannot . . . provide assurances that certain categories of participants in the state-level marijuana trade will be immune from federal prosecution,” said US Attorney for Massachusetts Andrew E. Lelling.

The pronouncement followed US Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision last week to grant regional federal prosecutors broader discretion to enforce the longstanding national prohibition on cannabis, which the Obama administration had limited in states that have approved the drug for recreational or medical use.

Lelling was just confirmed in December. Attorney General Maura Healy is having none of it:

“The people of Massachusetts voted to legalize the responsible sale and use of marijuana,” said a Healey spokeswoman. “Our office is com-mitted to helping implement legalization effectively and as safely as possible. We encourage the US attorney to further clarify his enforcement priorities to provide guidance to Massachusetts municipalities, residents, and businesses.”

Ingrid Bergman reading

Lelling’s stance also miffed a range of Massachusetts leaders who have been grappling with regulating the state’s nascent marijuana market.

Geoff Beckwith, executive director of the Massachusetts Municipal Association, said the newly hostile signals from the federal government threaten to confuse ongoing local efforts to prepare for recreational marijuana.

“This is a knuckleball late in the process,” Beckwith said. “It’s a disruptive intrusion by the federal government into the activities of state and local governments, who have been working on this structure and implementing the will of the voters.”

Massachusetts decriminalized individual use of marijuana in 2008 and legalized medical marijuana in 2012. People approved for medical marijuana can grow small amounts on their property. Recreational use an commercial saleof the drug was approved in 2016. Now the feds are going to step in and make a mess of state laws? I don’t think so.

Before his announcement, Lelling sent an email to local police departments.

This could get really ugly. I wonder if Sessions has found other anti-marijuana people to appoint in other states?

In other news, Scientists have confirmed the existence of a fourth dimension. International Business Times: 4D World: Light Moving In Fourth Dimension Observed During Quantum Hall Experiment.

Any mention of the fourth dimension and one’s mind immediately wanders to the possible wonders of time travel. Since Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity was introduced in 1905, the fourth dimension has helped our understanding of “the dimension of time.”

Eartha Kitt reading

In our physical world, we can perceive three dimensions and one extra dimension of time as we move through the Universe.

But two recent quantum experiments have for the first time shown the existence of a fourth spatial dimension.

The teams of scientists from the U.S. and Europe have shown that, in addition to the conventional three-axis where an object can move up-down, left-right or forward-backward to an observer, there exists a fourth spatial dimension which could introduce new directions of motion.

Oded Zilberberg, ETH researcher, and a professor at the Institute for Theoretical Physics oversaw the two experiments that provided the data for the discovery. By placing together two specially designed 2D setups to study the quantum Hall effect, they were able to catch a glimpse of this fourth spatial dimension.

Read the rest at IB Times. I don’t understand it, but it seems exciting.

Back in Trump world, the “president” attended the Alabama-George national championship game, and we learned that the moron doesn’t know the words to the National Anthem.

The Washington Post: Trump revives criticism of national anthem protests, but critics wonder: Does he know the song?

Before heading to the college national football championship Monday, President Trump reiterated his views on athletes using the national anthem to protest racial discrimination and police violence in America.

“We want our flag respected,” Trump told the annual gathering of the American Farm Bureau Federation in Nashville. “We want our national anthem respected also.”

“There’s plenty of space for people to express their views and to protest, but we love our flag and we love our anthem, and we want to keep it that way,” he said.

But at the Alabama vs. Georgia game in Atlanta, as the president stood with the color guard during the anthem and appeared to mouth the words to the song, some questioned: Does Trump know the words to the entire first verse of the national anthem?

Pool reporters traveling with the president said he mouthed what appeared to be some of the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but they could not tell exactly what he was saying or singing. Trump seemed more excited to sing along near the end of the song, according to the pool report.

At CNN, Wayne Drash and Ben Tinker ask: With nuclear codes in hands, why doesn’t the president get a thorough mental check?

With a tell-all book raising concerns about US President Trump’s mental stability, there is a renewed question asking why the most powerful man in the world is not required to pass a thorough mental health exam.

Trump defended himself as a “very stable genius” in a tweetstorm over the weekend. But his remarks have done little to quell questions swirling about why the man with the nation’s nuclear codes doesn’t have to undergo more rigorous mental health evaluations.

“I think it’s totally legitimate to ask about that and to have that as part of the examination,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University and a CNN contributor. “I generally think that once someone’s president — or once someone’s even running for office — this should be fair game.

“This isn’t about scandal, and it’s not some kind of exposé. It’s understanding whether someone is fit to hold the office and whether there is any problem that the president himself — or his advisers, or the country — should be aware of.”

Jane Russell

Trump, 71, is to undergo a medical exam on Friday by White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson, who performed President Barack Obama’s last several physicals while he was in office. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has promised a readout of the results as soon as information becomes available, but it’s ultimately up to the president as to what information he wants to share with the public.

CNN reached out to multiple former White House physicians to learn what is routinely covered during the exams and what sort of mental health evaluations, if any, are done, but they were all unreachable or declined to comment.

At The Washington Post, James Hohmann points out that Trump is likely knee-capping the GOP with his immigration extremism and his shameful treatment of Puerto Rico: Trump systematically alienates the Latino diaspora — from El Salvador to Puerto  Rico and Mexico.

The administration announced Monday that it will terminate the provisional residency permits of about 200,000 Salvadorans who have lived in the United States since at least 2001, leaving them to face deportation. Trump previously ended what is known as Temporary Protected Status for Nicaraguans and Haitians, and he’s expected to cut off Hondurans later this year.

This is part of a strategic, full-court press to make America less hospitable to immigrants, both legal and illegal. Immigration enforcement arrests are up 40 percent, Trump has slashed the number of refugees allowed into the United States to the lowest level since 1980 and the Justice Department has tried to crack down on “sanctuary cities” during his first year.

Audrey Hepburn

Most consequentially, Trump created an artificial political crisis by announcing the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows about 700,000 undocumented immigrants who were brought to the country as children to avoid deportation and obtain work permits.

The president is now trying to use the “dreamers” as bargaining chips to force Congress to pony up $18 billion for his border wall, breaking a campaign promise that Mexico would pay. Congressional Republicans are also offering to negotiate an extension of TPS protections in exchange for scaling back the diversity visa lottery program.

There is a chance of a government shutdown in the next several weeks over the wall and/or DACA.

Read more at the WaPo link.

Finally, Andrew Desiderio breaks the news that Mike Pence was responsible for stopping the bipartisan fix for Obamacare.

A bipartisan effort to stabilize the U.S. health-insurance markets collapsed last month after anti-abortion groups appealed directly to Vice President Mike Pence at the 11th hour, The Daily Beast has learned.

Amid opposition from conservatives in the House of Representatives, a group of pro-life activists met with Pence to lobby the Trump administration against supporting a health-insurance market-stabilization bill on the grounds that it does not contain sufficient language on abortion restrictions, according to sources with direct knowledge of the meeting. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) was also in attendance at the Dec. 19 meeting, three of the sources said.

The next day, key lawmakers involved in crafting the legislation announced they were punting on the issue until 2018.

A spokeswoman for the vice president confirmed the meeting to The Daily Beast. A spokesman for McConnell did not respond to requests for comment.

Efforts to pressure Pence, a hardline social conservative and a former lawmaker, are thrusting abortion back onto the national stage in a debate over the future of health care in America, as Republicans deliberate behind closed doors on whether to try to scrap Obamacare again in 2018.

That’s all I have for you today. What stories are you following?

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61 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  2. bostonboomer says:

    I’ll be reading the testimony. The stuff they are posting on Twitter is amazing.

    • dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      • quixote says:

        If it’s in her power to release the transcript, why didn’t she do it ages ago? Anything that makes the Dump miserable is good, though.

        • quixote says:

          (Btw, Luna, re Mass and the previous post. I’ve seen quite a bit of agreement among climate scientists that the Pacific NW is likely to have relatively fewer impacts from warming than much of the US. There’s way less agreement re his take on the CA wildfires. Of course fall is fire season. But something like four of the five biggest fires in the last 150 years have been in the last ten. And as far as our fire here in SoCal went, the Thomas fire, it grew that big because the Santa Anas would not let up. It’s the first time since records were kept they’ve had a 2 week+ SA winds in *December*. So, yes, any given event might just be an outlier, but when you keep getting outliers, they’re not outliers anymore.)

          • NW Luna says:

            Yes, the PNW is luckier and will be — but only for a while.

            Some instances in a herd of outliers will indeed be outliers. I’m not comfortable saying definitely that something is caused by climate change when we haven’t fully discerned the etiology. We can only say it may be because of climate change. There’re plenty of conclusively linked events — we shouldn’t be sloppy and sweep events in when the connection’s not clear. Maybe I’m too worried about ‘purity.’

            Re the wildfires — I’ve read that they may have been exacerbated by poorly maintained power lines which failed/fell down and sparked fires. Don’t know how accurate that claim is.

            We also need to consider the length of time in which records have been kept. Many areas don’t have records going back several hundred years, so we don’t really know how many standard deviations off events are. (Awck, this comment is such a mish-mash of academic and casual writing!) And … I think I’m belaboring a point too far.

            I may be down in your area in late February. Maybe we could meet in person and argue—err, continue our discussion. Will be in touch if my plans turn definitive.

          • quixote says:

            Would love to meet! Let me know. (There a contact page on my website molvray.com/acidtest ) There’s some good day hikes around here :).

            Re power lines in the Santa Rosa fires: yup. Very much played a role. Couldn’t stand up to the near-hurricane force winds. The wind speed was in outlier territory….

            The etiology of any single event is not the issue. The issue is that the overall connection has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s like not knowing whether this particular smoker’s lung cancer was caused by cigarettes. Nonsmokers do get lung cancer, so for a specific individual you’d have to do some pretty spectacular proteomics work, for which we don’t even have a protocol yet afaik, to begin to answer the question of specific cause. Doesn’t change the fact that smoking does cause lung cancer. Likewise, there’s no question that pumping greenhouse gases into the air causes extreme climate events. Pinning down a specific event is just a red herring. It’s the frequency that counts.

          • NW Luna says:

            Oh, I get this: “The etiology of any single event is not the issue,” and I thought it was clear that I wasn’t disputing that climate change is real.

            I was belaboring the point that occasionally some single events aren’t related yet they’re lumped in with events which are related to climate change. For example, if I wrote up a research project and tried to argue that all 10 adverse events were caused by drug A when there was evidence that 2 were not, I would get called out for sloppy reasoning, if not worse. Never mind if the majority of events are related.

            My mother once told me I was too fond of debating.

            It would be fun to get together and go hiking. I know we have far more in common than not.

      • palhart says:

        He’s trying not to look crazy! Oh, God, I would have been happier not to have heard him turn a couple of thoughts inside out and upside down, like during his campaign. He thinks allowing “pork” again would bring about friendship between the demo and repubs. Repetitions — I nearly nodding off.

    • Fannie says:

      I knew you would. Just got in from shopping and heard the news, and excited too. Ten hours of interview.

  3. NW Luna says:

    I always love your choices for pics with people reading. Eartha Kitt — she was amazing. She was also an anti-war activist and spoke out for marriage equality.

  4. NW Luna says:

    Glad to hear your state is pushing back on Sessions’ new policy. My governor and our state’s Attorney General have said

    we will vigorously defend our state’s laws against undue federal infringement.

    Sessions(the coward) has refused to meet with them despite repeated invitations. WA, OR & CO have made a joint statement on their states’ resistance to Sessions’ marijuana policy. Sessions will have his hands full with all the states joining in to resist him.

  5. NW Luna says:

    Re: the 4th dimension info — I’ve re-read that several times trying to understand it!

    • bostonboomer says:

      I wish I could understand it. Maybe I’ll try harder after I finish with the GPS testimony.

  6. NW Luna says:

    That Fusion GPS testimony — Let’s hear it for Sen. Feinstein!

    • dakinikat says:

  7. NW Luna says:

  8. dakinikat says:

    Here’s layman terms on that 4th dimensions coolness!

    https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/901542/science-USA-Europe-science-fourth-dimension-news-latest-breakthrough-quantum-physics

    “In layman’s terms, 3D objects cast 2D shadows, so 4D objects should cast 3D shadows even if the 4D object is imperceivable.

    The two teams created two custom-designed, two-dimensional experiments to generate an instance of the quantum Hall effect, which restricts the movement of electrons which allows us both to perceive and measure them.”

  9. dakinikat says:

  10. dakinikat says:

    cha cha cha changes due to Alabama …

  11. bostonboomer says:

    https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

  12. bostonboomer says:

    Justice Dept says it will revoke the citizenship of thousands of people who have been citizens for decades.

    https://rewire.news/article/2018/01/09/justice-department-revokes-naturalized-citizenship-citing-fingerprint-issue/

    • NW Luna says:

      And all because US agencies fcked-up their respective fingerprint systems. It’s merely a convenient excuse to deport people.

      A certain amount of what looks like 2 different names being used could legitimately be because there is no clear translation to English from how a name is written in a different language and/or different characters.

  13. dakinikat says:

    Bannon quits Briethbart or they quit him …

  14. dakinikat says:

    I messing with free fonts atm. just an fyi

    • NW Luna says:

      Ah. Right now I see the ubiquitous Helvetica font.

    • quixote says:

      For what it’s worth, my favorite is Fontin Sans. Jos Buivenga does lots of good stuff, not all of it free, but the Fontin is.

      • NW Luna says:

        I really like the version with serifs, but then I’m old-fashioned that way. The sans-serif version is nice — graceful especially when compared with the usual clunky sans typefaces. Reminds me of Optima.

  15. quixote says:

    Still not understanding why Feinstein didn’t release the transcript ages ago if it was in her power to do so. Anybody here who can explain it to a political dumbbell?

    • NW Luna says:

      No, I’m with you and neither of us are dumbbells. My best guess is she decided to quit taking a spoon to a knife fight. Wish Schumer had done that in 2016.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I think the criminal referral was the last straw. Plus maybe she was watching Rachel Maddow last night?

        • NW Luna says:

          Good points.

        • quixote says:

          But you’re saying she could have done it any time? It’s in the power of the ranking Dem to do that? The way they were talking, I thought it all depended on the Chair. If not, I’m still boggled the Dems sat on their hands for so long. Worrying about Senate decorum in the face of an act of war seems outrageously misplaced.

          • NW Luna says:

            I recall Reid (not Schumer) in 2016 before he left office saying he was concerned about a matter which he (allegedly) couldn’t discuss with the media? And DiFi coming out of a meeting with an extremely shocked and serious face, but she didn’t speak about details either. Can’t remember if that last with DiFi was before the election or not.

            Screw Senate decorum and Dem cowardice masquerading as going high when the Rs go low. A presidential candidate who partners with a hostile state is more important than “decorum.”

          • quixote says:

            Yes, I remember that too. I want to say it was before Nov 8 ’16, but I could easily be wrong. Everything has kind of telescoped around the time.

          • NW Luna says:

            Can’t find the Reid (not Schumer) event in a quick search — that had to be in 2016.

            The latter event was 3/2017, and Grassley didn’t stay “disturbed” for long.

            FBI Director James Comey met separately with members of the Senate and House for highly classified briefings.

            Members went into the briefings looking for a firm answer from the FBI to the question of whether or not their was an ongoing investigation into possible ties between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia but emerged silent on that question and appearing visibly disturbed.

            On the Senate side, Comey met with the Chair, Senator Chuck Grassley, and Ranking Member, Senator Dianne Feinstein, of the Senate Judiciary Committee. After the meeting, Feinstein spoke very briefly with reporters who had been waiting for the pair to emerge from the briefing:
            Sen. Feinstein on meeting with FBI Dir. Comey: “This briefing was all on sensitive matters and highly classified” https://t.co/yU56Ikmx8Y
            — NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) March 15, 2017

          • bostonboomer says:

            Are you guys talking about Harry Reid or Schumer?

        • NW Luna says:

          Thx BB! It was Harry Reid, since that incident was in 2016. My bad on keeping track of names.

  16. bostonboomer says:

    The Daily Beast:

    White House Official Floated Withdrawing U.S. Forces to Please Putin

    https://www.thedailybeast.com/white-house-official-floated-withdrawing-us-forces-to-please-putin?ref=home

    A senior National Security Council official proposed withdrawing some U.S. military forces from Eastern Europe as an overture to Vladimir Putin during the early days of the Trump administration, according to a former administration official in the room with him.

    While the proposal was ultimately not adopted, it is the first known case of senior aides to Donald Trump seeking to reposition U.S. military forces to please Putin—something that smelled, to a colleague, like a return on Russia’s election-time investment in President Trump. The White House did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.

  17. NW Luna says:

  18. NW Luna says:

    *endless screaming*

  19. NW Luna says:

  20. bostonboomer says:

    I think it’s very interesting how no one on MSNBC is talking about the fact that the NYT story claiming the FBI had found no evidence of Trump collusion caused Steele to cut off contact with the FBI. He concluded they were trying to help Trump. Most likely the NYT story came from the NYC office, but they have never explained or apologized.

    https://shareblue.com/new-dossier-testimony-reveals-how-badly-nyt-screwed-up-in-trumps-favor/

    • Catscatscats says:

      An expression i learned in HS French comes to mind: Qui s’excuse, s’accuse. He who excuses himself, accuses himself. It seems only Dems must apologize, shut up, then go away.