Thursday Reads

Honesty Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye, Wales

Good Morning!!

Someone in the White House was able to get Trump to agree to make a joint written statement on the poisoning of a former Russian spy and his daughter in Great Britain. Business Insider reports: Trump, May, Merkel and Macron issue joint statement blaming Russia for Sergei Skripal poisoning.

LONDON — The leaders of United States, Britain, France and Germany have released a joint statement condemning Russia for the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in England last week.

Donald Trump, Theresa May, Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel all agreed that there was “no plausible alternative explanation” than that Russia was to blame for the attack.

The leaders called on Russia to “live up to its responsibilities as a member of the UN Security Council,” adding that Russia’s actions “threaten the security of us all.”

The statement marks a significant ramping up of tensions with Russia and comes as members of the NATO council meet to discuss the crisis.

It also follows several days worth of diplomacy by May following an initial reluctance from the French and US government’s to publicly attribute the incident to Russia.

On Wednesday May announced that 23 Russian diplomats would be expelled from the UK following the attack.

Trump still has not personally spoken about the attack, and he’ll probably get a message of support to Putin somehow. After all, he can’t be caught badmouthing his boss in public. Read the full statement at the BI link.

The Strand, New York City

Yesterday Peter Baker wrote about Trump’s refusal to speak out against Putin at The New York Times: Trump, Pressured to Criticize Russia for Poisoning, Leaves Comment to Aides.

ST. LOUIS — Britain’s tough response in holding Russia responsible for a poisoning attack on its soil increased the pressure on President Trump to join with a NATO ally in taking action, even as he has been reluctant to retaliate for Moscow’s intervention in the 2016 election in the United States.

Mr. Trump, who was visiting Missouri on Wednesday, has not personally addressed the attack since London assigned blame to Russia and left it instead to aides to express public solidarity with Prime Minister Theresa May after she expelled 23 Russian diplomats, canceled high-level contacts and vowed to impose more sanctions.

“This latest action by Russia fits into a pattern of behavior in which Russia disregards the international rules-based order, undermines the sovereignty and security of countries worldwide, and attempts to subvert and discredit Western democratic institutions and processes,” the White House said in a written statement. “The United States is working together with our allies and partners to ensure that this kind of abhorrent attack does not happen again.”

But for whatever reason, Mr. Trump avoided saying so personally in public, much as he has generally avoided condemning Russia for its election meddling. He has allowed top advisers to denounce Moscow for its interference in American democracy, but when it comes to his own Twitter posts or comments, he has largely stuck to equivocal language, seemingly reluctant to accept the consensus conclusion of his intelligence agencies and intent on voicing no outrage or criticism of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, for whom he has expressed admiration.

Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice

At Bloomberg, Eli Lake writes that Trump can’t get away with this shit much longer: Time’s Up: Trump Can’t Have It Both Ways on Russia.

From arming Ukraine to appointing hawkish generals like James Mattis, John Kelly and H.R. McMaster, a case could be made that Trump’s soft rhetoric on Russia was not reflected in his government’s tough measures against this adversary. After all, U.S. forces killed Russian mercenaries that attacked a U.S. base in Syria. Watch what the government does, not what the president says. (And as for those allegations of Russian support for the Trump campaign, the president has good reasons to distrust the retired intelligence chiefs who keep impugning him. A few of them endorsed his opponent.)

The expiration date on this Janus-faced approach to Russia has arrived. The specific moment was on Tuesday after Trump had fired his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. Speaking to reporters before boarding Air Force One, Trump couldn’t bring himself to endorse the findings of the British government that Russia poisoned Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the U.K. He hedged. “As soon as we get the facts straight, if we agree with them, we will condemn Russia or whoever it may be,” he said.

Trump here is either deliberately or accidentally playing into Russia’s disinformation campaign. Since the attack last week, when the former Russian spy and his daughter were poisoned with a neurological toxin developed by the former Soviet Union, Russia’s propaganda networks have flooded their airwaves with speculation about a false flag.

Selexyz Dominicanen, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Give Moscow credit. They know how to troll. One voice that keeps cropping up on the matter is Russian lawmaker Andrei Lugovoi. He says he can’t rule out that the whole thing was a provocation from the British themselves. Lugovoi has some experience when it comes to poisoning: A British public inquiry in 2016 concluded he was one of the men who irradiated former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London.

As Trump repeatedly says, “We’ll see what happens.” Let’s not forget that Trump still refuses to impose the sanctions on Russia that were overwhelmingly approved by Congress.

Apparently people in the administration other than Trump are realizing they can’t keep playing footsie with Russia in public. This just broke at Politico: U.S. imposes new sanctions on Russian entities over 2016 election meddling.

The Treasury Department on Thursday slapped new sanctions on two dozen Russian entities and individuals for interfering in the 2016 election and conducting a series of damaging cyberattacks.

“The administration is confronting and countering malign Russian cyber activity, including their attempted interference in U.S. elections, destructive cyberattacks, and intrusions targeting critical infrastructure,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “These targeted sanctions are a part of a broader effort to address the ongoing nefarious attacks emanating from Russia.”

Shakespeare and Company, Paris

Mnuchin added that Treasury is planning to impose additional sanctions “to hold Russian government officials and oligarchs accountable for their destabilizing activities by severing their access to the U.S. financial system.” [….]

Thursday’s sanctions go after the individuals that special counsel Robert Mueller indicted last month for participating in a sweeping plot to use online trolls to inflame social divides and undermine faith in U.S. institutions during the 2016 election.

The sanctions target the Internet Research Agency, the Russian organization that Mueller’s team alleged was responsible for the extensive online trolling effort, that court documents say was years in the making, involving millions of dollars and potentially hundreds of individuals.

So that’s interesting. Again, we’ll see what happens.

You probably heard about Trump’s disgusting performance at a private fund-raiser in St. Louis last night in which he bragged about making up “facts” in a meeting with Canada’s Justin Trudeau. The Washington Post reports:

President Trump boasted in a fundraising speech Wednesday that he made up information in a meeting with the leader of a top U.S. ally, saying he insisted to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the United States runs a trade deficit with its neighbor to the north without knowing whether that was true.

Atlantis Books, Oía, Santorini, Greece

“Trudeau came to see me. He’s a good guy, Justin. He said, ‘No, no, we have no trade deficit with you, we have none. Donald, please,’ ” Trump said, mimicking Trudeau, according to audio of the private event in Missouri obtained by The Washington Post. “Nice guy, good-looking guy, comes in — ‘Donald, we have no trade deficit.’ He’s very proud because everybody else, you know, we’re getting killed.

“… So, he’s proud. I said, ‘Wrong, Justin, you do.’ I didn’t even know. … I had no idea. I just said, ‘You’re wrong.’ You know why? Because we’re so stupid. … And I thought they were smart. I said, ‘You’re wrong, Justin.’ He said, ‘Nope, we have no trade deficit.’ I said, ‘Well, in that case, I feel differently,’ I said, ‘but I don’t believe it.’ I sent one of our guys out, his guy, my guy, they went out, I said, ‘Check, because I can’t believe it.’

‘Well, sir, you’re actually right. We have no deficit, but that doesn’t include energy and timber. … And when you do, we lose $17 billion a year.’ It’s incredible.”

That last bit isn’t true either.

The Office of the United States Trade Representative says the United States has a trade surplus with Canada. It reports that in 2016, the United States exported $12.5 billion more in goods and services than it imported from Canada, leading to a trade surplus, not a deficit.

You can read the entire repulsive transcript at the WaPo. It just a bunch of stream-of-consciousness nonsense. And this *thing* is supposedly the president of the U.S. {Gagging}

I have a lot more stories to recommend, so I’ll give yo the rest in link dump fashion.

El Ateneo Grand Splendid, Buenos Aires

The Atlantic: Telling the Truth About CIA Torture.

The Daily Beast: ‘She Should Be in Jail’—Rights Groups Rally to Stop Torture Overseer Turned Trump CIA Pick Gina Haspel.

Axios: In Trumpworld, nobody knows anything.

Just Security: How Trump Might Replace Sessions with Pruitt as Attorney General.

The Post and Courier: Dylann Roof’s sister arrested for carrying weapons to school on day of national walkout.

CNN: Another Trump attorney involved in Stormy Daniels case.

Politico: BuzzFeed maneuver could free Stormy Daniels to speak on Trump.

CNN: Is North Korea’s silence on the Trump-Kim summit a worry?

Vox: The real problem with the New York Times op-ed page: it’s not honest about US conservatism.

Politico: Extreme secrecy surrounds Comey book manuscript.

Vanity Fair: Trump Wants Them Out of There: After Swinging the Axe at Tillerson, Trump Mulls What to Do with McMaster, Sessions, Jared and Ivanka.

NOTE: The bookstore photos are from an article at the Literary Hub: THE 10 MOST FAMOUS BOOKSTORES IN THE WORLD. See more photos and read about the bookstores there.

So . . . what stories are you following today?


36 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I just have to share this video from Boston blizzard land.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Have a nice Thursday!!

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Here is something to get things going…

        Oklahoma mother will go to jail for marrying her daughter
        Oklahoma mother who married her daughter after the pair “hit it off” has been sentenced to two years in prison.
        Patricia Ann Spann, 45, pleaded guilty to the felony offence of incest and admitted wedding her biological daughter, Misty Velvet Dawn Spann, 26.
        The mother lost custody of her children and reunited with her daughter in 2014.
        The two married in March 2016 after same-sex marriage became legal in the state.
        Investigators later discovered Patricia Ann Spann had previously wed her son.
        Her son, who was 18 years old at the time, annulled the marriage on incest charges in 2010 after tying the knot with his mother in 2008, according to the Oklahoman.

        Check out the mug shots

    • Pat Johnson says:

      This is what “Boston Strong!” means to us Bay Staters!

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Trump continues to embarrass. But his being so self unaware he fails to see how foolish he is to the rest of us.

    Canada has been a partner for generations and he quite possibly has blurred out that distinction with his continuous lies.

    The same for Great Britain and a host of our allies across the globe.

    I keep waiting for something official to happen but I am slowly losing trust. Stormy Daniels? Russian collusion? Money laundering? Pay for play? Every day is another day of scandal yet he just ambles through it, getting away over and over again when just one of these crimes would bring another POTUS down.

    He is a joke. Nothing more then a t.v. celebrity and none too bright at that. His fallback position is to lie.

    This nation is slowly rotting under this man and his corrupt administration. The damage may prove irreparable.

    • Enheduanna says:

      I’m still suspicious of that “paternity information” clause in the Stormy Daniels NDA. I don’t think that was boilerplate legalese. I wonder if the story isn’t dick pics, but an abortion cover-up. Christofascists will probably just forgive him again.

      And I’m very nervous the Mueller investigation won’t bring him down. We may have to just tough it out for three more years. I do not think he can get re-elected but then I was spectacularly wrong about 2016.

      I’ll never forgive the people I know who voted for him.

  3. bostonboomer says:

  4. bostonboomer says:

  5. NW Luna says:

    Love the bookstore photos, BB. I wish I could go on a trip to visit all of them.

  6. NW Luna says:

    • Pilgrim says:

      good social programming, for one main factor

      • quixote says:

        Part of what I see in that data is a female Viking cultural influence. Seriously — forgive my sexism here for a second — but while the most power-grabby guys were off having bouts of testosterone poisoning and making their neighbors miserable, women pretty much ran things.

        Which resulted in institutions like the Danish Althing, a kind of government by town hall meetings that resembles the Western concept of democracy in practice a whole lot more than anything the Greeks did (as opposed to theorized).

        They had concepts of the commons and social benefit and “one for all and all for one” that political theory is just barely catching up to in the last century or two. (That motto is Switzerland’s national one.)

        The other little data point I keep circling is something a cultural anthropologist once told me. I was asking her about female-led societies, and were there any??, and what did they look like? She said there were a few that came close, but they weren’t usually recorded as such because female leaders don’t do the whole Big Boss Guy thing. It’s more the Althing model, where stuff just gets done without a lot of fanfare. You see the same sort of thing, I gather, in business environments with majority-female teams.

        And which countries tend to have a lot of female representation in politics? Why pretty much the ones on the list. Amazing coincidence.

  7. dakinikat says:

    Ok. I would love to visit all those bookstores.

  8. bostonboomer says:

  9. bostonboomer says:

  10. dakinikat says:

    White male entitlement at its finest!

  11. dakinikat says:

    Trump Picks Dow Chemical Lawyer for Key Role at EPA
    President Donald Trump has picked a chemical industry insider to run the Environmental Protection Agency office that oversees emergency response to hazardous spills and cleanups of the nation’s most toxic sites.

  12. dakinikat says:

    Every time I read KKKremlin Caligula lied about the balance of trade between us and Canada I want to just shake the shit out of any one that still considers this guy to be anything but a BS thrower.

  13. quixote says:

    Love the bookshop pics! But that first Welsh one makes me nervous. It rains there! Whay happens to the poor books?!

  14. bostonboomer says:

    Politico: Rep. Louise Slaughter dies

    Rep. Louise Slaughter died Thursday night after having been hospitalized for a fall, according to two Democratic sources. She was 88.

    The New York Democrat served in Congress since 1987.

    • quixote says:

      (bb, this is off-topic, but do you know why the convention is to say so-and-so dies (present tense), when that’s impossible? Obviously they -died-, some time in the recent past, or the reporter wouldn’t be in a position to write about it. Anyway, it’s something I wonder about every time I see that usage.)

      • Sweet Sue says:

        That’s a good question. My sense is that so and so died sounds too harsh and abrupt?

      • NW Luna says:

        Journalists (or headline writers) seem to use the present tense in the headline, while the body copy text has past tense for many topics. For example, “Lamb Wins Race” is the headline, and then the body copy will say “Conor Lamb, who won the recent election by a few hundred votes, ……” Perhaps they want the headline to show immediacy, as if it’s a breaking story? I’ve done a lot of writing in various jobs, but am no journalist..

    • Sweet Sue says:

      She was a good one and will be missed.