Tuesday Reads: Bookstores and Bad NewsPosted: May 8, 2018
When I first moved to Boston in 1967, I lived in an apartment a block outside Harvard Yard. In those days, Harvard Square was a wonderful bohemian place, with bookstores on every block; and I mean that literally. The Paperback Booksmith (“Dedicated to the fine art of browsing”) on Brattle Street was open until midnight. Lots of stores and restaurants were open that late, and there were always people out doing things at all hours. It was a wonderful place, and I remember those days fondly. Over the years, I spent many happy hours browsing for books in the Square.
But times change. Those days are gone now. There are still bookstores in Harvard Square, but not very many. The Harvard Bookstore is still in the same place on Massachusetts Avenue that it’s been since 1932. It’s an independent bookstore, not connected with Harvard University and it’s still a wonderful place.
What happened to all those great bookstores? Barnes & Noble, along with Borders and Waldenbooks, came along and offered discounts, driving many independent bookstores out of business. Then along came the internet and Amazon, and it’s Barnes & Noble’s turn to struggle. David Leonhardt of the NYT wants to save it.
Sorry, but I’m not going to weep for Barnes & Noble. I can get an endless variety of books on line, and I like being able to do that. I love reading on my Kindle. I hope there will always be bookstores for people to enjoy, and there will be if young people patronize them. At my age, I don’t have the energy to go out to bookstores like I used to, but I’m glad they’re still out there. Maybe if Barnes & Noble goes out of business, other people will take up the slack. And of course Amazon is starting brick and mortar stores now.
Times change. I’m not sorry we have the internet now, and cell phones, and so much more technology that I couldn’t even imagine in 1967. Human creativity will live on, and I’ll bet some creative people will still run independent bookstores.
The photos in the post are of independent bookstores around the country from the Literary Hub: 11 authors recommend US bookstores worth traveling for.
I guess I’m thinking about bookstores, because they have always been place I went to escape and find some peace and quiet when I felt stressed or depressed. And right now the world is looking increasingly stressful and depressing to me.
I can’t begin to cover every stunning thing that happened yesterday. It’s like that most days now. But here are some suggested reads.
Last night’s shocking scoop came from The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow: Four Women Accuse New York’s Attorney General of Physical Abuse. I’m not easy to shock when it comes to descriptions of abuse. I’ve read too many. But this one shocked me. I’m not going to post excerpts. Read it if you think you can handle it. There was no way Schneiderman could have survived this.
The New York Times: Eric Schneiderman, Accused by 4 Women, Quits as New York Attorney General.
Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general who rose to prominence as an antagonist of the Trump administration, abruptly resigned on Monday night hours after The New Yorker reported that four women had accused him of physically assaulting them.
“It’s been my great honor and privilege to serve as attorney general for the people of the State of New York,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a statement. “In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me.
“While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”
His resignation represented a stunning fall for a politician who had also assumed a prominent role in the #MeToo movement.
Of course Schneiderman at least had the decency to step down immediately, unlike the pussy grabber in the White House and the Republican Governor of Missouri.
Trump is expected to pull the U.S. out of the Iran deal today. The Washington Post: Trump expected to end waiver of sanctions on Iran, endangering nuclear deal.
The decision follows the failure of last-ditch efforts by the three European signatories to the agreement to convince Trump that his concerns about “flaws” in the 2015 accord could be addressed without violating its terms or ending it altogether.
While the deal itself contains no provisions for withdrawal, Iran has threatened to reactivate its nuclear program if the United States reneges on any of its obligations under the pact’s terms.
France and Germany, whose leaders visited Washington in recent weeks to appeal to Trump, have warned that nullification of the agreement could lead to all-out war in the Middle East. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, in Washington on Monday, said that as far as he knows, the administration has no clear “Plan B” for what to do next.
Trump tweeted Monday that he would announce his decision at 2 p.m. Tuesday. He is free to reimpose all U.S. sanctions, and even announce new ones. But he is expected to stop short of reneging on the deal altogether. Instead, he will address a portion of the wide range of sanctions that were waived when the deal was first implemented, while leaving in limbo other waivers that are due in July.
The affected sanctions, imposed by Congress in 2012, require other countries to reduce Iranian oil imports or risk U.S. sanctions on their banks and their ability to conduct Iran-
related financial transactions. Waivers on those sanctions must be signed every 120 days, and the next deadline is Saturday.
The New York Times has a piece up about the efforts by and Israeli company (the story was first broken by The Guardian Observer) to dig up dirt on Obama administration officials who worked on the Iran deal:
For years, opponents of the nuclear deal with Iran have accused Benjamin J. Rhodes, a top national security aide to President Barack Obama, of scheming to sell the diplomatic agreement on false pretenses to the American people.
Now, just as President Trump appears likely to announce his decision to withdraw from the deal, evidence has surfaced that the agreement’s opponents engaged in a sophisticated effort to dig up dirt on Mr. Rhodes and his family that continued well after the Obama administration left office.
A detailed report about Mr. Rhodes, compiled by Black Cube, a private investigations firm established by former intelligence analysts from the Israel Defense Forces, contains pictures of his apartment in Washington, telephone numbers and email addresses of members of his family, as well as unsubstantiated allegations of personal and ethical transgressions….
It is unclear who hired Black Cube to prepare the report on Mr. Rhodes and a similar report on Colin Kahl, the national security adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., which were obtained by The New York Times from a source with knowledge of their provenance.
The Guardian, which first published the existence of the reports on Mr. Rhodes and Mr. Kahl, said aides to Mr. Trump hired the firm, but there is no evidence in the documents that indicate any connection to anyone in Mr. Trump’s administration. A spokesman for the company vehemently denied any connection to the president.
The latest from The Guardian on another person targeted by the Black Cube operation: Iran deal: prominent backer says he was warned of Trump bid to discredit him.
A prominent Iranian-American supporter of the Iran nuclear deal says he was warned by US intelligence during the presidential transition that his communications would be targeted by the Trump camp in a bid to discredit him….
Trita Parsi, the president of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), was also the target more recently of an Israeli private security company, Black Cube, aimed at gathering personal information about the deal’s advocates among senior figures from the Obama administration.
The Guardian has obtained the transcript of an interview with Parsi conducted last summer by an operative working for Black Cube posing as a journalist, probing him for any ways Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl – top foreign advisers to Barack Obama and his vice-president, Joe Biden – might have benefited from the 2015 agreement, in which Iran received sanctions relief in return for accepting strict curbs on its nuclear programme.
“I thought it was strange that he was pushing this financial angle, which I hadn’t heard before,” Parsi recalled.
According to the transcript of the interview, conducted in the early summer last year, he told the interviewer that, far from reaping rewards, US companies on the whole were frustrated that they were getting nothing from the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Despite the unusual line of questioning, Parsi thought no more about the interview until the transcript was read to him over the weekend.
Read the rest at the link. I have a feeling we are going to keep learning more about this story and I predict it will be connected to Trump.
I have the feeling we’re going to hear more about Trump’s payoffs of women too. Take a look at this interesting piece at New York Magazine: Here’s a Theory About That $1.6 Million Payout From a GOP Official to a Playboy Model.
On May 2, Rudy Giuliani revealed that the Trump administration has been lying for months about the fact that Donald Trump reimbursed his personal attorney Michael Cohen for the $130,000 he fronted to buy porn star Stormy Daniels’s silence about her affair with Trump. Until then, Trump had been claiming that he didn’t know about any settlement, and that he hadn’t had a sexual liaison with Daniels. (The official White House line continues to be that Daniels is lying about having sex with Trump, but almost no one believes this.) Giuliani has claimed that Trump gave him the okay last week to contradict several months’ worth of denials, by revealing Trump’s payments to Cohen.
In journalism this is known as getting out in front of a story. After federal law-enforcement officials raided Cohen’s office on April 9, they surely had documentary evidence of these financial transactions, which meant it was inevitable the truth would eventually come out.
We should consider the strong possibility that the same tactic — i.e., shameless, baldfaced lying — may have played a role in the exposure of yet another Trump-related sex scandal. The Wall Street Journal published a story on April 13 revealing the existence of another nondisclosure agreement involving an affair between an adult entertainer and a client of Cohen’s. The NDA employed the pseudonyms David Dennison and Peggy Peterson — the same names used in the Stormy Daniels NDA — and was otherwise very similar to the Trump-Daniels agreement.
According to this newly revealed NDA, Dennison agreed to pay Peterson $1.6 million, in exchange for Peterson’s promise not to reveal the affair or her claim that Dennison had impregnated her. This NDA, like the Trump-Daniels document, was negotiated by attorneys Keith Davidson, on behalf of Peterson, and Michael Cohen, on behalf of Dennison. Payments were also delivered through Essential Consultants LLC, the same LLC created by Cohen to facilitate payments in the Stormy Daniels deal.
But supposedly Cohen took care of this problem for GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy. Could it be that Broidy took the fall for Trump for some reason? I’ve certainly suspected as much. Read on at the New York link.
Now, what stories are you following today?