Thursday Reads: Polar Vortex Deep Freeze and Other News

View of Chicago across a frozen Lake Michigan

Good Afternoon!!

The biggest news this morning is the weather. The Midwest is getting hit hard by the polar vortex. So far it’s not that bad in the Boston area. It’s 12 degrees this morning with a high of 18, and the temperatures will be going up after that, so I feel fortunate.

The New York Times: Polar Vortex Updates: Bitter Cold Weather Spreads East.

As the middle of the nation awoke on Thursday, the deep freeze seemed to have settled in for a long, unwanted visit, disrupting life across an entire region for much of a week, contributing to deaths and injuries, and leaving residents impatient to emerge from their homes and get back to normal.

The grim temperatures and gusty winds lingered in the Midwest, and had spread to the Northeast.

Here are the latest developments:

• Temperatures broke records in some places, and remained low, near record levels, in much of the Midwest on Thursday morning. Minneapolis was minus 23, with a wind chill of minus 38, the National Weather Service said. Chicago was at minus 21, with a wind chill of minus 41. And Milwaukee hit minus 21, with a wind chill of minus 40.

Another shot of frozen Chicago

• At least eight deaths have been connected to the Midwest’s dangerously cold weather system, according to The Associated Press, including that of a University of Iowa student who was found behind an academic hall several hours before dawn on Wednesday.

• The sustained cold taxed energy systems across the Midwest, leading to some outages and urgent calls to customers to reduce the heat in their homes.

• Many schools, businesses and restaurants remained shuttered on Thursday, though some offices were reopening and many more were expected to reopen Friday, when temperatures are expected to rise.

• Airlines have already canceled more than 2,000 flights scheduled for Thursday in the United States, according to FlightAware. On Wednesday, cancellations topped 2,700.

• The East Coast was feeling the bitter cold, too. At 6 a.m. the temperature in New York City hit 2 degrees, but with the wind it felt like 17 below zero.

Yahoo News: Live updates: Deep freeze blasts Northeast as dangerously cold temperatures are unrelenting in Midwest.

A dangerous deep freeze is blasting the Northeast and Midwest, where record-breaking cold temperatures are paralyzing cities and communities.

At least eight people have died in connection with the coldest weather in decades across the Northern Plains and Midwest.

The wind chill in Chicago plunged to minus 52 on Wednesday — the coldest wind chill since 1985. It was minus 55 in Minneapolis, also the coldest wind chill since 1985….

Emergency responders help victims after a pileup near Reading, PA

The bone-chilling temperatures are unrelenting in the Midwest, where the actual temperatures — not wind chills — were in the minus 20s and minus 30s.

Record low temperatures were recorded in Chicago: minus 21 degrees; Madison, Wisconsin: minus 26 degrees; and Milwaukee: minus 23 degrees….

On the East Coast, New York City had a temperature of 2 degrees — the coldest day in three years.

Philadelphia reached a temperature of 5 degrees with a wind chill of minus 11 — the coldest so far this winter.

Boston also fell to 5 degrees 5 with a wind chill of minus 16 — the worst so far for the year.

I’m not sure about that. We had below zero real temperatures a couple of weeks ago. Anyway, it’s cold and I don’t plan to go outside until tomorrow, when it’s supposed to go back into the 20s.

My Mom lives in an assisted living community in the Indianapolis area, and it has been really cold there. Last night her apartment was so cold that they had to giver her a space heater. They’re not prepared for temperatures like that in that part of Indiana.

You probably heard about this yesterday: Russians have been trying to spread disinformation about the Mueller investigation using discovery materials from the Concord Management case.

NBC News: Mueller says Russians are using his discovery materials in disinformation effort.

Russians are using materials obtained from special counsel Robert Mueller’s office in a disinformation campaign apparently aimed at discrediting the investigation into Moscow’s election interference, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.

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Ice is seen on the side of the Great Falls National Historic Park in Patterson, NJ yesterday

One or more people associated with the special counsel’s case against Russian hackers made statements last October claiming to have stolen discovery materials that were originally provided by Mueller to Concord Management, Mueller’s team said in court documents filed on Wednesday in the Russian troll farm case.

That discovery — evidence and documents traded between both sides of a lawsuit — appears to have been altered and disseminated as part of a disinformation campaign apparently aimed at discrediting the ongoing investigations in Russian interference in the U.S. political system, according to the documents.

Concord Management, a company owned by a Russian oligarch known as President Vladimir Putin’s “chef,” is one of three Russian entities that were accused by the special counsel last February of helping to mastermind the social media meddling into the 2016 election. Thirteen Russian citizens were also indicted and accused of taking part in the widespread effort.

According to the documents filed Wednesday, a Twitter account called @HackingRedstone tweeted: “We’ve got access to the Special Counsel Mueller’s probe database as we hacked Russian server with info from the Russian troll case Concord LLC v. Mueller. You can view all the files Mueller had about the IRA and Russian collusion. Enjoy the reading!”

Click on the link to read the rest.

Trump is infuriated because his own intelligence chiefs disagree with his ignorant, information-free pronouncements about foreign countries. The heads of intelligence agencies testified to Congress on Tuesday.

CNN: Trump singled out Dan Coats in morning rant about intelligence community.

Icicles form on a railing in Port Washington, WI yesterday

President Donald Trump seethed Wednesday morning as he watched the highlights of his intelligence chiefs testifying on Capitol Hill and singled out Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats by name during his morning rant, two people with knowledge of the outburst tell CNN.

The President didn’t see Coats’ full testimony in front of lawmakers that took place on Tuesday, but he was furious Wednesday as he watched television chyrons blare that the officials had contradicted him. The snippets of Coats saying that North Korea had “halted its provocative behavior related to its WMD program” but was unlikely to “completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities” angered him, CNN has learned.

Trump made his displeasure with the intelligence team clear on Twitter just after 6 a.m. Wednesday, but he didn’t single Coats out in his tweets like he did verbally. The President was more frustrated with the coverage than the assessments of the intelligence chiefs, who brief him on national security matters regularly.

The White House says Trump isn’t yet going to fire Coats for telling the truth.

At The Washington Post, Tim Weiner, author of books on the histories of the CIA and FBI, writes: When Trump savages his intelligence chiefs, the ‘deep state’ has reason to worry.

President Trump has compared the CIA to Nazis. Now he is attacking the sentinels of American national security as “extremely … naive” on Iran, and much else. “They are wrong!” he tweeted on Wednesday. “Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”

The chiefs of U.S. intelligence, an enterprise costing well north of $80 billion a year, report that Iran isn’t building nuclear weapons, North Korea isn’t dismantling them, and the Islamic State is undefeated in Syria and Iraq. Trump batted back their conclusions on ISIS and North Korea in tweets delivered before dawn, in who knows what dark night of the soul.

The Sheboygan lighthouse glows at sunrise in Wisconsin.

“The President has a dangerous habit of undermining the intelligence community to fit his alternate reality,” tweeted Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “People risk their lives for the intelligence he just tosses aside on Twitter.”

The CIA’s spies and analysts are the lead reporters on these issues. All their work contradicts the president’s assumptions. And they are almost assuredly correct. Trump says they don’t know what they’re talking about. Why is he savaging American intelligence and its leaders? He may be playing deaf, dumb and blind to their work, fending it all off as fake news, because he thinks they have something on him. He certainly sees the CIA (and the FBI) as an instrument of a “deep state” conspiring to undo his presidency. And so he denigrates their work and dismisses their leaders as fools and naifs.

Sure, the CIA has been tragically wrong in the past. The United States went to war in Iraq 15 years ago, in part, because of its supposition that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. But it’s just as great a tragedy when it gets it right and the president won’t listen. We are living through that kind of tragedy right now. If Trump trashes whatever the CIA tells him — just as he ignored its solid reporting that a certain Saudi prince had a contributing Washington Post journalist murdered four months ago — who knows what will happen if we have an actual crisis.

Read the rest at the WaPo.

The Polar Vortex from space

The media has worked hard this weeks to make former Starbucks boss and billionaire Howard Schwartz into a viable presidential candidate. I don’t think it’s working, because Schultz is an unattractive man with zero charisma and no understanding of politics or government. Yesterday Schultz really stepped in it.

CNN: Howard Schultz deletes tweet about column that contained smears on Warren, Harris.

Schultz, who is weighing an independent centrist bid for president, told CNN’s Anderson Cooper he was unaware the column on PJMedia.com called Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts “Fauxcahontas” — a reference to her claim of Native American heritage — and Sen. Kamala Harris of California a “shrill … quasi-socialist.”

Asked on “Anderson Cooper 360” why he deleted the tweet, Schultz said it was “because I don’t want to get into the mud with anybody.”

“I don’t want to get into revenge politics, which has been obviously been the problem that I’m identifying,” he said. “I don’t want to be part of mudslinging. I want to speak aspirationally and positively and do everything I can to elevate the national conversation. That is what’s necessary.”

Schultz’s tweet Wednesday morning had thanked the column’s author for a “thoughtful analysis of what’s possible” as it argued the former CEO could win the White House.

So why did he recommend a column on PJ media then? Here’s what it said about Warren and Harris, from The Hill: Schultz deletes tweet of column calling Warren ‘Fauxcahontas’ and Harris ‘shrill.’

In the now-deleted tweet, Schultz linked to a piece that called Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) “shrill” and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) “Fauxcahontas,” a reference to her claims of Native American heritage.

Melissa Seitz at Higgins Lake, Michigan, caught this sunrise halo on January 30, 2019. Halos like this are caused by ice crystals drifting in the air. She wrote: “I created the heart in the snow a few days ago by walking around in tall boots!

“Thank you @Rogerlsimon for a thoughtful analysis of what’s possible. #ReimagineUS,” Schultz tweeted, along with a link to an article on PJ Media by Roger L. Simon titled “Howard Schultz Could Actually Win the Presidency.”

“Current frontrunner Kamala Harris is far from reassuring,” Simon writes in the column. “She’s a shrill (see the Kavanaugh hearings) quasi-socialist promising pie in the sky — Medicare-for-all, debt-free college, guaranteed pre-K, minimum basic income, confiscatory taxes — and she’s just getting started. Bernie [Sanders] and others will soon be following suit. Fauxcahontas already has, competing in a game of socialist one-upmanship.”

Not a very good start for a man who claims he wants to unite the country. Oh by the way, he also wants to cut Social Security, Medicare, and other social programs and doesn’t think the rich should pay more taxes.

More stories to check out:

New York Law Journal: Hasn’t the Time Come for Rudy Giuliani to be Disciplined?

CNN: Even some Republicans balk as Trump targets US spy chiefs.

Vox: Jerome Corsi’s claims about Roger Stone, WikiLeaks, and the Access Hollywood tape, explained.

The Daily Beast: NRA Heavyweight Wanted Access to Putin: Leaked Email.

Think Progress: Newly emerged photo shows Ben Carso.n with key employee of sanctioned Russian oligarch.

Lawfare: What an Old Watergate Document Can Teach the House Judiciary Committee.

SFGATE: Elephant seals took over a Pt. Reyes beach during shutdown. It won’t reopen a.nytime soon.

APNewsBreak: ICE force-feeding detainees on hunger strike.

Raw Story: How Donald Trump brought about the end of my marriage.

So . . . what stories have you been following?

 


33 Comments on “Thursday Reads: Polar Vortex Deep Freeze and Other News”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    I really overslept today so I’m late again. Sorry! I hope everyone is staying safe and warm.

    • Enheduanna says:

      You guys work hard to do this every day and we appreciate it BB! If it were 12 degrees here I’d still be in bed.

      (Can I gloat? – it’s 51 and sunny, no wind)….

    • NW Luna says:

      You must have needed more sleep! It’s a lot of work to do these posts. I always learn something and like reading them regardless of when they’re posted.

  2. bostonboomer says:

  3. bostonboomer says:

    • joanelle says:

      Donny wasted his allowance money when he closed down the government, in fact he spent twice as much on the shutdown, and no more bubblegum and lollipops for him

  4. bostonboomer says:

  5. joanelle says:

    Well we are currently having a ‘heat wave’, We awoke to -1˚ and it is now 14˚.
    Nice post, BB thanks. Yes, Giuliani, McConnell and Trump have all overstayed their visit. Donny has had too many private meetings with Vlad without US rep present.

    • bostonboomer says:

      That’s about what it is here, but we haven’t gotten the worst of it. The next week or so it will be back up in the 50s.

  6. bostonboomer says:

  7. Enheduanna says:

    “People risk their lives for the intelligence he just tosses aside on Twitter.” Amen Sen. Warner. And these are professionals who know a thing or two about covert ops. Dump needs to quit poking this big tiger. He himself is the biggest security threat in the country ATM.

    • quixote says:

      I can’t say that I have a lot of admiration for the US Intelligence Community. Domestically, they seem to have some vague grasp of the facts at the cost of way too many cases of vast unconstitutional overreach. In other countries, they seem to miss even the most obvious stuff anyone can read in the news, assuming you speak the language. Or bother to get a translation. So they’re hopelessly wrong *a lot*.

      The difference between them and the Orange Dump is that he, as the physicists say, is not even wrong.

      • Enheduanna says:

        Oh I agree – no big fan here either. But Warner isn’t wrong – they do risk their lives. And it’s precisely because they overreach that Dump should be cautious. He’s poking a hornet’s nest IMO. Eventually somebody just might get fed up.

  8. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      I am continually dumbfounded at the blindness of the evangelicals. Supposedly they follow Jesus the Christ — who said to take care of the poor and the sick, that rich men are unlikely to get into heaven, and who ran the moneylenders out of the Temple.

      • quixote says:

        There was a fascinating history about the root of white evangelicalism at least in the US. Potted summary: it was fostered by slaveholders who wanted loyal footsoldiers against uppity blacks.

        The religion is not the point. The racism and the authoritarianism and the misogyny are the point. The religion is just the “whited” part of the sepulchre.

  9. OG says:

    I agree eith the move yo get all our troops out of Syria and Afghanistan as soon as possible.

  10. dakinikat says:

  11. NW Luna says:

    Love the article on the elephant seals taking over their beach again!

  12. NW Luna says:

    Everyone saw that Schultz rarely votes? Lol.

  13. Minkoff Minx says:

    So Cory Booker is in…