Lazy Caturday Reads

By Marc Chagall

Good Morning!!

Before I begin, a note on the art works in this post: Each has an interesting back story that you can read about at this link. Now on to today’s reads.

Have you heard the news? The “president” says the moon is “part of Mars.”

Yes, folks. The “president” is loony tunes and we have to deal with that every day of our lives now. It’s so exhausting.

Bloomberg: Trump Chides NASA for Focus on Moon After Focusing NASA on Moon.

President Donald Trump criticized NASA on Friday for focusing on travel to the moon, raising questions about the space agency’s mandate just months after his administration declared the U.S. would return astronauts to the moon within five years “by any means necessary.”

“For all the money we are spending, NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part), Defense and Science!” Trump said on Twitter.

By Leon Bakst

The president’s tweet followed an announcement by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration that it would allow private citizens to travel to the International Space Station and open some facilities to businesses to help pay for the plan to return to the moon. But his remarks stood in contrast to his previous directive that NASA return astronauts to the moon by 2025.

He unveiled the plan in December, saying: “The directive I’m signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks an important step in returning American astronauts to the moon for the first time since 1972 for long-term exploration and use.” [….]

It’s unclear when the president decided NASA shouldn’t focus on the moon. Less than a month ago, Trump reiterated his enthusiasm for the plan in a tweet: “Under my Administration, we are restoring @NASA to greatness and we are going back to the Moon, then Mars. I am updating my budget to include an additional $1.6 billion so that we can return to Space in a BIG WAY!”

And just last week, during a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump said: “We’ll be going to the moon. We’ll be going to Mars very soon. It’s very exciting. And from a military standpoint, there is nothing more important right now than space.”

Trump probably didn’t pay attention to what he was saying. Perhaps he was just reading words handed to him by his staff. Either that or he forgot. Who knows what’s going on in his dementia-addled brain?

But where did he get the idea that the moon is part of Mars?

Sarah Kaplan reacts to Trump’s tweet at The Washington Post: Fact check: What is the moon?

First, let’s give credit where credit is due: It is a fact that American astronauts landed on the moon 50 years ago (no matter what the conspiracy theorists say).

By Gustav Klimt

But the president might want to take another look at the space policy directive he signed his first year in office, which directed NASA to return to the lunar surface. He could also re-watch the big speech Vice President Pence gave this spring, in which he gave NASA a five-year deadline for the moon mission. And it could be worth reexamining his administration’s request that Congress add $1.6 billion to NASA’s budget for this purpose (maybe Pell Grant recipients will want it back?).

NASA has framed its lunar ambitions as a steppingstone to an eventual human mission to the Red Planet, which is possibly what Trump was referring to when he called the moon “a part” of Mars.

But just in case, it seems worth stating for the record: The moon is a satellite of Earth.

In fact, the moon is probably most accurately described as part of our own planet. Rocks brought back by the Apollo astronauts show that lunar material carries chemical fingerprints almost identical to those found on Earth. Scientists think that the moon was formed from debris produced during an ancient, giant collision between Earth and a now-vanished protoplanet called Theia.

OK, so maybe the problem is just Trump’s inability to speak comprehensible English. Whatever the problem is, we’re stuck with it for now; and this lunatic has control over our nuclear arsenal.

I haven’t watched the Netflix series “When They See Us” yet, but I’ve been following the fallout that has hit former prosecutor and author Linda Fairstein. Fairstein led sex crimes unit prosecutor in the Manhattan DA’s office for many years (1976-2002) and was the inspiration for the long-running TV show Law and Order SVU. She prosecuted the case against the Central Park Five. Her portrayal in Ava DuVernay’s miniseries has suddenly focused public attention on Fairstein’s role in the case.

By Max Ernst

I need to watch the program and read more about Fairstein’s history before I buy into everything that is being said about her. I know that filmmakers tend to take liberties with the facts and compress people and events to make their points. For example, the popular Netflix series “Making a Murderer” is loaded with inaccuracies. However, the backlash against Fairstein began before the miniseries came out. Last November, the Mystery Writers of American were forced to withdraw the “Grand Master Award” they had planned to award two Fairstein. From the Washington Post last November:

On Tuesday, Fairstein, the former chief of the sex-crimes unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, was awarded the association’s Grand Master Award, its highest honor. “How is THIS news for a thrilling surprise,” she wrote on Twitter. “I am Mystery Writers of America 2019 GRANDMASTER…..I’m pinching myself.”

She wasn’t the only one surprised. In a matter of hours, fellow novelists were calling on the association to take the award back.

The problem wasn’t her writing. It was Fairstein’s role as a prosecutor in the Central Park Five jogger rape case, one of the most infamous wrongful conviction cases in New York history.

On Fairstein’s role in the Central Park Five case:

Fairstein was not the lead prosecutor on the case, but as sex crimes unit chief, she was the supervisor.

By Salvador Dali

She was present while the suspects were interrogated for hours, describing her role in a 2002 interview with the New Yorker as being “the 800-pound gorilla, to help [the lead prosecutor] and the cops get the resources they needed.” Four of the five boys ultimately falsely confessed on video under pressure. In 2002, however, a serial rapist, Matias Reyes, came forward and said he was the real attacker — a confession bolstered by the fact that his DNA matched the semen found on the victim. The five teenagers were later exonerated.

But as recently as Tuesday, Fairstein has continued to suggest that the Central Park Five are guilty of something — if not the rape, then assault. Fairstein has held steadfast to the belief that “these five men were participants, not only in the other attacks that night but in the attack on the jogger,” as she summarized it to the New Yorker in 2002. Fairstein contended the boys simply “moved on” before Reyes finished the assault, leaving his DNA behind — despite the fact that Reyes has insisted he acted alone.

As recently as July 2018, after thousands of pages of documents from the case were released, Fairstein penned an essay for the New York Law Journal defending the investigation and prosecution, insisting the confessions were not coerced.

From The New York Times yesterday: Linda Fairstein Dropped by Her Publisher After TV Series on the Central Park 5.

Linda Fairstein, a prominent sex-crimes prosecutor who became a successful crime novelist, was dropped by her publisher this week after a Netflix mini-series renewed focus on her role in the wrongful conviction of five teenagers for a brutal rape.

By Rene Magritte

Since the series, “When They See Us,” premiered last week, Ms. Fairstein, 72, has been the target of tremendous public outrage, including online petitions and a #CancelLindaFairstein hashtag. This week, she resigned from a number of prominent boards, including that of Vassar College, her alma mater.

On Friday, a spokeswoman for Dutton, the Penguin Random House imprint that published Ms. Fairstein, said that she and Dutton “decided to terminate their relationship.” A person with knowledge of the situation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details were confidential, said that Dutton was buying out Ms. Fairstein’s contract.

This piece at The Grio by Sophia A. Nelson got quite a bit of attention on Twitter a couple of days ago: Karma is Real: Why Central Park Five should push for racist prosecutor Linda Fairstein to be disbarred. Check it out if you’re interested.

I’ll wrap up this post with the latest Russia/Mueller Report news:

CNN: Mystery company off the hook from Mueller subpoena and contempt of court charge.

The anonymous foreign-government-owned company that fought a subpoena in the special counsel investigation for months appears to be off the hook, while prosecutors continue to put significant resources into investigating what Robert Mueller pursued related to the company, according to newly unsealed court records.

Federal judge Beryl Howell of the DC District Court stopped fining the company in February, when it turned almost 1,000 pages of documents over to Mueller.

By Aubrey Beardsley

The court fight dragged on from February into April, however, because Mueller’s team and other prosecutors believed the company had kept records from them, according to the newly unsealed information.

She finally deciding [sic] the company was no longer in contempt on April 17.

Read the details at CNN. Will we ever find out the name of the company?

Natasha Bertrand: New subpoena for Roger Stone’s former aide offers glimpse at ongoing investigation.

A former aide to political operative Roger Stone has turned over to a grand jury all of his text messages with Stone from October 2016 to March 2017, as well as the written agenda for Stone while he was at the Republican National Convention in 2016.

The aide, Andrew Miller, turned over the documents in response to a federal grand jury subpoena following his two-hour testimony last Friday before the body, according to communications between Miller’s lawyer and the government that were reviewed by POLITICO.

The subpoena offers a glimpse into the government’s ongoing investigation of Stone, an informal Trump campaign adviser who was indicted in January on charges of lying to Congress and the FBI about his dealings with WikiLeaks during the 2016 election. He has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a trial, set for November.

Get all the details at Politico.

Quinta Jurecic: The New York Times: 4 Disturbing Details You May Have Missed in the Mueller Report.

By Giorgio de Chirico

After two years of silence, the special counsel Robert Mueller recently made his first public remarks — to complain, it seemed, that no one had read his report. “We chose those words carefully,” Mr. Mueller said, “and the work speaks for itself.”

But at a dense 440-plus pages, if the report speaks for itself, it takes a great deal of time and focus to listen to what it has to say. Mr. Mueller tells a complicated story of “multiple, systematic” efforts at Russian election interference from which the Trump campaign was eager to benefit. And he describes a president eager to shut down an investigation into his own abusive conduct. This is far from, as the president put it, “no collusion, no obstruction.”

The document is packed with even more details, ranging from the troubling to the outright damning. Yet these have been lost in the flurry of discussion around the report’s release.

Even the most attentive reader could have trouble keeping track of the report’s loose ends and dropped subplots. Here are four of the most surprising details that you might have missed — and none of them are favorable to the president.

Again, you’ll have to read the details at the link. The incidents Jurecic addresses are evidence of Trump coordination with Wikileaks, Trump’s efforts to get Clinton’s “missing emails,” Manafort’s sharing of insider polling data, and Trump’s attempt to get Cory Lewandowski involved in firing Jeff Sessions.

William Saletan at Slate offers a detailed breakdown of Bill Barr’s lies about the Mueller report: Barr Is Lying About Mueller’s Evidence. Read it at Slate.

What else is happening? What stories have you been following?

19 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. dakinikat says:

    The cat art is fabulous!

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Have a nice weekend, Sky Dancers!

  3. dakinikat says:

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  7. NW Luna says:

    Women’s reproductive rights activists have been noting for decades that it would be easier to believe that anti-choice politicians cared about babies if they supported prenatal health, maternal healthcare, early childhood development and education and other resources that support the wellbeing of mothers and children. But you can go further than that. Two scholars noted in the New England Journal of Medicine 18 years ago that “homicide was in fact the leading cause of mortality during pregnancy and the first postpartum year, accounting for one out of five deaths. Simultaneously, a study in the Journal of Midwifery & Women’s Health found that an astounding 43% of maternal deaths over eight years in Washington DC, were homicides.”

  8. NW Luna says:

    Sigh. What is it with Millennial women and their ignorance of history?

    • bostonboomer says:

      These people also think Biden and Sanders are baby boomers. They are too old.