Lazy Caturday Reads: Heat Wave

Good Afternoon!!

Here in Boston, today could be the hottest day of the year so far and tomorrow will likely be about the same. We may hit 100 degrees and it will feel even hotter. The Boston Globe published some “heat hacks” to help people cool down. Here are a couple of examples:

If you’re tossing and turning in bed and having trouble falling asleep in the blistering heat,Consumer Reports offers this interesting trick: Put your sheets and pillowcases in a sealable plastic bag and stash them in the freezer so they’ll be nice and cold when you hit the hay….

New York State Office for the Aging suggests…“Fill three plastic soda bottles full of water, freeze them but in a manner to not damage them (liquid expands on freezing), then place them in a large bowl,” the agency’s website states. “Position a fan to blow on them.. … The water in the bottles can be refrozen and used repeatedly.” [….]

Seattle City Light suggests putting lotion and moisturizers in your fridge to cool down your skin.

I might try that last one. This reminds me of the scene in The Seven-Year Itch when Marilyn Monroe explains how she keeps her panties and potato chips in the fridge next to the champagne.

USA Today: Searing heat across nation, reaching 100 degrees in some spots, takes its toll on events and roads.

A relentless heat wave gripped the country from the central states to the East Coast Saturday, prompting cancellation of the New York City Triathlon and producing cracked and buckled roads in some Plains states. Some East Coast cities braced for temperatures in the triple digits.

As the stifling heat — expected to affect 200 million people — settled in for at least a fifth day, the National Weather Service issued an Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisory from parts of the Texas Panhandle to the Ohio Valley, around the Great Lakes, parts of the Mid-Atlantic and in the Northeast.

An Excessive Heat Warning is issued when the combination of heat and humidity is expected to make it feel like it is 105 degrees or greater.

Daytime temperatures in the mid to upper 90s or higher plus high humidity will result in heat indices as high as 115 for some, forecasters said.

Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York and Boston were bracing for weekend temperatures in the triple digits. New York City and Baltimore were under a Code Red Extreme Heat Alert that is expected to continue through Sunday.

“It’s been since July of 2012 that Chicago and Philadelphia both hit 100 degrees, and Washington, D.C., hasn’t hit 100 since August of 2016,” says AccuWeather Meteorologist Danielle Knittle.

In addition, forecasters warned that overnight temperatures were not likely to fall far enough to bring relief, pariticularly in larger cities, like Chicago, St. Louis and New York City.

CBS News is posting live updates: Massive heat wave blamed for at least 6 deaths.

Dr. Christopher Rodriguez, the district’s director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, said officials will be monitoring the dangerous temperatures from an operations center.

“This is going to be one of the most severe heat events that we’ve had in the last several years,” Rodriguez said.

While midwestern cities like Milwaukee and Chicago will be affected, the East Coast is expected to take the brunt of it. Temperatures are expected to range from the mid 90’s to the triple digits, with the heat index making it feel as hot as 100 to 115 degrees.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration warned the heat can be a silent killer. Doctors are warning to watch out for signs of heat illness. Symptoms can include headache, muscle cramps, nausea. another sign is a lack of sweating.

Vox: The worst part of a heat wave is when it doesn’t cool off at night.

Extreme heat is one of the deadliest weather phenomena in the world. There are direct health effects like heat stroke, which occurs when body temperature rises to 104 degrees Fahrenheit, leading to organ failure, and heat exhaustion.

But high temperatures can also worsen conditions like high blood pressure and can limit the effectiveness of certain medications. Heat can also exacerbate air pollution, which in turn can send people to the emergency room due to breathing problems….

While it may cool off after the sun sets during a heat wave, it may not cool off enough for people who have been exposed to high temperatures all day. That leads to a higher cumulative exposure to heat.

One study examining the 2003 heat wave in Europe that killed upward of 70,000 people found that nighttime temperatures were a key indicator of the health risk from high temperatures. There’s also research that shows high nighttime temperatures disrupt sleep. Without relief from the heat, the stresses on the body mount.

Over the weekend, forecasters expect evening temperatures will stay above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, with the heat index remaining above 90 degrees, in some areas along the East Coast. That will make it hard for some to cool off. Health officials advise staying hydrated, wearing light clothing, and avoiding the outdoors.

It’s worse if you live in a city.

Part of the reason temperatures stay high after sunset in many parts of the country is because of the urban heat island effect. Dense cities with their concrete, steel, glass, and asphalt soak up more heat than their rural surroundings, causing temperatures to rise further than they would have otherwise during the day. In the evening, those artificial surfaces continue to dissipate their accumulated heat, keeping denizens from keeping cool.

Our efforts to keep cool can also paradoxically make cities heat up. Air conditioners venting hot air outside can contribute to urban warming, and if the electricity that powers them comes from fossil fuels, they can increase the amount of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

At The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer writes that “July 2019 is likely to be the hottest month ever measured.”

For the next several days, a vast blanket of oppressive heat will smother the eastern two-thirds of the United States, subjecting tens of millions of people to searingly hot days and forbidding, unrelenting nights. From the southern Plains to New England, inescapable humidity will meet broiling air to produce heat indexes in excess of 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

We are not simply talking about a series of sweltering afternoons. Even hours after the sun sets, air temperatures could hang well above 90, dipping below the 80-degree mark only in the moments before dawn. The heat index in some big cities—including New York, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.—may sit above the mid-80s for 72 hours straight.

“July is shaping up to be the warmest July on record—and probably the warmest month ever measured, since July is the hottest month of the year,” Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist at Berkeley Earth, told me. “Obviously, we still have half the month to go. But so far, it’s on track.” (Since most of the planet’s land surface is north of the equator, and since land heats up faster than the ocean, the Northern Hemisphere’s summers are the hottest months of the year for the whole planet.)

If that mark is realized, then two months in a row will be the hottest of their type ever measured, since last month was the hottest June ever recorded. And the odds are good that 2019 will be the second-warmest year on record, Hausfather told me. Either way, it’s a near-certainty that the past six years, including this one, will be the hottest six years ever measured.

And yet the Republican Party refuses to acknowledge the causes and effects of climate change.

Today might be a good time to refer back to David Wallace Wells’ 2017 article at New York Magazine. The Uninhabitable Earth: Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think.

It is, I promise, worse than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible, even within the lifetime of a teenager today. And yet the swelling seas — and the cities they will drown — have so dominated the picture of global warming, and so overwhelmed our capacity for climate panic, that they have occluded our perception of other threats, many much closer at hand. Rising oceans are bad, in fact very bad; but fleeing the coastline will not be enough.

Indeed, absent a significant adjustment to how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth will likely become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century.

Even when we train our eyes on climate change, we are unable to comprehend its scope. This past winter, a string of days 60 and 70 degrees warmer than normal baked the North Pole, melting the permafrost that encased Norway’s Svalbard seed vault — a global food bank nicknamed “Doomsday,” designed to ensure that our agriculture survives any catastrophe, and which appeared to have been flooded by climate change less than ten years after being built….

But no matter how well-informed you are, you are surely not alarmed enough. Over the past decades, our culture has gone apocalyptic with zombie movies and Mad Max dystopias, perhaps the collective result of displaced climate anxiety, and yet when it comes to contemplating real-world warming dangers, we suffer from an incredible failure of imagination. The reasons for that are many: the timid language of scientific probabilities, which the climatologist James Hansen once called “scientific reticence” in a paper chastising scientists for editing their own observations so conscientiously that they failed to communicate how dire the threat really was; the fact that the country is dominated by a group of technocrats who believe any problem can be solved and an opposing culture that doesn’t even see warming as a problem worth addressing; the way that climate denialism has made scientists even more cautious in offering speculative warnings; the simple speed of change and, also, its slowness, such that we are only seeing effects now of warming from decades past; our uncertainty about uncertainty, which the climate writer Naomi Oreskes in particular has suggested stops us from preparing as though anything worse than a median outcome were even possible; the way we assume climate change will hit hardest elsewhere, not everywhere; the smallness (two degrees) and largeness (1.8 trillion tons) and abstractness (400 parts per million) of the numbers; the discomfort of considering a problem that is very difficult, if not impossible, to solve; the altogether incomprehensible scale of that problem, which amounts to the prospect of our own annihilation; simple fear. But aversion arising from fear is a form of denial, too.

Wells has expanded this article into a book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming. You might also want to check out his article archive at New York Magazine.

So I wrote a whole post without talking about the monster in the White House. If you really want to read some politics stories, check these out:

Alex Shepard at The New Republic: It’s Not Strategy, It’s Racism.

Jamelle Bouie at The New York Times: The Joy of Hatred. Trump and “his people” reach deep into the violent history of public spectacle in America.

CNN: Judge halts Democrats’ subpoenas of Trump Org docs in emoluments case.

The New York Times: Mueller Hearings on Wednesday Present Make-or-Break Moment for Democrats.

NBC News: Mueller hearings to highlight ‘shocking evidence of criminal misconduct’ by Trump, Democrats say.

NBC News: U.S. spy chief creates a new head of election security for intelligence agencies.

HuffPost: Trump Puts More GOP Money In His Own Pocket During Another Million-Dollar Golf Trip.

The Washington Post: Trump tells aides to look for big spending cuts in second term, sowing confusion about budget priorities.

The Washington Post: Iran seizes British tanker in Strait of Hormuz; denies Trump’s claim that drone was brought down.

The New York Times: U.K. Warns Iran of ‘Serious Consequences’ for Seizing Oil Tanker.

What stories are you following today?


Fresh Hell Friday Reads: Full on KKK Rallies and Hair Furor Facism

ImageGood Afternoon Sky Dancers!

I’m old enough to remember George Wallace speeches and rallies and I don’t even think his racist segregationist ass was as bad as it’s getting at the Trumpfuckistan Hate Fests these days.   The happy news from yesterday is that Minnesota District 5 is having none of it!  Their duly elected Congresswoman Illhan Omar was welcomed home by a full on brigade of Minnesota Nice.  I fear for her and the other 3 members of her squad as I feared for Hillary Clinton on that stage with that orange monster stalking her. As my mom used to tell me, we can disagree without be disagreeable.  Trumpf and his cult are definitely Disagreeable Deplorables.
Ever notice that the resentful, angry wipipo at these rallies only chant threats at women? This is from Ellena Plott writing for The Atlantic: “Trump Supporters Don’t Make Chants About Men.

Where the president’s fans once called for a female opponent’s imprisonment, now they are longing for another woman to be literally banished from the country.”

Lawmakers and presidential candidates know to expect a particular set of reactions after criticizing Donald Trump. He might call them a loser, or give them their own unique nickname—the provenance of which might depend on how often he thinks they lie, whether they look sleepy, or how pencil-like he finds their neck. He might go so far as to endorse their primary challengers, or even the critics themselves, if he thinks his stamp of approval might hurt them.

Only for women, though, do Trump and his supporters deploy their most sinister lines of attack. In 2016, it was not enough to call Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary” or criticize her vision for the country. Rather, it was necessary to call for her physical removal from public life, and her sentencing to a place where she wouldn’t be heard from again. “Lock her up!” is as identifiable with Trumpism as “Build the wall!,” and the chant continues at rallies to this day, even as Clinton, true to Trump’s wishes, has faded into the background.

There was a troubling sense of déjà vu, then, when the crowd at Trump’s rally in Greenville, North Carolina, on Wednesday trained their eyes on Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, chanting “Send her back!” in a play on Trump’s own words from a few days before. It was an evolution, an even darker version of the invective against Clinton—where the president’s supporters once called for a female opponent’s imprisonment, now they are longing for another to be literally banished from the country. The episode prompts urgent questions not only about what Omar can expect as Trump’s 2020 campaign ramps up, but also about what Trump’s eventual challenger, if it’s a woman, can anticipate as well.

Image result for welcome home ilhanNotice who has her back as well as her constituents and other Minnesota folks.  And, that vintage KKK billboard up there is exactly what his Base is about.  Now, for some pictures of our better angels greeting the Congresswoman because most of us are bright and kind enough to realize every American has te right to disagree with their government.

I’m old enough to remember the “love it or leave it” Nixonian Days.  The silent majority was represented at the airport and would never be present at the Trumpfian Hate Fests that represent the worst among us.  The deal is though, we have to get out there and vote him out if Congress isn’t ready to put him out.

This has become the “me too” moment for black and brown Americans with many sharing their own stories of when they first heard an angry, hateful white person say that to them.  The NYT’s Editorial board discusses the reality of this vitriolic, racist, xenophobic shriek.

What the hell, indeed?

Mr. Trump appears to see the presidency as a giant megaphone for stoking racial and ethnic animus. It is not just that he pursues policies aimed at exacerbating divisions, like banning migrants from majority-Muslim nations or building a wall on the United States-Mexico border. He seeks to demonize those who oppose his policies as dangerous extremists out to destroy America. In cases where his critics are not white — whether congresswomen of color or a judge of Mexican heritage — Mr. Trump is eager to spotlight that fact.

The president is looking to divide Americans along color lines, to conjure a zero-sum vision of America in which whites must contend against nonwhites for jobs, wealth, safety and citizenship. He thinks this approach will win him another four years in the White House. At this point, does it much matter if he is acting purely out of political cynicism, with no element of personal prejudice? The rage he is nurturing and the pain he is causing are all too real. The damage he is doing will take years to undo.

Image

So, enjoy the pictures of Minnesota Nice White People and others with much better intent and understanding of what it is to be an American and a decent human being.  And we continue to hear the silence of the politically complicit louder than we hear the shouts of bigots.  This is from the editorial board of the St. Louis Dispatch: “Congressional Republicans shame themselves with their silence on Trump’s racism.”

You don’t hear whites — say, Irish Americans or Italian Americans — in 2019 being told to go “back where they came from.” Today, that particular expression is intended to deprive people of their Americanness based on skin color and ethnicity. It’s racist to its core, and those who don’t call it out enable it.

Yet of the almost dozen Republican members of Congress who represent Missouri and southern Illinois, precious few have made any public statements at all about it, clearly fearful of upsetting Trump’s base.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., offered a milquetoast suggestion that Trump confine his comments to policy. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., did better, chiding “comments that make many Americans feel unwelcome in the nation they call home.” But both statements were couched in timid both-siderism, calling out Democratic policy views as if their offenses were on par with Trump’s.

Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., meanwhile, lunged to Trump’s defense with an obtuse tweet chiding critics who “interpret” racism in Trump’s remarks. Read them again, congressman; no interpretation is necessary.

From most of the region’s GOP delegation, though, as with most congressional Republicans in the country, the response has been a cowardly, mute void. This includes, notably, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., the freshman senator who has had no problem speaking his mind on pretty much every other issue out there.

ImageThere is a remedy for this: “The Movement to Impeach Donald Trump Is Far from Over” but when will we see some real progress towards that end?  This is from John Cassidy writing for The New Yorker.  Tabling Congressman Green’s Impeachment resolution is the latest news on that front.

The ninety-five votes that were cast on Wednesday in support of Green’s most recent resolution represented about forty per cent of all Democratic representatives. Another way to look at it is that the forces demanding a rapid move to impeachment fell just twenty-three votes short of achieving majority status in the Democratic caucus. (To get there, they would need a hundred and eighteen votes.)

Moreover, it’s clear that the level of support for Green’s resolution understated the support for impeachment. Among the Democrats who voted to table Green’s motion were a number of prominent impeachment supporters who, following Tuesday’s unanimous vote by House Democrats to condemn Trump’s racist comments, didn’t think this was the most opportune moment to move ahead. “We’re trying to keep the caucus together as we respond to the most lawless administration of our lifetimes,” Representative Jamie Raskin, of Maryland, told the Washington Post. “I’m enough of a political pragmatist to believe that you call votes when you think you can win them, not when you think you can lose them.”

It’s also worth looking at who among the Democrats voted nay on Wednesday. Not so long ago, support for moving rapidly to impeachment was a position adopted, mainly, by those on the left of the Party. Now it has gone mainstream. An article at The Hill noted that a number of powerful committee chairs broke with the Party leadership. They included Nita Lowey (Appropriations), Bennie Thompson (Energy and Commerce), Raúl Grijalva (Homeland Security), Jerry Nadler (Judiciary), Jim McGovern (Rules), and Nydia Velázquez (Small Business).

What explained the votes of such Party stalwarts? Certainly, they are disgusted by Trump. In many districts, they are also facing intense pressure from constituents and activists. As Thompson said on Wednesday, “My district wants me to vote for the immediate impeachment of Donald Trump.”

To be sure, Thompson represents a deep blue area of western Mississippi. It is sometimes said that Democrats, when facing competitive races in 2020, will never support impeaching Trump, but that isn’t necessarily true. Citing her responsibility to uphold the law, Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, who represents Arizona’s Second District, said, “I’ve come to the conclusion that the House of Representatives must open an impeachment inquiry.” Kirkpatrick was following the example of several other Democrats in competitive districts, including Tom Malinowski, of New Jersey, and Katie Porter, of California.

ImageSusan B Glasser–also writing for The New Yorker–argues that Trump’s racism is calculated and that he believes is ‘winning’ with it.  This is a frightening idea because this means it will all get worse as we get closer to November 2020.  I already hate this time he’s had even when he’s not actively being a terrible human being which is most of the time.

How do you write about a week like this in America? There have been many breaking points in the Trump Presidency; everybody has his or her own triggers. But here it is, 2019, and we are debating racist Presidential tweets, and who is a real American, and whether “concentration camps” is the right phrase for what is happening at the southern border. On Friday, Vice-President Mike Pence saw with his own eyes hundreds of men kept in inhuman and inhumane conditions in Texas, men forced to exist in such squalor that their armed guards wore masks to stave off the stench of so many unwashed bodies. It was terrible. And then Trump and Pence denied that it was any such thing at all. It couldn’t be a “concentration camp,” Trump even said at Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting, because it was very well run.

Republicans, meanwhile, are not only sticking with Trump as the country’s division and discord deepens, they approve of it. Many are even cheering him on. On Capitol Hill, just four Republican representatives joined with Democrats on a symbolic resolution condemning the tweets. Half of the country is appalled but not really sure how to combat him; the other half is cheering, or at least averting its gaze. This is what a political civil war looks like, with words, for now, as weapons. As if to underscore the point, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary account tweeted this during Trump’s rally: “Tonight’s top searches, in order: racism, socialism, fascism, concentration camp, xenophobia, bigot.” Whatever you call what is happening in America right now, Trump is convinced it is working for him, which is why we are in for many more such weeks, all the way through 2020. “I do think I’m winning the political fight. I think I’m winning it by a lot,” Trump told reporters before he boarded Marine One for the North Carolina rally, at which he would call the Squad “hate-filled extremists” intent on the “destruction of our country” all over again. “I’ll never change.”

Trump’s unwavering belief that race-baiting and immigrant-hating work to his electoral benefit is already the subject of raging debate in political circles. Many Democrats spent the five days and counting of this tweet controversy worrying that they were both required to call out Trump’s words and also doomed to see their condemnation of his racism play right into his hands. The Party is divided about how to counter Trump, and it shows: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has remained firmly against impeachment as the numbers inside her caucus favoring it grow. (Wednesday’s vote on an impeachment resolution by a defiant Democratic backbencher got ninety-five votes, including those of two key committee chairmen.)

A number of Republicans on Capitol Hill, for their part, showed how ridiculous they are willing to make themselves look by condemning the racist chanting of Trump’s North Carolina rally fans while steadfastly refusing to condemn the racist tweets of the President those fans were echoing. “Send her back” is “nativist, terrible” and “also electoral suicide,” the conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt tweeted, pointing out that there are more than four hundred thousand naturalized residents in Pennsylvania and two hundred thousand in Michigan, two key states without which Trump would not have won the Presidency in 2016. By midday Thursday, Trump himself was taking this position, when it became clear that the “Send her back” chant had even Republicans worried. “I was not happy with it,” the President claimed. “I disagreed with it.” He did not, however, disavow his own words that led to the chant in the first place.

We’re a long and far ways from this style of leadership.

There’s a lot of other news out there and I wish I could find more that would lift us up. The only thing that I can say is that if you read the majority of it, you’ll realize again, there are a lot more of us out there and there are communities that understand this kind of hatred: From ABC “Rabbi in Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s district compares Trump rally to ‘Nazi Germany’ .

Faith leaders in Rep. Ilhan Omar’s home district are standing firmly behind her in the face of attacks from President Trump, despite disagreeing with some of her comments on Israel.

Rabbi Avi Olitzky of Beth El Synagogue in Minneapolis, Minnesota, called chants of “send her home” at the president’s rally Wednesday night in Greenville, North Carolina, “terrifying.”

In an interview on ABC News Live’s “The Briefing Room,” Rabbi Olitzky told MaryAlice Parks he can’t “sit or stand silently while our sitting president issues such racist rhetoric.”

Olitzky went on to compare what he saw at the North Carolina rally to some of history’s darkest hours.

“This is a very eerie wave of similar situations in history, be that Nazi Germany or elsewhere,” he said, adding that people don’t seem afraid to be “publicly hateful and publicly loud.”

The rabbi called on all political leaders to stop using “the Jewish community as a political football.”

In an op-ed in the Times of Israel titled “Enough with the Noise and the Vitriol,” Olitzky wrote, “We cannot fall victim to the political tricks that rely on racism, and the meme of antisemitism, to bolster both sides, while still doing immense communal harm.”

The question is how and when does the descent in to Trumpfian Hell stop?  I’m pretty certain that just speaking out isn’t going to do it.  But, it’s a start.

and this from USA Today: “Michelle Obama beats out Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey as most admired woman, poll says.”

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Lazy Caturday Reads

Good Afternoon!!

I’m so glad the weekend is here and perhaps Trump will go golfing and leave us alone for a couple of days. It’s been one hell of an awful week. At The New York Times Mark Landler marked his departure from the White House beat with a dramatic summary of how bad one day–Thursday–was. At least Trump dumped Alex Acosta yesterday, but his replacement may be just as bad.

At The Daily Beast, Margaret Carlson has a perceptive piece on why Trump got rid of Acosta so quickly: Why the Sexual Predator in the White House Needed to Get Rid of Acosta.

In a press conference ordered up by Trump to save his job, Acosta failed miserably. And on Friday morning, Trump perp-walked Acosta, wearing his now familiar smirk, out to face the press corps on the south lawn of the White House, to announce that Acosta had decided to tender his resignation….

We know it didn’t happen because Trump’s eyes were opened by the Miami Herald’s November 2018 investigation of Epstein’s victims, exposing anew that Acosta looked evil in the eye and saw a deal to be cut.

It definitely couldn’t be because evangelicals or Senate Republicans suddenly remembered they had a modicum of integrity before being sucked into Trump’s vortex. No, it only happened once New York prosecutors re-indicted Epstein on similar charges of recruiting young girls and paying them to come to his lair to service him.

That put the whole mess front and center again, and Trump, binge TV watcher, was forced to watch (anytime he wasn’t tuned to Fox News) replays of the Access Hollywood tape, or pictures of him with Epstein, or discussions of the lawsuit filed by a 13-year old girl against him (since dropped), or mentions of the party for two—Trump and Epstein—at Mar-a-Lago with a bevy of 28 beauties imported for the occasion. That’s not to mention the two dozen women who’ve accused Trump of sexually abusing them.

It’s rare to have a beleaguered Trump official go so quickly, rather than be Zinked, Tillersoned, or Pruitted, drip by drip. Acosta hurt himself by not doing a full Kavanaugh, complete with righteous fire and fury, instead coldly admitting nothing and excusing all, even his secret meeting with opposing counsel at a restaurant because the office wasn’t open at that hour, no less.

Trump may hope that dumping Acosta will get his sexual assault history off cable TV, but I don’t think it will happen. The Jeffrey Epstein story is still going strong and Trump’s connections to the notorious pedophile will keep on being reported.

This morning The New York Times dug up some Epstein history that will also impact Trump’s personal defense attorney Bill Barr: Jeffrey Epstein Taught at Dalton. His Behavior Was Noticed.

In the mid-1970s, students at one of New York’s most esteemed prep schools were surprised to encounter a new teacher who pushed the limits on the school’s strict dress code, wandering the halls in a fur coat, gold chains and an open shirt that exposed his chest.

The teacher, Jeffrey Epstein, would decades later face allegations that he coerced and trafficked teenagers for sex. At the Dalton School on the Upper East Side, some students saw Mr. Epstein as an unusual and unsettling figure, willing to violate the norms in his encounters with girls.

Recall that it was none other than Bill Barr’s father Donald Barr who hired Jeffrey Epstein for this teaching job, even though he didn’t even have a college degree.

Eight former students who attended the prestigious school during Mr. Epstein’s short tenure there said that his conduct with teenage girls had left an impression that had lingered for decades. One former student recalled him showing up at a party where students were drinking, while most remembered his persistent attention on the girls in hallways and classrooms.

“I can remember thinking at the time, ‘This is wrong,’” said Scott Spizer, who graduated from Dalton in 1976.

None of the female students who spoke to The New York Times in recent days remembered Mr. Epstein making unwanted physical contact with them, and he has not been accused of any crimes related to his time at the school.

But a few students said they had been discomfited by a close relationship he had with one of their female peers, a concern that had escalated so much that one of them had raised the issue then to a school administrator.

Read the rest at the NYT.

Trump is reportedly planning mass raids on immigrant communities beginning tomorrow. The NYT reports:

President Trump said nationwide raids to arrest and deport undocumented migrants would begin on Sunday in a sweep that immigration officials said could roll out over days, echoing a similar threat last month that was never carried out.

“Nothing to be secret about,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House on Friday morning, where he was asked about the plans. He called it “a major operation.”

“It starts on Sunday, and they’re going to take people out and they’re going to bring them back to their countries,” the president said. “Or they’re going to take criminals out, put them in prison, or put them in prison in the countries they came from.”

Meanwhile family separations are continuing, even though courts have ordered the administration to stop taking children from their parents. The Texas Tribune: Family separations aren’t over. As many as five kids per day are separated from their parents at the border.

More than a year after the Trump administration ended a controversial policy that led to hundreds of family separations, as many as five migrant children per day continue to be separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to federal data gathered by an immigrant advocacy group.

The data, which the American Immigration Council and other immigrant advocacy groups requested from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, shows that almost 400 children were separated from their parents between June 2018 — when the Trump administration ended its controversial zero tolerance policy — and March 2019.

That number jumped to more than 700 children by May, according to data the government provided to the American Civil Liberties Union, which is litigating the family separation crisis in federal court.

Despite the executive order that President Donald Trump signed in June 2018 to end zero tolerance — which directed immigration officials to file charges against all adults who crossed the border illegally — advocates say adult migrants continue to be separated from children for reasons that are increasingly vague and difficult to corroborate.

Read more at the link.

The New Yorker reports on a new Trump initiative: Trump Is Poised to Sign a Radical Agreement to Send Future Asylum Seekers to Guatemala.

Early next week, according to a D.H.S. official, the Trump Administration is expected to announce a major immigration deal, known as a safe-third-country agreement, with Guatemala. For weeks, there have been reports that negotiations were under way between the two countries, but, until now, none of the details were official. According to a draft of the agreement obtained by The New Yorker, asylum seekers from any country who either show up at U.S. ports of entry or are apprehended while crossing between ports of entry could be sent to seek asylum in Guatemala instead. During the past year, tens of thousands of migrants, the vast majority of them from Central America, have arrived at the U.S. border seeking asylum each month. By law, the U.S. must give them a chance to bring their claims before authorities, even though there’s currently a backlog in the immigration courts of roughly a million cases. The Trump Administration has tried a number of measures to prevent asylum seekers from entering the country—from “metering” at ports of entry to forcing people to wait in Mexico—but, in every case, international obligations held that the U.S. would eventually have to hear their asylum claims. Under this new arrangement, most of these migrants will no longer have a chance to make an asylum claim in the U.S. at all. “We’re talking about something much bigger than what the term ‘safe third country’ implies,” someone with knowledge of the deal told me. “We’re talking about a kind of transfer agreement where the U.S. can send any asylum seekers, not just Central Americans, to Guatemala.”

This is similar to the agreement that Trump made with Mexico to keep asylum seekers out of the U.S. It’s crazy.

Until very recently, the prospect of such an agreement—not just with Mexico but with any other country in Central America—seemed far-fetched. Yet last month, under the threat of steep tariffs on Mexican goods, Trump strong-armed the Mexican government into considering it. Even so, according to a former Mexican official, the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador is stalling. “They are trying to fight this,” the former official said. What’s so striking about the agreement with Guatemala, however, is that it goes even further than the terms the U.S. sought in its dealings with Mexico. “This is a whole new level,” the person with knowledge of the agreement told me. “In my read, it looks like even those who have never set foot in Guatemala can potentially be sent there.”

This is getting really scary. First concentration camps, now this.

Louisiana is still waiting for slow-moving Hurricane Barry.

Liz Williams Russell at CNN: Why Barry is such a scary storm. (Russell is “the director of the grant-making and programmatic activities of the Climate Justice portfolio at the Foundation for Louisiana.”)

The past, present and future of New Orleans lies with the Mississippi River. As New Orleanians brace for Tropical Storm Barry, we find ourselves on the brink of the unknown, as we are about to learn the extent to which our existing systems of controlling and managing nature will withstand the storm.

We’re now facing a new normal. When “one in 100 year” rain events happen on an increasingly annual basis, there is a fundamental issue with the ways we measure storm intensity in the context of historic weather events. As Barry picks up strength along the Gulf of Mexico, it’s a reminder that we are headed toward uncharted territory with the effects of climate change threatening every aspect of our communities.

The river has been at varying levels of flood stage since November due to the record-breaking rainfall and flooding seen across the Midwest and the winter thaw from the Rockies to the Appalachians. We’ve seen the Bonnet Carre Spillway, a flood control mechanism to manage a high Mississippi River, opened twice in one year and in two consecutive years for the first time in its almost 90-year history. Only one of a set of floodways along the river system is designed to effectively move water out into the Gulf of Mexico — the drainage and residues from 41% of the country all ends up here, speeding around and through this fertile crescent city as it moves towards open water.

This year, we face another first as we find ourselves early in the hurricane season with the Mississippi double its normal depths due to flooding and Barry set to make landfall at a midpoint of Louisiana’s coast. Water will likely be pushed up a severely swollen river system with leveed boundaries already tired from so many months in the flood fight. We are required to trust our system of flood management — necessarily believing it will endure this new test — and prepare for the storm as we reflect on how to best serve our communities.

Read the rest at CNN.

Finally, I want to share some great long reads that I’ve come across this morning. I hope you’ll check them out.

Nilanjana Roy at The New York Review: A Ferocious Heat in Delhi.

Chi Luu at JSTOR Daily: How Language and Climate Connect.

Jessica Contrera at The Washington Post: A black principal, four white teens and the ‘senior prank’ that became a hate crime.

Charles Bethea at The New Yorker: A Father, a Daughter, and the Attempt to Change the Census.

What stories are you following today?

 


Fresh Hell Friday Reads: Just Another Day in Trumpfuckistan

Image result for Twitter propaganda posterGood Afternoon Sky Dancers!

It’s Friday in Trumpfuckistan!  Why wouldn’t all hell be breaking out as usual!  Just one daily Constitutional Crisis after another with a hefty dose of complete ineptitude.   But why take my word for it when you can take Former Speaker Paul Ryan’s?  That really triggered the Dotard in Chief today.  Oh, and another cabinet secretary has sailed off in to the scandal land. Meanwhile, I’m waiting for a some really bad weather from Tropical Storm Barry. so let me make use of the sun and electricity while I can!

Okay, so Alex Acosta–child pedophile enabler–stepped down today over the Epstein case he failed on in a Rose Garden scrum that was yet one more surreal Trumpfuckistan lie and propagandaFest.  This article is from Politico.

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is stepping down from his post, just two days after he held a news conference to defend a plea deal that he brokered for wealthy sex offender Jeffrey Epstein while serving as a U.S. attorney in Florida more than a decade ago.

President Donald Trump informed reporters Friday morning of Acosta’s departure. “This was him, not me,” said Trump as Acosta stood beside him.

Trump, who saw Acosta largely as a source of favorable monthly statistics about unemployment and job growth, called Acosta “a great Labor secretary not a good one” and “a tremendous talent. He’s a Hispanic man, he went to Harvard, a great student.” Trump indicated that he was satisfied with Acosta’s explanation for the plea deal in Wednesday’s news conference, saying, “He explained it.”

But Acosta has had a rocky relationship in recent months with other White House officials, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, over the perceived slow pace of deregulation at the department. And one person familiar with the situation said that although Trump initially thought Acosta handled the Epstein controversy well, over the last couple of days the president saw the negative press and didn’t like it.

“POTUS is not a fan of bad press, especially when other people make him look bad,” this person said.

So, I’d just like to say as some one who has taught basic economics since 1980 that I’ve never heard any one believe that the labor department does anything but report that damn statistics.  They’re not the source of any kind of macro policy.   They do, however, oversee Human Trafficking.

Here are some interesting Epstein Headlines:

Miami Herald: “New victims come forward as Epstein asks to be released from jail to his Manhattan mansion”

At least a dozen new victims have come forward to claim they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein even as the multimillionaire money manager tries to convince a federal judge to allow him to await a sex trafficking trial from the comfort of the same $77 million Manhattan mansion where he’s accused of luring teenage girls into unwanted sex acts.

Following Epstein’s arrest Saturday in New Jersey, four women have reached out to New York lawyer David Boies, and at least 10 other women have approached other lawyers who have represented dozens of Epstein’s alleged victims in the past.

Jack Scarola, a Palm Beach attorney, said at least five women, all of whom were minors at the time of their alleged encounters with Epstein, have reached out to either him or Fort Lauderdale lawyer Brad Edwards.

“The people we are speaking to are underage victims in Florida and in New York. They are not individuals whose claims have previously been part of any law enforcement investigation,’’ Scarola said.

Michelle Celarier / New York Magazine: Real Hedge-Fund Managers Have Some Thoughts on What Epstein Was Actually Doing

Kass was well-connected on Wall Street, where he’d worked for decades, so he began to ask around. “I went to my institutional brokers, to their trading desks and asked if they ever traded with him. I did it a few times until the date when he was arrested,” he recalls. “Not one institutional trading desk, primary or secondary, had ever traded with Epstein’s firm.”

When a reporter came to interview Kass about Bernie Madoff shortly before that firm blew up in the biggest Ponzi scheme ever, Kass told her, “There’s another guy who reminds me of Madoff that no one trades with.” That man was Jeffrey Epstein.

“How did he get the money?” Kass kept asking.

For decades, Epstein has been credulously described as a big-time hedge-fund manager and a billionaire, even though there’s not a lot of evidence that he is either. There appears little chance the public is going to get definitive answers anytime soon. In a July 11 letter to the New York federal judge overseeing Epstein’s sex-trafficking case, Epstein’s attorney offered to provide “sealed disclosures” about Epstein’s finances to determine the size of the bond he would need to post to secure his release from jail pending trial. His brother, Mark, and a friend even offered to chip in if necessary.

Naturally, this air of mystery has especially piqued the interest of real-life, non-pretend hedge-funders. If this guy wasn’t playing their game — and they seem pretty sure he was not — what game was he playing? Intelligencer spoke to several prominent hedge-fund managers to get a read on what their practiced eyes are detecting in all the new information that is coming to light about Epstein in the wake of his indictment by federal prosecutors in New York. Most saw signs of something unsavory at the heart of his business model.

To begin with, there is much skepticism among the hedgies Intelligencer spoke with that Epstein made the money he has — and he appears to have a lot, given a lavish portfolio of homes and private aircraft — as a traditional money manager. A fund manager who knows well how that kind of fortune is acquired notes, “It’s hard to make a billion dollars quietly.” Epstein never made a peep in the financial world.

Epstein was also missing another key element of a typical thriving hedge fund: investors. Kass couldn’t find any beyond Epstein’s one well-publicized client, retail magnate Les Wexner — nor could other players in the hedge-fund world who undertook similar snooping. “I don’t know anyone who’s ever invested in him; he’s never talked about by any of the allocators,” says one billionaire hedge-fund manager, referring to firms that distribute large pools of money among various funds.

Epstein’s spotty professional history has also drawn a lot of attention in recent days, and Kass says it was one of the first things that raised his suspicions years ago. Now 66, Epstein didn’t come from money and never graduated from college, yet he landed a teaching job at a fancy private school (“unheard of,” says Kass) and rose through the ranks in the early 1980s at investment bank Bear Stearns. Within no time, Kass notes, Epstein was made a partner of the firm — and then was promptly and unceremoniously ousted. (Epstein reportedly left the firm following a minor securities violation.) Despite this “squishy work experience,” as Kass puts it, at some point after his quick exit, Epstein launched his own hedge fund, J. Epstein & Co., later renamed Financial Trust Co. Along the way, he began peddling the improbable narrative that he was so selective he would only work with billionaires.

So does Trump actually realize this is one more thing that makes him look like a incompetent fool?  This is an Op Ed at WAPO from Jennifer Rubin.   I just heard Jim Messina call it as Trump “perp walking” Acosta to the reporters.

Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta and President Trump bowed to reality, the reality that retaining the man who cut a secret plea deal with a “monster” (as Republicans described him) sex offender was untenable. Acosta, as many anticipated after his heartless, soulless and entirely disingenuous news conference, stepped down Friday (or was pushed out).

This is a frequent pattern for Trump: A scandal-plagued Cabinet member or White House staffer comes under fire (e.g. Tom Price, Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke, Rob Porter). Trump insists the real victim is the accused, who is a “great guy” and doing “a great job.” Republicans mumble, fidget and insist there is nothing to see here, while Democrats lace into the malefactor and Trump. Democrats stress the spinelessness of Republicans who enable a president whose natural affinity is with those accused of corruption, self-dealing and abusive conduct. Trump blames the press, insisting the coverage is “fake news.” Then Trump dumps the guy, leaving the Republicans who insisted there was never any problem looking like spineless sycophants. Rinse, repeat.

and of course THIS:

Image result for Facebook propaganda posterLaura Bassett / GQ: “When Does America Reckon with the Gravity of Donald Trump’s Alleged Rapes?”

So, then, when is America going to reckon with the alleged serial sexual abuser in the White House? Donald Trump has not only been accused of rape and sexual misconduct by more than 20 women over the past several decades, but he regularly uses his power to threaten survivors who come forward and to protect and promote men who abuse women.

Many are hoping the Epstein trial will also implicate some of his powerful friends, including Trump. The world’s most privileged pedophile was known to hang out with the likes of Bill Clinton, Woody Allen, Prince Andrew, celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz, and, yes, the president, sometimes giving them rides on his infamous private child-sex-abuse plane, nicknamed the “Lolita Express.” Trump, who now claims he’s “not a fan,” in 2002 called Epstein a “terrific guy” who “likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.”

And Trump’s connections to Epstein’s sex trafficking may go beyond merely superficial. In 2016, “Jane Doe” filed a lawsuit against Trump alleging a “savage sexual attack” in 1994, when she was 13 years old, in which he tied her to a bed at Epstein’s house, raped her, and struck her in the face. The account was corroborated by a witness who claimed to have seen the child perform sexual acts on both Trump and Epstein.

Just as he has a patten of sexual predation, Trump also seems to have a pattern of threatening victims who come forward. Jane Doe alleged in the lawsuit that Trump told her she shouldn’t ever say anything if she didn’t want to “disappear like Maria,” a 12-year-old girl who had also been abused along with her. Jane Doe dropped the lawsuit in November 2016, days before Trump’s election, after her attorney, Lisa Bloom, cited “numerous threats” against her client. (Trump denied the allegations, and Bloom declined to comment for this story.)

Even if the Epstein proceedings fail to produce evidence against Trump, there is enough already in the public record—including words recorded out of his own mouth—to substantiate a shockingly prolific history of sexual misconduct. The first rape allegation against him was by his ex-wife Ivana, who in a deposition in the early 1990s described a violent assault by her husband in 1989 in which he pulled out fistfuls of her hair and jammed himself inside her. She clarified while he was running for president in 2015—and while under a gag order that prevents her from discussing her marriage with Trump without his approval—that the alleged rape was not in a “criminal sense.” What she, likely coached by Trump’s team, seemed to be implying is that a man has a right to sex with his wife, regardless of his level of violence or her protestations (all 50 states have laws against non-consensual sex, or rape, within a marriage).

The little too late award though, goes to Paul Ryan for his revelation that Trump has no idea what he’s doing.  **Maggie Habberman trigger warning**

According to an interview in the upcoming American Carnage, Ryan admitted, “I told myself I gotta have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right. Because, I’m telling you, he didn’t know anything about the government…I wanted to scold him all the time. Those of us around him really helped to stop him from making bad decisions. All the time. We helped him make much better decisions, which were contrary to kind of what his knee-jerk reaction was. Now I think he’s making some of these knee-jerk reactions.”

After covering some of the quotes, sand singling out Ryan’s “I wanted to scold him [Trump],” guest Haberman sardonically added, “And yet he didn’t — go figure.”

“I think this is you can add Paul Ryan to the long list of people who have left Donald Trump’s either service or working partnership in some fashion and who then go on to talk about how they were really trying behind the scenes to change everything and that’s why they didn’t say anything publicly,” she continued. “This is not a surprise if you were watching what was happening on the Hill over the last two and a half years. especially after the initial failed vote on repealing the health care legislation that President Obama put in place.”

“But I don’t know how many points everyone thinks they’re going to get for saying this stuff after they’ve stepped off stage,” she bluntly added.

Then there’s this from Caleb Howe  at Mediaite:  “Trump Says It’s Not Free Speech to ‘Write Bad’ About ‘Something Good’: That’s ‘Dangerous Speech”

President Donald Trump had a lot to say at the White House Social Media Summit on Thursday, including offering his take on what does and does not constitute free speech. While the social media influencers in the room do, he said, the mainstream media does not. Also writing something ‘bad’ about something ‘good’ didn’t make the cut.

The president was already deep into his address when he made the remark, having had two other people take the podium already. After he retook the microphone, he talked about speaking with the honchos at tech companies, including Google and Twitter. He told the audience that at these one-on-one conversations “at the highest level” the tech leaders seem to be understanding or on board, and that then they go back and he realizes “three or four weeks later it’s worse, it actually got worse.”

He talked about how Silicon Valley is admired for their technology and how smart they are, but that they aren’t “using that brilliance” fairly. “They have to do that.”

“And we don’t want to stifle anything, we certainly don’t want to stifle free speech. But that’s no longer free speech,” said Trump. “See I don’t think that the mainstream media is free speech either, because it’s so crooked, it’s so dishonest.”

“So to me, free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad, to me that’s very dangerous speech, and you become angry at it,” said Trump. “But that’s not free speech.”

He continued, talking about CNN and the use of the phrase “fake news” in the mainstream press. “The worst fakers of all” are using the phrase, he said. “They’ve turned it around!”

BB reported yesterday at the kinds of creepy conspiracy type tweeters invited to that “summit”.   It’s been a long week for any one thinking about the US Constitution and the future of democracy in our country.

So, I have more prep work to do before the water and wind of Barry really bothers us.  That’s it from me!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Thursday Reads: Trump’s “Social Media Summit” and Jeffrey Epstein Updates

“Hello gryphon, you are half-bird and so big,” by Erin Kelso

Good Afternoon!!

The illustrations in this post are by fantasy artist Erin Kelso, AKA bluefooted.

Jeffrey Epstein is still all over the news, although Trump is trying to distract the media by inviting a bunch of Nazis and right wing conspiracy theorists to visit the White House today  for a “social media summit” and sending out deranged tweets, in one of which he claimed to be “so great looking and smart, a true Stable Genius!” followed by the suggestion that he might be in office for 14 more years.

Trump’s “social media” summit

The Washington Post: ‘We will not let them get away with it’: Trump threatens social media ahead of White House summit.

President Trump plans to gather Republican lawmakers, campaign strategists and online provocateurs for a “social media summit” at the White House on Thursday, rallying his political allies and escalating his attacks on Facebook, Google and Twitter ahead of the 2020 election.

Harpy, by Erin Kelso

For Trump, the conference represents his highest profile broadside against Silicon Valley after months of accusing tech companies of censoring conservative users and websites. Facebook, Google and Twitter each has denied the president’s allegations of political bias, though none of them has been invited to the White House for Trump’s summit.

Hours before the event, Trump tweeted that the focus of the conversation “will be the tremendous dishonesty, bias, discrimination and suppression practiced by certain companies,” though he didn’t mention any by name. “We will not let them get away with it much longer,” he added.

Trump has assailed Facebook, Google and Twitter for months, even accusing them of trying to rig the election. In March, for example, he said the companies had engaged in “collusion” and work in opposition to a “certain group of people that happen to be in power, that happen to have won the election.”

At times, though, Trump’s attacks have come in response to efforts by Facebook, Google and Twitter to remove hate speech, threats of violence and other troubling content from their platforms.

Because Trump just loves hate speech.

Vox’s Recode reveals some of the nuts who will be at Trump’s “summit.”

…the gathering in Washington this week will bring together conservative media outlets and Donald Trump supporters who accuse Big Tech of anti-conservative bias despite a lack of evidence supporting their claims.

Canyon Maker, by Erin Kelso

Who will actually be there: The leaders of several conservative groups, like Turning Point USA, YourVoice Inc, right-wing YouTube channel Prager University, conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, and a right-wing meme maker known as Carpe Donktum have all confirmed they are attending Thursday’s meeting.

What’s it’s really about: Trump has suggested the government might sue social media companies over accusations of political bias, but he hasn’t taken concrete action so far. In May, Recode reported on a tool the White House launched for people to flag claims of social media censorship — but the tool is essentially a ploy to gather voter data. According to the Journal, today’s summit “is a way to rally Trump’s base” and will offer a “preview of a likely theme in Mr. Trump’s reelection campaign.” [Ryan Tracy / The Wall Street Journal]

More information on the attendees from CNN:

The White House has repeatedly declined to release a list people it expects to attend, but some of the recipients have turned to social media to boast about being invited.

By ErinKelso

Among them are Bill Mitchell, a radio host who has promoted the extremist QAnon conspiracy theory on Twitter; Carpe Donktum, an anonymous troll who won a contest put on by the fringe media organization InfoWars for an anti-media meme; and Ali Alexander, an activist who attempted to smear Sen. Kamala Harris by saying she is not an “American black” following the first Democratic presidential debates.

Other eyebrow raising attendees include James O’Keefe, the guerrilla journalist whose group Project Veritas tried to trick reporters at the Washington Post by planting a source who told the paper that she had been impregnated as a teenager by failed Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore; Charlie Kirk, the founder of the right-wing student group Turning Point USA who sometimes posts misleading information on social media; and Benny Johnson, the journalist-turned-activist who was fired for plagiarism by BuzzFeed and demoted at the Independent Journal Review for violating company standards.

From Vice: Trump Invites Fringe Social Media Company Popular With Nazis to the White House.

[Today] President Donald Trump is meeting with a series of right wing figures at the White House to discuss social media issues. But Facebook and Twitter won’t be there. In fact, the only social media network that has publicly said it’s attending is Minds—billed as the crypto “anti-Facebook” and once home to several neo-Nazi extremist groups.

Pulp, a public relations firm that counts Minds among its client list, sent Motherboard a photo of the invitation the fringe social media site received to the White House for the summit.

By Erin Kelso

“Minds.com is the only social media network invited to the White House’s social media summit!” wrote the Pulp representative in an email to Motherboard. Facebook and Twitter, social media companies with an astronomically larger number of users than Minds, were excluded from the summit.

A previous Motherboard investigation found that miliant neo-Nazi groups connected to Atomwaffen Division—a violent American hate group connected to several murders—was using Minds as a platform for recruiting and spreading propaganda. Minds eventually banned the accounts when Motherboard showed them to the platform, but the company’s lax content moderation allowed them to proliferate unchecked for months.

One more from The Daily Beast: Trump’s Social Media Summit Mortifies White House, Enrages Far-Right Allies.

Donald Trump has invited personalities from across the right-wing internet to the White House on Thursday for a “Social Media Summit,” but the event is causing his administration headaches even before it begins.

So far, the summit has stirred up resentments among pro-Trump personalities who were never invited to the party, and one invitee has been disinvited over an anti-Semitic cartoon—raising questions for the White House about why he was invited in the first place….

The Devil, by Erin Kelso

Notably, the group so far doesn’t appear to include anyone who has actually been banned from major social platforms, even though those bans have played a significant role in driving accusations on the right that the social giants are biased. Pro-Trump figures like anti-Muslim activist Laura Loomer, InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and Proud Boys men’s group founder Gavin McInnes, for example, don’t appear to have been invited.

That fact hasn’t been lost on fringe Trump supporters. In a livestream from Washington, D.C., InfoWars reporter and Jones lieutenant Owen Shroyer raged that no one from InfoWars was invited to the event, while people who hadn’t been banned were.

Shroyer declared that the event was an “abortion of truth” and compared the invitees to dogs getting a bone and a pat on the head.

Read much more at the link.

Jeffrey Epstein News

Last night The New York Times published a very interesting story on Epstein’s financial history: Jeffrey Epstein’s Fortune May Be More Illusion Than Fact.

Mr. Epstein is routinely described as a billionaire and brilliant financier, and he rubbed elbows with the powerful, including former and future presidents. Even after his 2008 guilty plea in a prostitution case in Florida, he promoted himself as a financial wizard who used arcane mathematical models, and he often dropped the names of Nobel Prize-winning friends. He told potential clients that they had to invest a minimum of $1 billion. At his peak in the early 2000s, a magazine profile said he employed 150 people, some working out of the historic Villard Houses on Madison Avenue.

Much of that appears to be an illusion, and there is little evidence that Mr. Epstein is a billionaire.

Wicked and the Unicorn, by Erin Kelso

Mr. Epstein’s wealth may have depended less on his math acumen than his connections to two men — Steven J. Hoffenberg, a onetime owner of The New York Post and a notorious fraudster later convicted of running a $460 million Ponzi scheme, and Leslie H. Wexner, the billionaire founder of retail chains including The Limited and the chief executive of the company that owns Victoria’s Secret.

Mr. Hoffenberg was Mr. Epstein’s partner in two ill-fated takeover bids in the 1980s, including one of Pan American World Airways, and would later claim that Mr. Epstein had been part of the scheme that landed him in jail — although Mr. Epstein was never charged. With Mr. Wexner, Mr. Epstein formed a financial and personal bond that baffled longtime associates of the wealthy retail magnate, who was his only publicly disclosed investor.

You’ll need to read the whole thing, but one fascinating revelation is that Epstein was aided by the same private section of Deutsche Bank that lent millions to Donald Trump.

In recent years, Mr. Epstein was a client of Deutsche Bank’s private-banking division, which caters to ultrawealthy individuals and families. The bank provided Mr. Epstein with loans and wealth-management accounts, as well as trading services through its investment banking arm, according to two people familiar with the relationship. At one point, compliance officers at Deutsche Bank raised concerns about transactions by Mr. Epstein’s company, because he posed reputational risk to the bank, the people said.

Deutsche Bank managers overruled their concerns, the people said. They noted that there was nothing illegal about the transactions and that Mr. Epstein was a lucrative client.

Earlier this year, the bank ended its relationship with Mr. Epstein.

Queen Titania, by Erin Kelso

AP: Whispers, suspicion about Epstein on Caribbean island.

Ask about Jeffrey Epstein on St. Thomas and rooms go quiet. Some people leave. Those who share stories speak in barely audible tones.

The 66-year-old billionaire bought Little St. James Island off this U.S. Caribbean territory more than two decades ago and began to transform it — clearing the native vegetation, ringing the property with towering palm trees and planting two massive U.S. flags on either end. When guides took scuba divers to spots near the island, security guards would walk to the water’s edge.

It was off-putting to residents of St. Thomas — a lush tropical island east of Puerto Rico with winding roads through mountains dotted with dainty Danish colonial-era homes. Then, when Epstein pleaded guilty in a 2008 to soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution, his need for privacy began to appear more sinister.

“Everybody called it ‘Pedophile Island,’” said Kevin Goodrich, who is from St. Thomas and operates boat charters. “It’s our dark corner.”

Many people who worked for Epstein told The Associated Press this week that they had signed long non-disclosure agreements, and refused to talk. One former employee who declined to be identified said Epstein once had five boats, including a large ferry in which he transported up to 200 workers from St. Thomas to his island every day for construction work.

Click on the link to read more details.

The Bitter End, by Erin Kelso

Joe Pompeo at Vanity Fair: “He Was Living In Peace, Like Dr. Mengele In Paraguay”: Manhattan Media Remember Jeffrey Epstein, The Monster Hiding In Plain Sight.

In late 2009, as civil complaints alleging Jeffrey Epstein’s sexual abuse of underage girls were mounting, George Rush, the long-running Daily News gossip columnist, was preparing a story on one of the latest Jane Doe lawsuits filed against the billionaire financier. The legal documents contained allegations that hadn’t yet been reported, and Rush was keen on nudging them into the public domain. He drew up a list of questions and sent them to Howard Rubenstein, who was Epstein’s publicist at the time. Rush’s reporting resulted in a call from Epstein himself to Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman, who had been a business partner of Epstein’s a few years earlier. The enigmatic and press-shy tycoon was offering Zuckerman something rare: an interview for the Daily News. But when Epstein got on the phone with Rush, Epstein said he could only speak off the record, on the advice of his lawyers. The whole 22-minute conversation sounded to Rush like a bunch of spin.

“It was just kind of this self-serving rationale for how he had been tormented by the lawyers for these girls, whom he characterized as these preexisting prostitutes and strippers who’d already been indoctrinated into the sex world,” Rush told me, describing the interview only in general terms because, even 10 years later, it’s still off the record. “You got the sense that he could adopt many masks. He played up his working-class roots on Coney Island, and how he understood that this was a good story that sold newspapers, and how everybody hates a rich guy. He basically said, I get why this is a good story for you, but I think a better story would be how these con artist lawyers are abusing the legal system.”

Rush said his Epstein chat was “almost useless,” though it “did give me a window into him. He briefly acknowledged getting himself into this mess. But he showed little remorse and no pity for his victims. He was mostly concerned with keeping Ghislaine Maxwell, his alleged henchwoman, out of the story.”

This is a long but interesting story, but check it out. Along the way, Epstein’s behavior has been enabled by so many rich and powerful allies.

Two more:

The New York Times: Cyrus Vance’s Office Sought Reduced Sex-Offender Status for Epstein.

The New York Post: NYPD let convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein skip judge-ordered check-ins.

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?


Lazy Caturday Reads With Surrealist Cats

Cat’s Paradise, by Remedios Varo

Good Afternoon!!

There’s been another earthquake in Southern California and this one was bigger than the last one.

The LA Times: 7.1 earthquake causes damage; more significant temblors likely.

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck Southern California on Friday night, the second major temblor in less than two days and one that rocked buildings across Southern California, adding more jitters to an already nervous region.

The quake was centered near Ridgecrest, the location of the July Fourth 6.4 magnitude temblor that was the largest in nearly 20 years. It was followed by an aftershock first reported as 5.5 in magnitude. Scientists said the fault causing the quakes appears to be growing.

Friday night’s quake caused some fires and other damage in and around Ridgecrest and Trona, two Mojave Desert towns shaken by both quakes, said Mark Ghilarducci, director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. The quake was felt as far away as Phoenix, Las Vegas, Baja California and Reno, according to crowd-sourced data logged into the U.S. Geological Survey’s Did You Feel It? website.

Cat and Violin, Remedios Varo

About 3,000 residents in Ridgecrest and the surrounding areas are without power after the earthquake, according to Southern California Edison. In Los Angeles, there were no immediate reports of major damage to buildings and infrastructure, according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Read much more at the link.

According to CNN, people were sleeping outside because they were afraid of staying in the houses. This quake lasted longer than the previous one.

Bakersfield resident Giovanna Gomez was at home with her family when their house swayed and the water in her pool overflowed. They ran outside.

“It was about a minute long,” she said. “Far larger than the one that (happened) yesterday. It was a smooth roll going back and forth.”

Bakersfield is in Kern County about 110 miles from Ridgecrest. Donald Castle, who lives in Porterville west of Ridgecrest, said his house shook for nearly 25 seconds.
“It was more of a shake than what we had on the Fourth. It lasted longer and was more rolling,” he said.

Read more at CNN.

More from the LA Times: 11% chance of another huge earthquake in Southern California, scientists say.

The odds that Southern California will experience another earthquake of magnitude 7 or greater in the next week are now nearly 11%, according to preliminary estimates from seismologists.

Remedios Varo, Simpatía. La Rabia del gato (The Madness of the Cat), 1955

And the chances that a quake will surpass the 7.1 temblor that struck near Ridgecrest on Friday night are roughly 8% to 9%, said Caltech seismologist Lucy Jones.

“There’s about a 1 in 10 chance that we could have another 7 in this sequence,” she said.

More likely is that the Owens Valley will experience another temblor of magnitude 6 or greater. The odds of that are slightly greater than 50-50, Jones said. And more quakes of magnitude 5 or greater are a near certainty.

Scientists also say that earthquakes do not “relieve pent-up seismic stress.” These quakes won’t prevent “The Big One.”

It’s wishful thinking to imagine that, as a rule, earthquakes “relieve” seismic stress, said seismologist Lucy Jones.

In fact, generally speaking, earthquakes actually increase the risk of future quakes.

The reality is coming into focus as Southern California experienced its largest earthquake in nearly two decades, ending a quiet period in the state’s seismic history.

Click the link to read more about the science of earthquakes.

 

The Fern Cat by Remedios Varo

 

If you’re wondering why I’m spending so much time on the California quakes, it’s because there’s not much news breaking today–a rarity since Trump was installed in the White House by Russia. But here are some interesting reactions to Trump’s 4th of July speech to check out.

A very good piece by Never Trumper Tom Nichols at The New York Daily News: Trump’s sad, strange, somewhat Soviet Fourth of July spectacle.

Let’s get an obvious point about President Trump’s Independence Day speech out of the way right at the top. It was a bad speech.

It wasn’t bad in the way most of Donald Trump’s speeches are bad, in that it was not overtly objectionable. It was relatively free of the populist claptrap and barely disguised racism that characterizes so many of the president’s rally addresses. In some ways, it was even anodyne, and certainly not even in the same league as his hideous “American carnage” inaugural address.

Instead, it was just a poorly written speech: a long, cliché-plagued, rambling trip through American history that tried to name-check battles and famous people as applause lines. Imagine “We Didn’t Start the Fire” if Billy Joel had been born in 1776 and his producers told him to take as much time as he needed to finish the song.

The Mediterranean Cat, Remedios Varo, 1949

On that level, the “Salute to America” was a flop. Perhaps this was unavoidable, since it was never meant to salute America, but rather to provide the military display Trump has wanted for two years. Like any enforced celebration, it was flat and labored. There were no memorable phrases, no vivid images and no bold proposals — unless you count a promise to NASA stalwart Gene Kranz to plant a U.S. flag on Mars one day. It would have been a challenging speech to deliver even for a better speaker, and Trump, who hates reading from prepared remarks, plodded through it with a strangely detached presence and a certain amount of mushy enunciation, including a weird blip where he referred to the glorious military capture of some airports in colonial America.

On another level, however, the speech was indeed offensive. Not only did it attempt to militarize our most sacred national holiday, but Trump tried to bathe himself in borrowed legitimacy from a military that was forced to march, sing and fly for him.

Please go read the rest.

From another Never Trumper and former speech writer David Frum at The Atlantic: Trump’s Recessional.

Trump’s speech was written by people who did not know what they wanted to say. It was a litany of old glories, a shout-out to heroes carefully balanced by race and sex, but with no conscious theme or message. It narrated old triumphs in war and commerce, but without apparent purpose or direction. First this, then that, now a third thing.

The Great Cat, Remedios Varo, 1943

Trump wanted pictures and video of his big day: Trump standing in the place where Martin Luther King Jr. once stood, the podium swathed in flags and bunting, bordered by tanks, adoring audience in front, screeching fighter jets overhead … Strong! Proud! The speech existed only to provide a reason why he needed to stand in one place long enough for five waves of warplanes to cross the sky.

As Trump retold the story of the Pacific War, he said this: “Nobody could beat us. Nobody could come close.” When he paid tribute to the Air Force, he said this: “As President Roosevelt said, the Nazis built a fortress around Europe, ‘but forgot to put a roof on it.’ So we crushed them all from the air.” He added: “No enemy has attacked our people without being met by a roar of thunder, and the awesome might of those who bid farewell to Earth, and soar into the wild blue yonder.” Bringing the story to more recent times: “The Army brought America’s righteous fury down to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and cleared the bloodthirsty killers from their caves.”

Were these wars right or just? Why were they fought? What were their outcomes? Except for the mentions of “freedoms” sprinkled randomly through the text, those questions went unconsidered. Instead, Trump would periodically ad-lib “What a great country!” after this or that mention of power and violence. America is great because it crushes all before it. Altering for circumstances, it was a speech that could have been given by Kaiser Wilhelm or Napoleon or Julius Caesar or the Assyrian Emperor Sennacherib. A great country is one that is feared by its enemies, that can inflict more devastating destruction than any other.

Masha Gessen at The New Yorker: Donald Trump’s “Inoffensive” War on Reality.

Donald Trump’s Fourth of July address was most remarkable for the things it did not contain. Immediately afterward, commentators noted that Trump didn’t use the opportunity to attack the Democratic Party, to issue explicit campaign slogans, or, it would appear, make any impromptu additions (with the possible exception of the claim that American troops commandeered enemy airports during the Revolutionary War). The President was so disciplined on the occasion of the republic’s two hundred and forty-third birthday that Vox called his speech “inoffensive.” Slate gave the speech credit for being “not a complete authoritarian nightmare.” The Times noted that Trump called for unity, in a gesture uncharacteristic of his “divisive presidency.” The word “tame” popped up in different outlets, including Talking Points Memo, which concluded that, thanks to the President not going off script, “the whole thing was pretty standard.”

Cat’s Paradise detail, Remedios Varo

Campaign slogans and glaring Trumpisms were not the only things absent from the speech. Immigrants were missing. Trump’s most recent predecessors presided over Fourth of July naturalization ceremonies. A rhetorical link between the holiday and immigration has long seemed unbreakable. During his last Independence Day as President, Bill Clinton chose to speak in New York Harbor, against the backdrop of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. “Perhaps more than any other nation in all history, we have drawn our strength and spirit from people from other lands,” he said. “On this Fourth of July, standing in the shadow of Lady Liberty, we must resolve never to close the golden door behind us, and always not only to welcome people to our borders, but to welcome people into our hearts.” In a much-criticized series of Independence Day events in 1986, President Reagan lit the torch of the Statue of Liberty and noted the swearing in of twenty-seven thousand new citizens across the country. He also referred to the “immigrant story” of his then new Supreme Court nominee, Antonin Scalia.

That immigrant story is, of course, the story the Trump Administration has demonstratively abandoned. Last year, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services dropped the phrase “nation of immigrants” from its mission statement. That phrase, like most foundational myths and more than some, obscures much of the country’s history: the first immigrants would more accurately be described as settler colonialists, who brought Africans here as slaves. But this was not why the Trump Administration deleted the phrase. Trump has retired the myth of America as a nation of immigrants because he staked his election campaign and his legitimacy as president on the demonization of immigrants—and on mobilizing Americans for a war against immigrants.

A few more suggested reads, links only:

Claudia Castro Luna at The Seattle Times: Immigrant children will forever live with trauma, as I have.

Rebecca Traister at The Cut: Politics Is Changing; Why Aren’t the Pundits Who Cover It? The Donny Deutsch problem in media.

The New York Times: The Dominance of the White Male Critic.

Yascha Monk at The Atlantic: The More You Watch, the More You Vote Populist.\\

 

The images in this post are paintings by Spanish surrealist painter Remedios Varo. You can read about her and see more of her art at Wikiart.

Remedios Varo and her cat

 

What stories are you following today?


Tuesday Reads: Fourth of July Hijacking and Other News

Good Morning!!

Do you suppose Trump knows that the 4th of July was designated as a day to celebrate the Declaration of Independence? Does he know that the founding fathers didn’t think we should have a large standing army? Naaaaah . . . what was I thinking? The 4th of July is just another day to celebrate himself and the massive military machine he controls.

The New York Times: Trump Says Tanks Will Be on Display in Washington for July 4.

President Trump said on Monday that the Pentagon would put military tanks on display on Thursday in Washington as part of his plans to turn the annual Fourth of July celebration in the nation’s capital into a salute to the country’s military prowess.

The tanks will join an airborne display of the nation’s firepower, including a flight of Air Force One over Washington and a performance by the Navy’s Blue Angels jets. Mr. Trump, who is to speak at the celebration, has requested that the chiefs for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines stand next to him as aircraft from each of their services fly overhead and their respective hymns play on loudspeakers.

“It’ll be like no other — it’ll be special, and I hope a lot of people come,” Mr. Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. “We have some incredible equipment, military equipment, on display — brand-new. And we’re very proud of it.”

Does Trump care that many Americans, including those in the military, aren’t thrilled with his hijacking of the holiday? No, of course not.

Mr. Trump’s Fourth of July homage to the military sets up a cultural clash between the Republican president and a mostly Democratic city that has for decades celebrated America’s independence with almost no public participation by presidents of either party. The City Council for the District of Columbia, which was not happy with Mr. Trump’s decision, posted on Twitter that “we have said it before, and we’ll say it again: Tanks, but no tanks.”

The president’s decision also reflects the divide between Mr. Trump and the forces at his command. Top military officials have expressed deep concern about letting the armed forces be used by the president to advance a political agenda, and earlier resisted his efforts for a military parade on Veterans Day.

Pentagon officials have long been reluctant to parade tanks, missiles and other weapons through the nation’s capital like the authoritarian leaders of North Korea and China. They say the United States, which has the world’s most powerful military and spends more on defense than the seven next largest military spenders combined — China, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Russia, Britain and Germany — does not need to broadcast its strength.

And if this is supposedly a “bipartisan” celebration, why are Trump’s buddies getting special seating and why are the tickets being handled by the RNC?

HuffPost: RNC Giving Out Tickets To Trump’s Hijacked Fourth Of July Celebration.

President Donald Trump has hijacked what for decades had been a nonpolitical Independence Day celebration on the National Mall, packing his ticketed-event speech with political appointees and Republican donors.

The Republican National Committee has been offering major donors tickets to Trump’s speech, as have political appointees at the White House and executive branch agencies….

Trump has been enamored of public displays of military might since he attended the Bastille Day festivities in Paris in 2017. His plan for a massive military parade last year was canceled after a Defense Department estimate became public showing that it would cost $92 million and damage the city’s roads because of the weight of tanks and other equipment.

The current plans for Thursday do not include a parade, but Trump is still pushing for tanks or other military vehicles to be displayed on the National Mall, The Washington Post reported, even though their weight is liable to damage the grass and roads. Flyovers by military planes ― including Air Force One and the Navy’s Blue Angels squadron ― are also planned.

It’s going to be a giant Hatch Act violation and it reflects Trump’s attraction to authoritarian leaders.

Ruth Ben-Ghiat, a New York University history professor and expert on fascism, said Trump’s need to display military hardware is a feature of authoritarians throughout history. “He needs to colonize our lives. He needs to colonize our public spaces,” she said, adding that it was “dismaying” that the Pentagon this year failed to thwart Trump’s impulses. “The military has been domesticated. I think the will to resist him has evaporated.”

Groups that advocate for government transparency and ethics, meanwhile, railed against the RNC’s involvement.

“This partisan appropriation of a public event is consistent with the record of an administration that has no regard for lines between personal or partisan interests and its public obligations,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization.

There’s more about the problems with Trump’s plans at the link.

And of course Trump’s Nazi fans will show up for the long nighmarish weekend. The Daily Beast: Proud Boys and Allies to Rally in D.C. to Capitalize on ‘Trumpstravaganza.’

Members of the far-right Proud Boys men’s group and their allies will rally in D.C. on July 6, just a week after violence at rival Portland rallies ratcheted up tensions between groups on both the right and left. The Proud Boys event and a rival counterprotest threaten to add even more tension for what’s already shaping up to be a hot, strange week in Washington.

The Proud Boys—self-described “Western chauvinists” who adhere to a dizzying array of rules, including restrictions on how much they can masturbate —will be joined by a number of right-wing internet personalities at the “Rally for Free Speech” at D.C.’s Freedom Plaza.

The event’s website lists a number of right-wing internet provocateurs, including conservative smear-pusher Jacob Wohl, anti-Muslim activist Laura Loomer, British far-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos, and former Pizzagate promoter Jack Posobiec. The bill also names a host of lesser-known social media figures, including YouTube prankster-turned-congressional candidate Joey Salads and “Copper Cab,” the YouTuber who became famous in 2010 for the viral “gingers have souls” video.

Meanwhile some veterans plan a sort of counter-protest. HuffPost: Vets To Give Out Thousands Of USS John McCain Shirts At Trump’s July 4 Event.

Irked by President Donald Trump’s plan to hold his own July Fourth event on the National Mall, veterans plan to give out thousands of USS John S. McCain T-shirts to make the president face a crowd of people honoring the McCain family’s legacy and the idea of putting one’s country before oneself.

VoteVets, a left-leaning nonprofit group founded in 2006 by Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, is organizing the effort in response to Trump’s unprecedented “Salute to America” celebration. While Americans will still be able to catch the annual fireworks display on the National Mall, Trump is hosting his own event at the Lincoln Memorial, where he will give remarks and has set up a ticketed area for VIPs, friends, family and members of the military. Trump’s event will include military flyovers and possibly tanks.

“Today, we learned the news that Donald Trump is turning the national 4th of July celebration into a 2020 campaign event, complete with a ticketed VIP section for friends and supporters,” reads a Sunday email from VoteVets. “That’s not what America is about.”

VoteVets has already raised enough money to make more than 5,000 T-shirts, which veterans will hand out to people on the National Mall and, before that, deliver to members of Congress. All of the shirts, which feature an image of the Navy destroyer named after three generations of John S. McCains — including the late Arizona senator and Trump critic — are being made by Rags of Honor, a company that employs homeless veterans.

It’s all so depressing.

In other news, Trump is upset about the way people mocked his daughter Barbie Ivanka’s behavior at the G20, so he sent Sarah Huckabee Sanders (didn’t she already leave?) to tamp down the Twitter brigade.

But some unnamed White House officials were confused by Ivanka’s behavior overseas. The Daily Beast: Ivanka’s North Korea Photobombs Perplex White House Officials.

When Donald Trump and his advisers crossed over from South Korea into the heavily fortified demilitarized zone between North and South Korea over the weekend, the cameras were ready. Images of the president greeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as “my friend” in a last-minute meetup streamed across televisions worldwide.

Trump wasn’t alone. After a few snapshots, Ivanka Trump, along with her husband, Jared Kushner, followed the president into what’s known as the Freedom House—a building on the South Korean side of the zone. That’s when the cameras stopped. The media was reportedly blocked from entering and covering the historic event.

It wasn’t until later that reporters learned Ivanka and Kushner did more than accompany the president into the Freedom House. They were reportedly present at a closed-door meeting between the two leaders, who ended up speaking about one of the most sensitive topics on the planet—North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program.

WTF?!

Here’s a story you won’t find surprising, even if the mainstream media does.

NBC News: New study shows Russian propaganda may really have helped Trump.

The study, by researchers at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, does not prove that Russian interference swung the election to Trump. But it demonstrates that Trump’s gains in popularity during the 2016 campaign correlated closely with high levels of social media activity by the Russian trolls and bots of the Internet Research Agency, a key weapon in the Russian attack.

“Our results show that the weeks when Russian trolls were accumulating likes and retweets on Twitter, that activity reliably foreshadowed gains for Trump in the opinion polls,” wrote Damian Ruck, the study’s lead researcher, in an article explaining his findings.

The study found that every 25,000 re-tweets by accounts connected to the IRA predicted a 1 percent increase in opinion polls for Trump.

In an interview with NBC News, Ruck said the research suggests that Russian trolls helped shift U.S public opinion in Trump’s favor. As to whether it affected the outcome of the election: “The answer is that we still don’t know, but we can’t rule it out.”

Given that the election turned on 75,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, “it is a prospect that should be taken seriously,” Ruck wrote, adding that more study was needed in those swing states.

Just as we knew all along, the election was stolen from Hillary and from us.

That’s it for me today. What stories have you been following?