The Wires

Public Service Announcement

July 27: NBC News: "If your information was compromised during the massive 2017 Equifax data breach, you could be entitled to up to $20,000." The article provides info on how you can claim your share of the restitution fund. Mrs. McC: I might give it a crack. I know my personal info was compromised during the period of the Equifax breach, but I'm not sure Equifax was the source of the breach. So I might give this a crack. 

Washington Post: "the 2019 U.S. Gymnastics Championships were no different — especially Sunday night, the final night of the two-day [U.S. Gymnastics Championships]..., [Simone] Biles aced a skill no other woman (and only two men in the world) has successfully landed in competition — a triple-twisting, double somersault that capped the first tumbling pass of her floor routine like a cymbal crash":


Washington Post: White Southern plantation visitors who pay good money "to learn about the history of life on a plantation" are very upset guides mention slavery. Mrs. McCrabbie's recommendation: put on your MAGA caps & hoop skirts, watch the first 10 minutes of "Gone with the Wind," & practice saying "Fiddle-dee-dee."

Here's one for contributor Jeanne. "Margaret Atwood joins Deborah Treisman to read and discuss 'Corrie,' by Alice Munro, from a 2010 issue of the [New Yorker] magazine":

Nick Schager in the Daily Beast: "Premiering on Netflix and in select theaters on July 24, The Great Hack is the most enraging, terrifying and — I don’t use this term lightly — important documentary of the year. Directed by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim..., its subject is the Cambridge Analytica data scandal—a story that’s galling on the surface, and infinitely more bone-chilling when one considers its far-reaching ramifications. That’s because Cambridge Analytica’s deceptive and criminal relationship with, and conduct on, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media platform had world-altering consequences: helping launch the Brexit movement, and successfully aiding the election campaign of Donald Trump.” 

Guardian: “The businessman Arron Banks and the unofficial Brexit campaign Leave.EU have issued a legal threat against streaming giant Netflix in relation to The Great Hack, a new documentary about the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the abuse of personal data. The threat comes as press freedom campaigners and charity groups warn the government in an open letter that UK courts are being used to 'intimidate and silence' journalists working in the public interest. In a joint letter to key cabinet members, they call for new legislation to stop 'vexatious lawsuits', highlighting one filed last week by Banks against campaigning journalist Carole Cadwalladr.”

AP: "MAD, the long-running satirical magazine that influenced everyone from 'Weird Al' Yankovic to the writers of 'The Simpsons,' will be leaving newsstands after its August issue. Really. The illustrated humor magazine — instantly recognizable by the gap-toothed smiling face of mascot Alfred E. Neuman — will still be available in comic shops and through mail to subscribers. But after its fall issue it will just reprint previously published material. The only new material will come in special editions at the end of the year."

Hill: "The Democrats beat the Republicans in a high-scoring 14-7 win Wednesday [June 26] night in the 58th annual Congressional Baseball Game. It was the Democrats' 10th win in 11 years."

New York Times: "... the Library of Congress has named [Joy Harjo] America’s new poet laureate. She will take over for Tracy K. Smith, who has held the position for two years.... Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, is the 23rd poet and first Native person to be selected for the role."

New York: "The mass of the metal 'anomaly' beneath the moon’s largest crater is five times greater than the big island of Hawaii, and according to a new study from scientists at Baylor University, it could contain metals remaining from an ancient asteroid impact, weighing in at around 4.8 quintillion pounds."

New York Times: "A skeleton in Siberia nearly 10,000 years old has yielded DNA that reveals a striking kinship to living Native Americans, scientists reported on Wednesday. The finding, published in the journal Nature, provides an important new clue to the migrations that first brought people to the Americas. 'In terms of peopling of the Americas, we have found close to the missing link,' said Eske Willerslev, a geneticist at the University of Copenhagen and a co-author of the new paper. 'It’s not the direct ancestor, but it’s extremely close.'... The DNA of [a group scientists call] the Ancient Paleo-Siberians is remarkably similar to that of Native Americans. Dr. Willerslev estimates that Native Americans can trace about two-thirds of their ancestry to these previously unknown people.”


The Commentariat -- August 14, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Matt Phillips of the New York Times: "Trade-war worries hammered financial markets again on Wednesday as data from Germany and China showed trouble for manufacturing-reliant economies, while the bond market renewed fears of an American recession. Stocks and commodities tumbled in Europe and the United States as risk-averse investors raced to the safety of government bonds, pushing bond prices sharply higher and yields -- which move in the opposite direction -- to low levels not seen in years." ...

... Lucy Bayly of NBC News: "Wall Street took a battering on Wednesday, suffering its worst day so far this year after movements in the bond market signaled the sharpest indication yet of an approaching recession. The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which had already shed 400 points at the opening bell, spent the day in freefall before closing with a decline of 800 points, a drop of over 3 percent. The S&P 500 closed down 2.93 percent, and the Nasdaq posted a decline of just over 3 percent. The market selloff was the result of an inverted yield curve in government bonds, when the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note falls below the 2-year rate -- a phenomenon that has preceded every recession for the past 50 years.... Donald Trump blamed the Federal Reserve for Wednesday's market plunge, calling Fed Chairman Jerome Powell 'clueless' in an afternoon tweet."

Lauren Said-Moorhouse & Per Nyberg of CNN: "US rapper A$AP Rocky has been found guilty of assault and handed a conditional sentence after he was involved in a street brawl in Stockholm.... The imposition of a conditional sentence means that A$AP Rocky will be subject to a probationary period of two years. The court awarded damages of 12,500 Swedish Krona ($1,300) to the victim 'for violation of his integrity and pain and suffering.' The defendants were also ordered to pay fees of 80,610 Swedish Krona (nearly $8,400) for the victim's lawyer."


I'm going to speak to some of your union leaders to say, I hope you are going to support Trump. O.K.? And if they don't, vote them the hell out of office because they are not doing their job. It's true. Vote them out of office. -- Donald Trump, to union workers in a speech "about energy policy" ...

... Lola Fadulu & Maggie Haberman of the New York Times: "President Trump's appearance on Tuesday at the site of a multibillion-dollar chemical plant under construction [in Monaca, Pa.,] was ostensibly about energy policy. Instead, the crowd of mostly white, male workers in bright orange and yellow construction vests was the audience for a 67-minute speech that was nearly indistinguishable from something that Mr. Trump would deliver at one of his campaign rallies. Mr. Trump railed against China, President Barack Obama, the lawsuits he is facing, the money he claims being president has cost him, Hillary Clinton, Democrats running against him and, as always, his news coverage. The president occasionally touched on energy policy as he claimed credit for one of the largest active construction projects in the United States, the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex. The plans for the complex, which will convert natural gas into plastics, were in fact announced in 2012, while Mr. Obama was in office." Mrs. McC: Fadulu & Haberman don't specify, but it appears you & I paid for this Trump campaign trip. ...

... Toluse Olorunnipa & Colby Itkowitz of the Washington Post: "Trump told the workers that without him, they would be out of work.... State and local governments provided millions of dollars in incentives to ... Shell.... He subsequently complained that being president was costing him $3 billion to $5 billion, without offering any details to back up the claim. [Mrs. McC: Let's see those tax returns, Donnie.] 'This thing is costing me a fortune, and I love it because I'm making the lives of other people much, much better,' he said.... He used disparaging nicknames he has created for two Democratic candidates for president, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former vice president Joe Biden." The Politico report, by Caitlin Oprysko, is here. Oprysko highlights some of Trump's remarks.

Trump Loses Round of Chicken to U.S. Consumers. Ana Swanson of the New York Times: "The Trump administration on Tuesday narrowed the list of Chinese products it plans to impose new tariffs on as of Sept. 1, delaying levies on cellphones, laptop computers, toys and other consumer goods until after stores stock up for the back-to-school and holiday shopping seasons. The move, which pushed off a new 10 percent tariff on some goods and spared others entirely, came as President Trump faces mounting pressure from businesses and consumer groups over the harm they say the continuing trade war between the United States and China is doing." The AP story, by Paul Wiseman, is here. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Yun Li of CNBC: "Stocks surged higher in a sudden move after the U.S. said it was delaying China tariffs until December on items including cellphones and clothing. The U.S. also outright removed some items from list of new tariffs. The adjusted policy caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to jump about 408 points, while the S&P 500 rose 1.5% and the Nasdaq Composite was 1.7% higher.... Donald Trump said Tuesday he delayed the tariffs for Christmas season in case it had an impact on shopping. He added China would very much like to make a deal." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

We are doing this for the Christmas season, just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. consumers. So far they've had virtually none. The only impact has been that we've collected almost $60 billion from China, compliments of China. But just in case they might have an impact on people, what we've done is we've delayed it so they won't be relevant for the Christmas shopping season. -- Donald Trump, to reporters, Tuesday

We are all just one tweet away from significant volatility. The idea that this is a major source of relief to the economy is not tethered to empirical reality. -- Joe Brusuelas, chief economist at RSM in a note to clients ...

... Heather Long of the Washington Post: "President Trump has repeated the same mantra for months: The Chinese are paying the full price of his tariffs. It's a line that the overwhelming majority of economists and business owners say is false, but Trump kept saying it -- until Aug. 13.... [In remarks Friday,] he used qualifying phrases such as 'just in case' and 'might have,' but his words — and actions — are a noticeable change from his insistence that the Chinese are paying the full cost of his tariffs. (Note that the harm to American farmers comes from China's counter-tariffs, which Trump has sought to offset with a bailout targeting farm country.) 'The decision to delay new tariffs on Chinese-made toys, smartphones, laptops and other popular holiday gifts is a tacit admission that consumers pay for tariffs, not Chinese producers,' said Ryan Young ... [of] the Competitive Enterprise Institute." ...

... Paul Wiseman & Christopher Rugaber of the AP: "Trump has repeatedly argued that his tariffs are hurting China, not American consumers. But by delaying higher tariffs on consumer goods, Trump is tacitly acknowledging that his import taxes stand to squeeze American households, too. Tariffs are taxes paid by U.S. importers, not by China, and are often passed along to U.S. businesses and consumers through higher prices.... Among the products that will benefit from the 3½-month reprieve are such popular consumer goods as cellphones, laptops, video game consoles, some toys, computer monitors, shoes and clothing.... On Sunday, economists at Goldman Sachs downgraded their economic forecasts, citing the impending tariffs on consumer goods. And economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch have raised their odds of a recession in the next year to roughly 33%, up from about 20%."

Trump Alone Can Fix It. Jim Tankersley of the New York Times: "From tax cuts to relaxed regulations to tariffs, each of President Trump's economic initiatives is based on a promise: to set off a wave of investment and bring back jobs that the president says the United States has lost to foreign countries.... Mr. Trump's tax cuts unquestionably stimulated the American economy in 2018, helping to push economic growth to 2.5 percent for the year and fueling an increase in manufacturing jobs. But statistics from the government and other sources do not support Mr. Trump's claim about his policies' effectiveness in drawing investment and jobs from abroad. Foreign investment in the United States grew at a slower annual pace in the first two years of Mr. Trump's tenure than during Barack Obama's presidency, according to Commerce Department data released in July. Growth in business investment from all sources, foreign and domestic, accelerated briefly after Mr. Trump signed a $1.5 trillion tax-cut package in late 2017 but then slowed. Investment growth turned negative this spring, providing a drag on economic output." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: A good example of Trump's marvelous (and mostly fantastical) effort to bring back American jobs was in evidence yesterday when he claimed during his campaign visit to the Pennsylvania Shell petrochemicals plant that the white guys who comprised his audience there would be out of work without him. As Olorunnipa & Itkowitz wrote in the WashPo report linked above, "While the project employs more than 5,000 people working in construction, it ultimately will have about 600 permanent employees when completed in a few years, according to Shell." So most if not all of them will be out of work once the plant is built. In addition, the project began when Obama was president. Finally, state & local tax incentives boosted the project. Trump had nothing to do with it. ...

... AND what about those 600 jobs in Kentucky??? :

     ... Thanks, #MoscowMitch! Simon Shuster & Vera Bergengruen of Time: "... the story of how a Kremlin-linked aluminum giant offered an economic lifeline to Appalachia is an object lesson of ... [how] Moscow political influence that could undermine national security[, according to critics].... What worries national-security experts is not that [the Russian aluminum company] Rusal, [the American company] Braidy [Industries] or [Russian oligarch Oleg] Deripaska broke any laws in the deal. It's that they didn't. A Time investigation found that Rusal used a broad array of political and economic tools to fight the sanctions, establishing a foothold in U.S. politics in the process.... To free itself from sanctions, Rusal fielded a team of high-paid lobbyists for an intense, months-long effort in Washington. One of the targets was Kentucky's own Mitch McConnell..., who helped thwart a bipartisan push to keep the sanctions in place. Since May, two of McConnell's former staffers have lobbied Congress on behalf of Braidy, according to filings. Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, one of Rusal's longtime major shareholders, Len Blavatnik, contributed more than $1 million through his companies to a GOP campaign fund tied to McConnell."

Coral Davenport of the New York Times: "A coalition of 29 states and cities on Tuesday sued to block the Trump administration from easing restrictions on coal-burning power plants, setting up a case that could determine how much leverage the federal government has to fight climate change in the future. The lawsuit is the latest salvo in a long-running battle over the future of coal and how to regulate the nation's heavily polluting power plants, which are major producers of greenhouse gases that warm the planet. It also is the most significant test to date of the Trump administration's efforts to eliminate or weaken former President Obama's regulations to reduce the United States' contribution to global warming.... Previously, Republican-led states and industry groups sued to stop Mr. Obama's Clean Power Plan from going into effect. They won a reprieve in 2016 when the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the Obama administration from imposing changes." The Grist story, by Rachel Ramirez, is here.

Trump Again Refuses to Back Democracy. Brett Samuels of the Hill: "President Trump on Tuesday said he's hopeful that clashes in Hong Kong between anti-government protesters and armed security forces end peacefully, offering a rare comment on the escalating tensions in the region. 'The Hong Kong thing is a very tough situation, very tough,' Trump told reporters as he boarded Air Force One for a trip to Pennsylvania. 'We'll see what happens but I'm sure it'll work out. I hope it works out for everybody -- including China, by the way. I hope it works out for everybody.'" As long-time U.S. diplomat Nicholas Burns put it on MSNBC, Trump's stance is "disgraceful" and is reminiscent of his both-sides Charlottesville remarks. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) See related stories linked under Way Beyond the Beltway. ...

... MEANWHILE. Fira Abdurachman of the New York Times: "Donald Trump Jr., visiting Indonesia's capital on Tuesday to promote two Trump-branded resorts, defended his father, President Trump, and their family's company against allegations that their global business presented conflicts of interest for the president ... that ... could affect his foreign policy. 'He wouldn't make decisions on a country based on a real estate deal,' Mr. Trump said.... He and his billionaire business partner, Hary Tanoesoedibjo, chairman of the MNC Group, held a news conference to extol the virtues of the two Trump-branded resorts, one in Bali and the other at Lido, south of Jakarta.... Trump International Resort, Golf Club and Residences Lido, to be built about 45 miles south of Jakarta, is to be part of a larger project known as Lido City, which is to include a theme park, hospital, restaurants and other facilities.... Last year, [Hary's corporation] said it would receive $500 million in financing from an arm of Metallurgical Corporation of China, a state-owned construction company, to build the theme park. The deal falls under the umbrella of China's Belt and Road Initiative, an ambitious plan to spread money and influence by financing infrastructure and other projects worldwide, a high priority for China's leader, Xi Jinping." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I'd say Xi's effort to "spread money & influence" is working pretty well when you can get a U.S. president* to wish you well in beating down lawful democratic guarantees. Not to mention, I'm so happy to be paying for Junior's money-grubbing trips abroad.

Give me your tired and your poor
Who can stand on their own two feet
and who will not become a public charge.

-- Ken Cuccinelli, rewrite of "The New Colossus"

Yeah, he really said that. -- Mrs. Bea McCrabbie ...

... ** Only White People Need Apply. Justin Baragona of the Daily Beast: "Hours after rewriting the famous words inscribed on the Statue of Liberty, Acting Director of Citizenship and Immigration Services Ken Cuccinelli went a step further on Tuesday night by insisting that Emma Lazarus' poem about America accepting the world's poor and huddled masses only referred to Europeans.... Quoting the actual poem to Cuccinelli -- which definitely does not place a burden on immigrants to 'stand on their own two feet' -- [CNN's Erin] Burnett said the poem about accepting those 'yearning to breathe free' is what Lazarus said America is supposed to stand for. She went on to ask Cuccinelli: 'So what do you think America stands for?' 'Well, of course that poem was referring back to people coming from Europe where they had class-based societies,' Cuccinelli ... replied." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: This was not a gaffe on Cuccinelli's part. It is what he believes. Cuccinelli is of Italian & Irish descent. Many Americans of Northern European descent despised & discriminated against immigrants from those countries. The Immigration Act of 1924 was specifically designed to reduce the number of Italians eligible to immigrate. "Proponents of the act sought to establish a distinct American identity by preserving its ethnic homogeneity." Nativist Americans also despised Irish immigrants, not only because they were dirt-poor but also because they were Roman Catholic, & these Americans "believed that Protestantism defined American society." Cuccinelli is Roman Catholic. ...

As a nation, we began by declaring that 'all men are created equal.' We now practically read it 'all men are created equal, except negroes.' When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read 'all men are created equal, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.' When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty -- to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy. -- Abraham Lincoln, in an 1855 letter

Lauren Egan of NBC News: "... Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his weekend decision to share an unfounded conspiracy theory on Twitter suggesting without evidence that former President Bill Clinton was somehow connected to the death of wealthy financier and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. 'He is a very highly respected conservative pundit,' Trump said Tuesday of Terrence K. Williams, the man whose tweet the president shared. 'He's a big Trump fan. And that was a retweet. That wasn't from me. That was from him. But he's a man with half a million followers, a lot of followers,' Trump continued, speaking to reporters as he traveled from his summer getaway in Bedminster, New Jersey, to Pennsylvania. 'Basically what we're saying is, we want an investigation. I want a full investigation,' Trump added." ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Williams is a right-wing comedian, not "a very highly-respected conservative pundit." Trump's claim that his retweet suggested he "wanted a full investigation" mimics Kellyanne Conway's attempt to clean up after Trump. ...

... Jim Mustian, et al., of the AP: "The warden at the federal jail where Jeffrey Epstein took his own life over the weekend was removed Tuesday and two guards who were supposed to be watching the financier were placed on leave while federal authorities investigate the death. The move by the Justice Department came amid mounting evidence that the chronically understaffed Metropolitan Correctional Center may have bungled its responsibility to keep the 66-year-old Epstein from harming himself while he awaited trial on charges of sexually abusing teenage girls." ...

     ... Update. Katie Benner & Danielle Ivory of the New York Times: "The two guards who were in the jail unit where Jeffrey Epstein apparently killed himself fell asleep and failed to check on him for about three hours, then falsified records [in a log] to cover up their mistake, a law enforcement official and a prison official said on Tuesday.... Such false entries in an official log could constitute a federal crime.... Those disclosures came as the two guards were placed on administrative leave and the warden of the jail ... was temporarily reassigned, pending the outcome of the investigation into Mr. Epstein's death, the Justice Department announced.... [Epstein] had apparently hanged himself with a bedsheet, likely fastening the sheet to a top bunk and pitching himself forward, law-enforcement and prison officials said." ...

     ... Update Update. AP (10:05 pm ET Tuesday): "Surveillance video reviewed after the death showed guards never made some of the checks noted in the log, according to the person familiar with the investigation." ...

... Jane Lytvynenko of BuzzFeed News: "The New York City Fire Department looked into whether an employee posted about Jeffrey Epstein's death on a notorious internet message board prior to officials announcing it to the public.... An FDNY spokesperson said authorities 'determined this alleged information did not come from the Fire Department.'... Almost 40 minutes before ABC News first reported Epstein's death on Twitter, someone posted still-unverified details on 4chan, the anonymous message board popular with far-right trolls and white nationalists. '[D]ont ask me how I know, but Epstein died an hour ago from hanging, cardiac arrest. Screencap this,' read the post, which was published at 8:16 a.m. alongside an image of Pepe, the green frog that has become a mascot for right-wing internet trolls." ...

...CBS News: "On the morning of Jeffrey Epstein's death there was shouting and shrieking from his jail cell, a source familiar with the situation told CBS News. Corrections officers attempted to revive him while saying 'breathe, Epstein breathe.' Congress is the latest to start investigating Epstein's apparent suicide over the weekend, with new reports raising questions about the federal jail where he was being held. One of Epstein's guards at the Metropolitan Correctional Center on the night he died was reportedly not a regular corrections officer." (Also linked yesterday.)

Paul Krawzak of Roll Call: "Funding to support global health programs, promote women's economic development [supported by Ivanka Trump] and protect Christians and other religious minorities abroad from persecution [supported by mike pence] would be exempt from a package of cuts to foreign aid that the White House is developing ... as part of a forthcoming request for spending cuts, or rescissions, affecting the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development[.]... If such a package is submitted shortly, as expected, it would block the targeted funds from being spent for 45 days of 'continuous' legislative session, excluding recesses of three or more days. That would mean effectively a cancellation of money that would otherwise expire after the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, despite a requirement of 1974 budget law that Congress must approve any rescissions package." --s

William Cohen in Vanity Fair: "As the backlash continues over [billionaire] Stephen Ross's decision to hold a multimillion-dollar fund-raiser for Donald Trump in the Hamptons on Friday, Wall Street is wondering just what he was thinking.... The Wall Street executive I spoke to believes that Ross's primary focus at the moment is making sure the controversial EB-5 visa program, which allows rich foreigners to get a permanent visa in exchange for making an investment of at least $500,000 in an American business, gets extended rather than expire at the end of September, as it is now scheduled to do. According to a study undertaken by the NYU Stern School of Business, Ross's Related Companies is one of the bigger users of the EB-5 program." --safari: Jared Kushner also relies heavily on this program, so it will be extended.

Presidential Race 2020

Alex Samuels of the Texas Tribune: "Julián Castro, a Democratic candidate for president, plans to release a television ad Wednesday on Fox News connecting ... Donald Trump to a recent attack in El Paso that federal law enforcement officials have classified as an act of domestic terrorism. The ad will speak to Trump directly -- linking his rhetoric toward immigrants and people of color to that of the shooter in El Paso who killed 22 and left more than two dozen wounded. A spokesman for Castro's campaign told The Texas Tribune that the ad -- a small buy of $2,775 -- will air throughout the day on Fox News in Bedminster, N.J. That is where Trump is spending the week at his private golf club...." ...

A message for @realdonaldtrump:

— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) August 13, 2019

Greg Krieg, et al., of CNN: "Sen. Bernie Sanders scaled back his criticism of the media on Tuesday, telling CNN he did not believe that Amazon founder and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos was dictating the paper's coverage of his campaign. But while the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate acknowledged that there is no direct link between the Post newsroom and Bezos, he continued to argue that the structure of the mainstream media leaves candidates like him at a disadvantage.... On Tuesday, Sanders reprised a more comprehensive -- and familiar -- frustration with corporate-owned media and what he described as a lack of attention to poverty and income and wealth inequality.... Sanders clarified his position on Bezos' role after suggesting twice on Monday that his public objections to Amazon's business practices had influenced the Post's reporting. 'I talk about (Amazon's taxes) all of the time,' Sanders said in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, a day earlier. 'And then I wonder why The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon, doesn't write particularly good articles about me. I don't know why.'... Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron ... defended the paper's independence. 'Sen. Sanders is a member of a large club of politicians -- of every ideology -- who complain about their coverage,' Baron said in a statement provided to CNN. 'Contrary to the conspiracy theory the senator seems to favor, Jeff Bezos allows our newsroom to operate with full independence....'"

Elections 2020

Hickenlooper Gets Real. Reid Epstein of the New York Times: "Former Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado is in discussions about ending his presidential bid and entering the race for his state's Republican-held Senate seat, potentially giving Democrats a strong candidate in a race they must win to have hopes of retaking the chamber in 2021, according to four Democrats familiar with his thinking."

Jeremy White of Politico: "California's new law requiring candidates' tax returns may be aimed at Donald Trump, but its most consequential effects would likely be felt downballot if it survives a legal challenge. For Republicans who already face a steep climb to blunt Democratic dominance here, the possibility of Trump's absence from 2020 primary ballots threatens to suppress turnout at a time when they need every vote they can get. That risk conjures another scenario that's keeping conservative strategists up at night: Republicans getting locked out of general election races thanks to California's primary system, which allows the top two vote-getters to advance to the general election regardless of party and regularly produces Democrat-vs.-Democrat contests." --s

Dan Friedman & Ali Breland
of Mother Jones: "Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos ... appear to have found some new allies: QAnon conspiracy theorists. Flynn ... and Papadopoulos are listed as speakers at the upcoming 'Digital Soldiers Conference,' a one-day event scheduled for September 14 in Atlanta that promises to ready '[p]atriotic social media warriors' for a coming 'digital civil war' against 'censorship and suppression.' Other featured speakers include Bill Mitchell, an online broadcaster and conspiracy theorist.... The event is being organized by Rich Granville, the CEO of Yippy, Inc, who has a Twitter feed littered with references to QAnon, a conspiracy theory centered around the notion that Trump is secretly taking down an international ring of pedophiles that includes high-ranking Democrats. QAnon supporters believe that an anonymous person known as Q is dropping online clues about this supposed clandestine operation. The web page for Granville's conference prominently features an American flag festooned with a Q."

Civil War West. Jason Wilson of the Guardian: "The Republican politician Matt Shea connected close allies with a group [called 'Team Rugged'] offering training to young men in 'biblical warfare' that includes how to use knives, pistols and rifles, with lessons based in part on the teachings of a Georgia-based neo-Confederate pastor [John Weaver], emails obtained by the Guardian reveal. Shea, who is an elected Washington state representative ... also paid the founder of the group money from his campaign fund in 2018.... Shea['s] associate, Jack Robertson ... is a rightwing podcast host who advocates for conservatives to move to the 'American Redoubt' in eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana, and, with Shea, campaigns for eastern Washington to secede and form its own state.... Last May, the Guardian revealed that at the 2018 God and Country event, Shea warned of civil unrest while Robertson urged the audience to prepare for civil war." --s

** "Extreme Climate Change Has Come to America." Steven Mufson, et al., of the Washington Post: "Over the past two decades, the 2 degrees Celsius number has emerged as a critical threshold for global warming.... The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that if Earth heats up by an average of 2 degrees Celsius, virtually all the world's coral reefs will die; retreating ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica could unleash massive sea level rise; and summertime Arctic sea ice, a shield against further warming, would begin to disappear. But global warming does not heat the world evenly. A Washington Post analysis of more than a century of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temperature data across the Lower 48 states and 3,107 counties has found that major areas are nearing or have already crossed the 2-degree Celsius mark. -- Today, more than 1 in 10 Americans -- 34 million people -- are living in rapidly heating regions, including New York City and Los Angeles.

Annals of Journalism, Ctd. Paul Farhi of the Washington Post: "The New York Times demoted one of its Washington editors on Tuesday as punishment for sparking controversy last week with tweets about Democratic members of Congress and for a related run-in with an author. The editor, Jonathan Weisman, came under fire for tweets questioning whether Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) actually represented the Midwest and whether Reps. Lloyd Doggett (D-Tex.) and John Lewis (D-Ga.) represented the Deep South, given that their districts are primarily urban and heavily minority. Weisman said he was questioning whether the districts truly reflected the broader politics of their regions, which are predominantly white and more rural. He deleted the tweets after they were roundly criticized as racist. He later asked author and Times contributor Roxane Gay for an 'enormous apology' in an email after she called him out for those tweets and for criticizing him for identifying another congresswoman as African American without mentioning that her primary challenger is also African American." Here's CNN's story, by Oliver Darcy.

Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. Frances Langum of Crooks And Liars: "Fearmongering about healthcare..., Fox and Friends [hosts] ... were reading [viewer messages that] appeared to come from Medicare recipients exclusively.... I fact-checked the one actual tweet they used on screen. Fox News REMOVED the hashtag #LeaveMedicareAlone from the tweet. They are a propaganda network, but you knew that. And they've been caught today, in the very act." --s

Way Beyond the Beltway

Austin Ramzy of the New York Times: "Protesters began issuing apologies on Wednesday for causing disruptions at the Hong Kong airport, as fallout from scenes of violence and chaos there, along with a court injunction, threatened to eliminate the transportation hub as one of their most effective venues for demonstrations.... The protests -- which began over a now-suspended plan to allow extraditions to mainland China, but have grown to include calls for more direct elections and investigations into the police's use of force -- have been largely leaderless." An AP story, by Vincent Thian & Yanan Wang is here. ...

... Anna Fifield of the Washington Post: "This week, state-affiliated media outlets tweeted ominous videos of Chinese tanks carrying out exercises in Shenzhen, the southern Chinese city that borders Hong Kong, while authorities in Beijing portrayed the protests as 'terrorism.' 'Hong Kong will slide into a bottomless abyss if the terror atrocities are allowed to continue,' China's liaison office responsible for Hong Kong affairs said Monday, according to state news agency Xinhua.... Authorities in Beijing have repeatedly blamed 'hostile foreign forces,' especially the United States, for fomenting unrest and trying to foster a 'color revolution' inside China's borders -- a reference to the uprisings that have toppled regimes in the Middle East and Eastern Europe this century.... Chinese state media had a field day with photographs showing an American diplomat in Hong Kong meeting with pro-democracy activists."

Russia. Patrick Reevell of ABC News: "The radiation spike that followed the apparent explosion of a nuclear-powered missile engine in Russia -- an event that left seven dead and has been cloaked in secrecy -- was higher than previously indicated by the country's officials, Russian government weather agency on Tuesday said. The news comes amid conflicting reports that authorities were preparing to evacuate a village close to the Arctic test site where the blast occurred and that doctors who had treated engineers injured in the blast had signed non-disclosure agreements." ...

... Andrew Kramer of the New York Times: "Russian officials have released a flurry of misleading or incomplete statements playing down the severity of the accident, which the military first reported on Thursday as a fire involving a liquid-fueled rocket engine. It was not until Sunday that Russian scientists conceded that a reactor had released radiation during a test on an offshore platform in the White Sea. That pattern of murkiness continued on Tuesday, as news reports and official statements offered only the vaguest explanation for the evacuation, and hours later seemed to indicate that it had been called off.... On Saturday, Tass, a state news agency, cited an unnamed official at the Russian nuclear company Rosatom as saying that the explosion on the test platform had knocked the scientists who died into the sea, suggesting the reactor or what remained of it also wound up in the water.... After treating [victims of the accident], the doctors at the Arkhangelsk Regional Clinical Hospital found that their scrubs were causing radiation meters to click, the site reported. The patients were taken to Moscow and the rooms where they had lain were sealed. Then, the report said, the doctors were also transferred to the capital for medical evaluations." ...

... The Washington Post story, by Will Englund, is here. Rachel Maddow summarized what-all was known and unknown as of last night about the story in her scary top segment:

News Ledes

NBC News: "Philadelphia police were shot at Wednesday afternoon after responding to a shooting incident in a North Philly neighborhood. A large police presence responded to a shooting incident in a residential area of the Nicetown section of the city. One male shooter was still inside a residence in what police described as an active situation." ...

     ... "Six police officers were shot in a confrontation with at least one gunman Wednesday afternoon in the Tioga section of North Philadelphia, and after nightfall two officers emerged after being trapped for hours in the house where the shootout first erupted at 4:30 p.m. Just before 10 p.m., Police Commissioner Richard Ross confirmed that the officers and several people they had handcuffed during the tense standoff had been safely extracted from the property in the 3700 block of North 15th Street." The situation was still ongoing at 10:45 pm ET. It appears the report is being updated as developments warrant.

Reader Comments (17)

Let's hope they succeed.

"More than 80,000 people have signed a petition urging the city of New York to rename a portion of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue — a stretch that includes Trump Tower — after former President Barack Obama.

If the petition is successful, Trump Tower, the heart of President Donald Trump’s real estate empire and where he maintains a residence, will boast a new address: 725 President Barack H. Obama Ave."

It's not about just changing the street signs. The Drumpf organization would also need to change the address on their letterhead, business cards, tax returns (if there are any), promotional literature, etc. Seeing O's name everyday would hopefully send Fatty and his spawn over the edge at last.

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

@unwashed: Ha Ha. The petition, initiated by, is here. You don't have to be a New Yorker to sign.

Of course New Yorkers still call Sixth Avenue Sixth Avenue even tho it was renamed "Avenue of the Americas" almost 74 years ago. And that's the whole avenue, not just a block, as the MoveOn petition proposes for Obama Ave. But, under the circumstances, I think some would go out of their way to refer to Obama Avenue.

Sadly, Trump wouldn't have to change his letterhead, either. The businesses on Sixth Avenue still list their addresses as 6th Ave.

August 14, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@Bea. Thanks for bursting my bubble. 😢

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

I'm no economist and would surely do poorly on Wall Street, but the ups and downs and sways and swings of the market dancing to the rhythm of Fat Bastard's stubby fingers makes The Market truly seem like a giant con game. I know, I know, these canny investors are just 'getting ahead of the curve' or 'playing the long game' by being shortsighted (?). I was just reading about how the market had a so bad, piss poor day because of extra tariffs on China. A matter of hours later, a few tariffs are called off and stocks magically recover, despite literally nothing having changed.

And you know that whoever Drumpf has on speed dial in his jammies at night is insider trading like a kid high on Mars bars. Probably has his whole elite insider fuckbag friends in on the deal and skimming off their gains to finance his new heated pool in his second vacation home.

That the world's preeminent mathematical nerds and investment gurus are all getting sea sick trying to psychoanalyze a deteriorating, swiss-cheese brain, provides a little solace in these times of trouble, except for the reality that even if the hedge funds go broke or the banks buckle, the whole Board will float away from disaster in their multi-million dollar golden parachutes.

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

@safari: I suppose we'll never find out, but what you suggest makes Martha Stewart (who went to jail because she lied to the FBI about a little insider trading she did) look like a piker. If there were a will, forensic accountants could figure out if Friends of Trump were getting heads-ups on his next market-roiling tweets, but I doubt regulators have the will. It's a grand-scale scam, tho, so we should be surprised if Trump & Co. hadn't thought of it before you did. A conspiracy theory? Yes. But one that makes a lot more sense than Hillary Clinton's drugging the guards at the Manhattan federal pen & slipping in to help Jeffrey Epstein macrame a rope & noose out of prison-issue bed sheets.

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

If you want to outguess the market based on expectations of DiJiT interventions in the economy, you don't need to be his inside-trading buddy.

Just think of the wrong thing a president could do, and the wrong time to do it, and place your bets. You would have better than casino-house odds of making a buck.

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

So now the little king is saying right out loud that people who don't vote for him should lose their jobs.

This is a millimeter from outright authoritarianism. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in the old Soviet Union was a member of the Communist Party, but if you weren't you were out of luck for decent jobs, and forget any perks. You'd be lucky to make enough money to eat.

Trump is angling for the same here. And I haven't heard a single R say that such talk is un-American.

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Had another take on thoughts of the conspiracy Safari's post engendered: It occurred to me long ago that the market is the ultimate con game because of the way it rewards the functionaries who do the buying and selling. Because it's a commission-based system, while the owners of individual stocks and funds can lose as the their assets' value shrinks, the traders themselves get paid regardless of the market's movement. In that sense volatility is a good thing. The more movement, the more commissions, regardless.

And since conspiracies are on my mind, this wonderment. Why do we have to create exotic and literally incredible scenarios, like Qnon, when genuine conspiracies are all around us, often out in the open.

As in the Moscow Mitch case with all the Russian money that has been directed his way, some of those conspiracies may be "legal," but they are instances of the way our system of mutual back rubbing (virtually the entire lobbying enterprise) is corruption arranged behind the curtain.

Wells Fargo's sins weren't so legal, I guess, becasue they got their corporate hand slapped, but the honchos who put the corrupt practices in place behaved in much the same way: making arrangements intended to benefit themselves out of public view. Conspiring, in other words.

More generally the corporate capture of the Pretender's administration, which has led to one outrage after another (this last week only, approval of Alaska's Pebble Mine that threatens the Bristol Bay fishery and the new rules making the Endangered Species Act itself an endangered species) is the result of thousands of secret conversations and promises of the exchange of tits for tats, often with large dollar signs attached, all hidden from public view.

Again, that seems like conspiracy to me.

If conspiraces are properly defined as people meeting sub rosa to evade either the law or commonly accepted notions of right and wrong, then conspiracies are all around us.

In short, much of the common ways in which we do business and conduct government that occur out of sight qualify as conspiracies. In a way, they are conspiracies in plain sight, and maybe because they are so common we don't give them a second thought.

Just business as usual, an accepted norm which inspires no outrage.

Is that why we need something as nuts as a Qnon to get all het up?

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

That’s a neat trick, Weisman (really?! “Weisman?”). Coerce African Americans and other dark-skinned people into compact districts through systematic racism over a century or two, then say “those people” aren’t real midwesterners or southerners. Fire the bastard.

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNiskyGuy

@NiskyGuy: About 80% of Americans live in urban areas. By Weisman's logic, the 20% who live in rural areas are oddballs who shouldn't have any say in government because they're not "representative of America." Unfortunately, as it stands, especially in the Senate, these oddballs have way "too much say.

August 14, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

The Friends of Donnie Trumpy

So what's going on in the world, eh? Let's look at Donnie Trumpy's dictator pals, the ones he wishes dearly he could emulate, the ones with zero democracy, 100% authoritarianism, and fealty from the populace, on pain of death, to the glorious leaders.

First we have Trumpy's love interest, Kim Jong-un. Donnie promised he would put a complete stop to North Korea's missile tests. And what happened? Kim has renewed his missile program and has been firing off even more missiles.

Donnie's response? "What, me worry?"

Then there's the Chinese. Trump, wanting to look tough and declaring that trade wars are both good AND easy to win, is getting his ass kicked AND spending billions of taxpayers' dollars to try to cover up the losses his poorly thought through and laughably exercised tariffs have caused. And to top it off, China is getting ready to drop the hammer on protesters in Hong Kong advocating for true democracy.

Donnie's response? "China is paying for my tariffs." and "I hope president Xi gets what he wants in Hong Kong." So much for EZ to win trade wars. Not to mention democracy. We used to be in the business of supporting democratic movements abroad. But Trump and his party don't even support (or like) democracy here in the US.

And then there's Daddy Vlad, who put little Donnie in the White House and is angling to help send him back. Donnie loves Daddy Vlad. Never has a bad word to say about him (pee-pee tapes?). In fact, he's doing for Russia what the entirety of the Soviet Union, their spies, their military, their politicians, and their foreign service couldn't do in seventy years: fuck America, but good. Trumpy is doing that for them. And as compensation, Vlad is testing nuclear fueled missiles. And which country might such missiles be aimed at, hmmm?

So we have missiles from two of Trumpy's authoritarian buddies and tanks from the other dictator.

And What's Donnie's response?

Tweet some wild-ass conspiracy theory about how the Clintons killed Trump's old pal Jeffrey Epstein, threaten American workers that they will lose their jobs if they don't vote for him, send his kid around the world looking to dig up business for his company, on the taxpayers' dime, ginning up racial divides, clapping furiously for white supremacist murderers, and telling immigrants "whites only".

His response to dangerous movements abroad is to cover his ass at home, line his pockets, and divide the nation to improve his chance of being reelected.

I dunno 'bout youse guys, but I feel a lot safer knowing we have such a knowledgeable, honest, ethical, competent leader at the helm of the ship of state. Now where are the life jackets?

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Random thoughts:
1. It must give the orange menace a great feeling of power knowing he can crash the economy with a couple random tweets he pulls out of his bloated backside.
2. Don't Republicans drink water, breathe air, eat salmon or take vacations to national parks?
3. Who among those self-supporting, mostly white immigrants is going to pick the produce, milk the cows, pluck the chickens, clean rich people's houses or mow their grass?

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterjoynone


...OR work at home healthcare jobs, wiping butts, cleaning peed in beds, helping feed and bathe the sick and elderly? That industry is far and away one of the biggest employers of immigrants who will do that work for low wages. Would Trump voters do those things? Will Cuccinelli do those things when that industry dries up and he can't find anyone to help with aging or sick relatives?

This is viciousness for the purpose of being cruel. This is pure racism, nothing less, nothing more.

One of the reasons Nazi Germany lost the war was their idiotic, racist hatred of Jews. The flight of Jewish immigrants, many of whom were world class scientists who came to the US to continue their work, was a huge factor in the United States' acquisition of nuclear power. Had Germany succeeded in developing a nuclear weapon before the US, things would likely have been dramatically different. There would probably still be a hole where London used to be.

The Roman Empire made a point of welcoming foreign born immigrants into the ranks of Roman citizenry. Roman leaders understood that in order for the state to continue to grow and move forward, they needed a regular influx of talent, of workers, of farmers, and of soldiers from outside countries. Plus, they found such a move to be useful in tamping down possible invasion from these countries and increasing the possibility of trade and the creation of safe travel routes to the far reaches of the empire. One reason Rome lasted as long as it did.

Instead of following the lead of an empire that lasted a thousand years, we're taking our cues from Nazis who didn't even make it past 15 years. But hey, Nazis are good people, right? Trump sez so.

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Always a follower, never a leader

Trump is no leader. Never has been, except maybe in self-promotion, lying, and greed. He's world-class in those areas.

But he has no original ideas of his own. Everything he says, he tweets, he thinks, comes from other people.

He hears some shit-for-brains nimrod on Fox yelling about something or other and seconds later, there's a tweet about it, and entire government departments are given their marching orders to do something about some wingnut fantasy farted out the ass of some moron on Fox or on some cuckoo website. Your tax dollars at work.

Something happens, Trump sees a tweet from some knucklehead and he immediately adopts the stupidity as his own. "The Clintons killed my pal Jeffrey! Aiiieeeee!" and next day, Bilious Bob promises to investigate the crazy. Tax dollars, again.

A true leader doesn't let crazies make jokes about shooting people, then grin and go along with it. A real leader says "You know what? We're talking about human beings here. We're not going to talk about shooting anyone. This is not a joke. It's a problem and we're going to work it out but we're not going to laugh about murdering people". But no. Trump grins and goes along to get along, with the loonies.

Real leaders take a stand. Principled stands. Do you see anyone in the R party doing that? One? Two? Maybe. Certainly not Trump. Not McConnell. They are obsequious, cowardly followers of the mob.

Trump is led by the nose by creeps and charlatans. He is too ignorant to develop and be able to support decent ideas of his own, so he picks out the most emotionally wrought, violent, silly, crazy, dangerous bullshit flying around the darkest corners of the internet. Let someone else do the thinking, right Donald?

So sad for America. An entire party that follows the whackos, no matter where they lead.

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

And speaking of loonies, what in the holy hell is this about some preacher teaching young men "Biblical warfare"? Are they learning to use slingshots? But seriously, when these kids are fully trained to "kill all the men" with the aim of overthrowing the state and instituting a theocracy (more treason from these fuckers, when will this end?) and find it ain't working, then who will they look to kill?

You? Me? Anyone who doesn't vote for their glorious follower, Herr Drumpf? Is this what Jesus would do? Find someone to kill? Preachers teaching warfare. Isn't that a bit of a perversion of what religious training is supposed to be about?

This is more building of bonfires next to the powder magazine. It's becoming a right-wing specialty.

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

A great article, I thought.

The lesson?

Unhappy people shouldn't be allowed to have AR-15's or too much money.

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

Anybody see George Conways post suggesting that East 56th Street between Madison and President Obama Avenues be renamed Senator John S. McCain III Street?

August 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee
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