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June 20: New York Times: "You may be hunched over your phone right now, worrying about reports that young people are growing horns on their skulls from spending too much time hunched over smartphones.... Recent articles by the BBC and the Washington Post have cited a 2018 study in the journal Scientific Reports saying that these bone growths have been turning up more often than expected in people aged 18 to 30. The study suggests that 'sustained aberrant postures associated with the emergence and extensive use of hand-held contemporary technologies, such as smartphones and tablets,' are to blame.... Experts give the report mixed reviews." ...

     ... Update. Uh, it seems one of the authors of the "scientific study" is a chiropractor called David Shahar, who used his own patients as subjects of the study AND, according to Quartz, is "the creator of Dr. Posture, an online store that advertises information and products related to forward head posture. One section tells users how to 'look and feel your best in three easy steps,' which include watching a video by Shahar, downloading at-home exercises, and sleeping with a Thoracic Pillow, which Shahar has trademarked and sold for $195." So hunch over, pick up your phones, & call your friends with the good news that the "study" is more likely a marketing scam than a warning about another dire effect of cellphone use. Thanks to safari for the link.


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.”

New York Times: Navy pilots flying along the East Coast of the U.S. spotted UFOs "almost daily from the summer of 2014 to March 2015.... The sightings were reported to the Pentagon’s shadowy, little-known Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which analyzed the radar data, video footage and accounts provided by senior officers from the Roosevelt. Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official who ran the program until he resigned in 2017, called the sightings 'a striking series of incidents.'” In one incident, the UFO flew between two Navy jets "flying in tandem about 100 feet apart over the Atlantic east of Virginia Beach.... It looked to the pilot ... like a sphere encasing a cube."

Mrs. McCrabbie: This actually seems crazy to me:

New York Times: "A shiny stainless steel sculpture created by Jeff Koons in 1986, inspired by a child’s inflatable toy, sold at Christie’s on Wednesday night for $91.1 million with fees, breaking the record at auction for a work by a living artist, set just last November by David Hockney. Robert E. Mnuchin, an art dealer and the father of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, made the winning bid for Mr. Koons’s 1986 'Rabbit' from an aisle seat near the front of the salesroom."

Might as well just get this -- it's vintage! it's "authentic"! -- and give it pride-of-place in the front hall. Sure, visitors will think you're tasteless & nuts, but in such a vintage, authentic way.

UPDATE: (May 19): New York Times: Mnuchin would not reveal the identity of his client; i.e., the purchaser of Stainless Bunny is. During an NYT interview, "He was near tears when asked about his son Steve and refused to comment about their relationship. But friends said that he is in an impossible predicament, conflicted over his sense of duty about being a loyal father and his concern as a citizen that President Trump is bad for America."

David McCullough Is a Crap Historian. Rebecca Onion of Slate reviews his book on the history -- okay, make that "hagiographic platitudes" -- about the settlement of the Northwest Territory. "Its success (it is No. 10 on Amazon’s best-seller list for books, as of Friday) shows how big the gap between critical history and the “popular history” that makes it to best-seller lists, Costco, and Target remains.” Mrs. McC: Onion doesn't mention it, but I get the impression all the "settling" was done by men; apparently the women's tasks were of no account. Somehow I don't think most of the "ladies" sat around drinking tea & doing needlepoint in their pretty parlors.


The Commentariat -- July 8, 2019

Late Morning/Afternoon Update:

Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times: "As they push a federal court to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Trump administration lawyers are arguing the law is no longer workable because Congress eliminated a penalty on people who don't have health insurance. But for months, senior administration officials and lawyers have been making the exact opposite case in other settings, a review of government reports, court filings and public statements made by Trump appointees shows. In fact administration officials, including White House economists, this year repeatedly have hailed the strength of insurance marketplaces created by the 2010 law. And in stark contrast to their claims in federal court in New Orleans, they have stressed that the 2017 legislation eliminating the so-called mandate penalty has had little to no impact on markets and consumers, let alone on the broader healthcare law, often called Obamacare or the ACA.... University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley, who has closely tracked litigation related to the healthcare law, said federal courts are usually reluctant to pry too deeply into inconsistencies in how government officials justify their actions. The Trump administration, however, is testing the limits of this restraint, he said. 'Courts can get pushed to the point where they say this is too much to swallow.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: For an even better explanation of this doubletalk, see Akhilleus's commentary below. See also Ian Millhiser's post below. And you wonder why DOJ attorneys are jumping ship.

Ali Watkins & Vivian Yang of the New York Times: "Federal prosecutors unsealed the new charges on Monday accusing [Jeffrey] Epstein, 66, of running a sex-trafficking operation that lured dozens of underage girls, some as young as 14, to his Upper East Side home and to a mansion in Palm Beach, Fla., according to an indictment. Mr. Epstein, 66, is accused of engaging in sex acts with minors, some as young as 14, during naked massage sessions, then paying them hundreds of dollars in cash, the indictment said. He also asked some of the girls to recruit other underage girls. 'In this way, Epstein created a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit in locations including New York and Palm Beach,' the indictment said." The indictment, via the NYT, is here. (This is an update of a story linked below.) Mrs. McC: In a press conference, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said he would ask the court that Epstein be detained because he is "an extreme flight risk." Berman also acknowledged that "investigative journalists" were instrumental in bringing the new charges. Epstein will appear in court later today. ...

     .... CNN liveblogged Berman's press conference.

Juan Cole: "The United States is already at war with Iran, squeezing its economy down to nothingness. If another country tried to do this to the US just on a whim and with no UN or international-law basis, the US would certainly launch a war over it.... Trump did this to Iran despite Iran's adherence to the 2015 nuclear deal or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).... In 2019, Iran's economy under US sanctions will shrink an incredible 6%. Aljazeera English reports that 'the rial, plummet[ed] by about 60% over the past year. Inflation is up to 37% and the cost of food and medicine has soared by 40% to 60%, according to EU figures.' Note that Trump's sanctions are unilateral. They haven't even been approved by Congress, and are actively rejected by the United Nations Security Council." --s

Ian Millhiser of ThinkProgress: "Late last month, the Supreme Court determined that the Trump administration lied about its real reason for wanting to add a question to the 2020 census form asking if each respondent is a U.S. citizen. Less than two weeks later, as a team of lawyers led by the ACLU laid out in remarkable brief filed in a federal district court, Trump's Justice Department is entangled in an entirely different web of deceit. The brief, moreover, references a forthcoming motion for sanctions against the government attorneys who litigated this case.... Ultimately, the fate of any sanctions against these lawyers -- and of the citizenship question itself -- is likely to be decided by Chief Justice John Roberts." --s ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Hmmm. I think we now know why the lawyers on the case quit & Bill Barr had to come up with a new "team" to pursue the cases.

Moira Donegan in the Guardian: "The talent pool for female soccer players in America appears bottomless.... The US has found itself with a huge number of phenomenally talented female soccer players: how did we get them? In large part, we got them through policy, in particular the Education Amendments Act of 1972. Shepherded into law by Congresswoman Patsy Mink of Hawaii, the title IX provision of the act was a response to feminists' push to close a loophole in the Civil Rights Act of 964 that allowed federally funded schools, colleges and universities to discriminate by sex.... Taken as a whole, title IX's success in creating discrimination-free educational environments for women and girls is spotty at best. But the athletic non-discrimination provision has been a massive success in encouraging American girls to play sports." --s

David Corn of Mother Jones: "While Americans feel 'an increasing alarm' about climate change, according to a survey conducted by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, scientists have been coping with this troubling data for decades -- and the grinding emotional effects from that research are another cost of global warming that the public has yet to fully confront.... Are scientists, then, canaries in a psychological coal mine? Is understanding their grief important because their anxiety could become more widespread within the general population?" With lots of interviews with climate scientists. --s

Rosanna Xia of the Los Angeles Times: "Miami has been drowning, Louisiana shrinking, North Carolina's beaches disappearing like a time lapse with no ending. While other regions grappled with destructive waves and rising seas, the West Coast for decades was spared by a rare confluence of favorable winds and cooler water.... Blinded from the consequences of a warming planet, Californians kept building right to the water's edge.... More than $150 billion in property could be at risk of flooding by 2100 -- the economic damage far more devastating than the state's worst earthquakes and wildfires. Salt marshes, home to shorebirds and endangered species, face extinction. In Southern California alone, two-thirds of beaches could vanish." --s

Philippines. Hannah Ellis-Peterson of the Guardian: "The president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte is carrying out a 'large-scale murdering enterprise' and should be investigated by the UN for crimes against humanity, according to a new Amnesty report into his so-called war on drugs." --s


The Counterfactual World of Trump & Troupe. Emily Cochrane of the New York Times: “President Trump and his top immigration officials on Sunday contested reports that migrant children were being held in horrific conditions in federal detention facilities, as the administration argued that the government was enforcing oversight standards even as it struggled to house and care for an influx of migrants.... Speaking to reporters, Mr. Trump called the report about the Clint facility a 'hoax.'... The Times said in a statement that it stood by the article." ...

... Chris Rodrigo of the Hill: "President Trump on Sunday accused the media of reporting 'phony and exaggerated accounts' of conditions at migrant detention centers along the border in the wake of two bombshell reports from the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) watchdog. 'The Fake News Media, in particular the Failing , is writing phony and exaggerated accounts of the Border Detention Centers,' Trump tweeted.... The reports from the DHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) covered the conditions at facilities near El Paso, Texas, and in the Rio Grande Valley. The government watchdog found severe overcrowding, migrants being held too long and dirty conditions at many of the facilities. A group of lawyers who visited a Border Patrol station in Clint, Texas, made similar claims about the treatment of migrants. The Trump administration has denied reports and images of the conditions in detainment facilities." Mrs. McC: Sunday afternoon, Trump gave a chopper presser in which he elaborated on his phony charges. I'll get a report on that when one becomes available. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Quinn Owen of ABC News: "Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan said he did not accept reports of unsanitary conditions and limited food and water at U.S. Border Patrol stations, calling the situation at the border 'extraordinarily challenging' for the department, in an interview on ABC's "This Week" Sunday.... For months, McAleenan has raised alarms about the potential for disastrous conditions on the southern border while maintaining his agency has upheld government standards for housing detainees, despite evidence to the contrary. He said on Sunday that the food and water at one facility in Clint, Texas, that has faced scrutiny were 'adequate' and that migrants in holding centers had access to showers and clean living quarters.... Conditions were so severe at facilities in the Rio Grande Valley that one CBP manager described it to federal investigators as a "ticking time bomb" in the report made public this past week." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Camilo Montoya-Galvez CBS News: "The Trump administration's top official at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said immigration authorities are ready to identify, detain and eventually deport approximately one million undocumented immigrants with pending removal orders. 'They're ready to just perform their mission, which is to go and find and detain and then deport the approximately one million people who have final removal orders,' Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli said on 'Face the Nation' on Sunday, referring to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) branch charged with removal operations. Cuccinelli, an immigration hardliner who took the helm of the agency last month, said it is within ICE's discretion to determine who among those with final orders of deportation will be targeted in operations, suggesting the full pool of approximately one million immigrants might not face deportation after all." ...

... Catie Edmondson of the New York Times: "Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have mined state driver's license databases using facial recognition technology, analyzing millions of motorists' photos without their knowledge. In at least three states that offer driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, ICE officials have requested to comb through state repositories of license photos, according to newly released documents. At least two of those states, Utah and Vermont, complied, searching their photos for matches, those records show.... [Harrison Rudolph of Georgetown Law's Center on Privacy and Technology, said,] 'This is a scandal.... States have never passed laws authorizing ICE to dive into driver's license databases using facial recognition to look for folks.... These states have never told undocumented people that when they apply for a driver's license they are also turning over their face to ICE. That is a huge bait and switch.'" The story was first reported by The Washington Post.

Fox "News" Program-Director-in-Chief Unhappy with Weekend Lineup. Bianca Quilantan of Politico: "... Donald Trump took a swipe at Fox News on Sunday, saying the network ... 'is now loading up with Democrats & even using Fake unsourced @nytimes a "source" of information.'... '@FoxNews is changing fast, but they forgot the people who got them there!' he said [in a tweet].... 'Watching @FoxNews weekend anchors is worse than watching low ratings Fake News @CNN, or Lyin' Brian Williams (remember when he totally fabricated a War Story trying to make himself into a hero, & got fired. A very dishonest journalist!) and the crew of degenerate Comcast (NBC/MSNBC) Trump haters, who do whatever Brian & Steve tell them to do,' the president said, presumably referring to executives Brian Roberts and Steve Burke." ..

Oh, and this: "During a live broadcast from France [aired on Fox 'News'] after the U.S. women's soccer team won the Women's World Cup, the crowd was heard loudly chanting 'F[uck] Trump' behind correspondent Greg Palkot." Thank you, soccer fans.

Mike Balsamo of the AP: "The Justice Department is shaking up the legal team fighting for the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 census but offered no specifics on why the change was being made. The change announced Sunday comes days after the department vowed to continue to try to find a legal path forward to include the question on the census. ...

... Michael Wines, et al., of the New York Times: The DOJ "offered no explanation for the en masse change, which came on the heels of an extraordinary week in a yearlong clash over the issue that has raised concerns about whether the department's arguments for adding the question could be believed. And it strongly suggested that the department's career lawyers had decided to quit a case that at the least seemed to lack a legal basis, and at most left them defending statements that could well turn out to be untrue.... The change in the legal team appeared to signal even deeper problems for the administration's effort to put the question on the next census, a proposal that critics have assailed as an ill-disguised plot to manipulate the final head count in ways that would benefit the Republican Party." Read on. The "Justice" Department seems to be in nearly as big a mess as the White House, but largely because many career lawyers won't make crap arguments to defend crap policies. ...

... Annals of "Journalism," Ctd. A Citizenship Question Too Hard for the Sunday Shows. Alex Kaplan of Media Matters: "Most of the Sunday morning news shows ignored ... Donald Trump's efforts to force a question about citizenship status into the 2020 census.... Of those that didn't, none engaged substantively at all with Trump's admission [that the question was needed to give Republicans a big boost in reapportioning Congressional districts].

Aw, Another Crack in the "Special Relationship." Emma Anderson of Politico: "... Donald Trump on Sunday blasted Britain's ambassador to Washington [Kim Darroch], saying he was not a 'big fan' after reports of leaked memos in which the diplomat called Trump and his administration 'dysfunctional' and 'inept.' 'The ambassador has not served the U.K. well, I can tell you that,' Trump told reporters in New Jersey.... The Telegraph, a British newspaper, reported that Trump aides have called for Darroch to be fired since the leak." ...

     ... Update. "It Is, of Course, a Matter of Regret." Michael Holden & William James of Reuters: "Britain said on Monday it had contacted Washington to express regret for the leak of confidential memos in which its ambassador described ... Donald Trump's administration as 'dysfunctional and 'inept'.... 'Contact has been made with the Trump administration, setting out our view that we believe the leak is unacceptable,' Prime Minister Theresa May's spokesman told reporters. 'It is, of course, a matter of regret that this has happened.' Trade minister Liam Fox, who is visiting Washington, told BBC radio he would apologize to Trump's daughter Ivanka, whom he is due to meet." Mrs. McC: French may be the language of diplomacy, but the Brits are veddy, veddy good at using it to twist the knife a little deeper. I'm hearing delighted snickers at Ten Downing Street. We are so amused.

Mary Papenfuss of the Huffington Post: “An artist blasted by the Anti-Defamation League for creating a 'blatantly anti-Semitic cartoon' has been invited to the White House by ... Donald Trump. Cartoonist Ben Garrison proudly tweeted his invitation to join a 'Social Media Summit' this coming Thursday at the White House.... Trump's Social Media Summit is expected to address the president's complaints that social media platforms' policies against threats and hate speech are blocking conservative voices.... Two years ago, Garrison created an inflammatory cartoon depicting Jewish billionaire philanthropist George Soros using puppet strings to control then-Gen. H.R. McMaster, who was serving as Trump's national security adviser at the time, and retired Gen. David Petraeus. The image was a nod to an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that a secretive international Jewish cabal controls the world. In the cartoon, Soros is being controlled by a hand labeled the 'Rothschilds,' a famous Jewish banking family. The ADL wrote at the time that the 'thrust of the cartoon is clear: McMaster is merely a puppet of a Jewish conspiracy.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

David Kirkpatrick & David Sanger of the New York Times: "Iran said on Sunday that within hours it would breach the limits on uranium enrichment set four years ago in an accord with the United States and other international powers that was designed to keep Tehran from producing a nuclear weapon. The latest move inches Iran closer to where it was before the accord: on the path to being able to produce an atomic bomb." Mrs. McC: Thanks, Trump! (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

If the Bees Die, We Die. Sam Fossum of CNN: "The US Department of Agriculture has suspended data collection for its annual Honey Bee Colonies report, citing cost cuts -- a move that robs researchers and the honeybee industry of a critical tool for understanding honeybee population declines, and comes as the USDA is curtailing other research programs. It's also another step toward undoing President Barack Obama's government-wide focus on protecting pollinators, including bees and butterflies, whose populations have plummeted in recent years."

Robert Burns of the AP: "The four-star admiral set to become the Navy's top officer on Aug. 1 will instead retire, an extraordinary downfall prompted by what Navy Secretary Richard Spencer on Sunday called poor judgment regarding a professional relationship. The sudden move by Adm. William Moran may add to the perception of turmoil in the Pentagon's senior ranks, coming less than a month after Pat Shanahan abruptly withdrew from consideration to be defense secretary after serving as the acting secretary for six months.... Moran had been vetted for promotion to the top uniformed position in the Navy, nominated by ... Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate in May to succeed Adm. John Richardson as chief of naval operations and as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.... [Officials said] Moran ... recently [took] public affairs counsel from Chris Servello, who ... was accused of making unwanted sexual passes while dressed as Santa at [a 2016 Navy Christmas] party.... Servello had previously worked for Moran as a public affairs officer."

Jim Mustian & Desmond Butler of the AP: "A federal grand jury in New York is investigating top Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy, examining whether he used his position as vice chair of ... Donald Trump's inaugural committee to drum up business deals with foreign leaders, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press and people familiar with the matter.... The Brooklyn probe appears to be distinct from an inquiry by Manhattan federal prosecutors into the inaugural committee's record $107 million fundraising and whether foreigners unlawfully contributed. It followed a request last year by Democratic U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut that the Justice Department investigate whether Broidy 'used access to President Trump as a valuable enticement to foreign officials who may be in a position to advance Mr. Broidy's business interests abroad.'"

Jamie Ehrlich of CNN: "Newly independent Rep. Justin Amash, the only congressional Republican to have publicly argued that ... Donald Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct, told CNN that high-level party officials have thanked him behind closed doors for his stance on impeachment proceedings against Trump. 'I get people sending me text messages, people calling me, saying "thank you for what you're doing,'" Amash told CNN's Jake Tapper in a wide-ranging interview on 'State of the Union' Sunday....In the same interview, Amash said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should start impeachment proceedings against Trump. 'From a principled, moral position, she's making a mistake. From a strategic position, she's making a mistake,' Amash said." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Edward Helmore of the Guardian: "Congressional approval for funds for the Trump administration to spend at the southern border has triggered open warfare between a 'squad' of high-profile progressive House Democrats and party leaders they accuse of caving to a White House determined to mistreat migrant children.... On Saturday [Speaker Nancy] Pelosi [said] in a New York Times interview, [with Maureen Dowd, also linked in yesterday's Commentariat] taking aim at The Squad for voting against 'our bill'. 'All these people have their public whatever and their Twitter world,' she said. 'But they didn't have any following. They're four people and that's how many votes they got.' In a tweeted response, [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said: 'That public "whatever" is called public sentiment. And wielding the power to shift it is how we actually achieve meaningful change in this country.' She also defended her use of social media. The progressive-moderate split is becoming more evident and bitter." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.);

Presidential Race 2020. Because We Need Another Billionaire Prez. Daniel Lippmann & Daniel Strauss of Politico: "Tom Steyer, the billionaire environmental activist who toyed with a 2020 presidential run before deciding against it, has told people he plans to announce that he's entering the race for the Democratic nomination, according to three people familiar with his plans. Steyer had said in January that he was passing on a 2020 run."

Ali Watkins & Vivian Wang of the New York Times: "Federal prosecutors appear to have resurrected a federal sex crimes case against the billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein by focusing on accusations that he sexually assaulted girls at his mansion in Manhattan -- more than a decade after a widely criticized plea deal shielded him from similar charges in Florida.... Mr. Epstein is charged with using his vast network of contacts and associates to bring a constant stream of underage girls to his Manhattan townhouse, one law enforcement official said. He is accused of shuttling the girls between the townhouse and his home in Palm Beach, Fla., paying them in cash and urging them to recruit other underage girls to visit his home.... [Epstein's New York City] mansion, which runs along East 71st Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues, has been called one of the largest townhouses in Manhattan. It contains at least seven floors and covers 21,000 square feet."

Julie Brown of the Miami Herald: "Jeffrey Epstein spent a second night in a New York jail cell Sunday, with a federal indictment expected to be unsealed Monday, charging him with sex offenses involving underage girls he and others allegedly trafficked in New York and Florida, sources have told the Miami Herald.... Although details of the case remain undisclosed, there are indications that others involved in his crimes could be charged or named as cooperating witnesses.... Epstein's arrest could open a window to expose other influential people who knew about or participated in his crimes. The question is what evidence or information does Epstein have against them and how might he use it?" ...

... Vivian Wang: "The case [against Jeffrey Epstein] could shed new light ... on the extent to which officials who have been linked to Mr. Epstein -- including, most notably, President Trump and his labor secretary, Alexander Acosta -- knew about or downplayed them.... [Epstein's] circle of friends and acquaintances included many high-profile figures, including Mr. Trump, former President Bill Clinton, Prince Andrew of Britain and Leslie Wexner, a business mogul who owns Victoria's Secret and other retail brands. Mr. Clinton flew on Mr. Epstein's private plane dozens of times, according to flight records, and Prince Andrew has attended parties with Mr. Epstein. Mr. Trump told New York magazine in 2002 that Mr. Epstein was a 'terrific guy' whom he had known for 15 years. 'He's a lot of fun to be with,' the president said at the time. 'It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.'... One of Mr. Epstein's accusers, Virginia Giuffre, said in court documents that she was recruited to give Mr. Epstein massages while she was working at Mar-a-Lago, Mr. Trump's Florida resort. Mr. Epstein has been photographed with Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago.... Federal prosecutors in Miami initially drafted a 53-page indictment against Mr. Epstein. But in 2008, those prosecutors -- led by Mr. Acosta, then the region's United States attorney, and now Mr. Trump's labor secretary -- struck a deal with Mr. Epstein's lawyers that allowed him to avoid federal charges.... Mr. Acosta's office also agreed to help shield the deal from public scrutiny, according to The [Miami] Herald." ...

Here are Trump, Melania, Epstein & Ghislaine Maxwell at Mar-a-Lago in February 2000. According to Julie Brown of the Herald, Maxwell, heir to a British publishing fortune, "could be charged or named as cooperating witnesses.... [She] has been accused of working as Epstein's madam.... Maxwell has denied the claim and has never been charged":

... From the Small World (of Sleazebags) Department. Todd Neikirk of the Hill Reporter (May 4): "In 1973, [Attorney General William] Barr's father Donald, the headmaster at Manhattan's Dalton School, hired [Jeffrey] Epstein as a calculus and physics teacher.... Epstein had not earned a college degree ... [and] was only 20 years of age.... During ... Barr's confirmation hearing..., Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) ... asked Barr about the lenient sentence given out to billionaire pedophile, Jeffrey Epstein.... The future Attorney General told Sasse that he would look into the matter." Thanks to MAG for the lead. ...

... AND "Look into the Matter," He Did. Frank Rich (in a tweet July 6): "Little noted was that William Barr's Justice Dept a week ago upheld Jeffrey Epstein's secret wrist-slap 2007 Florida plea deal, engineered by fellow Trump cabinet member Alex Acosta."

Spencer Kimball of CNBC: "Deutsche Bank announced Sunday that it will pull out of global equities sales and trading, scale back investment banking and slash thousands of jobs as part of a sweeping restructuring plan to improve profitability. Deutsche will cut 18,000 jobs for a global headcount of around 74,000 employees by 2022. The bank aims to reduce adjusted costs by a quarter to 17 billion euros ($19 billion) over the next several years. The German bank's decision to scale back investment banking comes just two days after investment banking chief Garth Ritchie stepped down by 'mutual agreement.'... The German lender once sought to compete with America's big banks on Wall Street, but has been pummeled by scandals, investigations and massive fines stemming from the financial crisis and other issues in recent years.... Deutsche has come under renewed scrutiny in the U.S. over its business relationship with ... Donald Trump."

Way Beyond the Beltway

Greece. Matina Stevis-Gridneff of the New York Times: Greece's "Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a former firebrand leftist, was defeated in a landslide [Sunday]. Greeks turned instead to the resurgent center-right New Democracy party led by Kyriakos Mitsotakis, a Harvard-educated former banker and son of a 1990s prime minister. His party secured almost 40 percent of the vote and a comfortable majority of 158 seats in the 300-seat Parliament.... It is a reminder that even as Britain moves to leave the European Union, voters in other parts of the bloc appear committed to sticking with it."

Reader Comments (15)


When Hillary was running for president R.C., on its sidebar, had a story about Epstein and his possible recruiting under-age girls for sex purposes–-mentioned that Bill Clinton and Prince Andrew were frequent fliers on his private plane. I wrote then that this did not fare well for Hillary ––what the hell was Bill thinking. But then this story fizzled and seemed to disappear.

What this case reveals once again is a story of money and power and what it and whom it can buy. An old story–- and when the "good guys" who weld justice turn out to be the ones who have been bought then the center, indeed, falls apart giving free reign to nefarious acts of the first order.

And all those girls––as one of them said on the video above––"I'll have to live with this for the rest of my life." I think of the jazzy "Love for Sale" sung by Lady Day who knew a thing or two about that but here it's sex for sale––no love enters in.

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@PD Pepe: With benefit of hindsight, I guess we should have figured that since Trump never accused Hillary of hanging out with pedophiles, he probably had some skin in the game, so to speak. Luckily for Trump, some of his less-connected minions came up with the "Pizzagate" hoax, wherein Hillary was accused of running a pedophile & human trafficking ring out of a pizza place in D.C.

July 8, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

It's not out of whack for a British government minister to apologize for the leaked remarks of the ambassador to the U.S. What is wacko is that he's apologizing for the remarks to Ivanka!

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterBobby Lee

So, in trumpspeak, everything at the border, the conditions, the policies etc., is hunkydory. And you know what? Our lyin' eyes are deceiving us, I guess-- and millions probably think that. It's like the Mueller report: if no one reads it, does it exist? The answer is NOPE. Nothing exists unless the banana republican names it and owns it. I note that almost no other congresspeople from the Greedy Ole Party (I stole that from one of you!) are venturing forth to see for themselves, and the few that have say it's been cleaned up-- Probably while those children were riding around in busses between centers... Just another hoax, a travesty, a lie from the left...s/

Maybe this is a result of the poorly-educated that it, the monster, loves?

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

I recommend with enthusiasm the last episode of the current series of PBS's "Endeavour" for its intensity and relevance to political realities:

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterNJC

@NJC: Yes, and to my surprise, inasmuch as Season 6 seemed to tie up most of the loose threads, there will be a Season 7. My only problem with the "Endeavor" series is that I lack the imagination to see how actor Shaun Adams would ever grow up to look like & sound like John Thaw. (Voices, I find, are more consistent over time than physical appearances.) I suppose this is a problem unique to British drama inasmuch as -- by my observation -- there are only 27 British actors, and they all show up in each other's TV shows & films. Evidently there isn't a youngish actor who resembles Thaw.

But, yes, "Endeavor" can be rather topical. Without giving away a central plot line, the event actually happened in London a couple of years ago. (However, the event even more closely mirrors a similar event that occurred in 1968, so I suppose that was the inspiration.) I noticed that the week the show, as aired on PBS, featured the moon landing was the 50th anniversary of the landing.

July 8, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@NJC: Exactly––watched it last night, too.

Watched yesterday Brian Lamb's Q and A with Pat Buchanan and during the interview Lamb showed an old clip of the young Donald–-was sometime in the seventies when Pat was working with Nixon I think––who called Pat a racist, a misogynist, stupid, etc. Upon seeing that clip Pat just sighed and said –––"if the shoe fits" and Lamb didn't have to ask which shoe Pat was talking about although we could parse that bit about, couldn't we.

The other comment that Pat revealed that I knew nothing about was that it was he who advised Nixon to burn the tapes–-and amazingly said "If he had done that he would have survived." And it lay there like a stone cold utterance without a reply.

Another interview I watched was with Stanley McCrystal who warned us against putting leaders, especially military ones, on pedestals. I'll raise that two fold. Talked about our mistakes in our mission in Afghanistan –-we need to negotiate with the Taliban–-they need to be players here. His brush-up with Obama was never mentioned––in fact, I'm trying to remember what that was all about. I do recall he talked critically off record to some journalist who then exposed it. Anyway––it's not something he wanted to dredge up nor was he asked about it. We did learn that Stanley does not eat breakfast nor lunch but has a huge dinner–-keeps him focused in a hungry way I guess. It was brought to his attention that studies showed that when people on a jury had to skip a meal and were hungry their verdicts were more punitive. Stanley had no response to this, but smiled.

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

P.S. Yes, Marie–--thank you–-I could not wrap my mind around Adams morphing into Thaw––even the body structure entirely different. They put a mustache on Adams which did nothing to make him into something he is not––and he is not a Thaw by any stretch. What he is, though, is a young man with a pretty strong moral compass and is super smart as well as a tad intellectual. I managed to think of him as separate from Thaw–-kind of like his son or brother. Twisted the time around.

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Marie (and PD),

Having not seen the latest "Endeavor" I can't comment on its topicality, but as much as I have enjoyed the show (having been a huge fan of the original series), I have to agree with your observation that it takes quite a bit of squinting (aurally as well) to picture Shaun Evans grown into (or John Thaw reverse engineered into Evans) the grumpy, Wagner and ale loving, blood-averse Inspector Morse of later years. Although as an opera fan, one gets used to seeing 60 year old tenors playing hormonally overdriven teenaged lovers as well as 250 lb. sopranos portraying consumptive heroines, so there's that.

Speaking of opera, one of my favorite moments of the original series, and a bit that neatly conveyed Morse's difficulty to fully engage in a complete friendship (as opposed to professional relationships--owing to both his snobbishness and his inability to make solid connections, perhaps all the easier for him to plumb criminal minds, who knows?), came when his second, Sgt. Lewis, presented him once with a CD of a Wagner opera (I think it was "Parsifal") conducted by the intense, magisterial Hans Knappertsbusch, still a great favorite of Wagnerians. Morse couldn't just say "Thank you, Lewis" he had to correct the guy's pronunciation. "Ka-Napperts-bush, Lyou-is, NOT Nappers-bush." Hahaha. Always more than a little curmudgeon there.

Hey, just looking for a tiny respite from the tsunami of crud pouring over the nation and the world.

I find myself thinking, with amazement, how an ignorant third-rate con man could cast such long vampiric shadows across the planet. If Trump were president of some second-rate postage stamp country, world leaders would not hesitate to tell him, in no uncertain terms, that his daughter had no place weaseling her way into their midst, and on so many other scores to tell his story walkin'. As it is, many of them feel compelled to say "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"

But then you remember that he has the backing of drooling sycophants, traitors, crooks, billionaire oligarchs, and an entire (and entirely) corrupt network of media outlets, radio, TV, and print, and millions of grasping, clutching, vengeful, racially antagonized voters.

Wonder what Morse (the Thaw Morse) would say. Probably, "I'll have another ale and three fingers of your best single malt, please."

Make that for two, Inspector.

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Too bad today's "biblical rain" in DC didn't come 4 days earlier.

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed


Sitting at my son's place up the road this morning, proctoring my grand daughter's (she's an ambitious ten) "summer school," which she plans and runs just for the fun of it, learning the names of seven other kids her age and younger, while revising yesterday's LTTE and beginning a new one.

Your reference to the Greedy Ole Party reminded me that for local consumption I needed to revise the last line of yesterday's LTTE draft that appeared here, lest my favorite translation of GOP offend. I'm sure what I otherwise had to say about the census imbroglio would be offensive enough to some.

It now reads "In their undemocratic vision of America, Republicans believe that only the people likely to support them should count or be counted."

Thanks for the long-distance, unintended but much appreciated editorial suggestion.

On to the next production of local liberal crank.

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@Ken W. You're not a "local liberal crank"; you're a righteous, responsible citizen.

July 8, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Thanks, Bea.

As do all of us here, I try.

But I am cranky--and, yes, would admit to a streak of false modesty.

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

The headline says it all:

"Trump officials tell one court Obamacare is failing and another it’s thriving"

So here's the latest line of crap from the Orange Monster's "justice" (*cough-cough*) department.

In one court, Trump hacks are trying to get a suit tossed that charges them with trying to deliberately sabotage the ACA (which they are, of course). In order to do that, they're saying that all is well, nothing to worry about. In fact, the insurance exchanges are doing great and more people are signing up for insurance.

But then we go to a court in New Orleans, where the SAME GUY (Assistant Attorney General Joseph Hunt) makes exactly the OPPOSITE case.

"OMG, yer honah, the ACA is DOA. It's not working, it's fucking up the exchange's a mess. KILL IT!"

The not so sub rosa argument there is that because another Trumpified court backed the killing of the individual mandate, the ACA cannot possibly survive, so it must be completely killed.

Except that a couple of months earlier, this same guy argued that it's doing great.

Forget alternate facts. This is pure bullshit. They say whatever they need to say in order to get a "win" for the Orange Menace.

And John Roberts (and other judges) should understand this. He's no tyro. He's seen a few things, and most lawyers can easily recognize a bullshit Hail Mary pass when they see it and understand implicitly that it's a desperate attempt to stay afloat (such as with the citizenship question). Any judge (including Roberts) who doesn't recognize the sort of lies being pushed by Trump to get whatever he wants as inimical to the even the flimsiest species of justice, does not deserve a stint adjudicating parking tickets.

July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Hold the phone, guys! Eric Swalwell just dropped out of the race.


July 8, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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