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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 -- June 18, 2019

Afternoon Update:

And Another One Bites the Dust. Michael Shear & Helene Cooper of the New York Times: "President Trump on Tuesday pulled the nomination of Patrick M. Shanahan to be the permanent defense secretary, saying on Twitter that Mr. Shanahan would devote more time to his family.The move leaves the Pentagon without a permanent leader at a time of escalating tensions with Iran after attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. The Trump administration has blamed Iran for the explosions that damaged the two tankers.Mr. Trump named Mark T. Esper, the secretary of the Army and a former Raytheon executive, to take over as acting secretary of defense. He did not say whether Mr. Esper would be nominated for the permanent position. In a Twitter post, the president said the withdrawal was the decision of Mr. Shanahan, who has served for six months as acting defense secretary." ...

... Kate Riga & David Taintor of TPM: "Shanahan's withdrawal is not completely unexpected, as Yahoo News reported [also linked below] Monday that his confirmation process was being hampered by a longer-than-usual FBI background check, which included a domestic violence episode that resulted in his ex-wife’s arrest. He addressed that and some other grisly familial incidents with the Washington Post in a story published nearly simultaneously with Trump's tweets. In November 2011, Shanahan's then-17-year-old son William beat his mother with a baseball bat, rendering her unconscious in a pool of her own blood. She sustained skull fractures and internal injuries so severe that they required surgery.... Shanahan ... addressed the event that ended in his wife's arrest, claiming that she started punching him in the face while he tried to sleep and proceeded to attempt to light his possessions on fire before the police arrived and observed his injuries."

Saleha Mohsin & Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg News: "The White House explored the legality of demoting Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell in February, soon after ... Donald Trump talked about firing him, according to people familiar with the matter. The White House counsel's office weighed the legal implications of stripping Powell of his chairmanship and leaving him as a Fed governor, the people said, in what would be an unprecedented move. A replacement would have to be nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate. Trump's team conducted the legal analysis and came to a conclusion that has remained closely held within the White House.... It isn't clear whether Trump directed the legal review, and the people didn't describe the outcome.... Fed spokeswoman Michelle Smith said in an email: 'Under the law, a Federal Reserve Board chair can only be removed for cause.'"

Tessa Berenson of Time: "Facing twin challenges in the Persian Gulf..., Donald Trump said in an interview with Time Monday that he might take military action to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, but cast doubt on going to war to protect international oil supplies.... Last week, U.S. officials blamed Iran for attacks against Norwegian and Japanese oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman. Trump described those and other recent attacks attributed by administration officials to Iran as limited. 'So far, it's been very minor,' Trump told Time."

Jonathan Landay & Matt Spetalnick of Reuters: "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blocked the inclusion of Saudi Arabia on a U.S. list of countries that recruit child soldiers, dismissing his experts' findings that a Saudi-led coalition has been using under-age fighters in Yemen's civil war, according to four people familiar with the matter. The decision, which drew immediate criticism from human rights activists and a top Democratic lawmaker [Bob Menendez (N.J.)], could prompt new accusations that ... Donald Trump's administration is prioritizing security and economic interests in relations with oil-rich Saudi Arabia, a major U.S. ally and arms customer. Pompeo's move followed unusually intense internal debate. It comes amid heightened tensions between the United States and Iran, the Saudis' bitter regional rival." Mrs. McC: Maybe a part of the Kushner Kickback.

Ivan Nechepurenko of the New York Times: "The Kremlin warned on Monday that reported American hacking into Russia's electric power grid could escalate into a cyberwar with the United States, but insisted that it was confident in the system's ability to repel electronic attacks. Dmitri S. Peskov, President Vladimir V. Putin's spokesman, also raised concerns that President Trump was reportedly not informed about the effort, which was the subject of a New York Times report on Saturday that detailed an elaborate system of cybertools deployed by the United States inside Russia's energy system and other targets." Mrs. McC: Apparently Vlad finds the NYT more reliable than Trump, who said the Times story was "NOT TRUE!"

Orlando Sentinel Editors: "Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the kickoff of his re-election campaign. We're here to announce our endorsement for president in 2020, or, at least, who we're not endorsing: Donald Trump.... Enough of the chaos, the division, the schoolyard insults, the self-aggrandizement, the corruption, and especially the lies. So many lies -- from white lies to whoppers -- told out of ignorance, laziness, recklessness, expediency or opportunity.... Trump's successful assault on truth is the great casualty of this presidency, followed closely by his war on decency.... Trump has diminished our standing in the world. He reneges on deals, attacks allies and embraces enemies.... Except for Lyndon Johnson in 1964, the Sentinel backed Republican presidential nominees from 1952 through 2004, when we recommended John Kerry over another four years of George W. Bush."

Olivia Messer of the Daily Beast: Four "named statehouse employees filed a new federal lawsuit against [Indiana's secretary of state Curtis] Hill [R] on Tuesday morning. The 11-count complaint against Hill and the state of Indiana alleges sexual harassment, retaliation, gender discrimination, battery, defamation, and invasion of privacy, according to a draft viewed Monday evening by The Daily Beast."


Darryl Coote of UPI: "... Donald Trump said [in a tweet] starting next week U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will begin deporting millions of immigrants who entered the United States illegally. 'Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,' he said Monday on Twitter. 'They will be removed as fast as they come in.' While Trump did not give specifics, ICE operations are usually kept secret until they are underway in order to prevent alerting those targeted, the Washington Post reported." Mrs. McC: So says a man who has been exploiting undocumented immigrants for decades. He is meaner than a junkyard dog. ...

... Surprise! Matt Stieb of New York: "Trump, who routinely announces major changes in policy without letting his staff in on the plan, reportedly did not inform ICE of the move: ICE officials said Monday night 'that they were not aware that the president planned to divulge their enforcement plans on Twitter,' according to the Washington Post.... Trump's tweet is made even odder by an incident last year in which he and ICE officials threatened Oakland mayo Libby Schaaf for warning migrants about a raid, claiming that she may have obstructed justice and endangered the safety of the agents involved.... Trump's claims about the current ability of ICE to handle 'millions' of arrests may also be in conflict with reality. As the Post reports, the claim runs contrary to 'the agency's staffing and budgetary challenges. ICE arrests in the U.S. interior have been declining in recent months because so many agents are busy managing the record surge of migrant families across the southern border with Mexico.'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Yes But. Trump had to make the surprise announcement now because he's "kicking off" his never-ended presidential* campaign tonight, & he needed another fake "accomplishment" to boast about. ...

... Lesley Wroughton & Patricia Zengerle of Reuters: "... Donald Trump's administration on Monday cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, after Trump blasted the three countries because thousands of their citizens had sought asylum at the U.S. border with Mexico. The plan will likely encounter stiff opposition in Congress. Lawmakers, including some of Trump's fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, have chafed against the president's repeated decisions to disregard spending bills passed by Congress, some of which he has signed into law himself. Lawmakers who opposed the plan said it was cruel to cut off aid to countries grappling with hunger and crime and that the move would be counterproductive because it would more likely increase the number of migrants than decrease it."

Edward Wong, et al., of the New York Times: "Tensions between the United States and Iran flared on Monday as Tehran said it would soon breach a key element of the 2015 international pact limiting its nuclear program, while President Trump ordered another 1,000 troops to the Middle East and vowed again that Iran would not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon. The Pentagon's announcement of the troop deployment came three days after attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman that the administration has blamed Iran for. And it came hours after Iran said it was within days of violating a central element of the landmark 2015 agreement -- intended to curb its ability to develop a nuclear weapon -- unless European nations agreed to help it blunt crippling American economic sanctions."

Phil McCausland of NBC: "President Donald Trump signed an executive order late Friday to cut the number of government advisory committees by a third across all federal agencies, a move that the White House said is long overdue and necessary to ensure good stewardship of taxpayers' money. But critics said it is the Trump administration's latest effort to undermine science-based and fact-supported decision-making." --s

DOJ Intervenes to Aid Manafort. William Rashbaum & Katie Benner of the New York Times: "Paul J. Manafort, President Trump’s former campaign chairman who is serving a federal prison sentence, had been expected to be transferred to the notorious Rikers Island jail complex this month to await trial on a separate state case. But last week, Manhattan prosecutors were surprised to receive a letter from the second-highest law enforcement official in the country inquiring about Mr. Manafort's case. The letter, from Jeffrey A. Rosen, Attorney General William P. Barr's new top deputy, indicated that he was monitoring where Mr. Manafort would be held in New York. And then, on Monday, federal prison officials weighed in, telling the Manhattan district attorney's office that Mr. Manafort, 70, would not be going to Rikers. Instead, he will await his trial at a federal lockup in Manhattan or at the Pennsylvania federal prison where he is serving a seven-and-a-half-yearsentence.... Several former and current prosecutors said the decision was highly unusual. Most federal inmates facing state charges are held on Rikers Island." ...

... Alex Shephard of the New Republic: "Democrats, for the first two years of Trump’s presidency, got to sit in the back row and shoot spitballs. But now, controlling the House of Representatives, they are front and center, with real authority. It's not just about thinking they should do something, they can do something. Like a latter-day Flake, they are shirking that responsibility."

All the Best People, Ctd.

Hunter Walker of Yahoo! News: "As the United States faces the longest period in its history without a confirmed secretary of defense, and tensions build over American allegations that Iran is responsible for recent attacks on civilian ships in the Persian Gulf, the man slated to head the Pentagon is facing a protracted FBI investigation that has delayed his Senate hearing until at least next month. Despite informally announcing more than a month ago acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan as his pick to get the Pentagon job on a permanent basis, President Trump has yet to formally nominate Shanahan, forcing the Senate Armed Services Committee to postpone a confirmation hearing it had tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, June 18. Senators were told that the postponement was because the committee had yet to receive documents from the FBI's background check, according to a staffer for a committee member.... One of the issues that could be holding up the FBI investigation is his complicated divorce." The report goes into the messy divorce thing as well as Trump's apparent cooling on Shanahan. ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: As Politico reported Friday, Trump said he had nominated Shanahan a few weeks prior (even though he had not), & when asked about Shanahan's chances of becoming permanent defense secretary, Trump gave one of his "we'll see" answers.

Absentee Ambassador. Lauren Gardner of Politico: "... Donald Trump's nominee to be ambassador to the United Nations -- current U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft -- was frequently absent from her post in Ottawa, raising questions about her level of engagement with the job, according to officials in the United States and Canada. State Department officials acknowledge her frequent travels outside of Canada, but said many of the trips were related to the new North American trade deal. Her absences from her official post are likely to be an issue in her confirmation hearing, which is scheduled for Wednesday.... Some of the [on-average weekly] trips [between the U.S. & Canada] correspond with dates of events Craft attended in her home state of Kentucky -- such as the Kentucky Derby and a media interview at a University of Kentucky basketball facility named for her husband, Joe Craft, a coal billionaire.... A former U.S. ... said Craft was viewed around Foggy Bottom as an 'absent ambassador' at the embassy in Ottawa and that the mission was often placed in the hands of her deputy while Craft attended to personal business and domestic politics in the United States."

McConnell Finally Finds a Bill He Likes -- And It's Trump's. Jordain Carney
of the Hill: "Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is pledging to force a vote on President Trump's $4.5 billion request for emergency border money, regardless of whether or not the GOP can reach a deal with Democrats. McConnell told Fox News's 'Fox & Friends' during an interview on Monday that he was planning to bring up a 'freestanding' deal in an effort to force Democrats to go on the record either supporting or blocking the request for humanitarian aid legislation." Mrs. McC: No doubt this is McConnell's way of making sure his wife keeps her job at Transportation funneling money to Kentucky. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Tom Dreisbach of NPR: "Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., says one of his 'highest priorities' is to take on the leading cause of preventable death in the United States: smoking.... An NPR review of McConnell's relationship with the tobacco industry over the decades has found that McConnell repeatedly cast doubt on the health consequences of smoking, repeated industry talking points word-for-word, attacked federal regulators at the industry's request and opposed bipartisan tobacco regulations going back decades. The industry, in turn, has provided McConnell with millions of dollars in speaking fees, personal gifts, campaign contributions and charitable donations to the McConnell Center, which is home to his personal and professional archives. One lobbyist for R.J. Reynolds called McConnell a 'special friend' to the company. Much of the relationship between McConnell and the tobacco industry happened behind the scenes. But the disclosure of millions of once-secret tobacco industry documents -- which are now readily searchable online -- has opened a window into McConnell's interactions with tobacco executives and lobbyists."

Presidential Race 2020

Sarah Wilson of WFTV Orlando: "Road closures have already begun in downtown Orlando [for Donald Trump's Tuesday night rally], and dozens of Trump supporters have already set up chairs and tents to claim their spots in line outside the Amway Center. The first supporters said they got into line at 4 a.m. Monday." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Alex Thompson of Politico: "Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, after failing to qualify for the first Democratic presidential debates, announced on Tuesday morning that he would be participating in locally televised town halls in Iowa and New Hampshire on the days of the dueling events next week. Bullock will appear June 26 on Iowa's WHO-TV with Dave Price, and June 27 on New Hampshire's WMUR with Adam Sexton. The appearances will be televised ahead of the debates in Miami.... Bullock did not enter the race until mid-May and was virtually unknown nationally, making it difficult to reach 1 percent in three qualifying polls or collect 65,000 donors.... Bullock says he entered late because he needed to navigate his final legislative session (Montana's Legislature meets every other year), which included extending the expansion of Medicaid."

Punt! Mark Sherman
of the AP: "The Supreme Court decided Monday against a high-stakes, election-year case about the competing rights of gay and lesbian couples and merchants who refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings. The justices handed bakers in the Portland, Oregon, area a small victory by throwing out a state court ruling against them and ordering judges to take a new look at their refusal to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple. The high court's brief order directs appellate judges in Oregon to consider last term's Supreme Court ruling in favor of a baker from Colorado who would not make a cake for a same-sex wedding. The court ruled that baker Jack Phillips was subjected to anti-religious bias in the Colorado Civil Rights Commission's determination that he violated state anti-discrimination in refusing to bake the couple's wedding cake. The Oregon appellate ruling came before the court's decision in Phillips' case." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Pete Williams of NBC News: "The Supreme Court declined on Monday to change the longstanding rule that says putting someone on trial more than once for the same crime does not violate the Constitution's protection against double jeopardy -- a case that drew attention because of its possible implications for ... Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. The 7-2 ruling was a defeat for an Alabama man, Terance Gamble, convicted of robbery in 2008 and pulled over seven years later for a traffic violation. When police found a handgun in his car, he was prosecuted under Alabama's law barring felons from possessing firearms. The local U.S. attorney then charged Gamble with violating a similar federal law. Because of the added federal conviction, his prison sentence was extended by nearly three years." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Thomas Lays the Groundwork to Overturn Roe. Josh Kovensky of TPM: "In a sneaky Monday concurrence, Justice Clarence Thomas laid the groundwork for the Supreme Court to overturn its own longstanding precedents in what may mark the beginning of efforts to destroy numerous landmark court decisions from the past decades. The concurring opinion came in Gamble v. United States, a case regarding double jeopardy that Thomas used as a springboard to argue that the Supreme Court should review -- and overturn -- settled law where it is found to be 'demonstrably erroneous.' Constitutional law scholars told TPM that Thomas appeared to use the concurrence to signal to his fellow justices -- and the wider public -- that the new conservative majority is interested in overturning years of settled law.... The opinion is the third in a series of concurrences that Thomas has written this year in which he has appeared to provide a schematic for how the court could alter fundamental areas of American law."

Lawrence Hurley of Reuters: "The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday handed Republican legislators in Virginia a defeat, leaving in place a ruling that invalidated state electoral districts they drew because they weakened the clout of black voters in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The justices, in a 5-4 decision, sidestepped a ruling on the merits of the case. They instead found that the Republican-led state House of Delegates lacked the necessary legal standing to appeal a lower court ruling that invalidated 11 state House districts for racial discrimination. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat and the state's top law enforcement official, opposed the appeal and argued that the Republican legislators were not entitled to act on behalf of the state in the case." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Jaqueline Thomsen of the Hill: "Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the majority opinion and was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Neil Gorsuch. Mrs. McC: A somewhat weird collaboration, on the face of it. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... The New York Times story, by Adam Liptak, is here. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

Capitalism Is Awesome, Ctd. Karl Paul of the Guardian: "Facebook has announced a digital currency called Libra that will allow its billions of users to make financial transactions across the globe, in a move that could potentially shake up the world's banking system. Libra is being touted as a means to connect people who do not have access to traditional banking platforms. With close to 2.4 billion people using Facebook each month, Libra could be a financial game changer, but will face close scrutiny as Facebook continues to reel from a series of privacy scandals. It could also be a welcome lift to Facebook's profits: analysts are suggesting Libra could be a huge moneymaker for Facebook, arriving as its growth slows. Technology to make transactions with Libra will be available as a standalone app -- as well as on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger platforms -- as early as 2020. It will allow consumers to send money to each other as well as potentially pay for goods and services using the Facebook-backed digital currency instead of their local currency." ...

... Sam Biddle of The Intercept: "In April 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg sat before members of both houses of Congress and told them his company respected the privacy of the roughly two billion people who use it.... But only months after Zuckerberg first outlined his 'privacy-focused vision for social networking' in a 3,000-word post on the social network he founded, his lawyers were explaining to a California judge that privacy on Facebook is nonexistent.... Facebook tried to scuttle litigation from users upset that their personal data was shared without their knowledge with the consultancy Cambridge Analytica and later with advisers to Donald Trump's campaign.... [Facebook's lawyers argued that] charges of privacy invasion were invalid because Facebook users have no expectation of privacy on Facebook. The simple act of using Facebook ... negated any user's expectation of privacy[.]" --s

Kyla Mandel of ThinkProgress: "The number of workers employed by the renewable energy industry keeps growing. In 2018, at least 11 million people around the world held jobs across the renewables sector, from manufacturing and trading to installation.... [T]he majority of these jobs are concentrated in China, the European Union, Brazil, and the United States. The figures show a steady increase over the years.... In the United States, the number of people working in renewables is just under the amount employed by the fossil fuel industry." --s

Pat Eaton-Robb of the AP: "The father of a victim of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre has won a defamation lawsuit against the authors of a book that claimed the shooting never happened -- the latest victory for victims' relatives who have been taking a more aggressive stance against conspiracy theorists. The book, 'Nobody Died at Sandy Hook,' has also been pulled to settle claims against its publisher filed by Lenny Pozner whose 6-year-old son Noah was killed in the shooting." ...

... Friend of Trump (Allegedly) Sends Child Porn to Sandy Hook Lawyers. AP: "Lawyers for relatives of some victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting allege that far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones sent them documents relating to the court battle they are fighting that included electronic files containing images of child sexual abuse, as the latest twist in the defamation case against the Infowars website host. Jones denied the allegations during his web show last Friday and accused one of the lawyers involved of framing him. Lawyers say the imagery was among documents they had requested from Jones as part of the discovery process of the lawsuit.... Jones ... has used his media platform to call the mass shooting at an elementary school that killed 26 people a hoax and suggested a political cover up took place by leftwing forces seeking to take advantage of the shooting to support their causes, such as gun control."

Joe Sterling of CNN: "A Parkland shooting survivor and pro-Second Amendment activist said Harvard University rescinded his acceptance as a result of racist remarks he made before the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Kyle Kashuv disclosed the rescinding Monday in a Twitter thread, acknowledging that he and classmates, then 16, made 'abhorrent racial slurs' in digital messages almost two years ago 'in an effort to be as extreme and shocking as possible.'... Kashuv said [his racist remarks and/or his pro-gun views (Mrs. McC: not sure which is meant here)] led to 'speculative articles' and attacks by 'former peers & political opponents' urging Harvard to rescind his admission.... Kashuv went to the White House in March 2018 to meet with first lady Melania Trump and had a surprise meeting with ... Donald Trump." ...

... David Brooks writes that Harvard made a mistake because Kashuv may have learned that writing "nigger a dozen times in succession to "practice typing" is ill-advised & he is probably "intellectually rigorous and morally humble." Conservatives like Brooks have a remarkable amount of sympathy for white racists who got caught.

Beyond the Beltway

New York. Vivian Wang of the New York Times: "The New York State Senate approved a bill on Monday to grant driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, a deeply polarizing issue that had splintered Democrats and stirred a backlash among Republicans in New York and beyond, who have already vowed to highlight it during next year's elections. The vote, together with the Assembly's passage last week, thrust New York into the center of the explosive national debate over immigration. It would reverse a nearly 20-year-old ban and end years of political paralysis on the issue. It also signaled the strength of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party.... The bill passed with just one more vote than the minimum needed, 33 to 29. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, signed the bill soon after."

Texas. Kelly Weill & Justin Glawe of the Daily Beast: "A Texas man accused of opening fire outside a Dallas courthouse uploaded right-wing memes to Facebook, including memes about Nazism and the Confederacy. Authorities said Brian Clyde, 22, attacked the Earle Cabell federal courthouse Monday morning before law enforcement killed him. No one else was reported injured. A Dallas Morning News photograph of Clyde shows him holding a semi-automatic rifle and wearing a belt full of ammunition. He appears to have uploaded to his Facebook page a picture of similar magazines on Saturday. Elsewhere on the page, he shared memes, some of which suggested racist or misogynist views.... He frequently posted memes that suggested familiarity with the far-right internet." See also yesterday's News Ledes. Mrs. McC: But white, so Not a Terrorist. P.S. Not a peep from our White-Nationalist-in-Chief.

Way Beyond

Brazil. Andrew Fishman, et al., of The Intercept: "Brazil's Justice Minister Sergio Moro, while serving as a judge in a corruption case [the bribery scandal 'Operation Car Wash'] that upended Brazilian politics, took to private chats to mock the defense of former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and direct prosecutors' media strategy, according to newly unearthed chats from an archive obtained by The Intercept Brasil.... Moro's advice was a major deviation from their previous communications strategy, but prosecutors did as he asked -- further evidence of bias and unethical collaboration between the two parties in the case that sent Lula to prison on corruption charges, making the most popular politician in Brazil ineligible to run in the 2018 presidential election.... [T]he chats revealed that the judge was passing on advice, investigative leads, and inside information to the prosecutors -- who were themselves plotting to prevent Lula's Workers' Party from winning last year's election." --s

Israel. Oren Liebermann, et al., of CNN: "Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a new settlement in the Golan Heights named after his 'great friend' Donald Trump. Netanyahu unveiled a sign at the proposed site of the settlement on Sunday bearing the name 'Trump Heights,' and thanked the US President for breaking with the international community to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the region.... Trump recognized Israeli sovereignty in the region in March, two weeks before that country's elections, in what was seen as a major political gift to Netanyahu. The US is the only country in the world to recognize Israeli sovereignty in the occupied territory.... 'Whoever reads the fine print in this "historic" decision understands that it is a phantom decision,' Zvi Hauser, an advocate of international recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan, said on Twitter. 'There is no budget, there is no planning, there is no place, and there is really no binding decision,' he added." Trump did tweet about this supposed new "town."

Our Partners in Crimes Against Humanity. Aaron Merat of the Guardian: "Every day Yemen is hit by British bombs -- dropped by British planes that are flown by British-trained pilots and maintained and prepared inside Saudi Arabia by thousands of British contractors.... Saudi Arabia has in effect contracted out vital parts of its war against Yemen's Houthi movement to the US and the UK. Britain does not merely supply weapons for this war: it provides the personnel and expertise required to keep the war going." --s

Reader Comments (27)

I shudder to think I might, I say might, be on Brooks' side on this one, but I have had too much experience with youth and its indiscretions and the overpowering urge to shock that youth sometimes succumbs to, not to wonder if Harvard’s decision does not invite some second-guessing.

Don’t know the whole story and certainly don’t know the kid, so it might be most sensible for me not to question the considered judgment of the Harvard adults who know far more about it and what their institution supposedly stands for than I do, but tonight I’m wondering about their decision. And I would add it’s not as if many of the smarties who have supped at the Harvard table haven’t proved themselves morally repugnant. (I’m tempted to name a few names and say something about specific programs, but since youth is long behind me, I’ll eschew the cheap shots that come to mind.)

Am I heading down the wrong path here?

On Impeachment:

Heard tonight that fewer than 30 percent of the country is in favor, which would seem a small number when on considers how reprehensible as a man and leader the Pretender is. But maybe the tepid response is not to the Pretender (his poll numbers still suck) but to impeachment fatigue. People remember the Clinton story and how obviously political and partisan that effort was, and there was constant talk of it during both the Bush II and Obama years.

The last 25 years then have rendered “impeachment” more background noise than serious substance, made it seem to most just another political ploy so easily dismissed. In other words, cheapened by overuse, people may just be tired of hearing about it.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

@ Ken Winkes

Thank you for articulating your thoughts - far better than I’ve so far been able to - re: Brooks (with whom I’ve yet to agree on anything) and Harvard, as I share them as well.

It’s believed (been proven?) that the brain does not approach maturity (the ability to make the right/best decisions, harness impulse control, navigate social pressures & the rest) until one reaches their twenties (or later). One of many reasons why I oppose tossing children and teens into adult prisons.

Like yourself, I don’t know what this lad wrote, nor the circumstances. And while bigotry in any form is a guaranteed deal-breaker for me, when it comes to (our) younger selves (as a former rebel with - and without - a cause), I incline toward generosity and Second Chances.


June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Hattie

@ Patrick (from yesterday)

Owing to your reply, I just maytoss “Aunt” and simplify with “Hattie” - one of my nicknames - as you had. Especially as I suspect RC contributors are no longer five or fifteen years young.

Less is More?

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter[Aunt] Hattie

@Ken Winkes: If I'd been inclined to shock at 16 (and I was not), I'd have gone more with "fuck, fuck, fuck," & so on than what Kashuv wrote. Showing off raw racism or bullying, then complaining about mean "political opponents" who outed you, while shocking, also is not that Harvard-preppy.

In addition, IMO, Kashuv's political views should not be socially-acceptable, and if Harvard had any pride, it would wear the charges of liberal elitism with pride. safari was wondering last week how it was that Harvard was turning out so many Josh Hawleys lately; I would have said that the ivies always have done. It was just that the jerks of old were more posh about their selfish, preening, antediluvian thoughts (see William F. Buckley, Jr.).

I don't know any more than Brooks does whether or not young Kashuv has learnt a lesson, but here's one the little shit might ponder: for most of us, our words have consequences. Fuck him & the hobbyhorse he rode in on.

June 18, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@[Aunt]Hattie: "Aunt Hattie" sounds like a doddering old hen. I took the sobriquet as a joke inasmuch as your comments are far from the product of a doddering person, &, as Anderson Cooper said of his 95-year-old mother, "She was the youngest person in the room." (paraphrase)

June 18, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@ Mrs.McC. Re: << If I'd been inclined to shock at 16 (and I was not), I'd have gone more with "fuck, fuck, fuck," >>

I’m with ya, while my own version would more likely have involved a stiff middle finger, also far less egregious than hateful speech.

My soon-to-be-sixteen godson is about to suffer the New York Regents tests this week, officially catapulting him into pre-college madness. (He and his much younger sister call me “Auntie”.) I was thinking of him as I read about Kashuv. Then again, my godchildren would doubtful spew such bigotry, given that their parents’ (mixed) religions - along with my own - are “popular” targets. (And because they’re inherently “good kids”. Not sure what the heck my point is (too premature and pre-caffeinated?), but - -

I’m now unsure where I position myself vis a vis this once Harvard hopeful. But do wonder who his parents are. And, about myself, if I may be (cerebrally) the youngest person in the room. ;)


June 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter[Aunt] Hattie

Slip this into the "annals of journalism" category, but I realllly find it aggravating that editors across the nation are referring to the Supreme Court gerrymandering decision as a "win" for Democrats. It seems every gerrymandering case struck down gets qualified as a "win" for Democrats. It likely will be advantageous for the Democratic Party, but rather than being a "win", it's really just the system moving back to democratic default mode, you know, where it should have always been.

The problem with this "win/lose" political narrative is that it only serves to embolden Confederates and their base pointing to these democratic rulings being the result of "activist" judges putting their fingers on the scales to help Dems "win", while it is no such thing at all. This false equivalency gives Confederates base whipping power to go pack the courts with ideologues who would never give the Dems a "win", thus sliding the scales of justice back to the right, the proper default mode for Mitch McConnell's of this world.

How about framing the title in a values narrative, such as "In a win for democracy, GOP gerrymandering case gets struck down", or simply "Democracy wins in court"?

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commentersafari

On the question here of Harvard's dismissal of Kyle Kashuv: Seems to me Harvard needs to recall their own problems with bad judgement. In 1920 Harvard imposed a quota to restrict the number of Jews. In 1924 former President, Charles Eliot publicly declared it "unfortunate" that growing number of the "Jewish race" were intermingling with Christians. Few such marriages turn out well, he said, and since biologists had determined that Jews are "prepotent" their children "will look like Jews only." And then there were "the blacks"––Harvard accepted few blacks but President Lowell refused to allow them to reside in freshman dorms with whites. So could we say that Harvard has grown up a tad? Can we say, today, that Kyle be given that same chance to do the same? If I sat on the admission board and had to vote for him knowing what he had done would I raise my hand in a yea? I doubt it and the reason being is yes, we all do stupid things in our youth but there's stupid and then there's viciousness; what this guy did was in the latter category.

Interestingly just watched a PBS documentary on the Steubenville, Ohio rape case where two football players were accused of raping a very drunk teenage girl and posted a video of others in the group whooping it up and laughing about what was going on. There was a court case and eventually the two boys were each given a year in a detention center and a year doing community service. Here is a case of youthful indiscretion on a very high scale and if these lads had not been teens they would have ended up in a long jail sentence. It was interesting to me that at the end of the court proceedings both boys apologized to the parents of the victim; one said he was sorry without any sense of real remorse; the other sobbed as he apologized.

I'd be interested to know how Kyle Kashuv is reacting.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

I found this PBS coverage on Hong Kong's reversal on the China extradition law–-what it means for Beijing most informative–-with transcript and video.

Last week I had my yearly physical. When my doctor entered the exam room, sat down, looked at me with a smile and said, "So–-how ARE you?" I replied––"I am deeply, deeply disturbed and furious!" He, without hestitation, said, "Oh, Trump! Godawful!"

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

Since I lived and worked in public schools for most of my life and came to believe they were not removed from but representationally and substantively the "real"world, I tend to take the the controversies that arise in academe more seriously than perhaps I should.

But whether schools are dealing with the complications attendant on currculum choices, standardized testing, segregation, or vaccination, the choices they make always tell us a great deal about who we are and who we would like to be.

It does seem young Kashuv is/was a twerp, and in my post-adolescent enlightened maturity have no tolerance for racial intolerance, I am made uncomfortable when institutions make decisions that seem to me to carry an odor of father-knows-best smugness.

Too much in loco parentis for this child of the sixties? Or maybe too strong an impression of self-satisfied religious zeal, acting to further blur the lines between our public and private schools, a trend I would number among the greatest sins of our age?

Or maybe I just had the niggling sense that Harvard, with all its admissions-related troubles (casting stones came to mind), was playing politics with the kid.

I understand that, as Bea said, words do have consequences but whether the decision was deserved or not, I don't.

I wasn't there and I wasn't on the jury, but I couldn't help but think about it.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

It's going to be like 85 degrees for the president's* rally tonight in
Orlando, with IQs in the low sixties. Before he goes to the Amway
Center, I'm hoping he visits the Museum of African American History
which is right next door. After all, he claimed to have a black friend
at one time.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforrest.morris

I find it amazing that we are even thinking about this kid K. Kashuv, who seems one K short of a klavern. As noted above, his amygdala may not yet be mature, but he is clearly an asshole. Not that Harvard lacks for them, but ... who cares? This is a privileged kid who will land on his feet and may or may not outgrow his Eddie Haskell-ness. As long as he doesn't decide to become a terrorist on his own, we don't care. We have all lived with the assholes among us all our lives. One more makes no difference. And since the kid does not live on my block I really don't care. At all.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

I think there is a difference between hate speech and profanity/obscenity-- Kyle meant not to shock, but to reveal his most base attitudes. I venture to say he might have a moment later on where he regrets his hate speech, but I somehow doubt it. The very idea that he says he will learn from this leads me to doubt it. Haters are born and bred and nurtured, I think. I would no more have mentioned the n-word in all my years than I would have stepped on a toad. AND-- with him not admitted, hopefully a more deserving kid gets admitted. I'm sure Harvard feels quite noble-- which fries me-- but maybe he will learn from the rejection and reasons, whereas he might learn nothing at all when there.

And a shoutout to safari-- another reason to dislike the papers of note, having nothing to do with Dumpstertrash. I totally agree-- headlines have gotten so sloppy-- I think we have experienced that for years now. Hark back to the editing that goes on daily, trying to portray Dump as a thoughtful guy--

Saw about two minutes of Chris Matthews' town hall last night-- could not bear any more. WHY do the trumpists think he cares about them?? This was full of "economy victims" who are sure he will provide. And the US is on the right track. Probably as long as we ship people back to their s-hole countries to be killed...Ick.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

@Jeanne: Yeah, I watched a good part of Chris's "watch me do another great town hall" until I, too, said bye, bye. I find Chris too frenetic for my taste and the format typically "for and against" except for three women of color who knew their stuff–-one even carried the constitution on her person at all times (no one asked her why). I will give Chris credit for yanking the microphone away from a guy who addressed the constitution carrier as "Well, Cookie, I don't agree..." because as Chris said, "We don't stand for that kind of talk."

We wish!

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe


You lasted longer than I did. Had the same reaction to the Trumpbots that Patrick has to the K. Kid.

On another subject:

The White House is touting its new health insurance rule change.

Don't know how consequential it will turn out to be and on the day of the Pretender's 2020 campaign rollout it's certainly not as sexy as deporting millions of brown people, but it is another step in the wrong direction the Pretender's administration is so fond of taking and then bragging about.

MAGA--or another step backward (scrap the Paris Climate Accord or the Iran nuclear deal) for mankind?

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterKen Winkes

For some reason I see similarities between this KK kid and another supreme asshole (a.k.a. Stephen Miller).

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

unwashed: most proctologists will probably tell you they all resemble one another.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

@Patrick. True. I believe that there is an Italian pasta named after them - tortellini.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

@ unwashed

As a proud and honorary (by association) Italian, I believe tortollini refer to belly buttons. Although, having viewed diagrams of prostate glands, I’m thinking gnocchi might come close.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter[Aunt] Hattie

@[Aunt]Hattie: I don't think there's such a pasta, but if there were one, "stronzoni" would work; rough translation: "big asshole." If Trump invites himself to dinner, I'll make (from scratch!) a primo course which I'll tell him was named for him: stronzoni delli Trumpi. I doubt my pasta-maker has a stronzoni head, but I'd be happy to spend hours shaping little Trump assholes. A creepy -- but tasty! -- shit-brown sauce would be perfect.

June 18, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

Just yesterday I was telling my son I was glad my (5 & 8 year old) granddaughters pretty much have moved beyond poop jokes.

But I guess they never really go away.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick

"We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace–business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.

They had begun to consider the government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.

Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.”

––––––FDR during his 1936 Campaign address

Could we be seeing something similar in the Wall Street moguls shying away from Bernie and Lizzie and moving toward Joe, Pete, Kamala and Cory?

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

@ Mrs.McC.

Thank you for expanding my very limited Italian. And providing me with a big laugh via that tasty presidential* recipe of yours. (Re: “stronzoni”: A friend would use “stronzo” to call someone a “nasty little piece of shite”.) I imagine one’s clan or locale of origin might turn out variations . . .

I was (phonetically) taught a curse in (Kosovar) Albanian. It was understood to be a harmless one. And I can fashion it for one person or say it to many. I proudly shared my knowledge with a gym acquaintance who is an (Albania) Albanian. He reacted as though I’d physically slugged him (the guy’s 6’ 7” and buff!) and told me if I ever uttered those words in his village, I’d be shot.

Those words have still not been translated for me.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter[Aunt] Hattie

Late to this party, but I just wanted to comment on that wholesome, all American Shanahan family! They certainly sound like they give Ward and June and Wally and the Beav a run for their money in the Good Neighbor Family of the Year department. Not unlike those nice Trumps. Beatings with baseball bats, mom on the floor in a pool of blood, stories of face punching, setting the house on fire. All the best people. Let’s see now. If this new guy doesn’t have at least three or four felony charges in his background or at least a history of white slavery, I’m at a loss as to how he made the Trump cut.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

And one more thing about the Shanahan disaster. Everyone, and every administration, gets a pass on one or even two of these things. But once the list of incredibly horrible hires gets well into double figures, in this case more like the twenties, there’s no mistake. It’s a pattern. Kind of like those 100 or so meetings with Russian cut outs during the previously stolen election indicates a clear pattern.

This is about as bad as things get. This guy, his family, and his entire administration is a fucking menace. And not the Dennis kind either. He’s not guilty of knocking a baseball through Mr. Wilson’s parlor window, he’s guilty of stealing his car, burning down his house, raping his wife, and blackmailing him for his pension.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@ Akhilleus

Now Shanahan will be able to “devote more time to his family”.

What a guy.

June 18, 2019 | Unregistered Commenter[Aunt] Hattie

Something weird about the Shanahan is that he had to go through a full vetting to get his previous job as Deputy Secretary of Defense. One would think the FBI would have picked up these stories in its initial vetting, especially because Shanahan himself, altho not charged with a domestic crime, should have been listed in the public record as a victim of both his wife's physical attack & of their son's attempt to burn down the house. The Shanahans' divorce proceedings may have been sealed, but I'm thinking the FBI could tap these to vet a senior member of the administration. So something is odd here. Is Shanahan one of the people Trump "passed" by overriding the vetters' recommendations? Did the Senate get the full story the first time around? I don't know.

June 18, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie
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