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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.

Sunday
Jun232019

The Commentariat -- June 24, 2019

Michael Shear of the New York Times: "President Trump on Sunday shrugged off the brutal dismembering of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist, just days after a United Nations report described how a team of Saudi assassins called Mr. Khashoggi a 'sacrificial animal' before his murder. The U.N. report urged an F.B.I. investigation into the slaying. But in an interview with NBC's 'Meet the Press,' Mr. Trump said the episode had already been thoroughly investigated. He said the Middle East is 'a vicious, hostile place' and noted that Saudi Arabia is an important trading partner with the United States.... Mr. Trump also said he was 'not looking for war [with Iran],' but added that if the United States went to war with Iran, 'it'll be obliteration like you've never seen before.'... Mr. Trump also falsely blamed former President Barack Obama for his policy of separating families at the border, lashed out at his Federal Reserve chairman and said the biggest mistake of his presidency was selecting Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Here's the full, unedited interview via NBC News. (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

... Dan De Luce of NBC News: "Long before Trump was elected, advocates of the nuclear agreement -- including then-President Barack Obama, French President Emmanuel Macron and others -- had argued that abandoning the accord carried grave risks that could lead to an armed conflict. 'So let's not mince words. The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war -- maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon,' Obama said in a speech in 2015 defending the deal before a congressional vote.... Obama said that without an agreement limiting Iran's nuclear program in return for sanctions relief, any U.S. administration would be left with only one option to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon -- 'another war in the Middle East.'" (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

David Boddiger of Splinter: "A day after Donald Trump announced via Twitter that he was postponing nationwide raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport thousands of families, senior administration officials are furious, blaming acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan for leaking details of the raids to the press. It was no secret that McAleenan opposed the massive operation, which was supposed to target 10 major U.S. cities on Sunday morning, and he had commented to The Washington Post that such raids could risk separating more children from their parents. He also warned that ICE did not have the resources to carry out such sweeping deportation raids.... On Saturday, former ICE acting director and recently named 'border czar' Tom Homan criticized McAleenan during an appearance on Fox & Friends, claiming to know the source of the leak." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.)

The Trump Scandals, Ctd.

Jonathan Swan, et al., of Axios: "Nearly 100 internal Trump transition vetting documents leaked to 'Axios on HBO' identify a host of 'red flags' about officials who went on to get some of the most powerful jobs in the U.S. government.... The massive trove, and the story behind it, sheds light on the slap-dash way President Trump filled his cabinet and administration, and foreshadowed future scandals that beset his government.... In the chaotic weeks after Trump's surprise election victory, Trump fired Chris Christie as the head of his transition. The team that took over -- which V.P. Mike Pence helmed -- outsourced the political vetting of would-be top officials to the Republican National Committee.... Traditionally, any would-be top official faces three types of vetting: an FBI background check, a scrub for financial conflicts of interest from the Office of Government Ethics, and a deep dive from the president-elect's political team, which veteran Washington lawyers often handle.... But in many cases -- for example the misguided choice of Andrew Puzder as Labor Secretary -- this RNC 'scrub' of public sources was the only substantial vetting in Trump's possession when he announced his picks." ...

... Jonathan Swan talks to Chris Christie about the Trump transition. Most of what Christie says isn't news, but it's worth hearing it again:

Andrew Desiderio of Politico: "The White House is expected to move to block former top aide Annie Donaldson from answering the House Judiciary Committee]s written questions about her tenure as White House deputy counsel, according to sources familiar with the matter. Donaldson, who was a central witness in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, struck a deal with the committee that would allow her to submit written responses instead of showing up for her scheduled public testimony on Monday. Donaldson is pregnant and lives in Alabama, her attorney Sandra Moser said, adding that it's difficult for her to travel to Washington at this time."

Andrew Desiderio: "The House Oversight and Reform Committee will vote to authorize a subpoena for White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Wednesday if she does not show up for the panel's hearing on her alleged violations of the Hatch Act, according to a memo sent to lawmakers. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has cited Conway for multiple violations of the Hatch Act, and earlier this month, Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner recommended that President Donald Trump terminate her White House employment. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the chairman of the committee, invited both Kerner and Conway to attend Wednesday's hearing."


Serena Marshall, et al., of ABC News: "From sleeping on concrete floors with the lights on 24 hours a day to no access to soap or basic hygiene, migrant children in at least two U.S. Customs and Border Protection facilities face conditions one doctor described as comparable to 'torture facilities.' The disturbing, first-hand account of the conditions were observed by lawyers and a board-certified physician in visits last week to border patrol holding facilities in Clint, Texas, and McAllen, a city in the southern part of the state. The descriptions paint a bleak image of horrific conditions for children, the youngest of whom is 2 1/2 months old.... [Dr. Dolly Lucio Sevier] compared it to being 'tantamount to intentionally causing the spread of disease.' In an interview with ABC News, Lucio Sevier said the facility 'felt worse than jail.'" ...

... ** Salt Lake Tribune Editors: "... the places into which we are herding tens of thousands of migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are ... properly called concentration camps. Because that is precisely what they are. When some in the public eye dare to tell that truth, as the media-savvy Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez did the other day, enablers of the administration's cruel policies cry foul.... [The Nazi Holocaust] worked its way up, from nasty political speeches (check) to politicians seeking and gaining power with promises to protect the purity of the nation from foreign invasion (check) to denying basic human rights and decency to people of an unfavored class (check)." Mrs. McC: A powerful piece by a conservative editorial board. Read it all. ...

... Ben Fenwick of the New York Times (June 22): "... more than 200 demonstrators arrived at Fort Sill on Saturday to protest the government's latest plan for the base: to house 1,400 undocumented children who arrived in the United States without a parent or a legal guardian. The protesters called the plan, which was announced this month, a return to one of the nation's great shames.... The Obama administration held several thousand immigrant children at Fort Sill in 2014.... Satsuki Ina, who was born in a Japanese-American internment camp during World War II ... protested then, too.... In the 19th century, the Army held hundreds of Chiricahua Apache warriors who surrendered in the conflicts between Native Americans and the United States; Geronimo was one of them and is buried at the base. During World War II, a distraught Japanese detainee, Kanesaburo Oshima, was fatally shot there as he tried to climb the barb-wire fence, becoming a symbol of a mass exclusion program that the United States has formally apologized for in 1988." ...

... Adam Serwer of The Atlantic: "The [Trump immigration] policy's cruelty is its purpose.... The barbarism of deliberately inflicting suffering on children as coercion, though, has forced the Trump administration and its allies in the conservative press to offer three contradictory defenses. First, there's the denial that the policy exists.... The policy is both real and delightful. The conservative radio host Laura Ingraham called the uproar 'hilarious'.... Others in the administration -- such as [former] Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his former aide, the White House adviser Stephen Miller -- offer a third defense. The policy exists, they say, and it's necessary to uphold the rule of law.... It is not an accident that these three defenses -- the policy does not exist, the children are better off under the policy, and the policy is required by law -- are contradictory. The heart of Trumpism is both cruelty and denial. The administration and its supporters valorize cruelty against outsiders even while denying that such cruelty is taking place."

Helena Evich of Politico: "The Trump administration has refused to publicize dozens of government-funded studies that carry warnings about the effects of climate change, defying a longstanding practice of touting such findings by the Agriculture Department's acclaimed in-house scientists.... All of these studies were peer-reviewed by scientists and cleared through the non-partisan Agricultural Research Service, one of the world's leading sources of scientific information for farmers and consumers. None of the studies were focused on the causes of global warming -- an often politically charged issue. Rather, the research examined the wide-ranging effects of rising carbon dioxide, increasing temperatures and volatile weather."

NOPEStephanie Covery of the Guardian: "One of the biggest knitting websites in the world, which claims to have more than 8 million members, has announced that it will ban users from expressing support for Donald Trump, saying that to do so constitutes 'white supremacy'. On Sunday, administrators for Ravelry, a site for knitters, crocheters, designers and anyone dabbling in the fibre arts, said that they were making any expression of support for Trump and his administration in forum posts, patterns, on their personal profile pages or elsewhere permanently off limits.... The policy drew on a similar statement made last year by roleplaying game site RPG.net, which banned advocacy of Trump from its forums on the grounds that the Trump administration was an 'elected hate group'.... The knitting and crochet community has played a prominent role in the anti-Trump movement in the past, with women wearing homemade pink 'pussy' hats to demonstrations around his election and inauguration becoming a distinctive symbol of protest against his presidency."

Presidential Race 2020

Dan Merica & Donald Judd of CNN: "Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg faced the raw and unvarnished emotion of his community at a town hall in South Bend, Indiana, on Sunday as the mayor attempted to soothe the pain caused by the recent killing of a black man by a police officer. The shooting of Eric Jack Logan, who police alleged was breaking into cars and wielding a knife when he was shot by officer Ryan O'Neill last Sunday, has roiled the Indiana community, putting the spotlight on years of racial tension between the South Bend Police Department and the city's African American residents.... The free-wheeling town hall -- which included a mix of questions, storytelling and protesting from attendees who spoke to the mayor -- focused on how the police department has interacted with the community for years, long before the shooting.... Under Buttigieg, the South Bend Police Department has slowly -- but consistently -- become less diverse."

Bianca Quilantan of Politico: "Joe Sestak, a retired three-star Navy admiral and former two-term congressman from Pennsylvania, on Sunday became the latest Democratic contender to announce a bid for the presidency. Sestak, in a video released on his campaign website, drew heavily on his naval career, saying he 'wore the cloth of the nation for over 31 years in peace and war, from the Vietnam and Cold War eras, to Afghanistan and Iraq and the emergence of China.'" Mrs. McC: Time for the Ghost of Pat Paulsen to announce his candidacy:

Murtaza Hussain of The Intercept: "For over 17 years, Moath al-Alwi ha been held at Guantánamo Bay without charge. A Yemeni citizen, al-Alwi is one of Guantánamo's 'forever prisoners,' those whom the U.S. government has not charged with a crime but is unwilling to release. On June 10, the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal in his case, the latest setback in al-Alwi's long effort to obtain due process rights. The Supreme Court rejection ... briefly brought al-Alwi's case back to national attention. Little noted, however, were the eyebrow-raising assertions that the government has made in this case about its powers to indefinitely detain not just al-Alwi, but anyone -- including U.S. citizens." --s

Joe Drape of the New York Times: "Another horse died at Santa Anita Park in Southern California on Saturday -- the 30th since Dec. 26 and the fourth this month -- prompting the owners of what has become one of the deadliest racetracks in America to bar Jerry Hollendorfer, the horse's Hall of Fame trainer. American Currency died after a training session Saturday. The horse was the fourth trained by Hollendorfer to die at Santa Anita Park since the meeting opened on Dec. 26. The spike in fatalities at the landmark racetrack has put a bull's-eye on the very existence of one of America's oldest sports. The deaths have prompted an investigation by the Los Angeles County district attorney's office and earned public rebukes from Gov. Gavin Newsom of California and Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California.... The Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita and six other American racetracks, has blamed corrupt trainers and owners for the deaths...." (Also linked yesterday afternoon.) ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: I suppose when we have a POTUS* who "shrugs off" the assassination of a political journalist, the suspicious deaths of dozens of racehorses may seem less significant. But just because we have a president* who sees murder as an excusable cultural phenomenon and the criminal abuse of children & asylum-seekers as an acceptable "deterrent" to immigration doesn't mean the rest of us should become desensitized.

Way Beyond the Beltway

Carlotta Gall of the New York Times: "President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey was confronting recriminations within his governing party and the wider circle of his supporters on Monday as the scale of the defeat of his candidate in the Istanbul mayoral race became clear. The opposition candidate, Ekrem Imamoglu, emerged as the landslide winner of the mayoral election redo against Mr. Erdogan's candidate, Binali Yildirim, according to preliminary results announced on Monday by Sadi Guven, the head of the High Election Council, confirming a significant defeat for the governing party."

Reader Comments (6)

I don't know what we are getting exercised about-- it's only a few thousand children being abused...s/ Where is great humanitarian Ivanka while all this is happening? More and more I think it IS deliberate-- if you treat people worse than prisoners of war in the 19th century, they just won't try to come anymore. Like that works...Pence says it is Congress's fault for not providing more money. If they got more, Fatso could fix it in 15 minutes...

On another note: the Turkish names are interesting-- when I see them, I keep thinking they are anagrams and hunt for the "hidden" English names...

June 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

There’s a simple test for supporters of the Trump policy of shoving children into filthy, dangerously unhealthy, and blatantly inhumane conditions for the crime of being brought here by parents hoping for a better life: send their own children or grandchildren to spend a week in one of these cells.

Back when Bush and Cheney lied to start their wars of choice (which are still going on and which spawned legions of terrorist movements, including ISIS) the generally liberal writer Christopher Hitchens surprised (and pissed off) many on the left by coming out and supporting those wars. But as it became clear that institutional torture was a major policy of that period, he decided to test for himself Darth Cheney’s claim that waterboarding was not torture. He had himself waterboarded and pronounced it “absolutely, definitely torture”. Of course Bush and Cheney and the congressional torture mongers who supported this inhuman practice would never have taken this test, but they should have.

And so, today, the inhuman Trumpbots praising the torture (that’s what it is) of small children should have no problem sending their own kids and grandkids to test their contention that it’s perfectly fine to sleep with dozens of other kids on concrete floors with no soap, no clean clothes, open toilets used by sick children, and lights on 24 hours a day. Conditions described as far worse than prison.

Barron? You’re first, pal. Then the Javanka kids. Then the pence grandkids. Let’s see how long that lasts.

June 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: I wish a reporter would ask Trump exactly that: "Will you send your son & your grandchildren to one of the 'summer camps' for migrants? When? July?"

June 24, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

As the Atlantic article linked above points out, one of the prime excuses for the Trump Torture of Innocent Children policy is the maintenance of the “rule of law”. Rule of law, eh? This on behalf of the single most lawless administration and law defying president in US history. It’s like a Mafia don sniffing that a society without laws is sure to descend into chaos, even as he confirms hits on rivals.

But then again, as far as Trump and Miller and McTurtle are concerned, laws are for the little people. Not titans like themselves, whose mere whims can thrust thousands into imprisonment, despair, and hopelessness. Just to show them who’s boss and teach those uppity brown babies about the “Rule of Law” in Trump’s Amerika.

June 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Food for thought. If the treasonweasel had pulled out of Ivana as
fast as he did Iran, we would have fewer greedygrifters in D.C.

June 24, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterforrest.morris

And still, Democrats aren’t sure what to do. Indecision is the best friend to criminals and lawless authoritarians.

June 24, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus
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