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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 -- May 13, 2019

Afternoon Update:

Matt Phillips of the New York Times: "Investors are dealing with a painful new reality: The trade war between the United States and China could last indefinitely. The anxiety caused by that realization rippled through the stock markets on Monday, and the S&P 500 suffered its steepest daily drop in months after China said it would increase tariffs on nearly $60 billion of American-made goods in response to a similar move last week by the Trump administration. The American stock benchmark fell 2.4 percent, pushing its losses for the month above 4.5 percent. Shares in trade-sensitive sectors like agriculture, semiconductors and industrials were particularly hard hit. Bonds and commodities, too flashed warnings of a slowdown."

Michael Birnbaum & Liz Sly of the Washington Post: "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo crashed a meeting of European foreign ministers in Brussels on Monday to push for a united transatlantic front against Tehran and its nuclear program. But he failed to bend attitudes among leaders who fear the United States and Iran are inching toward war. Pompeo';s last-minute decision to visit the European Union capital, announced as he boarded a plane from the United States, set up a confrontation between the top U.S. diplomat and his European counterparts, who have been scrambling to save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal last year. At least one, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said he feared that unintentional escalation from the United States and Iran could spark a conflict -- an unusually bold statement that appeared to assign equal culpability to Washington and Tehran."

"Trade Wars Are Good, and Easy to Win." Ana Swanson, et al., of the New York Times: "The United States and China escalated their trade fight on Monday as Beijing moved to raise tariffs on nearly $60 billion worth of American goods in retaliation for President Trump's decision to punish China with higher tariffs on a slew of imports. China's finance ministry announced that it was raising tariffs on a wide range of American goods to 20 percent or 25 percent from 10 percent in response to Mr. Trump's decision to raise tariffs to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. China's increase will impact the roughly $60 billion in American imports already being taxed as retaliation for Mr. Trump's previous round of levies, including beer, wine, swimsuits, shirts and liquefied natural gas. The S&P 500 fell more than 2 percent soon after trading began in New York, and shares of companies particularly dependent on trade with China, including Apple and Boeing, fared poorly." ...

... Trump Tries to Protect His Base from ... Himself. Mary Papenfuss of the Huffington Post: "... Donald Trump is seeking an additional $15 billion in U.S. subsidies in an effort to protect farmers from the devastating impact of his trade war with China. That's on top of $12 billion already earmarked for the farmers to help them weather the fallout. That would be an additional bill for U.S. taxpayers already shouldering the cost of increased tariffs in the form of higher costs for products and parts from China. Trump revealed the subsidy figure in a tweet Friday. He suggested the government use the funds to buy agricultural products to ship to other nations for humanitarian aid, though setting up such a system would be extremely complicated. In his most recent budget proposal, Trump proposed eliminating three food aid programs, Politico noted. The president appeared to dismiss the impact of the cost as he falsely claimed -- again -- that 'massive' tariff payments are being paid by China 'directly' to the U.S. Treasury, which would presumably be used to cover the cost of the subsidy. There is 'absolutely no need to rush' to negotiate a deal with China, he tweeted. In fact, the tariffs are paid by U.S. importers, who pass on the extra costs to the American consumer in the form of higher prices for products...."

Caitlin Oprysko of Politico: "... Donald Trump tried to take credit on Monday for a sudden turnaround in the Boston Red Sox' season, pointing out that the reigning World Series champions have gone undefeated since their fraught visit to the White House last week. 'Has anyone noticed that all the Boston @RedSox have done is WIN since coming to the White House!' Trump wrote in a tweet. 'Others also have done very well. The White House visit is becoming the opposite of being on the cover of Sports Illustrated! By the way, the Boston players were GREAT guys!' The Red Sox, who visited the White House last Thursday, swept all three of their home games over the weekend against the Seattle Mariners, scoring 34 runs across the three games. Boston has won eight of its last 10 games, a stretch that predates the team's reception with the president." Mrs. McC: I'm too lazy to check the stats, but I wonder if the Sox (Socks) players who boycotted the White House trip contributed to the wins.

Devin Dwyer of ABC News: "A divided Supreme Court on Monday cleared the way for iPhone owners to sue Apple for alleged 'higher-than-competitive prices' for apps sold in App Store. 'A claim that a monopolistic retailer (here, Apple) has used its monopoly to overcharge consumers is a classic antitrust claim,' wrote Justice Brett Kavanaugh in the majority opinion, joined by the court's liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.... The opinion does not resolve the merits of the consumers' allegations against Apple, rather simply allows them to proceed in court." Mrs. McC: Looks as if Brett thinks Apple ripped him off.


Paul Waugh of the Huffington Post: "Donald Trump will be denied the historic honour of addressing parliament during his state visit to the UK next month, government sources have confirmed. In a major snub to the US President, lingering hopes of him delivering a speech to MPs and peers have been dashed following defiant opposition by Commons Speaker John Bercow, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and others. Although Barack Obama made a landmark address in Westminster Hall in 2011, Trump will not be allowed the same privilege after the visit's organisers decided to avoid a diplomatic row over his 'racism and sexism'."

MEANWHILE, Trump Makes Another Dictator Buddy. Benjamin Novak & Patrick Kinsley of the New York Times: "... on Monday President Trump will grant Viktor Orban, Hungary's far-right prime minister, his first private audience with a president at the White House since he met Bill Clinton there in 1998. Back then, Mr. Orban was a young centrist who praised Mr. Clinton for helping Hungary to escape Russian influence by joining NATO, but today he is a doyen of right-wing nationalists on multiple continents. He has enfeebled democratic institutions, strived to achieve a Hungarian ethnic homogeneity and pulled his nation closer to the opponents of American influence, Russia and China. His welcome at the White House is seen by Mr. Trump's critics as emblematic of the president's preference for strongman leaders who seek to undermine the liberal international order.... An Oval Office meeting is one of the highest honors an American president can give an ally, and this one has been slow in coming. And the day after Mr. Orban's visit, State Department officials will meet in Washington with a pair of center-right opposition politicians from Hungary who beat Mr. Orban's party in two recent by-elections."

Larry Buchanan & Karen Yourish of the New York Times are keeping track of the now-29 investigations -- that are publicly-known -- related to Trump: 10 federal criminal, 8 state & local, & 11 Congressional.

Quint Forgey of Politico: "... Donald Trump lashed out at Don McGahn on Saturday ... amid an ongoing battle between House Democrats and the administration over documents and testimony related to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. 'I was NOT going to fire Bob Mueller, and did not fire Bob Mueller. In fact, he was allowed to finish his Report with unprecedented help from the Trump Administration,' the president wrote online. 'Actually, lawyer Don McGahn had a much better chance of being fired than Mueller. Never a big fan!'"

Jeff Toobin in the New Yorker (May 10): "Our constitutional system never contemplated a President like Donald Trump. The Framers anticipated friction among the three branches of government, which has been a constant throughout our history, but the Trump White House has now established a complete blockade against the legislative branch, thwarting any meaningful oversight.... Disputes between the executive and legislative branches ... invariably wind up before the judiciary, and judges look at these disputes on a case-by-case basis.... The law has no clear mechanism for adjudicating these claims together -- but they belong together. Trump is leading a political campaign, and it calls for a political, not just judicial, response.The most obvious political response to Trump's defiance of Congress -- and thus of the norms of constitutional history -- is impeachment."

Robert Burns
of the AP: "Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan visited a border city in Texas on Saturday and said he intends to accelerate planning to secure the border and bolster the administration's ability to accomplish that without the Pentagon's continuous help.... Shanahan told Congress this past week that there are 4,364 military troops on the border, including active-duty and National Guard. They are erecting barriers, providing logistics and transportation service and other activities in support of Customs and Border Protection. The troops are prohibited from performing law enforcement duties. Troops have been deployed on the border since last October and are committed to being there through September." --s ...

... Update. Dan Lamothe of the Washington Post: "The Pentagon will shift $1.5 billion for President Trump's border wall from programs that include the military's next nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile and a plane that provides surveillance and communications to fighter jets while airborne, according to a Defense Department document obtained by The Washington Post. The document includes more details about the administration's plan, disclosed Friday, to build about 80 additional miles of border wall using Defense Department money. The document echoes acting defense secretary Patrick M. Shanahan in saying that there will be no negative effect on military readiness, though administration officials have previously acknowledged that reprogrammed money also could be put toward other unfunded military projects.... The reprogramming has angered Democratic lawmakers, who say it amounts to the administration sidestepping congressional authority to pay for a Trump campaign promise."

Rebekah Entralago of ThinkProgress: "Space at certain Border Patrol stations has become so scarce that [ICE] authorities have resorted to transporting immigrants on aircrafts to other parts of the U.S.-Mexico just to be processed.... The first flight left McAllen, Texas, on Friday for Del Rio, Texas. Daily flights are scheduled over the next few days. It is not out of the ordinary for ICE to transport immigrants on a plane, as they frequently use flights as a way of transferring individuals from one detention center to another. What is new, however, is the practice of transporting recently-arrived immigrants via aircraft to different parts of the border so that they can go through a preliminary booking procedure." --s

Dylan Matthews of Vox: "The Trump administration has been incredibly consistent, from day one, about its desire to slash benefits for poor Americans.... [T]he latest [attempt] is subtle but profound: changing the inflation rate used to update the poverty line.... The change the administration is proposing would, over the course of many years, shrink the size of Medicaid, food stamps, free school breakfasts, Head Start, and many, many other programs." --s

All the Best Advisors. Vivian Salama, et al., of the Wall Street Journal: "The leaders of Saudi Arabia and Egypt successfully lobbied President Trump to shift U.S. policy in Libya and reach out to the general leading an offensive against the country's United Nations-backed government, a senior U.S. administration official and two Saudi officials said. In early April, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi urged Mr. Trump to back Gen. Khalifa Haftar, whose forces are seeking to capture the Libyan capital Tripoli amid a long-running battle for control of the oil-rich country. About a week later, Mr. Trump called Gen. Haftar, and 'discussed a shared vision for Libya's transition to a stable, democratic political system,' the White House said. That marked a significant shift in the American stance toward Gen. Haftar. For years, Washington has supported the United Nations-recognized government in Tripoli and worked with it in the war on Islamic State. Before Mr. Trump's call, the U.S. had condemned the general's offensive and called for a cease fire." Mrs. McC: The article is firewalled. I swiped the first two grafs from another site.

Chris Rodrigo of the Hill: "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo canceled his planned trip to Moscow, the State Department announced Monday. Instead, Pompeo will meet with European allies in Brussels to discuss "threatening actions and statements by the Islamic Republic of Iran." This is the third stop on Pompeo's trip to be canceled amid rising tensions with Iran, after skipping previously planned visits to Germany and Greenland." ...

      ... Michelle Kosinski of CNN: "On Tuesday, Pompeo will proceed as planned to Sochi, Russia, to meet with President Vladimir Putin and other Russian leaders. Pompeo's travel change was last minute, a senior State Department official said. The State Department announced Friday that Pompeo would meet with Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Sochi Tuesday." Mrs. McC: It strikes me that multiple last-minute scheduling changes like this are not good signs, unless the point is to rattle Iran. ...

... Juan Cole: "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told NBC that Iran is an active threat to US interests and 'sowing chaos' in the Middle East. It strikes me that exactly the opposite is true. The Islamic Republic of Iran has in recent years, despite its heritage in the 1979 revolution, acted as an Establishment, status quo power. I don't agree with Iranian policy, e.g. its Syria intervention; I'm just acting as a dispassionate analyst and asking if it is really destabilizing. I conclude, not so much. In contrast, the United States (and more especially the Republican Party) has sown enormous amounts of chaos in the Middle East just in the past 20 years." --s

Ellen Mitchell of the Hill: "Secretary of State Mike Pompeo must warn Russian President Vladimir Putin against meddling in the upcoming 2020 presidential election, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urged on Sunday. 'During your meeting with Vladimir Putin, it is critical that you warn him that any action to interfere in our elections will be met with an immediate and robust response,' Schumer wrote in a letter to Pompeo. 'President Trump's approach to dealing with President Putin, especially on this vital issue, must change. I urge you to make absolutely clear to President Putin that interference in U.S. elections will not be tolerated.' Pompeo is set to meet with Putin on Tuesday, the first major meeting of an administration official and the Russian president since the release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report...."

Justin Wise of the Hill: "White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Sunday contradicted President Trump, saying he didn't disagree with the characterization that China is not paying the tariffs on goods coming into the U.S. Kudlow made the comments after Fox News anchor Chris Wallace repeatedly pressed him on "Fox News Sunday" about Trump's recent comments in regard to trade with China.... Wallace ... [noted] that Trump has said China pays the tariffs. 'They may suffer consequences, but it's U.S. businesses and U.S. consumers who pay, correct?' he asked. Kudlow responded by saying he didn't disagree with that characterization, adding that both sides will suffer because of new tariffs." Mrs. McC: Even on the rare occasions Trump's surrogates know the facts, interviewers have to pull out their two front teeth to get them to even implicitly disagree with Trump's lies. ...

     ... Update. Trump Ignores Kudlow's Admission. Owen Daugherty of the Hill: "President Trump early Monday repeated his assertion that China pays for tariffs imposed on traded goods, not U.S. consumers. 'Their [sic.] is no reason for the U.S. Consumer to pay the Tariffs, which take effect on China today,' Trump wrote in post[s] on Twitter. 'This has been proven recently when only 4 points were paid by the U.S.... Also, the Tariffs can be..... ....completely avoided if you by from a non-Tariffed Country, or you buy the product inside the USA (the best idea). That's Zero Tariffs. Many Tariffed companies will be leaving China for Vietnam and other such countries in Asia. That's why China wants to make a deal so badly!... There will be nobody left in China to do business with....'... The president added in a subsequent tweet..., 'The unexpectedly good first quarter 3.2% GDP was greatly helped by Tariffs from China,' Trump tweeted. 'Some people just don't get it!'" ...

     ... Mrs. McCrabbie: Of course that's all nonsense. Companies -- especially those owned or run by Chinese nationals, are not going to pick up & move their facilities to Viet Nam on Trump's whim. As for tariffs helping last quarter's U.S. GDP, Jim Tankersley of the New York Times last week wrote a column refuting that premise. Although Tankersley explains why Trump's tariffs had almost no effect in the first quarter, here's a key: "Most economists argue the opposite -- that tariffs reduce economic activity by raising prices for consumers."

... BESIDES, Trump Is a Great President*. Jonathan Swan of Axios: "Sign of the times: The top advocate for corporate America, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has installed a sign on the front steps of its headquarters in Washington, D.C., comparing Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower. Their building is right near the White House.... Comparing Trump to Reagan and Eisenhower is quite a leap for a group that got on the wrong side of the president by excoriating his 2016 campaign and clashing with him on everything from tariffs to immigration policy. (A previous sign on the Chamber's steps advocated for DACA recipients.) The new message highlights the Chamber's determination to help Trump pass a massive infrastructure bill."

Felicia Sonmez of the Washington Post: "Former defense secretary Robert Gates on Sunday pushed back against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's call for the country to move on from Robert S. Mueller III's report, arguing that Russian interference in U.S. elections remains an urgent issue. McConnell (R-Ky.) last week declared 'case closed' on Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. But in a wide-ranging interview on CBS News's 'Face the Nation,' Gates said the United States has 'not reacted nearly strongly enough' to Russia's 'blatant interference in 2016.' 'The piece of the Mueller report about Russian interference is not "case closed,"' said Gates, a Republican who was defense secretary under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. 'And, frankly, I think elected officials who depend on honest elections to get elected ought to place as a very high priority measures to protect the American electoral system against interference by foreigners.'"

Kyla Mandel of ThinkProgress: "Electric vehicles are increasingly popular, with sales up a whopping 81% between 2017 and 2018.... On Thursday, congressional lawmakers received a letter signed by 34 conservative organizations urging them to oppose any expansion of tax credits for electric vehicles. Signatories to the letter include several think tanks that promote climate science denial, a group run by a former Koch lobbyist and the newly launched Energy 45 Fund set up by a former Trump Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official." --s

Juan Cole: "[T]here are 2 million solar home installations in the United States. That is enough to power 12 million homes. (There are 127 million households in the US, and about 64% of Americans own a home). It was only in 2016 that the country hit 1 million.... By two years from now, the number of solar home installations will climb to 3 million, and in 2023 it will climb to 4 million, having doubled in 4 years. By 2024, new home panels will be installed at the rate of one a minute.... The cost of solar panels has dropped 70% since 2010, and dropped 5% just in the past year. There is still a $7500 Federal tax rebate, and many states also offer tax incentives (the states not controlled by Big Oil)." --s

Google Stuck in Misogyny. Stephanie Kirchgaessner & Jessica Glenza of the Guardian: "Google has given tens of thousands of dollars in free advertising to an anti-abortion group that runs ads suggesting it provides abortion services at its medical clinics, but actually seeks to deter' abortion-minded women' from terminating their pregnancies. The Obria Group, which runs a network of clinics funded by Catholic organisations, received a $120,000 Google advertising grant in 2015, according to a public filing. In 2011, it received nearly $32,000. Such grants are designed to support and expand the reach of nonprofits around the world. Obria was awarded the 2015 grant despite the fact Google had faced intense criticism a year earlier, after a pro-choice group found the platform was running deceptive ads for clinics that appeared to offer abortions and other medical services, but instead focused on counseling and information on alternatives to abortion."

A Woman's Work Is Never Done. Aliya Rao in the Atlantic: "Americans are making major strides toward gender equality.... But gender equality for women still lags in ... their own home. That women should take on the bulk of domestic responsibilities is still a widespread belief.... Recognizing women as breadwinners threatens the idea that a family fits into that mold.... The more economically dependent men are on their wives, the less housework they do. Even women with unemployed husbands spend considerably more time on household chores than their spouses. In other words, women's success in the workplace is penalized at home."

Beyond the Beltway

Ashley Southall of the New York Times: "The last words Eric Garner, an unarmed black man, uttered on a New York City sidewalk in 2014 instantly became a national rallying cry against police brutality. 'I can't breathe,' Mr. Garner pleaded 11 times after a police officer in plain clothes placed his arm across his neck and pulled him to the ground while other officers handcuffed him.... Mr. Garner's death was part of a succession of police killings across the country that became part of a wrenching conversation about how officers treat people in predominantly poor and minority communities. Now, the officer who wrapped his arm around Mr. Garner's neck, Daniel Pantaleo, 33, faces a public trial that could lead to his firing. Officer Pantaleo has denied wrongdoing and his lawyer argues that he did not apply a chokehold.'"

Way Beyond

Russia. Matt Apuzzo & Adam Satariano of the New York Times: "Less than two weeks before pivotal elections for the European Parliament, a constellation of websites and social media accounts linked to Russia or far-right groups is spreading disinformation, encouraging discord and amplifying distrust in the centrist parties that have governed for decades. European Union investigators, academics and advocacy groups say the new disinformation efforts share many of the same digital fingerprints or tactics used in previous Russian attacks, including the Kremlin's interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign."

Sweden. Caroline Davies of the Guardian: "Swedish prosecutors are to reopen an investigation into a rape allegation against Julian Assange. The deputy director of public prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, announced the decision at a press conference on Monday, saying: '... It is my assessment that a new questioning of Assange is required.' With Assange now detained by the UK, 'the prerequisites for continuing and completing the investigation are now considered to exist', she said."

News Lede

New York Times: "Doris Day, the freckle-faced movie actress whose irrepressible personality and golden voice made her America's top box-office star in the early 1960s, died on Monday at her home in Carmel Valley, Calif. She was 97."

Reader Comments (19)

I can just imagine what an address to parliament would have been like-- stupid asides and sidetracks, blowing of his own horn, insults to everyone in the room, and "reading" a prepared speech in that monotone, whiny voice, coupled with the fact that his speech "writer" is a bigot of the first water, even the prepared remarks would be insulting... And then, he would march ahead of the Queen like the lunkhead he is. So nice... Making America Grimace Again...

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

@Jeanne: Yup, that's exactly my impression of what a Trump address to parliament would be like. Make America Grimace Again -- perfect characterization! We're lucky Britain isn't the military power it once was; otherwise, the Cabinet would probably immediately declare war on the U.S. -- an American Revolution do-over. And given who our President* is, I'm not sure how many Americans would fight them on the beaches.

May 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

I'm actually a little disappointed that Blimpie won't get to make his address as horrible as I would envision it. But if the Parliament is as raucous and boisterous as I've seen and heard they probably wouldn't hesitate to respond to his lies and assertions of being the best of everything. I would hope that the outright laughter and taunts by them would be enough to force him from the podium with his face as red as his ass. The only problem is that he might declare war on the U.K. during his flight back to Mar-a-Largo.

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed

David McCullough is firmly in the school of the Great Man Theory of History, and despite a wider net cast into the recesses of the past, I've enjoyed several of his books as examples of popular history. No doubt his ubiquitous and avuncular presence on PBS for many years still makes for the quick clicks on the Amazon and B&N sites, as well as brick and mortar purchases.

On the other side (the far other side) of the History River, you find the Annales School. Annaliste historians eschewed the great men (and women, for that matter) in favor of a more holistic, ground level impression of history. Well known historians from this group include Marc Bloch (his work on medieval Europe is still very readable), and Fernand Braudel, whose gigantic work on the Mediterranean includes chapter and verse of things like the inside baseball of exchanges of goods between nations surrounding that sea, and pages and pages of stuff like the work of barrel makers, kinds of wood, various purposes, laws and regulations for what went into them and how they were weighed at different ports. Great men appear, but mostly in the background as kings and their ministers who determined the official exchanges between local merchants and avoirdupois based traders from up north.

Exhaustive and a tad exhausting at times, but well worth the effort.

I once had a conversation with an American history professor of Annaliste leanings (more like listing) who was putting together a syllabus for a new course on the American Revolution. Scanning it over, I asked how he intended to fit in certain (typically) unavoidable characters in histories of that period, such as Washington. "Oh", he said, almost surprised at my dimwittedness. "I doubt we'll have any time left over to talk about Washington".

So go figure.

As with many things (to salt or not to salt), a bit of both tends to be most satisfying. Visiting recreation museums in places like the Jamestown Settlement in Virginia, Old Sturbridge Village and the Plimoth Plantation in Massachusetts, or the Louisbourg Museum in Nova Scotia (where my brother and I ate at an early 18th C sailor's mess and had our first taste of grog--Jesus! No wonder there were so few mutinies. Guys were too busy puking over the side), one is often completely enthralled by the fascinating details of day to day life in those periods. How people worked, what they ate, ideas of sanitation (if any), the varying relevance of religion and idea of country to local political matters, how newspapers were printed and distributed, the importance of a teacher with the latest schooling to the education of the village's little ones. All brilliant and necessary stuff. But a history of the American Revolution without mention of George Washington is like hearing Beethoven's Fifth as played solely by the double bass. One gains a new appreciation for what's happening in the bass line, but newcomers might wonder why everyone else is so gaga over the whole.

I'll take a good helping of Annaliste salad with my Great Man stuffing, please.

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Damn, I was hoping the Dear Leader would get a chance to bloviate before Parliament. Talk about a Parliament of Dunces, he'd fit right in with the Brexit con artists and liars.

He'd also spend plenty of time talking about how, as a something, something of Great Britain (his mother being a Scot), he, of course knows everything about the UK. ("You people probably don't know that you had a king once, George something. He was a little bit nuts. Yeah, most people don't know that.")

And how about those golf courses! He'd make the usual asides about how nasty wind turbines are, remind everyone that he, Donald the Great, is the club champion every place that sports his name.

It might be a tad embarrassing for him to ask how Winston Churchill is doing these days ("He invented the cigarette, didn't he?") and wonder if the Brits have gotten over getting their asses kicked by George Washington, who, of course had read "Art of the Deal", which is why he negotiated the absolute shit out of Cornwallis on that beach in Jersey (which now sports high rise condos with his name on them)or is it New York? Yorktown? Oughta be in New York.

Can you just picture the tabloids? They'd have to issue specials, not being able to wait for the next morning to boot his fat ass into the Thames.

Wonder if the Fat Donald balloon will make a return appearance?

Ah, me...can't suck enough.

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: Most people don't know this but ... the reason George Washington crossed the Delaware was he heard it was the shortest route to Atlantic City.

May 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie

@AK: I found your history lesson interesting. Here is a segment from last night's 60 minutes that portrayed a most innovative painter, one I must confess I wasn't familiar with but he is one of the most important and influential artists in America today. He deals with complex social and political issues in a most unique way. See what he does with the Civil War.

And I'm with you: A sharp bite of Annaliste salad with a heavy helping of Great man stuffing––and I'd add a hefty dash of myth deconstruction ( always leaves that fresh feeling in the mouth).

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPD Pepe

The Trumptotelian Solar System

Aristotle's offhand comment, way back when, that the earth was the center of all things in the heavens warmed the cockles of many a theocratic heart back in the Middle Ages (and waaaay into the Renaissance (see: Galileo, House Arrest).

Models of the Aristotelian geocentric solar system are a marvel of whack job inventiveness and ingenuity, enough to make Rube Goldberg think about giving up on his convoluted contraptions and moving to the country to paint sunflowers.

You had whiz bang stuff over here, planets moving backwards and sideways over there, comets doing a jig, the sun revolving (like any other schmucko Plutonian planetoid thingy) at seven times the speed of light, every new discovery requiring some brand new bit of hippity hop at the barber shop, in the sky, lord in the sky. The sort of thing that would cause dry monks to uncork the brandy as hora tertia hit the rearview.

The Trumptotelian Solar System isn't much different. Can't say it's not much better either. It's not. It's much worse. New fangled thingamabobs are required on a daily basis. If a word of truth escapes the mouth of a Trumpian flunky, it's time for the "Take That Back Dance". Congress getting uppity? Get in the Way Back Machine and pretend that certain particulars in the Constitution were misprinted. Courts becoming a pain? Outlaw the law. Scientists keeping sending you annoying crap in the mail? Fire them all. Send them on a mission to scout ring-tailed Lemurs in Botswana.

Shit spins and casuistries grow like weeds. Everything required to keep this donaldcentric solar system spinning the right way. First this way, then--whoa, Nellie, engines, full reverse--that way.

The problem is, because there are no consistent, reliable governing laws, outside of "Keep Donald Happy", there is very little that can be described as forward movement, never mind actual governance.

In a few years, the Trumptotelian Solar System model will be available on Ebay as a maniacal bit of American history, but right now. the country is using this model as its guide to the universe. Make that the multiverse. Or should that be the per-verse?

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus


Oh yeah...I seem to recall a story about the General sending Henry Knox to Ye Olde Taj Mahal to see if the pit boss could comp him a few thousand tokens. "C'mon baby! Roll that seven. Martha needs a new pair'a shoes!"

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus


Thanks for the link. Bradford is the real deal. When I was painting with my little guy one afternoon, I showed him a few Bradford pieces as examples of what you can do by really working on just the surface of a piece of paper or canvas. The detail is enveloping, like a gateway to a new place and time; heavy, light, soft, dark, quick wisps, slashing bursts of energy, creating something out of nothing. Great stuff.

Didn't get a chance to see the 60 Minutes interview but I'll view it when I get a chance.

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

Not really funny, but you have to laugh...

This morning I heard some frighteningly arrogant Trump apologist (didn't catch his name--just as well) deny that there was anything close to a constitutional crisis in Washington.

"It's nothing more than a disagreement", he sniffed, as if he were correcting a not very bright six year old.

Sorry, douchewad, a husband opting for geometric and the wife going for the textured, natural wallpaper is a disagreement. What's doing on in Washington right now is more like Davy Crockett and Santa Ana at the fucking Alamo. Disagreement, my ass.

But this rewriting of what's happening, this taking apart the reality of a situation and reworking it to suit Trumpskyev and his mooching grifters and traitors is why FIERCE FOLLOW UP QUESTIONS ARE NECESSARY to disallow these people from flipping the script and muddying the water.

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

@Akhilleus: You forgot the part where one of Trump's advisors tells him that the Brits also know that walls solve all problems. That Hadrian knew how to keep the rabble out.

I came across a rerun of Futurama this morning. The writers could obviously see the future. They just substituted Richard Nixon's head for Trump, but kept his speech mostly the same. Build that space wall!

Full episode

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterRAS

@RAS: Actually, it was the Romans who building Hadrian's wall, named of course for the emperor. The Brits tore down a lot of it for road- and fence-building. But I'll admit, giving credit where credit isn't due definitely is not something that would bother Trump any.

May 13, 2019 | Registered CommenterMrs. Bea McCrabbie


Hopefully, some advisor, maybe some Game of Thrones fan, will let on to Trump that a number of iron age Britannic tribes were wont to take their clothes off, paint themselves blue and howl like banshees running through the forest.

I'd pay good money for Trump to do that. Of course I wouldn't LOOK at it. Are you nuts? I'd rather have a staring contest with Medusa than ruin my eyes looking at Trump's flabby carcass, blue paint notwithstanding. Maybe he can get some of his moron minions to paint themselves blue as well. They can all run through Nottinghamshire screaming "Lock us up!"

Yeah, I'd pay for that.

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

AK: maybe we would luv to see the dumbster's slave boy, Lindsey, be painted blue, but I draw the line at looking at McConnell for any reason whatsoever. Someone portrayed chinless McTerrapin quite nicely on SNL, however. In the same skit, the opener, "Susan Collins" (Cecily Strong--)was AWESOME-- dead on.

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne

I have on occasion, swiped excellently contrived and executed verbal vorpal blades out here in RC Land. But hey, I'm no common Trump-like thief who makes off with the goods, pees in the geranium pot on the front porch as I make good my escape, then invents some flimsy story about how I came up with these lexical wonders all by my lonesome (sitting in the dark during Egg-Zecutive Time, remote in one tiny hand, minuscule and flaccid member in the other, as Fox nitwits drool over my thaumaturgical powers to heal the wealthy, the white, the wingers, and afflict everyone else).

That ain't me, kids.

Nope. I let everyone know when I aim to swipe someone's finely crafted hat pins for use on the various voodoo dolls dancing in pain on my desk.

And so, it is with great pleasure that I announce my latest theft (ain't stolen it yet, but it's only a matter of time), Jeanne's wicked cool nom de mitchy, "McTerrapin".

Thanks, Jeanne. It's a keeper. If you see me galumphing back from jabberwocking a certain no-chin snollygoster, you'll know from whom I purloined that vorpal sword. Snicker-snack, Callooh, callay, and all that good stuff. Getting ready to terra-pin that treasonous testudo to the mat, toot sweet.

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

There goes my favorite Dead song. It will now come to mind as McTerrapin Station. Sad.

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered Commenterunwashed


Great song. The stinking, treasonous shade of Mitch McConnell can never cloud this album. My only complaint with Terrapin Station is that if you hear the first two measures, you're pretty much stuck for the next 16 minutes. It's kinda like not being able to put on the flip side of "Abbey Road" unless you're going to listen to the whole thing. Pretty great cover of Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancin' in the Streets" on this album as well (a very Deadesque cover, of course, with some funk on the side). Halcyon days, me lads and lassies, halcyon days.

May 13, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAkhilleus

From The New Yorker:

“We’re going to need a bigger bookshelf”

May 14, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterAunt Hattie
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