June 10, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 8:23 PM


Trump nominee for powerful bank regulator post misrepresented college degree (Jim Puzzanghera, 6/10/17, LA Times)

Joseph Otting, the former chief executive of Pasadena's OneWest Bank whom Trump nominated Tuesday to be the next comptroller of the currency, has claimed to be a graduate of the School of Credit and Financial Management at Dartmouth.

"Joseph Otting is not a Dartmouth graduate," Diana Lawrence, the college's associate vice president for communications, said Saturday. "Dartmouth does not have a school of credit and financial management." [...]

Otting's misrepresentation of the degree was first reported by Bloomberg News.

There is is a continuing education program called the Graduate School of Credit and Financial Management offered by the National Assn. of Credit Management in Columbia, Md.

The program consists of a pair of two-week sessions in consecutive years and now is held at American University in Washington, D.C.

Bloomberg reported that the program used to be held at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., but wasn't affiliated with the school.

Records show that Otting graduated from the program in 1992 when he was a midlevel manager at Union Bank in Beverly Hills, Bloomberg said.

Posted by orrinj at 5:47 PM


Trump's Support Drops in Military Communities (DANTE CHINNI, 6/10/17, NBC)

An analysis of Gallup polling data comparing the first 100 days of Trump's presidency to the month of May shows that Trump's job approval in military counties dropped sharply in the last month -- from an average 51 percent approval and 41 percent disapproval in the first 100 days to 43 percent approval and 52 percent disapproval for May.

Posted by orrinj at 5:39 PM


Islamic State's Collapse. Death of the IS Propaganda Machine (Bassem Mroue, June 10, 2017, AP)

The Islamic State group's propaganda machine used to be confident, promising that its self-declared caliphate would be "lasting and expanding." But in recent months, as the group's territory has shrunk, its messages have as well.

Far from the boastful, self-aggrandizing videos of the past, the group is now urging fighters to resist and not run away from the battlefield. The quality of the videos has dropped as well after some of the extremists' most prominent propagandists and producers were killed.

Slickly produced IS propaganda videos shot from multiple angles with religious songs in the background used to spread fear among the group's opponents, with gruesome footage of beheadings, shootings, confessions of detainees and sophisticated attacks against their rivals. In the videos, the group boasted that Muslims from all over the world were flocking to what they called the "first caliphate" since the fall of the Ottoman Empire a century ago.

Now the videos mostly urge fighters to be steadfast and call on the local population to join the group after hundreds of IS fighters have been killed over the past months.

"The propaganda of the organization has become zero to be frank. It indicates their collapse and that the group is retreating," said Omar Abu Laila, a Syrian opposition activist now based in Germany who is originally from Syria's eastern province of Deir el-Zour, held by IS. "Their calls for people to join the group are signs of weakness."

A major blow came in August, when an airstrike in Syria claimed by the U.S. and Russia killed Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, the group's chief spokesman and senior commander who was known for fiery speeches that used to boost the morale of fighters. In 2014, after the group declared its caliphate, al-Adnani vowed to conquer Baghdad as well as the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala in southern Iraq.

Another blow came in October when a U.S. airstrike in Syria killed Wael al-Fayadh, better known as Abu Mohammed al-Furqan, who was in charge of producing highly professional propaganda videos. One of the group's main media arms, Al-Furqan Media, was named after him. He was replaced by Abu Bashir al-Maslawi, who was killed a short time later.

In late May, the founder of the group's Aamaq news agency, Baraa Kadek, was reportedly killed along with his daughter in an airstrike in the eastern Syrian town of Mayadeen.

A video released last month titled "Answer the Call" urged young men to join IS to make up for the loss of manpower.

"What are you waiting for? The infidels have gathered around us from all over the world," it said, showing scenes of IS fighters trying to persuade men in mosques and clubs to join the fight as suicide bombers.

You don't get to pick your enemies, but the UR did defeat his comprehensively, mostly thanks to the idiocy of their believing their own propaganda and gathering in one place.  ISIS was Lee.  OBL was Longstreet.

Posted by orrinj at 5:35 PM


Iran's Aseman signs final deal for 30 Boeing 737s: IRNA (Reuters, 6/10/17)

Aseman Airlines has signed a final deal to buy 30 Boeing (BA.N) 737 MAX jets in Iran's first new business with the U.S. planemaker since President Donald Trump took office vowing to take a tougher stance toward the country.

Aseman and Boeing had signed a tentative deal in April. Iran's state news agency IRNA reported that representatives of Aseman and Boeing signed the final agreement in the capital Tehran on Saturday.

Posted by orrinj at 4:35 PM


Wonder Woman Is Propaganda : Why debating the "feminist" stakes of a movie about American military ideology is a laughable prospect. (JOSEPHINE LIVINGSTONE, June 6, 2017, New Republic)

Looking around at the kids stuffed densely into the theater, I realized that this movie paints with the big, bold strokes of childhood. It's a movie for kids, a movie intended to teach them what it means to be an American hero. That's the political sensibility of the DC Comics world, no matter how different or exceptional its superhero protagonists, or how often the word "feminist" is used to promote its movies.

Wonder Woman is very strong and beautiful. She fights against an evil woman with a tremulous voice who covers a facial injury with a mask. An American man leads this strong woman into conflict with Germans. Germans are evil and Americans are good. Disability is evil and beauty is good. Weakness is evil and strength is good. Friendship and idealism will win the war, and some immortal demigoddess protects our freedom.

The engine of American ideology drives Wonder Woman, which is in the end a movie about violence. It is also a surreal movie, because of the way it draws upon the world's past to make a distinctly American fiction. Wonder Woman has no use for global history except as grist for American exceptionalism, which animates the storylines of so many heroes in the comic book universe, from Captain America to Superman. And so the surreality at the heart of American identity gets recycled, producing comic book movies to feed our least noble hungers.

By painting the meaning of military victory in World War I in these colors, Wonder Woman explained to those children huddled with me that political morality has an aesthetic and a sexuality. Beauty, strength, goodness, bravery: These are your values, and here is how your values must look. 

What is the point of feminism if it does not teach that women are capable of fulfilling our values?

Posted by orrinj at 12:34 PM


ANOTHER STRANGE MOMENT from Friday's press conference withTRUMP and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. (Politico Playbook, 6/10/17)

REPORTER: "Thank you. Mr. President, were there any discussion about the Visa Waiver Program for Romania? Is there a time frame for including our country in this program? Thank you." 

TRUMP: "We didn't discuss it --" 

IOHANNIS: "Yes --" 

TRUMP: "We didn't discuss it. But there would be certainly -- it would be something we will discuss. Mr. President." 

IOHANNIS: "I mentioned this issue, and I also mentioned it during other meetings I had, because this is important for us, it's important for Romanians who want to come to the United States."

Posted by orrinj at 12:31 PM


FROM HADAS GOLD (Politico Playbook, 6/10/17)

KELLYANNE CONWAY was overheard Thursday night talking about her West Wing co-workers to fellow revelers at a party. Conway was having an off-the-record conversation with a group of reporters and other attendees at the British Embassy at their election-night watch party. She said President Donald Trump told her to "go out there and say 'Jim Comey is going to have to wait and see about the tapes.'"

"I mean, that's basically the same thing as 'no comment,'" she said. Conway also mimicked Reince Priebus urging White House aides to stop leaking, and wondered aloud what Marc Short -- the legislative director -- does all day. She also said she is "the one catching the slings and arrows in the West Wing." The source who heard Conway created a Twitter account about the evening, naming it @kellyanneleaks and posting photos and tweets from the event. Two other sources confirmed Conway's remarks.

Posted by orrinj at 8:42 AM


As Voodoo Economics Collapses in Kansas, Trump Takes It National (Jonathan Chait, 6/08/17, New York)

In 2015, Grover Norquist, who has successfully defined unconditional opposition to taxes as the defining tenet of party orthodoxy, waxed enthusiastic about one state in particular that was leading the way for the nation. "Kansas is the future," he told an interviewer. "Kansas is the model." Kansas was the state where Sam Brownback, the former congressman who mentored a young staffer named Paul Ryan, implemented supply-side tax cuts that, Brownback promised, would usher in prosperity and fiscal stability.

Now Brownback's tax cuts have failed so dramatically and incontrovertibly that the state's Republican legislature overrode Brownback's veto to eliminate them. Incredibly, a majority of the Republicans in both chambers of the state legislature voted against the tax cuts. In a new interview with Russell Berman, Norquist insists the failure in Kansas does not tell us much at all about anything. "If you're a Republican looking for a model," he says, "Kansas is not the model."

Posted by orrinj at 8:29 AM


Mexico shows off new optimism after fearing the worst in Trump's early days (David Agren, 10 June 2017, The Guardian)

[El Tri]  kicked off the Trump era with a 2-1 victory over the US in Columbus, Ohio, four days after the election, and has since then sailed through World Cup qualifying.

On Sunday, Mexico will once again confront the US - this time on home ground at the Estadio Atzeca. A victory here would almost guarantee its spot in Russia 2018.

Similarly, the darkest fears prompted by Trump's victory have given way to cautious optimism across Mexico.

Early fears that US protectionism could unravel 25 years of economic integration have faded. Investors are feeling bullish again. Even the peso, which plummeted in the days after the US election, has recovered, hitting a 10-month high Thursday.

"Mexico is no longer the tiny partner you can bully around," said José Merino, a political scientist at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico (Itam). "We've turned into a very competitive world exporter."

The rebound also stems from a consensus that the disaster scenarios spun as Trump prepared to take office are unlikely to materialise. Investors are betting that the deep integration of the US and Mexican economies, with firms establishing supply chains on both sides of the border, is too deeply established to uproot.

Posted by orrinj at 8:19 AM


Is Trump Guilty Of Obstruction Of Justice? Comey Laid Out The Case (Domenico Montanaro, 6/10/17, NPR)

"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go," Trump told Comey, according to Comey's notes. "He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."

Trump now denies he said this, both through his lawyer and in a news conference Friday.

But as the investigation picked up steam, and Flynn was increasingly a key player, the president fired Comey. The White House initially cited a memo from the deputy attorney general about Comey's handling of the Clinton email investigation during the campaign.

Trump later undermined that rationale in an interview with NBC's Lester Holt. Comey believed the reasoning was dubious, and, for him, the NBC interview confirmed that it was due to the Russia investigation.

Posted by orrinj at 7:18 AM


Hanover Bears  Still Mired  In Politics (Allie Morris, 6/05/17, Concord Monitor)

Republicans at the Statehouse are all about local control and property rights. But a selectman in Pittsburg says he was never consulted, or even alerted, when Hanover's nuisance bears recently pardoned by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu were shipped into town.

"It's frustrating," said Richard Judd, whose sentiment was echoed more bluntly by a lawmaker who represents the sparsely populated northern most part of the state.

"I don't appreciate the North Country being a dumping ground. We're not collecting rabid skunks in the North Country and dumping them in Newfields," said Democratic Sen. Jeff Woodburn, referencing Sununu's hometown.

...that this is the biggest issue in the state.

Posted by orrinj at 7:15 AM


NYC City Is a Train-Lovers Paradise with Subways, Grand Central and a Transit Museum (Melanie Carroll, 6/10/17, Associated Press)

If you're a rail fan or happen to have one in your family, New York City is a great place to visit. Arguably the most transit-friendly city in America, New York dazzled my 8-year-old son, not only with its ubiquitous subway lines but also with various train-related destinations. During our urban adventure, we visited the best-known train terminal in the nation, crossed the East River on an aerial tram and strolled through vintage passenger cars.

Simply riding the subway, at $2.75 a pop, was a treat for us. On our way to the New York Transit Museum in downtown Brooklyn, we took the Q train, which runs over the Manhattan Bridge. Despite stormy skies, we had a good view of the Brooklyn Bridge across the way, the East River below and lower Manhattan from the last car. We walked several blocks and eventually found the museum in the decommissioned Court Street subway station. The street entrance can be deceiving: It looks and feels like an actual subway station because it once was, although now it's got museum signs on it. You even have to go down two flights of stairs below street level, just like you would for a real subway station, to enter.

Inside, my son loved the old-fashioned wooden subway turnstiles from the last century. But the old passenger cars on the platform level really got his attention. He pretended that one of the cars, once used in an elevated train in Brooklyn, was rolling down the tracks and he was running after it to get on. The beautiful lightweight wooden body coach was made in Newark, Ohio, in 1907 for the Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company, or BRT. The car was in service in New York between 1908 and 1969 before its restoration in 1979, according to the New York Transit Museum.

I was fascinated by the old advertisements and announcements posted inside the 20 retired passenger cars. 

Posted by orrinj at 7:03 AM


Comey hearing draws massive online crowds (Sara Fischer, 6/10/17, Axios)

Parts of fired FBI Director James Comey's Thursday Senate testimony was seen by 89 million people on Facebook. Nielsen estimates 19.5 million people saw it on live television.

And the US economy was not a lick less productive than any other day.

Posted by orrinj at 6:37 AM


Why UK Prime Minister Theresa May Flopped In Last Night's Election (Christopher Jacobs, JUNE 9, 2017, The Federalist)

How could May, thought a shoo-in to win a landslide only a month ago, flop so resoundingly against an opponent so weak?

As with Hillary Clinton's loss to Trump, it took some effort. May, like Clinton, played a safe campaign, in which she didn't seem comfortable, while Corbyn relished interactions with voters and constituents. Her campaign manifesto prompted a U-turn from the prime minister mere days after its launch, angering traditional Conservative supporters and giving the party a bumbling appearance, at a time when May had promised to provide strong and stable leadership.

There were other factors, too. In the wake of last year's referendum to exit the European Union, the UK Independence Party vote collapsed. It appears some working-class voters who voted UKIP at the last election shifted back to Labour instead of voting Conservative.

Safe?  She ran on nothing and did it badly. Boris Johnson would have crushed Corbyn.

Posted by orrinj at 6:34 AM


Scientists use machine learning algorithms to create a real-life Doodle God (Tristan Greene, 6/09/17, Next Web)

Scientists from the University of Liverpool have taught computers to sift through the infinite possibilities of atoms in search of new materials. The computers use machine-learning to help scientists narrow their focus when combining atoms to create something entirely new.

This new research will allow scientists to input previously known materials into a machine learning algorithm so that the computer can then predict what similar atomic pairings will produce.

Liverpool Materials Chemist, Professor Matt Rosseinsky, said:

Machines are learning what we want from them, and in return they are teaching us how to make sense of the building blocks of our universe.

Posted by orrinj at 6:30 AM


Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Tina Fey nails young white-girl entitlement : Ellie Kemper's character is the ideal person to boggle at the preciousness of campus culture and hold feminists up to the standards they demand from others (Fiona Sturges, 10 June 2017, The Guardian)

[At Columbia University] Kimmy is tutored in the ways of "seventh wave" feminism by her new college chums, who police their peers' every utterance for perceived injustice. They are also reduced to simpering puddles when a male student, Austin, invites them to an anti-Valentine's Day party. "He is so woke," one coos. "The only micro-aggression was when he called us 'guys'," another sighs.

Naturally, Kimmy is left tying herself in knots trying to master the semantics of modern-day equality: "Man, you guys are so smart. Oops. I just called you guys 'guys'. Sorry. And can I say 'man'? Boy, this is hard. Now I said 'boy'. Oh brother. Help me!"

After precious little preamble, Austin then presents Kimmy - who, lest we forget, is a victim of sexual abuse - with a consent form for sex. Kimmy may be inexperienced in the business of relationships, but the weirdness of the exchange isn't lost on her. It takes a night out listening to her new girlfriends quacking about owning their sexuality while wearing crippling heels for her to conclude: "They're just kids. Tall kids with big words."