September 6, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 8:16 PM


Senate panel slashes military aid to Egypt (Bryant Harris September 6, 2017, Al Monitor)

The Senate's foreign aid spending panel voted today to slash military assistance to Egypt by $300 million amid growing congressional frustration with the country's dismal human rights record under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Posted by orrinj at 8:14 PM


Fed sees pickup in economic growth, but inflation remains muted (Lindsay Dunsmuir, 9/06/17, Reuters) 

The U.S. economy expanded at a modest to moderate pace in July through mid-August but signs of an acceleration in inflation remained slight, the latest survey conducted by the Federal Reserve showed on Wednesday.

Posted by orrinj at 8:11 PM


Trump's day as a Democratic president (Jonathan Swan, 9/06/17, Axios)

Trump handed Pelosi and Schumer the deal of the century over the debt ceiling this morning -- a move one top Republican described to me as the legislative equivalent of giving an entire stockpile of weapons to Democrats and inviting them to take the entire Republican Party hostage.

He nodded to bigger government, by agreeing to raise the debt limit, spend billions on disaster relief, and get zero spending cuts in exchange.

Trump invited his daughter Ivanka into the meeting with Congressional leaders -- where he was rejecting GOP leaders Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, and embracing Schumer and Pelosi -- "to briefly discuss childcare tax credit," per NBC's Hallie Jackson.

And he hopped aboard Air Force One and "held out the possibility of giving Democrats a much bigger prize in future negotiations: a permanent legislative fix for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children who were protected from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which he announced would be winding down," per The Atlantic.

It's especially delicious to see all the congressional Republicans who have compromised themselves morally for what they thought they could get out of Donald get it with the bark on.

Posted by orrinj at 8:10 PM

...AND SAFER...:

Crime in 2017: A Preliminary Analysis (Ames Grawert, James Cullen, September 6, 2017, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law)

- The overall crime rate in 2017 is projected to decrease slightly, by 1.8 percent. If this estimate holds, 2017 will have the second-lowest crime rate since 1990.

- The violent crime rate is projected to decrease slightly, by 0.6 percent, essentially remaining stable. This result is driven primarily by stabilization in Chicago, and declines in Washington, D.C., two large cities that experienced increases in violence in recent years. The violent crime rate for this year is projected to be about 1 percent above 2014's violent crime rate, the lowest recorded since 1990.

- The 2017 murder rate is projected to be 2.5 percent lower than last year. This year's decline is driven primarily by decreases in Detroit (down 25.6 percent), Houston (down 20.5 percent), and New York (down 19.1 percent). Chicago's murder rate is also projected to fall, by 2.4 percent. The 2017 murder rate is expected to be on par with that of 2009, well at the bottom of the historic post-1990 decline, yet still higher than the lowest recorded rate in 2013.

Posted by orrinj at 8:06 PM


Facebook says Russians bought $100k in ads to influence US election  (Tristan Greene, 9/06/17, Next Web)

Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos released an official statement detailing the investigation process:

In reviewing the ads buys, we have found approximately $100,000 in ad spending from June of 2015 to May of 2017 -- associated with roughly 3,000 ads -- that was connected to about 470 inauthentic accounts and Pages in violation of our policies. Our analysis suggests these accounts and Pages were affiliated with one another and likely operated out of Russia.

Posted by orrinj at 7:59 PM


Americans Are Confronting an Alarming Question: Are Many of Our Fellow Citizens 'Nazis?' (SASHA CHAPIN SEPT. 5, 2017, NY Times)

"Nazi" is a remarkable example of the very different routes a word can take through the world. In this case, that word is the Latin name "Ignatius." In Spanish, it followed a noble path: It became Ignacio, and then the nickname Nacho, and then -- after a Mexican cook named Ignacio Anaya had a moment of inspiration -- it became delicious, beloved nachos. In Bavaria, a much darker transformation took place. Ignatius became the common name Ignatz, or in its abbreviated form, Nazi. In the early 20th century, Bavarian peasants were frequent subjects of German mockery, and "Nazi" became the archetypal name for a comic figure: a bumbling, dimwitted yokel. "Just as Irish jokes always involve a man called Paddy," the etymologist Mark Forsyth writes in his 2011 book "The Etymologicon," "so Bavarian jokes always involved a peasant called Nazi." When Adolf Hitler's party emerged from Bavaria with a philosophy called "Nationalsozialismus," two of that word's syllables were quickly repurposed by Hitler's cosmopolitan opponents. They started calling the new party Nazis -- implying, to the Nazis' great displeasure, that they were all backward rubes.

Posted by orrinj at 9:53 AM


The anti-Semitic origins of the war on 'fake news' (Victoria Saker Woeste, 9/05/17, Washington Post)

#FakeNews has become Trump's tagline. He uses it to deflect questions from reporters and to discredit stories that portray him in a negative light. Although he claims that he coined the phrase, neither the term nor the idea it represents is new. In fact, the charge of "fake news" has roots in the dark world of American anti-Semitism and in the cries of L├╝genpresse ("lying press") that once echoed in Nazi rallies. Understanding those roots reveals not only the pattern of conspiracy at the heart of Trump's rhetoric, but also tells us why many white nationalists find the concept of "fake news" so appealing.

"Fake news" is a classic trope from the anti-Semitic, fabricated book "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion." First published in its complete form in Russia in 1905, the "Protocols" are the brainchild of czarist nationalists who wanted to spur violence and pogroms against Russian Jews. The "Protocols" purport to be the minutes of a meeting in which Jewish elders detailed their plan to conquer the world.

Over the past century, the book has become the bible of the international anti-Semitic movement. Adolf Hitler learned about the book in the 1920s and promptly worked it into his political speeches. Dozens of editions appeared around the globe between 1920 and 1933. In Germany, the Nazi Party incorporated many of its main ideas into the laws enacted by the Third Reich.

The propagandists behind the "Protocols" attributed extraordinary power to the media. A section titled "Control of the Press" "reveals" that Jews seek to control every aspect of the media to protect their new, worldwide government from attack or criticism. Through false stories and skewed analysis, the Jewish-controlled media would lead the masses to see the world not as it was, but as Jews wished it to be seen: "Our subjects will be convinced [of] the existence of full freedom of speech and so [will] give our agents an occasion to affirm that all organs which oppose us are empty babblers."

Fake news, then, begins as Jewish infiltration of the legitimate media and transforms into complete domination: "Not a single announcement will reach the public without our control."

Posted by orrinj at 7:41 AM


'Negative Partisanship' Explains Everything : Conservatives and liberals don't just disagree--they actually like to hate each other. And it's getting uglier. (ALAN ABRAMOWITZ and STEVEN WEBSTER, September/October 2017, Politico)

If you're confused about why a president whose campaign is under investigation for its possible ties to Russian hackers, whose approval ratings are abysmal only halfway into his first year, whose legislative agenda is already off the rails, and who launches bizarre Twitter rants each day still commands the fealty of the Republican Party, don't be. Donald Trump thrives amid all this chaos because of the rise of a phenomenon that we have labeled "negative partisanship."

The concept is pretty simple: Over the past few decades, American politics has become like a bitter sports rivalry, in which the parties hang together mainly out of sheer hatred of the other team, rather than a shared sense of purpose. Republicans might not love the president, but they absolutely loathe his Democratic adversaries. And it's also true of Democrats, who might be consumed by their internal feuds over foreign policy and the proper role of government were it not for Trump. Negative partisanship explains nearly everything in American politics today--from why Trump's base is unlikely to abandon him even if, as he once said, he were to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue, to why it was so easy for vulnerable red-state Democrats to resist defecting on the health care bill.

The value of pure partisanship is that it liberates people from the need to think; it thrives on pure emotion.  And given that there are no policy differences between parties anymore, it alleviates that annoying sense that you are a Republican who basically agrees with the UR or a Democrat who agrees with W.  You can hate them for who they are instead of what they are. It provides clarity.

Posted by orrinj at 7:07 AM


Reform Jews 'worse than Holocaust deniers' -- former chief rabbi (SUE SURKES, September 6, 2017, Times of Israel)

Jerusalem's chief rabbi on Tuesday lashed out at Reform Jews, saying they were worse than Holocaust deniers for defying Orthodox Jewish law on gender separation and insisting on the right to mixed-gender prayer at the Western Wall in the city.

Minus "deniers," in some ways.

Posted by orrinj at 6:46 AM


Grocery Prices Have Been Falling. Did You Notice? (ALINA SELYUKH, September 6, 2017,  Morning Edition)

Food prices in America were down for the longest period in about 60 years.

Wait, what?

It's not something that shoppers seemed to have noticed much.

"Are you serious? Really?" says Michelle German, holding a bag of groceries and wine at a Harris Teeter store in Washington, D.C. "I just spent about $40 dollars on four items and I'm like, wait, how did I spend that much money?"

But a number of foods -- most notably, beef, eggs and dairy -- saw some serious price drops over the course of 2016 and into 2017. For 19 months straight, the U.S. government reported declines in the food consumer price index, which compares supermarket prices with what they were a year earlier.