November 1, 2017

Posted by orrinj at 8:00 PM


NPR's Head Of News Resigns Following Harassment Allegations (MERRIT KENNEDY, 11/01/17, NPR)

NPR's senior vice president for news, Michael Oreskes, has resigned following allegations of sexual harassment from several women.

The accounts of two women, first published by The Washington Post, describe Oreskes unexpectedly kissing them during meetings in the late 1990s, while he was Washington bureau chief for The New York Times. An NPR employee has also come forward publicly about harassment that allegedly occurred during a business meeting-turned-dinner in 2015.

"This morning I asked Mike Oreskes for his resignation because of inappropriate behavior," NPR CEO Jarl Mohn wrote in an email to NPR staff on Wednesday. "I have received his resignation, effective immediately."

Posted by orrinj at 7:03 PM


Robert Mueller Will Never Get to the Bottom of Russia's Meddling (Ivan Krastev NOV. 1, 2017, NY Times)

Here, we can start with a simple observation: While Russia's meddling was a shock in the West, in Russia it was neither surprising nor scandalous. In my recent discussions with Russian foreign policy experts, they have made clear that if Moscow wants to be a world power, on an equal footing with Washington, it should be able and willing to match the United States. Russian leaders believe that Washington interferes in their domestic politics and that the United States intends to orchestrate a regime change in Moscow. So if they take that as given, the Kremlin should be able to similarly meddle and to show the world that it has the capabilities and will to do so. Reciprocal action is, after all, how you gain the respect of your enemies and the loyalty of your allies.

The common sense in Moscow foreign policy circles today is that Russia can regain its great power status only by confronting the United States, not by cooperating with it. Speaking two weeks ago at the Valdai International Discussion Club, President Vladimir Putin declared that post-Communist Russia's gravest mistake was "putting its trust in the West." In the 1990s, Boris Yeltsin's Russia wanted to imitate the West, its values and institutions; today Moscow is focused on mirroring Western policies with respect to Russia, doing to West what Russians believe the West is doing to them.

Posted by orrinj at 6:54 PM


Navy Says Deadly Ship Collisions Were 'Avoidable,' Faults Lack Of Preparation (COLIN DWYER, 11/01/17, NPR)

The U.S. Navy has completed its investigations into the deadly collisions that damaged two of its warships just months apart this summer, describing what went wrong in a report published Wednesday. The report is dozens of pages long, but if those errors could be described in a word, it would be "avoidable."

"Both of these accidents were preventable and the respective investigations found multiple failures by watch standers that contributed to the incidents." the Navy's top officer, Adm. John Richardson, said in a statement.

Posted by orrinj at 6:47 PM

BLAME THE JEW! (profanity alert):


For the first time since the investigation began, the prospect of impeachment is being considered as a realistic outcome and not just a liberal fever dream. According to a source, advisers in the West Wing are on edge and doing whatever they can not to be ensnared. One person close to Dina Powell and Gary Cohn said they're making sure to leave rooms if the subject of Russia comes up. [...]

Trump, meanwhile, has reacted to the deteriorating situation by lashing out on Twitter and venting in private to friends. He's frustrated that the investigation seems to have no end in sight. "Trump wants to be critical of Mueller," one person who's been briefed on Trump's thinking says. "He thinks it's unfair criticism. Clinton hasn't gotten anything like this. And what about Tony Podesta? Trump is like, When is that going to end?" According to two sources, Trump has complained to advisers about his legal team for letting the Mueller probe progress this far. Speaking to Steve Bannon on Tuesday, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey, that led to Mueller's appointment, according to a source briefed on the call. When Roger Stone recently told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed, according to someone familiar with the conversation. "Jared is the worst political adviser in the White House in modern history," Nunberg said. "I'm only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate and Congress." [...]

Bannon's sense of urgency is being fueled by his belief that Trump's hold on power is slipping. The collapse of Obamacare repeal, and the dimming chances that tax reform will pass soon--many Trump allies are deeply pessimistic about its prospects--have created the political climate for establishment Republicans to turn on Trump. Two weeks ago, according to a source, Bannon did a spitball analysis of the Cabinet to see which members would remain loyal to Trump in the event the 25th Amendment were invoked, thereby triggering a vote to remove the president from office. Bannon recently told people he's not sure if Trump would survive such a vote.

Posted by orrinj at 6:42 PM


Ex-British spy paid $168,000 for Trump dossier, U.S. firm discloses (Mark Hosenball, 11/01/17, Reuters) 

A Washington research firm paid a former British spy's company $168,000 for work on a dossier outlining Russian financial and personal links to Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign, the U.S. firm said in a statement on Wednesday.

Posted by orrinj at 6:38 PM


The South Only Embraced States' Rights as It Lost Control of the Federal Government (Caleb McDaniel, 11/01/17, The Atlantic)

That record shows loyalty to nation had long been important. A veteran of the Mexican-American War, Lee had no problem fighting for national glory 170 years ago. Nor did he see a conflict between national and state loyalty 158 years ago, when he suppressed the insurrection at Harpers Ferry upon the president's orders.

The truth is that Lee and his fellow slaveholders were ardent nationalists in the decades leading up to the Civil War, as the Princeton historian Matthew Karp described in his recent book This Vast Southern Empire. And no wonder: For most of its history, the nation had usually protected and served the interests of slaveholders. For example, in 1850, the draconian Fugitive Slave Law--passed as part of an attempted "compromise" to reduce sectional conflict--ensured that the federal government would assist in the return of runaway slaves from the North to the South. By then, the U.S. Supreme Court had already overturned laws passed by Northern states that sought to interfere with the capture of fugitive slaves. And as the scene at Harpers Ferry showed, slaveholders relied on the potential power of the national government to assist in putting down insurrections in their states that might threaten the system of slavery.

Secessionists chose treason when they realized the country would no longer give them what they wanted.
Essentially, the nation worked for slaveholders, even to the point of overruling Northern states' rights. Not surprisingly, those slaveholders were powerfully committed to the Union on whose power they depended. As long as the nation worked for them, they worked for the nation.

So what changed to make secessionists desert the country they loved? In brief: the rise of the Republican Party and the election of Abraham Lincoln, who refused to use national power to advance slavery any longer. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:30 PM


Jews for Jesus poll: 1/5 of Jewish millennials believe Christ was God (BEN SALES, 1 November 2017, TA) 

Are Jewish millennials the most religious generation?

And do one-fifth of them think Jesus was God in human form?

Yes and yes, says a new survey of 599 Jews born from 1984 to 1999. [...]

For those accustomed to thinking of millennials as religiously uninvolved and skeptical of traditional practices, the survey has some surprising news: Eighty percent of Jewish millennials self-identify as "religious Jews," as opposed to just a slim majority of all Jews. And nearly half say being Jewish is "very important" to them, higher than any other generation.

That commitment to Judaism comes through in specific practices as well. Almost a quarter of Jewish millennials attend religious services once a week, according to the survey, and one in three prays every day. A majority says "God loves people."

Ari Kelman, a Jewish studies professor at Stanford University who was interviewed as part of the report, said the study suggests a cohort distinct from all others.

"These don't look like Jews I recognize," he said of the millennials surveyed. "I was not willing to just write them off entirely. Maybe these are Jews we've never seen before. We know religion is changing, we know parameters of identity are changing, so why would we expect different generations to look exactly the same?"

The data on Jesus might be especially surprising to Jews who, if they agree on nothing else, believe that Jews for Jesus and its "messianic" philosophy are beyond the pale. The survey found that 21 percent of Jewish millennials believe Jesus was "God in human form who lived among people in the 1st century." And 28 percent "see him as a rabbi or spiritual leader, but not God."

The openness to non-Jewish practice extends beyond that: 42 percent of respondents say they celebrate Christmas. A majority says one can hold other faiths and still be Jewish. And the survey found that one-third of Jewish millennials believe "God desires a personal relationship with us." [...]

But Pew actually backs up some of the statistics on Christianity. It found that a third of all respondents had a Christmas tree at home, and 34 percent said belief in Jesus as the Messiah was compatible with being Jewish.

All the Jews in this household celebrate Christmas, but one suspects it's only for the carols, candlelight service and schwag.

Posted by orrinj at 6:29 PM


Lebanese media: Israel bombed weapons depot in Syria (JUDAH ARI GROSS, 1 November 2017, Times of Israel)

Israeli jets destroyed a weapons facility in western Syria on Wednesday night, according to Lebanese media.

The Syrian army's 72nd Brigade was said to have fired anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli Air Force jets, though there were no reports of planes being shot down.

Posted by orrinj at 6:26 PM


Health Insurance Suddenly Just Got Cheaper for a Lot of People (Beth Skwarecki, 11/01/17, Lifehacker)

[S]ome government funny business around CSR payments means silver plans are way more expensive than usual. But the government also gives subsidies to help low and middle income families pay for insurance--and the dollar amount of those subsidies is based on the price of silver plans. So the subsidies are now also huge.

This means that, if you get a subsidy, your silver plan will likely be about the same out-of-pocket price as last year. But that means you could also save money by buying a cheaper bronze plan instead. For many people, the subsidies are large enough they can get a bronze plan for free.

The Wall Street Journal reports that a 60-year-old making $36,000 a year could get a zero-premium plan in more than half of the nation's counties. Even at an income of $48,000, a 60-year-old could still get zero-premium insurance in more than 600 counties. In California, half a million people could pay the state's minimum charge of $1/month.

Even if you don't get a deal that good, a lot of people will find something cheap. For example, last year, 71 percent of people on the exchanges could get a plan for less than $75/month. This year, according to a report from the federal government, 80 percent of people can. And that's on average; in some states, like Alabama, more than 90 percent of people shopping on the exchanges will find a plan for $75 or less.

Posted by orrinj at 6:29 AM


Watch a former Trump aide say incriminating things about Russia on live TV (Alex Ward, Oct 31, 2017, Vox)
Hayes asked Carter, who along with Papadopoulos served as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, if he was ever on email chains with Papadopoulos. "Probably a few," Page responded. Hayes then pressed for more specifics, asking if Carter and Papadopoulos were on email chains about Russia. "It may have come up from time to time," Page said. "There's nothing major."

Let's stop right there for a moment. Papadopoulos admitted to lying about his interactions with Russians, and Carter didn't mind saying that he could possibly be on Russia-related emails. That's a startling admission -- and he said it on television.

And that's not all. Page also discussed his July 2016 trip to Russia, which came soon after Papadopoulos requested to set up a meeting between Russian officials and Trump campaign members. But Page told Hayes that he didn't represent the campaign during that journey and didn't know about Papadopoulos's efforts to broker a meeting.

Which demonstrates two things: the Trumpies may just be so corrupt that they genuinely don't see anything wrong with colluding with Russia; and, they are too incompetent to collude competently.

Posted by orrinj at 6:27 AM


Iran Commanders Say Supreme Leader Limiting Ballistic Missile Range (Radio Free Europe, October 31, 2017)

Two top Iranian military commanders say that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has restricted the range of ballistic missiles manufactured in the country to 2,000 kilometers.

It is the first time that high-ranking Iranian officials have mentioned a range limitation imposed by Khamenei, the commander in chief of the country's armed forces.