February 1, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 8:24 PM


Twitter Has Doubled The Number Of People It Says Interacted With Kremlin-Linked Trolls (Alex Kantrowitz, 1/31/18, BuzzFeed News)

Twitter on Wednesday said it notified 1.4 million people in the US that they engaged with Kremlin-linked troll accounts during the 2016 US election. That's more than double the 677,775 people Twitter initially said it would notify earlier this month. [...]

Twitter said the people it notified had either retweeted, quoted, replied to, mentioned, or liked the Internet Research Agency's content.

Posted by orrinj at 8:20 PM


Jews worry US focus on Islamic terror a way to avoid home-grown white supremacy (CATHRYN J. PRINCE, 1 February 2018, Times of Israel)

It is right-wing extremists such as Luke and Page who commit the most murders of any domestic extremist movement in the United States, according to a newly released Anti-Defamation League report "Murder and Extremism in the United States in 2017." Additionally, a second new report published this week by the ADL's Center on Extremism shows a sharp uptick in white supremacist propaganda on US college campuses during the fall 2017 semester. There were 147 incidents in 2017, compared with 41 in 2016 -- a 258 percent increase.

In the last decade alone white supremacists committed 274, or 71%, of the 387 total extremist-related killings.  By comparison, Islamist extremists committed 26% of killings and left-wing extremists committed 3%.

"It's true that much of the public discussion has focused on foreign terrorism and less attention has been paid on white supremacists. One of our efforts is to remind everybody of the realities of the threat and that we don't have the luxury to focus on one threat over another," said Oren Segal, director of the ADL's Center on Extremism.

And while Donald Trump's campaign and election, as well as Heather Heyer's August 2017 murder by white supremacist James Alex Fields, Jr., brought the issue to the forefront, the numbers started climbing a quarter century ago.

As the ADL's report, "A Dark and Constant Rage: 25 Years of Right-Wing Terrorism in the United States" notes, today's right-wing violence wormed its way into America's underbelly long ago.

"The report is deeply concerning, but sadly it's not surprising. This is the reality faced by many communities across the country -- Jewish, Muslim, Sikh. So it's galvanized not just the Jewish community and it shows we all need to be re-engaged with this issue," said Barbara Weinstein, associate director for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Posted by orrinj at 8:07 PM


Reports: Israel bombed Islamic State positions in southern Syria  (JUDAH ARI GROSS, 1 February 2018, 7Times of Israel)

Syrian media reported that Israel targeted several positions belonging to an Islamic State group affiliate in southern Syrian on Thursday.

The alleged airstrikes were said to have taken place during an offensive by rebel groups against the Islamic State-affiliated group, known as the Khalid ibn al-Walid Army, in the area around the city of Daraa.

Posted by orrinj at 7:48 PM


Rising White House fear: Nunes memo is a dud (Jonathan Swan, 2/01/18, Axios)

Inside the Trump administration, sources who've been briefed on the Nunes memo expect it will be underwhelming and not the "slam dunk" document it's been hyped up to be.

What we're hearing: There is much more skepticism inside the administration than has been previously reported about the value of releasing the memo, according to sources familiar with the administration discussions. [...]

[T]here are a number of people in the White House who are fairly underwhelmed, and there's internal anxiety about whether it's worth angering the FBI director and intelligence community by releasing this information.

The bigger problem is that they are calling attention to the case for surveilling Donald and his team. If the FBI were the anti-Trump outfit of the Right's fever dreams they'd support releasing it.

Posted by orrinj at 6:40 PM


Sonny Rollins Bridge from Sonny Rollins Bridge Project on Vimeo.

Posted by orrinj at 6:28 PM


GOP Rep. Defends Holocaust Denier He Invited to SOTU: 'He's Not a Holocaust Denier' (Caleb Ecarma, February 1st, 2018, Mediate)

Congressman Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who is a fan-favorite of the conspiracy-minded right, defended the racist troll he invited to Tuesday's State of the Union on Fox Business Network by saying "he's not a holocaust denier" -- even though he is literally a holocaust denier. [...]

[G]aetz's claim that Johnson isn't a holocaust denier is entirely false, and he is very "guilty of the things" people accuse him of being. The self-declared "journalist" -- he's not -- has a history of repeatedly using the n-word on Twitter, a site he is now banned from after asking his followers for money to help him "take out" a leading Black Lives Matter activist.

From there, his history somehow gets worse.

Johnson has explicitly denied the fact that Nazi Germany killed millions of Jews in the Holocaust, outlining his thoughts on the genocide when asked on a Reddit AMA for comment on "the Holocaust, WW2, and the JQ [Jewish Question]":

"I do not and never have believed the six million figure. I think the Red Cross numbers of 250,000 dead in the camps from typhus are more realistic. I think the Allied bombing of Germany was a ware crime. I agree with David Cole about Auschwitz and the gas chambers not being real. I read the German War (highly recommend), Bloodlands, Mein Kampf, and all of David Irving."

When answering the bit about the "Jewish Question" -- which is an alt-right term referencing the conspiracy theory that Jews control the world -- Johnson said, "I support Israel as a Jewish state and Zionism as a concept. I'm pro-ethno state, generally."

Posted by orrinj at 7:40 AM


Donald Trump Snags 45.6M For 1st State Of The Union (Dominic Patten, January 31, 2018, Deadline)

Barack Obama had just more than 48 million total viewers for his first SOTU in 2010 on 11 outlets, and nearly 52 million watched George W. Bush's post-9/11 first SOTU in 2002 on eight outlets. Adding to the con column, Trump did not beat the 45.8 million who tuned in for Bill Clinton's first SOTU on ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN in 1994.

Which means Trump's initial SOTU, the third longest in history, is now also the least watched address in nearly a quarter of a century.

Posted by orrinj at 4:58 AM


A Dangerous Course Israel Should Avoid (DANNY YATOM and AMNON RESHEF, FEB. 1, 2018, NY Times)

It is no accident that none of the proposals suggests annexing the entire West Bank. Even the most zealous legislators realize that absorbing all of the West Bank's 2.7 million Palestinians would threaten Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state.

Consequently, those seeking to block prospects for separation from the Palestinians into two states look for a "luxurious annexation": absorb as much of the land, with as little of the population, as possible. [...]

The physical barriers required to prevent residents of Areas A and B from filtering into Area C en route to Israel would be a security nightmare. The perimeter of each of the 169 Palestinian islands would have to be treated as an international border. To separate the annexed land from the islands they encircle, 1,200 miles of new barriers would be required, along with hundreds of security gates that would allow controlled Palestinian movement from one enclave to another or from their enclaves to land of theirs in Area C (where 75 percent of the land is owned by Palestinians). The cost of building such a barrier system would be about $10 billion, and constructing the gates, along with associated security measures, would cost far more.

Palestinians would view Israeli annexation as a game-changer, foreclosing the option of a viable Palestinian state. The Palestinian Authority would collapse, and Israel would have to impose martial law and provide basic services to all Palestinians in the West Bank. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has estimated the annual cost of social security alone for Palestinians at $6 billion. The yearly cost of health, education and other government services could be $5 billion more.

With the collapse of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinian-Israeli security coordination would vanish. Many of the Palestinian troops would turn their weapons on Israelis, and the Palestinian street would most likely explode. This would leave Israel's military and its domestic security agency, Shin Bet, to take full security responsibility not just in the newly annexed Area C, but also for the millions of Palestinians in Areas A and B, where Palestinian security agencies now operate in close coordination with the Israel Defense Forces.

This, in turn, would necessitate an increase in the I.D.F.'s presence throughout the West Bank; the standing army could not do the job alone and a mobilization of reserves would be required. This, too, would tax the Israeli economy and severely diminish military preparedness for other security threats, most directly from Syria, where Iran seeks to establish a presence, and Lebanon, where Hezbollah has become more experienced at combat.

Posted by orrinj at 4:51 AM


D-H Radiologists Reveal Saint-Gaudens Sculptures (EmmaJean Holley, 2/01/18, Valley News)

Some century-old mysteries have been solved -- and at least one new one has been opened -- since the radiology department at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center received an unusual request a little over a year ago.

The request came from Rick Kendall, superintendent of the Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site, in Cornish. He wanted to know: If a CT scanner can show what's inside the human body, could it also show what's inside a hunk of plaster? Could they try?

The short answer to his question is on view in the main rotunda of the Lebanon campus in a display called "Lincoln in Negative Space: The Intersection of Imaging and Art."

Those hunks of plaster contain original molds that Augustus Saint-Gaudens, the noted 19th-century sculptor and a central figure in the Cornish Colony of artists and writers, used to cast his pieces. Like many sculptors, he would preserve his molds for future reference by sealing them between two plaster halves, said Henry Duffy, curator of the historic site.

"In Saint-Gaudens' day, they would use strips of burlap or cheesecloth soaked in plaster that would be wrapped around and harden to make a seal that you have to break open to get out what's in there," Duffy said. But art historians have been unwilling to break open the molds, because of their historical significance. Since Saint-Gaudens died in 1907, others could only guess as to what was inside.

"We didn't know if it would work. Maybe it wouldn't read anything, and be blank," said Duffy. "It was essentially a shot in the dark on our part."

Posted by orrinj at 4:41 AM


Mueller Zeros In on Story Put Together About Trump Tower Meeting (JO BECKER, MARK MAZZETTI, MATT APUZZO and MAGGIE HABERMANJAN. 31, 2018, NY Times)

Aboard Air Force One on a flight home from Europe last July, President Trump and his advisers raced to cobble together a news release about a mysterious meeting at Trump Tower the previous summer between Russians and top Trump campaign officials. Rather than acknowledge the meeting's intended purpose -- to obtain political dirt about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government -- the statement instead described the meeting as being about an obscure Russian adoption policy.

The statement, released in response to questions from The New York Times about the meeting, has become a focus of the inquiry by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Prosecutors working for Mr. Mueller in recent months have questioned numerous White House officials about how the release came together -- and about how directly Mr. Trump oversaw the process. [...]

The latest witness to be called for an interview about the episode was Mark Corallo, who served as a spokesman for Mr. Trump's legal team before resigning in July. Mr. Corallo received an interview request last week from the special counsel and has agreed to the interview, according to three people with knowledge of the request.

Mr. Corallo is planning to tell Mr. Mueller about a previously undisclosed conference call with Mr. Trump and Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, according to the three people. Mr. Corallo planned to tell investigators that Ms. Hicks said during the call that emails written by Donald Trump Jr. before the Trump Tower meeting -- in which the younger Mr. Trump said he was eager to receive political dirt about Mrs. Clinton from the Russians -- "will never get out." That left Mr. Corallo with concerns that Ms. Hicks could be contemplating obstructing justice, the people said.

Posted by orrinj at 3:26 AM


Working, Beating Hearts Will Soon Be 3D-Printed From Patients' Own Cells (ADELE PETERS, 2/01/18, Fast Company)

Inside a lab that will open in a couple of months in Chicago, a biotech startup will soon begin perfecting the process of 3D-printing human hearts that could eventually be used in transplants.

"What this is set up to do is to make a patient-specific, fully functioning heart that's viable for transplant, using the patient's own cells," says Stephen Morris, founding partner and CEO of the startup, Biolife4D.