March 4, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 8:18 PM


Scoop: Mueller's hit list (Jonathan Swan, 3/04/18, Axios)

Axios has reviewed a Grand Jury subpoena that Robert Mueller's team sent to a witness last month.  [...]

Mueller is subpoenaing all communications -- meaning emails, texts, handwritten notes, etc. -- that this witness sent and received regarding the following people:

Carter Page
Corey Lewandowski
Donald J. Trump
Hope Hicks
Keith Schiller
Michael Cohen
Paul Manafort
Rick Gates
Roger Stone
Steve Bannon

Posted by orrinj at 12:50 PM


Sir Roger Bannister obituary: First athlete to run a mile in under four minutes and an eminent neurologist (Nick Mason and Caroline Richmond,  4 Mar 2018, The Guardian)

[N]obody came really close to the four-minute mark; indeed, no one seriously threatened the world record of 4min 1.4sec set in 1945 by the Swede Gunder Hägg. Early in 1954 Landy announced that he would spend the early part of the summer training - and racing - in Finland. Expectations of a four-minute mile were now at boiling point, and Bannister knew he had to strike fast. With two friends providing the most elite pacemaking squad that could be imagined - Chataway, who later that summer took the 5000m world record, and Chris Brasher, who won an Olympic gold medal in the steeplechase two years later - Bannister devised an even-paced three-and-a-quarter-lap schedule that would leave him to capitalise on his speed and strength in the final 350 or so yards.

On that momentous evening, with the stiff breeze moderating and the showers stopping barely an hour before the race, the plan worked. Brasher led for a metronomic two laps, Chataway for the next one, and a bit more. Bannister, always on the leader's shoulder, needed to run the final quarter-mile in 59 seconds. He collapsed at the finish, and revived to hear another friend, the statistician Norris McWhirter, announce over the public address: "a track record, English Native record, British National, British All-Comers, European, British Empire and World record; the time: three ..." (the rest drowned out by cheering) "... minutes, 59.4 seconds."

Hägg's record had stood for almost nine years. Bannister's lasted just 46 days before Landy, running from the front at a meeting in Turku, Finland, posted an astounding 3min 58sec, to set up the "Mile of the Century" at the British Empire Games (as they were still called) in Vancouver early in August. The two milers arrived in Canada to a media frenzy, and there was a real danger that the race itself would prove a dismal anticlimax. But their widely differing strategies ensured that the final, far from descending into a cat-and-mouse tactical duel, would produce one of the great confrontations in the sport's history. Landy needed to run the finish out of Bannister; Bannister needed to run even-paced laps and conserve enough energy for the sustained power of his sprint.

Landy led from the gun, increased his lead as the first two laps progressed to seven yards, 10 yards, 15 yards at one point. Then gradually, halfway through the third lap, Landy began to slow and Bannister's even stride pulled the gap tighter and tighter. By the bell he was back to Landy's shoulder, but tired. At the end of the final bend he flung himself past Landy's right shoulder just, as chance would have it, Landy glanced anxiously over his left. He was away, the Australian could not respond, and the Mile of the Century was Bannister's. Both men, applauded to the skies by the packed stadium, had run under four minutes.

Posted by orrinj at 12:44 PM


IDF Soldiers Hanged In Effigy In Jerusalem Ultra-Orthodox Neighborhoods (JTA, 3/04/18)

Two effigies of Israeli soldiers with a rope around their necks were hung in predominantly Haredi areas of Jerusalem, in what Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said was a "shocking" criminal act.

Police officers on Friday removed the effigies, one of which was soaked in flammable fluid, from a rooftop in Jerusalem's Me'a She'arim neighborhood and from a rope dangling from a column on Chaim Ozer Street, the Israel Broadcasting Corporation reported.

The effigies had black kippahs on their heads, leading to speculations in the Israeli media that it was meant to intimidate Haredi soldiers who serve in the Israel Defense Forces.

Posted by orrinj at 8:06 AM


McGee's coaching lessons go beyond just baseball (Rick Hummel, 3/04/18, St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

McGee, hired as a Cardinals coach in the off-season, pointed to several men who had helped him, starting with "Mr. Ricketts," he said, referring to longtime Cardinals coach and instructor Dave Ricketts. "I had a number of teachers, from George Hendrick to Ozzie (Smith) to Bruce Sutter to Bob Forsch."

Hendrick, the Cardinals' veteran right fielder, enjoyed having fun at rookie McGee's expense in 1982, but there were teaching moments, too.

"You're going to earn that Gold Glove," Hendrick said to McGee. As they stood together in the outfield, Hendrick told McGee, "I've got this (foul) line.

"Then," McGee said, "he took a couple of steps away from it and said, 'You've got the rest.'"

"Sometimes," McGee said, laughing, "the ball would be hit between us and he'd just be pointing at it."

But Hendrick had a serious side, and he mentored McGee just as McGee has done with Pham.

"When I would have a tough game and we'd be driving home, he'd be playing his jazz and chewing his gum like there isn't anything happening," McGee said. "I wasn't even sleeping when I had a bad game.

"I finally get enough nerve to ask him, 'George, how do you do it?'"

"Do what?" responded Hendrick.

"Well, you struck out twice," McGee said.

"He said, 'Willie, it's like a wheel.' And he points at the steering wheel."

Then, motioning at various parts of the wheel going clockwise, Hendrick said, "You're here and you're here and you're here ... and then you're back here (at the top)."

"It put it in perspective for me," McGee said. "As I got older, I realized as long as I was able to stay healthy and didn't have anything off the field to distract me, you always wind up where you're supposed to be. It's like a wheel."

Posted by orrinj at 7:45 AM


Contribution of NIH funding to new drug approvals 2010-2016 (Ekaterina Galkina Cleary, Jennifer M. Beierlein, Navleen Surjit Khanuja, Laura M. McNamee and Fred D. Ledley, PNAS 2018)

This report shows that NIH funding contributed to published research associated with every one of the 210 new drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration from 2010-2016. Collectively, this research involved >200,000 years of grant funding totaling more than $100 billion. The analysis shows that >90% of this funding represents basic research related to the biological targets for drug action rather than the drugs themselves. The role of NIH funding thus complements industry research and development, which focuses predominantly on applied research. This work underscores the breath and significance of public investment in the development of new therapeutics and the risk that reduced research funding would slow the pipeline for treating morbid disease.

Posted by orrinj at 7:29 AM


On Guns, Companies Are Getting Out Ahead of the Politicians (Alexandra Olson, 3/03/18, Associated Press)

In 1960, black students staged sit-ins that forced Woolworth's to desegregate its lunch counters, and other stores and restaurants followed suit. In 1986, General Motors, Coca-Cola and dozens of other U.S. corporations pulled out of apartheid-era South Africa after years of pressure from activists, college students and investors.

This week, four major retailers slapped restrictions on gun sales that are stronger than federal law.

Those are all rare examples of American companies getting out ahead of the politicians and the law on socially explosive issues. Such decisions are almost always made reluctantly, under huge pressure and with an eye toward minimizing the effect on the bottom line. [...]

Those actions amounted to an act of defiance against the NRA and its allies in Washington who have vehemently opposed any ban on AR-15s and other semi-automatic weapons or a higher age limit for gun purchases.

"What we are seeing is a real shift," said Mimi Chakravorti, executive director of strategy at the brand consulting firm Landor. "I think right now, companies are acting ahead of the government because they are seeing that the changes are too slow."

Posted by orrinj at 6:54 AM


U.S. Inflation May Be Less Than Meets the Eye (Matthew Boesler, 3/03/18, Bloomberg)

So-called procyclical inflation -- a measure containing the prices of goods and services that typically rise faster when employment is increasing -- decelerated last month to the lowest level on an annual basis since April 2014, according to data compiled by Bloomberg News from Commerce Department figures published Thursday. [...]

The so-called core inflation rate they watch closely, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, was just 1.5 percent in January, and the cell-phone pricing change that hit the index in March 2017 is only holding it down by about a tenth of a percentage point.

The slowdown in procyclical inflation in January stemmed from several components, including food services and accommodations, recreation services, prescription drugs and nonprofit spending.

Rental inflation, one of the biggest drivers of core and procyclical inflation, was little changed.

Posted by orrinj at 6:37 AM


At What Point Does Trump Simply Resign? (David Atkins, March 4, 2018, Washington Monthly)

Trump has been in these dire straits before in his life, make no mistake-and his reaction at every step was to run from the damage, welsh on his obligations, let fixers handle the mess and never look back. Donald Trump has declared bankruptcy no less than six times, leaving creditors holding the bag each and every time. His building deals frequently go up in smoke. His fraudulent "university" went belly up and ended in settlements. He routinely stiffs his subcontractors. Most banks refuse to deal with him, and because he refuses to release his or his organization's tax returns, we have no idea if he has the sort of money he claims to have, or is instead deeply in hock to foreign mafia cartels. Without his father's money he would be just another two-bit white collar criminal from Queens, either in jail on tax evasion or running a ponzi scheme.

Trump is a classic grifter. And the modus operandi of the grifter is to play the con as long as he can, then pack up and run when the water gets hot and the bill comes due.

It is remarkable that we as a nation allowed such a person to become president. But nations do make mistakes. The question is what the Grifter-in-Chief will do now.

The standard play would be to simply step away. Even the most narcissistic con artist is rarely fool enough to choose dire consequences over an easy escape route just out of ego alone. As the walls begin to close in on him, his friends and family, it is difficult to see how he lasts another year in the job, much less three.