April 14, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 6:50 PM


Legendary Writer Bill Nack Dies at Age 77: Seven-time media Eclipse Award winner was best known for coverage of Secretariat. (BloodHorse, 4/14/18)

William "Bill" Nack, a renowned sports journalist and author, died April 13 at his home in Washington D.C. after a lengthy illness, according to Secretariat.com. He was 77.

A seven-time media Eclipse Award winner, Nack was best known for his coverage of Secretariat. His acclaimed biography on "Big Red" is considered the definitive account chronicling the history of the Meadow Stable colt and his ascent to the 1973 Triple Crown. The book was used as the inspiration for the 2010 Disney movie "Secretariat."

Nack joined Sports Illustrated in 1978 and became one of the signature voices of the publication. He wrote on everything from racing to boxing to chess. Nack left the magazine in 2001 and freelanced for numerous publications, including ESPN and GQ.

Pure Heart (William Nack, 6/04/90, Sports Illustrated)

In the late afternoon of Monday, Oct. 2, 1989, as I headed my car from the driveway of Arthur Hancock's Stone Farm onto Winchester Road outside of Paris, Ky., I was seized by an impulse as beckoning as the wind that strums through the trees there, mingling the scents of new grass and old history.

For reasons as obscure to me then as now, I felt compelled to see Lawrence Robinson. For almost 30 years, until he suffered a stroke in March of 1983, Robinson was the head caretaker of stallions at Claiborne Farm. I had not seen him since his illness, but I knew he still lived on the farm, in a small white frame house set on a hill overlooking the lush stallion paddocks and the main stallion barn. In the first stall of that barn, in the same space that was once home to the great Bold Ruler, lived Secretariat, Bold Ruler's greatest son.

It was through Secretariat that I had met Robinson. On the bright, cold afternoon of Nov. 12, 1973, he was one of several hundred people gathered at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington to greet the horse on his flight from New York into retirement in Kentucky. I flew with the horse that day, and as the plane banked over the field, a voice from the tower crackled over the airplane radio: "There's more people out here to meet Secretariat than there was to greet the governor."

"Well, he's won more races than the governor," pilot Dan Neff replied.

An hour later, after a van ride out the Paris Pike behind a police escort with blue lights flashing, Robinson led Secretariat onto a ramp at Claiborne and toward his sire's old stall--out of racing and into history. For me, that final walk beneath a grove of trees, with the colt slanting like a buck through the autumn gloaming, brought to a melancholy close the richest, grandest, damnedest, most exhilarating time of my life. For eight months, first as the racing writer for Long Island, N.Y.'s Newsday and then as the designated chronicler of the horse's career, I had a daily front-row seat to watch Secretariat. I was at the barn in the morning and the racetrack in the afternoon for what turned out to be the year's greatest show in sports, at the heart of which lay a Triple Crown performance unmatched in the history of American racing.

Sixteen years had come and gone since then, and I had never attended a Kentucky Derby or a yearling sale at Keeneland without driving out to Claiborne to visit Secretariat, often in the company of friends who had never seen him. On the long ride from Louisville, I would regale them with stories about the horse--how on that early morning in March of '73 he had materialized out of the quickening blue darkness in the upper stretch at Belmont Park, his cars pinned back, running as fast as horses run: how he had lost the Wood Memorial and won the Derby, and how he had been bothered by a pigeon feather at Pimlico on the eve of the Preakness (at the end of this tale I would pluck the delicate, mashed feather out of my wallet, like a picture of my kids, to pass around the car); how on the morning of the Belmont Stakes he had burst from the barn like a stud horse going to the breeding shed and had walked around the outdoor ring on his hind legs, pawing at the sky; how he had once grabbed my notebook and refused to give it back, and how he had seized a rake in his teeth and begun raking the shed; and, finally, I told about that magical, unforgettable instant, frozen now in time, when he had turned for home, appearing out of a dark drizzle at Woodbine, near Toronto, in the last race of his career, 12 in front and steam puffing from his nostrils as from a factory whistle, bounding like some mythical beast out of Greek lore.

Oh, I knew all the stories, knew them well, had crushed and rolled them in my hand, until their quaint musk lay in the saddle of my palm. Knew them as I knew the stories of my children. Knew them as I knew the stories of my own life. Told them at dinner parties, swapped them with horseplayers as if they were trading cards, argued over them with old men and blind fools who had seen the show but missed the message. Dreamed them and turned them over like pillows in my rubbery sleep. Woke up with them, brushed my aging teeth with them, grinned at them in the mirror. Horses have a way of getting inside of you, and so it was that Secretariat became like a fifth child in our house, the older boy who was off at school and never around but who was as loved and true a part of the family as Muffin, our shaggy, epileptic dog.

The story I now tell begins on that Monday afternoon last October on the macadam outside of Stone Farm.

Posted by orrinj at 6:46 PM


Pence didn't talk about wall with Mexican leader (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Apr 14, 2018)

Vice President Mike Pence says the topic of funding President Donald Trump's long-promised border wall did not come up in his meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at an international summit in Peru.

Posted by orrinj at 6:40 PM


40 Sea Gulls Wrecked His Hotel Room. 17 Years Later, a Pepperoni Pardon. (YONETTE JOSEPH, APRIL 14, 2018, NY Times)

It all started, said Mr. Burchill, a 49-year-old salesman from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, when he went to Victoria 17 years ago for a conference hosted by his new employer. He planned to see friends from the Canadian Naval Reserves, and had promised to bring them a local delicacy from home: Chris Brothers TNT Pepperoni.

He filled a whole suitcase. "I brought enough for a ship," he wrote.

When he landed, the airline could not find the bag. But it arrived the next day, after he had checked into the Empress on the fourth floor. His room had no refrigerator, and he worried about keeping the meat cool.

But the room had a nicely appointed window, and there was a chill in the April air. A plan formed: Why not spread the meat on a table next to an open window and on the window sill to keep it cool? So he did.

Then he went for a walk.

The sight that greeted him when he returned to his room hours later can only be described as "an explosion," he wrote. About 40 sea gulls had sneaked in through a small opening in the window and were having a feast, he told the CBC radio show "As It Happens."

"They'd been eating Brothers TNT pepperoni -- I'm specific with the TNT because it's hot," he recalled. "They'd been eating that for about five hours, and you can imagine what the room looked like. They were carrying on their life processes in there."

Excrement, feathers and pepperoni chunks were everywhere.

"Brothers' TNT Pepperoni does NASTY things to a sea gull's digestive system," he wrote. "The smell," he recalled in the radio interview, "was overwhelming."

"The shocking thing for me was the saliva," he marveled. "I didn't know that sea gulls drooled. The slime was covering everything. They were whipping it up into the air. It was like a tornado."

Posted by orrinj at 5:53 PM


The Strike May Have Hurt More than It Helped (BARRY PAVEL, 4/14/18, Defense One)

In fact, since Assad and others were led to believe that this would be a much bigger and more consequential attack than it was, especially by President Trump's own rhetoric, the very conscribed nature of the actual strikes might actually embolden the Syrian leader to use his remaining chemical weapons more frequently and with less restraint.

Here's why: The essence of deterrence is to threaten something of such value that the adversary will not want to incur the costs. Inherent in effective deterrence is instilling fear and uncertainty in the mind of the adversary -- fear that they would suffer unacceptable consequences for taking an action, and uncertainty about the exact parameters of the next retaliatory attack.

The strikes as conducted last night instill no fear nor uncertainty on the part of the Syrian regime.

Posted by orrinj at 3:04 PM


Posted by orrinj at 2:59 PM


WHY MIGRANTS ARE GOOD FOR THE GLOBAL ECONOMY (Devon Van Houten Maldonado, 4/14/18, Ozy)

Populists, nationalists and xenophobes have it all wrong when it comes to immigration. The arguments for building border walls, reducing legal immigration (or eliminating it), deporting illegals and turning away migrants cost taxpayers in rich countries a lot of money, but eliminating these barriers could increase gross domestic product and wealth for everyone.

Despite populists' passionate and tenacious opinions, decades of research show that more immigration, not less, creates prosperity for wealthy nations, and that the plus side of people flow extends to nonimmigrants. According to a 2016 McKinsey Global Institute report:

In economic terms, it's all about labor mobility. Contrary to popular belief, immigration barriers cost trillions in potential GDP. Economists agree that more newcomers equals more wealth, including for native-born workers, because immigrants occupy both the lowest-skill jobs and some of the most specialized, creating a more productive and competitive workforce.

"For the elimination of trade-policy barriers and capital-flow barriers, the estimated gains amount to less than a few percent of world GDP," says Michael Clemens, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development, a think tank in Washington, D.C. "For labor mobility barriers, the estimated gains are often in the range of 50 to 150 percent of world GDP."

...they're right about....well...nothing.

Posted by orrinj at 2:32 PM


Republicans lose their favorite campaign message: Repealing Obamacare (Paige Winfield Cunningham, April 14, 2018, Washington Post)

For the first time in nearly a decade, Republican candidates across the country find themselves bereft of what was once their favorite talking point: repealing and replacing President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act -- and all the havoc they alleged it has wreaked.

That's because the GOP failed dramatically in its efforts last year to roll back the ACA as its first big legislative delivery on the promise of single-party control of Washington from Congress to the White House. That defeat has quickly turned attacks on Obamacare from centerpiece into pariah on the campaign trail, a sudden disappearing act that Democrats are looking to exploit as they seek to regain power in the midterms.

"Yeah, we probably can't talk credibly about repeal and replace anymore," said Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), a key negotiator of the House-passed version of an ACA rollback that failed in the Senate.

The "repeal and replace" mantra was a mainstay of Republican campaigns for four straight election cycles, propelling the GOP into the House majority in 2010, the Senate majority four years later and in 2016, helping to keep Republicans in power and elect President Trump. Getting rid of Obamacare was a proud theme for GOP party and conservative groups, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars beating Democrats over the head with charges the law was unaffordable. Trump repeatedly touted permanent elimination of the bill during the campaign and his first year in office, but doesn't often now mention it.

Eighty-four percent of Republican-affiliated health-care ads in 2014 attacked the ACA, while only 11 percent of Democrat-affiliated ads touted it, according to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Kantar Media. Out of 849 unique ads that referenced the ACA that year, 87 percent of them backed a Republican candidate and opposed the law.

But since the dramatic defeat of an ACA rollback bill in the Senate last July, many Republican candidates don't have much to say about health care at all.

They were opposing the sunrise.

About half of Americans support single-payer health care (Emily Guskin, April 12, 2018, Washington Post)

As President Trump's administration tries to chip away at the Affordable Care Act by giving more authority to states to regulate private insurance, a new poll finds a slight majority of Americans support a move in the opposite direction, with everyone getting health insurance from a national government-run program.

A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll finds a 51 percent majority of Americans support a national health plan, also known as a single-payer plan, while 43 percent oppose it.

Posted by orrinj at 8:53 AM

One-Pot Shakshuka Recipe (Outside)

Shakshuka is our latest camp meal obsession, and we've partnered with Fresh off the Grid to bring you an easy, one-pot recipe for this tasty Middle Eastern dish. 

Posted by orrinj at 8:48 AM


Quebec mosque shooter told police he was motivated by Canada's immigration policies (LES PERREAUX,  APRIL 13, 2018, Globe & Mail)

Alexandre Bissonnette has pleaded guilty to killing six men and seriously wounding five more in the attack. In an interview with police played at his sentencing hearing on Friday, he said he started thinking about taking action as his own fear and anxiety grew after a soldier was shot on Parliament Hill in 2014. He became obsessed with the idea after a 2016 vehicle attack killed 86 people in Nice, France.

He said during the interrogation that the final straw came on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017, when he watched news coverage of Mr. Trump's new anti-Muslim policy and contrasted it with Canadian openness to immigration contained in one tweet seen around the world. Mr. Trudeau wrote: "To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada."

Never let it be said that Donald can't inspire his base.

Posted by orrinj at 8:45 AM


Wisconsin man who blew himself up might have been white supremacist making ISIS-style bombs (Marwa Eltagouri, April 13, 2018, Washington Post)

[E]vidence has emerged suggesting Morrow was a white supremacist whose apartment doubled as a "homemade explosives laboratory," and that he may have had plans for those explosives, according to an unsealed warrant application by the state's Department of Justice, which was obtained by the Daily Beast. Investigators said a "one-gallon metal container of acetone" was found at the scene -- an easy-to-procure substance that, when cooked, becomes highly volatile and potent.

The fatal explosion occurred around the same time that a weeks-long string of exploding packages terrorized Austin.

Acetone is typically found in the "Mother of Satan" bombs used by terrorists in Islamic State attacks. It was a primary ingredient, for example, in the bombs Islamic State operatives used in the 2015 attack in Paris and 2016 attacks in Brussels which killed 137 people and 31 people, respectively.

There were 40 gallons of acetone in the apartment of the suspected bomber. The attackers in Brussels could have purchased the ingredients without raising suspicion, especially if each member was responsible for buying just one element.

Investigators submitted the warrant application to search the contents of a storage unit Morrow was renting, as well as his computers, flash drives and phone, according to the Daily Beast.

[Austin bombing suspect Mark Conditt dies after blowing himself up as officers approached, police say]

On the day Morrow died, two white cardboard boxes labeled with the words "mix it, shake it, shoot it" sat in his apartment, along with three more packages labeled "sonic boom," according to state investigator Kevin Heimerl, who stated in the warrant application that he suspected the boxes contained materials that, when combined, were destructive. In addition to the bombmaking materials, Morrow also possessed guns and accessories, such as a rifle scope, masks, vests and thousands of rounds of ammunition, the Daily Beast reported.

In his bedroom, investigators found "white supremacist material," according to the warrant.

Posted by orrinj at 8:26 AM


Paul Ryan and the End of an Era (STEPHEN F. HAYES, April 13, 2018, Weekly Standard)

Here's the irony: As Trump consolidates his hold on the party, he's losing his grip on the presidency. Even the strongest supporters of the president now quietly acknowledge fears of what comes next. White House staffers whisper that their boss appears increasingly unhinged. As one prominent Trump supporter recently put it to me: "It's falling apart." It's a view echoed by a former top administration official, who said this week: "It's never been worse. Nobody knows what to do."

The details beggar the imagination. On April 9, Trump held a meeting to consider how he might deepen U.S. involvement in the Syrian war that he had told top advisers five days earlier he wanted to end. He opened the war-planning meeting with a rambling, televised tirade about the FBI raid of the offices of Michael Cohen, his personal attorney, under scrutiny for having paid $130,000 in hush money to a porn performer just before the 2016 election. During his almost-10-minute rant, Trump attacked top law enforcement officials--including ones he'd chosen to serve in his administration--for their involvement in a "witch hunt" meant to damage his presidency. One moment he was lamenting having chosen Jeff Sessions as attorney general and complaining about Hillary Clinton's "acid-washed" emails, the next he was talking about the chemical weapons attack in Syria and the U.S. resolve to respond.

Sitting grimly at the side of the president as he expounded on the witch hunt was John Bolton, his third national security adviser in 15 months. As Trump's national security team ponders how to operationalize the president's constantly changing positions on Syria, it is simultaneously undergoing a top-to-bottom overhaul. In recent weeks, the following senior officials have left the administration, voluntarily or otherwise: secretary of state, national security adviser, deputy national security adviser, deputy national security adviser for strategy, homeland security adviser, undersecretary of state for public affairs, and national security council spokesman.

Beyond national security, the White House communications director, the top White House economic adviser, the White House staff secretary, a senior White House communications adviser, the secretary of veterans affairs, and the president's personal aide have all either headed for the exits or been pushed out.

It's worth noting that these were Trump people. Many of them were chosen for their loyalty to him and their belief in what they understood to be his agenda.

The turmoil extends well beyond the administration. Close observers of Trump's recent policy reversals look like the crowd at a tennis match, as he publicly declares himself for and against a clean vote on DACA, for and against reinstituting an assault-weapons ban, for and against the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for and against war in Syria. A graph of stock market volatility looks like the Rocky Mountains, as the president one day announces unplanned tariffs and praises trade wars as "good and easy to win," only to turn around and carve out market-pleasing exemptions and suggest his previous proposals were mere bluster for the purposes of negotiation.

Trump's White House spent weeks rallying support among Capitol Hill Republicans for the reauthorization of a crucial intelligence collection program, only to have a last-minute Trump attack on the law nearly lead to its expiration. The president threatened to veto the execrable omnibus spending bill after it had passed and despite the fact that administration officials had worked closely with lawmakers to determine what was in it.

It's not at all clear what comes next.

Of course, it is: more fun.

Posted by orrinj at 8:18 AM

ALWAYS BET ON THE dEEP sTATE (profanity alert):

WATCH: InfoWars' Alex Jones breaks down in tears after learning 'Trump c[***]ed all over us' by attacking Syria (Tom Boggioni, 14 APR 2018, Raw Story)

InfoWars founder Alex Jones had a weeping meltdown on Friday night after learning that President Donald Trump joined with France and the British to launch an attack on Syria in retaliation for a reported chemical attack on the residents of Douma.

Reacting to the news of the military incursion, the anti-interventionist Jones lamented that, "Trump is cr[***]ing all over us."

At least you got that fetish fulfilled for free--Donald pays for his...

Posted by orrinj at 7:16 AM


Only Two Companies Are Making Trump-Brand Products Now (Chavie Lieber,  Apr 13, 2018, Racked)

Three years ago, there were as many as 19 companies making Trump-branded merchandise. Today, only two -- one in Panama and one in Turkey -- are producing Trump products.

Trump began licensing his name in 2004; by 2009, the Trump brand was bringing in $215 million in sales worldwide. The Post reports that as of 2015, licensees were paying Trump $2.4 million a year to slap his name onto items as wide-ranging as suits and urine tests.

Trump reported in his 2017 financial disclosure that he had received just $370,000 from licensing deals that year. The Post reports this is because the majority of products are no longer being produced. Trump ties are not in production anymore; nor are Trump pillows, shoes, eyeglasses, mattresses, or chandeliers.

Some Trump licensing partners told the Post their agreements had merely expired, while others cited it as a "business decision," explaining that the merchandise wasn't selling. 

Posted by orrinj at 6:56 AM


Deported veteran becomes US citizen after California pardon (Elliot Spagat, 4/13/18, AP) 

A decorated former U.S. Army paratrooper whose work on behalf of deported veterans drew widespread attention to his cause became a U.S. citizen Friday, giving immigration advocates a rare reason to celebrate.

Hector Barajas, who was deported to Mexico in 2010, beamed after taking his citizenship oath in a small, private ceremony at a government office in San Diego in full military uniform.

"I get to live the American Dream for a second time," he said, holding a small American flag in his hand at a jubilant news conference.

Barajas founded the Deported Veterans Support Home in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, providing shelter and other services. Extensive media coverage, support from members of Congress and the American Civil Liberties Union's involvement raised his profile.

Posted by orrinj at 6:53 AM


I'm a Peeliever and You Should Be, Too (Jonathan Chait, 4/14/18, New York)

1. Christopher Steele is credible. Steele isn't just some gumshoe. He's an experienced intelligence collector whose work has been valued by the British and American governments. His sources seem to be serious, too, including "a former top-level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin," a "member of the staff at the hotel," a "female staffer at the hotel when Trump had stayed there," and "a close associate of Trump who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow."

Steele himself has said that probably not every fact compiled in his dossier is true. The dossier was not intended as solid intelligence, but as a collection of leads. Still, the fact that Russia almost certainly murdered some of the sources for his reporting in the immediate wake of the dossier's publication further attests to their credibility.

Update: One of the firmest denials Trump's orbit has made of the Steele dossier has been its report that Michael Cohen met with Russian agents in Prague in the summer of 2016. Cohen has produced a passport showing no Czech visit. But McClatchy reports that Robert Mueller has evidence he did go to Prague to meet with Russians then, going through Germany, which would avoid any mark on his passport. In addition to constituting important evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia, this is significant corroboration of Steele's work.

2. Trump is unhealthily obsessed with Obama. Trump's fixation with Barack Obama has been evident since his 2011 humiliation at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. But as we have mapped out the contours of Trump's unbalanced psyche over the course of his presidency to date, the centrality of Obama has grown even more evident. He would routinely tell guests touring the Oval Office that the previous president had ignored the room. "Obama never used the Oval, but Trump is different," he would say, in his customary third-person.

Obama hatred is the lodestar of Trump's often confused policy-making. "It's his only real position," a top European diplomat told BuzzFeed last year. "He will ask: 'Did Obama approve this?' And if the answer is affirmative, he will say: 'We don't.'" Even bizarrely self-defeating actions like sabotaging the health-care exchanges, which will cause premiums to spike right before this November's midterm elections, seem to be motivated by a desire to defile his predecessor's legacy. Getting prostitutes to pee on the bed Obama slept in seems to be very much in character.

There is, of course, a chance that this is the one thing Mr. Steele got wrong, but that's long odds.

Posted by orrinj at 6:30 AM


Kakistocracy, a 374-year-old word that means 'government by the worst,' just broke the dictionary (Avi Selk, April 13, 2018, Washington Post)

Today was a productive vocabulary day in the United States of America.

The learning began in the morning, when former CIA director John O. Brennan tweeted at President Trump: "Your kakistocracy is collapsing after its lamentable journey."

The insult was part of a raging feud between Trump and various members of the intelligence community, some of whom suspect the president's inner circle of committing federal crimes, and many of whom Trump says are out to destroy him.

Brennan's tweet proved quite popular with Trump's critics, even if not everyone totally understood it.

Posted by orrinj at 6:28 AM


Posted by orrinj at 5:58 AM


Gowdy expands probe into EPA's Pruitt (ANTHONY ADRAGNA and ALEX GUILLÉN, 04/13/2018, Politico)

House Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) said Friday he's expanding his probe into the alleged ethical and spending abuses by EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt one day after his staff met for several hours with a former EPA aide who was pushed out of the agency.

Gowdy's latest letter is a further sign of the deepening bipartisan scrutiny facing President Donald Trump's environmental chief, whose critics accuse him of excessive spending on travel, vehicles, staff raises and luxe security features such as a $43,000 soundproof phone booth.

Posted by orrinj at 5:53 AM


Milos Forman, Oscar-winning 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' director, dead at 86 (JESSICA CHIA, 4/14/18, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS)

Forman, who was born in the small town of Caslav in 1932, moved to U.S. in the 1960s and became widely known for his humanism, dark humor, and fascination with rebellious characters.

He studied at the University of Prague's Film Institute before he kick-started his career -- and the Czech New Wave with three hits in as many years.

Black Peter, his first major feature in 1964, won Forman international acclaim and his star only continued to rise with "Loves of a Blonde."

The 1965 film is a bittersweet coming-of-age story that sold out in his home country before it was nominated for both an Oscar and a Golden Globe.

Just two years later, Forman made "The Firemen's Ball", a satirical look at the country's communist regime. Despite being banned in Czechoslovakia, the film nabbed another Best Foreign Film nomination at the Academy Awards.

In a 2004 interview with the LA Times, Forman said, "When we started to make our films, they were really Czech films about Czech society and Czech little people -- and who cares about Czech little people? So it was satisfying to have people in other countries respond."

...his best film is quintessentially American.

Posted by orrinj at 5:50 AM


France fires cruise missiles from Med to punish Syria (AFP, 14 April 2018)

Defence Minister Florence Parly said said "these different assets fired cruise missiles in a perfectly coordinated way... closely synchronised  with our American and British allies."
She said the strikes had targeted "the main research centre" for chemical weapons and two 
production sites of "a clandestine chemical programme". 
"It's the capacity to develop and produce chemical weapons that has been hit," she said in a statement at the presidential palace. "The goal is simple: to stop the regime from using chemical weapons again."  
The United  States, Britain and France carried out the strikes in response to alleged chemical  weapons attacks that President Donald Trump branded the "crimes of a monster."