December 5, 2018

Posted by orrinj at 6:10 PM


George H.W. Bush's public rejection of the NRA exemplified his commitment to 'duty, honor and country' (Michael E. Diamond, 12/05/18, NBC News)

Bush, an avid hunter, had been a lifetime member of the NRA. Like many of his generation, the NRA to him was an organization dedicated to the promotion of hunting and firearm training. But during his political rise, that version of the NRA fundamentally changed, and Bush was wise enough to see it.

Just days before the deadly Oklahoma City bombing, where a domestic terrorist targeted federal agents and killed 168 people, the NRA sent out a fundraising letter in which NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre referred to federal agents as "armed terrorists dressed in Ninja black ... jack-booted thugs armed to the teeth who break down doors, open fire with automatic weapons and kill law-abiding citizens."

The "jack-booted thugs" imagery has long been associated with Nazi storm troopers. The letter showed just how far the NRA was sliding into lunatic conspiracy territory, but the organization's refusal to recant LaPierre's words in the wake of the bombing six days later seemed to be the last straw for Bush. He reacted by publicly resigning his membership.

His letter to the organization stated that "your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us."

Bush was of an era where it was important to recognize who the good guys were and who the bad guys were. Comparing U.S. law enforcement to Nazis while advocating for irresponsible gun policy would have been tough for a guy like Bush to swallow. So he didn't.

That awareness of good and evil also led Bush to stand in opposition to the regime in Moscow, which at the time restricted peoples' access to free markets, free press and individual liberties. And while not much has changed in terms of Moscow's hostility to those ideals, one thing absolutely has changed: Vladimir Putin's Russia loves America's NRA.

Posted by orrinj at 6:06 PM



On Monday, Trump hosted a 2020 strategy meeting with a group of advisers. Among the topics discussed was whether Mike Pence should remain on the ticket, given the hurricane-force political headwinds Trump will face, as demonstrated by the midterms, a source briefed on the session told me. "They're beginning to think about whether Mike Pence should be running again," the source said, adding that the advisers presented Trump with new polling that shows Pence doesn't expand Trump's coalition. "He doesn't detract from it, but he doesn't add anything either," the source said. Last month, The New York Times reported that Trump had been privately asking advisers if Pence could be trusted, and that outside advisers have been pushing Nikki Haley to replace Pence.

Nikki 2020.

Posted by orrinj at 5:41 PM


George H.W. Bush got to hear his own eulogy before he died. His reaction was priceless. (Cleve R. Wootson Jr., December 5, 2018, Washington Post)

In George H.W. Bush's final days, Jon Meacham -- the Bush biographer, presidential historian and one of four people chosen to eulogize the 41st president -- decided to share the words of his speech with its subject.

And the ailing Bush responded in characteristically self-deprecating fashion:

"That's a lot about me, Jon."

Posted by orrinj at 5:26 PM


People Are Angry About Amazon Sharing This Local News Story About A Delivery Driver Losing Weight (Remy Smidt, 12/03/18, BuzzFeed News)

On Monday afternoon, the Amazon News Twitter account shared a local news story about a woman named Jackie Crow.

Crow, a delivery driver in Kansas City, Kansas, lost weight by working out while making deliveries. People were critical of the tweet.

"So this is Amazon health care," one person said. "Alright. I'm gonna allow my prime membership to expire," another person responded.

In addition to working for the company, Crow also works at her family's restaurant, Wilson's Pizza and Grille, according to a September story published by KSHB. BuzzFeed News reached out to Crow for comment.

"I wear long sleeves in the hot sun and sometimes I'll park a longer distance from a house so I can jog a longer distance," Jackie said of the workout.

The local news segment shows Crow getting out of a car and jogging up to a door, package in hand.

Not everyone found the story to be "feel good."

"This isn't the feel good piece you think it is!" one person said in response to the company sharing the story.

Nathan Fielder responded to the tweet too. He noted that on an episode of his show, Nathan for You, one of his comedic schemes involved a moving company attempting to cut its cost of labor by tricking people into moving things as part of a fake fitness program called "The Movement."

The point, of course, is that jobs that require moving are genuine fitness programs.  That's why we hate them.

Posted by orrinj at 5:07 PM

Posted by orrinj at 4:51 PM


Prosecutors ramp up foreign lobbying probe in New York (ERIC TUCKER, DESMOND BUTLER and CHAD DAY, 12/05/18, AP)

Spinning off from the special counsel's Russia probe, prosecutors are ramping up their investigation into foreign lobbying by two major Washington firms that did work for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, according to people familiar with the matter.

The investigation had been quiet for months since special counsel Robert Mueller referred it to authorities in Manhattan because it fell outside his mandate of determining whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia.

But in a flurry of new activity, Justice Department prosecutors in the last several weeks have begun interviewing witnesses and contacting lawyers to schedule additional questioning related to the Podesta Group and Mercury Public Affairs, the people familiar with the inquiry said [...]

In New York, Mueller's referral prompted a fresh look at the lobbying firms of Washington insiders Tony Podesta and Vin Weber, who have faced scrutiny for their decisions not to register as foreign agents for Ukrainian lobbying work directed by Manafort.

Podesta is a longtime Democratic operative whose brother, John Podesta, ran Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign; Weber is a former Republican congressman from Minnesota. Neither man has been charged with any crimes. Their firms have defended the decisions by saying they relied on the advice of outside attorneys.

Mueller's referral also involved Greg Craig, a former White House counsel for President Barack Obama. Craig supervised a report authored on behalf of the Ukrainian government, and Mueller's team has said Manafort helped Ukraine hide that it paid more than $4 million for the work. CNN reported in September that prosecutors were weighing charges against Craig.

Posted by orrinj at 11:27 AM


Posted by orrinj at 10:48 AM


Trump On Coming Debt Crisis: 'I Won't Be Here' When It Blows Up (Asawin Suebsaeng & Lachlan Markay, 12.05.18, The Daily Beast)

The friction came to a head in early 2017 when senior officials offered Trump charts and graphics laying out the numbers and showing a "hockey stick" spike in the national debt in the not-too-distant future. In response, Trump noted that the data suggested the debt would reach a critical mass only after his possible second term in office.

"Yeah, but I won't be here," the president bluntly said, according to a source who was in the room when Trump made this comment during discussions on the debt.

Posted by orrinj at 10:42 AM


Spotify just released this year's most-streamed artists and yeah, they're all male (LAURA BYAGER, 12/05/18, Mashable)

Spotify just released the most-streamed artists list and yeah, they're all dudes. The most streamed artist is Drake, thanks to his Scorpion album, followed by Post Malone, and late rapper XXXTentacion. Number four is Columbian singer J Balvin and last on the top five is last year's most played artist, Ed Sheeran. 

The exact same thing was the case in 2017, where the top five artists were also all male.

No women are to be found in the most-streamed groups category either. The top five groups are Imagine Dragons, BTS, Maroon 5, Migos, and good old Coldplay, last year's most streamed group.

In a separate category, most-streamed female artists has Ariana Grande at the top, followed by Dua Lipa, Cardi B, Taylor Swift and Camila Cabello. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:20 AM


NH receives federal approval for wider federal trade zone service area (DOUG ALDEN, 11/19/18,  New Hampshire Union Leader)

New Hampshire has received federal approval to expand foreign trade zone service areas in the state, allowing more businesses access to benefits that include lessening duties on imported goods.

Geno Marconi, director of the New Hampshire Port Authority, said the Federal Trade-Zone Board approved the state's application to modify the boundaries and reorganize the coverage area.

Posted by orrinj at 4:10 AM


Posted by orrinj at 4:09 AM


Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


One state for all: The only alternative to Israeli apartheid (Haidar Eid, 3 December 2018 13:, Middle East Eye)

It is high time that Palestinians start moving away from racist solutions that do not meet their inalienable right to self-determination, namely the two-state solution

This alternative solution should be encouraged by liberals and leftists alike, by those who were involved in anti-apartheid activities. If the world learned anything from the South African experience, it was that race, ethnicity and religion should not be the only determinants of one's citizenship, and that separation does not guarantee security as defined by the powerful party, in this case Israel. 

The first to call for this solution have been Palestinians who see clearly the complexities of their reality, and who recognise that a Palestinian state in parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, even in the best case, could hardly constitute a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian problem. Rather, it would only contribute towards a solution for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza - about 35 percent of the Palestinian people. 

Such a move would necessarily lead to a permanent fragmentation of the Palestinian community, and to the perpetuation of the problems of the many Palestinians who live outside of this limited state. As historian Benedict Anderson showed, all nations are "imagined communities", and borders can be drawn to encompass and exclude any number of individuals, both between and within geopolitical entities.

The combination of political vision and practical measures on various fronts - the West Bank and Gaza, 1948 Palestine, the Arab world, and the international solidarity community - is the necessary precondition for the materialisation of any solution. Yet, thanks to the Oslo Accords, we have reached an impasse: either a Bantustan, or nothing. 

Nevertheless, a "third way" is available. It is high time that Palestinians start moving away from solutions that do not meet their inalienable right to self-determination, namely the two-state solution. 

As more people are recognising the futility - not to say absurdity - of attempting to partition Palestine, there is an urgent need for a new vision to bring about decolonisation and justice in historic Palestine. This vision must be committed to the struggle for Palestinians' internationally stipulated rights; it must be humanist and genuine in its attempt to provide a just solution to the Palestine question. 

Palestinian rights will never be realised outside the framework of a unitary state with equality for all its citizens. This is the only way forward.

The Israeli vision is also one state, but with Arabs as a permanently oppressed majority.

Posted by orrinj at 3:59 AM


First ever sun-dimming experiment will mimic volcanic eruption in attempt to reverse global warming (Josh Gabbatiss, 12/04/18, The Independent)

The team will use a balloon suspended 12 miles above Earth to spray tiny chalk particles across a kilometre-long area, with the intention of reflecting the Sun's rays away from the planet.

In doing so, they will attempt to replicate on a small scale the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.

During this event, the volcano spewed 20 million tonnes of sulphur dioxide into the stratosphere, creating a haze that cooled the planet by 0.5C for around 18 months - returning the Earth to its pre-industrial temperature.

Posted by orrinj at 3:58 AM


GOP senators come out and say it: The Trump administration is covering up Khashoggi's killing (Aaron Blake, December 4, 2018, Washington Post)

In remarks after a briefing from CIA Director Gina Haspel, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) suggested there is no plausible way that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman didn't order the killing of Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist, and said that the evidence is overwhelming.

This is completely contrary to the narrative that has been put forward by President Trump and his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo. Trump has said it's unknowable whether the crown prince was actually behind it -- despite the CIA concluding this with "high confidence" -- while Pompeo said last week that there was no "direct reporting" implicating him.

Graham said Tuesday that you'd have to be "willfully blind" to not know Mohammed was responsible -- a clear rebuke of Trump's argument that this whole thing resides in some kind of gray area.

Posted by orrinj at 3:56 AM


Cuba to finally give citizens internet access on their phones as government launches 3G service (Tim Wyatt, 12/05/18, The Independent US)

People in Cuba will soon be able to access the internet from their mobile phones for the first time after the government announced it would launch a 3G service.

The president of the state telecoms company, Mayra Arevich, announced on television on Tuesday evening that the long-awaited service would begin on Thursday.

Cuba is one of the last countries on earth to join the mobile internet. Citizens of the repressive Caribbean country have only been able to get online via fixed connections to their homes from last year.

The regime has also been opening state-owned internet cafes since 2013 and WiFi hotspots in public places since 2015.  

Posted by orrinj at 12:03 AM


Mueller says Michael Flynn gave 'first-hand' details of Trump transition team contacts with Russians (Dan Mangan & Kevin Breuninger, 12/04/18,

Mueller in a sentencing memo said Flynn's "substantial assistance" to his probe warrants a light criminal sentence -- which could include no jail time for the retired Army lieutentant general.

That assistance, which includes 19 interviews with Mueller's team and Justice Department attorneys, related to a previsouly unknown "criminal investigation," as well as to Mueller's long-running probe of the Trump campaign's and transition team's links or coordination with the Russian government.

"The defendant provided firsthand information about the content and context of interactions between the transition team and Russian government officials," the memo says.