May 16, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 8:09 PM


Flynn gave info on attempts to obstruct Mueller probe: court filing (Nathan Layne, 5/16/19, Reuters) 

Former U.S. national security adviser Michael Flynn gave Special Counsel Robert Mueller information about multiple attempts by people to obstruct the Russia investigation, according to court documents made public on Thursday.

The attempts to obstruct Mueller's probe were made by people associated with the administration of President Donald Trump or with Congress, according to the filings, which were unsealed at prosecutors' request.

Flynn "informed the government of multiple instances, both before and after his guilty plea, where either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the Administration or Congress that could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation," Mueller wrote in a memo originally submitted under seal ahead of Flynn's planned sentencing on Dec. 18, 2018.

"The defendant even provided a voicemail recording of one such communication. In some instances, the SCO was unaware of the outreach until being alerted to it by the defendant," he wrote, using the acronym for the Special Counsel's Office.

Posted by orrinj at 11:21 AM


An electronic strike zone is coming to the Atlantic League (Jayson Stark, 5/16/19, The athletic)

For a century, here's how a strike was called in baseball games across the world: An umpire peered intently as the pitch soared toward home plate. Then that umpire rose up out of his crouch. He thrust a finger, dramatically, into the air. He let out a mighty "Stee-rike" call. Rinse and repeat.

But next month in the Atlantic League, that time-honored scene is about to be altered forever - because once the technology is in place and umpires get the gist of it, an electronic TrackMan radar tracking system will be making those ball/strike calls. And you know who will be watching closely?

Major League Baseball, of course.

Posted by orrinj at 4:05 AM


Tariff Crossfire (Todd Seavey, 5/16/19, Splice Today)

Somehow learning nothing from all the decades he spent around free-marketeers and would-be government-shrinkers, [Pat Buchanan] now joins the vicious, myopic Ann Coulter in praising taxes. Those two don't seem to have any principled objection to taxation so long as it harms their enemies, the Chinese in Buchanan's case and the Koch Brothers in Coulter's (she's peeved they like immigrants).

Taxes are a perfectly coherent way to achieve the Trumpbot goal of reducing free trade and movement of peoples.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


Bob Hawke, former Australian prime minister, dies age 89: Labor PM, who served from 1983 to 1991, modernised Australia's economy and introduced significant social reforms (Anne Davies and Paul Karp, 16 May 2019, The Guardian)

Hawke's government, in which he and his treasurer, Paul Keating, forged a strong partnership, will be remembered for its reforming zeal and for modernising the Australian economy, including floating the Australian dollar, removing tariffs and modernising industrial awards.

The Accord, struck with the trade union movement in 1983, brought relative industrial harmony to Australia and allowed Hawke's government to rein in inflation, while transforming work practices and the economy.

The accord also delivered Australia's first compulsory superannuation scheme, after Hawke agreed with the unions that a 3% pay rise would instead be paid by employers as superannuation. The scheme was initially opposed by business but is now regarded as a landmark reform and delivers 9% in retirement savings to all workers.

In a statement Keating said the country was "much poorer" for Hawke's passing, praising the "morale framework" he brought to public life, representing working people and the country at large.

"He understood that imagination was central to policy-making and never lacked the courage to do what had to be done to turn that imagination into reality," Keating said.

"And that reality was the reformation of Australia's economy and society and its place in the world."

Hawke's government also introduced significant social reforms including reintroducing universal health care, rebadged as Medicare, lifting school retention rates and expanding youth skills programs and ending poverty traps inherent in the social security system.

Early in his term Hawke halted the Franklin dam in Tasmania, saving wilderness areas from destruction. He went on to deal with other difficult environmental challenges, such as preserving old-growth forests.

However, Hawke's willingness to compromise and accommodate business interests as prime minister earned him criticism from his former union colleagues, particularly when he embarked on a program of privatising government assets and sided with the airlines during a pilot's strike.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


We must confront threat of white nationalism -- together (Ilhan Omar and Jan Schakowsky, May. 14th, 2019, CNN)

As a Muslim American and a Jewish American elected to the United States Congress, we can no longer sit silently as terror strikes our communities. We cannot allow those who seek to divide and intimidate us to succeed. Whatever our differences, our two communities, Muslim and Jewish, must come together to confront the twin evils of anti-Semitic and Islamophobic violence. [...]

It is no secret that the President normalized white nationalism when he referred to some of the white supremacists marching in Charlottesville as 'very fine people' -- and again doubled down on this statement last month in a speech before the National Rifle Association, by characterizing those who attended the Unite the Right rally as people who "felt very strongly about the statue of Robert E. Lee."

Less well-known are the policies put in place by this administration, which undermine the fight against domestic terrorism. Last year, President Trump ended grants from the Department of Homeland Security designed to help fight white supremacist violence. And just weeks before the Poway attack, Trump's Department of Homeland Security disbanded a group of intelligence analysts focused on domestic terrorism.

White nationalists win when our two communities are divided. They seek to exploit our divisions and grievances to further an agenda of hate. But we know that when are united, we are stronger. We know this because in our own communities, Jewish and Muslim constituents have joined hands in solidarity and denounced these hate-filled massacres.

We saw it when Muslim-American organizations raised more than $200,000 to support the victims and their families after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. And we saw it again in March, when Jewish groups from the city of Pittsburgh raised money to support the New Zealand Muslim community in the wake of the Christchurch mosque shooting.

Posted by orrinj at 3:45 AM


Robots Take the Wheel as Autonomous Farm Machines Hit the Field (Ashley Robinson , Lydia Mulvany , and David Stringer, May 15, 2019, Bloomberg)

Robots are taking over farms faster than anyone saw coming.

The first fully autonomous farm equipment is becoming commercially available, which means machines will be able to completely take over a multitude of tasks. Tractors will drive with no farmer in the cab, and specialized equipment will be able to spray, plant, plow and weed cropland. And it's all happening well before many analysts had predicted thanks to small startups in Canada and Australia.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM