May 20, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 6:13 PM


DC judge upholds House subpoena for Trump's financial records (Gigi Sukin, 5/20/19, Axios)

"It is simply not fathomable that a Constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a President for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct -- past or present -- even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry."

Posted by orrinj at 6:08 PM


Inspector General: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Used Personal Email for Government Business (Jerry Lambe, May 20th, 2019, Law & Crime)

A report from the Department of Education's Inspector General released Monday found that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had used her personal email account to send or receive almost 100 emails directly relating to government business and has failed to properly save a number of messages. [...]

The Inspector General's report recommended that the department improve their training of employees regarding the use of personal emails in the future.

Posted by orrinj at 5:58 PM


Farming is much harder work than foraging: The adoption of agriculture doesn't mean an easier life, a modern study confirms. (Nick Carne, 5/20/19, Cosmos)

Among the Agta people of the Philippines, the women have more leisure time as hunter-gatherers than farmers.

New research adds weight to the suggestion that, even today, hunter-gatherers who turn to agriculture end up working harder and having less free time.

A team of British and Swiss researchers found that among the Agta people of the northern Philippines, those who farm tend to work 10 hours more each week than those who still forage, with women suffering the most.

"For a long time, the transition from foraging to farming was assumed to represent progress, allowing people to escape an arduous and precarious way of life," says Mark Dyble, an anthropologist from the University of Cambridge, UK.

"But as soon as anthropologists started working with hunter-gatherers, they began questioning this narrative, finding that foragers actually enjoy quite a lot of leisure time.

"Our data provides some of the clearest support for this idea yet."

Posted by orrinj at 5:48 PM


Prosecutors examining tens of thousands of Trump inauguration documents (Kara Scannell, May 20, 2019, CNN)

Federal prosecutors in New York are scrutinizing tens of thousands of documents relating to Donald Trump's inauguration in a sign that the investigation into the committee's finances is advancing.

The President's Inaugural Committee handed over the cache of documents over the course of several weeks in response to a wide-ranging subpoena seeking documents, records, and communications concerning the inaugural's finances, vendors, and donors sent in February by the US attorney's office with the Southern District of New York. The last set of documents was produced within the last month, people familiar with the matter said.
The end of the document production indicates the investigation is moving into the next stage. 

Posted by orrinj at 1:43 PM


Posted by orrinj at 3:59 AM


A Judaism bereft of its center: All the thoughtful, creative ideas in the world can't replace deep, personal, engagement with the beating heart of Judaism (Aryeh Ben David, MAY 20, 2019, Times of Israel)

I once asked a rabbi: "How is your personal relationship with God?"

Speechless, his face went white.

Then, before he answered, I asked him a second question: "When was the last time you were asked that question?"

This time he could answer: "Never."

I have raised this question countless times with rabbis over the past 10 years, hoping to hear something different. And yet - rabbis who have been in the field for 10, 20, and even 30 years have all reacted the same way. In the last five years, since beginning Ayeka's work in day schools, I have put this question up to teachers - who have also answered similarly.

We have lost our center. We have become a God-less people.

The Jewish people brought the idea of God to the world: a monotheistic God; a God who is not distant but interacts in our lives; a God who is a benevolent creator; a God who communicated directly with our ancestors for centuries.  

Now God is the one subject we don't talk about. [...]

A Judaism that has exorcised God from its core - will not survive. Period. It is an amputation following which the patient cannot live. It is doomed, no matter how many great rabbis, teachers, and pedagogically innovative programs may flourish.

Posted by orrinj at 3:58 AM


Posted by orrinj at 3:47 AM


Did the Golden Age of Department Stores Bring Us Together? (STEPHEN EIDE, December 21, 2018, American Conservative)

Try as they may with their sports stadium, "mixed use," and transit-oriented development ventures, city planners have never come close to recreating the excitement of downtown during the heyday of the great urban department stores, which flourished from the late 19th century until roughly World War II. It is impossible to look at old photographs of crowds standing seven deep in front of the Macy's holiday window displays and not feel like we've lost something in a profoundly civic sense. Thousands would attend the opening of a major new store. Though chartered as for-profit companies, the old department stores embraced a business model that relied on spectacle and shopping as an experience. Department stores' social and cultural contributions to city life far outstripped their economic significance. They enhanced the quality of life of countless city residents regardless of whether or how much those residents actually shopped at them.

When generational change strains the social fabric, communities respond both by adapting old civic institutions to meet new demands and by crafting entirely new institutions. In his book City People: The Rise of Modern City Culture in Nineteenth-Century America, the German-American historian Gunther Barth places the department store in the latter category. In his view, it's no more possible to understand the development of American urban life without reference to the department store than to try to make sense of medieval society while ignoring the church. At a time of rapid and disruptive economic growth, and unprecedented levels of inequality and diversity, Barth argues that the department stores knit urban communities together.

This thesis would have sounded strange, to say the least, to many who lived through retail's late 19th- and early 20th-century convulsions. The great department stores struck many as anti-local, "anti-social," even. Neighborhood dry-goods merchants felt crushed by merciless commercial forces beyond their control and they identified the department store as the force doing the crushing. By the standards of their day, 19th-century department stores were very big business. Take for example their "fixed price" policy, which prohibited haggling. Though this would have democratic consequences (no more the-rich-don't-have-to-pay-for-anything type deals for socially prominent shoppers), most historians agree that storeowners' hands were forced by hire a small army of salespeople, who could not be trusted to bargain with the proper mix of fairness and effectiveness. [...]

Equally significant was newspaper advertising. Historian Daniel Boorstin describes newspapers as "streetcars of the mind" because of how the aggressive marketing techniques of RH Macy and John Wannamaker extended the reach of their brands even into the suburbs that were beginning to take shape outside city borders. Extravagant ad buys were necessitated by the low markup.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Ex-Trump aide Bannon praises Marine Le Pen's campaign (Reuters, 5/20/19)