July 11, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 7:40 PM


Islamist leader elected new speaker of Algeria parliament (Al Jazeera, 7/11/19)

Algerian legislators have elected an Islamist opposition figure as speaker of Algeria's parliament, according to state media.

Slimane Chenine, the leader of a parliamentary alliance of three small Islamist parties, will replace Mouad Bouchareb of the National Liberation Front (NLF), the party that was led by former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika, state television reported late on Wednesday.

Bouchareb resigned on July 2 amid pressure from protesters and politicians, three months after Bouteflika stepped down following weeks of nationwide protests and pressure from the powerful military.

Posted by orrinj at 7:35 PM


Trump ends bid for citizenship question on US 2020 census (Al Jazeera, 7/11/19)

After months of legal battles, US President Donald Trump on Thursday dropped his bid to include a citizenship question on the 2020 census.

Posted by orrinj at 7:32 PM


Bolsonaro's first 6 months (RAFAEL JUNQUEIRA, July 11, 2019, Acton)

Bolsonaro has, so far, kept promises he made during his campaign. As part of his platform, he promised to repair anti-market foreign policies, implemented by past presidents. On his first international trip as president, he met with President Trump in the White House to discuss trade, after which the United States gave support for Brazil's entrance into the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). "Brazil and the United States have never been closer than they are right now," President Trump declared after the meeting

June 28 marked yet another international victory, when Mercosul -the South American trade bloc consisting of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay- reached the biggest agreement in its history with the European Union. Classified by Bolsonaro as "historic", the agreement is predicted to generate an investment of $87.5 billion in Brazil in the next 15 years. This agreement has been deliberated on for 20 years, and was supported by the Brazilian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ernesto Araujo and the Minister of Economics Paulo Guedes, who, both appointed by Bolsonaro, played crucial roles in the execution of the agreement.

While Bolsonaro has considerable authority in dictating foreign policy, his sovereignty in domestic affairs differs greatly. In its first six months, it's become obvious that the executive branch has a large obstacle to clear: Congress. Brazil's Congress is firmly committed to barricading Bolsonaro's executive agenda. 

Bolsonaro has a peculiar method of doing politics. He despises what he calls "old politics," in which politicians form alliances to exchange favors that generate mutual benefit for the parties involved. Instead, Bolsonaro intends to create a transparent political scene where politicians act according to their preferences and ideologies. Unfortunately, this method is unworkable in Brazilian politics.

Posted by orrinj at 11:55 AM



THE SUN BLANKETS the Earth with enough photons every hour to meet the entire world's energy needs for a year. The question is how to efficiently convert them into electricity. Even under small-scale, laboratory conditions the world's best single-junction solar cells, the kind found in most solar panels, still max out at capturing 29 percent of the sun's energy. That puts them just shy of the hard limit of about one third that solar researchers calculated half a century ago. But scientists studying photovoltaics--the process by which sunlight is converted into electricity--have also long suspected that this limit is not as hard as it once seemed.

Posted by orrinj at 11:50 AM


Annual Polling Confirms Sustained Public Confidence in U.S. Intelligence (Steve Slick, Joshua Busby, Kingsley Burns, July 10, 2019, LawFare)

This second round of polling, which we led at the University of Texas at Austin, confirmed a modest increase in Americans' assessment of the intelligence community's utility and effectiveness, notwithstanding persistent expressions of hostility and distrust by the president. Starting before his inauguration, President Trump vigorously rejected the intelligence community's consensus judgment on Russia's interference in the 2016 elections, and since then he has repeatedly attacked these agencies and their former leaders. In 2018, the president went so far as to accuse the intelligence community of spying on his 2016 campaign, and his supporters labeled it as an anti-democratic "deep state" hostile to his administration.

But despite the unprecedented public antagonism from the chief executive, most Americans, including Republicans, continue to express confidence in the intelligence community.

Posted by orrinj at 4:00 AM


Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Conspiracy theorists, far-right agitators head to White House with social media in their sights (Ben Collins and Monica Alba, 7/10/19, NBC News)

While the Trump administration has generally embraced the far-right social media sphere, Thursday's event will be one of the first to bring that digital ecosystem into the real world. Disinformation researchers who spoke with NBC News said the event further legitimizes a network of social media personalities who repeatedly target politicians and social media users with disinformation, trolling and harassment campaigns.

"I feel like maybe the rest of us are in denial, or disbelief, that these kinds of internet celebrities and social media influencers are already a powerful force shaping our culture," said Erin Gallagher, who maps influence networks of targeted harassment and disinformation. "The people and topics that they elevate with their massive platforms are incredibly toxic and will have very damaging long-term effects on society."

The toxicity of at least one of the attendees has already caused problems for the event.

Cartoonist Ben Garrison, who was initially invited to the summit, is no longer attending. Garrison faced criticism for a cartoon that showed George Soros as a puppetmaster. The Anti-Defamation League called the cartoon "anti-Semitic" in 2017. Images of Soros, a Democratic donor who is frequently the target of conspiracy theories, have been a recurring trope in Garrison's cartoons.

Various people have posted on social media their invitations to the event, but it's unclear whether all will be attending, given some controversy over their past online behavior.

Conspiracy theorist Bill Mitchell, an online radio host and frequent guest on Infowars who has promoted the Qanon conspiracy theory, has tweeted that he will attend the event. Tim Pool, a YouTube personality who has pushed the false conspiracy theory that former Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich leaked hacked emails to WikiLeaks, also plans to attend the event.

Right-wing commentator Ali Alexander also received an invitation. Alexander made headlines in recent weeks for questioning Kamala Harris's ethnicity in a tweet that was retweeted by Donald Trump Jr., the president's son. Harris was born in Oakland, Calif., and her father and mother are immigrants from Jamaica and India, respectively.

Pity our poor Trumpist friends; when they look in the mirror this is who looks back.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Netanyahu meets with head of Ukrainian party that includes neo-Nazis (SAM SOKOL, 7/11/19, JTA)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has come under fire in recent years for allegedly failing to confront anti-Semitism and revisionism in Central and Eastern Europe, met Wednesday with the head of a Ukrainian political party whose membership includes ultranationalists and neo-Nazis.

As Jews to them, so Arabs to him.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Migrant Children Report Sexual Assault, Abuse at Arizona Border Facility (TAYLOR MAHLANDT, JULY 10, 2019, Slate)

Customs and Border Protection agents at a facility in Yuma, Arizona, are facing allegations of sexual assault and mistreatment of migrant children, according to documents obtained by NBC News. The outlet reviewed nearly 30 accounts from government case managers dating from April 10 to June 12 that detail an environment in which kids were allegedly neglected, denied basic provisions, and verbally and physically abused by those running the facilities. This mirrors the dismal conditions that have been criticized in Texas border facilities, like those in El Paso and Rio Grande Valley.

...if these really were concentration camps then things exactly like this would be going on....
Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


'It could have been any of us': Disdain for Trump runs among ambassadors in US (DAVID E. SANGER, 7/11/19, SBS)

Ask members of the Washington diplomatic corps about the cables that Sir Kim Darroch, the British ambassador who resigned Wednesday, wrote to London describing the dysfunction and chaos of the Trump administration, and their response is uniform: We wrote the same stuff.

"Yes, yes, everyone does," GĂ©rard Araud, who retired this spring as the French ambassador, said Wednesday morning of his own missives from Washington. "But fortunately I knew that nothing would remain secret, so I sent them in a most confidential manner." [...]

"It could have been any of us," one ambassador, who is still serving and therefore spoke on the condition of anonymity, said on Wednesday.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Atlantic League Debuts 'Robot Umpires' at 2019 All-Star Game (MEGAN ARMSTRONG, JULY 10, 2019, Bleacher Report)

The Atlantic League nudged America's past time another step closer to modernization with the introduction of robots Wednesday night. During the Atlantic League's All-Star Game in York, Pennsylvania, the plate umpire wore an earpiece to allow computer technology to relay whether to call balls or strikes.

As if techno9logy hadn't done enough for us; getting rid of Joe West and Angel Hernandez would make even the car worthwhile.