November 18, 2019

Posted by orrinj at 1:17 PM


Flanked by bloc allies, Netanyahu again assails idea of Arab-backed coalition (RAOUL WOOTLIFF, 11/18/19, Times of Israel)

Repeating many of the statements he has made over recent days slamming the prospect of a minority government supported by the predominantly Arab Joint List party, Netanyahu told his fellow lawmakers that such a government would be "a real danger to Israel to the people of Israel."

...a government with Arab support can not be legitimate.

Posted by orrinj at 1:06 PM


Trump Ditches Flavored Vape Ban After Learning His Supporters Like to Vape (ELLIOT HANNON, NOV 18, 2019, Slate)

Just two months ago, President Donald Trump responded to the growing health crisis fueled by e-cigarette use, particularly among teens, by calling for a ban on flavored vaping products. Six weeks later, however, Trump indicated--without giving his reasoning--a softening in his stance on e-cigarettes. Now, just over two months after his initial statement, the initiative to ban flavored products favored by teens appears to have been completely snuffed out. Why? "As he had done so many times before," the Washington Post reports, "Trump reversed course--this time on a plan to address a major public health problem because of worries that apoplectic vape shop owners and their customers might hurt his reelection prospects."

Posted by orrinj at 1:04 PM


Superslippery Toilets Squash Water Wastage (Viviane Callier on November 18, 2019, Scientific American)

Now a team of materials scientists at Pennsylvania State University has developed a promising potential solution: an ultraslippery coating that prevents liquid and solid waste from sticking to the toilet bowl, halving the amount of water needed to flush. The researchers say it is more effective than existing hydrophobic, or water-repellent, coatings for toilets, which shed liquid waste well but are less effective for solids. The novel veneer is also antibacterial, which, the researchers say, would reduce a main cause of bathroom odors and lower, by 90 percent, the amount of cleaning material needed to keep toilets sanitary.

"We think this can have a big impact, because everyone needs to use the toilet. And everyone wants the toilet to be clean," says Penn State materials scientist Tak-Sing Wong, senior author of the study, published on Monday in Nature Sustainability. 

The new coating, called liquid-entrenched smooth surface (LESS), consists of two layers. First, researchers spray the inside of the toilet bowl with a silicone material called polydimethylsiloxane, which forms chains of long, stringy molecules known as polymers. The ends of these chains fix themselves to the toilet surface, forming a permanent base layer of "nanohairs." This layer is then sprayed with a silicone oil lubricant about one thousandth of a millimeter thick (roughly half of the length of an Escherichia coli bacterium). The hydrophobic polymers that make up the base layer shed water but attract the silicone oil, keeping the lubricant in place for about 500 flushes (after which more silicone must be applied). The concept was inspired by the carnivorous pitcher plant, which has tubelike modified leaves with slippery interior surfaces that cause unlucky insects to slide into its trap. "One of the key innovations was to use a smooth, lubricated surface, which nature has been using for many years," Wong says.

Posted by orrinj at 1:00 PM


Trump 'Will Strongly Consider' Testifying in Impeachment Probe, as New Poll Shows 70% Disapprove of His Ukraine Actions (PETER WADE, 11/18/19, Rolling Stone)

As the president defends himself, however, the American people seem unconvinced. A new ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted over the weekend found that 70 percent of Americans disapprove of his actions with Ukraine, saying that his request that President Volodymyr Zelensky manufacture dirt on Trump's political rival, Joe Biden, and his son was wrong. Furthermore, 51 percent of poll respondents said that Trump's actions were not only wrong but that he should be impeached and removed from office because of them.

Posted by orrinj at 12:57 PM


House investigating whether Trump lied to Mueller (Katelyn Polantz, November 18, 2019, CNN)

The House of Representatives is now investigating whether President Donald Trump lied to special counsel Robert Mueller in written answers he provided in the Russia investigation, the House's general counsel said in federal court Monday.

"Did the President lie? Was the President not truthful in his responses to the Mueller investigation?" House general counsel Douglas Letter told the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit about why the House now needs access to grand jury material Mueller collected in his investigation.

He answered the questions so he lied.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Trump Turns on Pompeo Over State Department Officials' Impeachment Testimonies, Says Report (Tom Sykes, Nov. 18, 2019, Daily Beast)

Donald Trump has reportedly turned against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo after becoming infuriated by the State Department officials who have testified in the impeachment inquiry. NBC News reports the president has confronted Pompeo about the officials, and what he perceives as a half-hearted effort by the secretary of state to block them from testifying against him. 

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


This single shipping container can start powering a small renewable grid in less than a day (ADELE PETERS, 11/18/19, Fast Company)

Inside a shipping container currently en route to a school in Puerto Rico, a solar microgrid is ready for deployment: As soon as the container arrives, the system, from a startup called BoxPower, can be assembled and begin providing power in less than a day.

The system, designed for use both immediately after disasters and to make communities more resilient to future disasters, easy to rapidly install. "We jokingly call ourselves the IKEA of microgrids because there is some assembly required, but it is color-coded, pre-cut, and pre-drilled," says Angelo Campus, CEO and founder of California-based BoxPower. "And anyone who can assemble an IKEA dresser can assemble our solar array on top of the container. It doesn't require any heavy equipment or machinery." [...]

The system can provide around 50 kilowatt-hours of electricity, or enough to power three or four homes or an energy-intensive business, the company says. If a disaster is imminent--such as a hurricane that might cause debris to fly into the solar panels--the whole system can be quickly disassembled and packed back inside the shipping container.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


A SPY COMPLEX REVEALED (James Risen, Tim Arango, Farnaz Fassihi, Murtaza Hussain, Ronen Bergman, November 18 2019, The Intercept)

According to one of the leaked Iranian intelligence cables, Abdul-Mahdi, who in exile worked closely with Iran while Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq, had a "special relationship with the IRI" -- the Islamic Republic of Iran -- when he was Iraq's oil minister in 2014. The exact nature of that relationship is not detailed in the cable, and, as one former senior U.S. official cautioned, a "special relationship could mean a lot of things -- it doesn't mean he is an agent of the Iranian government." But no Iraqi politician can become prime minister without Iran's blessing, and Abdul-Mahdi, when he secured the premiership in 2018, was seen as a compromise candidate acceptable to both Iran and the United States.

The leaked cables offer an extraordinary glimpse inside the secretive Iranian regime. They also detail the extent to which Iraq has fallen under Iranian influence since the American invasion in 2003, which transformed Iraq into a gateway for Iranian power, connecting the Islamic Republic's geography of dominance from the shores of the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.

The trove of leaked Iranian intelligence reports largely confirms what was already known about Iran's firm grip on Iraqi politics. But the reports reveal far more than was previously understood about the extent to which Iran and the United States have used Iraq as a staging area for their spy games. They also shed new light on the complex internal politics of the Iranian government, where competing factions are grappling with many of the same challenges faced by American occupying forces as they struggled to stabilize Iraq after the United States invasion.

Instead of competing to achieve the same objective, we ought to just accept our implicit alliance.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


Conservative Group Fires Michelle Malkin Over Support for Holocaust Denier (Will Sommer, Nov. 18, 2019, Daily Beast)

A conservative group cut ties with right-wing columnist Michelle Malkin on Sunday over her support for an anti-Semitic internet personality, ramping up a growing conservative civil war centered on college campuses.

Malkin's firing from Young America's Foundation, whose speakers bureau had booked Malkin for speeches across the country for the past 17 years, marks the latest battle between supporters of Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and more establishment conservative figures.  [...]

Malkin has praised Fuentes and his fans, calling on establishment conservatives to engage with them. In a speech last week, Malkin called Fuentes "one of the New Right leaders." In another, she praised Fuentes fans and called their conservative critics "cringe." She has also frequently echoed their talking points calling for further restricting legal immigration, claiming that continued immigration will doom the Republican Party.

"We're the majority in this room, and we're the majority in this country," Malkin said at a Thursday speech at UCLA organized by YAF. 

The red hat is the red flag.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


While you weren't looking the trade war with China went completely off the rails (Linette Lopez, 11/17/19, Business Insider)

The Trump administration reportedly started tossing around removing the tariffs in exchange for some agricultural purchases, and suddenly we were all supposed to get excited about a deal that only promised to get soybean purchases back to where they were before this mess even started -- as if they were the point of starting a trade war in the first place.

And the more desperate the Trump administration becomes to eke out some kind of win in the midst of a darkening political situation, the more it will try to make small victories seem like big ones. Or what is shaping up to be a total non-victory seem like the thing we came here to do in the first place. China, for its part, is digging its heels in too.

Bloomberg Businessweek -- in a well-reported piece describing what it was like inside the White House as this trade war descended into the farcical -- obtained a quote so good it made this reporter jealous.

Douglas Irwin, an economic historian at Dartmouth compared what the Trump administration is doing with trade war now to what the US did after it lost the War of 1812 to the British. When the war started, Americans claimed they would take territory from Canada, by the time the war ended in defeat Americans were reduced to touting the fact that they hadn't lost any territory.

Trump is taking from the same playbook, says Irwin, he "launched the trade war against China and said, 'We are going to remake the economy and get the state out of industrial policy and mercantilism'...We are ending it by saying, 'They are buying just as much stuff as they did before.'‚ÄČ"