All entries by this author

10,000 football fields each hour

Jul 28th, 2018 11:10 am | By

The northern half of the planet is bursting into flames in many places, and in a few months it will be the southern half’s turn. We’re seeing the stories, but the stories aren’t disturbing our slumbers by mentioning the underlying mechanism. David Wallace-Wells considers what the reasons for that may be.

In a single week earlier this month, dozens of places around the world were hit with record temperatures in what was, effectively, an unprecedented, planet-encompassing heat wave: from Denver to Burlington to Ottawa; from Glasgow to Shannon to Belfast; from Tbilisi, in Georgia, and Yerevan, in Armenia, to whole swaths of southern Russia. The temperature of one city in Oman, where the daytime highs had reached 122 degrees

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Throw out those pesky safeguards

Jul 27th, 2018 5:49 pm | By

Those evil demons.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos plans to eliminate regulations that forced for-profit colleges to prove that they provide gainful employment to the students they enroll, in what would be the most drastic in a series of moves that she has made to free the for-profit sector from safeguards put in effect during the Obama era.

The so-called gainful employment regulations put into force by the Obama administration cut off federally guaranteed student loans to colleges if their graduates did not earn enough money to pay them off. That sent many for-profit colleges and universities into an economic tailspin because so many of their alumni were failing to find decent jobs.

In a tailspin is where they belonged, … Read the rest



All genders, all lifestyles, all, all, ALL

Jul 27th, 2018 5:16 pm | By

So apparently “inclusion” requires not mentioning lesbians and gays. Funny how “inclusion” somehow gets us back to the 1950s and calls it progressive.

One of the longest running LGBT film festivals has changed names for its 31st birthday. The Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival, happening September 6-9, is now officially the All Genders, Lifestyles, and Identities Film Festival. Festival director Jim Brunzell says this year is the perfect time to address issues of inclusion and intersection the queer community has faced all year. And judging by the festival’s lineup it’s totally walking its talk.

And this is different from “all lives matter” and “I don’t see color” how exactly?

Spoiler: the Advocate doesn’t say.… Read the rest



Speech acts

Jul 27th, 2018 4:21 pm | By

There are mantras. This is one of the mantras.

“I am a woman because I say I am.” It’s supposed to be, and often is, a conversation-ender. But that seems to be not so much because it’s convincing or persuasive (let alone a good argument) but because it’s a mantra. Repetition makes it true and shouting makes it mandatory – something like that. I googled the sentence in quotation marks and got about 96,600 results, so … Read the rest



That’s right: FRAUD

Jul 27th, 2018 11:26 am | By

Beautifully done.

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A really big “if”

Jul 27th, 2018 10:49 am | By

Cohen says Trump knew.

On Thursday night, both NBC and CNN reported that Cohen, per a source close to him, was prepared to tell investigators that he was present when Trump Jr. told his father about the possibility of meeting with the Russian lawyer to get dirt on Hillary Clinton.

The publicist offered Junior dirt on Clinton, Junior said he loved it and needed to talk to the publicist’s client Agalarov.

Three days later, Trump Jr. and Agalarov spoke (a call Trump Jr. claimed not to remember but that Agalarov did). Call logs suggest that Agalarov called Trump Jr. at 4:04 p.m. on June 6 and that they spoke for a minute or two. About 20 minutes later,

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See the bunny? See the flowers?

Jul 27th, 2018 10:17 am | By

How do you negotiate with Trump, they wonder. How do you break it down into small enough bits that he’ll be able to understand? How do you get him to focus?

Maybe brightly colored cards will help?

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, came to Washington to try to persuade President Trump to stop his trade war with the European Union. Juncker’s approach, reports The Wall Street Journal, involved dumbing the material down just short of the point of using finger puppets to explain what “trade” means:

Backing up his points, Mr. Juncker flipped through more than a dozen colorful cue cards with simplified explainers, the senior EU official said. Each card had at most three figures about

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Now about these tweets…

Jul 26th, 2018 3:20 pm | By

Mueller has reached the tweets phase of the investigation.

For years, President Trump has used Twitter as his go-to public relations weapon, mounting a barrage of attacks on celebrities and then political rivals even after advisers warned he could be creating legal problems for himself.

Those concerns now turn out to be well founded. The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, is scrutinizing tweets and negative statements from the president about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey, according to three people briefed on the matter.

Goes to intent, m’lud.

Several of the remarks came as Mr. Trump was also privately pressuring the men — both key witnesses in the inquiry — about the investigation,

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Call it leverage

Jul 26th, 2018 12:11 pm | By

Where the crazy is at the moment:

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday that he opposes an effort by conservatives to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, as Republican leaders of the chamber sought to avert a vote on the volatile issue later in the day.

Some House Republicans want to impeach the Republican Deputy AG over the investigation of the Republican president by the Republican former head of the FBI, and other House Republicans want to hold off on that for now.

Conservative hard-liners earlier agreed to hold off on pushing for an impeachment vote Thursday after securing a commitment from GOP leaders to declare Justice Department officials in contempt of Congress if they do not

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Sharia, Segregation and Secularism

Jul 26th, 2018 11:20 am | By

For those within reach of London, a glorious opportunity:

Sunday 25 November 2018

Conference on Sharia, Segregation and Secularism

9:30am registration for 10:00am start

Central London

Join notable secularists and veteran women’s rights campaigners for a conference on Sharia, Segregation and Secularism at a spectacular venue in central London on Sunday 25 November 2018.

The conference will raise key issues surrounding religious arbitration, the veil and gender segregation at schools and universities, including as part of the religious-Right’s assault on women’s rights. It will also highlight the voices of people on the frontlines of resistance, the gains made by secularists both in the UK and internationally, and the importance of secularism as a minimum precondition for equality. Challenges that … Read the rest



REALLY, James Comey?

Jul 26th, 2018 11:06 am | By

Perfect.

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Burning the house down from the inside

Jul 26th, 2018 10:48 am | By

Jennifer Rubin finds the “impeach Rosenstein” stunt warped and contemptible.

The damage here is being done not by Rosenstein, but by irresponsible, hyper-partisan congressmen. Former White House ethics counsel Norman Eisen and Fred Wertheimer, founder of Democracy 21, recently wrote about the impeachment gambit:

Key House Republicans are abusing their offices and the public trust to blindly provide protection for [President] Trump. They are doing so instead of working to get to the bottom of the worst foreign attack on American elections in our history.

They need to be called on their scandalous efforts to undermine the Mueller investigation and ignore Russia’s cyber invasion of our democracy. A bipartisan outcry greeted Trump’s Helsinki betrayals. We should be hearing protests at

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Wrapped in an enigma

Jul 26th, 2018 10:32 am | By

It’s the most conservative, farthest right Republicans who are pushing the impeachment of Rosenstein ploy, and what I’m wondering at the moment is what, exactly, is conservative about their lust to sabotage Mueller’s investigation.

After all, Mueller is a Republican, and a former Marine who fought in Vietnam, and a former head of the FBI. You would think all three of those descriptors would place him way the hell up there on the Conservative Checklist. Conservatives and Republicans generally favor other conservatives and Republicans, and men who enlisted voluntarily to fight in Vietnam, especially Marines. (I say “men” because the same doesn’t apply to women: conservatives and Republicans prefer the women to stay home and wait for their men to … Read the rest



Government at its finest

Jul 25th, 2018 5:20 pm | By

Act 732 of the melodrama:

Conservative lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a resolution calling for the impeachment of Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, in a move that marks a dramatic escalation in the battle over the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The effort, spearheaded by Reps. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), also sets up a showdown with House Republican leaders, who have distanced themselves from calls to remove Rosenstein from office. But Meadows and Jordan stopped short of forcing an immediate vote on the measure, sparing Republican lawmakers for now from a potential dilemma.

They used to be the lawnorder party, but now they’re the party of protect the sleazy corrupt rapey … Read the rest



Locker up

Jul 25th, 2018 4:40 pm | By

Steve Almond was doing a reading last week, and during the q and a afterwards a guy delivered an aria of rage about Hillary Clinton.

I thought about this guy as I watched a video clip of Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaking to a group of young conservatives on Tuesday. The high schoolers spontaneously start chanting “Lock her up” and Sessions — our nation’s top law enforcement official — repeats their words and chuckles fondly.

As you may remember, “Lock her up” was the central rallying cry at the Republican National Convention. Forget policy proposals aimed at helping working Americans, or hopeful slogans. Instead, the most salient message from one of our two major political parties was simply that

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How dare you ask questions

Jul 25th, 2018 3:34 pm | By

Trump and his pimps continue his war on the press.

The White House took retaliatory action against Kaitlan Collins, a White House reporter for CNN, after Collins asked President Trump questions at an Oval Office photo op on Wednesday.

Collins was representing all the television networks as the “pool reporter” in the room during the early afternoon meeting between Trump and Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission.

It is customary for the press pool to lob a few questions at the president. Sometimes Trump responds; other times he does not.

Collins asked him some questions about Putin and Cohen, and he didn’t answer. Later the White House told the press about an unexpected press availability with Trump … Read the rest



Trump’s nightmare

Jul 25th, 2018 11:46 am | By

Trump loses big: the emoluments case is going ahead.

This is the nightmare — or one of them — that Trump has long feared, namely litigation in which his business operations, perhaps even his tax returns, are laid bare. Norman Eisen, who is co-counsel with the District and Maryland, tells me, “It is another major crack in the dam that has so far been holding back accountability. [Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III] is closing in; [Michael] Cohen is about to cut a deal; and now we have taken another leap forward in being able to understand how Trump is profiting off the presidency, including possibly from Russia.” He adds, “‘Follow the money,’ the old adage goes, and we

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In the middle of that question

Jul 25th, 2018 10:35 am | By

What actually happened with that transcript and video, according to Philip Bump in the Post:

Here’s the thing: That’s also how The Post’s transcript of the news conference initially read, too. Ours came from Bloomberg Government and ours, too, excluded the first part of the reporters question in which he begins, “President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election”.

What happened? If you watch the videos, it’s pretty clear. At some point in the middle of that question, there’s a switch between the feed from the reporters and the feed from the translator. In the White House version of the video, you can hear the question being asked very faintly under the woman who is translating

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Memory hole

Jul 25th, 2018 10:20 am | By

[But see update]

Wow. Sorry to do the naïve surprised-shocked thing yet again, but I am surprised-shocked. The White House is 1984ing us. Its official transcript and video of the Trump-Putin press conference last week both have a missing piece – a sliced out, concealed, censored piece. Can you guess which one? It’s where the Reuters reporter asks Putin if he wanted Trump to win and Putin says “Yes I did, yes I did.”

Updating to add: Washington Post reporter Philip Bump says that’s not what happened, that it was a glitch not a deliberate censoring.

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Provide counterpoints

Jul 25th, 2018 10:08 am | By

The Guardian runs an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg from the parents of one of the children murdered at Sandy Hook:

Since that day, we, as well as the parents, family, and friends of the 25 other victims, have been embroiled in a constant battle with social media providers, including Facebook, to protect us from harassment and threats.

Almost immediately after the massacre of 20 little children, all under the age of seven, and six elementary school teachers and staff, the attacks on us began. Conspiracy groups and anti-government provocateurs began making claims on Facebook that the massacre was a hoax, that the murdered were so-called “crisis actors” and that their audience should rise up to “find out the

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