Monday Dec. 11

White House, GOP prepare to slash the safety net Politico
> The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are hoping to make the most sweeping changes to federal safety net programs in a generation, using legislation and executive actions to target recipients of food stamps, Medicaid and housing benefits.
> The White House is quietly preparing a sweeping executive order that would mandate a top-to-bottom review of the federal programs on which millions of poor Americans rely. And GOP lawmakers are in the early stages of crafting legislation that could make it more difficult to qualify for those programs.

Three Trump accusers go on TV to recount “pervert” claims Washington Examiner
leeds> A women who accused President Trump of groping and forcibly kissing her on an airplane during the 1970s said she decided to share her story to show the public “what kind of pervert” Trump is.
> Jessica Leeds appeared on “Megyn Kelly Today” on Monday morning, along with two other women, Samantha Holvey and Rachel Crooks. All three accused the president of sexual misconduct before he was elected.

Former Facebook exec: Social media ripping society apart Fast Company
> “… there’s no civil discourse, no cooperation; [only] misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem–this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”
> Regarding an incident in which seven innocent men in India were lynched after a hoax about kidnappings spread through WhatsApp: “That’s what we’re dealing with. And imagine taking that to the extreme, where bad actors can now manipulate large swathes of people to do anything you want. It’s just a really, really bad state of affairs.”

Devastating Huntington’s disease stopped cold by gene therapy BBC
An experimental drug, injected into spinal fluid, safely lowered levels of toxic proteins in the brain.
The research team, at University College London, say there is now hope the deadly disease can be stopped.
Experts say it could be the biggest breakthrough in neurodegenerative diseases for 50 years.

Top diplomat leaves State Dep’t, ,
says Tillerson should man up and quit too
Foreign Policy
> An award-winning U.S. diplomat who was seen as a rising star at the State Department has issued a scathing resignation letter, accusing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the Donald Trump administration of undercutting the State Department and damaging America’s influence in the world.
> Elizabeth Shackelford, who most recently served as a political officer based in Nairobi for the U.S. mission to Somalia, wrote to Tillerson that she reluctantly had decided to quit because the administration had abandoned human rights as a priority and shown disdain for the State Department’s diplomatic work, according to her letter, obtained by Foreign Policy.

For first time in 30 years, Saudis can go to the movies BBC
What’ll they think of next in that daring and innovative nation?

Idiot manages to blow up  himself with NYC bomb NY Daily News

$250 billion at risk if Bitcoin crashes Axios
Like tulips and dotcom shares before them, crypto-currencies—the only blockchain technology currently operating at large scale — have gripped the wise and reckless alike. Investors won’t lose all the $250 billion in bitcoin that they currently hold when the fever inevitably breaks, but many will forgo paper profits, plus much of their original investment.

Monsanto adopts cash-back scheme to keep farmers using pesticide Reuters

London will lose 10,000 jobs on Day One of Brexit The Guardian
City firms plan to move 10,500 jobs out of the UK on “day one” of Brexit, with Dublin and Frankfurt the financial centres most likely to benefit from the UK’s departure from the EU.
The job tracker compiled by accountants EY, which counts job announcements to the end of November, found that the number of roles likely to be affected had fallen from estimates of 12,500 a year ago. But it also concluded that the jobs being affected by Brexit were not just the “back office” ones initially forecast, but “front office” staff who deal directly with clients.

FACT CHECK
No, Roy Moore accuser didn’t admit she forged his signature in her yearbook Politifact
Refuting the bullshit put out by Fox News, the Gateway Pundit, Breitbart …

Racial dispute at century old bakery roils college town AP
OBERLIN, Ohio — Students at Oberlin College have long enjoyed pastries, bagels and chocolates from Gibson’s Bakery, a century-old, family-owned business near campus. That sweet relationship has turned bitter amid hotly disputed accusations of racism, roiling a school and town long known for their liberal politics.
> The dispute, which began in November 2016 with the arrest of three black Oberlin students who tried stealing wine from Gibson’s, is now a lawsuit in which the exasperated bakery owners accuse the college and a top dean of slandering Gibson’s as a “racist establishment” and taking steps to destroy the family’s livelihood.gibson

FOX NEWS TURNS ON PAUL RYAN !
… Ryan is sounding like a guy who thinks he’s convinced the president to take a 180- degree turn on Medicare. Ryan has let the world know that he has been speaking privately with  President Trump, and that the president has started to cotton to the idea of cutting entitlements.

As Ryan framed things: “I think the president is understanding choice and competition works everywhere, especially in Medicare.”

After 50 year quest, scientists discover new element: Excitonium Newsweek
Way too early to speculate on practical applications.


We’ll save you from clicking through USA Today’s click bait “slideshow.” Here’s the list of worst cities for drivers, according to the map app Waze:
(In order of increasing gridlock)

Honolulu-Traffic-B.-Inouye> Savannah
> Miami
> Charlotte
> Orlando
> San Francisco
> Portland OR
> Los Angeles
> San Diego
> Jacksonville
> Honolulu

China doesn’t want US recyclables anymore. OMG! Now what? NPR
> “It just keeps coming and coming and coming,” says Rogue employee Laura Leebrick. In the warehouse, she is dwarfed by stacks of orphaned recycling bales. Outside, employee parking spaces have been taken over by compressed cubes of sour cream containers, broken wine bottles and junk mail.
> And what are recyclables with nowhere to go?
> “Right now, by definition, that material out there is garbage,” she says. “It has no value. There is no demand for it in the marketplace. It’s garbage.”

Judge halts Walmart plan to cut down rare forest. AP
“We are elated,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director for the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed the suit with Tropical Audubon, the Miami Pine Rockland Coalition and the South Florida Wildlands Association. “The judge’s order has given these plants and animals and the residents of this community an opportunity for their day in court, an opportunity to have justice upheld, and a fighting chance at survival.”

AP FACT CHECK
Despite what Paul Ryan says, blue states DO subsidize red states
Ryan: “the rest of the country is “propping up profligate, big-government states.”
Facts:
> Mississippi received $2.13 for every tax dollar the state sent to Washington in 2015, according to the Rockefeller study. West Virginia received $2.07, Kentucky got $1.90 and South Carolina got $1.71.
> Meanwhile, New Jersey received 74 cents in federal spending for tax every dollar the state sent to Washington. New York received 81 cents, Connecticut received 82 cents and Massachusetts received 83 cents.
>>> BTW 
<<< According to Politifact,
Ryan’s statements are misleading about 68% of the time. There’s a 32% chance that anything he says is true or mostly true. 

Dec. 8 Real News

 WITH WEEKEND UPDATES

Racial dispute at century old bakery roils college town AP
OBERLIN, Ohio — Students at Oberlin College have long enjoyed pastries, bagels and chocolates from Gibson’s Bakery, a century-old, family-owned business near campus. That sweet relationship has turned bitter amid hotly disputed accusations of racism, roiling a school and town long known for their liberal politics.
> The dispute, which began in November 2016 with the arrest of three black Oberlin students who tried stealing wine from Gibson’s, is now a lawsuit in which the exasperated bakery owners accuse the college and a top dean of slandering Gibson’s as a “racist establishment” and taking steps to destroy the family’s livelihood.gibson

FOX NEWS TURNS ON PAUL RYAN!
… Ryan is sounding like a guy who thinks he’s convinced the president to take a 180- degree turn on Medicare. Ryan has let the world know that he has been speaking privately with  President Trump, and that the president has started to cotton to the idea of cutting entitlements.

As Ryan framed things: “I think the president is understanding choice and competition works everywhere, especially in Medicare.”

After 50 year quest, scientists discover new element: Excitonium Newsweek
Way too early to speculate on practical applications.


We’ll save you from clicking through USA Today’s click bait “slideshow.” Here’s the list of worst cities for drivers, according to the map app Waze:
(In order of increasing gridlock)

Honolulu-Traffic-B.-Inouye> Savannah
> Miami
> Charlotte
> Orlando
> San Francisco
> Portland OR
> Los Angeles
> San Diego
> Jacksonville
> Honolulu

Days before the election, crazy Roy Moore disappears from campaign trail
Montgomery Advertiser

roy-moore-x750
Where in the world is Alabama’s most upright Christian?

> In the last few days before the Dec. 12 election for Alabama’s junior U.S. Senate seat, the Republican candidate has all but vanished from the public, continuing a pattern of absence that took hold after allegations of abuse, assault, harassment and misconduct with nine women surfaced against Moore in early November.
> “I think it’s extremely odd that for the better part of that campaign, we have seen his spokespeople, his campaign manager and his surrogates,” said Angi Horn Stalnaker, a Republican consultant who has run races against Moore in the past.

China doesn’t want US recyclables anymore. OMG! Now what? NPR
> “It just keeps coming and coming and coming,” says Rogue employee Laura Leebrick. In the warehouse, she is dwarfed by stacks of orphaned recycling bales. Outside, employee parking spaces have been taken over by compressed cubes of sour cream containers, broken wine bottles and junk mail.
> And what are recyclables with nowhere to go?
> “Right now, by definition, that material out there is garbage,” she says. “It has no value. There is no demand for it in the marketplace. It’s garbage.”

Judge halts Walmart plan to cut down rare forest. AP
“We are elated,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida director for the Center for Biological Diversity, which filed the suit with Tropical Audubon, the Miami Pine Rockland Coalition and the South Florida Wildlands Association. “The judge’s order has given these plants and animals and the residents of this community an opportunity for their day in court, an opportunity to have justice upheld, and a fighting chance at survival.”

AP FACT CHECK
Despite what Paul Ryan says, blue states DO subsidize red states
Ryan: “the rest of the country is “propping up profligate, big-government states.”
Facts:
> Mississippi received $2.13 for every tax dollar the state sent to Washington in 2015, according to the Rockefeller study. West Virginia received $2.07, Kentucky got $1.90 and South Carolina got $1.71.
> Meanwhile, New Jersey received 74 cents in federal spending for tax every dollar the state sent to Washington. New York received 81 cents, Connecticut received 82 cents and Massachusetts received 83 cents.
>>> BTW 
<<< According to Politifact,
Ryan’s statements are misleading about 68% of the time. There’s a 32% chance that anything he says is true or mostly true. 

Antibiotics use in animals drops for the first time Reuters
> The sale and distribution of antibiotics approved for use in food-producing animals in the United States decreased by 10 percent from 2015 to 2016, says a U.S. Food and Drug Administration report.
> It was the first decline in year-to-year sales since the FDA began collecting the data in 2009, according to food and consumer health groups

West Bank erupts CBS News
Hundreds of Palestinians clashed with Israeli forces in the West Bank on Friday in protests which were part of a so-called “Day of Rage” over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.rage

Ford moving electric SUV production from Michigan to Mexico Bloomberg
Moving production of the as-yet-unnamed electric SUV to Mexico will allow the carmaker to boost planned output of self-driving vehicles at its factory in Flat Rock, Michigan. Ford is boosting its investment by $200 million and adding 150 more jobs to the Michigan plant as part of the shift, Jim Farley, Ford’s executive vice president of global markets, said in an interview. The driverless car is to debut in 2021.

FORD’S MOVE TO MEXICO
“Just heard Ford is building a plant in Mexico. Hope Trump puts a gate in that wall so they can drive the cars back. ”
— Larry Stec on Twitter.

Strong report on jobs, wages Reuters
U.S. job growth increased at a strong clip in November and wages rebounded, painting a portrait of a healthy economy that analysts say does not require the kind of fiscal stimulus that President Donald Trump is proposing.

DNA has gone digital… What could go wrong? Live Science
>>> To say that all you need to create a dangerous human pathogen is internet access would be an overstatement – but only a slight one. For instance, in 2006, a journalist used publicly available data to order a fragment of smallpox DNA in the mail. The year before, the Centers for Disease Control used published DNA sequences as a blueprint to reconstruct the virus responsible for the Spanish flu, one of the deadliest pandemics of all time.

Bomb that killed Panama Papers journalist
was set off by text message NY Daily News

N. Korea seeks direct talks with US The Guardian
There was no immediate US response but the official position of the state department is that North Korea would have to show itself to be serious about giving up its nuclear arsenal before a dialogue could begin.

Thousands of people have seen this FAKE Trump meme Snopes

trumppeople
Snopes searched People’s archives, and did not find anything remotely like this quote.

I’m a brain specialist.
I think Trump should be evaluated for a degenerative brain disease.
by Ford Vox, STAT
When President Trump slurred his words during a news conference this week, some Trump watchers speculated that he was having a stroke. I watched the clip and, as a physician who specializes in brain function and disability, I don’t think a stroke was behind the slurred words. But having evaluated the chief executive’s remarkable behavior through my clinical lens for almost a year, I do believe he is displaying signs that could indicate a degenerative brain disorder.

DAVID BROOKS @ NY TIMES
“The rot afflicting the G.O.P. is comprehensive — moral, intellectual, political and reputational. More and more former Republicans wake up every day and realize: ‘I’m homeless. I’m politically homeless.’”


Generation Z May Not Want To Own Cars.
Can Automakers Woo Them In Other Ways?
NPR
The Big Three U.S. automakers say they are no longer just automakers. Every major car company is trying to make a move, whether it’s car-sharing, ride-hailing or self-driving.

Pretty faces at Silicon Valley corporate parties?
Maybe they’re paid to be there
Axios
… record number of tech companies are quietly paying $50 to $200 an hour for each model hired solely to chat up attendees.

Palau tourists forced to sign eco-pledge AFP
Editor’s note: The original headline said “sing” eco-pledge. Which, oh well, this story’s odd enough as it is.
> With crystal clear waters, pristine reefs and abundant sea life, Palau is regarded as one of the world’s best diving spots and was once a niche tourist destination.
> But visitor numbers have exploded in recent years, particularly from China, straining both infrastructure and the environment.
President Tommy Remengesau said it was about preserving the environment for future generations.
… Surpassing even the US Congress in mind-boggling hypocrisy. 

Analyst: New tax code to hand billions to Facebook, Google, Amazon Business Insider

Arizona GOPper to quit over … you know. CNN
You can’t tell the fleeing Congressmen without a program.

Judge recuses himself from Michael Flynn case Washington Examiner
No explanation given.

Gender bias class action against Google dismissed Courthouse News Service
> California judge has dismissed with leave to amend a gender-bias class action against Google, ruling the women hadn’t sufficiently shown they performed the same work as their male counterparts for less pay.
> Kelly Ellis, Holly Pease and Kelly Wisuri sued in San Francisco County Superior Court in September, claiming Google violates California’s Equal Pay Act and other state labor laws by systematically paying them lower wages for the same jobs as their male counterparts.
> The women, who worked as a software engineer, former manager and former communications specialist, respectively, also accused Google of keeping women partitioned in compensation levels with lower ceilings and routinely promoting fewer women and at slower rates than men.

For fast-moving coverage of the SoCal fires, and no paywall, see
Los Angeles Daily News

Thursday Dec. 7

Hamas calls for Palestinian uprising Reuters
pal
> The Israeli military said it was reinforcing troops in the occupied West Bank, as part of its “readiness for possible developments”.
> Medics said at least 31 people were wounded by Israeli army gunfire when Palestinian protests erupted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday. They said 11 were hit by live bullets and 20 by rubber bullets. One person was in a critical condition. Some protesters threw rocks at soldiers and others chanted: “Death to America! Death to the fool Trump!”
>>> Donors, evangelicals pressured Trump to change Israel policy
Avoid NYT paywall via The Daily Beast

GE job cuts: 12,000 Bloomberg
General Electric plans to cut 12,000 jobs in its power division as the industrial conglomerate’s new CEO institutes sweeping changes and the company grapples with a decline in business for coal and natural gas products.

Elizabeth Warren aka Pokahontas. Fact or fiction? FactCheck.Org
Elizabeth_Warren_CFPBNo proof has emerged that confirms that Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is, as she has claimed, part Native American.
Likewise, no proof has surfaced that Warren was previously hired as a professor by any university based on her alleged heritage.

Americans almost perfectly divided over that gay wedding cake thing Pew Research

Will US athletes be allowed to participate in the 2018 Olympics? CNN
“There’s an open question,” says US Ambassador to UN.

Hospitals are making a fortune on Wall Street Axios
The bottom line: Top tax-exempt hospital systems are quite profitable. They are raking in cash from Wall Street, as well as from their rush to merge and acquire competing hospitals and systems. Researchers say all that consolidation often has led to higher prices and higher insurance premiums — and usually does not lower costs, contrary to hospitals’ marketing pitches.

Deportation cops ripping families apart The Intercept
ADRIANA WAS STILL breastfeeding her daughter Riley, when officers came to her home in Texas and arrested her, her husband, and his brother. Adriana, who was in a different room with her children at the time, said the officers seemed to know exactly what they were after when they went into her brother-in-law’s room; they found a small amount of marijuana. Adriana, a 23-year-old mother of two, was jailed for a month, then held in an immigration detention center for six months, and finally deported to her native Mexico. Riley, the 10-month-old weaned by force when Adriana was arrested, is a U.S. citizen and remains in Texas. “It didn’t matter to them at all,” said Adriana.

Tulips, er, check that, Bitcoin prices on insane run AP
As of 11:15 a.m. EST, bitcoin was valued at $17,482, according to Coinbase, the largest bitcoin exchange. At the start of the year, one bitcoin was worth less than $1,000.

Dallas Morning News: 10,000 books banned in Texas prisons include:..
> “Freakonomics”
> “The Color Purple”
> “Homer Simpson’s Little Book of Laziness.”
But it’s OK for inmates to read:
> “Mein Kampf”
> Books by KKK grand wizard David Duke
> “Satan’s Sorcery Volume I”

“I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate.”
— Al Franken

Minnesota Lt. Gov. to serve out Franken’s term Star Tribune

IMF warns China’s economy “has sown financial stability risks.” The Guardian

Mega coverage of the SoCal fires at Los Angeles Daily News
75-mph winds expected today.
UCLA classes cancelled.
And much more …

lafire
NASA photo of Southern California fires.

Wednesday 12/6

According to a whistleblower:
At Inauguration, Flynn texted OK for Mideast nuclear reactors
AP
 U.S. financial sanctions hobbling the nuclear project were going to be “ripped up.”
Michael-Flynn-Cleared.001
WASHINGTON  — A whistleblower has told House Democrats that during President Donald Trump’s inauguration speech, national security adviser Michael Flynn texted a former business associate to say a private nuclear reactor plan Flynn had lobbied for would also have his support in the White House.
> As the whistleblower chatted with Flynn’s associate at an Inauguration Day celebration on Jan. 20, Flynn sent text messages saying the associate’s nuclear proposal was “good to go,” the whistleblower said. According to the whistleblower, Flynn also informed the associate that his business partners could move forward with their project, which aimed to construct a network of nuclear reactors across the Mideast with support from Russian and other international interests.
> Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings said Wednesday that the whistleblower’s allegations raise concerns that Flynn improperly aided the nuclear project after joining the White House as one of Trump’s top national security officials.

When the whistleblower asked why the United States needed to be involved in a Middle East nuclear project, Mr. Copson explained that the U.S. would provide military support to defend these installations. He also explained that this would provide a pretext for placing US military forces in these countries.

Trump plays Jerusalem card The Hill
The latest sideshow … let’s see, shake up the Middle East, chaos maybe war and terrorism result, Americans rally behind strong leader … OR …
is this some kind of deal/payback with Netanyahu?
jer

>>> PLO warns: “Nuts all over the world” will turn to violence
Washington Examiner
… And from Axios:
>>> Pope “profoundly concerned”
>>> Turkism PM “act of madness”
>>> “This upsets everyone in the Middle East except Israel.”


2008 account of “roast” shows that Matt Lauer’s sexcapades were widely known
Including by execs and stars at NBC
The Village Voice
> “Look at Katie Couric. She juggled Matt’s balls for six years. That’s three years per ball.”
> “When Katie (Couric) did the colonoscopy live on television, doctors found Matt’s head.”
> “He loves to eat Curry.” (The room loved that one, and Ann Curry blanched.)
> And finally from Lauer himself: “What’s with all the small-dick jokes? It was fun to look over and see Ann Curry laughing… like she doesn’t know how big my dick really is.”

New accuser, pressure grows on Franken to quit CNBC

Please, no jail time: The Movie NY Times
To beg for leniency, defense attorneys are producing entire documentaries for an audience of one: the judge.
> In sentencing videos, lawyers try to portray their clients in a positive light, notwithstanding the nature of the crime of which they were found guilty. These short videos, which can cost $5,000 to $25,000 to make, can be extremely effective, sometimes substantially decreasing sentences, including those involving the death penalty.

Toll to drive 10 miles into DC reaches $40. NY Times
> But transit officials said the congestion pricing system was working as designed: keeping traffic moving by encouraging people to car-pool or take alternate routes.
> The toll prices, which change every six minutes, depend on the volume of traffic and the distance traveled. Drivers traveling the full nine miles from the Beltway to downtown Washington around 8 a.m. on Tuesday paid $40, but someone driving in the other direction at 4:15 p.m. would have paid less than $7. The peak price lasted only one six-minute period, the Department of Transportation said.
> “No one has to pay a toll,” a transit official said. “You simply could have put another person in your car.”

“Holy crap!”
Experts find tax plan riddled with glitches, easily gamed
Politico
> In many cases, Republicans are giving taxpayers little time to adjust to sometimes major changes in policy. An entirely new international tax regime, one experts are still trying to parse, would go into effect Jan. 1, only days after lawmakers hope to push the plan through Congress.
> “The more you read, the more you go, ‘Holy crap, what’s this?’” said Greg Jenner, a former top tax official in George W. Bush’s Treasury Department. “We will be dealing with unintended consequences for months to come because the bill is moving too fast.”

New York-Seattle flight diverts after all restrooms quit working Billings Gazette
Oh God. This will give the airlines ideas. Rip out the restrooms and replace ’em with seats, and land every three hours for a bathroom break.

Market analysis sees steady erosion of cable-TV subscribers Motherboard
But 
majority of homes will still pay for TV in 2030.

Russia banned from 2018 Olympics
Clean athletes may compete under neutral flag
Sputnik
The International Olympic Committee has ruled on Tuesday that a special commission will select clean Russian athletes who will be able to compete at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in South Korea’s Pyeongchang.

German pilots won’t deport asylum seekers, refuse to fly The Independent
German pilots have grounded more than 220 flights because they were being used to deport failed asylum seekers.
Many of the pilots involved said they wanted no part in sending people back to Afghanistan, where violence is still rife following years of war and occupation by Western forces.

 

Tuesday … News day

Harvard: Millennials now biggest voting group, and they’re Dem by 2-1.
Washington Examiner
> The latest youth poll from Harvard’s influential Institute of Politics found that America’s 18-29-year-olds prefer Democrats 65 percent to 33 percent, in part because they don’t like President Trump and are “fearful” about the future.
> Also driving their concern is a worry that blacks and Hispanics “feel significantly under attack” in the U.S., and that issues younger voters care about such as global warming and gun control are being ignored in Washington.

Docs design radical diet, trials show it reverses adult diabetes BBC

Irish proposal: Spreading fake news punishable by prison time The Irish News
> Promoting ‘fake news’ using social media sites will be made an offence under proposals to be brought before the Dáil.
> New laws tabled by Fianna Fáil would also see the use of internet ‘bots’ to influence political debate punished with five years in jail or fines of up to €10,000.

Make America Grate Again
US trade gap soars as imports hit record high Politico
> The U.S. trade deficit jumped 8.6 percent in October as imports from China and other suppliers hit a record high ahead of the holiday shopping season, a Commerce Department report released Tuesday showed.
> The monthly trade gap totaled $48.7 billion, the highest level for a full month since President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20.
> Ahead of the election, a Trump campaign adviser asserted they could eliminate the deficit in one or two years. Instead, the 2017 deficit is on track to exceed the 2016 level of $505 billion.

Why the hell should we trust Facebook to moderate its new kids app?
Opinion: Melanie Ehrenkranz, Gizmodo
Messenger Kids has parental controls and policies in place to ban inappropriate content and cyberbullying, but that doesn’t make the service exempt from Facebook’s pattern of moderation failures or the broader evils of the interweb.

How Portugal made its drug-addiction crisis go away The Guardian
Portuguese approach worked brilliantly … why hasn’t the world copied it?

>In 2001, Portugal became the first country to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit substances. Rather than being arrested, those caught with a personal supply might be given a warning, a small fine, or told to appear before a local commission – a doctor, a lawyer and a social worker – about treatment, harm reduction, and the support services that were available to them.
> The opioid crisis soon stabilised, and the ensuing years saw dramatic drops in problematic drug use, HIV and hepatitis infection rates, overdose deaths, drug-related crime and incarceration rates. HIV infection plummeted from an all-time high in 2000 of 104.2 new cases per million to 4.2 cases per million in 2015.

Trump family bank accounts subpoenaed in Mueller probe Reuters

Analyst: Somebody photoshopped those N. Korea missile images CNN
“So, I just discovered that the North Koreans DID tamper with their launch photo’s! Two images from clearly same viewpoint, but dramatically different star backgrounds! Orion (Southeast) versus Andromeda (Northwest)!
— Dr. Marco Langbroek on Twitter
nkormissile

Military buildup plan would cost $683 billion EXTRA
Stars & Stripes
> The military buildup proposed in the Trump administration’s 2018 budget would cost a total of $683 billion over the next 10 years, culminating in a Pentagon base budget a decade from now that would dwarf peak Cold War-era spending, a report said.
> Between 2018 and 2027, efforts to increase the readiness and size of the force would drive the budget 12 percent higher than the costs laid out for those same years under the Obama administration’s final budget plan for the same period, said the Congressional Budget Office report, which was released on Monday.
> President Donald Trump’s goals for the military “would result in steady increases in costs so that by 2027, the base budget (in 2018 dollars) would reach $688 billion, more than 20 percent larger than peak spending during the 1980s,” the CBO said.

Fire rages in SoCal city, 50 mph winds, 27,000 evacuated (LA Times)

ventura

Trump’s private spy network?The Intercept
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION is considering a set of proposals developed by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer — with assistance from Oliver North, a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal — to provide CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the White House with a global, private spy network that would circumvent official U.S. intelligence agencies, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials and others familiar with the proposals. The sources say the plans have been pitched to the White House as a means of countering “deep state” enemies in the intelligence community seeking to undermine Trump’s presidency.

Trump’s support triggers $1 million ad buy for Moore Washington Examiner President Trump’s endorsement of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore triggered a flood of financial support, as America First Action invested $1.1 million in advertising on television and other venues just days before a crucial special election.The super PAC, affiliated with Trump’s official outside group, the political nonprofit America First Policies, saw the endorsement as a signal to enter the race on Moore’s behalf

Emergency rooms are monopolies
And patients are paying bills that are whoppers.
Vox
The doctor checked his blood pressure, asked about the pain, and gave him a muscle relaxant. The visit was quick and easy, lasting about 20 minutes. The bill totaled $2,429.84.

Feds want to seize guns from 4,000 who failed background checks USA Today

5 native tribes to sue Trump over Utah monuments Axios


85% of Yahoo is crap: A REALNEWS ANALYSIS
The reason I started this blog was frustration with the junk being promoted by the biggest news aggregators, including Drudge, Google and Yahoo. Here’s a quick shit-vs-shinola report on today’s Yahoo front page.

Shit: 85%
Shinola: 15%

  • Celebrity and sports stories are usually thinly disguised promos, and between them account for half of Yahoo’s top  content today.
  • Pointless crap and deliberate spin, combined, account for a quarter of the content.
  • Ten percent is crime reporting, and that may count as news until you realize how often editors select stories for sheer sensation, especially if the victim is female.
  • News is about change, or the prospect of it. The remaining fifteen percent of Yahoo’s stories are legitimate news, meaning that they give us some sort of clue as to where American society is heading.

— Tim Mahoney

 

Update

Docs design radical diet, trials show it reverses adult diabetes BBC

Irish proposal: Spreading fake news punishable by prison time The Irish News
> Promoting ‘fake news’ using social media sites will be made an offence under proposals to be brought before the Dáil.
> New laws tabled by Fianna Fáil would also see the use of internet ‘bots’ to influence political debate punished with five years in jail or fines of up to €10,000.

Make America Grate Again
US trade gap soars as imports hit record high Politico
> The U.S. trade deficit jumped 8.6 percent in October as imports from China and other suppliers hit a record high ahead of the holiday shopping season, a Commerce Department report released Tuesday showed.
> The monthly trade gap totaled $48.7 billion, the highest level for a full month since President Donald Trump took office on Jan. 20.
> Ahead of the election, a Trump campaign adviser asserted they could eliminate the deficit in one or two years. Instead, the 2017 deficit is on track to exceed the 2016 level of $505 billion.

Why the hell should we trust Facebook to moderate its new kids app?
Opinion: Melanie Ehrenkranz, Gizmodo
Messenger Kids has parental controls and policies in place to ban inappropriate content and cyberbullying, but that doesn’t make the service exempt from Facebook’s pattern of moderation failures or the broader evils of the interweb.

How Portugal made its drug-addiction crisis go away The Guardian
Portuguese approach worked brilliantly … why hasn’t the world copied it?

>In 2001, Portugal became the first country to decriminalise the possession and consumption of all illicit substances. Rather than being arrested, those caught with a personal supply might be given a warning, a small fine, or told to appear before a local commission – a doctor, a lawyer and a social worker – about treatment, harm reduction, and the support services that were available to them.
> The opioid crisis soon stabilised, and the ensuing years saw dramatic drops in problematic drug use, HIV and hepatitis infection rates, overdose deaths, drug-related crime and incarceration rates. HIV infection plummeted from an all-time high in 2000 of 104.2 new cases per million to 4.2 cases per million in 2015.

Trump family bank accounts subpoenaed in Mueller probe Reuters

Analyst: Somebody photoshopped those N. Korea missile images CNN
“So, I just discovered that the North Koreans DID tamper with their launch photo’s! Two images from clearly same viewpoint, but dramatically different star backgrounds! Orion (Southeast) versus Andromeda (Northwest)!  ”
— Dr. Marco Langbroek on Twitter
nkormissile

Military buildup plan would cost $683 billion EXTRA
Stars & Stripes
> The military buildup proposed in the Trump administration’s 2018 budget would cost a total of $683 billion over the next 10 years, culminating in a Pentagon base budget a decade from now that would dwarf peak Cold War-era spending, a report said.
> Between 2018 and 2027, efforts to increase the readiness and size of the force would drive the budget 12 percent higher than the costs laid out for those same years under the Obama administration’s final budget plan for the same period, said the Congressional Budget Office report, which was released on Monday.
> President Donald Trump’s goals for the military “would result in steady increases in costs so that by 2027, the base budget (in 2018 dollars) would reach $688 billion, more than 20 percent larger than peak spending during the 1980s,” the CBO said.

Fire rages in SoCal city, 50 mph winds, 27,000 evacuated (LA Times)

ventura

Trump’s private spy network?The Intercept
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION is considering a set of proposals developed by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer — with assistance from Oliver North, a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal — to provide CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the White House with a global, private spy network that would circumvent official U.S. intelligence agencies, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials and others familiar with the proposals. The sources say the plans have been pitched to the White House as a means of countering “deep state” enemies in the intelligence community seeking to undermine Trump’s presidency.

Trump’s support triggers $1 million ad buy for Moore Washington Examiner President Trump’s endorsement of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore triggered a flood of financial support, as America First Action invested $1.1 million in advertising on television and other venues just days before a crucial special election.The super PAC, affiliated with Trump’s official outside group, the political nonprofit America First Policies, saw the endorsement as a signal to enter the race on Moore’s behalf

Emergency rooms are monopolies
And patients are paying bills that are whoppers.
Vox
The doctor checked his blood pressure, asked about the pain, and gave him a muscle relaxant. The visit was quick and easy, lasting about 20 minutes. The bill totaled $2,429.84.

Feds want to seize guns from 4,000 who failed background checks USA Today

5 native tribes to sue Trump over Utah monuments Axios

Manafort pens op-ed with Russian, so Mueller wants bail revoked Raw Story

Supreme Court allows full enforcement of Trump travel ban AP
This is not a final ruling on the travel ban: Challenges to the policy are winding through the federal courts, and the justices themselves ultimately are expected to rule on its legality.

 

Today’s best quote
“I think immorality has sunken to a new low.”
— Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, just this morning

Trump’s lawyer says he can’t possibly be guilty of obstruction
By Mike Allen, Axios
dowd
John Dowd, President Trump’s outside lawyer, outlined to me a new and highly controversial defense/theory in the Russia probe: A president cannot be guilty of obstruction of justice.
The “President cannot obstruct justice because he is the chief law enforcement officer under [the Constitution’s Article II] and has every right to express his view of any case,” Dowd claims.
Dowd says he drafted this weekend’s Trump tweet that many thought strengthened the case for obstruction: The tweet suggested Trump knew Flynn had lied to the FBI when he was fired, raising new questions about the later firing of FBI Director James Comey.

  • Dowd: “The tweet did not admit obstruction. That is an ignorant and arrogant assertion.”

Why it matters: Trump’s legal team is clearly setting the stage to say the president cannot be charged with any of the core crimes discussed in the Russia probe: collusion and obstruction. Presumably, you wouldn’t preemptively make these arguments unless you felt there was a chance charges are coming.
Hmmm. July 27, 1974 President Richard Nixon charged with obstruction of justice.
History.com

Senator Graham:
“I think it’s now time to start moving American dependents out of South Korea.“
The Independent
Senator Lindsey Graham has said that he believes it’s time to start moving the families of American military personnel out of South Korea as North Korea pushes the US closer to a military conflict.
Graham, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he will also urge the Pentagon not to send any more dependents to South Korea.

Dramatic shrinkage for Utah National Monuments NPR
Another win for the donor class.

Former Congresswoman Brown going to prison for fraud
AP via Stars & Stripes

brownJACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A federal judge on Monday sentenced former U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown to five years in prison on fraud and other charges related to a purported charity for poor students that she used as a personal slush fund.
Brown, 71, was ordered to turn herself in to authorities no earlier than Jan. 8. She represented a Florida district that included Jacksonville during her nearly 25-year career.
Brown, a Democrat who was one of the first three African-Americans to be elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction, was convicted by a federal jury in May on 18 of the 22 charges against her, which included fraud, lying on her tax returns and on her congressional financial disclosures.

Transport sector passes power plants
as top US polluter
Bloomberg

Did US missile defense fail in Saudi Arabia? NY Times
The official story was clear: Saudi forces shot down a ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebel group last month at Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh. It was a victory for the Saudis and for the United States, which supplied the Patriot missile defense system.
“Our system knocked the missile out of the air,” President Trump said the next day from Air Force One en route to Japan, one of the 14 countries that use the system. “That’s how good we are. Nobody makes what we make, and now we’re selling it all over the world.”
But an analysis of photos and videos of the strike posted to social media suggests that story may be wrong.
Instead, evidence analyzed by a research team of missile experts appears to show the missile’s warhead flew unimpeded over Saudi defenses and nearly hit its target, Riyadh’s airport. The warhead detonated so close to the domestic terminal that customers jumped out of their seats.

Doc promotes high-tech suicide capsule Raw Story

exit
Don’t get in unless you’re REALLY ready.

Illinois bus company promises a Chinese-free ride Chicago Tribune
An ad listed 11 benefits of choosing the Champaign-based company for trips from Urbana-Champaign to various Chicago suburbs.
The seventh “perk,” sandwiched between the efficiency of drivers and cleanliness of coaches, read: “Passengers like you. You won’t feel like you’re in China when you’re on our buses.”
The company apologized. Kind of.
>>> And by coincidence, Pew Research featured this on its web site today:
New foreign student enrollment at U.S. colleges and universities doubled since Great Recession
From 2008 to 2016, the number of new foreign students at U.S. colleges and universities increased 104% – far outpacing overall college enrollment growth, which was 3.4% during the same period, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. The increase was most pronounced at public colleges and universities, which faced budget cuts during the Great Recession and began to rely more heavily on tuition from foreign students.

Police say woman sent fake threats to herself,
had boyfriend jailed
WFLA.com

Millions in UK sue Google over iPhone privacy BGR News

You don’t say!
NJ beat Medicaid out of $600 million NJ.Com

Net Neutrality
FCC received 444,000 comments from Russian e-mail accounts Bloomberg

China “social credit system” to rate your value to the state Futurism
It all started with the seemingly innocuous FICO score….

Every citizen in China would be given a score that, as a matter of public record, is available for all to see. This citizen score comes from monitoring an individual’s social behavior — from their spending habits and how regularly they pay bills, to their social interactions — and it’ll become the basis of that person’s trustworthiness, which would also be publicly ranked.

“… allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step,”

“Someone who plays video games for ten hours a day, for example, would be considered an idle person. Someone who frequently buys diapers would be considered as probably a parent, who on balance is more likely to have a sense of responsibility.”

chinasalute

The morning, updated

 

New software can identify you by your DNA — in minutes Eureka Alert
> Researchers at Columbia University and the New York Genome Center have developed a method to quickly and accurately identify people and cell lines from their DNA. The technology could have multiple applications, from identifying victims in a mass disaster to analyzing crime scenes. But its most immediate use could be to flag mislabeled or contaminated cell lines in cancer experiments, a major reason that studies are later invalidated. The discovery is described in the latest issue of eLife.

dna
Researcher Sophie Zaaijer uses the MinION, a portable DNA sequencer, to get a quick genetic readout of a sample of cells.

DNA sketch leads to suspect confession in Texas slaying AP
> After her oldest daughter was killed in May 2016, Michelle McDaniel and the rest of her family isolated themselves in their small Texas town out of fear that the unknown killer could be standing in line with them at the grocery store or passing them on the street.
> Then early last month, Brown County sheriff’s investigators sent McDaniel a sketch of the man they suspected in her daughter’s death, despite having no witnesses. The sketch was created using DNA found at the crime scene; a private lab used the sample to predict the shape of the killer’s face, his skin tone, eye color and hair color.
> Within a week, the sheriff’s office had a suspect in custody.

dna-murder

Will sports gambling spread across US?
Courthouse News Service
US Supreme Court to hear case Monday involving New Jersey’s move to allow wagers on football, baseball etc at casinos and racetracks. The issue is states’ rights and the notion of federal “commandeering.”041811-sports-betting

Marine vet who led Malheur raid “sorry for this entire mess”
> Sentenced to a year in federal prison
Stars & Stripes
ritzheimerJon Ritzheimer, a military veteran who led and recruited others to the armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison and must spend another 12 months in a residential re-entry program, a federal judge ordered Thursday.