The Myth of Christian Persecution during the Roman Period

In Re: Christians Were Fed to Lions and Martyred in the Colosseum  -via Cracked.com

The Myth:

Whenever the ancient Romans needed more trident-stabbing fodder for the pleasure dome’s gladiators or more kibble for the Colosseum’s big cats, Roman authorities simply rounded up another group of Christians and herded them into the arena. Reserve your seats now! Bring the kids!

Splatter guards available for the first three rows.

The Reality:

There are zero authentic accounts of Christian martyrdom in the Colosseum until over a century after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. In fact, not a single legitimate record exists of the Romans executing any Christians in the Colosseum. Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Continue reading The Myth of Christian Persecution during the Roman Period

Boycott Sinclair Stations

Clinton v Starr: A Review

President Clinton arrives in the Rose Garden after being acquitted of all charges in his impeachment trial Feb. 12, 1999.

Greg Gibson/AP Images

For the past nine years, Duquesne law professor Ken Gormley has worked on what he calls the “definitive neutral historical piece” about President Clinton’s impeachment. His new 800-page book The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr analyzes the events leading up to Clinton’s impeachment, while offering new revelations about many of the key players.

Gormley recounts the scandal on Fresh Air, outlining the motivations of Ken Starr, Linda Tripp and Paula Jones, among others — and tracing exactly what happened more than a decade ago in Washington.

“This started out of Whitewater,” Gormley tells Terry Gross. “And it escalated into this thing that almost derailed [Clinton’s] presidency. It turned into the Monica Lewinsky investigation, which then turned into the second impeachment trial in history. And it’s an event that almost every American remembers and had strong opinions about — like the assassination or the removal of Nixon.”

The investigation of Bill Clinton began in January 1994, when Attorney General Janet Reno appointed special prosecutor Robert Fiske to head the Whitewater investigation. Fiske’s appointment, Gormley writes, first “prompted universal praise … among Republicans.”

The praise lasted for several months — until Fiske wrapped up his criminal investigation within six months of his appointment. The short investigation, combined with Fiske’s announcement that there was “no evidence that issues involving Whitewater, or other personal legal matters of the president or Mrs. Clinton, were a factor in [Vince] Foster’s suicide,” caused Republicans to declare Fiske “unfit for the job,” Gormley writes.

When Congress decided to reauthorize the independent counsel investigation, the three-judge panel overseeing the independent counsel decided to replace Fiske with another attorney, Kenneth Starr.

Starr, Gormley says, “did as good a job as he could do [during Whitewater]. Certainly there were others around him eager to find wrongdoing and came together to produce a witch hunt. But I don’t think Ken Starr was out to bring down Clinton.”

Clinton, however, saw otherwise. “President Clinton believed from the start that this was nothing but a political witch hunt,” Gormley says. “In his mind, they were out to get him because they wanted a regime change and were willing to go for broke.”

In December 1997, Starr shut down the Whitewater investigation because of insufficient evidence. A month later, Linda Tripp called Deputy Independent Counsel Jackie Bennett and said she had taped conversions with Monica Lewinsky about an affair with the president.

The decision to move from Whitewater to Lewinsky, Gormley says, “altered Ken Starr’s legacy as a prosecutor.”

“There is no question that [Starr’s office] had lost perspective,” Gormley says. “Their job was not to get a person — it was to investigate. And there was such a lack of restraint on both sides, which ended up being bad for the country.”

Gormley says the time he spent writing his book led him to believe that the Clinton impeachment was a precursor for today’s divided political landscape.

“This is the beginning of the sharp division of red and blue,” he says. “It’s a tragic story … and it’s essential that we do not let something like this happen again.”

Continue reading Clinton v Starr: A Review

No Surprise…Guccifer 2.0 identified as Russian Intelligence Officer

GNote: The crumbs he left, plus a lapse in his use of a VPN client finally identified the hacker, known as Guccifer 2.0, In other findings and by reference, Roger Stone has admitted to personal interactions with Guccifer 2.0 in which the stolen DNC data was discussed. Guccifer 2.0 passed the stolen data from the DNC to Wikileaks, and to a variety of other entities including social media trolls, and at least two Republican candidates for office in Florida

The Daily Beast’s exclusive report follows:

https://www.thedailybeast.com/exclusive-lone-dnc-hacker-guccifer-20-slipped-up-and-revealed-he-was-a-russian-intelligence-officer

 

McCabe v trump

Donald Trump and the Craven Firing of Andrew McCabe

 If you wanted to tell the story of an entire Presidency in a single tweet, you could try the one that President Trump posted after Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired Andrew McCabe, the deputy director of the F.B.I., on Friday night.

Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy. Sanctimonious James Comey was his boss and made McCabe look like a choirboy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI!

Every sentence is a lie. Every sentence violates norms established by Presidents of both parties. Every sentence displays the pettiness and the vindictiveness of a man unsuited to the job he holds.

The President has crusaded for months against McCabe, who is a crucial corroborating witness to Trump’s attempts to stymie the F.B.I.’s investigation of his campaign’s ties to Russia. McCabe had first earned Trump’s enmity for supervising, for a time, the F.B.I.’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail practices, which ended without charges being filed against her. In these roles, McCabe behaved with the dignity and the ethics consistent with decades of distinguished service in law enforcement. He played by the rules. He honored his badge as a special agent. But his service threatened the President—both because of the past exoneration of Clinton and the incrimination of Trump, and for that, in our current environment, he had to be punished. Trump’s instrument in stifling McCabe was the President’s hapless Attorney General, who has been demeaning himself in various ways to try to save his own job. Sessions’s crime, in the President’s eyes, was recusing himself in the Russia investigation. (Doing the right thing, as Sessions did on that matter, is often a route to trouble with Trump.)

Sessions’s apparent ground for firing McCabe, on the eve of his retirement from the Bureau, thus perhaps depriving him of some or all of his retirement benefits, involves improper contacts with the news media. As an initial matter, this is rich, coming from an Administration that has leaked to the media with abandon. Still, the charges seem unfair on their face. After McCabe was dismissed, on Friday night, he said in a statement that the “investigation has focused on information I chose to share with a reporter through my public affairs officer and a legal counselor. As Deputy Director, I was one of only a few people who had the authority to do that. It was not a secret, it took place over several days, and others, including the Director, were aware of the interaction with the reporter. It was the type of exchange with the media that the Deputy Director oversees several times per week.” The idea that this alleged misdeed justifies such vindictive action against a distinguished public servant is laughable.
Continue reading McCabe v trump

The Final Days: PA 18th Election – Mar. 13th, 2018

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway deplanes Air Force One in December. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

via WaPo 202 by James Hohmann – with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve

PITTSBURGH—If Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone wins an unexpectedly close special election here next Tuesday, it will be on Donald Trump’s coattails. On the other hand, this race wouldn’t be competitive at all if the president was not so polarizing – even in a mostly blue-collar, largely rural southwestern Pennsylvania district that he carried by 20 points in 2016.

This race should be a gimme for the GOP. Democrats didn’t even bother to field a candidate in 2016 or 2014. But public and private polls show the contest in the 18th district is now a toss-up, even after Republicans have poured in more than $10 million – about five times what Democrats have spent.

Court-ordered reapportionment means that the district will cease to exist in its present form come November, but a defeat here would nonetheless represent the biggest political humiliation for Trump since he went all in for Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama and lost anyway last December. That’s why the White House is sending the cavalry.

Counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway flew here Thursday night to stump for Saccone at the Allegheny County GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner. Her appearance was not scheduled until this week. She assured the crowd that the nominee will be “a reliable vote” for Trump. “This should be easy,” she said, referring to the choice facing voters. “The Republican Party has shown the value of unified government.”

Continue reading The Final Days: PA 18th Election – Mar. 13th, 2018

A FB post & commentary sparked by #TheBoyCrises vis School shooters


#TheBoyCrisis

Craig Schaffer: So you assume lesbian couples can’t raise a child that isn’t a mass murderer? Lots of single mothers out there doing s fantastic job as well.

Sheri Spain: One thing school shooters have in common is a history of domestic violence.

Doug Franks The Truth About Domestic Violence – You’ll Never Believe… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-KgBVedec_0&t=168s

Sheri Spain Yes. Men are abused. No doubt. However, lethality comes at the hands of men far more often.

Richard Pressl Oh, so it’s another manifestation of a Daddy or parenting problem eh? – https://slate.com/…/its-ridiculous-to-blame-lenient…

Richard Pressl In the room – is an elephant, an 800 pound gorilla, and Pepe – so let’s, of course, talk about Pepe…

Doug Franks So your article does not address single moms. It talks about parents as in 2 and yes a Man and a Woman. I do not believe in spanking by the way. How is the 71% single black moms doing with their boys? Did they do a study on that or is it just the white male privilege to blame that one on? I am so sick of poor parenting because of greed women must work to have that new car and that $400K house. Richard Pressl what would your mom and dad have done if you would have been 27 and playing video games in the basement? What is it to be a man anymore is the big question.

Christina Bullins Doug Franks really? That is quite offensive when the reality is many moms MUST work to make ends meet NOT to have all these extras. You darn well know that it used to be a one income household was more then enough to provide but for most now it isn’t. Also, they have done plenty of studies that show that most working mothers work because they have to. We have come to a time in history when the spread of wealth is no longer a liberal topic. It is very rare for working people (not ones with a Masters degree) to find a job that has family health insurance that doesn’t cost an arm and leg. You dare call working women greedy! Wow!
Continue reading A FB post & commentary sparked by #TheBoyCrises vis School shooters

A primer on “the flu”

via: Jon Crosbie    February 2 at 7:02pm

Okay, I made the mistake of reading the comments section in a post, and now I feel compelled by duty to my profession to type this out. Please, share the hell out of this, because people need to know this stuff.

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Here’s how the Flu Vaccine works. Actually, to understand how the flu vaccine works, you need to understand how your immune system works. Your immune system fights disease by remembering *every* single disease you’ve ever seen in your life. Seriously – every one of them. Your body makes antibodies in response that “tag” things to be destroyed by white blood cells.
If it helps, think of antibodies as the blue ink that explodes if somebody tries to steal something. Now we all know who the thief is.

Your body can crank out antibodies at a moments notice to any disease you’ve ever come into contact with – tag the offending bacteria or virus and your white blood cells come in and the offender dies a horrible death.

Vaccines work by “training” your body’s immune system. Now, there are *two* types of vaccines…inactivated, and live/attenuated. Inactivated vaccines are essentially the protein coat of whatever you’re trying to vaccinate against. “Live/Attenuated” vaccines are viruses or bacteria that have been weakened.

If it helps, think of your body’s immune system as an army. Giving an inactivated vaccine is like holding up the uniform of an enemy soldier in front of your body’s immune system and saying “See this? Everybody? You go seek and destroy everybody wearing this.”

Giving a live/attenuated vaccine is like finding an enemy soldier, beating the crap out of him and putting *that* in front of your body’s immune system and saying “See this guy right here? You go beat the hell out of anything and anybody who looks like him.” Now, if somebody’s immune system is compromised, the beat up bad guy can still cause a lot of damage which is why people who are immune-compromised can’t get live/attenuated vaccines.

The Flu Vaccine is *inactivated*. It’s dead. It is nothing more than the protein coat of influenza with all of the DNA removed. It is an empty shell of a uniform.
Continue reading A primer on “the flu”

Excerpt from the Saboteurs Handbook

(11) General Interference with Organizations and Production

{prepared by the Office of Strategic Services, Jan. 11th, 1944}

* * * *

(1)  Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

(2) Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.

(3) When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.

(4) Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

(5) Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.

(6) Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

(7) Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

(8) “Misunderstand” orders. Ask endless questions or engage in long correspondence about such orders. Quibble over them when you can.

(9) Do everything possible to delay the delivery of orders. Even though parts of an order may be ready beforehand, don’t deliver it until it is completely ready.

(10) Order high-quality materials which are hard to get. If you don’t get them argue about it. Warn that inferior materials will mean inferior work.

(11) In making work assignments, always sign out the unimportant jobs first. See that the important jobs are assigned to inefficient workers of poor machines.

(12) Insist on perfect work in relatively unimportant products; send back for refinishing those which have the least flaw. Approve other defective parts whose flaws are not visible to the naked eye.

(13) Make mistakes in routing so that parts and materials will be sent to the wrong place in the plant.

(14) When training new workers, give incomplete or misleading instructions.

(15) To lower morale and with it, production, be pleasant to inefficient workers; give them undeserved promotions. Discriminate against efficient workers; complain unjustly about their work.

Continue reading Excerpt from the Saboteurs Handbook

Taking from the 99%….and giving it to the 0.01% – while hollowing out the value of Government

Trump budget highlights disconnect between populist rhetoric and plutocrat reality

Trump’s spending proposal backtracks on his ‘balance the budget’ campaign cry

BY JAMES HOHMANN with Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve – WaPo 202 – Feb 13, 2018

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THE BIG IDEA: President Trump campaigned like a populist, but the budget he proposed Monday underscores the degree to which he’s governing as a plutocrat.

Many of his proposals are dead on arrival in Congress, but the blueprint nonetheless speaks volumes about the president’s values – and contradicts many promises he made as a candidate.

“This is a messaging document,” Trump budget director Mick Mulvaney told reporters at the White House.

Here are eight messages that the White House sends with its wish list:

1. Touching third rails he said he wouldn’t:

As a candidate, Trump repeatedly said he would never cut Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security.

Now he proposes cutting Medicare by $554 billion and Medicaid by around $250 billion over the next decade.

His plan includes new per-person limits on the amount of health care each Medicaid enrollee can use and a dramatic shift toward block grants, which would allow states to tighten eligibility requirements and institute work requirements that would kick some off public assistance.

Impacting the middle class, Trump also calls for cutting the subsidies that allow more than four in five people with marketplace health plans to afford their insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act.

2. Scaling back support for the forgotten man:

Many displaced blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt took the president at his word when he promised to bring back their manufacturing jobs. But Trump’s budget calls for cutting funding for National Dislocated Worker Grants – which provides support to those who lose their jobs because of factory closures or natural disasters — from $219.5 million in 2017 to $51 million in 2019.

Also at the Labor Department, the president wants to slash support for the Adult Employment and Training Activities initiative, which serves high school dropouts and veterans, from $810 million last year to $490 million in 2019.

3. Giving up on a balanced budget:

Trump repeatedly promised that he would balance the budget “very quickly.” It turns out that a guy who has often described himself as the “king of debt” didn’t feel that passionately about deficits. Last year, he laid out a plan to balance the budget in 10 years. This year he didn’t even try. Trump now accepts annual deficits that will run over $1 trillion as the new normal.

Going further, the president also promised on the campaign trail that he’d get rid of the national debt altogether by the end of his second term. But his White House now projects that the national debt, which is already over $20 trillion, will grow more than $2 trillion over the next two years and by at least $7 trillion over the next decade. The administration repeatedly denied this in December as officials pushed to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion.

“After Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts in the 1980s, deficits exploded in the same range as Trump’s now, when calculated as a percentage of the economy, or gross domestic product. But Reagan’s famous ‘riverboat’ gamble came when the total national debt was a fraction of what it is today. Trump is pushing the envelope when debt is already near 80 percent of GDP, leaving far less room to maneuver if the economy turns downward,” David Rogers writes in Politico. “Economists and politicians alike don’t know what happens next. There’s all the edginess of breaking new ground. But also, as with Faulkner’s famous line, there is a sense that the past ‘is not even past.’ … Nothing now seems obvious, except red ink.”
Continue reading Taking from the 99%….and giving it to the 0.01% – while hollowing out the value of Government

Manufactured reality

He Predicted The 2016 Fake News Crisis. Now He’s Worried About An Information Apocalypse.


BuzzFeed News – Charlie Warzel · Feb 11, 2018

In mid-2016, Aviv Ovadya realized there was something fundamentally wrong with the internet — so wrong that he abandoned his work and sounded an alarm. A few weeks before the 2016 election, he presented his concerns to technologists in San Francisco’s Bay Area and warned of an impending crisis of misinformation in a presentation he titled “Infocalypse.”

The web and the information ecosystem that had developed around it was wildly unhealthy, Ovadya argued. The incentives that governed its biggest platforms were calibrated to reward information that was often misleading and polarizing or both. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google prioritized clicks, shares, ads, and money over quality of information, and Ovadya couldn’t shake the feeling that it was all building toward something bad — a kind of critical threshold of addictive and toxic misinformation. The presentation was largely ignored by employees from the Big Tech platforms — including a few from Facebook who would later go on to drive the company’s NewsFeed integrity effort.

“At the time, it felt like we were in a car careening out of control and it wasn’t just that everyone was saying, ‘we’ll be fine’ — it’s that they didn’t even see the car,” he said.

 Ovadya saw early what many — including lawmakers, journalists, and Big Tech CEOs — wouldn’t grasp until months later: Our platformed and algorithmically optimized world is vulnerable — to propaganda, to misinformation, to dark targeted advertising from foreign governments — so much so that it threatens to undermine a cornerstone of human discourse: the credibility of fact.

But that’s just the beginning.

Continue reading Manufactured reality

Polarization may become our undoing

American democracy is doomed

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Some day — not tomorrow, not next year, but probably sometime before runaway climate change forces us to seek a new life in outer-space colonies — there is going to be a collapse of the legal and political order and its replacement by something else. If we’re lucky, it won’t be violent. If we’re very lucky, it will lead us to tackle the underlying problems and result in a better, more robust, political system. If we’re less lucky, well, then, something worse will happen. Very few people agree with me about this, of course. When I say it, people generally think that I’m kidding. America is the richest, most successful country on earth. The basic structure of its government has survived contested elections and Great Depressions and civil rights movements and world wars and terrorist attacks and global pandemics.

People figure that whatever political problems it might have will prove transient — just as happened before. But voiced in another register, my outlandish thesis is actually the conventional wisdom in the United States. Back when George W. Bush was president and I was working at a liberal magazine, there was a very serious discussion in an editorial meeting about the fact that the United States was now exhibiting 11 of the 13 telltale signs of a fascist dictatorship. The idea that Bush was shredding the Constitution and trampling on congressional prerogatives was commonplace. When Obama took office, the partisan valence of the complaints shifted, but their basic tenor didn’t. Conservative pundits — not the craziest, zaniest ones on talk radio, but the most serious and well-regarded — compare Obama’s immigration moves to the actions of a Latin-American military dictator.

In the center, of course, it’s an article of faith that when right and left talk like this they’re simply both wrong. These are nothing but the overheated squeals of partisans and ideologues.

At the same time, when the center isn’t complaining about the excessively vociferous complaints of the out-party of the day, it tends to be in full-blown panic about the state of American politics. And yet despite the popularity of alarmist rhetoric, few people act like they’re actually alarmed. Accusations that Barack Obama or John Boehner or any other individual politician is failing as a leader are flung and then abandoned when the next issue arises. In practice, the feeling seems to be that salvation is just one election away. Hillary Clinton even told Kara Swisher that her agenda as a presidential candidate would be to end partisan gridlock.

It’s not going to work.

Continue reading Polarization may become our undoing

“Fake News” proponents overwhelmingly right wing

‘Fake news’ and the Trumpian threat to democracy

via Washington 202 by Ishaan Tharoor – Feb. 7th, 2018

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When President Trump addressed the World Economic Forum in Davos last month, his jabs at the “nasty,” “vicious,” “fake” media earned him audible groans and hisses — even from some non-American reporters in the room. It may have been a new experience for them, but journalists in the United States have become rather depressingly inured to Trump’s diatribes.

That wasn’t always the case.

“At the end of 2016, ‘fake news’ had a clear meaning. It referred to stories that were fabrications — the Clinton Foundation paying for Chelsea Clinton’s wedding or a child sex ring run out of a D.C. pizza shop,” noted The Washington Post’s Fact Checker. “The phrase was popularized after Google, Facebook and Twitter vowed to eliminate the phony content that some have speculated helped tilt the 2016 election in Donald Trump’s favor.”

But, starting early in his presidency, Trump seized upon the words “fake news” and shaped them into a cudgel he incessantly wields. He has routinely tweeted against the “fake news” media when it has the temerity to fact-check a multitude of erroneous claims he has made; doled out “fake news” awards to outlets whose coverage he thinks is helplessly biased against him; and looked on as a series of autocrats and strongmen abroad aped his rhetoric, invoking “fake news” to argue away documented reports of ethnic cleansing, torture and war crimes.

A new study, though, restores a bit of clarity to what “fake news” actually represents. Researchers at Oxford University’s Internet Institute spent 18 months identifying 91 sources of propaganda from across the political spectrum on social media, which spread what they deemed “junk news” that was deliberately misleading or masquerading as authentic reporting. They then did a deep analysis of three months of social media activity in the United States, studying 13,477 Twitter users and 47,719 public Facebook pages that consumed or shared this fake news between November 2017 and January 2018.

What they found was a profound imbalance.

“Analysis showed that the distribution of junk news content was unevenly spread across the ideological spectrum,” the institute said in a news release. “On Twitter, a network of Trump supporters shared the widest range of junk news sources and accounted for the highest volume of junk news sharing in the sample, closely followed by the conservative media group. On Facebook, extreme hard right pages shared more junk news than all the other audience groups put together.”
Continue reading “Fake News” proponents overwhelmingly right wing

“This I Believe” – by Lori Gallagher Witt

Note: A post in defense of rational liberalism

“1. I believe a country should take care of its weakest members. A country cannot call itself civilized when its children, disabled, sick, and elderly are neglected. Period.

2. I believe healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Somehow that’s interpreted as “I believe Obamacare is the end-all, be-all.” This is not the case. I’m fully aware that the ACA has problems, that a national healthcare system would require everyone to chip in, and that it’s impossible to create one that is devoid of flaws, but I have yet to hear an argument against it that makes “let people die because they can’t afford healthcare” a better alternative. I believe healthcare should be far cheaper than it is, and that everyone should have access to it. And no, I’m not opposed to paying higher taxes in the name of making that happen.

3. I believe education should be affordable and accessible to everyone. It doesn’t necessarily have to be free (though it works in other countries so I’m mystified as to why it can’t work in the US), but at the end of the day, there is no excuse for students graduating college saddled with five- or six-figure debt.

4. I don’t believe your money should be taken from you and given to people who don’t want to work. I have literally never encountered anyone who believes this. Ever. I just have a massive moral problem with a society where a handful of people can possess the majority of the wealth while there are people literally starving to death, freezing to death, or dying because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Fair wages, lower housing costs, universal healthcare, affordable education, and the wealthy actually paying their share would go a long way toward alleviating this. Somehow believing that makes me a communist.

5. I don’t throw around “I’m willing to pay higher taxes” lightly. I’m retired and on a fixed income, but I still pay taxes. If I’m suggesting something that involves paying more, well, it’s because I’m fine with paying my share as long as it’s actually going to something besides lining corporate pockets or bombing other countries while Americans die without healthcare.
Continue reading “This I Believe” – by Lori Gallagher Witt

Just a typical day in paradise

The Daily 202: Public opinion is protecting Mueller’s investigation — for now

January 24 at 8:48 AM
What the special counsel’s team will want to ask Trump
With indications that special counsel Robert Mueller is seeking an interview with President Trump, here are some burning questions his team will want to ask.

With Breanne Deppisch and Joanie Greve.

THE BIG IDEA: The people Robert Mueller’s team is talking to, and the questions they’re asking, suggest that the special counsel is keenly interested in whether President Trump sought to obstruct justice. Consider these six stories that broke in the past 24 hours:

1. Mueller is seeking to question Trump in the coming weeks about his decisions to oust national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James Comey. “Within the past two weeks, the special counsel’s office has indicated to the White House that the central subjects investigators wish to discuss with the president are the departures of Flynn and Comey and the events surrounding their firings,” Carol D. Leonnig, Sari Horwitz and Josh Dawsey report. “Mueller has also expressed interest in Trump’s efforts to remove [Jeff] Sessions as attorney general or pressure him into quitting, according to a person familiar with the probe. The person said the special counsel was seeking to determine whether there was a ‘pattern’ of behavior by the president.”

2. Trump asked the acting director of the FBI how he voted. Ellen Nakashima, Josh and Devlin Barrett scoop that, shortly after firing Comey last May, the president summoned the bureau’s acting director to the Oval Office: “The two men exchanged pleasantries, but before long, Trump, according to several current and former U.S. officials, asked Andrew McCabe a pointed question: Whom did he vote for in the 2016 election? McCabe said he didn’t vote … [Trump] also vented his anger at McCabe over the several hundred thousand dollars in donations that his wife, a Democrat, received for her failed 2015 Virginia state Senate bid from a political action committee controlled by a close friend of Hillary Clinton …

“McCabe, who has spent more than two decades at the bureau, found the conversation with Trump ‘disturbing,’ said one former U.S. official. Inside the FBI, officials familiar with the exchange expressed frustration that a civil servant — even a very senior agent in the No. 2 position — would be asked how he voted and criticized for his wife’s political leanings by the president. One person said the Trump-McCabe conversation is of interest to [Mueller].

Continue reading Just a typical day in paradise

The Atlantic Senior Editor talks about how to detect “fake news”

Word by Word. Line by Line

By Yvonne Rolzhausen, senior editor at The Atlantic

In a world where “fake news” thrives and basic editorial standards are often jettisoned as unnecessary expenses, fact-checkers can sometimes feel like an endangered species. But The Atlantic is dedicated to accuracy and truth—and therefore to rigorous fact-checking. Our pieces seek to be thought-provoking and interesting—but to be truly insightful, they must be right.

Checkers verify every fact published in our magazine, from specific details and quotes to larger generalities. We think about a piece on a variety of levels: Are the basic facts correct? Are the facts underlying various opinions correct? And, finally, do they all fit together into a comprehensive and solid argument? We go word by word, line by line. For an intensively-reported piece, I might have dozens of sources to contact and hundreds of questions for an author. The process can take anywhere from a few hours (for a very short article) to weeks or even months (for a complex, legally-fraught one).

Let me walk you through my process for checking this short section of “What ISIS Really Wants,” Graeme Wood’s March 2015 feature for The Atlantic, the story with the highest engagement time in the world on the internet that year. In the piece, Graeme explores the ideology of the Islamic State, arguing that the group is rooted in carefully-considered religious beliefs.

How do I go about fact-checking a piece like that? Here are the basic steps.
Continue reading The Atlantic Senior Editor talks about how to detect “fake news”

Economy = Good …. Everything Else = Poor

Poll finds public optimistic about the economy, critical of Trump, split on issues
January 21 at 12:01 AM

President Trump arrives to speak to March for Life participants on Friday. A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that Trump’s approval rating has remained at a historically low level, compared with past presidents. (Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

Americans have reached a split-screen assessment of the state of the country at the end of President Trump’s first year in office, expressing the most positive views about the economy in nearly two decades while giving Trump historically low approval, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News survey.

This stark contrast between perceptions of the economy and assessments of the president continue a pattern that has existed since Trump was sworn in a year ago, that of a president whose personal actions and behavior have stirred controversy and created a political distraction in the face of steady growth, low unemployment and record gains in the stock market.

How voters weigh those two views will have a decided impact on the upcoming midterm elections. Democrats, who see an opportunity to take back control of the House and have a possible although uphill path to control of the Senate, will seek to make the November elections about Trump. Republicans hope perceptions of the economy will influence enough voters to hold down their expected losses enough to protect that House majority.
Continue reading Economy = Good …. Everything Else = Poor

Women, and Men need to take it to the next level !!

‘Don’t say that to me, don’t do that to me. I hate it.’ I armed my daughters with these words to deal with harassment. Let’s no longer mollify powerful men
Illustration by Sébastien Thibault

 

In each of my daughter’s lives came the day in fifth grade when we had to sit on her bed and practice. I pretended to be the boy in class who was making her sick with dread. She had to look right at me and repeat the words until they felt possible, if not easy: “Don’t say that to me. Don’t do that to me. I hate it.” As much as I wanted to knock heads around, I knew the only real solution was to arm a daughter for self-defense. But why was it so hard to put teeth into that defense? Why does it come more naturally to smile through clenched teeth and say “Oh, stop,” in the mollifying tone so regularly, infuriatingly mistaken for flirtation?
Continue reading Women, and Men need to take it to the next level !!

The Russian Affair is not just a few rogue agents

Russian Connections

(information and analysis by Richard @ Flexible Reality,  obtained from the transcript of testimony at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing given by Glenn Simpson in August 2016 – )

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We have read and heard about Americans associated with the Trump Campaign who have strong ties to Russian oligarchs, FSB and KGB operatives, mafia figures, and intelligence personnel close to the Putin administration. I’m talking about: Paul Manafort, Carter Page, Larry Flynn, and others.

But this ignores the countless Russian nationals and affiliates with direct ties to Trump, his Administration, and his businesses. They include:

William Browder, Hermitage Capital Management, Edward Baumgartner, Demetri Baranovsky, Solntsevo Brotherhood, Salomon Brothers, Peter Star, Felix Sater, Semyon Mogilevich, Anatoli Samachornov, Rinat Akhmetshin, Natalia Veselnitskaya, Robert Arakelian, Denis Katsyv, Pyotr Katsyv, Paul Behrends, Irakle Kaveladre, Oleg Deripaska, Victor Yanukovych, Emin Agalarov, Aras Agalarov, Igor Sechin, Sergei Ivanov, Igor Divyekin, Yudkovich Mogilebich, Tevfik Arif, Pyotr Aven, Mikhail Fridman, German Khan, Sergei Millian, and Michael Cohen,

Most, if not all these individuals have proven ties to organized crime, Russian Intelligence services, Vladimir Putin, the Russian kleptocracy, anti-democratic political activities in the former Soviet Union, or questionable multi-million dollar business deals. While some may not belong primarily to the cabal involved in political interference with the 2016 General Election, all can accurately be viewed as hostile to US democratic interests.

Job skills retraining is not a panacea

The False Promises of Worker Retraining

Despite assurances from policymakers that retraining is the key to success, such programs have consistently failed to equip workers with the preparation they need to secure jobs.

via The Atlantic by JEFFREY SELINGO    JAN 8, 2018
When Travis Busch graduated from high school in Jefferson, Iowa, in 1999, he followed many of his classmates on the well-plotted and well-trod path to college. Busch took classes at Iowa Central Community College during the day and worked part-time at night on the floor of a local factory that made stock tanks for horse and cattle farms. But after a year and a half in college, he dropped out to work full time.
“I didn’t want to go to college in the first place,” he said. “I was already making money. I didn’t see why I needed it.”Fast-forward to January 2017. The factory where Busch worked was sold to a company that moved its operations to Kentucky and laid off the workers in Iowa. Before he lost his job, Busch met with local workforce officials who presented him three options: apply for an apprenticeship, go back to college, or try his luck on the job market with only a high-school diploma.“I had a long conversation with my wife and decided that I didn’t want just a job, but I wanted a career,” Busch said. “I wanted to go somewhere where I wouldn’t have that feeling they are going to lay me off. I wanted job security.”For Busch that job security would come from installing and repairing heating and air-conditioning systems. But on the day he went to sign up for the HVAC program at Des Moines Area Community College, the coordinator he was scheduled to meet with wasn’t there. Instead he bumped into the head of the tool and die program, Charlie Peffers, who took Busch on a tour of the college’s labs. “He showed me the machines and really sold the program,” Busch said.
What ultimately persuaded Busch to give the tool and die program a try were Peffers’s comments about the job outlook for his graduates, who make parts for a variety of industrial machines. Most second-year students in the program were already working part-time. Companies came to campus every other week to recruit students, offering full-time jobs that started around $40,000 a year. And some students graduated with multiple job offers.

Busch, who began classes in the tool and die program this fall, is the type of worker that politicians love to trot out when they talk about how job retraining is the answer to putting Americans back to work. But in many ways, Busch is one of the lucky ones. A relatively small chunk of the Americans who missed the conventional on-ramp to higher education and a career out of high school are now getting a second chance at a well-paying job through retraining.

Worker retraining is a classic chicken-or-egg dilemma. Employers don’t want to expand or relocate without the availability of an already-skilled workforce. Workers who have been laid off through corporate downsizing or because their jobs were shipped to a foreign country don’t want to dedicate the time and effort needed to go through retraining without the pledge of a sure-fire job with the same or a better paycheck.

So when you plug real people into the easy fixes designed by policy wonks, the situation suddenly becomes more complicated: Older workers who haven’t seen the inside of a classroom for decades are frightened by going back to school. Men don’t want to train for the jobs that are left in town, particularly in health care, because of the stigma of being employed in occupations traditionally filled by women—a phenomena that Lawrence Katz, a Harvard University labor economist, has frequently called an “identity mismatch,” rather than a skills mismatch. And in a country founded by people on the move, unemployed workers are unwilling to relocate to find work.
Continue reading Job skills retraining is not a panacea