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For the purposes of this show, I operate on two mottoes:
- You’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts;
- An educated electorate is a prerequisite for a democracy.
“Trump simply cannot avoid committing impeachable offenses. He’s like the scorpion stinging the turtle ferrying it across the river, even though they will both drown. It’s in his nature.” ~ Michael R. Honig, Jan. 13, 2017
Make sure you are registered to vote?
- Registration for the primaries ends Feb. 5, 2018
- House votes to end government shutdown, sending legislation to Trump: After the Senate voted on Jan. 22 to reopen the government, The Fix’s Aaron Blake examines what Democrats lost and won in their standoff over DACA. (Video: Bastien Inzaurralde/Photo: Melina Mara/The Washington Post), By Robert Costa, Erica Werner, Ed O’Keefe and Elise Viebeck January 22 at 6:11 PM
- Roughly 60 hours after government funding lapsed, a bipartisan group of negotiators in the Senate prevailed with leadership and trading Democratic support for reopening the government for a commitment by Republicans to hold a vote resolving the status of young undocumented immigrants by mid-February….
- …the resolution of the three-day stalemate exposed a growing rift between two groups of Democratic senators: those facing tough reelection campaigns in states Trump won, and those courting liberal voters ahead of possible 2020 presidential bids.
- “I believe it’s been a false choice that’s been presented” between keeping the government open and resolving the DACA issue, said Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), who voted no. “I believe we can do both.” … Other possible White House contenders who voted against the bill included Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).
- A majority of Democrats had forced the shutdown with demands for a vote on legislation to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, known as “dreamers,” from deportation after Trump canceled the program. The final bill did not include these protections, nor any specific guarantee of a vote.
- Trump Fakes Indian Accent When Speaking About Indian Prime Minister Modi, Report Claims, By Cristina Maza On 1/22/18 at 2:33 PM (NEWSWEEK)
- President Donald Trump is known to fake an Indian accent to imitate Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Oval Office meetings, according to a report [by The Washington Post].
- … senior administration officials have told The Washington Post that Trump is known to use an Indian accent when imitating Modi, which adds another example to the accusations of racism.
- Pennsylvania court tosses congressional boundaries; impact possible on 2018 election, Richard Wolf, USA TODAY Published Jan. 22, 2018 | Updated 6:13 p.m. ET Jan. 22, 2018
- Pennsylvania’s highest court added its voice Monday to a growing chorus of federal and state judges that have struck down election maps drawn to help the political party in power.
- In this case, it was the congressional map designed by Republican state legislators that the state Supreme Court said “plainly and palpably violates the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.” The judges demanded new maps by Feb. 15 and threatened to design their own if state officials do not comply.
- The order, with an opinion to follow soon, comes just two weeks after a federal judge in North Carolina struck down that state’s equally partisan maps. The U.S. Supreme Court temporarily blocked that ruling while it considers similar complaints from Wisconsin and Maryland.
- The U.S. Supreme Court has been considering the Wisconsin challenge to state Assembly districts since hearing oral arguments in early October. It is scheduled to hear a challenge to one Maryland congressional district this spring. The court’s decisions could affect other states as well.
- The Pennsylvania decision could throw congressional elections there into chaos, since all 18 districts — including 13 controlled by Republicans — now must be redesigned.
- Pennsylvania’s congressional district lines also are being challenged in federal court in a process that could lead to the U.S. Supreme Court. By contrast, the state Supreme Court ruling may escape the high court’s review, although state officials said they would ask the justices to put the ruling on hold.
- “The U.S. Supreme Court doesn’t get to tell a state’s highest court what is state law,” said Stanton Jones, an attorney for opponents of the Republican congressional maps. “The U.S. Supreme Court has nothing to say about that.”
- … Republicans win the GOP districts with an average of 59%, while Democrats win theirs with an average of 77%. In that way, the challengers’ lawsuit claimed, the legislature “packed” Democratic voters into some districts and “cracked” them among the others.
- Facebook Says It May Not Be Good For Democracy– The social media platform says its working to understand its social impact, By Wayne Duggan, Contributor |Jan. 22, 2018, at 10:57 a.m.
- Mike: Actually, in the body of the article, FACEBOOK says no such thing. This is a problem.
- A Facebook executive says the company has “moral duty” to understand the social impact of its service. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)
- Facebook, Inc. (Nasdaq: FB) is making efforts this year prevent manipulation of its platform by nation states, but the company says that it can’t guarantee that social media is not harmful to democracy.
- In a new blog post entitled “Hard Questions: Social Media and Democracy,” Facebook product manager Samidh Chakrabarti says Facebook is aware of the type of damage the internet can do to a healthy democracy.
- “I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can’t,” Chakrabarti says.
- He also says Facebook has a “moral duty” to understand the social impact of its service and make its content as trustworthy as possible.
- Mike: Actually, in the body of the article, FACEBOOK says no such thing. This is a problem.
- ‘Put Trump in his place’ – Nationalism awakens in Mexican presidential race, By Dave Graham, January 22, 2018, 02:29:00 PM EDT By Reuters/NASDAQ.com
- Donald Trump’s habit of slapping down Mexico is feeding nationalist sentiment in the country’s presidential election campaign, prompting contenders to defy him and strengthening the hand of the frontrunner, who is courting the anti-establishment vote.
- … Mexico sends about 80 percent of its exports to its northern neighbor and the United States has traditionally been the source of the bulk of foreign direct investment. Under Trump, however, Mexican views of the United States have soured.
- “Without being disrespectful, we’re going to put him in his place,” Lopez Obrador said of Trump on Thursday in the Gulf of Mexico port of Veracruz, the scene of a notorious national humiliation when S. forces occupied it in 1914.
- … Trump [has] told his Twitter followers that Mexico was “rated the number one most dangerous country in the world.” Although violence is rising in Mexico, its murder rate remains well below that of several Latin American countries, data compiled by the United Nations and the World Bank show.
- Lopez Obrador, who said earlier this month he would put an end to what he called puppet governments in Mexico taking instructions “from abroad,” promised to hit back against Trump’s barbs and tell the American “what I think” on Twitter.
- A December survey by polling firm Parametria gave Lopez Obrador an 11 percentage point lead, while another last week by Mitofsky gave him a three point advantage, but growing.
- Texas employees get Friday off to celebrate “Confederate heroes”– State employees have the day off on Friday for Confederate Heroes Day, which has a controversial history in Texas. by Sydney Greene 19, 2018 12 AM [The Texas Tribune]
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday isn’t the only holiday this week for state employees in Texas. They can also take off Friday for a state holiday that has been a source of controversy: Confederate Heroes Day.
- Confederate Heroes Day is a skeleton crew holiday,holiday, when state employees can take a paid day off but state offices remain open. Employees who work can take another day off instead, according to Kevin Lyons of the Texas comptroller’s office. Other skeleton crew holidays include Texas Independence Day and San Jacinto Day.
- Some lawmakers attempted in 2015 and 2017 to change the name of the holiday to “Civil War Remembrance Day” and move the date to avoid occasional conflicts with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but the measure never gained traction.
- GOP Sen. Jeff Flake plans speech comparing Trump’s treatment of the media to Stalin, by Chloe Aiello | @chlobo_ilo [Published 1-15-2018 CNBC.com]
- Longtime Trump critic Jeff Flake plans to deliver a speech on Wednesday comparing the president’s language on the media to that of Joseph Stalin.
- Excerpts of Flake’s speech reveal an emphasis on Trump’s use of the phrase “enemy of the American people,” referring to the media.
- Mnuchin List of Putin ‘Oligarchs’ Jolts Russia’s Elite Class, By Saleha Mohsin, 1-15-2018, 3 hrs ago [Bloomberg]
- The U.S. Treasury Department is finishing its first official list of “oligarchs” close to President Vladimir Putin’s government, setting off a flurry of moves by wealthy Russians to shield their fortunes and reputations.
- The report is expected to amount to a blacklist of Russia’s elite. It was mandated by a law President Donald Trump reluctantly signed in August intended to penalize the Kremlin for its alleged meddling in the 2016 election. A rare piece of legislation passed with a bipartisan veto-proof margin, the law gave Treasury, the State Department and intelligence agencies 180 days to identify people by “their closeness to the Russian regime and their net worth.”
- The list has also become a headache within Treasury, where some officials are concerned it will be conflated with sanctions, a person familiar with the matter said. Treasury officials are considering keeping some portions of the report classified — which the law allows — and issuing it in the form of a letter from a senior official, Sigal Mandelker, instead of releasing it through the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which issues sanctions. That would help distinguish it from separate lists of Russians subject to U.S. economic penalties, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
- “You’re going to have people getting shamed. It’s a step below a sanction because it doesn’t actually block any assets, but has the same optics as sanctions — you’re on a list of people who are engaged in doing bad things,” said Erich Ferrari, who founded Ferrari & Associates in Washington and has helped people get removed from the sanctions designation list.
- Donald Trump and his Sh0thole Presidency
- Durbin calls on White House to release tapes of Trump’s remarks about African countries, Michael Collins,[USA TODAY] Published 1:32 p.m. ET Jan. 15, 2018 | Updated 4:12 p.m. ET Jan. 15, 2018
- … [Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D)] said he doesn’t know if the White House has recordings of the meeting either. “If there was,” he said, “I want to just call on the White House right now, release whatever you have. If they don’t have it, so be it.”
- …Trump acknowledged using “tough” language in the meeting, but denied uttering the vulgar term. He also suggested the White House did not record the conversation. “Probably should record future meetings – unfortunately, no trust,” he wrote on Twitter last Friday.
- Israel slams Palestinian leader over anti-Trump speech, By Aron Heller | AP/Washington Post | January 15 at 4:51 PM
- Israeli leaders slammed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Monday for a fiery, invective-filled speech against President Donald Trump, in which he proclaimed the U.S. role as arbiter of the Mideast conflict over, attacked the administration’s envoys and described Israel as a colonial conspiracy.
- Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Abbas had “lost his senses” and had given up on the prospect of peace negotiations in favor of open confrontation with both Israel and the United States. In a rambling, two and half hour long speech Sunday night, the Palestinian leader sharply escalated his rhetoric, lashing out at the U.S., Israel, Britain and even other Arab leaders, whom he told to “go to hell” for criticizing him. He pronounced the peace process dead, and accused Israel of killing it.
- The speech came at a time of great frustration for the 82-year-old Abbas, who after 13 years in power has made little progress in his goal of establishing an independent Palestinian state on lands captured by Israel in 1967. The rival Hamas militant group now controls the Gaza Strip, his erstwhile Arab allies have quietly moved closer to Israel or turned their attention to other pressing matters such as Iran, and he has lost faith in the United States as a Mideast broker following Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last month. Abbas also is deeply unpopular with his own public.
- …[Abbas] said he remains committed to seeking a peace deal with Israel and promoting a culture of peace in Palestinian society. He denounced terrorism and noted that he has signed an anti-terrorism agreement with over 80 countries, including the U.S., while saying he maintains a team dedicated to outreach with the Israeli public. He said he supports only nonviolent resistance to Israeli occupation.
- … He also reiterated his demand that Britain apologize for its 1917 Balfour Declaration, which endorsed the idea of a Jewish state. He accused Israel of sending drugs to Palestinian children. Most angering to Israelis, however, was his assertion that the country was a result of Western efforts to offload their Jews.
- “They wanted to bring Jews here from Europe to maintain European interests in the region. They asked Holland, which had the largest navy in the world, to transfer the Jews,” he said. “Israel is a colonialist project that has nothing to do with Jews.”
- Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, who holds a mostly ceremonial position, said the comments brought to mind Abbas’ own doctoral dissertation, in which he challenged the number of Jewish victims of the Holocaust and claimed Zionists had collaborated with Nazis.
- “He returned back to the ideas he expressed decades ago, when they were no less terrible,” Rivlin said Monday. “To say Israel is the result of a Western conspiracy to settle Jews in land belonging to Arab populations? To say that the Jewish people has no connection with the land of Israel? He forgot many things, and said exactly the things that led him to be accused years ago of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.”
- Why Michael Wolff’s book made me think about Hitler’s ascent, By Richard Cohen Opinion writer January 8 at 5:10 PM
- About halfway through Michael Wolff’s new book on President Trump, I had the sense that all this was familiar. As the pages flew by — and the reading is both alarming and delicious — the sense of deja vu became even more pronounced. At the three-quarters mark, I realized where I had read all this before: William L. Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.”
- But in any reading of the rise of Nazi Germany, you come to a dead stop: How did this happen? How did a nut such as Hitler manage to take over one of the world’s most advanced and civilized nations? The question becomes particularly acute when you consider the jumble of criminals, incompetents and ideological zealots he had around him. One answer to the question is that others in Germany thought Hitler could prove useful.
- The Trump presidency that Wolff describes in virtually pornographic detail was the creation not just of Trump but of all the people who failed to oppose him. These are the people who ducked the greatest political test this nation has faced since the Civil War — who enabled the election of a man whose sanity is now questioned but whose incompetence never was. It is not true that Trump is nobody’s fool. He is the GOP’s.
- The reference to Germany is jarring, I know, but once again the conventional were thrilled by the unconventional, the rich were assured they would remain so, and a collection of political naïfs [nīˈēf/] bought into the Mar-a-Lago political bordello, thinking it was Monticello. Wolff tells a frightening tale. It is all the more frightening because it has been told before.
- China’s watchful eye: CCTV footage taken in Beijing uses the facial-recognition system Face++. China, unburdened by concerns about privacy or civil rights, is integrating private cameras and security cameras into a nationwide surveillance system., Story by Simon Denyer, Photos by Gilles Sabrié, Video by Joyce Lee, January 7, 2018 (Washington Post)
- Beijing bets on facial recognition in a big drive for total surveillance
- …who’s a criminal? In China, documents for the Police Cloud project unearthed by Human Rights Watch list “petitioners” — people who complain to the government about perceived injustices — as potential targets of surveillance, along with anyone who “undermines stability” or has “extreme thoughts.” Other documents cite members of ethnic minorities, specifically Muslim Uighurs from Xinjiang, as subjects of scrutiny.
- Maya Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, said what sets China apart is “a complete lack of effective privacy protections,” combined with a system that is explicitly designed to target individuals seen as “politically threatening.”
- “In other countries, we are often concerned about the use of big data for deepening existing policing bias — for example, for targeting historically disadvantaged groups like African Americans in the U.S. context — but for the Chinese systems, the targeting of people of certain ethnicity is a fundamental function of the system,” she added.
- Oprah could run. Oprah could win. Is America going insane or coming to its senses?, By Dan Zak and Monica Hesse January 8 at 3:24 PM
- Maybe billionaires should be excluded from high political office.
- Maybe no one should be allowed to run for Federal office until they’ve been elected to Local or Statewide office?
- Publicly ‘vetted’
- Service experience and history
- Protests in Iran:
- Iran bans teaching English in primary schools, By Valerie Strauss January 8 at 3:08 PM (Washington Post)
- Iran just banned the teaching of English in primary schools — even after school hours — because, it said, those early years should be devoted to strengthening students’ skills in the Persian language and Iranian Islamic culture.
- Mehdi Navid-Adham, head of the state-run High Education Council, told state television, “Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations,” the BBC reported. Iran’s education system is divided into the primary and secondary grades, with children moving from the former to the latter at age 12. There are both public and private schools.
- Navid-Adham did not mention the deadly anti-government protests that have erupted in Iran, which authorities have linked to foreign powers, including the United States and Iraq. Iranian authorities blocked social media apps Instagram and Telegram — “temporarily” — after demonstrators used them to share videos of protests.
- [Iran FM warns neighbors against fomenting unrest]
- According to the BBC, English is widely studied in Iran and is so popular in higher grades that classes started to be offered in primary schools. This has happened despite concerns expressed by Iran’s rulers, who have said that the teaching of English and other foreign languages amounts to a “cultural invasion.” In a speech to teachers in 2016, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, bemoaned the prevalence of English classes in Iranian schools, saying:
- This insistence on promoting the English language in our country is an unhealthy course of action. Of course, we should learn foreign languages, but foreign languages are not confined to the English language. The language of science is not only English. Why do they not specify other languages in school as language lessons? Why is there such an insistence? . . .
- I am not saying that we should cancel English classes shortly. This is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that we should know what we are doing. We should know what kind of generation the other side wants to be built in the country and with what characteristics. . . .
- Analysis: Iran protests show danger of economic woes, Associated Press via Washington Post
- The economic resentment seen in recent days could prompt the rise of another Ahmadinejad-style hard-line populist — if Iran’s clerical leadership allows such a candidacy.
- …Weeks before the protests, Rouhani publicly complained that large parts of the government budget went to religious institutions, largely seen as power bases of the hard-liners, seeking to deflect blame over the economy. From the other side, it is widely believed that the hard-liners were the ones who initially stoked the protests to embarrass Rouhani, only to see the demonstrations turn against the entire ruling establishment.
- PROTESTS WANE, ANGER REMAINS: Authorities managed to stifle the protests in part by blocking access to the messaging app Telegram, through which demonstrators organized the rallies and shared images from the streets. The Revolutionary Guard’s volunteer Basiji force also was deployed and police have arrested hundreds; more than 20 protesters were killed, although security forces did not engage in the level of bloodshed that followed the 2009 protests.
- Both U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said they supported the protesters, without apparently providing any aid. The protests quickly raised the hopes of those abroad who want to see an end to the Islamic Republic.
- There may be a ‘crisis of rising expectations’ after many economic sanctions were lifted, yet many Iranians feel they have not benefited as they might have anticipated
- Official unemployment is pegged at 11.7%.
- Iran bans teaching English in primary schools, By Valerie Strauss January 8 at 3:08 PM (Washington Post)
- NET Neutrality: Why it matters.
- MIKE: Did your internet seem to slow down almost immediately the FCC’s net neutrality decision? If it did, you aren’t alone. I’ve seen many complaints online of people having the same impression
- America’s Cultural Revolution, by Catherine Rampell
- Last month in Shanghai, Chinese venture capitalist Eric X. Li made a provocative suggestion. The United States, he said, was going through its own “Cultural Revolution.” …
- Li said he saw several parallels between the violence and chaos in China decades ago and the animosity coursing through the United States today. In both cases, the countries turned inward, focusing more on defining the soul of their nations than on issues beyond their borders.
- He said that both countries were also “torn apart by ideological struggles,” with kinships, friendships and business relationships being severed by political differences.
- “Virtually all types of institutions, be it political, educational, or business, are exhausting their internal energy in dealing with contentious, and seemingly irreconcilable, differences in basic identities and values — what it means to be American,” he said in a subsequent email exchange. “In such an environment, identity trumps reason, ideology overwhelms politics, and moral convictions replace intellectual discourse.”
- 7 Reforms After Trump, by Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) 12/3/17, 19:31
- Repeal Shelby v Holder (LEGISLATE: Renew Voting Rights Act)
- Repeal Citizens United (LEGISLATE/AMENDMENT: Limit Money in Politics, abolish anonymous money in politics)
- Abolish electoral college (or can it be saved?)
- Apply anti-nepotism law to White House (It was WRITTEN for White House [Robert Kennedy serving with JFK])
- POTUS candidates must release tax returns (LEGISLATE/AMENDMENT: for how many years)
- Presidents may not self-pardon (AMENDMENT OR LEGISLATION: or pardon executive appointees?)
- Special counsel has power to indict president
- 2/3 Senate vote to confirm SCOTUS appointment
- Sex and Politics: Where’s the boundary between innocent and inappropriate?
TOPICS FROM PREVIOUS WEEKS:
- What do belts around Proxima Centauri mean for exoplanet research?, By John Wenz | Published: Friday, November 03, 2017 [http://www.astronomy.com]
- TV Talk:
- “The Good Place”
- “The Orville”
- “Adam Ruins Everything”
SOURCES WHICH MAY BE RELEVANT TO OTHER DISCUSSION: