Daily Bread for 3.27.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of fifty-one. Sunrise is 6:43 AM and sunset 7:16 PM, for 12h 32m 44s of daytime. The moon is new, with .4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred thirty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority is scheduled to meet this afternon at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1513, Juan Ponce de León spots what he believes is an island, but was likely his first sighting of Florida. On this day in 1865, the 8th, 11th, 14th, 20th, 23rd, 27th, 28th, 29th, 33rd and 35th Wisconsin Infantry regiments join in the Battle of Spanish Fort began on the Gulf Coast of Alabama.

Recommended for reading in full —

John Schmid and Kevin Crowe report on An intractable problem (for the last half-century, Milwaukee has been caught in a relentless social and economic spiral): “At the start of the 1970s, Milwaukee’s industrial heyday, just 17% of the city’s population lived in census tracts in which 20% to 40% of the residents lived below the federal poverty line. That’s a level labeled “concentrated poverty,” and social scientists consider it the combustion point for social toxins like crime, teen pregnancies, dropping out of school. (A Milwaukee census tract averages about 3,000 people.) Milwaukee’s rate was far healthier than other industrial cities like Detroit (25%), Philadelphia (21%) or Chicago (20%). By the end of that watershed decade, amid the first wave of industrial shutdowns, 22% of the city lived in 20%-40% poverty tracts, and there was a proliferation of “extreme poverty” tracts, where 40% or more lived below the line. Then came the booming ’80s and the greatest bull market on Wall Street since the 1920s. The aphorism is that a rising economic tide lifts all boats, but Milwaukee missed out. By the end of the decade, the percentage of people living in tracts with 20%-plus poverty rose to 43.5% — including both concentrated and extreme poverty. During the tech-driven ’90s, as the internet minted new fortunes and Google was born, the number of 20%-40% tracts increased from 48 to 74. By the end of the decade, the percentage of city residents in 20%-plus tracts was 47.2%, almost half the city’s population. By 2014, 145 of the city’s 209 census tracts — home to almost three-quarters of the city’s population — had at least 20% of the population living in poverty, and more than one out of four Milwaukeeans lived in neighborhoods of extreme poverty.”

Margaret Sullivan notes that Scott Pelley is pulling no punches on the nightly news — and people are taking notice: “Pelley, of CBS Evening News, has set himself apart — especially in recent weeks — with a spate of such assessments, night after night. Perhaps the most notable one, on Feb. 7, went like this: “It has been a busy day for presidential statements divorced from reality. Mr. Trump said this morning that any polls that show disapproval of his immigration ban are fake. He singled out a federal judge for ridicule after the judge suspended his ban, and Mr. Trump said that the ruling now means that anyone can enter the country. The president’s fictitious claims, whether imaginary or fabricated, are now worrying even his backers, particularly after he insisted that millions of people voted illegally, giving Hillary Clinton her popular-vote victory.” And then Pelley added a reality-check kicker: “There is not one state election official, Democrat or Republican, who supports that claim.” There are plenty of other examples: One evening last month, he described Trump aide Kellyanne Conway as “a fearless fabulist.” Another night, he referred to the president as having had “another Twitter tantrum.” Far more than his competitors — Lester Holt on NBC and David Muir on ABC — Pelley is using words and approaches that pull no punches. It’s not that the others don’t provide fact-checks or report on criticism; they do. But Pelley, 59, despite his calm delivery, is dogged, night after night — and far blunter.”

Colbert King contends It’s time for the feds to follow the Russian money: “There’s plenty of ground for federal agencies to plow. The Financial Times reported in October that an investigation that it conducted had turned up evidence of ties between one Trump venture and an alleged international money-laundering network. Title deeds, bank records and correspondence showed that a Kazakh family accused of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars bought apartments in a Manhattan building part-owned by Trump and pursued business ventures with one of his partners. This week, ABC News reported that from 2011 to 2013, the FBI had a warrant to eavesdrop on a Russian money-laundering network that operated out of Trump Tower in New York. “The FBI investigation led to a federal grand jury indictment of more than 30 people, including one of the world’s most notorious Russian mafia bosses, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov,” ABC’s Brian Ross and Matthew Mosk reported. “He was the only target to slip away, and he remains a fugitive from American justice.” Bloomberg Businessweek reported this month: “Two months before Trump broke ground in New York in October 1998, Russia defaulted on $40 billion in domestic debt, and some of the biggest banks started to collapse. Millionaires scrambled to get their money out and into New York. Real estate provides a safe haven for overseas investors. It has few reporting requirements and is a preferred way to move cash of questionable provenance. Amid the turmoil, buyers found a dearth of available projects. Trump World Tower, opened in 2001, became a prominent depository of Russian money.”

Conor Dougherty reports that the Push for Internet Privacy Rules Moves to Statehouses: “California and Connecticut, for instance, recently updated laws that restrict government access to online communications like email, and New Mexico could follow soon. Last year, Nebraska and West Virginia passed laws that limit how companies can monitor employees’ social media accounts, while legislators in Hawaii, Missouri and elsewhere are pushing similar bills for employees, as well as for students and tenants. “More and more, states have taken the position that, if Congress is not willing or able to enact strong privacy laws, their legislatures will no longer sit on their hands,” said Chad Marlow, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union. Online privacy is the rare issue that draws together legislators from the left and the far right. At the state level, anyway, some of the progress has come from a marriage between progressive Democrats and libertarian-minded Republicans, who see privacy as a bedrock principle, Mr. Marlow said.”

Daily Bread for 3.26.17

Good morning.

Whitewater will have a rainy Sunday, with a high of fifty-seven. Sunrise is 6:45 AM and sunset is 7:15 PM, for 12h 29m 49s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 3.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred thirty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1881, famous Civil War mascot Old Abe dies from injuries he sustained during a fire at the State Capitol. He was the mascot for Company C, an Eau Claire infantry unit that was part of the Wisconsin 8th Regiment. His fame continued after the war:

After Wisconsin took possession of Old Abe, state officials classified him as a “War Relic” and created an “Eagle Department” in the Capitol building, which included a two-room “apartment,” a custom bathtub for the eagle, and a caretaker. Later John Hill served in this capacity.[23] Old Abe became a nationally known celebrity, whose presence at events was requested by individuals and organizations from the state and the country. Old Abe appeared at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the 1880 Grand Army of the Republic National Convention. Other events were fundraisers for charities, which included: the 1865 Northwest Sanitary Fair in Illinois, Soldiers’ Home Fair, Soldier’s Orphan’s Home, Harvey Hospital, and Ladies Aid Society of Chippewa Falls.[3] In February 1881, a small fire broke out in the basement of the Capitol. After Old Abe raised an alarm, the fire was quickly put out. However, the eagle inhaled a large amount of thick black smoke, and about a month later, lost strength and began to decline. On March 26, 1881, in spite of the efforts of numerous doctors, Old Abe died in the arms of caretaker George Gilles.[23]

On September 17, 1881, Old Abe’s stuffed remains were placed in a glass display case located in the rotunda of the Capitol. Four years later, Old Abe was moved, within the Capitol, from the rotunda to the G.A.R. Memorial Hall. In 1900, his remains were transferred to the new building of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. However, pressure from veterans convinced Governor Robert M. Lafollette to return Old Abe to the Capitol building in 1903. That year, President Theodore Roosevelt viewed the remains and expressed his pleasure at being able to see the eagle he had studied in school as a child. In 1904, Old Abe’s remains and the glass case were destroyed in a fire that razed the Capitol building.[23]

Since 1915, a replica of Old Abe has presided over the Wisconsin State Assembly Chamber in the Capitol, and another is on display at the Wisconsin Veterans Museum in Madison.[24] A stone sculpture of the eagle is at the top of the Camp Randall Arch.[11]

 

Recommended for reading in full — 

Tim Alberta describes events from Inside the GOP’s Health Care Debacle: “Donald Trump had heard enough about policy and process. It was Thursday afternoon and members of the House Freedom Caucus were peppering the president with wonkish concerns about the American Health Care Act—the language that would leave Obamacare’s “essential health benefits” in place, the community rating provision that limited what insurers could charge certain patients, and whether the next two steps of Speaker Paul Ryan’s master plan were even feasible—when Trump decided to cut them off. “Forget about the little shit,” Trump said, according to multiple sources in the room. “Let’s focus on the big picture here.” The group of roughly 30 House conservatives, gathered around a mammoth, oval-shaped conference table in the Cabinet Room of the White House, exchanged disapproving looks. Trump wanted to emphasize the political ramifications of the bill’s defeat; specifically, he said, it would derail his first-term agenda and imperil his prospects for reelection in 2020. The lawmakers nodded and said they understood. And yet they were disturbed by his dismissiveness. For many of the members, the “little shit” meant the policy details that could make or break their support for the bill—and have far-reaching implications for their constituents and the country.”

Matt Flegenheimer and  Thomas Kaplan contend that Paul Ryan Emerges From Health Care Defeat Badly Damaged: “Less than 18 months after being elected speaker, Mr. Ryan has emerged from the defeat of the health care bill badly damaged, retaining a grip on the job but left to confront the realities of his failure — imperiling the odd-couple partnership that was supposed to sustain a new era of conservative government under unified Republican rule.”

Graydon Carter contends that the Trump Presidency is Already a Joke (But It’s No laughing Matter): “Trump’s one brief moment of acting presidential—when he read off a teleprompter for 60 minutes and 10 seconds during his address to Congress—served only to show just how low the bar for presidential behavior has plummeted since January. Watching TV commentators applaud him for containing himself for a little over an hour was like hearing a parent praise a difficult child for not pooping in his pants during a pre-school interview. Besides, vintage Trump is not going anywhere anytime soon. A couple of weeks earlier, during a visit by the Japanese prime minister, Shinz? Abe, the president told an acquaintance that he was obsessed with the translator’s breasts—although he expressed this in his own, fragrant fashion.”

Hannah Levintova outlines The Long, Twisted, and Bizarre History of the Trump-Russia Scandal: “The Trump-Russia scandal—with all its bizarre and troubling twists and turns—has become a controversy that is defining the Trump presidency. The FBI recently disclosed that since July it has been conducting a counterintelligence investigation into possible coordination between Trump associates and Russia, as part of its probe of Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 election. Citing “US officials,” CNN reported that the bureau has gathered information suggesting coordination between Trump campaign officials and suspected Russian operatives. Each day seems to bring a new revelation—and a new Trump administration denial or deflection. It’s tough to keep track of all the relevant events, pertinent ties, key statements, and unraveling claims. So we’ve compiled what we know so far into the timeline below, which covers Trump’s 30-year history with Russia.  We will continue to update the timeline regularly as events unfold. (Click here to go directly to the most recent entry.) Please email us at scoop@motherjones.com if you have a tip or we’ve left anything out.”

People on Twitter are mocking Trump for pretending to drive a big rig truck (instead of reading and comprehending the details of health care legislation that he dismissively described as “the little shit“):

Daily Bread for 3.25.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy, with a high of forty-none, and periods of rain. Sunrise is 6:46 AM and sunset is 7:13 PM, for 12h 26m 55s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 8.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred thirty-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1911, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire claims the lives of one hundred forty-six workers, most of whom were Jewish and Italian immigrant women aged 16 to 23. On this day in 1865, the 36th and 38th Wisconsin Infantry regiments participate in the Battle of Fort Stedman, Virginia, during the Siege of Petersburg.

Recommended for reading in full —

David Graham observes that for Trump, It’s Never Trump’s Fault: “Trump was very clear about who was not to blame: himself. “I worked as a team player,” the president of the United States said, demoting himself to bit-player status. He wanted to do tax reform first, after all, and it was still early. “I’ve been in office, what, 64 days? I’ve never said repeal and replace Obamacare within 64 days. I have a long time. I want to have a great health-care bill and plan and we will.” Strictly speaking, it is true that Trump didn’t promise to repeal Obamacare on day 64 of his administration. What he told voters, over and over during the campaign, was that he’d do it immediately. On some occasions he or top allies even promised to do it on day 1. Now he and his allies are planning to drop the bill for the foreseeable future….Trump’s quick disavowal of any role in the collapse fits with an emerging pattern: The president never takes the blame for anything that goes wrong….Assuming the public accepts it, this choice has both upsides and downsides. On the one hand, it means that Trump is never to blame for anything. On the other, if he’s so irrelevant, why should anyone pay attention to him or take his proposals and ideas seriously?”

Robert Costa, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker report on ‘The closer’? The inside story of how Trump tried — and failed — to make a deal on health care: “For Trump, it was never supposed to be this hard. As a real estate mogul on the rise, he wrote “The Art of the Deal,” and as a political candidate, he boasted that nobody could make deals as beautifully as he could. Replacing Obamacare, a Republican bogeyman since the day it was enacted seven years ago, was Trump’s first chance to prove that he had the magic touch that he claimed eluded Washington. But Trump’s effort was plagued from the beginning. The bill itself would have violated a number of Trump’s campaign promises, driving up premiums for millions of citizens and throwing millions more off health insurance — including many of the working-class voters who gravitated to his call to “make America great again.” Trump was unsure about the American Health Care Act, though he ultimately dug in for the win, as he put it. There were other problems, too. Trump never made a real effort to reach out to Democrats, and he was unable to pressure enough of his fellow Republicans. He did not speak fluently about the bill’s details and focused his pitch in purely transactional terms. And he failed to appreciate the importance of replacing Obamacare to the Republican base; for the president, it was an obstacle to move past to get to taxes, trade and the rest of his agenda.”

Tim Mak reports that Devin Nunes Vanished the Night Before He Made Trump Surveillance Claims: “Hours before the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee announced his shocking claims about surveillance of the Trump transition team on Wednesday morning, he practically disappeared. Rep. Devin Nunes was traveling with a senior committee staffer in an Uber on Tuesday evening when he received a communication on his phone, three committee officials and a former national security official with ties to the committee told The Daily Beast. After the message, Nunes left the car abruptly, leaving his own staffer in the dark about his whereabouts. By the next morning, Nunes hastily announced a press conference. His own aides, up to the most senior level, did not know what their boss planned to say next. Nunes’ choice to keep senior staff out of the loop was highly unusual.”

Travis Dorman reports that Tennessee bills teen to replace guardrail that killed her: “LENOIR CITY, Tenn. — The state of Tennessee erroneously has billed a dead teen nearly $3,000 to replace the guardrail that killed her in a car crash in November. Her flabbergasted father said that he not only would not pay but also contends that the model of guardrail that struck his daughter was poorly designed and dangerous. Around 5:44 a.m. ET Nov. 1, Hannah Eimers, 17, was driving her father’s 2000 Volvo S80 on Interstate 75 northbound near Niota, Tenn., when the car left the road, traveled into the median and hit the end of a guardrail with the driver’s side door, according to a Tennessee Highway Patrol crash report. Instead of deflecting the car or buckling to absorb the impact, the guardrail end impaled the vehicle, striking the teen in the head and chest and pushing her into the back seat, according to the report. She died instantly.”

Opera? No, something even better: subway opera —

Elevating the Underground: Subway Opera from Great Big Story on Vimeo.

Daily Bread for 3.24.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be warm, with a high of seventy, and an even chance of afternoon thunder showers. Sunrise is 6:48 AM and sunset 7:12 PM, for 12h 23m 59s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 15.7% of its visible disk illuminated.Today is the one hundred thirty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1989, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez strikes Prince William Sound’s Bligh Reef at and spills 10.8 million US gallons of crude oil over the next few days. On this day in 1874, legendary magician Harry Houdini (who claimed to be born in Appleton and actually lived there for a bit) is born in Budapest.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Andrew Roth and Natalie Gryvnyak report that Days before his death, Putin critic said in interview he knew he was in danger: “ In the plush, crimson-decked lobby bar of Kiev’s five-star Premier Palace Hotel, Denis Voronenkov, a Russian lawmaker who had defected to Ukraine, knew he was in danger. “For our personal safety, we can’t let them know where we are,” he said Monday evening as he sat with his wife for an interview with The Washington Post. Less than 72 hours later, he was dead, shot twice in the head in broad daylight outside the same lobby bar. It was a particularly brazen assassination that recalled the post-Soviet gangland violence of the 1990s. His wife, dressed in black, sobbed as she stooped down to identify Voronenkov’s body, which lay beneath a black tarp in a pool of blood. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, just hours later, called the attack an “act of state terrorism by Russia.” As of Thursday evening, police had not identified the assailant, who died in police custody after being shot by Voronenkov’s bodyguard. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, called the accusation a “fabrication.” In the weeks before his death, Voronenkov, a former member of Russia’s pliant Communist Party, had told friends he was being targeted. Hackers had been trying to pry into his Twitter account and his wife’s email. He had received threatening text messages, and the police had recently assigned him a bodyguard. There were rumors he was under surveillance.”

James B. Stewart observes that Pages From Trump’s Tax Returns Raise a Decade’s Worth of Questions: “But scratch the surface, and a far more complicated and troubling picture emerges. On the line for “other income,” the Trumps reported negative $103 million. Tax experts told me that is almost certainly what was left of the $916 million loss reported on the 1995 returns reported by The Times, an amount that could be carried over and used to offset income in future years.  “That’s my assumption,” said Leonard C. Green, a certified public accountant who is president of the Green Group, a tax and accounting advisory firm, and author of “The Entrepreneur’s Playbook.” That means that in the years between 1996 and 2005, Mr. Trump was able to use the enormous loss to offset $813 million in income. It’s possible, though unlikely, that some of those tax-loss carry-forwards, as they’re known, expired unused. In 1995 they could be used for up to 18 years, which means any of the losses incurred before 1987 would have expired by 2005. But there’s no evidence Mr. Trump had losses of anywhere near that magnitude that early in his career. Most of the losses are presumed to date from the problems his casino operations ran into in the early 1990s.”

Mark Sommerhauser reports concerning Wisconsin’s Fiscal bureau: Scott Walker’s budget leaves $1.1 billion hole starting in 2019: “Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal for the state’s next budget creates a larger structural deficit than previously thought, nearly $1.1 billion, in the ensuing budget cycle beginning in 2019, the state’s nonpartisan fiscal office said Thursday. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau released the findings in a memo made public late Thursday. It shows Walker’s plan for the 2017-19 budget, which back-loads spending and tax cuts into its second fiscal year, leaves a structural deficit of $1.1 billion that lawmakers would have to erase in crafting the 2019-21 budget. A previous estimate from Walker’s office pegged the number at about $740 million. The structural deficit figure compares projected revenue to expenditures if Walker’s plan were enacted this year as-is, and if no changes were made to its revenue or spending levels in the following budget in 2019. Both are unlikely to happen, but the figure gives policymakers “an indication of the beginning point for the budget of the succeeding biennium” under Walker’s plan, according to the memo.”

Michael D. Shear explains What Trump’s Time [Magazine] Interview Shows About His Thinking: “Just Quoting. ‘Why do you say that I have to apologize? I’m just quoting the newspaper, just like I quoted the judge the other day, Judge Napolitano. I quoted Judge Napolitano, just like I quoted Bret Baier. I mean Bret Baier mentioned the word wiretap. Now he can now deny it, or whatever he is doing, you know. But I watched Bret Baier, and he used that term. I have a lot of respect for Judge Napolitano, and he said that three sources have told him things that would make me right. I don’t know where he has gone with it since then. But I’m quoting highly respected people from highly respected television networks.’President Trump Among Mr. Trump’s more bizarre assertions in recent days — and repeated in the Time interview — is the idea that he should not be held accountable for merely quoting someone who makes a controversial, even unproven, claim or allegation.”

Sometimes there are alligators in the sewer:

Daily Bread for 3.23.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of forty-five. Sunrise is 6:50 AM and sunset is 7:11 PM, for 12h 21m 04s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 23.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred thirty-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority meets today at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1775, Patrick Henry argues in Virginia’s House of Burgesses for mobilization against Britain : “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!” On this day in 1865, the Campaign of the Carolinas ends victoriously for Wisconsin defenders of the Union: “the 21st Wisconsin Infantry, made up mostly of soldiers from the Oshkosh area, finished fighting their way through the South during Sherman’s March to the Sea and reached Goldsboro, N.C., where the campaign in the Carolinas ended.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Sickness and early death in the white working class could be rooted in poor job prospects for less-educated young people as they first enter the labor market, a situation that compounds over time through family dysfunction, social isolation, addiction, obesity and other pathologies, according to a study published Thursday by two prominent economists. Anne Case and Angus Deaton garnered national headlines in 2015 when they reported that the death rate of midlife non-Hispanic white Americans had risen steadily since 1999 in contrast with the death rates of blacks, Hispanics and Europeans. Their new study extends the data by two years and shows that whatever is driving the mortality spike is not easing up. The two Princeton professors say the trend affects whites of both sexes and is happening nearly everywhere in the country. Education level is significant: People with a college degree report better health and happiness than those with only some college, who in turn are doing much better than those who never went. Offering what they call a tentative but “plausible” explanation, they write that less-educated white Americans who struggle in the job market in early adulthood are likely to experience a “cumulative disadvantage” over time, with health and personal problems that often lead to drug overdoses, alcohol-related liver disease and suicide.”

Christopher Mele reports that Art Supply Sales Jumped in January, Thanks to Protest Signs, Report Says: “The week before the Women’s March on Jan. 21 in cities across the United States, protesters who were making signs helped fuel increased sales of poster boards by 33 percent and foam boards by 42 percent compared with the same week last year, the consumer research group NPD reported recently. Poster and foam board sales from Jan. 15 to 21 totaled $4.1 million. More than 6.5 million poster boards were sold in January, with nearly one-third sold during the week of the march. Sales of easel pads and flip charts grew by 28 percent, Leen Nsouli, an office supplies industry analyst at NPD, said in a blog post. Sales of the materials used to make the messages on the posters also increased that week: Specialty markers were up by 24 percent; permanent markers, 12 percent; glue, 27 percent; and scissors, 6 percent.”

James B. Nelson reports that Amazon brings one-hour delivery to Milwaukee: “It might be easier – and faster – to get a socket wrench set from Amazon than from Sears. The online retailer announced Wednesday that customers in Milwaukee can receive one-hour deliveries from the Amazon Prime Now service. This comes as Sears warned investors that it has “substantial doubts” about its ability to stay in business because of a cash crisis. In January, Sears said it planned to close 150 stores. Amazon Prime Now delivery is $7.99 for one hour and free for two hours or later. The site was offering a $10 first time delivery credit code (10PRIMENOW) in the Milwaukee area Wednesday morning. A minimum order amount of $25 is required for the service. An Amazon press release said the Prime Now deliveries would be available for Milwaukee. It didn’t state which suburbs were included, but a spokeswoman said that customers could enter their zip code in their account and see if Prime Now is available. The service is available from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. Amazon said it was possible to use the Alexa voice service to place the orders, saying: “Alexa, order (product) from Prime Now”.

Tech Insider contends that this mini-camper runs on retro vibes:

Daily Bread for 3.22.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of forty. Sunrise is 6:52 AM and sunset 7:10 PM, for 12h 18m 09s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 32.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred thirty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1765, Britain passes the Stamp Act, an Act of the Parliament imposing a direct tax on the colonies of British America and requiring that many printed materials in the colonies be produced on stamped paper produced in London, carrying an embossed revenue stamp. On this day in 1854, Eugene Shepard, father of the Hodag, is born: “Although he made his career in the lumbering business near Rhinelander, he was best known for his story-telling and practical jokes. He told many tales of Paul Bunyan, the mythical lumberjack, and drew pictures of the giant at work that became famous. Shepard also started a new legend about a prehistoric monster that roamed the woods of Wisconsin – the hodag. Shepard built the mythical monster out of wood and bull’s horns. He fooled everyone into believing it was alive, allowing it to be viewed only inside a dark tent. The beast was displayed at the Wausau and Antigo county fairs before Shepard admitted it was all a hoax.”

Recommended for reading in full:

Jose DelReal reports that Trump’s budget targets rural development programs that provide a quiet lifeline: “ — Chad Trador was, like many people here, a onetime coal miner struggling to find work. He, his three children and his wife had stayed afloat in a tough economy for years, but after he was laid off from his job managing a convenience store, the unemployment epidemic in this region appeared to have finally reached him, too. “The best opportunities I had were another convenience store, maybe as a clerk, making minimum wage,” said Trador, 43, reflecting on last year. “And then I heard that radio ad.” The intensive 33-week job training program being advertised — TechHire Eastern Kentucky — promised to teach him computer coding from scratch. It would even pay him decent money while he learned. Trador signed up, and he is on track to complete the training in April, when he will emerge with a job as an Apple iOS developer. Like many such programs and infrastructure projects here in Eastern Kentucky and across Appalachia, the job training course has the federal government’s fingerprints all over it. The Appalachian Regional Commission, an independent federal agency, helped jump-start it last year with a multiagency $2.75 million grant to a state organization that developed it. But after decades of work, the commission’s future is in doubt, with the Trump administration’s 2018 budget proposal threatening to eliminate funding for the commissions and other rural development endeavors. Voters in this part of the country, which overwhelmingly supports President Trump, could be disproportionately affected if that happens.”

Marc Fisher reports that Labor nominee Acosta cut deal with billionaire guilty in sex abuse case: “There was once a time — before the investigations, before the sexual abuse conviction — when rich and famous men loved to hang around with Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire money manager who loved to party. They visited his mansion in Palm Beach, Fla. They flew on his jet to join him at his private estate on the Caribbean island of Little Saint James. They even joked about his taste in younger women. President Trump called Epstein a “terrific guy” back in 2002, saying that “he’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.” Now, Trump is on the witness list in a Florida court battle over how federal prosecutors handled allegations that Epstein, 64, sexually abused more than 40 minor girls, most of them between the ages of 13 and 17. The lawsuit questions why Trump’s nominee for labor secretary, former Miami U.S. attorney Alexander Acosta, whose confirmation hearing is scheduled to begin Wednesday, cut a non-prosecution deal with Epstein a decade ago rather than pursuing a federal indictment that Acosta’s staff had advocated.”

Ryan Lizza describes How the White House Got James Comey Wrong: “Early on Monday morning, a couple of hours before the start of the first House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia’s involvement in the Presidential election, one of Donald Trump’s closest White House advisers made a startling—and completely erroneous—prediction: James Comey, the F.B.I. director, would testify that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. “The Russian collusion thing has always been bullshit,” the official said. “I think Comey will come down and say there absolutely was no contact, collusion, or anything like that with the campaign”….the larger takeaway from the White House’s spin is that the top people around Trump may have no idea how much exposure the President has on the issue of Russian collusion. Two hours after the White House official confidently predicted Comey would vindicate the Administration, Comey did the opposite, saying: ‘I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the F.B.I., as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 Presidential election, and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coördination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.’ ”

Andrew Roth reports that New documents show Trump aide [his former campaign manager] laundered payments from party with Moscow ties, lawmaker alleges: “ A Ukrainian lawmaker released new financial documents Tuesday allegedly showing that a former campaign chairman for President Trump laundered payments from the party of a disgraced ex-leader of Ukraine using offshore accounts in Belize and Kyrgyzstan. The new documents, if legitimate, stem from business ties between the Trump aide, Paul Manafort, and the party of former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, who enjoyed Moscow’s backing while he was in power. He has been in hiding in Russia since being overthrown by pro-Western protesters in 2014, and is wanted in Ukraine on corruption charges. The latest documents were released just hours after the House Intelligence Committee questioned FBI Director James B. Comey about possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Moscow. The hearing that also touched on Manafort’s work for Yanukovych’s party in Ukraine. Comey declined to say whether the FBI is coordinating with Ukraine on an investigation of the alleged payments to Manafort.”

So how did tech become so male-dominated?

Since computing began in the 1940s, women have led major developments in programming and software development. In 1984, 37 percent of computer-science majors were women. What happened? The tech industry’s image shifted rapidly in the 1980s and ’90s, and society began to associate programming with men. Today, only one in four computing jobs is held by a woman. This short, animated history of women in tech explains how women—not just men—developed computer science. Programming isn’t a male or female job, and remembering that is necessary to fix the tech industry’s gender gap. Read more in The Atlantic’s April 2017 cover story, “Why Is Silicon Valley So Awful to Women?

Daily Bread for 3.21.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of forty-six. Sunrise is 6:54 AM and sunset 7:09 PM, for 12h 15m 13s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 42.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred thirty-third-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Common Council meets tonight at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1965, the third of three civil rights marches begins “[p]rotected by 1,900 members of the Alabama National Guard under federal command, and many FBI agents and Federal Marshals, the marchers averaged 10 miles (16 km) a day along U.S. Route 80, known in Alabama as the “Jefferson Davis Highway“. The marchers arrived in Montgomery on March 24 and at the Alabama State Capitol on March 25.[11] With thousands having joined the campaign, 25,000 people entered the capital city that day in support of voting rights. The route is memorialized as the “Selma To Montgomery Voting Rights Trail,” and is designated as a U.S. National Historic Trail.” On this day in 1865, the 21st, 22nd and 25th Wisconsin Infantry regiments take part as three Union armies totaling 100,000 men capture the city of Goldsborough, North Carolina and its railroad facilities.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Benjamin Wittes explains How to Read What Comey Said Today [3.20.17]: “First off, the scope of the investigation explicitly includes not merely the Russian government’s hacking and attempts to interfere in the U.S. election. It also includes both “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government” and “whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.” These are framed as active investigative questions, not—as White House and Republican officials have repeatedly suggested in recent weeks—matters of investigative conclusion. Comey offered the White House no solace of any time of time frame for resolution. Indeed, he announced that there was no time frame. Second, Comey specifically included the fact that the investigation “will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.” This is an interesting point for him to include, and it may (or may not) be a signal.”

Peter Stone and Greg Gordon report that FBI’s Russian-influence probe includes a look at far-right news sites: “Federal investigators are examining whether far-right news sites played any role last year in a Russian cyber operation that dramatically widened the reach of news stories — some fictional — that favored Donald Trump’s presidential bid, two people familiar with the inquiry say. Operatives for Russia appear to have strategically timed the computer commands, known as “bots,” to blitz social media with links to the pro-Trump stories at times when the billionaire businessman was on the defensive in his race against Democrat Hillary Clinton, these sources said. The bots’ end products were largely millions of Twitter and Facebook posts carrying links to stories on conservative internet sites such as Breitbart News and InfoWars, as well as on the Kremlin-backed RT News and Sputnik News, the sources said. Some of the stories were false or mixed fact and fiction, said the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the bot attacks are part of an FBI-led investigation into a multifaceted Russian operation to influence last year’s elections. Investigators examining the bot attacks are exploring whether the far-right news operations took any actions to assist Russia’s operatives. Their participation, however, wasn’t necessary for the bots to amplify their news through Twitter and Facebook.”

Richard Cohen writes that Bannon’s origin story doesn’t add up: “It is a story oft-repeated and, at first, quite moving. It is the story of Marty Bannon, father of the White House chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, and how he lost much of his nest egg when the financial system cratered in 2008. He had worked for AT&T for 50?years, buying the stock when it was as safe as gold (only gold paid no dividend) and was now watching it go south at such an alarming rate that he decided to sell it. In a flash, the system turned on Marty and a lifetime of savings was gone. For his son Steve, it was an unforgettable lesson. It made him the revolutionary he is today….I have heard too many people in business and finance complain about excessive regulation not to think there is something of a problem there. Maybe Dodd-Frank is too burdensome. Maybe class-action suits need to be limited. Maybe Obamacare really was a fiasco. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe. But Bannon’s “administrative state” boogeyman is not what flattened his father’s nest egg. It was not excessive regulation that fleeced his father or, for that matter, changed AT&T from Ma Bell into just another business behemoth. Go home, Steve. You need to think.”

David Leonhardt ponders All the President’s Lies: “The ninth week of Donald Trump’s presidency began with the F.B.I. director calling him a liar. The director, the very complicated James Comey, didn’t use the L-word in his congressional testimony Monday. Comey serves at the pleasure of the president, after all. But his meaning was clear as could be. Trump has repeatedly accused Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones, and Comey explained there is “no information that supports” the claim. I’ve previously argued that not every untruth deserves to be branded with the L-word, because it implies intent and somebody can state an untruth without doing so knowingly. George W. Bush didn’t lie when he said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, and Obama didn’t lie when he said people who liked their current health insurance could keep it. They made careless statements that proved false (and they deserved much of the criticism they got). But the current president of the United States lies. He lies in ways that no American politician ever has before. He has lied about — among many other things — Obama’s birthplace, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Sept. 11, the Iraq War, ISIS, NATO, military veterans, Mexican immigrants, Muslim immigrants, anti-Semitic attacks, the unemployment rate, the murder rate, the Electoral College, voter fraud and his groping of women. He tells so many untruths that it’s time to leave behind the textual parsing over which are unwitting and which are deliberate — as well as the condescending notion that most of Trump’s supporters enjoy his lies.”

How would humans size up compared to dinosaurs? Like this —

Daily Bread for 3.20.17

Good morning.

The first day of spring in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of sixty. Sunrise is 6:55 AM and sunset 7:08 PM, for 12h 12m 18s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 52% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred thirty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1815, Napoleon, having escaped from Elba, arrives in Paris, and the Hundred Days begin. On this day in 1958, an angry mob burns down serial killer Ed Gein’s house in Plainfield, Wisconsin.

Recommended for reading in full — 

James Kirchick writes that The Road to a Free Europe Goes Through MoscowThe Kremlin wants to destroy the trans-Atlantic alliance. Does Trump want to save it?): “As Europe’s political stability, social cohesion, economic prosperity and security are more threatened today than at any point since the Cold War, Russia is destabilizing the Continent on every front. Indigenous factors – whether long-extant nationalism, design flaws in the Eurozone lack of a common foreign policy, or incapability at assimilating immigrants – certainly lie at the root of these crises. But all are exploited by Moscow and exacerbated by its malign influence. Fomenting European disintegration from within, Russia also threatens Europe from without through its massive military buildup, frequent intimidation of NATO members and efforts to overturn the continent’s security architecture by weakening the transatlantic link with America. If a prosperous and democratic Europe is a core national security interest of the United States, as it has been for the past 80 years, then the Russian regime is one to be resisted, contained and ultimately dethroned. For none of the existential problems Europe faces will dissipate until the menace to its East is subdued. The road to a Europe whole, free and at peace, in other words, goes through Moscow.”

Jennifer Rubin thinks that Paul Ryan’s health-care ordeal probably won’t end well: “Ryan desperately wants the bill to pass the House to get the weight off his shoulders and be able to blame the Senate. Democrats would love a straight up-or-down vote, getting as many Republicans on record as voting for an unpopular bill. The TV ads for 2018 write themselves. A good number of moderate Republicans in the House don’t want to vote for this (for the very same reason Democrats want a recorded vote) — but frankly, aside from the Freedom Caucus, they would have a hard time passing something that takes away Medicaid benefits or hurts people in their own state (in other words, they cannot really support any GOP bill). The Freedom Caucus Republicans won’t vote for it knowing their Senate fellow hard-liners won’t vote for it. In sum, maybe Ryan pulls out 216 votes, but after that, the prospects for passing something Republicans can call “repealing Obamacare” look dim.”

Simon Denyer reports that In China debut, Tillerson appears to hand Beijing a diplomatic victory: “But some critics say Tillerson has bent too far, handing Beijing what Chinese news media reports are calling a “diplomatic victory.” The phrase “mutual respect” is key: In Beijing, that is taken to mean each side should respect the other’s “core interests.” In other words: The United States should stay away from issues such as Taiwan, Tibet and Hong Kong — and in principle almost anything China’s Communist Party deems a vital national security concern. Increasingly, that also appears to include China’s territorial claims in the contested waters of the South China Sea. Several Chinese foreign policy experts called the comments “very positive” and in line with a concept Beijing has long advocated — what it calls “a new model of great power relationships,” which would put the two nations on a roughly equal footing. Jin Canrong, a Sino-U.S. relations expert at Renmin University of China in Beijing, said Tillerson’s comments came as a surprise. “China has long been advocating this, but the United States has been reluctant to accept the point of ‘mutual respect,’?” Jin said. “Tillerson’s comment will be very warmly welcomed by China.” After meeting China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Saturday, Tillerson voiced Chinese catchphrases about the relationship, including the avoidance of conflict and confrontation and the need to build “mutual respect” and strive for “win-win” cooperation.”

Jeff Potrykus observes that Losing 5 of 6 games steeled UW for March: “Did the players see the turnaround coming? “Yes,” Hayes said emphatically. “Because we know how good we can be. All the film we watch … we told you guys a million times that if we just do the little things better and played more complete games that we’d be able to compete with anybody in the country. “That’s what we said before the season. That’s what we said during the losing streak. That is what we said during the winning streaks. “If we play disciplined basketball, we can win games.” Defeating a Villanova team with key players back from the team that won the national title last season offered proof.”

Four skateboarders in Norway are Northbound:

NORTHBOUND | Skateboarding on Frozen Sand 4K from Turbin Film on Vimeo.

Ice, driftwood, foamy waves and … skateboards? Four skaters head north to the cold Norwegian coast, applying their urban skills to a wild canvas of beach flotsam, frozen sand and pastel skies. The result is a beautiful mashup — biting winds and short days, ollies and one ephemeral miniramp.

Daily Bread for 3.19.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of fifty-three. Sunrise is 6:57 AM and sunset 5:06 PM, for 12h 09m 23s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 60.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred thirty-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 2003, and American-led coalition invades Iraq. On this day in 1865, the 21st, 22nd and 25th Wisconsin Infantry regiments take part in the battle at Goldsborough, North Carolina, during the Campaign of the Carolinas.

Recommended for reading in full —

Craig Gilbert reports that Rural Wisconsin takes hit in GOP health plan after backing Donald Trump“No congressional district in Wisconsin delivered a bigger victory margin for Donald Trump last fall (20 points) than the rural northern one represented by Republican Sean Duffy. But by one key measure, no district in Wisconsin would lose more health care aid under the GOP plan to replace Obamacare. Wisconsin is part of a national pattern in which the Obamacare enrollees who appear to be hit the hardest by the Republican plan fit the demographic and geographic profile of Trump’s political base. These enrollees are in their 50s and early 60s. Trump won that group by 15 points in Wisconsin, according to exit polling. And they disproportionately live in rural areas that voted for Trump and are represented by Republicans in Congress….The biggest losses in tax credits in Wisconsin would occur in two mostly rural congressional districts, the northern seat held by Duffy and the western seat held by Democrat Ron Kind. Duffy’s district has the highest number of Obamacare enrollees in the state (more than 35,000 last year) and Kind’s has the third highest. Both areas were carried by Trump last fall. They are also the two congressional districts in Wisconsin that saw the biggest swings toward the GOP in 2016. In both districts, a 60-year-old making $30,000 would lose an average of more than $5,500 a year in health care tax credits under the GOP plan, based on a Journal Sentinel analysis of the Kaiser data [from a Kaiser Family Foundation study].

Jon Parles reports that Chuck Berry Dies at 90; Helped Define Rock ’n’ Roll: “While Elvis Presley was rock’s first pop star and teenage heartthrob, Mr. Berry was its master theorist and conceptual genius, the songwriter who understood what the kids wanted before they knew themselves. With songs like “Johnny B. Goode” and “Roll Over Beethoven,” he gave his listeners more than they knew they were getting from jukebox entertainment. His guitar lines wired the lean twang of country and the bite of the blues into phrases with both a streamlined trajectory and a long memory. And tucked into the lighthearted, telegraphic narratives that he sang with such clear enunciation was a sly defiance, upending convention to claim the pleasures of the moment.”

Kevin Sack reports that Door-Busting Drug Raids Leave a Trail of Blood – Using SWAT officers to storm into homes to execute search warrants has led time and again to avoidable deaths, gruesome injuries and costly legal settlements: “As policing has militarized to fight a faltering war on drugs, few tactics have proved as dangerous as the use of forcible-entry raids to serve narcotics search warrants, which regularly introduce staggering levels of violence into missions that might be accomplished through patient stakeouts or simple knocks at the door. Thousands of times a year, these “dynamic entry” raids exploit the element of surprise to effect seizures and arrests of neighborhood drug dealers. But they have also led time and again to avoidable deaths, gruesome injuries, demolished property, enduring trauma, blackened reputations and multimillion-dollar legal settlements at taxpayer expense, an investigation by The New York Times found. For the most part, governments at all levels have chosen not to quantify the toll by requiring reporting on SWAT operations. But The Times’s investigation, which relied on dozens of open-record requests and thousands of pages from police and court files, found that at least 81 civilians and 13 law enforcement officers died in such raids from 2010 through 2016. Scores of others were maimed or wounded.”

Monopoly has three new tokens, one of which is a dinosaur:

What’s a Boxersled? It’s a Subaru WRX STI on an Olympic bobsled run:

Daily Bread for 3.18.17

Good morning.

Whitewater’s Saturday will be cloudy with a high of forty-four. Sunrise is 6:59 AM and sunset 7:05 PM, for 12h 06m 26s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 69.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred thirtieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court hands down a decision in Gideon v. Wainwright, holding that the right of an indigent defendant in a criminal trial to have the assistance of counsel is a fundamental right essential to a fair trial, and petitioner’s trial and conviction without the assistance of counsel violated the Fourteenth Amendment (Betts v. Brady, 316 U.S. 455, overruled). On this day in 1954, Parker Pen employees in Janesville, Wisconsin win a wage increase (“a 5-cent-an-hour wage increase in contract negotiations. After the raise, male employees made a base pay of $1.95 an hour while their female counterparts were paid $1.62 an hour”).

Recommended for reading in full —

Matea Gold describes How the Mercer family’s partnership with Stephen Bannon shaped the populist climate: “The Mercers, Republican mega-donors who had spent millions on the failed presidential bid of Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, and Bannon, then executive chairman of Breitbart News Network, were still weeks from formally aligning with Donald Trump’s campaign. But the festivities that balmy evening aboard the Sea Owl, the Mercers’ luxurious yacht, marked the growing influence of their financial and political partnership in shaping the 2016 campaign — and in encouraging the populist surge now reverberating around the world. The Mercers’ approach is far different from that of other big donors. While better-known players such as the Koch brothers on the right and George Soros on the left focus on mobilizing activists and voters, the Mercers have exerted pressure on the political system by helping erect an alternative media ecosystem, whose storylines dominated the 2016 race. Their alliance with Bannon provided fuel for the narrative that drove Trump’s victory: that dangerous immigrants are ruining the country and corrupt power brokers are sabotaging Washington.”

Louise Mensch explains What to Ask About Russian Hacking: “The framing of the committee’s questions matters immensely. Legally, witnesses cannot confirm or deny even the existence of a current national security investigation. The very mention of a “FISA warrant” would allow Mr. Sessions to avoid the substance by excusing himself from commenting. Committee members must therefore word their questions without reference to any case. I would simply ask Mr. Sessions this: “Was the president’s tweet about a wiretap at Trump Tower, to your knowledge, illegal? If so, to whom have you reported this offense? “To your knowledge, did any person illegally inform the president that there was a wiretap at Trump Tower?” The president’s unwillingness to answer questions about contacts between his campaign team and Russian officials, and the pattern of contradictory and misleading statements on those contacts, are toxic. Never in American history has a president been suspected of collaborating with a hostile foreign power to win an election. The founders provided three equal branches of government to protect the republic. The American people now depend on the House committee to do its job and uncover the truth.”

Consider how hippos almost became a common American food:

Daily Bread for 3.17.17

Good morning.

St. Patrick’s Day in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of forty-three. Sunrise is 7:01 AM and sunset 5:04 PM, for 12h 03m 31s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 78.8% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred twenty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission is scheduled to meet today at 5 PM.

On this day in 1776, the Siege of Boston ends, with 120 British ships evacuating Boston Harbor. On this day in 1941, Milwaukee’s airport is named for air-power pioneer General William Mitchell.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Mary Spicuzza reports that Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett mocks Sheriff David Clarke for ‘fighting crime’ on cable shows: “I think he’s got a great gig going right now. He’s fightin’ crime one conservative cable TV show at a time,” Barrett said Wednesday during an interview with Wisconsin Eye and the Journal Sentinel. “He’s made a great name for himself, I think, as the darling of the conservative cable network. I think he can make a ton of money doing that.” When asked if Clarke was doing TV appearances at the expense of doing his job as sheriff, Barrett said, “I think if you were to ask people who know what’s going on here, they would say that he rode his horse out of town a long time ago.”

Michael Gerson observes that Trump has picked a deeply disturbing hero: “But Jackson’s vices were not merely personal. Many of the Founders had been internally conflicted slaveholders. Jackson was not one for psychic struggle. Meacham recounts that Jackson once authored an “Advertisement for Runaway Slave” that offered $50 for the return of the slave “and ten dollars extra, for every hundred lashes any person will give him.” Such attitudes were not disqualifying in Jackson’s America. And much of Jackson’s reputation depended on being a frontier Indian fighter. This was a president who once earned the Indian nickname “Sharp Knife.” In a battle against the Red Stick Creeks, Jackson set about to “exterminate them” (his words). Hundreds of fighters and civilians were killed trying to flee across the Tallapoosa River. By one account, “the river ran red with blood.” A sharp knife indeed….Why discuss this ancient history (which is not really so ancient to the Cherokee)? Because Trump, in visiting Jackson’s Hermitage, has invited us. Jackson was wrong — badly, culpably wrong — on the largest issue of his time: the dignity and value of people of color. “The tragedy of Jackson’s life,” admits Meacham, “is that a man dedicated to freedom failed to see liberty as a universal, not a particular, gift.” There is no refuge in the argument that Jackson merely reflected the values of his time. Jackson’s opponent in two elections, John Quincy Adams, viewed slavery as “the great and foul stain upon the North American Union.” Henry Clay called Indian expulsion “a foul and lasting stain upon the good faith, humanity and character of the nation.” And Jackson’s reputation will always bear those indelible marks.”

David Sanger reports that Tillerson Says No Negotiations With North Korea on Nuclear Program: “SEOUL, South Korea — Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson ruled out on Friday opening any negotiation with North Korea to freeze its nuclear and missile programs and said for the first time that the Trump administration might be forced to take pre-emptive action “if they elevate the threat of their weapons program” to an unacceptable level. Mr. Tillerson’s comments in Seoul, a day before he travels to Beijing to meet Chinese leaders, explicitly rejected any return to the bargaining table in an effort to buy time by halting North Korea’s accelerating testing program, which the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un, said on New Year’s Day was in the “final stages” of preparation for the first launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States. The secretary of state’s comments were the Trump administration’s first public hint at the options being considered, and made clear that none involved a negotiated settlement or waiting for the North Korean government to collapse.”

Karoline Kan asks Tai Chi Encourages Calm. So Why Are Its Chinese Fans Stressing Out?: “Last year, Indian yoga made Unesco’s list. In 2011, South Korea’s taekkyeon became the first martial art so honored. So why can’t Chinese tai chi win similar international recognition? That is the question on Yan Shuangjun’s mind as the annual deadline approaches for nominations to Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, established by the United Nations agency to celebrate and protect the world’s cultural diversity. For the past decade, Mr. Yan has lobbied for the inclusion of tai chi, a centuries-old martial art that combines flowing movements with deep breathing and meditation. “Through tai chi, one can understand Chinese culture, from medicine to literature, from philosophy to art,” said Mr. Yan, who heads the Tai Chi Unesco Heritage Application Group in Wen County, Henan Province, widely thought to be the martial art’s birthplace. As much as tai chi advocates and fans insist that it embodies unique aspects of Chinese culture, they fear that if China does not secure it a Unesco listing, other countries might move ahead with their own variants. It would not be the first time, they say.”

What lies beneath?  A harvest:

Daily Bread for 3.16.17

Good morning.

Whitewater’s Thursday will be sunny with a high of thirty-seven. Sunrise is 7:02 AM and sunset 5:03 PM, for 12h 00m 35s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 86% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred twenty-eighth third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Fire Department has a scheduled business meeting at 7 PM.

James Madison is born on this day in 1751. On this day in 1926, Dr. Robert Goddard successfully tests the world’s first liquid-fuelled rocket.

Recommended for reading in full —

Derek Hawkins reports that Trump’s talk — ‘Muslim ban,’ ‘Islam hates us’ — comes back to bite him in court again: “in his blistering opinion Wednesday freezing Trump’s the new travel ban, U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson said statements by Trump and his senior advisers were precisely what called its legality into question. “These plainly-worded statements, made in the months leading up to and contemporaneous with the signing of the Executive Order, and, in many cases, made by the Executive himself, betray the Executive Order’s stated secular purpose,” Watson wrote. And early Thursday morning, a federal judge ruling in a related case in Maryland said the order was “the realization of the long-envisioned Muslim ban,” as The Washington Post reported. Though U.S. District Judge Theodore D. Chuang’s opinion was narrower in scope than Watsons, he still found room to take aim at statements by Trump and his advisers, saying they showed “animus toward Muslims and intention to impose a ban on Muslims entering the United States.” In short, Trump’s loose talk had come back to bite him yet again. Only this time the criticism was coming straight from a federal judge.”

Charles Blow considers the Disciples of a False Prophet: “The con Donald Trump committed on his voters is slowly coming undone. He is not honest. He is not a brilliant deal maker. He is not even competent. His entire life, Trump has sold shimmer and called it silver. It was and is all an illusion, a brand built on selling banality with braggadocio. He shaped vapors into dreams and delivered them to those hungry for a taste of the showy, hollow form of the high life he came to represent. He was successful at exploiting those with an ostentatious appetite for the air of success. Trump’s life story is a pyramid scheme of ambitions. He took that history to a people struggling through a drought of opportunity and he exploited their weaknesses: a shrinking sense of economic security and growing nativist tendencies. But Trump doesn’t speak so much from facts as from feelings. For him, the truth is malleable and a lie is valuable. He creates his own reality rather than living in the reality of others. Deception is just a tool; betrayal is just an inconvenience.”

Peter Baker reports that In Trump Budget, More for Military, as His Supporters May Lose Out: “But in his first spending blueprint since taking office, Mr. Trump also made choices demonstrating that parts of America will be more first than others — and some of the budget losers, it turns out, may be some of the very constituencies that have been most supportive of the new president during his improbable rise to power. While border guards will have more prisons to lock up unauthorized immigrants, rural communities will lose grants and loans to build water facilities and financing to keep their airports open. As charter schools are bolstered, after-school and summer programs will lose money. As law enforcement agents get more help to fight the opioid epidemic, lower-income Americans will have less access to home energy aid, job training programs and legal services.”

Alex Isenstadt and Kenneth P. Vogel describes how Paranoia seizes Trump’s White House: “A culture of paranoia is consuming the Trump administration, with staffers increasingly preoccupied with perceived enemies—inside their own government. In interviews, nearly a dozen White House aides and federal agency staffers described a litany of suspicions: that rival factions in the administration are trying to embarrass them, that civil servants opposed to President Donald Trump are trying to undermine him, and even that a “deep state” of career military and intelligence officials is out to destroy them. Aides are going to great lengths to protect themselves. They’re turning off work-issued smartphones and putting them in drawers when they arrive home from work out of fear that they could be used to eavesdrop. They’re staying mum in meetings out of concern that their comments could be leaked to the press by foes. Many are using encrypted apps that automatically delete messages once they’ve been read, or are leaving their personal cell phones at home in case their bosses initiate phone checks of the sort that press secretary Sean Spicer deployed last month to identify leakers on his team. It’s an environment of fear that has hamstrung the routine functioning of the executive branch. Senior advisers are spending much of their time trying to protect turf, key positions have remained vacant due to a reluctance to hire people deemed insufficiently loyal, and Trump’s ambitious agenda has been eclipsed by headlines surrounding his unproven claim that former President Barack Obama tapped his phone lines. One senior administration aide, who like most others interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the degree of suspicion had created a toxicity that was unsustainable.”

The Slam Poets of Istanbul are worthy examples for anyone:

Every week, a group of young people meet in Taksim Square to perform spoken-word poems. They are led by a woman named Merve Pehlivan, who is profiled in this short film. “As a Turkish person myself, I feel the extent to which we have been divided as a society and we have stopped talking with each other,” she says. “I’m a very strong supporter of freedom of expression and of diversity of opinion.” This documentary was filmed by Tara Milutis three days after the Reina nightclub attack, which killed 39 people.

Daily Bread for 3.15.17

Good morning.

Wednesday in this small Midwestern town will be mostly sunny with a high of thirty-three. Sunrise is 7:04 AM and sunset 5:02 PM, for 11h 57m 39s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 91.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred twenty-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Park & Rec Board meets at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 44 B.C., Caesar meets his end.  On this day in 1862, the 17th and 18th Wisconsin Infantry regiments muster in at Madison and Milwaukee, respectively.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Stand Up Republic has a new video online, entitled Sunshine, on Trump’s ties to Vladimir Putin:

Charles V. Bagli and Michael Forsythe report Kushners, Trump In-Laws, Weigh $400 Million Deal with Chinese Firm: “A New York real estate company owned by the family of President Trump’s son-in-law has been negotiating to sell a $400 million stake in its Fifth Avenue flagship skyscraper to a Chinese insurance company with ties to leading families of the Communist Party. The Chinese company, Anbang Insurance Group, would pay to get a high-profile piece of Manhattan real estate and would commit to spending billions more to completely transform the 60-year-old tower into a chic condominium and retail citadel. If signed, the potential agreement would create a financial marriage of two politically powerful families in the world’s two biggest economies, but it would also present the possibility of glaring conflicts of interest. The Kushner family, owners of the tower, would reap a financial windfall courtesy of a Chinese company, even as Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump as well as his son-in-law, helps oversee American foreign policy. News of the negotiations surfaced as President Trump and the Chinese president, Xi Jinping, were preparing for their first meeting, to be held next month.”

Evgeniy M. Bogachev. The F.B.I. has offered a $3 million bounty for his capture, the most ever for a cybercriminal. Credit FBI via NYT

Michael Schwirtz and Joseph Goldstein describe how Russian Espionage Piggybacks on a Cybercriminal’s Hacking: “To the F.B.I., Evgeniy M. Bogachev is the most wanted cybercriminal in the world. The bureau has announced a $3 million bounty for his capture, the most ever for computer crimes, and has been trying to track his movements in hopes of grabbing him if he strays outside his home turf in Russia. He has been indicted in the United States, accused of creating a sprawling network of virus-infected computers to siphon hundreds of millions of dollars from bank accounts around the world, targeting anyone with enough money worth stealing — from a pest control company in North Carolina to a police department in Massachusetts to a Native American tribe in Washington. In December, the Obama administration announced sanctions against Mr. Bogachev and five others in response to intelligence agencies’ conclusions that Russia had meddled in the presidential election. Publicly, law enforcement officials said it was his criminal exploits that landed Mr. Bogachev on the sanctions list, not any specific role in the hacking of the Democratic National Committee. But it is clear that for Russia, he is more than just a criminal. At one point, Mr. Bogachev had control over as many as a million computers in multiple countries, with possible access to everything from family vacation photographs and term papers to business proposals and highly confidential personal information. It is almost certain that computers belonging to government officials and contractors in a number of countries were among the infected devices. For Russia’s surveillance-obsessed intelligence community, Mr. Bogachev’s exploits may have created an irresistible opportunity for espionage.”

Matthew Fay, addressing Trump’s proposed military spending increase, asks $54 Billion for What?: “As noted above, America is already relatively immune to conventional military threats. So unless he is serious about deterring threats against American allies—whom he has accused of being “obsolete” free riders—the idea that additional defense spending is necessary for deterrence seems like overkill. It also comes at the expense of complementary “soft power” measures in the form of diplomacy and foreign aid. But for someone who reports suggested thought his inauguration should include rocket launchers as part of a military parade, the forty-fifth president might be thinking about a military build-up in symbolic, rather than strategic, terms.”

Tech Insider tells What you need to know about world’s largest telescope:

Daily Bread for 3.14.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of twenty-five. Sunrise is 7:06 AM and sunset 5:01 PM, for 11h 54m 43s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 96.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred twenty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1879, Albert Einstein is born in Ulm, Germany. On this day in 1794, Eli Whitney receives a patent for the cotton gin. On this day in 1854, the Baraboo River floods: “”On the night of March 14, 1859, the Baraboo River, greatly swollen by spring rains and melting snow, went on a rampage, taking out a dam that supplied power for the flour mill of Bassett and Pratt. The flour mill was then the ‘largest institution of its kind for many miles around and about it centered the interest of the entire community’. Nearly 500 men responded to the catastrophe. The progress of the water was checked by the felling of trees. The flour in the mill was hauled to safety with team and wagons. The flood caused damage to the lower Maxwell Dam.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Jim Dwyer and William Rashbaum report that a Federal Inquiry of Fox News Moves to a Grand Jury, but Without Preet Bharara: “A federal grand jury sitting in Manhattan is expected to soon hear testimony from at least two witnesses to testify in coming days about business practices at Fox News when it was led by Mr. Ailes, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. Mr. Ailes, who was forced out in July amid revelations of multiple accusations of sexual harassment, has denied those charges. The current inquiry, which began in September and appears to be in an early stage, may be focused, at least in part, on settlement payments, a person with knowledge of the matter said. One of those subpoenaed, according to the two people, is Mark Kranz, the former chief financial officer for Fox News who oversaw the network’s finances when it paid millions of dollars in settlements. Mr. Kranz was appointed to his position by Mr. Ailes in 2004, and resigned last year, a week after Mr. Ailes had done so.”

Jeremy Diamond has the headline of the day in Spicer: Trump didn’t mean wiretapping when he tweeted about wiretapping: “The White House on Monday walked back a key point of President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated allegation that President Barack Obama wiretapped his phones in Trump Tower during the 2016 election. Namely, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Trump wasn’t referring to wiretapping when he tweeted about wiretapping.”

David A. Graham asks How Did Michael Flynn Ever Get Hired as National Security Adviser?: “Flynn’s lobbying on behalf of Turkey was not the only potentially disqualifying problem. For example, the retired general had shared bogus news items on several occasions, and his son was fired from the Trump transition effort for pumping a preposterous conspiracy theory about Clinton aides running a child-prostitution ring out of a D.C. pizzeria. Flynn’s tenure at the Defense Intelligence Agency should probably have given Trump some pause about appointing him. His brief and hectic stint directing DIA ended with his firing by the Obama administration, which probably made him a more alluring hire for Trump but should have given pause instead. ….Finally, there was the matter of Flynn’s ties to Russia, which ultimately caused his firing. In 2013, while still in uniform, he met with Russian intelligence officials, despite skepticism of many American officials. In November 2015, he traveled there for a celebration of RT, the Kremlin-backed news channel, against the advice of friends and colleagues. And during the presidential transition, Flynn spoke with the Russian ambassador to the United States, discussing sanctions levied on the Russian government by the Obama administration. Flynn then lied about those conversations, both to the public and to Pence, who repeated the denial in a CBS News interview before the election. Trump reportedly learned that Flynn had lied to Pence on January  26, but Flynn was not forced to resign until that became public knowledge.”

Zach Putnam’s film describes Coming to America as Refugees, in Children’s Words:

After several of his journalist colleagues were killed in Iraq, Ahmed Al-Zubidi applied for refugee status in the United States. After waiting seven years for approval, he was resettled in Oregon with his family. In this short film by Zach Putnam, we hear his children, 4-year-old Almas and 10-year-old Mustafa, explain what it was like to leave Iraq for Beaverton, Oregon. “When we came to America, I thought America was a dream,” says Mustafa in one of the more poignant opening scenes. “Now I’ve got my own room so I don’t have to share everything.” You can find more of Putnam’s work on his website. He is a master’s student in Multimedia Journalism at the University of Oregon.

Olly the Jack Russell runs with wild abandon at Crufts:

Daily Bread for 3.13.17

Good morning.

Whitewater will see snowfall through the day, on a Monday with a high of thirty-three. Sunrise is 7:08 AM and sunset 6:59 PM, for 11h 51m 48s of daytime. The moon is full, with 99.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred twenty-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1781, British astronomer William Herschel discovers the planet Uranus. On this day in 1862, the 8th and 15th Wisconsin Infantry regiments and the 5th, 6th and 7th Wisconsin Light Artillery batteries fight in the Battle of New Madrid, Missouri.

Recommended for reading in full — 

James B. Nelson writes that Gov. Scott Walker’s promise to create 250,000 jobs in Wisconsin remains elusive: “More than six years ago as a candidate for governor, Republican Scott Walker promised that if he was elected, the state would add 250,000 private-sector jobs in four years. That goal continues to be elusive. A report issued Thursday by the state Department of Workforce Development includes the final job creation tally for 2016, allowing a look at six complete years under Walker. The latest report showed that the state lost 4,000 jobs in December, putting total state private-sector employment at 2,516,100. For all of 2016, state reports show that employers added 17,200 jobs, by far the lowest annual tally since Walker took office in January 2011. The total number of jobs created since Walker took office is 185,208, or 64,792 short of Walker’s goal of 250,000.”

The New York Times describes the Man Without an ISIS Plan: “On the campaign trail, no foreign policy issue seized Donald Trump more than the fight against the Islamic State. Once president, he signed an executive order giving his generals 30 days to produce a plan to defeat the terrorist group, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis gave him options on Feb. 27. Yet if Mr. Trump has decided on a new plan for defeating ISIS, it isn’t obvious. The missions underway in Iraq and Syria were set in motion by President Barack Obama. While they have achieved some tactical successes, they point to a deepening American military involvement in both countries. The question now is whether Mr. Trump will continue, or accelerate, that trend.”

Kelsey Snell reports that Trump said no Americans would lose coverage under Obamacare repeal. Paul Ryan won’t make that promise: “House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday that he doesn’t know how many Americans would lose coverage under his proposal to revise the Affordable Care Act, which is under fire from fellow Republicans, AARP and virtually every sector of the U.S. health-care industry. “I can’t answer that question,” Ryan said in an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

Margaret Sullivan observes that the Pro-Trump media sets the agenda with lies. Here’s how traditional media can take it back: “A major new study, published in Columbia Journalism Review, detailed just how influential the new media ecosystem has become, calling it a determining factor in Trump’s election….You can’t fight propaganda with standard journalism, [editor of the CJR Kyle] Pope told me. Watchdogging the fake-news machinery and fact-checking relentlessly is part of his prescription. Rosenstiel has suggested other measures: being more transparent about how we gather and verify the news; covering what’s important (not “barking at every car”); and using clearer labels to distinguish news from opinion. I would add that news organizations have to acknowledge their own biases internally, and constantly report against them. The CJR study concludes on a hopeful note: that a renaissance of legitimate journalism may be the result of everything that’s happened. I’d love to think that, but it’s going to take hard work, the kind that doesn’t come easy to journalists: more openness to criticism, continued self-examination and willingness to change.”

Anatomy of a Scene takes a look at ‘Kong: Skull Island’:

Daily Bread for 3.12.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of thirty-four. Sunrise is 7:09 AM and sunset 6:58 PM, for 11h 48m 52s of daytime. The moon is full today. Today is the one hundred twenty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 2009, notorious swindler Bernie Madoff pled guilty to 11 federal felonies, including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, making false statements, perjury, theft from an employee benefit plan, and making false filings with the SEC. On this day in 1862, 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry musters in at Milwaukee. The regiment would lose 312 men during service in defense of the Union.

Recommended for reading in full —

Jason Stein reports for Sunshine Week: Secretive software doing more state of Wisconsin work: “Government is using private computer models to scrutinize most Wisconsinites in some way, from criminals to income taxpayers. State officials generally know the information being fed into these programs but often don’t know how the firms analyze the data. Companies guard these methods closely since this “special sauce” represents the basis for their business. That creates potential pitfalls because these computer models can make mistakes, said Cathy O’Neil, a Harvard-trained mathematician and author of the 2016 book “Weapons of Math Destruction.” “The problem is we have a blind trust mindset with the data,” O’Neil said. “We need to demand evidence that big data is accurate, fair and legal.” Bill Lueders agreed, saying the public has a right to know how government works. “The state of Wisconsin should not be using outside contractors if it means less transparency,” said Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.”

David Filipov writes that A film about a slain Putin critic gets a screening — just off Red Square: “It takes about 700 steps at a leisurely pace to stroll from the lavish mall along Red Square to the bridge over the Moscow River where, more than 740 days ago , Russia’s most prominent opposition leader was gunned down as he made that walk with his girlfriend. There, in the shadow of the red brick Kremlin walls, an informal shrine marks the spot and the memory of Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and President Vladi­mir Putin’s loudest critic. A neat row of flowers, candles and portraits is guarded in shifts around the clock by pro-democracy activists, who frequently find themselves targeted by police. It’s truly a makeshift memorial: When its guardians are hauled away, city workers remove the flowers and portraits, and it’s up to the next shift to remake it. Against this tense backdrop, something remarkable is happening in a small, luxurious movie theater inside that opulent mall. A film is showing that recounts, in unflinching detail, the rise and fall of Russian democracy through the story of Nemtsov’s political career, from a whiz-kid regional governor considered presidential material to the political margins of an illiberal society dominated by Putin. That the film “The Man Who Was Too Free,” was allowed to be made, much less shown across Red Square from the Kremlin, came as a shock to its creators, Mikhail Fishman and Vera Krichevskaya. Told entirely through monologues by Nemtsov’s associates, interviews with him and video footage of his public speeches, the documentary focuses on the missed chances and miscalculations that led to Putin’s unchallenged rule. The Russian leader, whose intolerance of criticism is legendary, does not come off in a flattering light.”

Robert O’Harrow Jr. and Shawn Boburg report that During his political rise, Stephen K. Bannon was a man with no fixed address: “In the digital age, when most Americans leave a clear footprint of their whereabouts, Bannon left a meandering trail filled with ambiguity, contradictions and questions. The Post found that Bannon left a negligible footprint in Florida. He did not get a Florida driver’s license or register a car in the state. He never voted in Florida, and neighbors near two homes he leased in Miami said they never saw him. His rent and utility bills were sent to his business manager in California. Bannon’s former wife occupied the premises, according to a landlord and neighbors. At the same time Bannon said he was living with his ex-wife, she was under investigation for involvement in a plot to smuggle drugs and a cellphone into a Miami jail, a law enforcement document obtained by The Post shows. The Post learned that state prosecutors in Miami have an active investigation into Bannon’s assertions that he was a Florida resident and qualified to vote in the state from 2014 to 2016. In late August, investigators subpoenaed Bannon’s lease of a Coconut Grove home and other documents. They also contacted the landlords of that home and another that Bannon leased nearby, and sought information from a gardener and handyman who worked at one of the homes, according to documents and interviews.”

Hunter Walker describes How the ACLU is gearing up to take on Trump, one city at a time: “And along with the lobbying and legal work that is typically the ACLU’s bread and butter, the organization is trying something new as it pushes the Freedom Cities agenda. The ACLU is providing supporters with a blueprint for activism to apply pressure on local authorities to adopt the plan. It’s a clear departure for the organization. For nearly a century, the ACLU has been nonpartisan and focused on legal battles. The organization’s foray into grassroots organizing and activism is the brainchild of Faiz Shakir, a 37-year-old former Senate aide who was hired in January as the group’s national political director. “People have known us for, ‘See you in court,’” Shakir said in the Freedom Cities memo. “I hope now they’ll also know us for, ‘See you in the streets.’” The ACLU’s Freedom Cities campaign will begin with a “Resistance Training” live-streamed from Miami, Fla., on Saturday afternoon. Supporters will be given materials instructing them on how to get meetings with local officials who are “key pressure points.” The ACLU is also advising activists on specific arguments to make in order to pressure them to adopt the policies. These initial meetings are just the beginning. The ACLU has also launched a website, People Power, which will feature maps highlighting future Freedom Cities meetings and other events. In addition to keeping people involved in the immigration policy effort, Shakir said the site will allow supporters to suggest ideas for future efforts.” (Disclosure: I am a longtime member of the ACLU.)

Great Big Story tells of Found Sounds: Making Instruments From Trash

Found Sounds: Making Instruments From Trash from Great Big Story on Vimeo.

Ken Butler is a Brooklyn-based artist and musician who has built over 400 musical instruments. But these aren’t just any custom-built instruments. Butler builds his pieces from discarded items he finds on the streets of New York City. Hockey sticks, tennis rackets, brooms, golf clubs, pieces of furniture, styrofoam, toothbrushes: all are fair game for his masterpieces. It’s musique concrète … jungle.

Daily Bread for 3.11.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of twenty-nine. Sunrise is 6:11 AM and sunset 5:57 PM, for 11h 46m 04s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 98.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred twenty-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1941, Pres. Roosevelt signs the Lend-Lease policy “(An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States”, (Pub.L. 77–11, H.R. 1776, 55 Stat. 31, enacted March 11, 1941)  under which the United States supplied Free France, the United Kingdom, the Republic of China, and later the Soviet Union and other Allied nations with food, oil, and materiel between 1941 and August 1945.” On this day in 1839, the Territorial Legislature passes an act that officially recognizing Dane County and calling for the election of county officers on the first Monday of May, 1839.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Peter Baker and Matthew Rosenberg report that Michael Flynn Was Paid to Represent Turkey’s Interests During Trump Campaign: “WASHINGTON — The candidate he was advising last fall was running on a platform of America First. The client he was working for last fall was paying him more than $500,000 to put Turkey first. Michael T. Flynn, who went from the campaign trail to the White House as President Trump’s first national security adviser, filed papers this week acknowledging that he worked as a foreign agent last year representing the interests of the Turkish government in a dispute with the United States. His surprising admission, coming more than four months after the election, raised further questions about the rise and fall of a presidential confidant who was forced to resign after 24 days in office for withholding the full story of his communications with Russia’s ambassador. Even now, out of government and out of favor, Mr. Flynn and his contact with foreign figures presented a new headache for a White House eager to move on.”

Ronald Klain describes The winning argument Democrats have against Trump [and not only Democrats, of course] : “Most of the country is divided between those who love Trump for the cultural war he is waging, no matter what else he does, and those who loathe him for his divisiveness, even if he somehow produces results on other issues. As a consequence, the future of Trump’s coalition — and the success of his presidency — turns on voters caught between the two groups, voters who were troubled by Trump’s outrageous behavior and statements, but “held their noses” to support him out of a belief that he would produce change on health care, jobs, trade and incomes. These “in spite of the outrages” voters are looking for results on bread-and-butter issues. Trump is not delivering for them, his claims to the contrary notwithstanding.  Democrats need to point this out — relentlessly. Take health care. During the campaign, Trump promised immediate action to repeal and replace Obamacare. In the world according to Trump, everyone was “going to end up with great health care for a fraction of the price”  that would “take place immediately after we go in.” Now, 122 days [as of 3.10.17] after the election, Trump’s laughable promise to call a special session of Congress to repeal Obamacare has evaporated. The plan circulated this week by House Republicans is under fire from conservatives and liberals. And Trump has still failed to put forward any approach of his own. About that “great health care for a fraction of the price”? Don’t hold your breath.”

James Poniewozik describes Sean Spicer’s Briefings, Cringe TV for an Audience of One: “As long as you don’t care too much about facts, you can learn a lot from a Sean Spicer daily briefing. The White House press secretary has said that whatever your lying eyes told you, President Trump’s swearing-in had “the largest audience to witness an inauguration, period.” He has insisted that the president’s travel ban against majority-Muslim countries, which the president called a “ban,” was not a ban. He has claimed, falsely, that former President Obama tapped a Fox News reporter’s phones. But Mr. Spicer’s performance — strident, defensive, stressed-out — carries a wealth of information: about Mr. Trump’s image obsession, about what the president expects of his underlings, about the impossibility of contorting one’s self into a human bridge between reality and Mr. Trump’s agitated mindspace. The real story, every briefing, is what Mr. Spicer can’t say and how he doesn’t say it.”

Jeff Potrykus reports on UW 70, Indiana 60: Balanced scoring, defense lead way: “Second-seeded UW overcame early rebounding issues in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament Friday night at the Verizon Center but gradually took control on both ends en route to a 70-60 over the 10th-seeded Hoosiers. “I think our system…they want to get up and down,” said senior guard Zak Showalter, one of five UW players who scored in double figures. “They load their team with shooters and guys who can get ’em up in a hurry. “If we can get a good look on the offensive end and set our defense…I think that is to our advantage. I think that’s why we handle them so well.” Save for brief stretches, UW (24-8) handled the white-hot Hoosiers on both ends of the court to advance to the semifinals, set for 2:30 p.m. (Central) Saturday. UW will face No. 6 Northwestern (23-10), a 72-64 winner over No. 3 Maryland in the final game Friday.”

Taichi Kitamura of Sushi Kappo Tamura describes process of making the best dang sushi rice you’ve ever had:

Daily Bread for 3.10.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be suny with a high of twenty-five. Sunrise is 6:13 AM and sunset 5:56 PM, for 11h 43m 09s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 95% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the One hundred twenty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1864, U.S. Grant takes command of all Union armies, and makes his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac. On this day in 1949, Mildred Elizabeth Gillars is convicted of treason for her role as an American broadcaster employed by the Third Reich in Nazi Germany to proliferate propaganda during World War II.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Alan Rappeport reports that the White House Casts Pre-emptive Doubt on Congressional Budget Office: “Now, with Mr. Trump’s administration aggressively pitching the House Republican plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, Capitol Hill’s official scorekeeper — the Congressional Budget Office — is coming under intense fire. As it prepares to render its judgment on the cost and impact of the bill, the nonpartisan agency of economists and statisticians has become a political piñata — and the latest example of Mr. Trump’s team casting doubt on benchmarks accepted as trustworthy for decades.”

Rappeport also addresses the question Will a Leak Reveal Trump’s Tax Returns? Don’t Hold Your Breath: “I think an I.R.S. leak is extremely unlikely,” said Fred Goldberg, who served as I.R.S. commissioner from 1989 to 1992. “It’s a combination of the culture, the legal framework, the logistics and the risks.” Although the I.R.S. has nearly 80,000 employees, the agency uses strict safeguards when it comes to privacy. The number of people with access to returns is limited, and improper browsing of taxpayer files is automatically flagged. Hard copies of presidential returns historically have been kept in a safe outside of the commissioner’s office, tax experts say. Returns of celebrities are protected even more carefully than those of regular taxpayers. “I would never say never, because it has happened in the past,” said Lawrence B. Gibbs, another former I.R.S. commissioner who was its chief counsel when Mr. Nixon’s tax information was made public. “But people are probably going to have to look elsewhere than the I.R.S. for the president’s tax returns if that’s what they want.”

Marc Fisher explains The [six] terms Trump and Bannon use: a glossary: “President Trump and his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, have introduced a new political language to Washington — a populist and nationalist rhetoric that cuts across traditional Republican vs. Democratic divisions. Some of the words and phrases the administration has injected into Washington’s political vocabulary previously thrived on the far reaches of both left and right. Here is a glossary of terms that Trump and Bannon have been using, with some background on where the language came from and how it’s been deployed….”

Greg Sargent contends that Trumpism is now getting exposed as a monumental fraud: “little by little, as Trump seeks to make good on his promises, Trumpism — as sold by the man himself — is being revealed as fraudulent to its core. NBC News reports that health-care experts across the political spectrum agree that the new House GOP health-care plan, which Trump has now endorsed, falls short of his promises: The bill, experts said, falls far short of the goals President Donald Trump laid out: Affordable coverage for everyone; lower deductibles and health care costs; better care; and zero cuts to Medicaid. Instead, the bill is almost certain to reduce overall coverage, result in deductibles increasing, and will phase out Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.”

One photographer knows what it’s like to Film Up Close And Personal With A Rhino:

Daily Bread for 3.9.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will see a forty percent chance of snow showers this morning, with a daytime high of thirty-seven. Sunrise is 6:14 AM and sunset 5:55 PM, for 11h 40m 14s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 89.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred twenty-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1933, the first piece of legislation (the Emergency Banking Act ch. 1, 48 Stat. 1) as part of New Deal legislation is enacted during a special session of the 73rd Congress before regular seating. On this day in 1863, the 5th and 8th Wisconsin Light Artillery batteries support a reconnaissance expedition from Salem to Versailles, Tennessee.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Dylan Byers reports that Sean Spicer wrongly claims Fox reporter’s phones were ‘tapped‘: “White House press secretary Sean Spicer wrongly claimed Wednesday that a Fox News reporter had his phones tapped while Barack Obama was president. “James Rosen had his phone, multiple phones tapped,” Spicer said at the daily press briefing. The comment was made while Spicer was addressing a question about leaks from the intelligence community and new WikiLeaks’ documents detailing alleged CIA hacking operations. That claim, which has been propagating in conservative media for several days, was shot down by none other than Rosen himself during a recent appearance on Fox News. “I was not wiretapped, my parents were not wiretapped, which is where you place a listening device on someone’s telephone line and you listen to their conversations,” Rosen told Fox & Friends on Sunday after the show’s hosts claimed his phones were tapped. Instead, Rosen explained, former Attorney General Eric Holder had secretly designated Rosen a criminal co-conspirator — because he had received classified information from a former State Department contractor — thereby giving the government permission to subpoena Rosen’s emails and phone records, including those of his parents.”

Emily Steele reports that Fox Is Said to Settle With Former Contributor Over Sexual Assault Claims: “Last summer, as it wrapped up multiple settlements after the Roger Ailes sexual harassment scandal, Fox News and its parent company, 21st Century Fox, were trying hard to end the ugliest chapter in its 20-year history. The downfall of Mr. Ailes, the former chairman and chief executive, had exposed a newsroom culture that many women there called hostile and demeaning. 21st Century Fox ordered an internal investigation and stated publicly that “behavior that disrespects women” would not be tolerated. Nearly eight months later, the company finds itself still dealing with fallout from that crisis. In late February, 21st Century Fox reached a settlement worth more than $2.5 million with a former Fox News contributor who reported that she was sexually assaulted by an executive at company headquarters two years ago, according to people briefed on the agreement.”

Adrienne LaFrance asks Why Is Trump Returning to Birther-Style Attacks on Obama?: “Trump had claimed, without evidence or explanation, that President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump’s phone lines during the 2016 election. The White House confirmed on Sunday that it would neither explain the basis for the president’s accusation or offer additional comment on the matter. The president is calling for a congressional investigation into the alleged wiretapping, the statement said. Guessing at a president’s motivations has long been a national pastime for political junkies and journalists, but never quite like this. There is, however, an unmistakable familiarity to Trump’s latest accusations against Obama. Without knowing whether Trump’s tweets were based on an intelligence report, a news report, a conspiracy theory, or something else entirely—one must consider the possibility that the unsubstantiated claims are, in fact, a political strategy. Trump has peddled a lie as a way to delegitimize Obama in the past. “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office,” Trump tweeted on August 6, 2012, “and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud.” This was more than a year after Obama had publicly shared a copy of his birth certificate. The president was finally compelled to do so because of Trump’s birther crusade, a years-long attempt by Trump to convince people that Obama was born in Kenya and therefore not eligible to be president of the United States. (Obama was born in Hawaii.)”

For Amanda Marcotte, Here’s the key to Trump’s outrageous lies: He sells them with conviction: “Donald Trump lies, a lot. He lies so much it’s usually safer to assume any random statement he makes is false until proven otherwise. The Washington Post has been tracking the president’s falsehoods, and as of this week, he has told an average of 4.5 lies a day in the six weeks he’s been in office. Yet somehow, his supporters cling to this bizarre notion that he’s an honest man who shoots straight from the hip. During the campaign, polling showed that voters thought Trump was more honest than Hillary Clinton, even though PolitiFact has described her as one of the most truthful contemporary politicians, beating not only all available Republicans but also Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden. (Only Barack Obama has been found to be more truthful.) Trump’s supporters continue to believe in their man. While most Americans trust the news media more than Trump, a recent Quinnipiac University poll found that 78 percent of the Republicans surveyed insisted that Trump is more trustworthy. How can Trump’s supporters be so blind to the president’s measurable aversion to facts? Part of the problem, as psychologist Bill von Hippel explained in a phone interview, is that Trump supporters “feel that what he’s saying he genuinely believes.” This sense that Trump believes in himself may matter more than the actual facts. Von Hippel, who teaches at the University of Queensland in Australia, is part of a research team that just published the paper “Self-deception facilitates interpersonal persuasion” in the Journal of Economic Psychology. His study, which involved 306 subjects, suggests that those who excel at deceiving others often deceive themselves first. The best liars, it turns out, are people who can successfully lie to themselves.”

Harley is one cup-wasting cockatoo:

Daily Bread for 3.8.17

Good morning.

Whitewater’s midweek will be sunny and windy with a high of forty-five. Sunrise is 6:16 AM and sunset 5:53 PM, for 11h 37m 19s of daytime. The moon is a waxing waxing gibbous with 72% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1947, Wisconsin defeats Purdue in a continuation of a game postponed after a tragedy: “UW defeated Purdue, 72-60, at an Evanston high school gym to win the Big Ten Conference basketball championship. The game was a continuation of one commenced on February 24 at Purdue. The game was postponed when the stands collapsed, killing three spectators and injuring close to 200.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Patrick Marley reports that the Cost of I-39 expansion south of Madison balloons to nearly $2 billion: “MADISON – A plan to rebuild I-39 from Madison to the Illinois state line will approach $2 billion — nearly two and a half times as much as the Department of Transportation said the project would cost six years ago. The latest figures underscore the challenges lawmakers face in funding roads. Republicans who control state government are split on whether to funnel more money toward roads. In 2011, lawmakers approved rebuilding I-39 with added lanes after the state Department of Transportation determined the job could be done for $715 million. But an updated estimate puts the cost of the project at $1.75 billion. The full cost wasn’t clear until recently because of how Gov. Scott Walker’s DOT had been tabulating the costs.”

Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman report that After Tweet Storm, a Quiet Washes Over Trump’s Staff: “WASHINGTON — President Trump has no regrets. His staff has no defense. After weeks of assailing reporters and critics in diligent defense of their boss, Mr. Trump’s team has been uncharacteristically muted this week when pressed about his explosive — and so far proof-free — Twitter posts on Saturday accusing President Barack Obama of tapping phones in Trump Tower during the 2016 campaign. The accusation — and the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the former national intelligence director, James R. Clapper Jr., emphatically deny that any such wiretap was requested or issued — constitutes one of the most consequential accusations made by one president against another in American history. So for Mr. Trump’s allies inside the West Wing and beyond, the tweetstorm spawned the mother of all messaging migraines. Over the past few days, they have executed what amounts to a strategic political retreat — trying to publicly validate Mr. Trump’s suspicions without overtly endorsing a claim some of them believe might have been generated by Breitbart News and other far-right outlets.”

Dan Lamothe, Ashley Halsey III and Lisa Rein report that To fund border wall, Trump administration weighs cuts to Coast Guard, airport security: “The plan puts the administration in the unusual position of trading spending on security programs for other security priorities at the southern border, raising questions among Republican lawmakers and homeland-security experts. The Coast Guard cuts include deactivating Maritime Security Response Teams, which carry out counterterrorism patrols in ports and sensitive waterways, and canceling a contract with Huntington Ingalls Industries to build a ninth national security cutter, with a potential savings of $500 million….Rick “Ozzie” Nelson, a former Navy helicopter pilot and national security expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that the decisions would effectively sideline the service in missions in which it could be the most effective.”

Mekado Murphy describes The Five Ages of King Kong: “Ever since the first “King Kong” movie in 1933, the giant, chest-pounding, helicopter-smacking, no-nonsense primate has meant different things to different generations, embodying both his science and his fiction. Kong has been a kind of canvas on which to paint the economic and political issues of the time. He’s hovering larger than ever (along with a starry cast) in “Kong: Skull Island” (in theaters March 10). Here is a look back at versions of Kong and the themes that went with the roars….”

One bulldog, one iguana – two pals: