Daily Bread for 5.25.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy, with a high of seventy. Sunrise is 5:22 AM and sunset 8:21 PM, for 14h 59m 05s of daytime. The moon is new today, with just .1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-eighth 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 1977, Star Wars opens. On this day in 1889, Wisconsin Gov. Oscar Rennebohm is born.

(The Star Wars trailer was so new at the time that it did not capture the setting as “a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”)

Recommended for reading in full —

Karla Adam reports British outraged over alleged U.S. leaks in the Manchester bomb investigation:

LONDON — British indignation over alleged American leaks of investigative material related to the Manchester bombing will likely create a charged environment Thursday when British Prime Minister Theresa May meets later with President Trump.

May said Thursday morning she would “make clear” to Trump when they meet later in the day at a NATO summit in Brussels that “intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure.”

Leaks from the ongoing investigation — including the publication of crime-scene photos in the New York Times and the naming of the suspected bomber by U.S. broadcasters — have provoked ire from British officials.

Betsy Woodruff, Lachlan Markay, and Asawin Suebsaeng report Reince Priebus Sweating Secret Comey Memos, White House Sources Say:

Three White House officials told The Daily Beast that Chief of Staff Reince Priebus has privately expressed worry about a possible Comey memo specifically involving one of their reported chats, and how it might play in the press and to investigators.

“Nervous laughter,” one official succinctly characterized Priebus’ demeanor in the midst of recent revelations.

In late February—long before Trump fired Comey over the “this Russia thing”—Priebus had reportedly already acted on the president’s behalf in trying to use the FBI to quash the Trump-Russia news.

According to CNN, Priebus asked Comey and his then-top deputy, Andrew McCabe, on Feb. 15 to refute news reports about conversations between Trump campaign staff and Russian government officials. Comey and McCabe reportedly refused. The White House denied the story at the time.

Matt Ford writes of The Known Unknowns of the Russia Investigation:

On Friday, CNN reported on similar Russian conversations held last summer about Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who spent two years as chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency under the Obama administration. Those exchanges prompted a “five-alarm fire” within the American intelligence apparatus, according to an anonymous U.S. official quoted by CNN. The Times reported that the findings were then passed to the FBI, which opened a counterintelligence probe that eventually grew into the sprawling investigation that has consumed Trump’s nascent administration.

Many questions still remain about the inquiry’s origins. It’s not clear if the FBI and other agencies already had other curious information in their possession before learning about Russian officials’ conversations and deciding to launch the probe. Both outlets’ descriptions of the talks suggest a familiarity with Trump campaign staffers and a desire to sway them somehow. They also underscore the lopsided efforts to undermine last year’s presidential election, a plot that U.S. intelligence officials concluded in January was designed to hinder Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Dan Bice reports that Sheriff Clarke directed staff to hassle plane passenger after brief exchange:

Sitting on the tarmac at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on Jan. 15, Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. sent a text message to one of his captains after a brief verbal exchange with a passenger.

The sheriff explained in the text what should be done when Riverwest resident Dan Black got off the plane.

“Just a field interview, no arrest unless he become an asshole with your guys,” Clarke wrote Captain Mark Witek. “Question for him is why he said anything to me. Why didn’t he just keep his mouth shut?”

“Follow him to baggage and out the door,” Clarke continued. “You can escort me to carousel after I point him out.”

One man was fortunate to escape with only minor injuries after a bear charged him:

Daily Bread for 5.24.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of sixty-three. Sunrise is 5:23 AM and sunset 8:20 PM, for 14h 57m 29s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent today with 2.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1883, the Brooklyn Bridge opens for traffic. On this day in 1864, the 2nd, 6th, 7th, and 36th Wisconsin Infantry regiments participate in the Battle of North Anna, Virginia.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Michael Grynbaum and Daniel Victor report that Fox News Retracts Story Linking Murder of D.N.C. Aide to 2016 Presidential Campaign:

Fox News on Tuesday retracted a story linking the murder of a Democratic National Committee staff member with the email hacks that aided President Trump’s campaign, effectively quashing a conspiracy theory that had taken hold across the right-wing news media.

It was a rare acknowledgment of error by the network. But it also underscored a schism between the network’s news-gathering operation and one of its biggest stars: the conservative commentator Sean Hannity, who has unapologetically promoted the theory and remained defiant on Tuesday.

“These are questions that I have a moral obligation to ask,” Mr. Hannity said on his radio show, shortly after Fox News announced its mistake. “All you in the liberal media — I am not Fox.com or FoxNews.com. I retracted nothing.”

(Hannity later said on his evening television program of 5.23.17 that “Out of respect for the family’s wishes, for now, I am not discussing this matter at this time.”)

Jennifer Rubin poses Questions Fox and the right need to answer:

What is this “high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting”? Who is responsible for maintaining such high standards?

Does the alleged high scrutiny apply to Fox’s nighttime shows?

How did the story manage to slip by this exacting scrutiny?

How did it remain on the website and on Hannity’s show despite widespread calls to cease airing a debunked story?

Who, if anyone, is going to be held accountable for this?

Will Fox real-news cover the incident?

How did widespread coverage of birtherism slip by Fox’s “high degree of editorial scrutiny”?

Are evening shows’ coverage of the Russia scandal subjected to a “high degree of editorial scrutiny”?

Binyamin Applebaum  describes Trump’s Problematic Math: Budget Plan Adds Growth, but Doesn’t Subtract Cost:

When the government cuts taxes, it collects less money. That is the purpose of a tax cut. But Mr. Trump’s budget does not include any hint of a downturn in federal revenue. To the contrary, it projects that federal tax revenue will increase every year for the next decade.

The White House is indeed projecting faster economic growth as a consequence of tax cuts. What it is not doing is projecting the cost of those tax cuts, that is, the loss in tax revenue. It is the rough equivalent of trying to raise $10,000 for a project expected to produce $100,000 in revenue, and telling investors the profit will total $100,000. It won’t be, because you have to account for the cost.

Lawrence H. Summers, the Harvard economist who served in senior roles in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, writing for The Washington Post, declared it “the most egregious accounting error in a presidential budget in the nearly 40 years I have been tracking them.”

Matt Valazquez reports on John Hammond leaving Bucks to become [Orlando] Magic GM:

Hammond’s hiring came on the heels of Orlando’s announcement Tuesday morning that it had hired Weltman as its president of basketball operations, a position that Hammond also had applied for according to multiple reports. Weltman and Hammond worked together in Detroit for a year before Hammond took the GM job in Milwaukee in 2008 and brought Weltman with him as his assistant general manager. Weltman left for Toronto in 2013 and was promoted to the GM job there before last season.

Someone enjoyed a trip in a cycling jersey:

Daily Bread for 5.23.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy, with afternoon thunderstorms and a high of sixty-four. Sunrise is 5:23 AM and sunset 8:19 PM, for 14h 55m 49s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 8.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

The City of Whitewater’s Finance Committee will meet at 5:30 PM today.

On this day in 1934, the crime spree of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow meets a violent end. On this day in 1854, the first railroad reaches Madison: “When the cars pulled into the depot, thousands of people gathered to witness the ceremonial arrival of the first train, and an enormous picnic was held on the Capitol grounds for all the passengers who’d made the seven-hour trip from Milwaukee to inaugurate the line.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Jonathan Chait writes that Trump’s Russia Scandal Is Becoming a Corruption Scandal:

Ominously for Trump, the Post reports that the FBI is “determining whether any financial crimes were committed by people close to the president.” While Kushner’s public persona differs wildly from that of the president in the functioning of his real-estate work, he is a kind of mini Trump. Inheriting an empire from his father, he has operated in gray areas of the world economy and positioned himself to gain handsomely from Trump’s election. Kushner has met with the head of a Russian bank functionally controlled by Vladimir Putin. He appears to be eager to use his proximity to Trump to make a buck; his family business is exploiting the familial connection to sell visas in China. Trump himself has a long, nontransparent history of business dealings with organs of the Russian state. (Last week, The Wall Street Journal dug up another case.)

….All this implies that the probe is scrutinizing the financial aspects of Trump’s business, which is a family operation. While some Trump advisers opposed the firing of Comey, Kushner reportedly advocated for it. That fact may seem strange if one thinks of Kushner as a voice of pragmatism. But it is easier to understand if you think of him as a figure sitting near the heart of a financial scandal, who harbors a strong interest in suppressing the investigation.

Jenny Luna reports that Trump Takes a Big Bite Out Of His Voters’ Food Stamps:

As the Associated Press reported, the budget is expected to include $193 billion in cuts over a decade to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps—25 percent of the program’s budget. About 44 million people benefit from food stamps in the US, especially poorer states in the Southeast. For example, one out of every five people in Louisiana receives food stamps in a given month, according to a report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Trump’s proposed cuts to food stamps will by and large hit his own voters the hardest. Louisiana voted overwhelmingly for Trump, as did its Southeast counterparts Mississippi, Alabama, West Virginia, and Georgia. Out of the ten states with the highest food stamp-use by population, seven voted Republican in last year’s presidential election….

Catherine Rampell asks Want to know what Trumpcare would do to the country? Look at the implosion in Iowa:

As passed in the House, the American Health Care Act would let states get waivers allowing insurers to offer new plans that don’t meet Obamacare’s coverage or cost requirements. In other words, as in Iowa, Trumpcare would permit healthier and younger people to sort themselves into cheaper plans that cover little, and leave sicker and older people in more expensive plans. Which, as in Iowa, would probably cause markets to unravel.

This isn’t the only thing throwing Iowa’s individual markets out of whack. The state also has one very sick, very expensive enrollee on its Obamacare exchange — and the predicament this presents offers a further lesson for what we should expect from Trumpcare.

Richard Cohen contends that The definitive book about the Trump administration was written in 1951:

Back in 1951, Herman Wouk published the definitive book about the Trump administration. He set it in the 1940s, during the war in the Pacific, aboard a destroyer-minesweeper skippered by a paranoid man with a compulsion to blame others for his mistakes. The captain was named Philip Francis Queeg, his ship was called the USS Caine, and the novel was “The Caine Mutiny.” It won the Pulitzer Prize. It’s a dead certainty President Trump never read it.

But maybe he saw the movie , in which Humphrey Bogart plays Queeg, a performance that earned him an Oscar nomination, or the Broadway play, “The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial” — but none of that is likely, either. The character of Queeq would have been too close to home for him and the mutiny too terrible to contemplate….

Those who live in states with lots of deer know that their collisions with vehicles can be devastating:

Daily Bread for 5.22.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be increasingly cloudy, with an even chance of afternoon thundershowers, and a high of seventy-two. Sunrise is 5:24 AM and sunset 8:18 PM, for 14h 54m 07s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 16.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission meets at 4:30 PM today. At 5 PM, a local private group has scheduled a rally to garner support for preserving the building at 507 W. Main Street. Whitewater’s Library Board meets at 6 PM for a community forum on the construction of a new library. (There’s a possible relationship between the private action’s preservation goal and library construction, although one would need to know more about construction options before having confidence whether one might affect the other. There’s time enough to hear patiently the arguments involved.)

Whitewater’s School Board meets tonight, with an open session beginning at approximately 7 PM.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is born this day in 1859. On this day in 1968, the Milwaukee Bucks get their name: “On this date “Milwaukee Bucks” was selected as the franchise name after 14,000 fans participated in a team-naming contest. 45 people suggested the name, one of whom, R.D. Trebilcox, won a car for his efforts.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Jennifer Rubin describes Trump’s un-American speech in Saudi Arabia:

At times Trump’s language was cringe-worthy. It is all well and good to explain we have shared “interests” — with regard to fighting Iran and the Islamic State, most clearly. To say we have shared “values” with Saudi Arabia, however, is daft, and shows how deficient is Trump’s understanding of American values and their role in American foreign policy. In so starkly diminishing the importance of human rights, he foolishly sacrificed our moral authority and risked repeating his predecessor’s foolish, unqualified support of Middle Eastern dictators.

When after the speech Trump attempted to scold Iran for its human rights policy, the flaw in this approach was evident. For both Iran and Saudi Arabia, we are not “tell[ing] other people how to live” but standing up for universal human rights. We are not “lectur[ing]” but extolling the importance of recognizing human dignity. And we give a flawed message that modernization and full inclusion in the community of nations are possible without basic rights for women, religious minorities, et al.

One tool, a critical one, the United States has against repressive regimes such as Russia, China, Iran and Cuba, is that we can undermine their legitimacy by appealing to universal values and exposing their cruelty, corruption and repression. We give hope to the oppressed and whittle away at despots’ grip on power by excoriating them for human rights abuses. When, however, we not only ignore but also give unqualified praise to autocratic allies, we leave ourselves open to charges of gross hypocrisy.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty explains how Baltic Elves Fight Kremlin Trolls:

Dave Weigel observes that The Seth Rich conspiracy shows how fake news still works:

On July 10, at 4:19 a.m., gunfire was detected in the District’s Bloomingdale neighborhood. Not five minutes later, police found Seth Rich, a 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer, lying on the ground, dying from a bullet wound to his back. A conscious Rich was transported to the hospital; by daybreak, he was dead.

Nearly one year later, Rich’s death remains one of America’s thousands of unsolved murders — and the focus of endless conspiracy theories, spread this past week by Fox News, alt-right social media, a local D.C. news station and the Russian embassy in Britain. The reemergence of the conspiracy theory this week, which did not lack for real news, revealed plenty about the fake news ecosystem (or to use BuzzFeed’s useful phrase, “the upside-down media”) in the Trump era. It also happened to cause untold pain for the Rich family, which has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the so-called private investigator who led this dive back into the fever swamp.

[Family of slain DNC staffer fights back against conspiracy theories with cease-and-desist letter]

Here’s what we learned….

Bill Vlasic reports that Ford Motor Is Replacing Mark Fields as C.E.O.:

Jim Hackett, who oversees the Ford subsidiary that works on autonomous vehicles, will take the reins from Mr. Fields. Ford plans to make an announcement on Monday morning, the officials said.

During Mr. Fields’s three-year tenure — a period when Ford’s shares dropped 40 percent — he came under fire from investors and Ford’s board for failing to expand the company’s core auto business and for lagging in developing the high-tech cars of the future.

The change came less than two weeks after Mr. Fields was sharply criticized during the company’s annual shareholders meeting for Ford’s deteriorating financial results.

Science Magazine reports that Bees have more brains than we bargained for:

Daily Bread for 5.21.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of sixty. Sunrise is 5:25 AM and sunset 8:17 PM, for 14h 52m 21s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 25% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1673, Marquette and Joliet reach the Menominee:

On or about May 21, 1673, Fr. Jacques Marquette, fur-trader Louis Joliet, and five French voyageurs pulled into a Menominee community near modern Marinette, Mich. Marquette wrote that when the Menominee learned that he and Joliet intended to try to descend the Mississippi River all the way to the sea, “They were greatly surprised to hear it, and did their best to dissuade me. They represented to me that I should meet nations who never show mercy to strangers, but break their heads without any cause; and that war was kindled between various peoples who dwelt upon our route, which exposed us to the further manifest danger of being killed by the bands of warriors who are ever in the field.

They also said that the great river was very dangerous, when one does not know the difficult places; that it was full of horrible monsters, which devoured men and canoes together; that there was even a demon, who was heard from a great distance, who barred the way, and swallowed up all who ventured to approach him; finally that the heat was so excessive in those countries that it would inevitably cause our death.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Andrew Kaczynski, Christopher Massie and Nathan McDermott contend that Sheriff David Clarke plagiarized portions of his master’s thesis on homeland security:

Controversial Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who this week announced he will be joining Donald Trump’s administration as assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security, plagiarized sections of his 2013 master’s thesis on US security, a CNN KFile review has found.

Clarke, a visible surrogate for Trump during the campaign known for his incendiary rhetoric, earned a master’s degree in security studies at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. In his thesis, “Making U.S. security and privacy rights compatible,” Clarke failed to properly attribute his sources at least 47 times.

In all instances reviewed by CNN’s KFile, Clarke lifts language from sources and credits them with a footnote, but does not indicate with quotation marks that he is taking the words verbatim.

According to guidelines on plagiarism posted on the Naval Postgraduate School’s website, “If a passage is quoted verbatim, it must be set off with quotation marks (or, if it is a longer passage, presented as indented text), and followed by a properly formulated citation. The length of the phrase does not matter. If someone else’s words are sufficiently significant to be worth quoting, then accurate quotation followed by a correct citation is essential, even if only a few words are involved.”

See, also, from RightWisconsin, What’s Up With Sheriff Clarke’s Bizarre Uniform? (A closer look at all those fake medals):

Along with the cowboy hat, Sheriff David Clarke’s uniform — loaded with bling — has been a reliable prop for his media career. But Army veteran Charles Clymer took a close look at all of the hardware on Clarke’s chest… and wasn’t impressed.

His tweet storm went viral: (LANGUAGE WARNING)….

(I’ve included parts of Charles Clymer’s full tweet thread. He’s an American military veteran with respect for our country’s long-established service uniform protocols.)

Craig Gilbert reports that As chaos mounts, House Speaker Paul Ryan tries to power through the Trump turmoil:

“He’s walking on an ice rink and trying to stay upright,” said the speaker’s former GOP colleague, Reid Ribble of Wisconsin.

No politician other than the president has seen his poll ratings decline more than Ryan’s amid the upheaval of the Trump presidency. Arguably, no one’s task has been more complicated by Trump’s turmoil.

“There are more and more minefields coming up for Ryan, compounded by the dragging down of the Republican brand,” said congressional scholar Sarah Binder of George Washington University.

David Weigel explains that The Seth Rich conspiracy shows how fake news still works:

On July 10, at 4:19 a.m., gunfire was detected in the District’s Bloomingdale neighborhood. Not five minutes later, police found Seth Rich, a 27-year-old Democratic National Committee staffer, lying on the ground, dying from a bullet wound to his back. A conscious Rich was transported to the hospital; by daybreak, he was dead.

Nearly one year later, Rich’s death remains one of America’s thousands of unsolved murders — and the focus of endless conspiracy theories, spread this past week by Fox News, alt-right social media, a local D.C. news station and the Russian embassy in Britain. The reemergence of the conspiracy theory this week, which did not lack for real news, revealed plenty about the fake news ecosystem (or to use BuzzFeed’s useful phrase, “the upside-down media”) in the Trump era. It also happened to cause untold pain for the Rich family, which has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the so-called private investigator who led this dive back into the fever swamp…

Craig Whitlock and Bob Woodward report that At the Pentagon, overpriced fuel sparks allegations — and denials — of a slush fund:

The Pentagon has generated almost $6 billion over the past seven years by charging the armed forces excessive prices for fuel and has used the money — called the “bishop’s fund” by some critics — to bolster mismanaged or underfunded military programs, documents show.

Since 2015, the Defense Department has tapped surpluses from its fuel accounts for $80 million to train Syrian rebels, $450 million to shore up a prescription-drug program riddled with fraud and $1.4 billion to cover unanticipated expenses from the war in Afghanistan, according to military accounting records.

The Pentagon has amassed the extra cash by billing the armed forces for fuel at rates often much higher — sometimes $1 per gallon or more — than what commercial airlines paid for jet fuel on the open market.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty explains How to change a country’s alphabet — and how not to:


Daily Bread for 5.20.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of fifty-nine. Sunrise is 5:26 AM and sunset 8:16 PM, for 14h 50m 33s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 35% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1961, 400 U.S. Marshals Sent to Alabama as Montgomery Bus Riots Hurt 20; [the] President Bids State Keep Order: “Washington, May 20 — The Federal Government dispatched 400 marshals and other armed officers to Alabama tonight to restore order in areas that were torn by racial violence. The Government acted after a mob of white persons attacked a racially mixed group of bus riders in Montgomery, Ala. The disorders lasted two hours. At least twenty of the riders were beaten. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy announced the Federal action in a telegram to Alabama officials.” On this day in 1863, Union Forces Regroup at Vicksburg, Mississippi: “The 1st Wisconsin Light Artillery and the 8th, 11th, 18th and 23rd Wisconsin Infantry regiments joined the 14th and 17th Infantries to prepare for the next attack. While these arrangements were taking place at Vicksburg, the 4th Wisconsin Infantry fought in a skirmish in Cheneyville, Lousiana.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Janell Ross explains ‘They were not patriots’: New Orleans removes monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee:

Mayor Mitch Landrieu marked the historic moment with a rousing speech that sought to end nearly two years of heated debate in the city over what the monuments said about its past.

“They are not just innocent remembrances of a benign history. These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for,” Landrieu said, adding that Lee and the Confederate army fought against the United States. “They may have been warriors, but in this cause they were not patriots.”

(Exactly right: the Confederacy was an organized expression of racism and treason. Neo-Confederates have any number of false justifications for their views, but they are, in fact, the closest homegrown movement America has to Holocaust denial. They all regurgiate variations of the RedeemersLost Cause‘ lies and rationalizations for slavery. Some are practiced at it, but even the best of them are among the worst of our society.)

Karoun Demirjian reports that Former FBI director Comey to testify publicly:

Former FBI director James B. Comey will testify publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee at a date to be set after Memorial Day, committee leaders announced Friday night.

The public commitment to testify comes after a tumultuous week and a half since President Trump dismissed Comey — a move that perplexed committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Vice Chairman Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), who vowed to bring Comey before the committee nonetheless to testify as part of their probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 elections, including potential ties between the Trump campaign and Kremlin officials.

(This assumes that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will not request that Comey refrain from public comment during this part of Mueller’s investigation.)

Connon Friedersdorf describes The World’s Worst Negotiation:

“The conversation [Trump in Oval office with Russian FM and Ambassador], during a May 10 meeting — the day after he fired Mr. Comey — reinforces the notion that Mr. Trump dismissed him primarily because of the bureau’s investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and Russian operatives,” the Times wrote. And that’s right. That it leaked clearly hurts the White House.

If I see that it hurts them, and you see it, and TheNew York Times saw it? Then so did the Russians. The highest-ranking Russian diplomats in the United States are not idiots. They are savvy. And while it appears they weren’t the ones who leaked the story, that means Trump gave the Russians information they could have used to weaken him.

And he did so without even realizing it.

That is unnerving, because it suggests that even if Trump is innocent of Russia ties and obstruction of justice—and he may be!—he cannot hold his own in a low-pressure meeting, on his own turf. He wasn’t even pressured in a clever bid to extract information; Trump’s words here were self-sabotage, a totally unforced error.

(Even under the most charitable interpretation – and I do not believe the most chartible view is an accurate one – Trump’s in over his head.)

Evan Perez reports that, to defend Trump from all possibilities, White House lawyers research impeachment:

Washington (CNN) White House lawyers have begun researching impeachment procedures in an effort to prepare for what officials still believe is a distant possibility that President Donald Trump could have to fend off attempts to remove him from office, two people briefed on the discussions tell CNN.

White House officials believe the President has the backing of Republican allies in Congress and that impeachment is not in the cards, according to the people briefed on the legal discussions. Even Democrats have tried to calm impeachment talk out of concern it is premature.

But lawyers in the White House counsel’s office have consulted experts in impeachment during the past week and have begun collecting information on how such proceedings would work, a person briefed on the matter told CNN.

SpotMini, Boston Dynamics’ dog-like robot is versatile:

Daily Bread for 5.19.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be cloudy, with occasional afternoon showers, and a high of fifty-two. Sunrise is 5:27 AM and sunset 8:15 AM, for 14h 48m 42s of daytime. The moon is in its last quarter, with 45% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninety-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1675, noted explorer Fr. Jacques Marquette passes: “After the famous voyage down the Mississippi that he made in 1673 with Louis Joliet, Marquette vowed to return to the Indians he’d met in Illinois. He became ill during that visit in the spring of 1675 and was en route to Canada when he passed away. His diary of the trip is online in our [Wisconsin Historical Society] American Journeys collection.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Devlin Barrett, Ellen Nakashima and Adam Entous report that Comey prepared extensively for his conversations with Trump:

FBI Director James B. Comey prepared extensively for his discussions with President Trump, out of concern that the president was unlikely to respect the legal and ethical boundaries governing their respective roles, according to associates of the now-fired FBI chief.

The associates recounted how worried Comey was about meeting with Trump and recalled conversations in which they brainstormed how to handle moments in which the president asked for details of an investigation.

One associate referred to Comey’s preparation as a kind of “murder board” — a phrase used to describe a committee of questioners that hurls tough questions at someone as practice for a difficult oral examination.

(One prepares this way if one is uncomfortable, but also if one wants to build a case.)

Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman and Mark Mazzetti report that Trump Ally Was Once a Target of Russian Spies:

The congressman, Dana Rohrabacher of California, has been known for years as one of Moscow’s biggest defenders in Washington and as a vocal opponent of American economic sanctions against Russia. He claims to have lost a drunken arm-wrestling match with the current Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, in the 1990s. He is one of President Trump’s staunchest allies on Capitol Hill….

But the F.B.I. has taken seriously the possibility that Russian spies would target American politicians. In a secure room at the Capitol, an F.B.I. agent told Mr. Rohrabacher in 2012 that Russian spies were trying to recruit him as an “agent of influence” — someone the Russian government might be able to use to steer Washington policy-making, former officials said.

Mr. Rohrabacher said in a telephone interview on Thursday that the meeting had focused on his contact with one member of the Russian Foreign Ministry, whom he recalled meeting on a trip to Moscow. “They were telling me he had something to do with some kind of Russian intelligence,” Mr. Rohrabacher said. He recalled the F.B.I. agent saying that Moscow “looked at me as someone who could be influenced.”

(Imagine ‘prospect for Putin’ as one’s reputation. Better to be nothing than to descend so low.)

Brandon Patterson reports that The Feds Had Been Moving Away From Mass Incarceration For Years. Then Jeff Sessions Came Along:

Bipartisan support for shifting away from mandatory minimums has grown in recent years, as research has shown that incarceration does little to improve public safety and has had a disparate impact on communities of color—and as lawmakers have decided that running prisons costs too much.

Sen. Rand Paul said mandatory minimums have a racially disparate impact, and that Sessions’ policy shift would “accentuate” that “injustice.”

On Tuesday, in response to Sessions’ policy announcement, Republican Sen. Rand Paul and Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy proposed legislation more in line with Holder’s approach: It would allow judges to tailor sentences on a case-by-case basis, regardless of whether a mandatory minimum sentence applies. Paul said these minimums have a racially disparate impact, and that Sessions’ policy shift would “accentuate” that “injustice.” He also said his bill would save the DOJ money—the department currently spends nearly a third of its budget on corrections. A group of House members plan to introduce similar legislation.

Megan Garber describes Roger Ailes’s (Other) Legacy:

Karem Alsina, a makeup artist formerly employed by Fox News, recently shared a memory of her time at the network with New YorkMagazine’s Gabriel Sherman. The women anchors of Fox, Alsina recalled, would sometimes come to see her before they went to private meetings with Roger Ailes—the man who, until last year, was Fox’s chairman and CEO. “They would say, ‘I’m going to see Roger, gotta look beautiful!’” Alsina recalled. She also recalled this: “One of them came back down after a meeting, and the makeup on her nose and chin was gone.”

Ailes has another legacy, though, and it’s the one Karem Alsina suggested when she recalled her time preparing the women to meet with their boss: Ailes’s alleged pattern of sexual harassment—and, you could also argue, psychological manipulation—of his employees. He was accused of it by more than two dozen women, some anonymous, some named, some through lawsuits, some through testimony to the media. The allegations included not just direct harassment, but also surveillance, smear campaigns, hush money, and a general culture of misogyny at the network that claimed to be the only source of “fair & balanced” news in a nation rife with liberalism. Ailes vehemently denied the allegations. But there were so many women. They had so many stories—all unique, yet all troublingly similar. In July of 2016, under pressure from Rupert Murdoch and, more notably, Murdoch’s sons, Ailes resigned. He received $40 million from Fox as part of his exit agreement.

Anna Rubincam creates portraits as A Continuous Shape:

A Continuous Shape from Eyes & Ears on Vimeo.

 

Daily Bread for 5.18.17

Good morning.

After a night of stormy weather, Whitewater’s Thursday will be cloudy with a high of sixty-nine. Sunrise is 5:27 AM and sunset 8:14 PM, for 14h 46m 49s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 54.5% of its visible disk illuminated.Today is the one hundred ninety-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Police and Fire Commission is scheduled to meet at 6:30 PM this evening.

On this day in 1804, the Sénat conservateur vested the powers of the French First Republic in an emperor. Napoleon’s coronation, and acquisition of effectively absolute power, would follow later that year. On this day in 1863, the Union Siege of Vicksburg begins, with “[s]seventeen different Wisconsin regiments involved in the assault that began the next day (8th, 11th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 20th, 23rd, 25th, 27th, 29th and 33rd Wisconsin Infantry regiments and the 1st, 6th and 12th Wisconsin Light Artillery batteries as well as the 2nd Wisconsin Cavalry).”

Recommended for reading in full —

Rick Romell reports that For third straight year, Wisconsin ranks last in business startup activity:

Another year, another last-place ranking for Wisconsin on the business startup front.

For the third year running, Wisconsin has placed 50th among the 50 states in startup activity as measured by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, one of the country’s leading entrepreneurship advocacy and research organizations.

Not only was Wisconsin last; the gap between Wisconsin and the next-lowest states widened significantly from 2016 and 2015. While other states are clustered with relatively small differences from one state to the next, Wisconsin stands as an outlier – on the low end.

“It just feels like such a broken record,” said Joe Kirgues, co-founder of gener8tor, a company with offices in Milwaukee and Madison that runs a respected training program for startups. “We’ve played this song so many times in terms of we’ve been dead last and dead last and dead last.”

The New York Times Editorial Board writes of The Special Counsel America Needs:

If President Trump thought that by sacking the F.B.I. director, James Comey, he could kill off the investigation into his associates’ ties to the Russian government and its attempt to deliver him the White House, he was wrong.

The investigation will go on, now under the leadership of a former F.B.I. director — and this one the president can’t fire on his own. Robert Mueller III, who was named special counsel on Wednesday to oversee the Trump-Russia investigation, is charged with revealing the truth about suspicions that reach into the highest levels of the Trump campaign and White House.

Given the “unique circumstances” of the case, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in making the appointment, a special counsel “is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome” of the investigation.

Mr. Rosenstein is absolutely right, and he has done the nation a service in choosing Mr. Mueller, one of the few people with the experience, stature and reputation to see the job through….

Michael Kranish observes that As president, Trump’s legacy of lawsuits and minimal briefings isn’t helping:

the tactics that Trump believed served him so well in business may be adding to his self-inflicted wounds as a special counsel prepares to launch an investigation into allegations that Russia sought to influence the 2016 election.

Trump’s family has no government background, and most of his most trusted advisers never worked in a White House. His demands to government officials for personal loyalty are superseded by their loyalty to the Constitution. His threats — such as tweeting that fired FBI Director James B. Comey “better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” — have often backfired. Comey’s associates provided quotes from a memo about the conversation that appear to support Comey’s version of events.

And Trump’s famous aversion to in-depth analysis — he once wrote that “The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience” — has led to concerns that he doesn’t absorb complicated briefing material from intelligence agencies and other sources.

Lloyd Grove writes that Sally Yates Outclasses the President in CNN Interview:

Where Trump is gluttonous, rambling, egomaniacal, and undisciplined—the leader of the free world as an unmade bed—Yates is a human laser beam, focused on her target.

And also, despite all that, immensely likable.

That’s the persona that emerged from the lengthy sit-down, presented in multiple segments on AC 360, that covered her decisions not only to oppose the president’s anti-Muslim executive order that was later adjudged unconstitutional by a series of federal trial and appeals courts, but also to alert the White House that retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, Trump’s trusted national security adviser, had discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador and then lied about it to the vice president and the FBI, opening himself up to criminal prosecution by U.S. law enforcement authorities and blackmail by the Kremlin.

How fast are F1 cars? Really fast —

Daily Bread for 5.17.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be partly cloudy, with a four-in-ten chance of afternoon thundershowers and a high of eighty-two. Sunrise is 5:28 AM and sunset is 8:13 PM, for 14h 44m 53s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 65% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninetieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Parks & Recreation Board meets tonight at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1954, the United States Supreme Court hands down its decision in Brown v. Board of Education.  On this day in 1673, the Jolliet and Marquette expedition gets underway.

Recommended for reading in full —

The staff of the thorough, respected Lawfare website (Helen Klein Murillo, Jack Goldsmith, Susan Hennessey, Quinta Jurecic, Matthew Kahn, Paul Rosenzweig, Benjamin Wittes) collectively offer Initial Thoughts on Trump Asking Comey to Kill the Flynn Investigation:

Historically, obstruction of justice articles of impeachment do elaborate a pattern of conduct. The first article of impeachment against Richard Nixon, for instance, included making false statements to investigators, withholding evidence, counseling witnesses to lie or give misleading testimony, and “interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States [and] the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

The critical point is that impeachment for obstruction of justice is ultimately not just a legal question; it’s also a political question, albeit a political question highly inflected by the law and often discussed in the language of the law. The boundaries of the impeachable offense are not coextensive with the boundaries of the criminal law. There are things that are not criminal that are certainly impeachable, and there are crimes that are generally regarded as too trivial to trigger the Constitution’s standard in Article II § 4  of “Treason, Bribery, and other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The great constitutional scholar Charles Black, in an excellent volume entitled, Impeachment: A Handbook written during the Watergate era, describes this point in vivid detail.

Michelle Goldberg offers Free Advice to Trump Aides: Quit While You Can:

Out in America, Mr. Trump still has plenty of genuine admirers, people who view him as a brilliant, iconoclastic businessman. But there is scant evidence of such respect among the people who actually work with him in Washington. The New York Times recently reported that there are “deep resentments among his scarred staff,” and The Washington Post writes of aides “bewildered and alarmed by how Trump arrives at his decisions.” These men and women are suffering personally while propping up a presidency they appear to hold in contempt. They are allowing themselves to be permanently tarnished through their association with a man whose name is destined to become the root of a political epithet signifying disgrace, like McCarthyite or Nixonian.

They aren’t just selling out their country. They’re selling out themselves.

Andrew Roth reports that so deep is Trump’s connection to Russia that Putin offers to provide Congress with details of Trump disclosures to Russian envoys:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday he would be willing to provide the U.S. Congress a record of President Trump’s meeting with top Russian envoys, bringing scoffs on Capitol Hill that the Kremlin could help shed light on the disclosures of reportedly highly classified intelligence.

The provocative offer for the Kremlin to share evidence with U.S. oversight committees about the Oval Office meeting came with the caveat that the request for the transcript would have to come from the Trump administration….

(So Trump needs Putin to bail him out, and Putin thinks there are Americans stupid or deluded enough – other than Trump, himself – to think Russia’s offer could possibly be an honest, accurate one.)

Daniel Bice reports that Walker’s commission bankrolled by Bradley Foundation:

When Gov. Scott Walker laid out a plan in his state budget address urging people to take steps to avoid welfare, it mirrored a platform of the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, which has pushed for greater personal responsibility and more stringent welfare requirements.

Documents hacked from the Bradley Foundation’s computer server show the connection is not just philosophical — it’s financial.

A Bradley Foundation staffer sat on the Future of the Family Commission, which came up with Walker’s plan. Two experts who advised the state panel are major Bradley grant recipients, with one running a center that has received $11 million over the years. A key study used by the commission was paid for by Bradley.

The foundation even awarded a $100,000 grant to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families to underwrite the commission itself — an unusual, if not unique, step in government. Neither the source of the commission’s money nor the foundation’s stake in the outcome was disclosed. The state spent about $62,000 of the grant before making its recommendation to the governor.

So, of what are Velveeta and Kraft Singles are actually made?

Daily Bread for 5.16.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of eighty-five. Sunrise is 5:29 AM and sunset 8:12 PM, for 14h 42m 55s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 74% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred eighty-ninth 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 2001, federal agent Robert Hanssen was indicted on charges of spying for Moscow. He is now serving life without parole. On this day in 1913, bandleader Woody Herman is born in Milwaukee.

Recommended for reading in full —

Louis Nelson reports that Trump claims he has ‘absolute right’ to share intelligence with the Russians:

President Donald Trump on Tuesday morning claimed he has “the absolute right” to share intelligence with the Russian government, while doing little to deny that he allegedly divulged highly classified information to a foreign adversary during an Oval Office meeting last week.

“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism,” Trump wrote on Twitter, breaking his message up into two posts.

Eliot A. Cohen explains The Terrible Cost of Trump’s Disclosures:

To a remarkable degree, the United States relies on liaison relationships with other powers with whom it shares information. If Trump has indeed compromised a source of information, it is not merely a betrayal of an ally’s trust: It is an act that will jeopardize a whole range of relationships. After all, the Director of Central Intelligence cannot very well say, “Don’t worry, we won’t share that with the president.” So now everybody—even our closest allies like the United Kingdom—would be well-advised to be careful with what they share with us. That is a potential intelligence debacle for us, but the danger goes beyond that. If any foreign government harbored lingering illusions about the administration’s ability to protect any information, including sensitive but non-intelligence matters like future foreign-policy initiatives or military deployments, they no longer do. They will be even more apprehensive about sharing sensitive information of any kind because…

Bob Cesca observes that Trump’s Russia scandal keeps getting deeper: At this point, campaign collusion might be the least of his problems:

Anyone with even a remedial understanding of politics and public relations understands that Trump is bungling the White House reaction to the ongoing investigation, turning an already harrowing treason probe into a harrowing treason probe made far more toxic by an obvious coverup.

It’s still unclear exactly what’s wrong with the president that he continues to botch and fumble the political reaction to the widening Russia scandal. We should definitely rule out, with prejudice, any argument that the president is practicing “three-dimensional chess” — that is, the “crazy like a fox” theory suggesting that Trump is working his way through a twisty Machiavellian strategy that we mere mortals are incapable of understanding. There’s nothing like that going on here. Chances are, Trump is being perpetually stymied by a combination of his desperation to kill the Russia probe; his clinical delusions, in which he believes certain things are real that clearly aren’t; his political ignorance; and, of course, his erratic knee-jerk style of blurting out gibberish and lies without any message discipline or self-censorship.

David Roberts contends that We overanalyze Trump. He is what he appears to be:

We badly want to understand Trump, to grasp him. It might give us some sense of control, or at least an ability to predict what he will do next.

But what if there’s nothing to understand? What if there’s no there there? What if our attempts to explain Trump have failed not because we haven’t hit on the right one, but because we are, theory-of-mind-wise, overinterpreting the text?

In short, what if Trump is exactly as he appears: a hopeless narcissist with the attention span of a fruit fly, unable to maintain consistent beliefs or commitments from moment to moment, acting on base instinct, entirely situationally, to bolster his terrifyingly fragile ego.

We’re not really prepared to deal with that…

Woody Herman entertains with the Woodchopper’s Ball:

Daily Bread for 5.15.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be fair in the morning with an even chance of afternoon thunderstorms, and a high of eighty-one. Sunrise is 5:30 AM and sunset 8:11 PM, for 14h 40m 54s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 82% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred eighty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Library Board meets tonight at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1930, Ellen Church becomes the first female flight attendant, when “she embark[s] on a Boeing 80A for a 20-hour flight from Oakland/San Francisco to Chicago with 13 stops and 14 passengers. According to one source, the pilot was another aviation pioneer, Elrey Borge Jeppesen.”  On this day in 1911, Janesville, WI proposes “ordinances banning fortune tellers and prohibiting breweries from operating bars in the city. ”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Greg Miller observes that Political chaos in Washington is a return on investment for Moscow:

…the Kremlin has collected a different return on its effort to help elect Trump in last year’s election: chaos in Washington.

The president’s decision to fire FBI Director James B. Comey last week was the latest destabilizing jolt to a core institution of the U.S. government. The nation’s top law enforcement agency joined a list of entities that Trump has targeted, including federal judges, U.S. spy services, news organizations and military alliances.

The instability, although driven by Trump, has in some ways extended and amplified the effect Russia sought to achieve with its unprecedented campaign to undermine the 2016 presidential race.

In a declassified report released this year, U.S. spy agencies described destabilization as one of Russian President Vladi­mir Putin’s objectives.

“The Kremlin sought to advance its longstanding desire to undermine the U.S.-led liberal democratic order,” it said.

Thomas Erdbrink reports that Iranians See Little Hope Elections Will Alleviate Economic Strain:

TEHRAN — As a college student studying mechanics, Hamidreza Faraji had expected after graduation to land a steady job with a fixed salary, a pension plan and the occasional bonus. He envisioned coming home at 6 p.m. to his family and vacationing at a resort on the Caspian Sea.

But Mr. Faraji, 34, has long since given up on all that. These days, he said, the only people who lead such predictable lives are government employees. Their jobs are well paid and offer security, but are hard to get in part because older employees stay on well past retirement age, limiting opportunities for the next generation.

So millions of Iranians, particularly younger ones, find themselves caught like Mr. Faraji in a vicious cycle of hidden poverty, an exhausting hustle to stay afloat, working multiple jobs and running moneymaking schemes just to keep up. The youth unemployment rate is 30 percent.

Anna Fifield reports that Experts fear North Korea getting closer to developing intercontinental ballistic missile:

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un celebrated a test of the “perfect weapon system” ­after his engineers launched what they said was a new kind of intermediate-range ballistic missile system capable of carrying “a large-size heavy nuclear warhead.”

The missile, launched Sunday morning, appeared to show substantial progress toward developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the mainland United States, U.S. rocket scientists said.

“North Korea’s latest successful missile test represents a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile,” said John Schilling, an aerospace engineer who specializes in rockets. This means North Korea might be only one year, rather than the expected five, from having an ICBM, he said.

Laura Vozzella reports that White nationalist Richard Spencer leads torch-bearing protesters defending Lee statue:

“What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced,” Spencer said at an afternoon protest, the first of two rallies he led in the town where he once attended the University of Virginia.

At the second rally, dozens of torch-bearing protesters gathered in a city park Saturday evening and chanted “You will not replace us” and “Russia is our friend,” local television footage shows. Spencer was not shown addressing that gathering, but he tweeted a photo of himself standing in the crowd carrying what appeared to be a bamboo tiki torch.

The evening protest was short-lived. About 10 minutes in, an altercation between Spencer’s group and counterprotesters drew police to the scene, and the crowd quickly dispersed, the Charlottesville Daily Progress reported.

Sometimes beekeepers make serious mistakes, and when they do, Honey bees attack!:

Daily Bread for 5.14.17

Good morning.

Mother’s Day in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of seventy-four. Sunrise is 5:31 AM and sunset 8:10 PM, for 14h 38m 51s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 89% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred eighty-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1796, English physician and scientist Edward Jenner successfully tests a smallpox vaccine. On this day in 1953, Milwaukee brewery workers begin a ten-week strike.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Philip Rucker observes that White House ‘systems failed’ with Comey firing, but Trump pushed the buttons:

In deciding to abruptly fire FBI Director James B. Comey, President Trump characteristically let himself be guided by his own instincts — fueled by his creeping anger and sense of victimhood about a probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election that he considers a “witch hunt.”

The aftermath is a presidency rocked by its most serious self-inflicted crisis yet, exposing dysfunction and distrust within his West Wing and imperiling his agenda. The momentum for the health-care bill that passed the House is gone, and a week scheduled to be devoted to Trump’s preparations for a high-stakes foreign trip was overtaken by distractions and fury…

Conservative Max Boot wonders When Will Republicans Stand Up to Trump?:

If the controversy over the firing of James Comey, the F.B.I. director, has done anything, it has confirmed my decision on Nov. 9 to leave the Republican Party after a lifetime as a loyal member.

The Republican Party was once the party of small government, free trade, traditional values, principled foreign policy leadership and, most important of all, adherence to the Constitution. Republicans spent decades fulminating against activist judges like Earl Warren and activist politicians like Barack Obama, claiming they were undermining the founders’ vision of limited government.

And then, the party sold its soul to the soulless charlatan who now occupies the Oval Office and makes a mockery of every one of the party’s principles…

(I’d answer Boot by contending that they won’t stand up to him, or abandon him, regardless of what he does.)

James Fallows gives Five Reasons the Comey Affair Is Worse Than Watergate (“A journalist who covered Nixon’s fall 45 years ago explains why the current challenge to America may be more severe—and the democratic system less capable of handling it.):

So I’ve been thinking about comparisons between Watergate and the murky, fast-changing Comey-Russia-Flynn-Trump affair. As with anything involving Donald Trump, we have no idea where this will lead, what is “true,” and when the next bombshell will go off.

But based simply on what is known so far, this scandal looks worse than Watergate. Worse for and about the president. Worse for the overall national interest. Worse in what it suggests about the American democratic system’s ability to defend itself. Here is a summary of some reasons why….

Karin Bruillard writes of the path From death row to adoption: Saving animals by car, van, bus and even plane:

SAN FERNANDO, Calif. — May was supposed to be dead by now. The charcoal-and-white pit bull mix had languished for more than two months at a high-kill animal shelter in east Los Angeles County, and though she’d passed one “temperament test” required for adoption, she failed a second. That essentially put her on death row at the facility.

But a small rescue group got to May first and reserved her a spot on a school bus that would take her 840 miles north to Eugene, Ore.; there, another rescue had pledged to find her a home. And so on a sunny Saturday morning, she bounded up the steps of the red bus and quickly settled into a large crate near the back.

She had plenty of company as the wheels rolled along the highway: 105 other dogs and cats collected from crowded shelters in California and destined for the Pacific Northwest, where euthanasia rates are lower and pets are in greater demand…

Tech Insider shows how astronauts carry out simple, every day tasks in space:

Daily Bread for 5.13.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of seventy-eight. Sunrise is 5:32 AM and sunset 8:09 PM, for 14h 36m 46s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 94% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred eighty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Quick note: the next post in my Janesville series will be Sunday, May 14th (post 12 in the series).

On this day in 1918, the Lusk murder trial begins: “On this day Grace Lusk, a Waukesha high school teacher, began her trial for the murder of Mary Roberts. Prosecutors alleged a tragic love triangle had resulted in the murder after Lusk’s pleas for Roberts to give up her husband were rebuffed. The trial, a national sensation in the early days of mass media, resulted in a guilty verdict on May 29, 1918. Lusk was sentenced to 19 years in prison but served only five before being pardoned by the Governor. After her release she jealously guarded her privacy; the identity of her husband, known only as “Mr. Brown,” was never determined. [Source: Capital Times 5/13/1918, p.1]”

Recommended for reading in full —

Benjamin Mullins reports that Mother Jones is raising $500,000 to go after the Trump-Russia story:

To raise money for the project, which Mother Jones is calling “Trumpocracy: The Russia Connection,” the bimonthly magazine is trying to sign up at least 1,000 new sustaining donors at $15 per month. They’ve already lined up a $200,000 grant from The Glaser Progress Foundation, and the foundation is set to kick in an additional $50,000 once they reach their goal.

Mother Jones will use the money to hire fact-checkers, editors, researchers and staffers who will conduct legal reviews, said Monika Bauerlein, Mother Jones’ CEO. They’ve already lined up one investigative reporting heavy hitter for the team: Bill Buzenberg, the former executive director of the Center for Public Integrity, who will be writing a weekly newsletter on the story.

Mother Jones has been on this story since before the election. In October, Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn reported that a veteran spy had given the FBI information alleging a Russian operation to compromise Donald Trump. That story has since been matched by CNN, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and other outlets, Bauerlein said, and ballooned into a storyline that touches nearly every corner of D.C. politics.

(A description of their project is available online @ Now It’s About Much More Than Trump and Russia. Disclosure: I’m a donor to the project. One can make a one-time contribution or monthly contributions. Private investigative efforts will assure that significant questions are explored. Mother Jones, by the way, is named for Mary Harris “Mother” Jones.)

David A. Graham observes that If There Are White House Recordings, They Could Be Subpoenaed:

Maybe there are recordings from the Trump White House; maybe there aren’t. On the one hand, President Trump seemed to threaten the former FBI director in a tweet Friday morning, writing, “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!” Later on Friday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer repeatedly refused to comment on the tweet and whether or not tapes exist….

The first important fact about recordings is that if they did exist, post-Nixon, an administration would be required to preserve them as a public record, in accordance with the 1978 Presidential Records Act. The recordings would theoretically become subject to Freedom of Information requests five years after a president left office, though that can be staved off to as much as 12 years. The entire recordings wouldn’t necessarily become available, because there are carve-outs for personal information about the president’s life, as well as “political” activities. If recordings did exist, it would be a crime to destroy them.

(It’s worth noting, relatedly, that Trump has a long history of secretly recording calls, according to former associates.)

Peter Whoriskey writes that The labels said ‘organic.’ But these massive imports of corn and soybeans weren’t:

A shipment of 36 million pounds of soybeans sailed late last year from Ukraine to Turkey to California. Along the way, it underwent a remarkable transformation.

The cargo began as ordinary soybeans, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post. Like ordinary soybeans, they were fumigated with a pesticide. They were priced like ordinary soybeans, too.

But by the time the 600-foot cargo ship carrying them to Stockton, Calif., arrived in December, the soybeans had been labeled “organic,” according to receipts, invoices and other shipping records. That switch — the addition of the “USDA Organic” designation — boosted their value by approximately $4 million, creating a windfall for at least one company in the supply chain.

Jim Robbins reports that a Rare White Wolf Killed in Yellowstone Park Was Shot Illegally:

             Photo: Courtesy of Yellowstone National Park

A rare white female wolf that hikers found as she lay dying last month on the north side of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming was shot illegally, officials have determined.

The wolf had to be euthanized by park officials because of the severity of her wound.

She was the only white wolf living in the park, though there had been two others before her. She was 12 years old when she was killed, twice the average age of wolves in Yellowstone.

Great Big Story tells of Barn Owls: The Secret Saviors of Napa Valley’s Vineyards:

Barn Owls: The Secret Saviors of Napa Valley’s Vineyards from Great Big Story on Vimeo.

Daily Bread for 5.12.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy, with a high of sixty-nine. Sunrise is 5:33 AM and sunset 8:08 PM, for 14h 34m 38s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 98% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred eighty-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Florence Nightingale, English social reformer and statistician, and the founder of modern nursing, is born this day in 1820. On this day in 1864, the 2nd, 5th, 6th and 7th Wisconsin Infantry regiments fight during the  Spotsylvania Campaign (May 8-21,1864); the 36th Infantry fights at Spotsylvania from May 18-21,1864 (“The fiercest fighting in the Battle of Spotsylvania occurred in pouring rain on May 12, 1864. For 23 hours the two sides fought hand-to-hand along lines known as the Bloody Angle. When the battle ended, the trenches were filled with bodies. Colonel Rufus Dawes of the 6th Wisconsin Infantry left a vivid memoir of this day’s fighting.”)

Recommended for reading in full —

Rick Rommel reports that Retail just keeps getting tougher, as Kohl’s, Macy’s show:

The department store blues continued Thursday, with investors punishing Kohl’s, Macy’s and their competitors amid yet another round of downbeat financial results.

Even with a nearly four-fold increase in first-quarter profit that easily bested Wall Street expectations, Kohl’s stock shares fell 7.8%.

Compared with some, that was a good day. Macy’s stock plunged 17%. The stock of Dillard’s, a 293-store chain based in Little Rock, Ark., dropped 17.5%.

One reason: Ongoing erosion in sales at existing stores, a key measure of retailer health.

Same-store sales fell 2.7% at Kohl’s, 5.2% at Macy’s and 4% at Dillard’s.

It was further evidence of the continuing troubles of mainline department store retailers, which have suffered as discounters and internet giant Amazon thrive.

Rebecca Ruiz reports that the Attorney General Orders Tougher Sentences, Rolling Back Obama Policy:

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors late Thursday to pursue the toughest possible charges and sentences against crime suspects, reversing Obama administration efforts to ease penalties for some nonviolent drug violations.

The dramatic shift in criminal justice policy, foreshadowed during recent weeks, is Mr. Sessions’s first major stamp on the Justice Department, and it telegraphs his priorities to target drug dealing, gun crime and gang violence. The Justice Department released the new directives on Friday.

In an eight-paragraph memo to the nation’s prosecutors, Mr. Sessions returned to the guidance of President George W. Bush’s administration by calling for more uniform punishments — including mandatory minimum sentences — and directing prosecutors to pursue the strictest possible charges. Mr. Sessions’s policy, however, is broader than that of the Bush administration, and will be more reliant on the judgments of United States attorneys and assistant attorneys general.

(No drug warrior like an old drug warrior.)

Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian write that the Acting FBI director contradicts Trump White House on Comey, Russia probe:

Acting FBI director Andrew McCabe on Thursday rejected the Trump White House’s characterization of the Russian meddling probe as a low priority and delivered a passionate defense of former director James B. Comey — putting himself squarely at odds with the president while the bureau’s future hangs in the balance.

McCabe, who had been the No. 2 official in the FBI until President Trump fired Comey this week, said that the bureau considered the probe of possible coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump team during the 2016 election campaign a “highly significant investigation” and that it would not be derailed because of a change in leadership.

“You cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution,” McCabe said.

(One will have to wait – and it may not be a long wait – to see if McCabe keeps his job.)

Michael Schmidt reports that In a Private Dinner, Trump Demanded Loyalty. Comey Demurred:

As they ate, the president and Mr. Comey made small talk about the election and the crowd sizes at Mr. Trump’s rallies. The president then turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him.

Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge. Instead, Mr. Comey has recounted to others, he told Mr. Trump that he would always be honest with him, but that he was not “reliable” in the conventional political sense….

Mr. Comey described details of his refusal to pledge his loyalty to Mr. Trump to several people close to him on the condition that they not discuss it publicly while he was F.B.I. director. But now that Mr. Comey has been fired, they felt free to discuss it on the condition of anonymity.

(Trump’s expectation of loyalty, seen in this account but in others, too, is more like that of a third-world autocrat or mafia boss.)

In Orange County, the sheriff’s department found itself with the task of telling swimmers that there were about fifteen great white sharks nearby. The announcement comes at about 3:50 on the video:

Daily Bread for 5.11.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of sixty-eight. Sunrise is 5:34 AM and sunset 8:07 PM, for 14h 32m 27s of daytime. The moon is full with 99.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred eighty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1888, composer and lyricist Irving Berlin is born. On this day in 1955, the NBA approves the transfer of the Milwaukee Hawks to St. Louis.

Recommended for reading in full —

Jeremy Venook reminds readers that Trump’s Been Talking About His Business Interests in Russia for 30 Years: “Trump’s desire to move on from the Russia investigation, which has plagued his administration in its early days, is understandable. Unfortunately for the president, one big obstacle to doing so will likely be his own words: He has spent decades pursuing—and publicly discussing—business ties in Russia, meaning that his claims to currently have “no connections to” the country strain credulity.

Trump’s references to Russia go back at least as far as his 1987 book The Art of the Deal, in which he wrote that he was in talks with the Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin “about building a large luxury hotel across the street from the Kremlin in partnership with the Soviet government.” He attempted, ultimately unsuccessfully, to seal the deal with a visit to Moscow, during which, according to The Washington Post, Trump “met with a lot of economic and financial advisers in the Politburo,” the Soviet Union’s chief political body….”

Julian Sanchez runs through Some Obvious Thoughts about the Comey Firing: “We are asked to believe that the decision to fire the FBI director — so abruptly he learned about it from a cable news chyron while out of D.C. — was based on a dashed off memo, and a response from the Attorney General, both issued the same day. We are asked to believe that it was motivated by Comey’s breaches of FBI protocol: First, in publicly criticizing Hillary Clinton, rather than letting Attorney General Loretta Lynch announce the decision that the former Secretary would not be indicted, and then in informing Congress that he had (fruitlessly, as it turned out) reopened the investigation into her e-mails. These are breaches both Trump and Sessions praised effusively at the time, with Sessions even declaring that Comey had an “absolute duty” to act as he did. All of them, of course, were well known long before Trump took office and chose to retain Comey.

The most charitable thing one can say about this narrative is that it is not even intended as a serious attempt to advance a genuine rationale. It is an attempt to be cute. Having been directed to concoct a reason to eliminate Comey, the Attorney General ran with a slapdash pastiche of Democrats’ complaints. Anyone who’s been on a long car trip with a sibling knows this gag: “Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!” The only people even pretending to take this explanation seriously are those paid for the indignity.”

Meg Jones writes that a Critically ill bonobo needed life-saving care from Children’s Hospital staff: “When [respiratory therapist Khris] O’Brien arrived at the zoo last November she learned Noelle, a 3-year-old bonobo was listless and appeared blue, which meant she was not getting enough oxygen. While it may seem odd to call Children’s Hospital staff to help with an ill primate, it actually made a lot of sense.

Because bonobos are very similar to humans, and treating a sick 3-year-old bonobo is not much different from treating a sick 3-year-old child. They’re just hairier.

“I have treated children for 35 years so it wasn’t that big of a stretch,” said O’Brien, respiratory clinical program coordinator at Children’s. “Honestly, when I saw this poor, sick, basically, child lying on the gurney, I went into ‘I’ve got to help her’ mode. That was my only thought.”

Bonobos share close to 98% of their genomes with humans. They’re extremely sensitive to human illnesses such as whooping cough, chicken pox, colds and influenza, which is why the zoo’s troop of 23 bonobos get flu shots every year. In fact, they get the exact same flu shot as humans.”

Lee Bergquist reports that Disease takes ‘catastrophic’ toll on Wisconsin bats: “White-nose syndrome was first discovered at a single site in Grant County in southwestern Wisconsin in 2014 and has now spread to 14 counties, according to the DNR.

Wisconsin has one of the largest hibernating bat populations in the Midwest. Two years ago, DNR officials estimated the population at 350,000 to 500,000 bats. In the spring, many migrate to neighboring states.

The disease has major repercussions for agriculture because bats pollinate, disperse seeds and consume massive volumes of insects.

According to the DNR, researchers have estimated that Wisconsin farmers save $600 million to $1.5 billion on pesticides annually because of bats.”

Now one can explore the ocean in this personal submarine:

Daily Bread for 5.10.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of seventy-three. Sunrise is 5:36 AM and sunset 8:06 PM, for 14h 30m 16s of daytime. The moon is full today, with 99.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred eighty-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1933, Nazi-inspired students and others in Berlin burned 25,000 supposedly ‘un-German’ books (with other book burings take place thereafter). On this day in 1865, the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry was sent to search for Confederate President Jefferson Davis. Along with a Michigan unit, they captured the Confederate president in Irwinville, Georgia.

Recommended for reading (or re-reading) in full —

Jennifer Rubin asks key questions around The one thing we know for sure about Comey’s firing:

“If Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation, how and why did he make the recommendation to fire Comey?

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein laid out a convincing case as to why Comey acted improperly and unfairly to Clinton last July. However, Trump thought Comey should have prosecuted her, so why would Trump now object that Comey had been unfair to his nemesis?

How is Trump to select the person who will be investigating whether his campaign colluded with Russia during the campaign without invalidating the entire process?

When was the decision to fire Comey made: before or after this week’s testimony?

Will Comey be able to preserve evidence he collected so as to defuse suspicion this is a giant coverup?

Will Comey testify about the status of his investigation as of Tuesday?

….The only thing we can say with any confidence is that this will never be a “normal” presidency without controversy, scandal and a fair amount of mayhem.”

Sarah Kendzior, via sarahkendzior.com and @sarahkendziorfor her work on authoritarianism, both for a general audience (sarahkendzior.com/opinion) and for her academic publications (sarahkendzior.com/scholarly_publications).

Brendan Nyhan, via brendan-nyhan.comdartmouth.edu/~nyhanand @BrendanNyhan, for his work for a general audience (brendan-nyhan.com) and for his academic publications (dartmouth.edu/~nyhan/).

David Frum, How to Build an Autocracy.

Sometimes courage makes the difference, as when a Dog Chases a Large Bear:

Daily Bread for 5.9.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of fifty-eight. Sunrise is 5:37 AM and sunset 8:05 PM, for 14h 28m 02s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 98% of its visible disk illuminated.. Today is the one hundred eighty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1950, the first sporting event is held at the Milwaukee Arena: “Rocky Graziano scored a fourth-round TKO over Vinnie Cidone in a middleweight fight that drew 12,813 fans. The new Milwaukee Arena actually opened on April 9, 1950, but with a civic celebration rather than a sports event.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Yamiche Alcindor and Charlie Savage write that Trump Walks Back Threat to Defund Black Colleges: “WASHINGTON — When President Trump signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill on Friday, he zeroed in on a tiny sliver of it, suggesting that he might disregard $20 million in funding for loan subsidies and other aid to historically black universities. Two nights later, after a storm of criticism, the White House walked back the threat in a statement that declared the president’s “unwavering support” for such schools. But the two days in between left some African-American educators feeling used, many black politicians enraged and some demanding that Mr. Trump back his “unwavering support” with a show of budgetary support. It also, once again, revealed a White House where one team does not necessarily know what another team is up to.”

(One might as easily say it reveals that Trump likes to threaten minorities.)

Eric Lipton and Jesse Drucker report that the Kushner Family Stands to Gain From Visa Rules in Trump’s First Major Law: “WASHINGTON — It was the first major piece of legislation that President Trump signed into law, and buried on Page 734 was one sentence that brought a potential benefit to the president’s extended family: renewal of a program offering permanent residence in the United States to affluent foreigners investing money in real estate projects here. Just hours after the appropriations measure was signed on Friday, the company run until January by Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser, Jared Kushner, was urging wealthy Chinese in Beijing to consider investing $500,000 each in a pair of Jersey City luxury apartment towers the family-owned Kushner Companies plans to build. Mr. Kushner was even cited at a marketing presentation by his sister Nicole Meyer, who was on her way to China even before the bill was signed. The project “means a lot to me and my entire family,” she told the prospective investors.”

Peter Elkind reports that Comey’s Testimony on Huma Abedin Forwarding Emails Was Inaccurate: “Perhaps Comey’s most surprising revelation was that Huma Abedin — Weiner’s wife and a top Clinton deputy — had made “a regular practice” of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of Clinton messages to her husband, “some of which contain classified information.” Comey testified that Abedin had done this so that the disgraced former congressman could print them out for her boss. (Weiner’s laptop was seized after he came under criminal investigation for sex crimes, following a media report about his online relationship with a teenager.)….The problem: Much of what Comey said about this was inaccurate. Now the FBI is trying to figure out what to do about it. FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found. On Monday, the FBI was said to be preparing to correct the record by sending a letter to Congress later this week. But that plan now appears on hold, with the bureau undecided about what to do.”

Greg Bluestein reports on A U.S. House record: Georgia’s 6th race costs $30M and counting: “There are so many ads in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District race that they are creating the news. Literally. The tidal wave of spending led a local television broadcaster, WXIA, to temporarily add a 7 p.m. newscast on its sister station. Fans of “The Andy Griffith Show” repeats will have to look elsewhere for the next few weeks. It’s only the latest way the barrage of outside cash and national attention has transformed the race to represent the suburban Atlanta district. Once thought to be a sleepy special election, it is now poised to be the most expensive U.S. House contest in the nation’s history.”

A mountain biker in Slovakia recently had an especially memorable ride after a bear showed up:

Daily Bread for 5.8.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of sixty-two. Sunrise is 5:38 AM and sunset 8:04 PM, for 14h 25m 46s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 95.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred eighty-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Planning Commission meets at 6:30 PM.

Harry S. Truman is born on this day in 1884. On this day in 1864, the 1st, 15th, 21st, 22nd, 24th and 26th Wisconsin Infantry regiments along with the 1st Wisconsin Cavalry take part in Battle of Rocky Face Ridge, Georgia.

Recommended for reading in full —

Cynthia Littleton reports that Sinclair Sets $3.9 Billion Deal to Acquire Tribune Media: “For Sinclair, the expansion with Tribune will increase its market clout in TV but it will also extend its geographic footprint in a way that is vital to the company’s vision of using the broadcast TV bandwidth of its stations to provide data services and interactivity on a scale designed to compete with wireless and digital media heavyweights. Sinclair chairman David Smith, son of company founder Julian Sinclair Smith, is known for his engineering acumen. He’s long had a vision of revamping the technical architecture of broadcast TV to make local stations more competitive. “Television broadcasting is even more relevant today, especially when it comes to serving our local communities,” Smith said. “Tribune’s stations allow Sinclair to strengthen our commitment to serving local communities and to advance the Next Generation Broadcast Platform.  This acquisition will be a turning point for Sinclair, allowing us to better serve our viewers and advertisers while creating value for our shareholders.”

Carolyn Y. Johnson reports that Free-standing ERs offer care without the wait. But patients can still pay $6,800 to treat a cut: “Across 32 states, more than 400 free-standing ERs provide quick and easy access to care. But they also are prompting complaints from a growing number of people who feel burned by ­hospital-size bills, like $6,856 for a cut that didn’t require a stitch or $4,025 for an antibiotic for a sinus infection. Emergency care requires costly imaging and laboratory equipment and facilities that are open 24 hours a day and staffed round the clock by a physician — and the costs reflect that. Prices for an average free-standing ER visit have grown and are now similar to hospital ERs, but patients with the same diagnosis rack up bills 10 times higher than at an urgent care, according to an analysis of one insurer’s Texas data by Rice University economist Vivian Ho. She found use of the facilities in Texas more than tripled between 2012 and 2015.”

Matt Apuzzo and Emmarie Huetteman report that today a Hearing May Shed Light on What White House Knew About Flynn: “WASHINGTON — Sally Q. Yates, the former acting attorney general, is scheduled to testify at 2:30 p.m. Monday before a Senate subcommittee. Here’s what to watch for:

Her testimony could raise new questions about how President Trump responded to concerns that his first national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had lied.

Mr. Trump pre-empted the hearing with Twitter posts suggesting that Ms. Yates leaked information to reporters and that the Obama administration was to blame for the troubles surrounding Mr. Flynn.

Ms. Yates can tell a dramatic story — a rarity in congressional hearings — of a brewing crisis in the early days of the Trump administration.

Democrats who hope Ms. Yates will reveal new information about the investigation into Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia are likely to be disappointed.

James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, is also testifying and is likely to be asked whether he stands by his prior statements on wiretapping.”

Krishnadev Calamur explains What Macron’s Victory in France Means for the European Union: “Three elections across Europe in the past week have given the European Union reasons for joy, optimism, schadenfreude—and also plenty of cause for worry. The joy came from Emmanuel Macron’s victory in Sunday’s second round presidential election in France. Although the independent centrist’s win was never really in doubt, the margin of victory—65 percent versus 35 percent for Marine Le Pen, the candidate of the far right—will buoy an EU that has been buffeted by waves of populism since the 2008 economic crisis, culminating last summer with Brexit, the U.K.’s stunning decision to leave the bloc. The EU establishment had all but publicly endorsed Macron over his rival, who had vowed a Brexit-style referendum should she win; nor did a hack late Friday of documents purportedly from Macron’s campaign—some genuine, others not—derail his campaign….”

Great Big Story looks at Spying on Wildlife With Animal Robots:

Spying on Wildlife With Animal Robots from Great Big Story on Vimeo.

How do you record the most intimate moments in the animal kingdom? If you’re a clever English bloke, you build lookalike “spy creatures.” Filmmaker John Downer has spent much of his life capturing footage of wildlife, but it wasn’t until he and his team created robotic animals with built-in spy cameras that he was able to record rare footage of animal behavior in the wild, essentially from the perspective of the animal. Step inside his workshop to see how his mechanical menagerie spies on nature’s actors.

Daily Bread for 5.7.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of sixty. Sunrise is 5:39 AM and sunset 8:03 PM, for 14h 23m 28s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 89% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred eightieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1864, the Battle of the Wilderness ends: “the fighting on May 5-7, 1864, produced nearly 30,000 casualties without giving either side a clear victory. The 2nd, 5th, 6th and 7th Wisconsin Infantry regiments fought at the Battle of the Wilderness.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Adam Ozimek, in Sorry Nerds, But Colonizing Other Planets Is Not A Good Plan, contends that whatever benefits of colonizing  other planets, it will always be cheaper to maintain this one properly: “In November, Stephen Hawking warned that humans needed to colonize another planet within 1,000 years. Now, six months later, he’s saying we have to do it within 100 years in order to avoid extinction. There’s a problem with this plan: under almost no circumstances is colonizing another planet the best way to adapt to a problem on earth….We also worry about the level of carbon dioxide we humans are creating. But there’s nothing we could do to earth’s atmosphere to make it as bad as Mars, which is both extremely thin and also 96% carbon dioxide. Not to mention a significantly lower level of gravity. Whatever we’d have to do on Mars to make the atmosphere habitable would be more easily done on a very very ruined earth. Even if an asteroid were to strike earth it would very likely remain more habitable than Mars. For example, consider the asteroid that struck the earth 66 million years ago creating the Chicxulub crater and wiping out 75% of plant and animal species on earth, including the dinosaurs. Well that disaster still left 25% of species that survived, all of whom would die instantly on the surface of Mars.”

Jack Ewing reports Inside VW’s Campaign of Trickery: “Media reports on the scandal have usually focused on Volkswagen’s original sin: the company’s decision in 2006 to equip its diesels with illegal software. But the most costly aspect of the wrongdoing for Volkswagen may have been the cover-up that the company orchestrated after regulators first became suspicious. The following reconstruction, based on interviews with dozens of participants and a review of internal Volkswagen documents and communications, shows that the cover-up spanned years and lasted until days before the company’s lies were exposed. Volkswagen employees manipulated not only the engine software, but also generated reams of false or misleading data to hide the fact that millions of vehicles had been purposely engineered to deceive regulators and spew deadly gases into the air.”

Dan Bice reports that Hacked records show Bradley Foundation taking its conservative Wisconsin model national: ” The records make clear the Bradley Foundation no longer simply favors groups promoting its signature issues: taxpayer-funded school choice and increased work requirements for welfare recipients. It now regularly funds nonprofits that are, among other things, hostile to labor unions, skeptical of climate change or critical of the loosening of sexual mores in American culture. More important, the foundation has found success by changing its fundamental approach to putting policies into reality. The Bradley Foundation is paying less attention to Washington, D.C. Instead, it is methodically building a coalition of outside groups aimed at influencing officials in statehouses from Pennsylvania to Arizona.”

Aria Bendix observes that In France, the Predictable [Release of Hacked Emails] Has Finally Happened: “The parallels to the 2016 U.S. election are striking: Both occurred days before an election. Both were carried out by hacking the personal and professional email accounts of campaign staffers. And both were directed at more establishment-friendly candidates—not their conservative opponents. While the perpetrators of the Macron hack haven’t been identified, numerous intelligence agencies have expressed confidence that Russia was behind the hacking of Clinton’s emails during the 2016 U.S. election. Russia is also said to have targeted the French electoral process, as well as elections in other counties where the leading candidates have been critical of Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. Russia denies any such actions. But U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Putin ordered interference in the U.S. election to favor one candidate—though it said there was no evidence to suggest the interference was successful. Arguably the most important insight from the intelligence report was summed up in a single sentence by The New York Times: “This will happen again.” After witnessing the efficacy of its cyberattack on the U.S., the report said, Russia was preparing for future hacks on U.S. allies…”

Saturday Night Live cold open last night teases about the announcement that MSNBC co-hosts Joe Scarborough & Mika Brzezinski are a couple (and, in fact, engaged):

The point of their MSNBC show, of course, is that Scarborough and Brzezinski represent ideologically different (and presumably unconflicted) points of view. Whether that will continue one cannot say.

In my own case, I’m happily married, but even if it were otherwise, I could yet confidently declare that I hold no romantic feelings for any officials of Whitewater’s municipal building (nor they for me).

Daily Bread for 5.6.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of fifty-nine. Sunrise is 5:40 AM and sunset 8:01 PM, for 14h 21m 08s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 93% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred seventy-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1937, the German airship Hindenburg catches fires and is destroyed while  attempting to dock in Lakehurst, New Jersey. On this day in 1915, actor and filmmaker Orson Welles is born in Kenosha.

Recommended for reading in full —

David Frum explains How the Obamacare Repeal Could Cost Republicans the House (and, of all things, make single-payer more likely):

Eliot A. Cohen contends that Rex Tillerson Doesn’t Understand America: “Tillerson’s idea that in foreign policy American interests and American values are two separate things, the first mandatory, the second optional, reflects a misunderstanding of our past (not uncommon in this administration) and of the essence of our national character. The United States is surely the Manhattan skyline, the Kansas plains, the redwood forests, the Mississippi river. But it is, far more importantly, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Gettysburg Address. You could cut down the forest or dry up the river and the country would be infinitely the poorer for it, but it would still be the United States of America. If Americans jettison the Bill of Rights and the ideas enshrined in it, they become a different country altogether..”

David Uberti reports that Gannett newspapers are hiding an important local story: “The big news? More reductions in the ranks of journalists at some of the titles owned by the Virginia-based media conglomerate. The scope? Gannett executives refuse to say. Newsroom cuts have long been a fixture among publicly traded newspaper companies, particularly Gannett, which announced in October 2016 that it would trim 2 percent of its total workforce—equivalent to more than 300 employees. But the corporation has foregone such transparency with its latest round of cutbacks, which come a week after a quarterly earnings report in which publishing revenues fell more than 10 percent compared to the same period last year, excluding acquisitions.”

Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Peter Holley, Lindsey Bever and Wesley Lowery report that Texas police officer who killed black teen could spend rest of his life in prison: “Roy Durwood Oliver, a patrol officer in the Dallas suburb of Balch Springs since July 2011, was released on $300,000 bail. While dispatched on complaints about drunk teenagers at a party last weekend, Oliver fired his rifle at a car full of teenagers who were leaving, according to investigators, killing Jordan Edwards….“After reviewing the findings I have made the decision to terminate Roy Oliver’s employment with the Balch Springs Police Department,” Police Chief Jonathan Haber told reporters Tuesday evening. “My department will continue to be responsive, transparent and accountable.”

Ruta Grasyt observes that Neil deGrasse Tyson Tries To Make Fun Of Cats On Twitter, Gets Totally Destroyed By One: “Recently, American astrophysicist, author, and science communicator, Neil deGrasse Tyson just wanted to be funny on Twitter, but things turned the other direction… More specifically, right in his face! Tyson’s supposed-to-be-funny tweet read: “Evidence that Humans are smarter than Cats: We don’t chase Laser dots on the carpet. We’re not afraid of Vacuum Cleaners.” Everything would’ve been all right, but then a cat named Bitches responded to Tyson’s tweet and, we must say, he totally destroyed him! Keep on scrolling to see what Bitches wrote….”

(Bitches the Cat and I follow each other on Twitter, and anyone familiar Bitches could have easily predicted the outcome here: she occupies a deservedly lofty place in the Twitterverse, and was sure to win this exchange.)