Daily Bread for 11.2.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of fifty. Sunrise is 7:31 AM and sunset 5:45 PM, for 10h 13m 22s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 96.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fifty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission is scheduled to meet at 6 PM, and her Fire Department to have a board meeting at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1947, Howard Hughes’s Hughes H-4 Hercules (‘Spruce Goose’) makes its only flight:

The Hughes H-4 Hercules (also known as the Spruce Goose registration NX37602) is a prototype strategic airliftflying boat designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft Company. Intended as a transatlantic flight transport for use during World War II, it was not completed in time to be used in the war. The aircraft made only one brief flight on November 2, 1947, and the project never advanced beyond the single example produced. Built from wood because of wartime restrictions on the use of aluminum and concerns about weight, it was nicknamed by critics the Spruce Goose, although it was made almost entirely of birch.[2][3] The Hercules is the largest flying boat ever built, and it has the largest wingspan of any aircraft that has ever flown.[4][N 1] It remains in good condition and is on display at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, United States.[5]

Recommended for reading in full —

Daily Bread for 11.1.17

Good morning.

A new month begins for Whitewater with afternoon showers and a high of forty-five. Sunrise is 7:30 AM and sunset 5:46 PM, for 10h 15m 55s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 91% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fifty-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1765, Parliament passes the Stamp Act of 1765 (Duties in American Colonies Act 1765; 5 George III, c. 12). On this day in 1863, George Safford Parker is born: ” George Safford Parker was born in Shullsburg. While studying telegraphy in Janesville, he developed an interest in fountain pens. In 1891 he organized the Parker Pen Company in Janesville. The company gained world-wide acclaim for innovations like the duo-fold pen and pencil. Parker served as president of the company until 1933. Parker died on July 19, 1937. [Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin Biography, p.280]”

Recommended for reading in full — 

David Graham writes John Kelly Is a Trumpist After All (“The White House chief of staff’s stylistic differences have obscured the extent to which he, like many Republicans, is aligned with the president on substance”):

….The most striking example of Kelly’s Trumpian views, however, is his commentary from Monday night on Fox News.

“I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man,” Kelly said. “He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days.  Now it’s different today. But the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War, and men and women of good faith on both sides made their stand where their conscience had them make their stand.”

As my colleague Ta-Nehisi Coates explains in detail, this is an atrociously bad analysis of the causes of the war, but it is closely aligned with Trump’s own, bad historical sense. It is not surprising that Kelly and Trump might find common ground on issues like border security, but it is remarkable for Kelly to stick his neck out on the Civil War question, applauding the military chief of a treasonous rebellion and giving aid and comfort to neo-Confederates…..

(This is true of all those around Trump: they are in meaningful measure what he is.)

Ta-Nehisi Coates accurately describes What This Cruel War Was Over (“The meaning of the Confederate flag is best discerned in the words of those who bore it”):

This examination should begin in South Carolina, the site of our present and past catastrophe. South Carolina was the first state to secede, two months after the election of Abraham Lincoln. It was in South Carolina that the Civil War began, when the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter. The state’s casus belli was neither vague nor hard to comprehend:

…A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction. This sectional combination for the submersion of the Constitution, has been aided in some of the States by elevating to citizenship, persons who, by the supreme law of the land, are incapable of becoming citizens; and their votes have been used to inaugurate a new policy, hostile to the South, and destructive of its beliefs and safety.

In citing slavery, South Carolina was less an outlier than a leader, setting the tone for other states, including Mississippi:

Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin…

(Coates cites additional examples in his essay, and elsewhere. There is no honor in those who committed violent treason in defense of slavery. None.)

Katelyn Polantz reports Manafort has 3 passports, traveled to China with phone registered under fake name:

Among the highlights:
* Manafort currently has three US passports, each under a different number. He has submitted 10 passport applications in roughly as many years, prosecutors said.
* This year, Manafort traveled to Mexico, China and Ecuador with a phone and email account registered under a fake name. (The name was not disclosed in the filings.)
* Over the past year, Manafort traveled to Dubai, Cancun, Panama City, Havana, Shanghai, Madrid, Tokyo and Grand Cayman Island.
* Both Manafort and Gates were frequent travelers to Cyprus. “Extensive travel of this nature further evidences a risk of flight,” the prosecutor’s filing said.
* Manafort wrote on loan applications and other financial documents that his assets were worth between $19 million in April 2012 and $136 million in May 2016.
* In some months, like while he served as Trump’s national campaign chairman in August 2016, Manafort’s assessment of his total worth fluctuated. In August 2016 he said his assets were worth $28 million, then wrote he had $63 million in assets on a different application.
* Gates “frequently changed banks and opened and closed bank accounts,” prosecutors said. In all, Gates opened 55 accounts with 13 financial institutions, the prosecutors’ court filing said. Some of his bank accounts were in England and Cyprus, where he held more than $10 million from 2010 to 2013.

(And yet, Trump promised to hire only the ‘best people.’ His definition of best differs from that of every other English speaker on the planet.)

Jason Schwartz reports Murdoch-owned outlets bash Mueller, seemingly in unison:

After having generally avoided Trump’s efforts to de-legitimize democratic institutions, the Journal last week wrote an editorial calling for special counsel Robert Mueller to resign and featured a contributor op-ed Sunday afternoon that said Trump should issue a blanket pardon in the Russian scandal, including of himself.

The Journal has also called for an investigation into Democratic Party collusion with Russia, a conservative talking point in the wake of a Washington Post report that Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid for some of the opposition research that led to the infamous “dossier” of anti-Trump information – but which made no suggestion of any collusion with Russia.

The points made in the pieces in the Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch, not only tracked with White House talking points but were similar to those being hawked on other Murdoch properties, including the New York Post and Fox News. On October 28, the Post also ran an op-ed calling for Mueller’s resignation, while Fox News personalities have beat a steady drum calling for attention to shift away from any investigation of Trump and toward Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.

Reaction to the Journal pieces on Twitter was mostly unkind:

“WSJ edit page has gone full bats–t, now hosting an op-ed suggesting Trump pardon everyone, including himself,” tweeted Columbia Journalism School professor and former high-ranking Wall Street Journal editor Bill Grueskin.

“This is embarrassing for every good reporter at that paper,” New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones tweeted of the Journal editorial board’s call for Mueller to resign and Democrats to be investigated.

(It’s not unkind to call Murdoch’s foul approach what it is.)

So, Why are Buffalo Wings Called That?

Daily Bread for 10.31.17

Good morning.

Halloween in Whitewater will be increasingly sunny as the day progresses with a high of forty-two. Sunrise is 7:29 AM and sunset 5:47 PM, for 10h 18m 28s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 83.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fifty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1941, although not yet at war with the United States, a German U-boat sinks the USS Reuben James: “At daybreak on 31 October, she was torpedoed near Iceland[2] by U-552 commanded by Kapitänleutnant Erich ToppReuben James had positioned herself between an ammunition ship in the convoy and the known position of a German “wolfpack“, a group of submarines poised to attack the convoy. Reuben James was hit forward by a torpedo meant for a merchant ship and her entire bow was blown off when a magazine exploded. The bow sank immediately. The aft section floated for five minutes before going down. Of a crew of seven officers and 136 enlisted men plus one enlisted passenger, 44 enlisted men and no officers survived.[1][2] “

On this day in 1968, the Milwaukee Bucks win their first game: “the Milwaukee Bucks claimed their first victory, a 134-118 win over the Detroit Pistons in the Milwaukee Arena. The Bucks were 0-5 at the time, and Wayne Embry led Milwaukee with 30 points. Embry became the first player in Bucks history to score 30 or more points in a regular season game.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Susan Hennessey and Benjamin Wittes assess Robert Mueller’s Show of Strength: A Quick and Dirty Analysis:

The first big takeaway from this morning’s flurry of charging and plea documents with respect to Paul Manafort Jr., Richard Gates III, and George Papadopoulos is this: The President of the United States had as his campaign chairman a man who had allegedly served for years as an unregistered foreign agent for a puppet government of Vladimir Putin, a man who was allegedly laundering remarkable sums of money even while running the now-president’s campaign, a man who allegedly lied about all of this to the FBI and the Justice Department.

The second big takeaway is even starker: A member of President Trump’s campaign team now admits that he was working with people he knew to be tied to the Russian government to “arrange a meeting between the Campaign and the Russian government officials” and to obtain “dirt” on Hillary Clinton in the form of thousands of hacked emails—and that he lied about these activities to the FBI. He briefed President Trump on at least some them.

Before we dive any deeper into the Manafort-Gates indictment—charges to which both pled not guilty to today—or the Papadopoulos plea and stipulation, let’s pause a moment over these two remarkable claims, one of which we must still consider as allegation and the other of which we can now consider as admitted fact. President Trump, in short, had on his campaign at least one person, and allegedly two people, who actively worked with adversarial foreign governments in a fashion they sought to criminally conceal from investigators. One of them ran the campaign. The other, meanwhile, was interfacing with people he “understood to have substantial connections to Russian government officials” and with a person introduced to him as “a relative of Russian President Vladimir Putin with connections to senior Russian government officials.” All of this while President Trump was assuring the American people that he and his campaign had “nothing to do with Russia.“….

(Forget Fox News: these are serious matters.)

Tony Romm and Kurt Wagner report Facebook says 126 million people in the U.S. may have seen posts produced by Russian-government backed agents:

Facebook, Google and Twitter plan to tell congressional investigators this week that the scope of Russia’s campaign to spread disinformation on their sites — and to potentially disrupt the 2016 U.S. presidential race — is much broader than the companies initially reported.

At Facebook, roughly 126 million users in the United States may have seen posts, stories or other content created by Russian government-backed trolls around Election Day, according to a source familiar with the company’s forthcoming testimony to Congress. Previously, Facebook had only shared information on ads purchased by Kremlin-tied accounts, revealing that they reached more than 10 million U.S. users….

(The more one learns, the clearer Putin’s reach into America media becomes.)

Anne Applebaum asks Did Russia teach Paul Manafort all its dirty tricks?:

Years from now, historians may study the documents indicting Paul Manafort to understand just how the Russification of American public life was accomplished. Manafort is alleged to have laundered money, to have cheated on taxes and to have lied about his clientele. All of this he did in order to “enjoy a lavish lifestyle in the United States,” according to the indictment. Among other things it is alleged that he spent $1,319,281 of his money, illegally hidden from the U.S. Treasury, to pay a home lighting and entertainment company in Florida; to purchase $934,350 worth of rugs at a shop in Virginia; and to drop $655,500 on a landscaper in the Hamptons.

Some will find it ironic that Manafort did all of this while coaching candidate Donald Trump to run an “anti-elite” election campaign, one directed at “draining the swamp” and cleaning up Washington. But in fact, this is exactly the kind of tactic that Manafort perfected on behalf of Russia, in Ukraine, where he worked for more than a decade.

Manafort was first invited to work in Ukraine in 2004, by the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. But Manafort left a real mark in 2006, when he brought dozens of American political consultants to Ukraine to assist in an ethnically charged election that pit Russian and Ukrainian speakers against one another, in an attempt to help Russia retain influence over the country. In 2008, he helped run an anti-NATO campaign, opposing Ukraine’s membership in the transatlantic alliance. In 2010, he was one of several advisers — the others were mostly Russians — who helped remake the image of Viktor Yanukovych, the ex-con whom the Russian government then supported for president of Ukraine. Yanukovych charged the sitting government with corruption, declared that the election would be “rigged” and finally won….

(Posterity will be rightly harsh, and view these Trump men as opponents of America’s democratic tradition.)

Greg Sargent describes The Trump authoritarian cult:

The Glorious Republican Civil War of 2017 isn’t really a battle over policy or ideology. It isn’t even quite the clash of grand agendas we constantly read about — the supposed showdown between populist economic nationalism on one side, and limited government conservatism, free trade and internationalism on the other.

Instead, the GOP civil war is really a battle over whether Republican lawmakers should — or should not — genuflect before President Trump. The battle is over whether they should — or should not — applaud his racism, his authoritarianism and his obvious pleasure in dispensing abuse and sowing racial division. It’s also over whether Republicans should submit to Trump’s ongoing insistence that his lack of major accomplishments is fully the fault of Republicans who failed his greatness….

If you’re a Stranger Things fan, 13 details you might have missed in ‘Stranger Things’ season 2:

Daily Bread for 10.30.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of forty-four. Sunrise is 7:27 AM and sunset 5:48 PM, for 10h 21m 02s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 75.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fifty-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On Sunday evening, Orson Welles’s production of War of the Worlds, as the

17th episode of the CBS Radio series The Mercury Theatre on the Air, broadcast at 8 pm ET on Sunday, October 30, 1938.[2]:390, 394 The program’s format was a simulated live newscast of developing events. The setting was switched from 19th-century England to contemporary Grover’s Mill, an unincorporated village in West Windsor Township, New Jersey, in the United States.

The first two-thirds of the hour-long play is a contemporary retelling of events of the novel, presented as news bulletins interrupting another program. “I had conceived the idea of doing a radio broadcast in such a manner that a crisis would actually seem to be happening,” Welles later said, “and would be broadcast in such a dramatized form as to appear to be a real event taking place at that time, rather than a mere radio play.[5]

On this day in 1914, the first 4-H club in Wisconsin is organized: “the Linn Junior Farmers Club in Walworth County was organized. This club was started five months after Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act which created the Cooperative Extension Service whereby federal, state, and county governments participate in the county agent system. [Source: History Just Ahead: A Guide to Wisconsin’s Historical Markers].”

Recommended for reading in full —

Trump supporters are hyping the Uranium One deal, but their contentions are easily refuted:

John Harwood debunks Trump’s claim that economic growth now is the best in the last eight years:

(Trump lies in the hope that his low-information voters won’t later learn the truth.)

Craig Silverman, Jane Lytvynenko, Lam Thuy Vo, and Jeremy Singer-Vine report Inside The Partisan Fight For Your News Feed:

The most comprehensive study to date of the growing universe of partisan websites and Facebook pages about US politics reveals that in 2016 alone at least 187 new websites launched, and that the candidacy and election of Donald Trump has unleashed a golden age of aggressive, divisive political content that reaches a massive amount of people on Facebook.

Thanks to a trinity of the internet, Facebook, and online advertising, partisan news websites and their associated Facebook pages are almost certainly making more money for more people and reaching more Americans than at any time in history. In some cases, publishers are generating hundreds of thousands of dollars a month in revenue, with small operations easily earning five figures thanks to one website and at least one associated Facebook page.

At its root, the analysis of 667 websites and 452 associated Facebook pages reveals the extent to which American online political discourse is powered by a mix of money and outrage.

The result is hundreds of partisan news websites being run not only by dedicated American conservatives and liberals, but also by the now-famous Macedonian teens, by internet marketers, and by others who saw a business opportunity. As an example, BuzzFeed News’ analysis found that a conservative Facebook page being run by a 20-year-old Macedonian frequently outperforms some of the larger conservative pages operated by Americans.

The analysis also found that since Trump’s election, top liberal partisan Facebook pages and top-performing viral content from liberal websites are consistently generating more total engagement than their conservative counterparts….

(Propaganda arms of a  foreign power should be required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, 22 U.S. Code § 611.)

Alex Finley writes The Recruitables: Why Trump’s Team Was Easy Prey for Putin:

From an intelligence point of view, the people surrounding Trump, and Trump himself, make easy targets for recruitment. This is not to say these people have definitely been recruited by Russian intelligence—and they’ve all denied it repeatedly—but you can be sure that Russia’s intelligence services took these factors into consideration when they approached the campaign.

So, what pressure points might Russian intelligence officers have used to get their desired outcome with Trump’s Recruitables?….

Paul Manafort: Money
Anyone who has lobbied on behalf of leaders ranging from Zaire’s Mobutu Sese Seko to the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos to Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang likely has no set ideology or moral compass and is motivated primarily by making money. People like this make very good targets. There is no emotion involved. Getting the person to do something is a fairly straightforward transaction. For example, getting someone to buy real estate to help launder Russian funds, in return for a handsome fee, would be a pretty simple transaction. As soon as the person has done it one time, it is much easier to get them to do something else for you…..

Michael Flynn: Money, Ideology, Ego
Flynn was at the top of his game as director of intelligence at JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command. During his tenure, JSOC became a lean fighting machine, able to execute a hit on a target in a war zone and immediately process any actionable intelligence in order to hit the next target immediately, before the bad guys could move on. He moved up the intelligence ladder and landed the top spot at the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2012. Here, the Peter Principle quickly set in. Castigated for his lack of vision for the agency, his inability to manage a large organization, his unconventional approach to counterterrorism, and his “Flynn facts,” it became evident in Washington circles that Flynn was over his head. President Barack Obama fired him….

Jared Kushner: Money, Coercion
Kushner had a rocky entrée into Manhattan real estate. His purchase of 666 Fifth Ave. at $1.8 billion in 2007—that is, just before the market tanked—was perhaps not the strongest display of business acumen. And now, with payments due and business going badly, he was in a pickle. Perhaps the Russians had a great way for him to get out of that pickle. So they introduced him in December 2016 to Sergey Gorkov, the head of the Russian state investment bank Vnesheconombank, or VEB, who would have made it clear that he was in a position to help….

A short video offers an overview of The Facts on America’s Opioid Epidemic:

Daily Bread for 10.29.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of forty-seven. Sunrise is 7:26 AM and sunset 5:50 PM, for 10h 23m 39s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 65.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fifty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

It’s a Black Tuesday on this day in 1929, on which the United States suffers the worst stock market crash in her history, with the twelve-year Great Depression following. On this day in 1864, the 38th Wisconsin Infantry participates in a reconnaissance mission to Harper’s Run, Virginia.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Susan Hennessey, Benjamin Wittes ponder Seven Frequently Asked Mueller Indictment Questions for Which We Don’t Have the Answers:

Let’s start with what we know about the indictment in the Mueller investigation.

Late last night, CNN broke the bombshell story that Friday afternoon, the first charges in the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation were filed:

A federal grand jury in Washington, DC, on Friday approved the first charges in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources briefed on the matter.

The charges are still sealed under orders from a federal judge. Plans were prepared Friday for anyone charged to be taken into custody as soon as Monday, the sources said. It is unclear what the charges are.

Reuters and the Wall Street Journal confirmed the report shortly thereafter.

In short, someone under investigation in the Mueller investigation appears to have been indicted for something and may be arrested at some point.

End of list.

And while that alone is a genuine bombshell, the much more important point at this stage here is how little we do know and, thus, how few conclusions we can reasonably draw at this point. Below is effort to walk through the many unanswered questions that are kicking around today. Our intention here to emphasize how little we can responsibly say about it and guide people away from getting too far ahead of the story.

Toward that end, here are seven frequently asked questions we don’t know the answer to [list follows]….

(Dine well: Hennessey and Wittes, and their colleagues at Lawfare offer a healthful meal; Trump and his ilk peddle & consume a foul analytical cusine, variously the worst of America or Russia.)

Paul Rosenzweig, also of Lawfare, offers Unpacking Uranium One: Hype and Law:

The latest instance of “what-aboutism” is the House Republican decision to open an investigation of the Uranium One transaction—the allegation that Hillary Clinton transferred control of 20% of America’s uranium mining output to a Russian company, in exchange for substantial contributions to the Clinton Foundation from the executives of that same Russian company. Perhaps fearing future revelations of Trump’s closeness to Russia, the evident purpose of the investigation is to establish a “Hillary too” counterpoint. Based on what is currently in the public record, little, if anything about the allegation is plausible. In this post, I want to summarize the legal context and known facts regarding the transfer and put the allegations of impropriety in context. (I focus exclusively on the transfer and the U.S. government’s approval of it. I am not, in this post, considering the evidence—such as it is—of donations to the Clinton Foundation. My reasoning is simple: if there is no “quo” to be given, the question of a “quid” is moot..)….

(Trumpism uses no rhetorical trick more often than whataboutism, the Soviet and Russian technique of diverting attention to one’s own wrongs by accusing another of misconduct rather than denying or refuting the original charges.)

Sharon LaFraniere and Andrew E. Kramer report Talking Points Brought to Trump Tower Meeting Were Shared With Kremlin:

Natalia V. Veselnitskaya arrived at a meeting at Trump Tower in June 2016 hoping to interest top Trump campaign officials in the contents of a memo she believed contained information damaging to the Democratic Party and, by extension, Hillary Clinton. The material was the fruit of her research as a private lawyer, she has repeatedly said, and any suggestion that she was acting at the Kremlin’s behest that day is anti-Russia “hysteria.”

But interviews and records show that in the months before the meeting, Ms. Veselnitskaya had discussed the allegations with one of Russia’s most powerful officials, the prosecutor general, Yuri Y. Chaika. And the memo she brought with her closely followed a document that Mr. Chaika’s office had given to an American congressman two months earlier, incorporating some paragraphs verbatim.

The coordination between the Trump Tower visitor and the Russian prosecutor general undercuts Ms. Veselnitskaya’s account that she was a purely independent actor when she sat down with Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Paul J. Manafort, then the Trump campaign chairman. It also suggests that emails from an intermediary to the younger Mr. Trump promising that Ms. Veselnitskaya would arrive with information from Russian prosecutors were rooted at least partly in fact — not mere “puffery,” as the president’s son later said….

(A connected lawyer in Putin’s Russia, wishing to remain a connected lawyer in Putin’s Russia, would not have met members of Trump’s family without prior Kremlin support.)

Russia’s had an easy time of polluting Twitter with bots filled with Putin’s lies:

(Nota bene: Putin’s lies become Trump’s talking points, and indeed Trump knows Russian techniques so well they come reflexively to him.)

Consider How Da Vinci ‘Augmented Reality’ — More Than 500 Years Ago:

We may think of Leonardo Da Vinci as an artist, but he was also a scientist. By incorporating anatomy, chemistry, and optics into his artistic process, Da Vinci created an augmented reality experience centuries before the concept even existed. This video details how Da Vinci made the Mona Lisa interactive using innovative painting techniques and the physiology of the human eye.

Daily Bread for 10.28.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of forty-one. Sunrise is 7:25 AM and sunset 5:51 PM, for 10h 26m 16s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 55.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fifty-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1726, the first edition of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels is published as two volumes. On this day in 1892, a fire strikes Milwaukee’s Third Ward: “an exploding oil barrel started a small fire in Milwaukee. It spread rapidly and by morning four people had died, 440 buildings were destroyed, and more than 1,900 people in the Irish neighborhood were left homeless. It was the most disastrous fire in Milwaukee’s history.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Jack Shafer writes Week 23: Mueller Bombs Trump’s Big Week (“The president was thrilled to turn the tables on the Democrats, but news the grand jury had filed charges made the celebration look premature”):

Fortified by news in the Washington Post that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid the oppo-research outfit Fusion GPS to produce the Steele Dossier, President Donald Trump overran his opponents’ positions this week. Splattering them with half-truths and hyperbole, Trump charged that “the whole Russian thing” was a “hoax” and an excuse for Democrats unwilling to accept that they lost the election. Then he rolled in a grenade, calling the dossier “fake.” Finally, he sparked his flamethrower to life and hosed his political foes with rhetorical fire by invoking the uranium deal in none-dare-call-it-conspiracy style, describing Uranium One’s sale to a Russian company during the Obama era as the equal of Watergate.

At least that’s how it looked in Trump’s version of the war movie until late Friday, when it turned out that the president was rushing to take the wrong hill. First, the conservative Washington Free Beacon website—funded by a billionaire from the never-Trump movement—’fessed to having paid for Fusion GPS’s original anti-Trump work before the Clinton Democrats took over the payments. Then CNN reported that special prosecutor Robert S. Mueller III had fired a bunker buster, bringing his first indictment in the probe. The identity of the person charged is under seal still, CNN reported, and will remain so until the person is arrested, possibly as soon as Monday. Will it be Paul Manafort, whom prosecutors reportedly all but promised to indict? It will be a long weekend of rampant speculation until the scoop is confirmed.

(Be not distracted: Fox, Breitbart, Sinclair, etc. will say anything, however absurd the accusations, to distract from the methodical and lawful investigation Mueller leads. Obsessive, ignorant Fox viewers feast on lies, diversionary accusations, and contempt for – so to speak – the regular order of American political and legal tradition. Centuries of that evolving regular order are more powerful than their many lies.)

Josh Gerstein reports Manafort realtor called to testify before grand jury in Russia probe (“The realtor, who helped Manafort buy the Alexandria apartment recently raided by the FBI, was called last week by prosecutors working under special counsel Robert Mueller”):

The realtor who helped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort buy the Virginia condo that was recently raided by the FBI testified last week before the federal grand jury hearing testimony in Robert Mueller’s Russia probe, POLITICO has learned.

The real estate agent, Wayne Holland of Alexandria, Virginia-based McEnearney Associates, appeared before the Washington-based grand jury after a federal judge rejected the firm’s lawyer’s bid to quash subpoenas for testimony and records about various real estate transactions.

The broker’s appearance before the grand jury is one of few concrete indications of the leads Mueller’s prosecutors are pursuing as they investigate Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election. The investigation encompasses lobbying work done by Manafort as well as possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials….

(Manafort, Flynn, Kushner, Trump, Putin: those are the real subjects of concern. Hillary Clintion colluding with Russia? Uranium One? No, those are distrations for deplorables, diversions for the dim-witted.)

Stephanie Kirchgaessner reports Cambridge Analytica used data from Facebook and Politico to help Trump (“Speech by company executive contradicts denial by Trump campaign that claimed the company used its own data and Facebook data to help the campaign”):

….This week, the group became the focus of a new controversy after the Daily Beast reported that the company’s chief executive, Alexander Nix, had contacted Julian Assange last year. Nix allegedly asked the WikiLeaks founder whether he could assist in releasing thousands of emails that had gone missing on a private server that had been used by Hillary Clinton. Assange confirmed the contact but said the offer was rejected.

The news prompted a top former campaign official, Michael Glassner, who was executive director of the Trump election campaign, to minimise the role Cambridge Analytica played in electing Trump, despite the fact that it paid Cambridge Analytica millions of dollars in fees.

In a statement on Wednesday, Glassner said that the Trump campaign relied on voter data owned by the Republican National Committee to help elect the president.

“Any claims that voter data from any other source played a key role in the victory are false,” he said.

But that claim is contradicted by a detailed description of the company’s role in the 2016 election given in May by a senior Cambridge Analytica executive.

Speaking at a conference in Germany, Molly Schweickert, the head of digital at Cambridge Analytica, said that Cambridge Analytica models, which melded the company’s own massive database and new voter surveys, were instrumental in day-to-day campaign decisions, including in helping determine Trump’s travel schedule.

The company’s models also helped drive decisions on advertising and how to reach out to financial donors.

Schweickert said Cambridge Analytica started working with the Trump campaign in June 2016….

(Of course Cambridge Analytica helped Trump. Bannon, Kushner, the Mercers: they were all leaderrs or key funders, for goodness’ sake.)

Rebecca Ballhaus reports Trump Donor Asked Data Firm If It Could Better Organize Hacked Emails (“August 2016 exchange between Rebekah Mercer and Cambridge Analytica’s CEO shows efforts to leverage Clinton-related messages”):

Trump donor Rebekah Mercer in August 2016 asked the chief executive of a data-analytics firm working for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign whether the company could better organize the Hillary Clinton-related emails being released by WikiLeaks, according to a person familiar with their email exchange.

The previously undisclosed details from the exchange between Ms. Mercer and Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix show how an influential Trump supporter was looking to leverage the hacked Clinton-related messages to boost Mr. Trump’s campaign.

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr. Nix emailed Ms. Mercer and some company employees that he had reached out to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to offer help organizing the Clinton-related emails the website was releasing. The new details shed light on the timing of Mr. Nix’s outreach to Mr. Assange, which came before his company began working for the Trump campaign….

(Cambridge Analytica even sought Russian catspaw Julian Assange’s help on behalf of Trump.)

Great Big Story tells of The Last of the French Cowboys:

Since the 1500s, the residents of Camargue, France, have been caring for and tending to the rare, all-white horses local to the area. The horses come from a long and storied legacy, thought to date back to prehistoric times. Marie Pagès, one of the Guardians of the Camargue, has been nurturing her horses for the past 28 years. Sadly, as the population of Camargue horses diminishes, so goes with it the tradition of the horsemen. Still, Marie hopes that the passion that she and her fellow cowboys share for their stewardship will keep their legacy alive.

Daily Bread for 10.27.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of forty-two. Sunrise is 7:24 AM and sunset 5:53 PM, for 10h 28m 54s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 46.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fifty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1787, the first of The Federalist Papers is published:

….The Federalist articles appeared in three New York newspapers: The Independent Journal, the New-York Packet, and the Daily Advertiser, beginning on October 27, 1787. Although written and published with haste, The Federalist articles were widely read and greatly influenced the shape of American political institutions.[13]Between them, Hamilton, Madison and Jay kept up a rapid pace, with at times three or four new essays by Publius appearing in the papers in a week. Garry Wills observes that the pace of production “overwhelmed” any possible response: “Who, given ample time could have answered such a battery of arguments? And no time was given.”[14] Hamilton also encouraged the reprinting of the essay in newspapers outside New York state, and indeed they were published in several other states where the ratification debate was taking place. However, they were only irregularly published outside New York, and in other parts of the country they were often overshadowed by local writers.[15]….

It’s worth noting – today, tomorrow, forever – that from America’s earliest days on this continent, we have had a robust tradition of anonymous and pseudonymous speech. One does not embrace this tradition in the belief that one is anything like the great men who centuries ago embodied this tradition – one embraces it imperfectly and humbly as homage to the far greater men and women than oneself who have come before, and in the confident hope that far greater men and women than oneself are yet to come. 

On this day in 1864, Wisconsinite William Cushing serves the Union well and ably:

On this date William Cushing led an expedition to sink the Confederate ram, the Albermarle, which had imposed a blockade near Plymouth, North Carolina and had been sinking Union ships. Cushing’s plan was extremely dangerous and only he and one other soldier escaped drowning or capture. Cushing pulled very close to the Confederate ironclad and exploded a torpedo under it while under heavy fire. Cushing’s crew abandonded ship as it began to sink. The Albemarle also sunk. Cushing received a “letter of thanks” from Congress and was promoted to Lieutenant Commander. He died in 1874 due to ill health and is buried in the Naval Cemetery at Annapolis, Maryland.

Recommended for reading in full —

The National (a Canadian publication) has a short documentary on The Magnitsky Act: How Canada set out to punish Russia’s human rights abusers:

The death of tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in Russian prison inspired legislation in Canada and the United States to punish foreign officials responsible for gross human rights violations.

Erik Wemple observes The Hill’s flimsy Russia-uranium story lands with maximum effect:

None of this was news. The Wall Street Journal, for instance, did extensive stories about the investigation into Mikerin. So the Hill performed an elaborate and creative repackaging exercise — marshaling already-known information into a newsy-sounding headline: “FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow.” It worked, at least as far as Fox News was concerned. The leading cable-news network lent a great deal of programming to the Hill piece, all rigged to engineer further suspicion of Clinton. In an interview with Hill Editor in Chief Bob Cusack last Thursday, Fox News host Jon Scott said, “Obviously your outlet has done some digging but it seems like a huge story that ought to be blared from the mountaintops and it has not gotten a lot of attention.”

Maybe that’s because mainstream outlets have smoked out the preposterous conspiracy-mongering in the Hill’s story. Over a few paragraphs, the story managed to suggest that the Justice Department, which successfully prosecuted Mikerin for his crimes, somehow sought to play down its achievements on this front — perhaps to suppress the news and prevent Clinton from suffering embarrassment over the Uranium One transaction (and it appears she was not personally involved). Here is the astonishing passage from the Solomon-Spann story:

Bringing down a major Russian nuclear corruption scheme that had both compromised a sensitive uranium transportation asset inside the U.S. and facilitated international money laundering would seem a major feather in any law enforcement agency’s cap.

But the Justice Department and FBI took little credit in 2014 when Mikerin, the Russian financier and the trucking firm executives were arrested and charged.

The only public statement occurred a year later when the Justice Department put out a little-noticed press release in August 2015, just days before Labor Day. The release noted that the various defendants had reached plea deals.

Oh really! Pause for a second and ponder the illogic in the text here. The Hill is writing that the issuance of a press release counts as evidence that the Justice Department was taking “little credit” for its work. Wouldn’t the act of not issuing a press release be better evidence thereof? Or how about just not pursuing the case at all?

(Flimsy is the key description here: all this has been reported before, and better, elsewhere – The Hill’s offered by design a deceptive talking point for Fox, Trump, and the House GOP.)

Matthew Dallek writes of Gen. John Kelly’s authoritarian bent as WH chief of staff:

….But not everyone who puts on, and takes off, a general’s uniform is another George Washington. Indeed, Kelly’s performance makes it clear that those who have been placing their hopes in Trump’s trio of generals-turned-advisers are making a mistake.

Kelly’s strain of military thinking puts him at odds with a society in which, as he points out, only a tiny fraction serves, or even knows anyone who serves, and in which few men and women in uniform come from the ranks of the United States’ elite professions, which dominate the nation’s most influential institutions. Kelly, then, embodies a clash of cultures, a lifelong military man now playing a hotly contested political civilian role, who looks askance at the nation’s civilian democratic culture.

That is an unhealthy tendency, and, at times, Kelly’s remarks suggested an authoritarian streak that he seems to share with his boss, the president. He lamented the loss of a mythic time in which “women were sacred and looked upon with great honor,” a time, he reminisced, when Gold Star families and religion were treated as “sacred” topics to be upheld and venerated by all Americans.

Kelly conveyed the sense that because he and others in the military have worn the uniform, served in combat and risked their lives (and in Kelly’s case, sacrificed a son), he feels entitled to make up stories about a member of Congress, an African-American woman, and to exclude civilians in a setting, the White House briefing room, that is of course paid for by and meant to serve every citizen. Behind his calm demeanor, he showed the country a frustration, anger and grievance that complements Trump’s us-against-the-world mentality and political style.

Countless military commanders have been able to make the leap from uniform to serve in elective or appointed political office, and they have done so in ways that uphold and even enhance America’s civilian democratic traditions. Washington showed the way when he shed his uniform and embraced a civilian role, leading the United States as a democratic republic, with a healthy respect for liberty….

Reuters reports that Putin says Trump should be respected:

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday [10.17] President Donald Trump should be respected because he has a democratic mandate.

“He has been elected by the American people and at least because of this he should be respected, even if we disagree with his position,” Putin said at a forum with scholars.

(Putin – dictator, murderer, imperialist, and liar – thinks that we should respect the man he helped elect, Trump – authoritarian, nativist, ignoramus, and liar). The answer is no, and no again.

So, What Makes Peanut Butter Stick to the Top of Your Mouth?:

Daily Bread for 10.26.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of sixty. Sunrise is 7:22 AM and sunset 5:54 PM, for 10h 31m 33s of daytime. The moon is a waxing cresent with 37% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fifty-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Finance Committee meets at 5 PM, and her Community Development Authority at 5:30 PM.

Tombstone, ca. 1881

On this day in 1881, the Earps and Doc Holliday battle the Clanton Gang at the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral:

…a 30-second shootout between lawmen and members of a loosely organized group of outlaws called the Cowboys that took place at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 26, 1881 in TombstoneArizona Territory. It is generally regarded as the most famous shootout in the history of the American Wild West. The gunfight was the result of a long-simmering feud, with Cowboys Billy ClaiborneIke and Billy Clanton, and Tom and Frank McLauryon one side and town MarshalVirgil EarpSpecial PolicemanMorgan Earp, Special Policeman Wyatt Earp, and temporary policeman Doc Holliday on the other side. All three Earp brothers had been the target of repeated death threats made by the Cowboys, who objected to the Earps’ interference in their illegal activities. Billy Clanton and both McLaury brothers were killed. Ike Clanton claimed that he was unarmed and ran from the fight, along with Billy Claiborne. Virgil, Morgan, and Doc Holliday were wounded, but Wyatt Earp was unharmed. The shootout has come to represent a period of the American Old West when the frontier was virtually an open range for outlaws, largely unopposed by law enforcement officers who were spread thin over vast territories….

On this date in 1863, Wisconsin’s governor receives authority to recruit black soliders in the defense of the Union:

Wisconsin Governor Edward Salomon received authority from the War Department to raise a regiment of African-American soldiers from Wisconsin. Colonel John A. Bross of Chicago sent African-American recruiting agents from Chicago into Wisconsin and succeeded in enlisting about 250 African-American soldiers. The 29th U.S. Colored Troops were eventually organized at Quincy, Illinois in April 1864.

Recommended for reading in full —

Raphael Satter reports [Russian software mogul] Kaspersky: We uploaded US documents [from our National Security Agency] but quickly deleted them:

PARIS (AP) — Sometime in 2014, a group of analysts walked into the office of Eugene Kaspersky, the ebullient founder of Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, to deliver some sobering news.

Kaspersky’s anti-virus software had automatically scraped powerful digital surveillance tools off a computer in the United States and the analysts were worried: The data’s headers clearly identified the files as classified.

“They immediately came to my office,” Kaspersky recalled, “and they told me that they have a problem.”

He said there was no hesitation about what to do with the cache.

“It must be deleted,” Kaspersky says he told them.

The incident, recounted by Kaspersky during a brief telephone interview on Tuesday and supplemented by a timeline and other information provided by company officials, could not immediately be corroborated. But it’s the first public acknowledgement of a story that has been building for the past three weeks — that Kaspersky’s popular anti-virus program uploaded powerful digital espionage tools belonging to the National Security Agency from a computer in the United States and sent them to servers in Moscow.

The account provides new perspective on the U.S. government’s recent move to blacklist Kaspersky from federal computer networks, even if it still leaves important questions unanswered….

(Kaspersky would be nothing more than a ratcatcher without Putin’s approval. Nothing more. For it all, these are the men with whom Trump believes “we could have a good relationship.”)

Peter Baker reports Pitched as Calming Force, John Kelly Instead Mirrors Boss’s Priorities:

WASHINGTON — This past summer, the Trump administration debated lowering the annual cap on refugees admitted to the United States. Should it stay at 110,000, be cut to 50,000 or fall somewhere in between? John F. Kelly offered his opinion. If it were up to him, he said, the number would be between zero and one.

Mr. Kelly’s comment made its way around the White House, according to an administration official, and reinforced what is only now becoming clear to many on the outside. While some officials had predicted Mr. Kelly would be a calming chief of staff for an impulsive president, recent days have made clear that he is more aligned with President Trump than anticipated.

For all of the talk of Mr. Kelly as a moderating force and the so-called grown-up in the room, it turns out that he harbors strong feelings on patriotism, national security and immigration that mirror the hard-line views of his outspoken boss. With his attack on a congresswoman who had criticized Mr. Trump’s condolence call to a slain soldier’s widow last week, Mr. Kelly showed that he was willing to escalate a politically distracting, racially charged public fight even with false assertions….

(Kelly is, in meaningful measure, what Trump is – he wouldn’t be near Trump otherwise.)

Logan Wroge writes Wisconsin has largest well-being gap between white and black children, report says:

African-American children in Wisconsin are facing the biggest gap across the nation in well-being compared to their white counterparts, according to a report released Tuesday.

The Race for Results report, prepared by nonprofit The Annie E. Casey Foundation, used 12 indexes to determine the overall well-being of children across the United States based on a composite score of 1,000. Wisconsin had the biggest disparity between black and white children, the report said….

Of 44 states for which data was available, Wisconsin ranked 41st for African-American children with a score of 279. Across all states, white Wisconsin children ranked 10th with a well-being score of 762. The 483-point difference was the largest among the 44 states with data for white and black children…

Kevin Crowe and Ashley Luthern report The cost of police misconduct in Milwaukee: $21 million – and growing:

Police misconduct has cost Milwaukee taxpayers at least $17.5 million in legal settlements since 2015, forcing the city to borrow money to make the payouts amid an ever-tightening budget.

That amount jumps to at least $21.4 million when interest paid on the borrowing and fees paid to outside attorneys are factored in, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel analysis found.

In some cases, the costs pile up as the city continues to fight the cases for months or years, even after officers have been fired or criminally convicted in the same misconduct case. The costs far outstrip the $1.2 million the city sets aside each year for settling all of the claims it faces.

And they likely will keep rising.

The price of police misconduct has come under scrutiny as city officials face a daunting budget and consider closing six fire stations and cutting jobs in the police and fire departments. At budget hearings, Common Council members have repeatedly pressed police officials and the city attorney’s office on what more could be done to ward off lawsuits.

“Better training, better screening of applicants, all kinds of factors that could enter into the picture,” Ald. Robert Bauman said in an interview.

“But clearly, for acts that have already occurred, we’re on the hook,” he said. “Just have the police stop violating civil rights, and we’d have plenty of money for fire houses”….

What did fruits and vegetables looked like before we domesticated them? Like this —

Daily Bread for 10.25.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be increasingly sunny with a high of fifty-three. Sunrise is 7:21 AM and sunset 5:55 PM, for 10h 34m 13s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 28.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fiftieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Tech Park Board meets at 8 AM.

On this day in 1760, George William Frederick becomes king of Great Britain and Ireland. On this day in 1836, the first legislative session of the Wisconsin territory takes place: “At this time, the Territory of Wisconsin included all of present-day Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and part of the two Dakotas.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Matthew DeFour reports WEDC board member offers more detail on why Foxconn vote delayed:

In an interview Tuesday with the State Journal, Carpenter offered more detail, saying Hogan told board members last week that the way the deal was structured the agency couldn’t guarantee it could protect taxpayers if the company violated the agreement.

“We could have given them all this money and we wouldn’t have been able to get it back,” Carpenter said.

The state is planning to give the company $3 billion in refundable tax credits in exchange for a $10 billion LCD-screen factory in Racine County, creating up to 13,000 jobs.

Carpenter said Tuesday he decided to discuss the issue in greater detail after Alan Marcuvitz, a lawyer advising the village of Mount Pleasant, discussed the matter with the village board Monday night. Marcuvitz said there were “technical issues” with the contract “because one of the companies is from overseas” and the issue had been resolved, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Carpenter said the problem was “more than a technical issue”….

Erica Orden and Nicole Hong report Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort Faces Another Money-Laundering Probe (“Manhattan U.S. attorney’s inquiry comes as President Donald Trump is weighing candidates to run the office’):

The Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office is pursuing an investigation into possible money laundering by Paul Manafort, said three people familiar with the matter, adding to the federal and state probes concerning the former Trump campaign chairman.

The investigation by the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York is being conducted in collaboration with a probe by special counsel Robert Mueller into Mr. Manafort and possible money laundering, according to two of these people….

Eleanor Cummins writes Sometimes All It Takes Is One Horrible Photo to Summarize a Catastrophe. This is Puerto Rico’s (“Surgery by flashlight is just the beginning of the public health crisis there”):

On Friday, former Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla tweeted a photo from inside a hospital, in which scrubbed-up doctors leaned over an operating table performing surgery lit only by a flashlight. “This is what POTUS calls a 10!” García Padilla wrote in the English version of his post. “Surgery performed with cellphones as flashlights in Puerto Rico today.”

The image quickly made the rounds on the internet; it currently has almost 9,000 retweets. That’s probably because this blurry picture feels like it’s worth a good deal more than 1,000 words. Closely cropped and the dictionary definition of “bleak,” it illuminates just a small sliver of the public health crisis Puerto Rico is currently facing.

Some 33 days after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico, only 23 percent of residents have electricity, according to Status.pr, which provides daily updates on basic services on the island. While there are other, somewhat unrelated problems at play—gas stations have been slow to reopen, and roads are badly damaged—the power grid’s utter annihilation in the category 4 winds is not just a temporary inconvenience. A month later, the ways that lack of electricity can set off a cascade of other crises is becoming increasingly clear.

Nico Hines and Sam Stein report GOP Leaders Refusing To Pay For Dana Rohrabacher’s Travel Over Russia Fears:

House Republican leaders have taken the extraordinary step of curtailing Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-CA) ability to conduct official business out of fear that he is too compromised by his ties to Russia.

Rohrabacher has drawn scrutiny for his longstanding links with Moscow, his closeness to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, and his recent willingness to allow his subcommittee to be used for Kremlin propaganda purposes.

In response, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs has placed heightened restrictions on the trips abroad that he can take with committee money as well as the hearings he can hold through the subcommittee on Europe that he chairs.

When the California congressman made a trip this summer to see Assange, who is holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he had to do it on his own dime. A congressional source told The Daily Beast that Rohrabacher had requested committee funding for the trip but was denied. The congressman’s staff confirmed that he ended up using his own money though said he had planned to as it was a side trip from his wedding anniversary celebration on the Iberian Peninsula. Still, they admitted he was facing new restrictions.

“His committee travel and hearing requests were curtailed following news accounts of his outside-the-box interest in Russia,” Rohrabacher’s communications director, Ken Grubbs confirmed to The Daily Beast….

(Outside-the-box is more properly understood as tool-of-Putin.)

The natural order is endlessly intriguing, and this specimen of Creatonotos gangis, a species of moth, especially so:

Daily Bread for 10.24.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be rainy and windy with a high of forty-seven. Sunrise is 7:20 AM and sunset 5:57 PM, for 10h 36m 54s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 20.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred forty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1861, California Chief Justice Stephen Field sent “one of the first [transcontinental telegraph] messages from San Francisco to Abraham Lincoln, using the occasion to assure the president of California’s allegiance to the Union.[6] ” On this day in 1933, Amelia Earhart visits Janesville: “Amelia Earhart spoke to the Janesville Woman’s History Club as part of the group’s 57th anniversary celebration. Four years later, Earhart disappeared as she attempted to fly across the Pacific Ocean.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Jack Nicas reports Russia State News Outlet RT Thrives on YouTube, Facebook (“U.S. intelligence labels RT a top Kremlin propaganda tool; social media’s open approach to content enabling unreliable and highly partisan content to reach large audiences”):

Google, Facebook Inc. FB -2.12% and Twitter Inc. TWTR -2.80% have spent months trying to ferret out covert Russian influence on their sites.

Meanwhile, RT, the Russian state news organization that federal intelligence officials call “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet,” uses Google’s YouTube, Facebook and Twitter as the main distributors of its content.

RT’s main English-language YouTube channel has amassed 2.1 billion views and 2.2 million subscribers, roughly the same figures as CNN’s primary YouTube channel. Fox News’s main channel has 600 million views. RT has drawn an additional 3.3 billion views across roughly 20 other channels, making it among YouTube’s most-watched news networks. YouTube, by running ads before RT’s videos, also gives the Russian-government outlet ad revenue.

Twitter named RT in a report last month on alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election, and the company noted that RT spent $274,100 to promote tweets to U.S. users. The Twitter dossier, submitted to a congressional committee investigation into Russian influence in the election, cited a federal intelligence report released earlier this year that claimed RT was a primary tool in Russia’s alleged efforts to swing the U.S. election toward President Donald Trump —a charge RT has denied. Yet RT maintains a thriving presence on Twitter with 10 million followers….

(Key point: RT’s speech is the speech from a foreign dictatorship’s propaganda tool. Americans who support it are, depending on the level of their support, either fellow travelers or fifth-columnists. At the least, this foreign state tool should be required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). See generally A Primer on the Foreign Agents Registration Act. FARA doesn’t prohibit speech – it merely requires registration and reporting for specified foreign entities.)

Katie Zavadski, Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen, Spencer Ackerman report Russian Propaganda Hosted by Man on Staten Island, New York:

Russia’s propaganda campaign targeting Americans was hosted, at least in part, on American soil.

A company owned by a man on Staten Island, New York, provided internet infrastructure services to DoNotShoot.Us, a Kremlin propaganda site that pretended to be a voice for victims of police shootings, a Daily Beast investigation has found.

Every website needs to be “hosted”—given an Internet Protocol address and space on a physical computer—in order to be publicly viewed. DoNotShoot.Us is a website run out of the Kremlin-backed “Russian troll farm,” according to two sources familiar with the website, both of whom independently identified it to The Daily Beast as a Russian propaganda account. It was hosted on a server with the IP address 107.181.161.172.

That IP address was owned by Greenfloid LLC, a company registered to New Yorker Sergey Kashyrin and two others. Other Russian propaganda sites, like BlackMattersUs.com, were also hosted on servers with IP addresses owned by Greenfloid. The company’s ties to Russian propaganda sites were first reported by ThinkProgress.

The web services company owns under 250 IP addresses, some of which resolve to Russian propaganda sites and other fake news operations. Others are sites that could not be hosted at other providers, like “xxxrape.net.” There’s also a Russian trinket site called “soviet-power.com.” (The IP address that pointed to DoNotShoot.Us now resolves to a botnet and phishing operation, and is currently owned by Total Server Solutions LLC.)

(Any American owning or knowingly working for  Greenfloid LLC would be a true fifth columnist – that is, someone within America actively working for our foreign enemies, including Russian government-backed websites.)

Nicholas Fandos reports Hopes Dim for Congressional Russia Inquiries as Parties Clash:

….All three committees looking into Russian interference — one in the House, two in the Senate — have run into problems, from insufficient staffing to fights over when the committees should wrap up their investigations. The Senate Judiciary Committee’s inquiry has barely started, delayed in part by negotiations over the scope of the investigation. Leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, while maintaining bipartisan comity, have sought to tamp down expectations about what they might find.

Nine months into the Trump administration, any notion that Capitol Hill would provide a comprehensive, authoritative and bipartisan accounting of the extraordinary efforts of a hostile power to disrupt American democracy appears to be dwindling….

From Fandos’s story, here’s Trey Gowdy:

WASHINGTON — In a secured room in the basement of the Capitol in July, Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, fielded question after question from members of the House Intelligence Committee. Though the allotted time for the grilling had expired, he offered to stick around as long as they wanted.

But Representative Trey Gowdy, who spent nearly three years investigating Hillary Clinton’s culpability in the deadly 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, was growing frustrated after two hours….

“Congressional investigations unfortunately are usually overtly political investigations, where it is to one side’s advantage to drag things out,” said Mr. Gowdy, who made his name in Congress as a fearsome investigator of Democrats….

(Years investigating Benghazi, but now even two hours’ time to investigate Russia is too much for Gowdy….)

Here’s a time-lapse video of the installation of the Milwaukee Bucks replica floor (in the UWM Panther Arena):

Daily Bread for 10.23.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of fifty-nine. Sunrise is 7:19 AM and sunset 5:58 PM, for 10h 39m 36s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 13.2% of its visible disk illuminated.  Today is the three hundred forty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission is scheduled to meet at 4:30 PM, and the Whitewater Unified School Board is scheduled to meet in-office at 7 PM.

On this day in 1941, Disney Productions and RKO Pictures release Dumbo. On this day in 1921, the Packers play their first NFL game: “[t]he Packers defeated the Minneapolis Marines 7-6, for a crowd of 6,000 fans and completed their inaugural season with 3 wins, 2 losses, and 2 ties.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Rosie Gray reports from Steve Bannon’s ‘Season of War’ Roadshow:

ANAHEIM, Calif.—Breitbart News chairman Steve Bannon continued his campaign against the Republican establishment in a speech to the California Republican Party convention on Friday—while also calling for greater unity within the party. His targets included the current party leadership, but also the previous Republican president of the United States.

Bannon, who rarely spoke publicly during his time as White House chief strategist, has made a series of appearances in recent weeks promoting primary Republican senators in the 2018 election cycle. Boosted by former judge Roy Moore’s Alabama Senate primary win over the establishment’s (and President Trump’s) pick Luther Strange, Bannon is spearheading an intra-party war with the aim of removing Mitch McConnell as majority leader. He has said that he wants to challenge every Republican incumbent apart from Ted Cruz. He personally campaigned for Moore and for Kelli Ward, who is running a primary challenge to Jeff Flake in Arizona. Last week he promised a “season of war” against the establishment in a speech to the Values Voter Summit in Washington….

David Von Drehle contends The party is over:

With control of Congress, the White House and a majority of state governments, the Republican Party can claim to be stronger than at any time since 1928. On the other hand, many Democrats believe that their party’s edge among younger voters and growing nonwhite demographic groups has them on the brink of a new reign of power.

The truth is, both parties are in crisis — and may be headed for worse.

The Republican ascendancy is riddled with asterisks. The party’s control of Congress has only exposed deep and bitter divisions, as the pirates of Breitbart and talk radio turn their guns on House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.). Too riven to redeem its oft-sworn pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare, the fractured majority is now struggling to unite around tax cuts, the golden calf of the GOP. As the saying goes, power is what power does — in this case, not much….

Jenna Johnson reports Many Trump voters who got hurricane relief in Texas aren’t sure Puerto Ricans should:

….The divide in the Maddox household is one playing out across the country, as those who voted for the president debate how much support the federal government should give Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory without a voting member of Congress that is not allowed to vote in presidential elections.

Some supporters of the president, like Fred Maddox, agree with Trump that Puerto Rico’s infrastructure was frail before the storm; that the crisis was worsened by a lack of leadership there; and that the federal government should limit its involvement in the rebuilding effort, which will likely cost billions of dollars. But others, like Mary Maddox, are appalled by how the president talks about Puerto Rico and say the United States has a moral obligation to take care of its citizens.

A survey released last week by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that a majority of Americans believe that the federal government has been too slow to respond in Puerto Rico and that the island still isn’t getting the help it needs. But the results largely broke along party lines: While nearly three-quarters of Democrats said the federal government isn’t doing enough, almost three-quarters of Republicans said it is….

Lawrence Summers writes Trump’s top economist’s tax analysis isn’t just wrong, it’s dishonest:

Kevin Hassett, the White House’s chief economist, accused me of an ad-hominem attack against his analysis of the Trump administration’s tax plan. I am proudly guilty of asserting that it is some combination of dishonest, incompetent and absurd. Television does not provide space to spell out the reasons why, so I am happy to provide them here….

Hassett throws around the terms scientific and peer-reviewed, yet there is no peer-reviewed support for his central claim that cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent would raise wages by $4,000 per worker.

The claim is absurd on its face. The cut in corporate tax rates from 35 percent to 20 percent would cost slightly less than $200 billion a year. There is a legitimate debate among economists about how much the cut would benefit capital and how much it would benefit labor. Hassett’s “conservative” claim that the cut would raise wages by $4,000 in an economy with 150 million workers is a claim that workers would benefit by $600 billion — or 300 percent of the tax cut! To my knowledge, such a claim is unprecedented in analyses of tax incidence. Hassett doubles down by holding out the further possibility that wages might rise by $9,000.

Tech Insider reports Scientists predict an unusually warm winter this year in most of the US — here’s why:

Daily Bread for 10.22.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of sixty-three. Sunrise is 7:17 AM and sunset 6 PM, for 10h 42m 19s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 7.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred forty-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1962, Pres. Kennedy spoke to the nation about the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, stating “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.” Kenedy’s imposition of a blockade sought – and successfully did achieve – America’s policy goal without loss of life. (“To halt this offensive buildup, a strict quarantine on all offensive military equipment under shipment to Cuba is being initiated. All ships of any kind bound for Cuba, from whatever nation or port, will, if found to contain cargoes of offensive weapons, be turned back. This quarantine will be extended, if needed, to other types of cargo and carriers. We are not at this time, however, denying the necessities of life as the Soviets attempted to do in their Berlin blockade of 1948.”)

On this day in 1938, Dick Post of Footville wins yet again: “Dick Post of Footville won his sixth county title by husking a record 24.5 bushels of corn in 80 minutes. Two days later, he husked 1,868 pounds in 80 minutes to win the state championship. Post finished fourth in the nationals at Sioux Falls, S.D.”

Recommended for reading in full —

The team of Marco Chown Oved, Robert Cribb, Jeremy Blackman, Sylvia Varnham O’Regan, Micha Maidenberg, and Susanne Rust report How every investor lost money on Trump Tower Toronto (but Donald Trump made millions anyway) (“Donald Trump called himself a “genius” for investing in Toronto’s Trump Tower. Behind the scenes, he had no money on the line. The inside story of an unlikely bankruptcy, and the investors who lost everything when they bet on the Trump brand”):

Let’s say you’re Donald Trump.

It’s 2002 and you’ve agreed to have your name emblazoned across the top of the tallest residential tower in Canada, a $500-million, five-star condo-hotel in downtown Toronto.

Here’s the thing: Only months into the project, your lead developer is publicly exposed in the pages of the Toronto Star as a fugitive fraudster on the run from U.S. justice. Your major institutional partner — the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company — bails shortly after.

Your remaining partners in the deal — a group of investors assembled by the criminal who was just outed — include a New York camera store owner, a former Chicago nursing-home administrator, two small-time landlords in Britain and a little-known Toronto billionaire who earned a fortune in the former Soviet Union.

The one thing they all have in common — no experience in condo tower development.

Do you pull out? For Trump, the answer was no. The billionaire dug in, repeatedly told the world he was investing his own money in the project — claims that would prove false — and gushed about its spectacular promise, knowing his profits were guaranteed.

“Nothing like this has ever been built in Toronto,” Trump said in 2004 as he relaunched the stalled project. “It is going to be the ultimate destination for business, pleasure and entertainment.”

Fast forward to 2016 and Trump’s Toronto tower is built but bankrupt — a rare failure in Toronto’s booming downtown condo market….

Emily Steele and Michael Schmidt report O’Reilly Settled New Harassment Claim, Then Fox Renewed His Contract (“In January, the Fox News host was said to have agreed to a $32 million settlement with a former network analyst, the largest of his known payouts”):

Last January, six months after Fox News ousted its chairman amid a sexual harassment scandal, the network’s top-rated host at the time, Bill O’Reilly, struck a $32 million agreement with a longtime network analyst to settle new sexual harassment allegations, according to two people briefed on the matter — an extraordinarily large amount for such cases.

Although the deal has not been previously made public, the network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, acknowledges that it was aware of the woman’s complaints about Mr. O’Reilly. They included allegations of repeated harassment, a nonconsensual sexual relationship and the sending of gay pornography and other sexually explicit material to her, according to the people briefed on the matter.

It was at least the sixth agreement — and by far the largest — made by either Mr. O’Reilly or the company to settle harassment allegations against him. Despite that record, 21st Century Fox began contract negotiations with Mr. O’Reilly, and in February granted him a four-year extension that paid $25 million a year….

(Key elements of the reporting on the newly-disclosed settlement are the amount, that O’Reilly agreed himself to pay that amount over time, that Fox knew of O’Reilly’s private settlement Lis Wiehl, and that Fox thereafter renewed his network contract despite knowledge of a settlement between O’Reilly & Wiehl.)

Susan Hennessy and Benjamin Wittes write Jeff Sessions Just Confessed His Negligence on Russia (“The attorney general is aware of the threat Moscow poses to American elections — he just hasn’t done anything about it”):

With Midwestern gentility, the Nebraska senator [Sasse] told Sessions that he wasn’t going to grill him about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Rather, he said, “I would like to continue talking about the Russians but in the context of the long-term objectives that Vladimir Putin has to undermine American institutions and the public trust.… We face a sophisticated long-term effort by a foreign adversary to undermine our foreign policy and our ability to lead in the world by trying to undermining confidence in American institutions.”

Russia will be back in the 2018 and 2020 election cycles, Sasse argued. “We live at a time where info ops and propaganda and misinformation are a far more cost-effective way for people to try to weaken the United States of America than by thinking they can outspend us at a military level.… So as the nation’s chief law enforcement officer and as a supervisor of multiple components of our intelligence community … do you think we’re doing enough to prepare for future interference by Russia and other foreign adversaries in the information space?”

You’d think this question would be a golden opportunity for Sessions. After all, if you’re a man who has had some — ahem — inconvenient interactions with former Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, you might relish the chance to answer a question about what you are doing to prevent Russian interference in the future, as a chance to go on offense and show how serious you are about tackling a problem that has undermined your reputation.

But Sessions’s answer did not inspire confidence: “Probably not. We’re not. And the matter is so complex that for most of us, we are not able to fully grasp the technical dangers that are out there.”

Sessions acknowledged “disruption and interference, it appears, by Russian officials” and noted that it “requires a real review.” But he said nothing about what the department is doing to ready itself.

Sasse followed up, giving him an explicit chance to spell it out. “So what steps has the department taken,” or should it take, “to learn the lessons of 2016 … in fighting foreign interference?” he asked.

Crickets from Sessions….

Matthew DeFour reports WEDC threatens legal action against Kestrel Aircraft as another deal goes south:

A day before Democrats submitted a petition to recall him in 2012, Gov. Scott Walker flew to Superior to announce a $20 million award for an aviation start-up promising to create 665 jobs and to invest more than $50 million in the state.

Five years later, Kestrel Aircraft has defaulted on its loan repayments after investing $1.4 million and creating 25 jobs, and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. says it is initiating legal action against the company.

The sour Kestrel deal is the latest reminder of how hasty decision-making and loose financial controls in WEDC’s early days have cost taxpayers. And though the agency has put in place several safeguards since 2013, the early missteps continue to dog WEDC as it negotiates the largest taxpayer-backed corporate incentive deal in U.S. history.

Last week the WEDC board delayed a scheduled vote on the nearly $3 billion award to Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn when an unspecified problem with the contract was identified shortly before the vote was to occur….

What was The Bloop? The Loudest Underwater Sound Ever Recorded Has No Scientific Explanation:

In 1997, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration discovered an unusual, ultra-low-frequency sound emanating from a point off the southern coast of Chile. It was the loudest unidentified underwater sound ever recorded, detected by hydrophones 5,000 miles apart. It lasted for one minute and was never heard again.

The Bloop, a mesmerizing short documentary by Cara Cusumano, investigates this unknown phenomenon with Dr. Christopher Fox, Chief Scientist of the Acoustic Monitoring Project of NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Lab. “I took it to the very classified innards of the United States Navy intelligence,” says Dr. Fox in the film. “It wasn’t theirs. It’s captivating because we don’t know what it was. I am glad there are still mysteries on earth and in the universe.”

Daily Bread for 10.21.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-six. Sunrise is 7:16 AM and sunset 6:01 PM, for 10h 45m 03s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 3.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred forty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

BOSTON (July 4, 2014) USS Constitution fires a 17-gun salute near U.S. Coast Guard Base Boston during the ship’s Independence Day underway demonstration in Boston Harbor. Constitution got underway with more than 300 guests to celebrate America’s independence. (U.S. Navy photo by Seaman Matthew R. Fairchild/Released) 140704-N-OG138-866

On this day in 1797, the USS Constitution, later nicknamed Old Ironsides, is launched in Boston Harbor, “Captain James Sever breaking a bottle of Madeira wine on her bowsprit.” On this day in 1897, the Yerkes Observatory is dedicated: “Founded by astronomer George Hale and located in Williams Bay, the Yerkes Observatory houses the world’s largest refracting optical telescope, with a lens of diameter 102 cm/40 inches. It was built through the largess of the tycoon Charles Tyson Yerkes, who rebuilt important parts of the Chicago transportation system after the fire. Situated in a 77-acre park on the shore of Lake Geneva, this observatory was the center for world astronomy in the early 20th century and invited a number of astronomers from around the world, including Japan, for scientific exchange. [Source: Yerkes Observatory Virtual Museum]”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Andrew Kramer reports In Russia, a Bribery Case Lifts the Veil on Kremlin Intrigue:

MOSCOW — The Russian elite, the group of oligarchs and other loyalists around President Vladimir V. Putin who amassed great wealth over nearly two decades of hand-in-glove work with the government, is showing signs of cracking.

As the economy stagnates amid international sanctions and low oil prices, a high-profile bribery case has illustrated how the country’s most privileged players have taken to fighting over slices of a smaller economic pie, seeking an advantage over rivals through the courts and law enforcement officials who are widely seen as vulnerable to corruption.

In recordings read aloud by prosecutors in a case being heard in a Moscow courtroom, two men, both Kremlin insiders, are first heard in an assiduously polite conversation recorded by secret listening devices, even as one was preparing to doom the other to a long spell in prison….

There’s no honor among thieves, but Kramer notes something else, that some thieves are less insightful than others:

In the transcripts, published by MediaZona, a Russian news portal, Mr. Sechin appears to know that his nemesis will soon be arrested and vanish into the penal colonies, and seems to toy with him on pivotal issues that have divided the economic policy elite in Russia for years.

He discusses the success of Rosneft in terms of volumes of oil produced, falling back on a Soviet-era fascination with tons of production, whether steel, coal or oil, regardless of its market value.

Mr. Ulyukayev interjects that investors, who can buy shares in Rosneft on the London Stock Exchange, value the company at only a fraction of other oil companies.

“The asset is worth exactly half as much as comparable” companies, he says. In short, Russia’s most important company is not a market success.

Mr. Sechin brushes aside this objection, and then notes the gifts he has prepared. “Take the basket,” Mr. Sechin says, adding, “That’s all, good luck and thank you very much”….

(Although some Russians have grown so rich as to become oligrachs, the fundamental characteristics of a truly productive, and so propsperous, socilety are missng. Some still think in crude quanitative messaures rather than qualititativelu as a matter of relatively productivity, relative market value. Sechin thinks no more insightfully than a Soviet planner.)

Alexis Madrigal interviews U.S. Senator Mark Warner in Facebook’s Evidence of Russian Electoral Meddling Is Only ‘the Tip of the Iceberg’:

Alexis Madrigal: So, as of today, what do we know about the Russian disinformation campaign on Facebook and other social-media platforms?

Mark Warner: First of all, let’s step back and put the Russian involvement in 2016 in the overall context. It was approved at the highest level. It was coordinated in ways that were unprecedented. It included the things that have been much reported on, like hacking into both political parties and releasing information harmful to one candidate, Clinton, and helpful to Trump.

We know that Russians and even Trump’s Department of Homeland Security have acknowledged that 21 states had their electoral systems probed, if not fully hacked into. We know that this is part of a pattern that has been going on and continues after the election. And it included interventions in the French election, where Facebook was much more active.

I think our government and the platform companies were more than a little bit caught off guard. I don’t think anyone had seen anything of this scale before….

Madrigal: In your mind, what are the key outstanding questions?Warner: All these companies need to come fully clean about what happened in 2016. Don’t tell me they found 450 accounts linked to the American election when they found 50,000 in France. And don’t tell me they found all the ads.

The first pass from Twitter was worse. They took only things that were derivative of what Facebook found. And they found some stuff. But I said, you have to go back and dig in. So, we need to figure out, number one, what happened in 2016.

While I’m trying to not get into the whole editorial-content argument, this notion that we can’t curate at all just doesn’t hold water. They’ve had to do it every time there has been something that has created consequences. Child pornography for example, or terrorist activity, or information on how to create bombs.

A lot of that was forced by the European governments. Areas reach a tipping point, the [platform companies] step in and act. They have to, if you don’t want over-the-top regulation, or worse yet, we allow this to continue and we have some massive upheaval or loss of faith in the democratic process. Because people see how bad this was with relatively small amounts of dollars spent….

Shannon Bearman describes The Rise Of The Accidental Activist (“How millions of women like me became the backbone of the Resistance”):

It was September 1st, 2016. Time to start thinking in earnest about the new school year. Part of that routine that was new involved signing up on Twitter to follow the kid’s bus route delays, specific school events in real time, etc. This would be my first foray ever into social media, and I was really hesitant. But, to make life practical and more convenient for our family, I took the plunge and set up my Twitter account….

Without realizing it, I became an accidental activist. I was sending emails, signing petitions, making phone calls every day and suddenly very passionate about politics. Like many Americans, it’s become part of my daily routine: Have coffee, sign/send petitions, make phone calls- #Resist….

Now that the big, showy displays of massive protest are over, the bulk of the Resistance work involves joining forces online, taking action daily through PAC’s like “The Loyal Opposition” or “Demo Coalition”. These calls to resistance organize masses of followers into the equivalent of a national PTA phone tree, overpowering social media and sending congressional staffers scurrying.

Great Big Story explains How Mario Got His Mustache (and His Name!):

Daily Bread for 10.20.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of seventy-four. Sunrise is 7:15 AM and sunset 6:03 PM, for 10h 47m 48s of daytime. The moon is new, with .6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred forty-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1944, Gen. Douglas MacArthur returns to the Philipines. On this day in 1856, Frederick Douglass speaks in Beaver Dam: “On this date Frederick Douglass arrived in Beaver Dam and spoke about the brutality and immorality of slavery. His speech was also intended to generate support for the abolitionist movement in Dodge Co. and Wisconsin. ”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Ari Berman describes How Voter Suppression Threw Wisconsin to Trump (“And possibly handed him the whole election”):

….After the election, registered voters in Milwaukee County and Madison’s Dane County were surveyed about why they didn’t cast a ballot. Eleven percent cited the voter ID law and said they didn’t have an acceptable ID; of those, more than half said the law was the “main reason” they didn’t vote. According to the study’s author, University of Wisconsin-Madison political scientist Kenneth Mayer, that finding implies that between 12,000 and 23,000 registered voters in Madison and Milwaukee—and as many as 45,000 statewide—were deterred from voting by the ID law. “We have hard evidence there were tens of thousands of people who were unable to vote because of the voter ID law,” he says.

“This particular election was very important to me. I felt like the right to vote was being stripped away from me.”

Its impact was particularly acute in Milwaukee, where nearly two-thirds of the state’s African Americans live, 37 percent of them below the poverty line. Milwaukee is the most segregated city in the nation, divided between low-income black areas and middle-class white ones. It was known as the “Selma of the North” in the 1960s because of fierce clashes over desegregation. George Wallace once said that if he had to leave Alabama, “I’d want to live on the south side of Milwaukee.”

Neil Albrecht, Milwaukee’s election director, believes that the voter ID law and other changes passed by the Republican Legislature contributed significantly to lower turnout. Albrecht is 55 but seems younger, with bookish tortoise-frame glasses and salt-and-pepper stubble. (“I looked 12 until I became an election administrator,” he joked.) At his office in City Hall with views of the Milwaukee River, Albrecht showed me a color-coded map of the city’s districts, pointing out the ones where turnout had declined the most, including Anthony’s. Next to his desk was a poster that listed “Acceptable Forms of Photo ID.”

“I would estimate that 25 to 35 percent of the 41,000 decrease in voters, or somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 voters, likely did not vote due to the photo ID requirement,” he said later. “It is very probable that between the photo ID law and the changes to voter registration, enough people were prevented from voting to have changed the outcome of the presidential election in Wisconsin”….

Rob Schultz reports New Madison police procedures: Officers should exhaust all options before using a gun:

The Madison Police Department has updated its guide on the use of deadly force, instructing officers to exhaust other options before using a gun in a change lauded by both a police union official and an attorney who has sued the city over the issue.

“When it comes to the rules our police officers are trained to follow, language matters,” said Andrea Farrell, a Madison attorney who earlier this year won a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city on behalf of the family of a woman killed by Madison police.

The police department was ordered by the City Council in May to change its standard operating procedures for how officers use deadly force, as well as one for how they use non-deadly force and to include language emphasizing an officer’s duty to intercede, de-escalate and preserve life. The changes were recommended by a special committee that studied police policy and practices….

(Here’s where we are: this guidance in Madison wasn’t uniformly and everywhere present. Most avenues are not enough avenues: only all avenues are enough avenues.)

Betsy Woodruff reports Exclusive: Senate ‘Russia Probe’ Is Not Investigating Russia:

The Senate Judiciary Committee has demanded documents on Russian meddling from the CIA, interviewed Donald Trump Jr. about his infamous Trump Tower meeting, and subpoenaed Paul Manafort, the president’s Kremlin-friendly former campaign chairman.

In May, the committee held a subcommittee hearing called “Russian Interference in 2016 United States Election.” In June, Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley issued a pair of press releases about his “Russia Probe.” One of them, produced with fellow committee Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, asked for documents from the FBI, citing the committee’s “investigations into allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians.”

But the Judiciary Committee is not, in fact, running a Trump-Russia investigation—at least, not a full-fledged one.

A staffer for Grassley, speaking on the condition of anonymity to give his candid assessment, told The Daily Beast that the committee is instead engaged in routine oversight of the Justice Department—though under extraordinary circumstances….

Ari Melber, Meredith Mandell, and  Mirjam Lablans report Putin Rival Ties Kushner Meeting to Kremlin Bankers:

A prominent exiled Russian oligarch said in an exclusive interview with NBC News that he is nearly certain Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to collaborate with the Trump campaign, and that he believes a top Russian banker was not “acting on his own behalf” when he held a controversial meeting with Jared Kushner last December.

The pointed remarks come from a longtime Putin rival, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oil executive who was Russia’s richest man before he was imprisoned and exiled by the Kremlin.

“I am almost convinced that Putin’s people have tried to influence the U.S. election in some way,” Khodorkovsky told MSNBC’s Ari Melber in his first U.S. television interview since Trump took office.

Khodorkovsky says he believes the likelihood that Putin “personally” tried to cooperate with the Trump campaign to affect the election is a “9 out of 10.”

“Whether or not that proposal was accepted, I would let the people responsible for investigating the matter answer that question,” he added.

Khodorkovsky was freed and exiled from Russia in 2013, after spending 10 years in prison for tax evasion. Several international human rights groups have said the prosecution was political retribution for his public criticism of Putin….

Tech Insider lists 5 myths about sugar that you should stop believing:

Daily Bread for 10.19.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy. Sunrise is 7:14 AM and sunset 6:04 PM, for 10h 50m 33s of daytime. The moon is new today, with .1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred forty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

The City of Whitewater’s Finance Committee is scheduled to meet at 5 PM, her Community Involvement Commission at 5 PM, and the Fire Department Board at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1781, American and French forces win a decisive victory at the Battle of Yorktown:

The fire on Yorktown from the allies was heavier than ever as new artillery pieces joined the line.[64]Cornwallis talked with his officers that day and they agreed that their situation was hopeless.[65]

On the morning of October 17, a drummer appeared followed by an officer waving a white handkerchief.[66] The bombardment ceased, and the officer was blindfolded and led behind the French and American lines. Negotiations began at the Moore House on October 18 between Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Dundas and Major Alexander Ross (who represented the British) and Lieutenant Colonel Laurens (who represented the Americans) and the Marquis de Noailles (who represented the French).[66] To make sure that nothing fell apart between the French and Americans at the last minute, Washington ordered that the French be given an equal share in every step of the surrender process.[66]

The articles of capitulation were signed on October 19, 1781.[66] Signatories included Washington, Rochambeau, the Comte de Barras (on behalf of the French Navy), Cornwallis, and Captain Thomas Symonds (the senior Royal Navy officer present).[67] Cornwallis’ British men were declared prisoners of war, promised good treatment in American camps, and officers were permitted to return home after taking their parole. At 2:00 pm the allied army entered the British positions, with the French on the left and the Americans on the right.[66]

The British had asked for the traditional honors of war, which would allow the army to march out with flags flying, bayonets fixed, and the band playing an American or French tune as a tribute to the victors. However, Washington firmly refused to grant the British the honors that they had denied the defeated American army the year before at the Siege of Charleston.[68] Consequently, the British and Hessian troops marched with flags furled and muskets shouldered….

Recommended for reading in full — 

Betsy Woodruff, Ben Collins, Kevin Poulsen, and Spencer Ackerman report Trump Campaign Staffers Pushed Russian Propaganda Days Before the Election (“Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump Jr. pushed messages from an account operated from Russia’s ‘troll farm’ — including allegations of voter fraud a week before Election Day”):

Some of the Trump campaign’s most prominent names and supporters, including Trump’s campaign manager, digital director and son, pushed tweets from professional trolls paid by the Russian government in the heat of the 2016 election campaign.

The Twitter account @Ten_GOP, which called itself the “Unofficial Twitter account of Tennessee Republicans,” was operated from the Kremlin-backed “Russian troll farm,” or Internet Research Agency, a source familiar with the account confirmed with The Daily Beast.

The account’s origins in the Internet Research Agency were originally reported by the independent Russian news outlet RBC. @Ten_GOP was created on November 19, 2015, and accumulated over 100 thousand followers before Twitter shut it down. The Daily Beast independently confirmed the reasons for @Ten_GOP’s account termination.

The discovery of the now-unavailable tweets presents the first evidence that several members of the Trump campaign pushed covert Russian propaganda on social media in the run-up to the 2016 election.

A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment, “for privacy and security reasons”….

Kevin Collier reports Twitter Was Warned Repeatedly About This Fake Account Run By A Russian Troll Farm And Refused To Take It Down (“The account was one of hundreds created by Russia’s Internet Research Agency and drew 136,000 followers by tweeting divisive messages in the name of the Tennessee Republican Party”):

Twitter took 11 months to close a Russian troll account that claimed to speak for the Tennessee Republican Party even after that state’s real GOP notified the social media company that the account was a fake.

The account, @TEN_GOP, was enormously popular, amassing at least 136,000 followers between its creation in November 2015 and when Twitter shut it down in August, according to a snapshot of the account captured by the Internet Archive just before the account was “permanently suspended.”

Some of its tweets were deliberately outrageous, the archive shows, such as one in December 2016 that claimed that unarmed black men killed by police officers deserved their fate. It also trafficked in deliberate fake news, claiming just before it was shut down that a photo of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ NBA championship parade was actually a crowd waiting to hear Donald Trump speak.

Twitter, already under fire, along with Facebook, for being slow to recognize its role in Russian election meddling, declined to comment. A spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the company does not comment on individual accounts….

Dan Friedman observes Jeff Sessions Again Changes His Story on Meetings With Russian Ambassador (“The attorney general nows says their discussions may have included campaign issues”):

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday offered a revised account of his contacts with Russians during the 2016 campaign. During his confirmation hearing in January, Sessions falsely claimed he had no contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign—when he was a prominent supporter of Donald Trump. After reports that he met with Sergey Kislyak, then the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sessions changed his story, arguing that they did discuss any campaign-related issues. Yet while testifying before the Senate judiciary committee, Sessions tweaked his explanation again, noting that it was possible that Trump campaign positions did come up with the Russian ambassador….

In June, appearing before the Senate intelligence committee, Sessions altered his story again, saying, “I have never met with or had any conversation with any Russians or any foreign officials concerning any type of interference with any campaign or election in the United States.”

On Wednesday, when Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) pressed Sessions on his contacts with Kislyak, the attorney general once more shifted his account, leaving open the possibility that campaign-related matters may have arisen. “I don’t think there was any discussion about the details of the campaign other than – it could have been in the meeting in my office or at the convention that some comment was made about what Trump’s positions were,” he said. “I think that’s possible.”

Sessions also told Leahy he “did not recall” if he discussed emails—the Vermont senator seemed to be referring to the emails hackers stole from the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign—with any Russian officials. Leahy, a former prosecutor, said that Sessions has shifted from issuing flat denials of his contacts with Russians to saying that he could not recall his conversations. Leahy later told reporters that Sessions had changed his story and given “false testimony” in January….

Barry H. Berke, Noah Bookbinder, and Norman Eisen present Presidential obstruction of justice: The case of Donald J. Trump:

President Trump’s firing of Comey and the subsequent revelations about President Trump’s earlier exchanges with Comey while he was FBI Director raise the question of whether President Trump obstructed justice by endeavoring to impede those investigations. In June, press reports indicated that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is indeed investigating the very question of whether President Trump obstructed justice.[1] Mueller has since impaneled a grand jury in Washington D.C., issued subpoenas, and has begun seeking interviews with current and former White House officials.[2]

In this paper, we break down and analyze the question of whether President Trump may have obstructed justice and explain the criminal and congressional actions that could follow from an obstruction investigation. Addressing the possibility of criminal behavior by President Trump and the complicated issues it raises is not a task that we take lightly. Dissecting allegations of criminality leveled against an individual who has been duly elected president and who has sworn to preserve, protect, and defend our Constitution is an inherently solemn task. But it is our hope that by presenting a rigorous legal analysis of the potential case against the president, we will help the American people and their representatives understand the contours of the issues, regardless of whether it is eventually litigated in a court of law, the halls of Congress, or the court of public opinion….

Download “Presidential obstruction of justice: The case of Donald J. Trump.”

(This is a serious analysis, applying the law to published facts. Those who have supped on Fox News or Breitbart for their assessments of possible obstruction of justice claims have consumed only slop.)

In Australia, an infrared camera captured kangaroos duking it out:

Daily Bread for 10.18.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of seventy. Sunrise is 7:13 AM and sunset 6:08 PM, for 10h 53m 19s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 1.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred forty-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Public Works Committee is scheduled to meet at 6 AM, and her Parks & Recreation Board at 5:30 PM.

On this day in 1867, the United States takes possession of Alaska:

The transfer ceremony took place in Sitka on October 18, 1867. Russian and American soldiers paraded in front of the governor’s house; the Russian flag was lowered and the American flag raised amid peals of artillery.

A description of the events was published in Finland six years later, written by a blacksmith named T. Ahllund, who had been recruited to work in Sitka only less than two years previously.[22]

Recommended for reading in full —

Peter Overby reports The Court Challenge Begins: Is Trump Taking Unconstitutional Emoluments?:

On Wednesday morning, a federal judge in Manhattan will hear preliminary arguments in a case that claims President Trump is violating the Constitution’s ban on accepting foreign payments, or emoluments.

Here is what is at stake: The Founding Fathers wrote a clause into the Constitution saying U.S. officials cannot accept “any present, Emolument, Office, or Title” from foreign governments without the consent of Congress. Trump’s critics say that by refusing to sell off his global businesses, the president is failing to uphold the Constitution.

But before that issue can be debated, the court first has to decide whether the plaintiffs even have standing to bring their Emoluments Clause case. And that first step is what is happening in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York….

Tim Lister, Jim Sciutto and Mary Ilyushina have an Exclusive: Putin’s ‘chef,’ the man behind the troll factory:

Yevgeny Prigozhin is a Russian oligarch dubbed “chef” to President Vladimir Putin by the Russian press. In 2002, he served caviar and truffles to President George W. Bush during a summit in St. Petersburg. Before that, he renovated a boat that became the city’s most exclusive restaurant.

But his business empire has expanded far beyond the kitchen. US investigators believe it was Prigozhin’s company that financed a Russian “troll factory” that used social media to spread fake news during the 2016 US presidential campaign, according to multiple officials briefed on the investigation. One part of the factory had a particularly intriguing name and mission: a “Department of Provocations” dedicated to sowing fake news and social divisions in the West, according to internal company documents obtained by CNN.

Prigozhin is one of the Kremlin’s inner circle. His company is believed to be a main backer of the St. Petersburg-based “Internet Research Agency” (IRA), a secretive technology firm, according to US officials and the documents reviewed by CNN. Prigozhin was sanctioned by the US Treasury Department in December of 2016 for providing financial support for Russia’s military occupation of Ukraine. Two of his companies, including his catering business, were also sanctioned by Treasury this year….

Casey Michel describes How the Russians pretended to be Texans — and Texans believed them:

In early 2016, while researching some of the most popular U.S. secession groups online, I stumbled across one of the Russian-controlled Facebook accounts that were then pulling in Americans by the thousands.

At the time, I was writing on Russia’s relationship with American secessionists from Texas, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. These were people who had hitched flights to Moscow to swap tactics, to offer advice and to find support. They had found succor in the shadow of the Kremlin.

That was how I eventually found my way to the “Heart of Texas” Facebook page (and its @itstimetosecede Twitter feed as well). Heart of Texas soon grew into the most popular Texas secession page on Facebook — one that, at one point in 2016, boasted more followers than the official Texas Democrat and Republican Facebook pages combined. By the time Facebook took the page down recently, it had a quarter of a million followers….

Greg Fish reports Putin’s Professional Trolls Catfished And Paid Pro-Trump Activists In The US (“After embedding themselves deeply in social media, Kremlin’s trolls are branching out into mass media and activism):

….In the troll factory’s attempts to spill their propaganda into the offline world, they worked with 100 or so activists in the United States who wanted to spread the pro-Trump message. The trolls pretended to be fellow Republicans sympathetic to Trump’s message and reimbursed a number of travel and media-related expenses incurred by those activists. The political junkie from Florida who really wanted to meet like-minded would-be Trump voters on one of the 118 core social media accounts set up by the trolls was actually interacting with a 20 to 30 year old Russian man or woman sitting behind a desk in Northeast Russia after responding to a vague job ad months prior.

This is very much on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s radar as he investigates Trump’s links to shady Russian interests, but the damage has already been done. These pages and ads on Facebook have been shared hundreds of millions of times before they were deleted, and millions of Americans using the social media platform saw them thanks to hyper-targeted algorithms and a $100,000 ad buy by the trolls. So if you’re wondering how effective these propaganda operations were, the rather disturbing answer seems to be, very. In fact, the targeting was so spot on, one of the questions Mueller’s team is seriously considering is whether the Trump campaign may have helped the troll factories with it.

Trying to empower the political fringes in America is far from their only task. France, Germany, and wide swaths of Eastern Europe are also targeted with the same methods and by the same people. Even Russia itself isn’t safe from its own trolls because last year, the online news portals they ran started hitting the big time with as many as 33 million unique monthly views. This is on par with traffic other major Russia media outlets see individually, so while they’re not dominating the news, they’re definitely influencing the discourse by injecting a pro-Russian, pro-Putin slant into everyday media diets at home and abroad, especially in Russian expat communities….

Here’s Why Penguins’ Feet Don’t Freeze:

Daily Bread for 10.17.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of sixty-eight. Sunrise is 7:11 AM and sunset 6:07 PM, for 10h 56m 05s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 5.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred forty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority meets at 5:30 PM, and City Council at 6:30 PM.

On this day in 1931, Al Capone is convicted of tax evasion (and sentenced a week later to eleven years in jail). On this day in 1970, Pres. Nixon visits Green Bay: “On this date President Richard Nixon traveled to Green Bay to speak at a testimonial dinner in honor of Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Michael Gerson contends that The religious right carries its golden calf into Steve Bannon’s battles:

….There is no group in the United States less attached to its own ideals or more eager for its own exploitation than religious conservatives. Forget Augustine and Aquinas, Wilberforce and Shaftesbury. For many years, leaders of the religious right exactly conformed Christian social teaching to the contours of Fox News evening programming. Now, according to Bannon, “economic nationalism” is the “centerpiece of value voters.” I had thought the centerpiece was a vision of human dignity rooted in faith. But never mind. Evidently the Christian approach to social justice is miraculously identical to 1930s Republican protectionism, isolationism and nativism.

Do religious right leaders have any clue how foolish they appear? Rather than confidently and persistently representing a set of distinctive beliefs, they pant and beg to be a part of someone else’s movement. In this case, it is a movement that takes advantage of racial and ethnic divisions and dehumanizes Muslims, migrants and refugees. A movement that has cultivated ties to alt-right leaders and flirted with white identity politics. A movement that will eventually soil and discredit all who are associated with it.

The religious right is making itself a pitiful appendage to this squalid agenda. If Christian conservatives are loyal enough, Bannon promises that they can be “the folks who saved the Judeo-Christian West.” All that is required is to abandon the best of the Judeo-Christian tradition: a belief in the inherent value and dignity of every life….

Barbara Radnofsky contends The Founding Fathers designed impeachment for someone exactly like Donald Trump:

….Their writings and debates surrounding the creation of the Constitution make clear that the framers feared a certain kind of character coming to power and usurping the republican ideal of their new nation. Having just defeated a tyrant — “Mad” King George III of England — they carefully crafted rules to remove such a character: impeachment. In the process, they revealed precisely the kind of corrupt, venal, inattentive and impulsive character they were worried about….

Again and again, they anticipated attributes and behaviors that President Trump exhibits on an all-too-regular basis. By describing “High Crimes and Misdemeanors,” the grounds for impeachment, as any act that poses a significant threat to society — either through incompetence or other misdeeds — the framers made it clear that an official does not have to commit a crime to be subject to impeachment. Instead, they made impeachment a political process, understanding that the true threat to the republic was not criminality but unfitness, that a president who violated the country’s norms and values was as much a threat as one who broke its laws.

Gouverneur Morris, who wrote the Constitution’s preamble, and future president James Madison were worried about a leader who would “pervert his administration into a scheme of peculation” — theft of public funds — “or oppression. He might betray his trust to foreign powers,” as Madison put it. Morris, who like many in the colonies believed King Charles had taken bribes from Louis XIV to support France’s war against the Dutch, declared that without impeachment we “expose ourselves to the danger of seeing the first Magistrate [the President] in foreign pay without being able to guard against it by displacing him”….

Natasha Bertrand reports New memo suggests Russian lawyer at Trump Tower meeting was acting ‘as an agent’ of the Kremlin:

The Russian lawyer who met with President Donald Trump’s son, son-in-law, and campaign chairman last June at Trump Tower brought a memo with her to that meeting that contained many of the same talking points as one written by the Russian prosecutor’s office two months earlier.

The memo Natalia Veselnitskaya provided to the Trump campaign last year focused on banker-turned-human rights activist Bill Browder, whose reputation has become inextricably linked to the global human-rights campaign he launched in 2009 after tax lawyer Sergei Magnitsky died in a Russian prison.

Magnitsky was thrown in jail and beaten to death after he discovered a $230 million tax fraud scheme that implicated high-level Kremlin officials, Browder says. The US passed the Magnitsky Act in 2012 that sanctioned high-level Russian officials accused of human rights abuses and corruption….

The document’s language closely mirrored the contents of a memo provided to Republican US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher by the office of Russia’s chief federal prosecutor Yuri Chaika while Rohrabacher was in Moscow last April.

(The similar language isn’t, itself, conclusive; combined with other information, it does strengthen the contention that Veselnitskaya acted as a tool of Russian state authorities when she met Trump Jr.)

Bill Allison reports Trump’s Campaign Paid His Son’s Russia-Probe Law Firm $238,000:

President Donald Trump’s re-election committee paid almost $238,000 in the third quarter to the law firm representing Donald Trump Jr. in connection with ongoing investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to campaign finance disclosures.

Trump’s campaign made two payments — one in mid July, the other in early August — to the law firm of Alan S. Futerfas, a lawyer for the president’s son, who is facing scrutiny over a 2016 meeting he had with a Russian lawyer while seeking damaging information about Democrat Hillary Clinton. The third-quarter disclosures with the Federal Election Commission didn’t specify what the legal expenses were for.

Futerfas declined to comment. The Trump campaign and the White House didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Campaign committees are permitted to pay for the legal defense of a person involved in the campaign as long as the legal services are related to the person’s campaign work….

Cath Le Couteur describes The Threat of Objects Lost in Space:

100 million pieces of “space junk” currently orbit our planet at 17,500 miles per hour. Adrift investigates the fate of these interstellar objects, which threaten to collide with and destroy satellites and spacecraft.
Director and producer Cath Le Couteur recruited Sally Potter to narrate the film from the perspective of the oldest piece of space junk, a solar-powered satellite lost in 1958. Adrift also features interviews with astronomers and scientists, such as NASA astronaut Piers Sellers, who dropped a spatula in space during a repair mission in 2006.

“Space junk,” says Le Couteur, “has become an intriguing but potentially serious and destructive museum of space exploration hurtling above our heads.”

Daily Bread for 10.16.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of sixty-one. Sunrise is 7:10 AM and sunset 6:09 PM, for 10h 58m 53s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 10.8% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred forty-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1859, John Brown leads an attack on the Harper’s Ferry Armory. On this day in 1968, the Milwaukee Bucks begin their first season: “the Milwaukee Bucks opened their first season with an 89-84 loss to the Chicago Bulls. The loss was witnessed by 8,467 fans in the Milwaukee Arena. The starting lineup featured Wayne Embry at center, Fred Hetzel and Len Chappell at forward, and Jon McGlocklin and Guy Rodgers in the backcourt. Larry Costello was the head coach. The Bucks had its first win in their sixth game of the season with a 134-118 victory over the Detroit Pistons. ”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Jonathan Easley writes Trump ramps up the culture war:

….Trump’s culture wars differ from his predecessors in both their ferocity and frequency.

The president stirs the pot on a near-daily basis at rallies, from the Oval Office and over Twitter, attracting accusations from his critics that he’s obsessed with winning empty fights with celebrities because he’s been unable to achieve meaningful legislative reforms.

And the unabashed ferocity with which Trump has gone after his targets is evidence to his critics that he doesn’t care if he alienates or annoys large numbers of Americans, as long as his base sticks by him.

Over the past week alone, Trump and his allies have kept the fires burning with fights against the NFL, ESPN, Facebook, late-night comedians and the news media, provoking retaliatory remarks from athletes, anchors, rappers and comics….

David Barno and Nora Bensahel describe The Growing Danger of a U.S. Nuclear First Strike on North Korea:

….First and foremost, the human costs would be catastrophic. Millions of North Koreans would either be killed or grievously wounded from the effects of fires, blasts, and radiation. The radioactive fallout from such a strike could spread contamination thousands of miles, directly affecting South Korea, Japan, and China, as well as countries and populations across the region and beyond. Global or regional weather patterns could also be disrupted, affecting agriculture and the environment for years to come.

Even if those tragic human costs could somehow be set aside, the cascading range of other consequences would be sufficient to avoid such an attack. China could respond militarily, by moving forces into the parts of North Korea less affected by the strike, for example. This could result in a risky confrontation with U.S. forces seeking to confirm the complete destruction of North Korean nuclear capabilities. Chinese troops could also collide with a potential influx of U.S. and South Korean ground troops trying to establish civil order and provide humanitarian relief to the North Korean populace in the aftermath of the strikes. China might also respond to an attack on its ally more forcefully, by striking U.S. bases in the region or possibly even the U.S. homeland, especially since radiation would inevitably blanket some of its territory….

Finally, the United States would immediately forfeit its moral standing in the world. Initiating a nuclear first strike would abruptly and irrevocably terminate any U.S. claims to be the preeminent world leader, one that claims a deep commitment to the rule of law and accepted norms of international behavior. If the first strike occurred without international support — as would almost surely be the case — the United States would rightly be condemned by the global community for its aggression and blatant violations of international law. A unilateral U.S. decision to use nuclear weapons for first time since World War II by launching a first strike against an adversary without compelling evidence of an imminent attack will be judged harshly for generations — perhaps even by current U.S. citizens as well….

Cameron Easley reports Trump Approval Dips in Every State, Though Deep Pockets of Support Remain:

….The negative swings in net approval ranged from as high as 30 percentage points in solidly blue Illinois and New York to as low as 11 points in red Louisiana. But in many of the states Trump easily carried last year — such as Tennessee (-23 percentage points), Mississippi (-21 points), Kentucky (-20 points), Kansas (-19 points) and Indiana (-17 points) — voters have soured on the president in 2017.

A majority of voters in 25 states and the District of Columbia said they disapproved of the president’s job performance in September, including those residing in Upper Midwest states with large Electoral College hauls that were critical to Trump’s victory over 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — and some of which are home to some of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats of the 2018 election cycle. Fifty-five percent of respondents in Michigan said they disapproved of Trump, as did 53 percent in Wisconsin and Iowa and 51 percent in Pennsylvania.

Fifty-one percent of voters in Nevada and Arizona, where the Senate GOP’s most vulnerable members are up for re-election next year, also disapproved of Trump’s handling of the presidency….

Aaron Blake writes Steve Bannon totally undercuts Trump’s claim about canceling Obamacare payments:

The White House said it was acting on the recommendation of the Justice Department — that it was canceling illegal federal subsidies that helped sustain the Affordable Care Act. President Trump said what he was doing would hurt the insurance companies only: “That’s not going to people; that’s making insurance companies rich,” he said, adding: “That money is going to insurance companies to prop up their stock price.”

But former top Trump White House aide Stephen K. Bannon told a very different tale this weekend. And it will confirm what every opponent of the move already suspected: that Trump was trying to cause Obamacare to fail.

In the midst of playing up Trump’s accomplishments Saturday at the “Values Voters Summit” in Washington, Bannon turned to Trump’s controversial Obamacare executive order the day before.

“Then you had Obamacare,” Bannon said. Trump is “not gonna make the [cost-sharing reduction] payments. Gonna blow that thing up. Gonna blow those exchanges up, right?”

Here’s the science of why coffee is good for you:

Daily Bread for 10.15.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of fifty-four. Sunrise is 7:09 AM and sunset 6:11 PM, for 11h 01m 40s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 18.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fortieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1862, the 3rd Wisconsin Light Artillery Battery engages the enemy for the first time in a small skirmish at Crab Orchard, Kentucky. On this day in 1885, Marinette-Menominee lumbermen strike: “2,500 Marinette-Menominee lumbermen walked off the job to support a reduction in workday hours. Mill owners locked out the workers in an attempt to force acceptance of an eleven-hour workday. The lockout failed as many lumbermen simply moved away from the area rather than agree to work eleven hour days. The employers were forced to negotiate with unions and conceded to a ten-hour work day and cash payment for wages.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Jim Tankersley writes Kansas Tried a Tax Plan Similar to Trump’s. It Failed:

….In 2012, Kansas lawmakers, led by Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, enacted a tax cut that eliminated state income taxes entirely for pass-through entities — such as sole proprietorships and limited liability partnerships — which are taxed at the owner’s individual income tax rate. The law also lowered individual income tax rates, cutting the top rate to 4.9 percent from 6.4 percent.

The tax package reduced state revenue by nearly $700 million a year, a drop of about 8 percent, from 2013 through 2016, according to the Kansas Legislative Research Department, forcing officials to shorten school calendars, delay highway repairs and reduce aid to the poor. Research suggests the package did not stimulate the economy, certainly not enough to pay for the tax cut. This year, legislators passed a bill to largely rescind the law, saying it had not worked as intended.

“It caused a lot of budget instability,” said State Senator Jim Denning, a Republican who led the effort to repeal the pass-through exemption this year. Mr. Denning, who earns pass-through income from his interest in a commercial real estate firm, said he had personally benefited from the exemption, but the state’s economy had not….

(It’s always and forever worth noting that libertarianism seeks a smaller, limited government, but the path to a smaller, limited government requires prioritizing government services expressly, and then eliminating some. Ineffectual tax plans that, themselves, neither enumerate and prioritize spending reductions nor even stimulate the economy relative to government spending achieve nothing of a rational reduction in government. They merely foment budget crises that lead to scrambling for ill-considered cuts, or cuts considered only to benefit a majority party’s friends. Walker’s time in office has been like this – not a reduction in government’s size, but merely a redistribution to his favored interests. )

Michael Wines reports Wary of Hackers, States Move to Upgrade Voting Systems:

WASHINGTON — State election officials, worried about the integrity of their voting systems, are pressing to make them more secure ahead of next year’s midterm elections.

Reacting in large part to Russian efforts to hack the presidential election last year, a growing number of states are upgrading electoral databases and voting machines, and even adding cybersecurity experts to their election teams. The efforts — from both Democrats and Republicans — amount to the largest overhaul of the nation’s voting infrastructure since the contested presidential election in 2000 spelled an end to punch-card ballots and voting machines with mechanical levers.

One aim is to prepare for the 2018 and 2020 elections by upgrading and securing electoral databases and voting machines that were cutting-edge before Facebook and Twitter even existed. Another is to spot and defuse attempts to depress turnout and sway election results by targeting voters with false news reports and social media posts.

West Virginia’s elections team has added a cybersecurity expert from the state National Guard with a top-secret federal security clearance. Colorado and Rhode Island will now verify election results via an advanced statistical procedure called a risk-limiting audit….

(The Trump Administration is not part of this effort; even a man of his ignorance has heard the saying that ‘one should not bite the hand…’)

Kenneth Vogel reports Trump legal tab: $4 million and rising:

During his campaign, Donald Trump promised to pay the legal bills of supporters who beat up protesters at his rallies, but a POLITICO analysis found that Trump’s campaign hasn’t always paid its own legal bills in a timely or transparent fashion.

The analysis of court and campaign filings found that Trump’s campaign committee is still spending heavily to defend against ongoing civil lawsuits alleging assault, incitement, threats and other illegal behavior by the president, his supporters and staff. But in at least four ongoing cases, Trump’s campaign had yet to make a publicly disclosed payment to the law firms representing it, paid months late or paid in tiny amounts that don’t appear commensurate with the amount of work performed by the firms.

In some cases, lawyers from the Trump Organization assisted outside law firms paid by the campaign in defending cases that named both Trump’s campaign and his company, blurring the line between Trump’s political and business operations. And there were at least two cases in which Trump’s campaign appears to have settled lawsuits quietly by making lump-sum payments to firms involved in the cases, which it listed in its Federal Election Commission reports as “legal consulting.”

In all, FEC filings show that Trump’s campaign has paid out nearly $4 million in “legal consulting” and “legal fees,” including $556,000 since Election Day. That total is more than twice as much as former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign spent on legal fees through this point in his first term….

Aggelos Petropoulos and Richard Engel report Manafort Had $60 Million Relationship With a Russian Oligarch:

LONDON — Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager for President Donald Trump, has much stronger financial ties to a Russian oligarch than have been previously reported.

An NBC News investigation reveals that $26 million changed hands in the form of a loan between a company linked to Manafort and the oligarch, Oleg Deripaska, a billionaire with close ties to the Kremlin.

The loan brings the total of their known business dealings to around $60 million over the past decade, according to financial documents filed in Cyprus and the Cayman Islands.

Manafort was forced to resign from the Trump campaign in August 2016, following allegations of improper financial dealings, charges he has strenuously denied. He is now a central figure in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Investigators have said they are looking into Manafort’s financial ties to prominent figures in Russia.

According to company documents obtained by NBC News in Cyprus, funds were sent from a company owned by Deripaska to entities linked to Manafort, registered in Cyprus….

In Canada, good-hearted people are Warming the Feet (and Hearts) of Canada’s Homeless:

After the passing of his wife in 2010, Bob Rutherford searched for a way to give back to his community. He built two custom-made knitting machines and used them to create socks to protect those in need from the frigid Canadian winters. Now, the 88-year old has expanded his sock operation into a four-person outfit, knitting up and churning out socks en masse. Today, Socks by Bob has warmed the feet (and hearts) of thousands, having knit and donated over 11,600 pairs to homeless shelters across Canada.

Daily Bread for 10.14.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be Sunrise is 7:08 AM and sunset 6:12 PM, for 11h 04m 29s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 28.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred thirty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1066, William the Conqueror is victorious at the Battle of Hastings. On this day in 1912, Theodore Roosevelt is shot in Milwaukee:

On the night of October 14, 1912, Theodore Roosevelt was shot in Milwaukee. Roosevelt was in Wisconsin stumping as the presidential candidate of the new, independent Progressive Party, which had split from the Republican Party earlier that year. Roosevelt already had served two terms as chief executive (1901-1909), but was seeking the office again as the champion of progressive reform. Unbeknownst to Roosevelt, a New York bartender named John Schrank had been stalking him for three weeks through eight states. As Roosevelt left Milwaukee’s Hotel Gilpatrick for a speaking engagement at the Milwaukee Auditorium and stood waving to the gathered crowd, Schrank fired a .38-caliber revolver that he had hidden in his coat.

Roosevelt was hit in the right side of the chest and the bullet lodged in his chest wall. Seeing the blood on his shirt, vest, and coat, his aides pleaded with him to seek medical help, but Roosevelt trivialized the wound and insisted on keeping his commitment. His life was probably saved by the speech, since the contents of his coat pocket — his metal spectacle case and the thick, folded manuscript of his talk — had absorbed much of the force of the bullet. Throughout the evening he made light of the wound, declaring at one point, “It takes more than one bullet to kill a Bull Moose,” but the candidate spend the next week in the hospital and carried the bullet inside him the rest of his life.

Schrank, the would-be assassin, was examined by psychiatrists, who recommended that he be committed to an asylum. A judge concurred and Schrank spent the remainder of his life incarcerated, first at the Northern Hospital for the Insane in Oshkosh, then at Central State Hospital for the criminally insane at the state prison at Waupun. The glass Roosevelt drank from on stage that night was acquired by the Wisconsin Historical Museum. You can read more about the assassination attempt on their Museum Object of Week pages.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Hunter Walker and Michael Isikoff report FBI document cache sheds light on inner workings of Russia’s U.S. news (and propaganda) network:

WASHINGTON — On Jan. 23, 2017, the day he started as a Washington correspondent for Sputnik, Andrew Feinberg was emailed a copy of a “style guide” that laid out the organization’s mission.

The 103-page handbook for publications of Sputnik’s Kremlin-owned parent company, Rossiya Segodnya, made it clear that traditional journalistic neutrality was not the company’s mandate. Instead, Sputnik reporters were told they should provide readers “with a Russian viewpoint” on issues and “maintain allegiance” to the country.

“Our main goal is to inform the international audience about Russia’s political, economic and ideological stance on both local and global issues,” the guide reads. “To this end, we must always strive to be objective but we must also stay true to the national interest of the Russian Federation.”

The guide, which was written in English, is included among more than 10,000 internal Sputnik messages on a thumb drive that Feinberg provided to the FBI, which is investigating the agency for possible violations of the law that requires agents of foreign nations to register with the Justice Department. The guide appears to contradict repeated claims by Sputnik executives that they follow traditional journalistic standards and operate independently of the Kremlin. are dedicated to objective reporting. For example, in August, when Sputnik opened a headquarters in Scotland, Sputnik editor and director Nikolai Gorshkov told a local news agency, “No one has ever called me from Moscow”….

(Liars, speaking small truths only to advance greater lies.)

Max Boot observes Russia Has Invented Social Media Blitzkrieg (“And it’s time that America learns to defend itself”):

The tank was a British invention, built to penetrate German trenches during World War I. But it was the Germans who, during the interwar period, figured out how to most effectively utilize the tank, in coordination with aircraft and infantry, for offensive operations. Thus was born the blitzkrieg (“lightning war”) that allowed the Germans to overrun much of Europe in 1939-1940. The British and the French, who still had more and better tanks, were helpless to resist the onslaught.

Something similar seems to have happened with social media networks. All of the leading social media platforms — Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, Google — are American inventions. Yet the Russians weaponized them to wage political war.

The 2016 U.S. presidential election was as shocking, in its own way, as the fall of France in May 1940. The complacent French thought they were secure behind the Maginot Line until the German panzers penetrated the supposedly impenetrable Ardennes Forest. Likewise the complacent Hillary Clinton campaign thought it was secure because of its hordes of cash, its extensive on-the-ground operation, and the sheer awfulness of its opponent. Surprise! The Russians stole Democratic Party emails and, acting through cutouts like WikiLeaks, leaked the most damaging tidbits. Then social media did the rest. And lo and behold on Nov. 8, 2016, the unthinkable occurred: Donald Trump was elected president of the United States….

Nick Bilton recounts Donald Trump’s Fake Renior: The Untold Story (“Trump biographer Tim O’Brien talks about his years covering the developer turned reality star turned president—including a bizarre incident involving a fake impressionist painting”):

Years ago, while reporting a book about a real-estate developer and reality-TV star named Donald Trump, Tim O’Brienaccompanied his subject on a private jet ride to Los Angeles. The plane, as you can imagine, was overly ornate; hanging on one wall, for instance, was a painting of two young girls—one in an orange hat, the other wearing a floral bonnet—in the impressionistic style of Renoir.

Curious, O’Brien asked Trump about the painting: was it an original Renoir? Trump replied in the affirmative. It was, he said. “No, it’s not Donald,” O’Brien responded. But, once again, Trump protested that it was.

“Donald, it’s not,” O’Brien said adamantly. “I grew up in Chicago, that Renoir is called Two Sisters on the Terrace, and it’s hanging on a wall at the Art Institute of Chicago.” He concluded emphatically: “That’s not an original.”

Trump, of course, did not agree, but O’Brien dropped the conversation topic and moved on with his interview. He thought that he had heard the last of the Renoir conversation. But the next day, when they boarded the plane to head back to New York City, Trump again pointed to the painting, and as if the conversation had never happened, he pointed to the fake and proclaimed, “You know, that’s an original Renoir.” O’Brien chose not to engage, and dropped the conversation….

Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb report Roger Stone attorney says he complied with request for Assange contact:

An attorney for Roger Stone says the longtime confidante to President Donald Trump has complied with the House Russia investigators’ request for him to provide the identity of his intermediary to WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange.

But Stone’s attorney, Grant Smith, would not say whether that meant Stone had in fact revealed the identity of his WikiLeaks go-between to the House intelligence committee.

“Mr. Stone has complied with the committee’s requests. No further statement will be issued,” Smith said, declining to answer any additional questions….

How Did Wolves Become Dogs?: