Daily Bread for 5.5.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of sixty-three. Sunrise is 5:42 AM and sunset 8 PM, for 14h 18m 47s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 74.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred seventy-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

It’s Cinco de Mayo, commemorating the Mexican Army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza. On this day in 19671, Alan Shepard became the first American to travel in space, reaching an altitude of 116 miles.

Recommended for reading in full —

James B. Nelson reports that Former Chicago Bear Jay Cutler could be calling Packers games for Fox Sports: “Peter Schrager, a senior national writer for FoxSports.com, tweeted that Cutler has been hired by the network and “will join Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis in the booth this season.” Cutler, 34, was released by the Bears in March after 11 seasons. He has not been signed by another NFL team.”

Lena H. Sun reports that Anti-vaccine activists spark a state’s worst measles outbreak in decades: “ The young mother started getting advice early on from friends in the close-knit Somali immigrant community here. Don’t let your children get the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella — it causes autism, they said. Suaado Salah listened. And this spring, her 3-year-old boy and 18-month-old girl contracted measles in Minnesota’s largest outbreak of the highly infectious and potentially deadly disease in nearly three decades. Her daughter, who had a rash, high fever and a cough, was hospitalized for four nights and needed intravenous fluids and oxygen. Salah no longer believes that the MMR vaccine triggers autism, a discredited theory that spread rapidly through the local Somali community, fanned by meetings organized by anti-vaccine groups. The advocates repeatedly invited Andrew Wakefield, the founder of the modern anti-vaccine movement, to talk to worried parents.”

Jacey Fortin writes that In Flint, Overdue Bills for Unsafe Water Could Lead to Foreclosures: “Following a water crisis that saw sky-high levels of lead contamination in Flint, Mich., many homes in the city still do not have access to safe tap water. But that doesn’t mean they’re not being charged for it. And if they can’t pay in time, they may lose their homes. The city has mailed 8,002 letters to residents in an effort to collect about $5.8 million in unpaid bills for water and sewer services. If homeowners do not pay by May 19, property liens are transferred to tax bills, which begins a process that can end with residents losing their homes unless they pay their outstanding bills before March 2018.”

Vann Newkirk observes The American Health Care Act’s Prosperity Gospel: “What’s a religious philosophy mostly pioneered by wealthy televangelists and megachurches got to do with pre-existing conditions and Medicaid reform? The beliefs of some evangelicals connecting wealth to God’s favor became intertwined with faith healing, and both rose to new heights in the television era on the backs of men like Oral Roberts. While it became part of the cults of personality around the generation of Pat Robertsons and Peter Popoffs that followed Roberts’s lead, faith healing was also undeniably a policy statement. It at least partially rejected the role of science in public health and encouraged a view that faith, virtue, and good works could be enough to secure healing. And although the furthest extremes of the prosperity gospel often bring to mind church scandals, thousand-dollar suits, and parish helicopters, the basic idea that a healthy life was also a sign of favor fit right in with the gospel’s defense of riches. Health is wealth. The prosperity gospel sold by televangelists fit—and fits—so well in many American homes because it mirrors the established national secular ethos….”

(Whether religious or secular in origin, the prosperity gospel is a distortion of traditional Christian teaching, and is most easily understood as a Christian heresy. (1* As he passed by he saw a man blind from birth.a2* His disciples asked him,b “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”3Jesus answered, “Neither he nor his parents sinned.” Jn 9:1-3a.)

NASA just got its closest look at Saturn yet — here’s what it saw:

Daily Bread for 5.4.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of sixty-two. Sunrise is 5:43 AM and sunset 7:59 PM, for 14h 16m 24s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 64.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred seventy-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1864 the Wilderness Campaign opens in Virginia, with the “2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 19th, 36th and 38th Wisconsin Infantry regiments and the 4th Wisconsin Light Artillery participated in this series of bloody battles.” On this day in 1873, Wisconsin politician (holding office as governor and later U.S. senator) John James Blaine is born.

Whitewater’s Fire Department has a scheduled business meeting at 5:45 PM, and her Landmarks Commission is scheduled to meet at 6 PM.

Recommended for reading in full —

Jane Chong, Quinta Jurecic, Benjamin Wittes explore Seven Theories of the Case: What Do We Really Know about L’Affaire Russe and What Could it All Mean?: “In this post, we start with an overview of the facts known today, and we then put forth seven different theories of the Russia Connection case that might account for those facts. We present these in ascending order of potential menace, from the most innocent to the most alarming. In doing so, we attempt to narrow the field of discussion—or at least provide a disciplined framework for assessing the possibilities—and give readers guidance as to what to watch for as investigations on both the legislative and executive sides move forward. We’ve confined our overview of the facts to those most directly related to Russia’s interference in the election and the possible links between Trump associates and the Russian government. There are plenty of details we’ve left out—notably statements by Trump associates and the President himself that have had the effect of kicking up dust and confusing the public conversation about L’Affaire Russe….”

Michael J. de la Merced and Nicholas Fandos report on Fox’s Unfamiliar but Powerful Television Rival: Sinclair: “Sinclair, which has little name recognition but beams local television stations into a quarter of American homes, covers plenty of standard local news, including fires, shootings and traffic. But it has also used its 173 television stations to advance a mostly right-leaning agenda since the presidency of George W. Bush. Fox, the media conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his sons, has long dominated conservative political discussion with its Fox News cable channel. But Fox News is in disarray after several scandals. In the last weeks alone, Fox News lost its biggest star, Bill O’Reilly, and one of its most senior executives, Bill Shine. With Fox News on the ropes, Sinclair, already the largest owner of local television stations, is looking to expand. Until last week it appeared to be closing in on acquiring Tribune Media, the second-largest owner of such stations. If completed, the deal would expand Sinclair’s footprint from mostly smaller markets to some of the country’s largest cities, including Chicago and New York.”

George Will contends that Trump has a dangerous disability: “It is urgent for Americans to think and speak clearly about President Trump’s inability to do either. This seems to be not a mere disinclination but a disability. It is not merely the result of intellectual sloth but of an untrained mind bereft of information and married to stratospheric self-confidence….As this column has said before, the problem isn’t that he does not know this or that, or that he does not know that he does not know this or that. Rather, the dangerous thing is that he does not know what it is to know something.”

Rick Romell reports that Dollar stores grow as other retailers shrink: “there’s one type of retailer for whom the bell isn’t tolling: Dollar stores – those downscale outlets filled with everything from underwear and laundry detergent to frozen pizza – are thriving. And Wisconsin appears to be targeted for accelerating growth. Dollar General, by far the largest of the three major chains in the sector, recently opened a 1 million-square-foot distribution center in Janesville. The development comes as the company plans 1,000 new stores this year alone, pushing its nationwide count to more than 14,000. That probably will give Dollar General more U.S. locations than McDonald’s. It already has about as many as Starbucks.”

For Star Wars fans, :

Daily Bread for 5.3.17

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of sixty-two. Sunrise is 5:44 AM and sunset 7:58 PM, for 14h 13m 59s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 54.8% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred seventy-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1936, Joe DiMaggio makes his major league debut with the Yankees, batting ahead of Lou Gehrig. On this day in 1898, Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, whose family settled in Milwaukee, and where she graduated from Milwaukee Normal School (now University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) is born.

Recommended for reading in full —

Charles F. Gardner describes the Bucks season in review: Reason for optimism: “Despair could have taken over a team that had lost 12 of its last 14 games and appeared headed for another draft lottery appearance. Instead, the Bucks finished the season with a 20-10 record in their last 30 games and reached the playoffs as the sixth-seeded team in the Eastern Conference. It was a remarkable turnaround that the Bucks hope they can carry into next season and beyond. How did they do it? Coach Jason Kidd got major contributions from rookies Thon Maker and Malcolm Brogdon, starting both of them in the final month of the season and in the playoffs.”


Drew Harwell and Matea Gold report that While in White House, Trumps remained selling points for ‘very special’ Philippines project: “Investors looking to buy a condo at Trump Tower in the Philippines would have found, until this week, some high-powered video testimonials on the project’s official website. There was Donald Trump, in a message filmed several years before he was elected president of the United States, declaring that the skyscraper bearing his name near the Philippine capital would be “something very, very special, like nobody’s seen before.” Then there was his daughter Ivanka Trump, now a senior White House adviser, lavishing praise on the project as a “milestone in Philippine real estate history.”

Jugal Patel and Henry Fountain report on an astonishing (but disturbing in fundamental ways) possibility, that As Arctic Ice Vanishes, New Shipping Routes Open: “As global warming melts sea ice across the Arctic, shipping routes once thought impossible — including directly over the North Pole — may open up by midcentury. But high costs may keep the new routes from being used right away. The amount of sea ice covering the Arctic Ocean has declined sharply each decade since the 1980s, according to measurements taken each September when the ice is at its minimum. Older, thicker ice is disappearing as well. Scientists say global warming is largely responsible for the changes. Parts of the Arctic are warming twice as fast as elsewhere.”

Conservative Jennifer Rubin asks How did Ryan’s Faustian bargain with Trump work out?: “How did things work out for Ryan? He has signed onto a spending bill that Clinton would have liked (Planned Parenthood funding, no wall, domestic spending restored, a little bit — but not enough — defense spending). He has not gotten health-care reform. His chances of obtaining tax reform are slim. Other than a Supreme Court justice and some deregulation, virtually nothing on Ryan’s agenda — one Trump was supposed to share — seems likely to come about. By ignoring fundamental questions of competency and character, Ryan vouched for a man who echoed Russian agitprop and encouraged Russian cyber-mischief during the campaign and who continues to deny the existence of mounds of evidence proving Russian efforts to meddle with our election. Ryan enabled an administration that has a bevy of ties to Russian officials, originally hired as national security adviser a man acting as an agent for foreign governments and still employs an aide (Sebastian Gorka) with ties to Hungarian fascists. Surely Clinton, for all her faults, wouldn’t have done all that.”

How is Whiskey Made? Here’s how:

Daily Bread for 5.2.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of fifty. Sunrise is 5:45 AM and sunset 7:57 PM, for 14h 11m 33s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 43.8% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred seventy-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Fire Department has a scheduled business meeting at 6:30 AM, and Common Council will be in session tonight at 6:30 PM.

Common Council is scheduled to hear an update on a waste receiving station (item C-5), and to consider (on a first reading with a second reading to be waived) a proposed ordinance to end term limits for appointees to city commissions and boards, so that members might be appointed perpetually.

There was a brief discussion of an end to term limits, as Councilmember Allen proposed it, at the last session of Common Council, although it was not reported along with other events that evening. (The Daily Union‘s Welch predictably reported on everything except this discussion.) One can find Allen’s remarks from the 4.18.17 session at approximately 47:47 on this video link.

Both topics, in their own way, are reflections not of where Whitewater’s going, as much as where she has been (and where she is): these dies have already been cast. The considerations on a change in term limits (most likely to affect long-time members of the CDA and PFC) are, however, interesting, and I’ll write more after the meeting.

Recommended for reading in full —

Erik Wemple describes the results of an interview in ‘I don’t stand by anything’: Trump withers under heat from CBS News’s John Dickerson:

JOHN DICKERSON: Did President Obama give you any advice that was helpful? That you think, wow, he really was–

DONALD TRUMP: — Well, he was very nice to me. But after that, we’ve had some difficulties. So it doesn’t matter. You know, words are less important to me than deeds. And you– you saw what happened with surveillance. And everybody saw what happened with surveillance–

JOHN DICKERSON: Difficulties how?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: — and I thought that — well, you saw what happened with surveillance. And I think that was inappropriate, but that’s the way–

JOHN DICKERSON: What does that mean, sir?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You can figure that out yourself.

JOHN DICKERSON: Well, I– the reason I ask is you said he was– you called him “sick and bad”.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Look, you can figure it out yourself. He was very nice to me with words, but– and when I was with him — but after that, there has been no relationship.

JOHN DICKERSON: But you stand by that claim about him?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don’t stand by anything. I just– you can take it the way you want. I think our side’s been proven very strongly. And everybody’s talking about it. And frankly it should be discussed. I think that is a very big surveillance of our citizens. I think it’s a very big topic. And it’s a topic that should be number one. And we should find out what the hell is going on.

JOHN DICKERSON: I just wanted to find out, though. You’re– you’re the president of the United States. You said he was “sick and bad” because he had tapped you– I’m just–

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You can take– any way. You can take it any way you want.

JOHN DICKERSON: But I’m asking you. Because you don’t want it to be–

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You don’t–

JOHN DICKERSON: –fake news. I want to hear it from–

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: You don’t have to–

JOHN DICKERSON: –President Trump.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: –ask me. You don’t have to ask me.

JOHN DICKERSON: Why not?

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Because I have my own opinions. You can have your own opinions.

JOHN DICKERSON: But I want to know your opinions. You’re the president of the United States.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Okay, it’s enough. Thank you. Thank you very much.

Will Bunch contends that The problem with NY Times and climate change isn’t what you think: “Simply put, the Times decision to hire and promote Stephens trashed its own brand, the brand that it’s spent years and millions of dollars building up. From a business standpoint — and yes, the New York Times is very much a business, now struggling to find new strategies to save itself — the move almost makes the 1985 debut of New Coke look good. And that the people who run the New York Times didn’t see this — and still don’t seem to understand the problem — should make people very afraid about the future of American journalism, especially at the moment when the media is also under assault from a wannabe strongman at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The Times’ editors who hired Stephens were following a tired playbook that’s over a century old — even as the nature of both journalism and how readers relate to the news has changed radically in the last decade. Simply put, mainstream news orgs have an almost mystical, quasi-religious faith in the notion that to be moral and ethical they must have some approximate balance between liberal and conservative opinion writers. But it wasn’t always that way, and there’s no logical reason for this in 2017.”

Laura Reston explains Where Trump Gets His Fuzzy Border Math: “Trump repeatedly cited CIS [Center for Immigration Studies] studies in his TV ads and speeches, tweeted links to the group’s research, and used its data to argue that immigrants are “bringing drugs” and “bringing crime” into the United States. After he implemented his controversial Muslim ban, CIS provided Trump with much-needed political cover: Media outlets from NPR to The Washington Post quoted the center’s experts defending the policy. Most, in fact, portrayed CIS as a respectable research institute—after all, the group boasts that its board of directors includes a mix of “active and retired university professors” and “civil rights leaders.” CIS, however, is far from a reputable scholarly organization. It’s a far-right fringe group that was founded on disturbing and discredited ideas about racial inferiority. Today, CIS churns out doctored “studies” that portray an America under siege from immigrants pouring over our borders, destroying our environment, and draining our coffers.”

Amanda Diaz describes the views of a federal former budget director in David Stockman: Trump’s tax plan is ‘dead on arrival’ and Wall St. is ‘delusional’ for believing it: “David Stockman has a stern message for investors: They’re living in a fantasy land about Trump. In a recent interview on CNBC’s “Futures Now,” the former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Reagan said that “Wall Street is totally misreading Washington,” and President Trump’s promises of tax reform will be “dead before arrival.” The president is “essentially a 70-year old kid in a candy store who wants one of everything: More for defense, veterans, border walls, law enforcement, infrastructure and ‘phenomenal’ tax cuts, too—without the inconvenience of paying for any of it,” said Stockman. Of the proposed tax bill announced this week, he said, “It’s a wonderful fantasy…but there’s no way to pay for the $7.5 trillion cost of the main features.”

SpaceX successfully landed its 10th rocket (this time to place an intelligence satellite in orbit):

Daily Bread for 5.1.17

Good morning.

A new month begins in Whitewater with rain tapering off as the day unfolds, with a high of fifty-four. Sunrise is 5:47 AM and sunset 7:56 PM, for 14h 09m 05s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 32.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred seventy-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1931, Pres. Hoover officially opens the Empire State Building when he turns on the buildings lights with the push a button in Washington, D.C. On this day in in 1954, Milton House (“”an architectural wonder when it was built in the Wisconsin wilderness” one hundred ten years earlier) becomes a museum.

Recommended for reading in full —

Mark Landler reports that Trump’s ‘Very Friendly’ Talk With Duterte Stuns Aides and Critics Alike: “During their “very friendly conversation,” the administration said in a late-night statement, Mr. Trump invited Mr. Duterte, an authoritarian leader accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines, to visit him at the White House. Now, the administration is bracing for an avalanche of criticism from human rights groups. Two senior officials said they expected the State Department and the National Security Council, both of which were caught off guard by the invitation, to raise objections internally. The White House disclosed the news on a day when Mr. Trump fired up his supporters at a campaign-style rally in Harrisburg, Pa. The timing of the announcement — after a speech that was a grievance-filled jeremiad — encapsulated this president after 100 days in office: still ready to say and do things that leave people, even on his staff, slack-jawed.”

Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger report How the Republican right found allies in Russia: “On issues including gun rights, terrorism and same-sex marriage, many leading advocates on the right who grew frustrated with their country’s leftward tilt under President Barack Obama have forged ties with well-connected Russians and come to see that country’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, as a potential ally. The attitude adjustment among many conservative activists helps explain one of the most curious aspects of the 2016 presidential race: a softening among many conservatives of their historically hard-line views of Russia. To the alarm of some in the GOP’s national security establishment, support in the party base for then-candidate Donald Trump did not wane even after he rejected the tough tone of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, who called Russia America’s No. 1 foe, and repeatedly praised Putin.”

Darron Simon reports that Controversial Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke faces protests Monday: “Thousands are expected to take to the streets of Wisconsin on Monday to demand that the governor remove controversial Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a tough-talking firebrand who wants to use his deputies and correction officers to enforce federal immigration laws. Among other concerns, organizers of the march in Milwaukee are critical of Clarke’s desire to join the Department of Homeland Security’s 287(g) program, which essentially deputizes local law enforcement agencies to operate as federal immigration agents. The Department of Homeland Security wants to expand the government’s ability to empower state and local law enforcement to perform the functions of immigration officers. “Sheriff Clarke, right off the bat, really waved the flag to say we’re going to bring it to Milwaukee County,” Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera, the immigrant rights group organizing the statewide march, said Sunday of the 287(g) program. “It basically legalizes racial profiling because you can be stopped and questioned and put in detention based on how you look,” she said.”

Rosie Gray describes norm-disregarding Trump in The Entertainment Presidency: “Whether Trump’s challenges to convention permanently change Washington’s culture, though, or become a cautionary tale for future politicians, may largely be less determined by his success in reshaping debates than by his ability to deliver substantive results. “If you are viewed as successful, yeah, you may have altered the presidency,” said Tim Naftali, a clinical associate professor of history and public service at New York University. “But if you’re viewed as a failure, no.” “The long-term effects of his allergy to existing norms will depend on how well he does as president,” Naftali said. And, at the moment, views of Trump are starkly polarized. His approval ratings are historically low for a president at this point in his tenure. A Gallup poll this week put Trump’s approval at 43 percent.”

Nature is full of curiosities. Meet the giant salamander known as the ‘snot otter’:

Daily Bread for 4.30.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be rainy, with an occasional thunderstorm, and a high of forty-eight. Sunrise is 5:48 AM and sunset 7:55 PM, for 14h 06m 36s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 21.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred seventy-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, aged 73, of Wisconsin’s Fifth Congressional District plans a town hall at Whitewater’s municipal building at 1 PM. Sensenbrenner has been in the national news most recently for his observation that “nobody’s got to use the internet” and for losing his cool at a February town hall (“The congressman, who prides himself on his prolific schedule of town-hall-style meetings, banged his gavel and insisted that his rules for civility be obeyed.“).

Sensenbrenner’s rules for civility are singular. Readers may recall that Sensenbrenner commented negatively (at a church fundraiser, of all places) on Michelle Obama’s weight, for which he later apologized:

” ‘He then talked about how different first ladies have had different projects – Laura Bush and literacy – and he named two or three others,’ Marsh-Meigs said in an interview last week. ‘And then he said, ‘And Michelle Obama, her project is obesity. And look at her big butt.’ ‘

” ‘That’s basically what he said,” she continued. “It was a combination of her work on obesity and her shape.’

“The remark stunned the five congregants, according to Marsh-Meigs, who was the only woman at the table where the conversation occurred. She said she believes Sensenbrenner might have thought she wasn’t paying attention because she was busy knitting.”

(Perhaps a staffer has supplied the congressman with a helpful Post-it® note for today’s town hall: (1) stay calm (2) don’t say anything foolish.)

On this day in 1803, the Louisiana Purchase Treaty was signed on 30 April by Robert Livingston, James Monroe, and Barbé Marbois in Paris. On this day in 1864, Joseph Bailey directs Union soldiers, including the 23rd Wisconsin, to support six Union warships: “Bailey, who was from Wisconsin Dells and an experienced lumberjack, served as an engineer in the 4th Wisconsin Cavalry. In a doomed campaign against the Confederates on the Red River in Louisiana, Union warships found themselves trapped by low water and the rocky river bed. As Confederate soldiers approached, Bailey employed water control techniques used by loggers to construct a series of dams that successfully narrowed the river, raised the water level by six feet, and provided enough surge to free the trapped fleet of gunboats. For his role in this rescue, Bailey was promoted to the rank of brigadier general. He also received a Tiffany punch bowl from his fellow officers.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Sarah Kendzior offers Want to survive another 100 days of Trump? Don’t get complacent: “For over a year, citizens refused to accept that the unthinkable was not only thinkable, but probable. His win was a lesson in the dangers of complacency. The 100 days have shown Mr. Trump’s failures to be not a natural result of incompetence, but of vigilance that citizens and officials must continue to apply if they want to keep their republic. A new translation of Dante’s The Inferno bears the lines: “Forget your hopes. They were what brought you here.” This is good advice for those living in Mr. Trump’s special hell. The era of hope and change is over. The era of resistance and resolve is now.”

Pope Francis recently gave a surprise TED talk on why the only future worth building includes everyone:

Andrew Kramer reports on an aspect of Putin’s Russia in Despite the ‘Yuck Factor,’ Leeches Are Big in Russian Medicine: “Leeches — yes, leeches — are still widely prescribed in Russian medicine, about 10 million of them every year, in many cases as a low-cost substitute for blood thinners like warfarin. “When you do it the first time, you think, ‘My God, leeches!’” Mrs. Kalinicheva said. “But after you go through it, you understand there is nothing to worry about.” In Russia, a medicinal leech costs less than $1, and a typical application requires three to seven of the ravenous little creatures. Leech treatments, available throughout the country, take 30 to 40 minutes, though the resulting wounds ooze blood for an additional six hours or so until the natural anticoagulant in leech venom wears off. Though Russia under President Vladimir V. Putin is muscling its way back onto the world stage militarily, economic development has lagged woefully, and that includes the medical system.”

Cataloging Every Tweet by the President Since He Took Office: “As Mr. Trump approaches 100 days in office, we’ve taken stock of how he has used the medium, cataloging his Twitter posts into 10 themes: Undermining Obama (15 tweets), Raising Alarm (40), Pressuring Congress (24), Discrediting the Media (41), Bullying Foreign Leaders (25), Singling Out Companies (12), Serving as Spin (101), Creating Drama and Excitement (38), Promoting the Administration (31), Making America Great Again (169)”

From above, a drone shows the landscape of Norway’s Lofoten Islands, shot using a DJI Mavic Pro:

Daily Bread for 4.29.17

Good morning.

Saturday in this rural college town will be mostly cloudy, with afternoon showers, and a high of forty-nine. Sunrise is 5:49 AM and sunset 7:54 PM, for 14h 04m 05s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 13.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred seventy-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1899, composer & pianist Duke Ellington is born. On this day in 1862, the Siege of Corinth, Mississippi begins: “Following their victory at Shiloh, 110,000 Union soldiers marched to Corinth, Mississippi. The city sat at the junction of rail lines that stretched south to Alabama and Florida, and north to Kentucky and Virginia. It would take three weeks to drive Confederate troops from the city.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Andrew Restuccia, Josh Dawsey, and Daniel Lippman report on the White House eyeing [Milwaukee Sheriff David] Clarke for Homeland Security post: “Clarke is in line to be appointed as assistant secretary at DHS’ Office of Partnership and Engagement, which coordinates outreach to state, local and tribal officials and law enforcement. The position does not require Senate confirmation. A senior administration official cautioned it’s “not a done deal yet.” Clarke, a longtime supporter of President Donald Trump, has long been rumored as a possible candidate for a job in the administration and met with Trump in November at Trump Tower. He also spoke at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last year. He has come under fire in recent days amid revelations about the case of Terrill Thomas, who died of dehydration last year at the Milwaukee County Jail after guards turned off the water in his cell.”

Audrey Carlsen, Jesse Drucker, Stuart A. Thompson, and Nadja Popovich report that Trump Could Save Tens of Millions of Dollars in One Year Under His Proposed Tax Plan: “Mr. Trump could save as much as $10.4 million on business income and $16.6 million on income from real estate and other kinds of partnerships under this plan, compared with his tax burden under current law. (In 2005, much of this taxable income was offset by a $103.2 million write-down in business losses.)”

Maria Sacchetti and Ed O’Keefe report that ICE data shows half of immigrants arrested in raids had traffic convictions or no record: “The two-month total represents a 32 percent increase in deportation arrests over the same period last year. Most are criminals, administration officials have said. But 5,441 were not criminals, double the number of undocumented immigrants arrested for deportation a year earlier. The administration has released a detailed breakdown of the criminal records only of the raids in early February. Trump has said that public safety threats are his top priority. Shortly after he was elected, he vowed to first deport serious criminals from the United States. But critics say immigration agents instead have also targeted students, parents of U.S. citizens who do not have serious criminal records and minor offenders.”

Felicia Schwartz reports that Sec. of State Tillerson Proposes 2,300 Job Cuts From State Department: “WASHINGTON—U.S. chief diplomat Rex Tillerson is floating a plan to slash 2,300 jobs and 26% of the budget from the State Department, affirming the Trump administration’s intention to favor military over diplomatic spending, people familiar with the proposal said. Mr. Tillerson’s proposal follows the Office of Management and Budget’s plan that included President Donald Trump’s call to cut funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development by 31%. Officials cautioned that the budget discussions continue and the administration’s final funding request to Congress won’t be released until the second week of May.”

How would one Make The World’s Tiniest Cup Of Coffee Out Of A Single Bean? Here’s how:

Daily Bread for 4.28.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy, with a likelihood of afternoon rain, and a high of sixty-one. Sunrise is 5:51 AM and sunset 7:52 PM, for 14h 01m 33s. The moon is a waxing crescent with 5.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred seventy-first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

The Downtown Whitewater board of directors is scheduled to meet at 8 AM.

mutiny on the HMS Bounty takes place on this day in 1789, as “Acting Lieutenant Fletcher Christian [and] disaffected crewmen seize control of the ship from their captain, Lieutenant William Bligh, and set him and 18 loyalists adrift in the ship’s open launch.” On this day in 1862, the 5th Wisconsin Infantry takes part in a reconnaissance at Lee’s Mill, Virginia.

Recommended for reading in full —

Jacob Carpenter and Dave Umhoefer report that 3 Milwaukee County Jail staffers point fingers at others in dehydration death: “Three Milwaukee County Jail staffers blamed each other Thursday for failing to document the shutoff of an inmate’s water seven days before he died of dehydration. A corrections lieutenant and two officers all said they believed a co-worker had noted in jail logs that staff cut off the water in inmate Terrill Thomas’ solitary confinement cell. Without the notation, other corrections officers and supervisors had no way of knowing Thomas was deprived of water. The testimony came on the fourth day of the inquest into the death of Thomas, 38, whose untreated bipolar disorder rendered him incapable of asking for help. An inquest is a rarely used legal procedure that allows prosecutors to question witnesses under oath in public before they decide whether to criminally charge anybody over a death. A jury hears the testimony and issues an advisory verdict on whether there’s probable cause to file charges.”

Thomas Kaplan and Robert Pear report that Health Bill Vote Scrapped for Now as G.O.P. Support Wanes: “The lost opportunity was perhaps the biggest blow to the future prospects of Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, who has a long relationship with Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. Mr. Priebus had pushed aggressively for the House to schedule a vote this week, according to several people who spoke with him within the West Wing and on Capitol Hill. Earlier on Thursday, Mr. Ryan appeared to shy away from pushing for a fast vote. “We’re going to go when we have the votes,” he said, adding that Republicans would not be constrained by “some artificial deadline.” House Democrats, sensing an advantage, pressured Republicans to once again back away from the bill, just as they did a month ago in an embarrassing defeat for Mr. Trump and Mr. Ryan. Democratic leaders threatened to withhold votes from a stopgap spending measure to keep the government open past Friday if Republicans insisted on trying to jam the health care bill through the House on Friday or Saturday, which is Mr. Trump’s 100th day as president.”

Brian Stelter reports an Exclusive: Federal probe of Fox News expands: “The U.S. Justice Department’s investigation of Fox News has widened to include a second law enforcement agency. Financial crimes experts from the United States Postal Inspection Service are now involved, according to four sources connected to the investigation. Mail fraud and wire fraud cases are part of the USPIS purview. Investigators from both the USPIS and the Justice Department have been conducting interviews in recent weeks — including with some former Fox staffers — to obtain more information about the network’s managers and business practices, the sources said….In February the investigation was reported to be focusing on settlements made with women who alleged sexual harassment by former Fox News boss Roger Ailes, and questions about whether Fox had a duty to inform shareholders about the settlement payments. The investigators have been asking “how the shareholder money was spent; who knew; and who should have known,” one of the sources said.”

The Times considers President Trump’s Laughable Plan to Cut His Own Taxes: “the skimpy one-page tax proposal his administration released on Wednesday is, by any historical standard, a laughable stunt by a gang of plutocrats looking to enrich themselves at the expense of the country’s future. Two of Mr. Trump’s top lieutenants — Steven Mnuchin and Gary Cohn, both multimillionaires and former Goldman Sachs bankers — trotted out a plan that would slash taxes for businesses and wealthy families, including Mr. Trump’s, in the vague hope of propelling economic growth. So as to not seem completely venal, they served up a few goodies for the average wage-earning family, among them fewer and lower tax brackets and a higher standard deduction. The proposal was so empty of illustrative detail that few people could even begin to calculate its impact on their pocketbooks. Further, depending on where they live, some middle-class families might not benefit much or at all, because the plan does away with important deductions like those for state and local taxes.”

Chicago Bears fans – and the rest of humanity, really – had trouble understanding why their team would go for a quarterback when a defensive player would be so useful. They expressed their surprise:

Daily Bread for 4.27.17

Good morning.

Whitewater’s Thursday will be rainy with a high of forty-eight. Sunrise is 5:52 AM and sunset 7:51 PM, for 13h 58m 59s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 1.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred seventieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

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

Ulysses S. Grant is born this day in 1822. On this day in 1963, Dave Brubeck performs at Beloit College.

Recommended for reading in full —

Jacob Carpenter reports that a Milwaukee County Inmate’s dehydration death came after litany of errors, policy violations, ex-2nd-in-command says: “A litany of egregious errors and policy violations preceded the dehydration death of Milwaukee County Jail inmate Terrill Thomas, the jail’s former second-in-command testified Wednesday…. [Former deputy inspector Kevin] Nyklewicz, who has since retired from the sheriff’s office, said jail staff failed on numerous fronts. A lieutenant violated policy by ordering the shutoff of Thomas’ water and failing to document it. Officers never contacted a psychiatric social worker after Thomas stripped off his clothes and shouted incoherently for days. Shift supervisors never intervened after daily required checks of inmates like Thomas in solitary confinement. “I can’t believe that someone would walk through there and not see or not question anything,” Nyklewicz said. Nyklewicz’s testimony followed questioning of other witnesses about another problem in the case: the failure to preserve surveillance video. Jail staff only recovered video showing the second half of Thomas’ weeklong stint on the solitary confinement wing. The missing portion would have shown who shut off Thomas’ water — though other jail staff members have identified who they believe gave the order and who carried it out.”

Charles Lane observes that Trump has set out to protect lumber workers. Instead, he’s helping lobbyists: “Thus did the president renew a trade dispute that has raged intermittently ever since 1982, when the U.S. softwood-lumber industry complained to the Reagan administration about increasing Canadian imports of this key home-building input. Whatever else this struggle has achieved, it has kept a small army of trade associations and law firms fully employed in the nation’s capital. Fighting Canadian lumber “dumping” is the raison d’être of the U.S. Lumber Coalition, founded in 1985 and headquartered — where else? — on K Street. Meanwhile, Canada’s wood products industry has its own Washington legal representatives, retained to draft contentious memorandums for the bureaucrats who adjudicate such matters at the Commerce Department. The average American’s stake in all of this — or the average Canadian’s, for that matter — is considerably less clear than the Trump administration’s rhetoric would imply.”

Jesse Drucker describes Bribe Cases, a Jared Kushner Partner and Potential Conflicts: “For much of the roughly $50 million in down payments [to purchase New York apartment buildings], Mr. Kushner turned to an undisclosed overseas partner. Public records and shell companies shield the investor’s identity. But, it turns out, the money came from a member of Israel’s Steinmetz family, which built a fortune as one of the world’s leading diamond traders. A Kushner Companies spokeswoman and several Steinmetz representatives say Raz Steinmetz, 53, was behind the deals. His uncle, and the family’s most prominent figure, is the billionaire Beny Steinmetz, who is under scrutiny by law enforcement authorities in four countries. In the United States, federal prosecutors are investigating whether representatives of his firm bribed government officials in Guinea to secure a multibillion dollar mining concession. In Israel, Mr. Steinmetz was detained in December and questioned in a bribery and money laundering investigation. In Switzerland and Guinea, prosecutors have conducted similar inquiries.”

Professor Andrew Reynolds, Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, describes Trump’s self-proclaimed terrorism expert’s likely fraudulent credentials:

“[Sebastian Gorka’s] dissertation is online and includes the ‘evaluations’ of three referees who each presented a page of generalized comments – completely at odds with the detailed substantive and methodological evaluations that I’ve seen at every Ph.D defence I’ve been on over the last twenty years.

Two of the three referees did not even have a Ph.D. One was the US Defense Attaché at the American Embassy in Budapest at the time, while the other was employed at the UK’s Defence Academy and just had a BA from Manchester University awarded in 1969. This ‘neutral’ examiner had published a book in Hungary with Gorka three years previously. While graduate students sometimes collaborate with their advisors the independent external examiners must have no nepotistic ties with the candidate. More important, a basic principle of assessing educational achievement is that your examiners have at least the degree level of the degree they are awarding. Undergraduates do not award Ph.Ds. In Gorka’s case the only examiner who lists a doctorate was György Schöpflin – an extreme right wing Hungarian Member of the European Parliament who recently advocated putting pigs heads on a fence on the Hungarian border to keep out Muslims. I have been told that Schöpflin was a family friend. Both Schöpflin and Gorka’s father[s] fled from Budapest to London in the 1950s and both moved in exile right-wing nationalist circles.

If that is true, we are left in sum with a degree that was awarded in absence – on the basis of a dissertation without basic political science methodological underpinnings – and apparently from an examining committee of two of Gorka’s diplomat friends, with only BA degrees; along with an old family friend, Schöpflin.

In sum, Gorka’s Ph.D is about as legitimate as if he had been awarded it by Trump University. Facts matter, but so does the gathering, synthesizing and creation of knowledge that is what we call ‘education.’ If you fake a Ph.D you are faking your credentials. He delivers provable untruths to the American public but is believed by many because he presents himself as an esteemed scholar of Islam. Gorka would never have got away with such hutzpah in the UK. Experience and scholarship work in harness to produce answers to questions. When you have neither experience nor training you are likely to not merely get the answers wrong, but not even have an inkling of which questions to ask.”

Sometimes a lion’s had enough:

Daily Bread for 4.26.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will bring thunderstorms and a high of seventy. Sunrise is 5:54 AM and sunset 7:50 PM, for 13h 56m 25s of daytime. We’ve a new moon today. Today is the one hundred sixty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1986, a catastrophic nuclear accident at the occurs at reactor No.4 of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Pripyat, in the Soviet Union. On this day in 1865, the 10th Wisconsin Light Artillery musters out: “It had fought in the battles of Stones River, Resaca, Jonesboro, and Bentonville, the sieges of Corinth and Nashville, the Atlanta Campaign, and Sherman’s March to the Sea. In three years the battery lost only 28 men, three killed in combat and 25 from disease.”

Recommended for reading in full —

M.B. Pell, Joshua Schneyer, and Andy Sullivan report that Hundreds more lead hotspots are identified as Trump prepares to gut programs: “An ongoing Reuters investigation has found another 449 areas around the U.S. with lead exposure rates double those found in Flint. But cities across the country say pending federal budget cuts could imperil efforts to eradicate the toxic metal. “If they go and snatch these funds away, where are we going to get help from?” [Mother of three Laicie] Manzella said. It’s a question being asked in cities across the United States bracing for cuts in programs that identify and eradicate lead poisoning hazards. Awareness of lead poisoning escalated following Flint’s crisis, and more recently from Reuters reporting that has identified more than 3,300 areas with childhood lead poisoning rates at least double those found in the Michigan city. Some of the areas slated to be hit hardest supported Trump in November’s election, though he lost Erie County, where Buffalo is the county seat.”

Lisa Rein reports that the Slow pace of Trump nominations leaves Cabinet agencies ‘stuck’ in staffing limbo: “The Senate has confirmed 26 of Trump’s picks for his Cabinet and other top posts. But for 530 other vacant senior-level jobs requiring Senate confirmation, the president has advanced just 37 nominees, according to data tracked by The Washington Post and the nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service’s Center for Presidential Transition. These posts include the deputy secretaries and undersecretaries, chief financial officers, ambassadors, general counsels, and heads of smaller agencies who run the government day-to-day.”

Christine Hauser reports that Chobani Yogurt Sues Alex Jones Over Sexual Assault Report: “The suit, filed on Monday in district court in Twin Falls County, Idaho, named Mr. Jones and the media companies InfoWars and Free Speech Systems as defendants. It called “false” and “defamatory” several reports that appeared on InfoWars alleging that the company’s factory in Idaho, which employs refugees, was connected to a 2016 child sexual assault and a rise in tuberculosis cases. The reports were published April 11 on InfoWars.com and on “The Alex Jones Channel” on YouTube. They were promoted on Twitter under the headline “Idaho Yogurt Maker Caught Importing Migrant Rapists,” and were spread widely online. The founder of Chobani, Hamdi Ulukaya, a Turkish immigrant of Kurdish descent, has been the target of right-wing threats by people who accuse him of employing too many refugees in his factories, which began as a yogurt business in upstate New York and expanded to Twin Falls, a city of about 46,500 south of Boise.”

Jane Eisner observes that Ivanka And Jared Are Spectacularly Unqualified — And Why That Matters: “To cite a recent New York Times story, they “have emerged as President Trump’s most important advisers, at least for now.” And surely the most unqualified ones to ever hold such august positions. But that last part doesn’t seem to matter. Because beyond everything else — the astonishing conflicts of interest and the continued, brazen self-enrichment — these two represent the end of any expectation that expertise is required for government work. Even in a Cabinet that is viewed as the most inexperienced in American history, the president’s daughter and son-in-law stand out for having neither the knowledge nor the experience to reasonably pursue any of the many missions they have been given. They have never sought or held public office, never worked in the civic sphere, never served in the military, never helped craft policy, never made their own name or their own millions — never done anything, really, but follow in the footsteps of their rapacious fathers and build on what they were bequeathed.”

What it’s like to go to a cherry blossom festival in Japan? It’s like this

Daily Bread for 4.25.17

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of seventy-five. Sunrise is 5:55 AM and sunset 7:49 PM, for 13h 53m 49s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 1.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred sixty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1507, German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller first publishes a map to use the name “America” (in honor of Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci). On this day in 1996, Thompson signs the W-2 (Wisconsin Works) program into law.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Jacob Carpenter reports on the contention of Prosecutors: Inmate’s water cut off for 7 days before his death in the Milwaukee County Jail: “Terrill Thomas spent seven straight days holed up in a solitary confinement cell with no running water, slowly withering away. Thomas started the weeklong stretch at the Milwaukee County Jail belligerent and loud, the result of an untreated mental illness, prosecutors said. But as the days wore on, he grew weak and dehydrated. He lost nearly 35 pounds and turned quiet, never asking for or receiving medical attention. Barely two hours into his eighth day in solitary, jail staff found Thomas, 38, dead on his jail cell floor, the result of profound dehydration.”

Rebecca Ballhaus reports that Americans Back Immigration and Trade at Record Levels: “Six in 10 Americans said immigration helps the nation more than it hurts—up 6 points since the last sounding, in September 2016. One-third of people in the survey said immigration hurts more than it helps. The result, which marks the highest level of support for immigration dating to at least 2005, comes as Mr. Trump is asking lawmakers to fund a wall along the U.S. border with Mexico and has twice signed executive orders, blocked by federal courts, suspending entry from certain countries. Support for free trade rose slightly in the latest survey, with 57% saying it is beneficial for the U.S. and 37% saying it isn’t—a gap of 20 points, and a record level of support. In July 2016, views of free trade as beneficial outweighed those who saw it as harmful by 17 percentage points.”

Amy Goldstein and Scott Clement report that the Public pans Republicans’ latest approach to replacing Affordable Care Act: “In strategy and substance, the American public disagrees with the course that President Trump and congressional Republicans are pursuing to replace the Affordable Care Act with conservative policies, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. Large majorities oppose the ideas at the heart of the most recent GOP negotiations to forge a plan that could pass in the House. These would allow states to choose whether to keep the ACA’s insurance protection for people with preexisting medical problems and its guarantee of specific health benefits. Public sentiment is particularly lopsided in favor of an aspect of the current health-care law that blocks insurers from charging more or denying coverage to customers with medical conditions. Roughly 8 in 10 Democrats, 7 in 10 independents and even a slight majority of Republicans say that should continue to be a national mandate, rather than an option for states to retain or drop.”

Nadja Popovich reports that Today’s Energy Jobs Are in Solar, Not Coal: “Last year, the solar industry employed many more Americans than coal, while wind power topped 100,000 jobs. Those numbers come from a Department of Energy report published in January by the Obama administration that provides the most complete picture available of American energy employment. In 2016, 1.9 million Americans were employed in electric power generation, mining and other fuel extraction activities, according to the report – a field we’ll call power creation for short. More than 373,000 Americans worked part or full time in solar energy, and just over 260,000 of them – or about 70 percent – spent a majority of their time on solar projects.”

Great Big Story describes Preserving One Square Inch of Silence:

Preserving One Square Inch of Silence from Great Big Story on Vimeo.

Gordon Hempton is on a personal quest to preserve silence in nature. The “sound-tracker” circles the globe recording vanishing sounds, including the most elusive one of all: silence. In 2005, Hempton resolved to find the quietest place in Washington’s Hoh rainforest, itself a haven of silence. According to Hempton, the area he found is precisely one square inch. But that little area of quiet—which holds incredible value for the Earth—is endangered. Now, Hempton is determined to protect it from noise pollution like overpassing jets, lest we lose one of our country’s last remaining silent places.

Daily Bread for 4.24.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-one. Sunrise is 5:57 AM and sunset 7:48 PM, for 13h 51m 12s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 5.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred sixty-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater will hold a public reception for candidates for its open parks & recreation director position from 3:30 – 5:30 PM. Whitewater’s school board meets today beginning at 6 PM in closed session, with an open session beginning at 7 PM.

On this day in 1800, the Library of Congress is established, as part of legislation that “appropriated $5,000 “for the purchase of such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress …, and for fitting up a suitable apartment for containing them….” Books were ordered from London and the collection, consisting of 740 books and 3 maps, was housed in the new Capitol.” On this day in 1977, the Morris Pratt Insititute, dedicated to the study of spiritualism and mediumship, moves from Whitewater to Waukesha.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Rick Barrett reports that Milk plants asked to help save Wisconsin dairy farms: “Mullins Cheese, which says it’s the largest family-owned and operated cheese factory in Wisconsin, has tossed a lifeline to eight dairy farms that were at risk of closing from a trade dispute with Canada. “My field staff looked at them and said, ‘My gosh, these are great, wonderfully kept farms,’” said Bill Mullins, the Mosinee cheese company’s vice president. “I had an opportunity to help a few of them.” But while Mullins has stepped up and signed contracts to buy the milk from eight family-owned dairy operations, dozens of others haven’t been as fortunate. They face a May 1 deadline for when they no longer have a milk processor and could be forced to shut down. Grassland Dairy Products of Greenwood said it’s dropping the farms because the company lost millions of dollars in business when Canada changed its milk pricing policies in a way that favors Canadian farmers to the detriment of U.S. milk producers. State and federal lawmakers in the U.S. have been urgently seeking short-term solutions along with an investigation of trade pacts with Canada.”

Tim Mak reports that the Senate Trump-Russia Probe Has No Full-Time Staff, No Key Witnesses: “The Senate Intelligence Committee’s probe into Russia’s election interference is supposedly the best hope for getting the public credible answers about whether there was any coordination between the Kremlin and Trump Tower. But there are serious reasons to doubt that it can accomplish this task, as currently configured. More than three months after the committee announced that it had agreed on the scope of the investigation, the panel has not begun substantially investigating possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, three individuals with ties to the committee told The Daily Beast. The investigation does not have a single staffer dedicated to it full-time, and those staff members working on it part-time do not have significant investigative experience. The probe currently appears to be moving at a pace slower than prior Senate Intelligence Committee investigations, such as the CIA torture inquiry, which took years to accomplish. No interviews have been conducted with key individuals suspected of being in the Trump-Russia orbit: not Michael Flynn, not Roger Stone, not Carter Page, not Paul Manafort, and not Jared Kushner, according to two sources familiar with the committee’s procedures.”

Ashley Parker and Robert Costa report Inside Trump’s obsession with cable TV: “During a small working lunch at the White House last month, the question of job security in President Trump’s tumultuous White House came up, and one of the attendees wondered whether press secretary Sean Spicer might be the first to go. The president’s response was swift and unequivocal. “I’m not firing Sean Spicer,” he said, according to someone familiar with the encounter. “That guy gets great ratings. Everyone tunes in.” Trump even likened Spicer’s daily news briefings to a daytime soap opera, noting proudly that his press secretary attracted nearly as many viewers. For Trump — a reality TV star who parlayed his blustery-yet-knowing on-air persona into a winning political brand — television is often the guiding force of his day, both weapon and scalpel, megaphone and news feed. And the president’s obsession with the tube — as a governing tool, a metric for staff evaluation, and a two-way conduit with lawmakers and aides — has upended the traditional rhythms of the White House, influencing many spheres, including policy, his burgeoning relationship with Congress, and whether he taps out a late-night or early-morning tweet.”

Uri Friedman observes that Trump Was Wrong About France: “Following Thursday’s terrorist attack on the Champs-Elysees in Paris, which killed one police officer and wounded two others, Donald Trump made a prediction. “The people of France will not take much more of this,” he wrote on Twitter. “Will have a big effect on presidential election!”….Then Trump dispelled any doubt about his message. The attack, for which ISIS has claimed responsibility, will “probably help” Le Pen’s chances, the American president told the Associated Press, “because she is the strongest on borders and she is the strongest on what’s been going on in France.” (This despite the fact that the Champs-Elysees attacker was a French citizen ensconced well within French borders.)….Trump appears to have been proven wrong. On Sunday, in the first round of voting to elect the next French president, Macron eked out a victory against Le Pen and will now face her in a runoff election—results that mirror the way the polls looked just before the attack in Paris on Thursday. It’s too early to determine the extent to which the issue of terrorism influenced the vote. But what’s clearer is that the “big effect” Trump predicted never came.”

John Markoff writes that it’s No Longer a Dream: Silicon Valley Takes On the Flying Car: “CLEARLAKE, Calif. — On a recent afternoon, an aerospace engineer working for a small Silicon Valley company called Kitty Hawk piloted a flying car above a scenic lake about 100 miles north of San Francisco. Kitty Hawk’s flying car, if you insisted on calling it a “car,” looked like something Luke Skywalker would have built out of spare parts. It was an open-seated, 220-pound contraption with room for one person, powered by eight battery-powered propellers that howled as loudly as a speedboat. The tech industry, as we are often told, is fond of disrupting things, and lately the automakers have been a big target. Cars that use artificial intelligence to drive themselves, for example, have been in development for a few years and can be spotted on roads in a number of cities. And now, coming onto the radar screen, are flying machines that do not exactly look like your father’s Buick with wings. More than a dozen start-ups backed by deep-pocketed industry figures like Larry Page, a Google founder — along with big aerospace firms like Airbus, the ride-hailing company Uber and even the government of Dubai — are taking on the dream of the flying car.”

Daily Bread for 4.23.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of seventy-one. Sunrise is 5:58 AM and sunset 7:47 PM, for 13h 48m 34s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 12.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred sixty-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

April 23rd is the traditionally observed birthday of William Shakespeare, on this day in 1564. On this day in 1954, playing for the Milwaukee Braves, Hank Aaron hits his first major league home run.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Craig Gilbert observes that Paul Ryan’s national popularity sags: “His favorability ratings have gone from positive to negative for the first time in Gallup’s polling. In a poll by Pew, his approval rating is 29%, his disapproval 54%. In a survey by Quinnipiac, 28% of voters view him favorably, 52% unfavorably. These national polls were all taken in the aftermath of the House GOP’s highly publicized failure to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. But they also reflect broader forces at work in Donald Trump’s presidency. The speaker is now a less popular figure among GOP voters than Trump is. But as a partner of Trump in Republican-run Washington, Ryan has seen his standing suffer among Democrats and independents.”

Patricia Torres and Nicholas Casey report that Armed Civilian Bands in Venezuela Prop Up Unpopular President: “Carlos Moreno, 17, lay sprawled on the ground, a pool of blood around his head….The uniformed men who shot Mr. Moreno were not government security forces, witnesses say. Rather, they were members of armed bands who have become key enforcers for President Nicolás Maduro as he attempts to crush a growing protest movement against his rule. The groups, called collectives or colectivos in Spanish, originated as pro-government community organizations that have long been a part of the landscape of leftist Venezuelan politics. Civilians with police training, colectivo members are armed by the government, say experts who have studied them. Colectivos control vast territory across Venezuela, financed in some cases by extortion, black-market food and parts of the drug trade as the government turns a blind eye in exchange for loyalty. Now they appear to be playing a key role in repressing dissent.”

Dan Balz and Scott Clement report that Nearing 100 days, Trump’s approval at record lows but his base is holding: “President Trump nears the 100-day mark of his administration as the least popular chief executive in modern times, a president whose voters remain largely satisfied with his performance, but one whose base of support has not expanded since he took the oath of office, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.”

Bob Holer reports that Tom Brady gives much to Best Buddies, but has taken millions for his own charitable trust: “The legend of Tom Brady has grown thanks to charming images of his celebrated appearances for Best Buddies International, a nonprofit dedicated to helping intellectually and developmentally disabled people….Yet Brady’s relationship with Best Buddies has changed in recent years. The organization has become a major source of funding for Brady’s own charitable goals. Since 2011, while Brady has served as the face of its signature Massachusetts fund-raiser and helped it raise nearly $20 million, Best Buddies has paid $2.75 million to Brady’s own charitable trust and has pledged to grant the organization an additional $500,000 in 2017 — a total of $3.25 million….Brady “really can’t take credit for being a great philanthropist when he is using other people’s money to help his own organizations,’’ said Daniel Borochoff, president of Charity Watch, a Chicago-based nonprofit that evaluates philanthropies and advocates for consumers. “It’s certainly not pure altruism.’’

What would it be like to work undercover in a Chinese iPhone factory? Dejian Zeng knows:

Daily Bread for 4.22.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of sixty-four. Sunrise is 6 AM and sunset 7:46 PM, for 13h 45m 55s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 30% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred sixty-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in in 1889, approximately 50,000 people take part in the Oklahoma Land Rush. On this day in 1970, the first Earth Day is celebrated, with Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson having been among those advocating for a dedicated day for conservation issues.

Recommended for reading in full —

Sebastian Rotella reports that Russia is engaged in a full-scale shadow war in Europe: “American politics was jolted when 17 intelligence agencies concluded in January that Russia had covertly intervened in the 2016 presidential campaign with the aim of electing Donald Trump. Such activity is nothing new in Europe, where Russia has launched a series of clandestine and open efforts to sway governments and exert influence, according to European and U.S. national security officials, diplomats, academics and other experts interviewed by ProPublica in recent weeks. “The Russians have had an aggressive espionage presence here for a long time,” a senior French intelligence official said. “The Russians now have more spies, more clandestine operations, in France than they did in the Cold War.” European and U.S. security officials say Russian tactics run the gamut from attempted regime change to sophisticated cyber-espionage.”

Aurelien Breeden offers a Guide to the French Vote (and How It Relates to ‘Brexit’ and Trump): “French voters will go to the polls on Sunday for the first round of presidential elections. In the wake of electoral upheavals around the world, including the victory of Donald J. Trump and Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, the vote is one of several in Europe being closely watched worldwide….”

Damian Paletta reports that Trump’s ‘Big announcement’ on tax reform unlikely to reveal details, official says: “The White House will release on Wednesday the “broad principles and priorities” of their plans to overhaul federal taxes, a White House official said Friday night, downplaying expectations that the Trump administration would reveal key details underpinning the plan. President Trump said earlier Friday that he would release new information about his plan to overhaul the tax code on Wednesday, a sign that he is trying to accelerate one of his most ambitious campaign promises even though key specifics remain undetermined. “We’ll be having a big announcement on Wednesday having to do with tax reform,” Trump said Friday while visiting the Treasury Department. “The process has begun long ago but it really formally begins on Wednesday.”

Brian Fung explains Why Verizon is losing more cellphone customers than ever: “…aggressive moves by smaller carriers to build out their networks are paying off, said Roger Entner, an industry analyst with Recon Analytics, meaning that such companies as T-Mobile are chipping away at Verizon’s network advantage. In a recent federal auction of wireless airwaves, T-Mobile emerged as a major beneficiary, spending $8 billion to acquire rights to radio spectrum it will use to expand its mobile Internet capacity. “At least three of the four nationwide carriers [are] inching closer to network parity in the major markets,” Entner said. In addition, fewer customers are choosing to leave the smaller carriers for Verizon or AT&T, Entner said. This is important because in a market such as the United States, there aren’t many new customers left; most people already have cell service, and as a result, carriers have been forced to engage in costly price wars to poach subscribers from one another.”

Jason Drakeford, Dennis Overbye, and Jonathan Corum describe Dark Oceans: Surveying Saturn’s Moons:

Daily Bread for 4.21.17

Good morning.

Friday win Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of fifty-nine. Sunrise is 6:01 AM and sunset 7:44 PM, for 13h 43m 14s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 27.7% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred sixty-fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Today is the anniversary of the legendary date on which Rome was founded (April 21, 753 B.C.). Conservationist John Muir is born on this day in 1838.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Tim Cato writes that the Bucks annihilated the Raptors in Game 3 and it showed a glimpse of their future: “The Milwaukee Bucks stole Game 1, and they nearly did the same in Game 2. They’ll live with the small consolation prize that is Game 3. It was a thorough, brutal beatdown of the Toronto Raptors as the series shifted back to Wisconsin, starting the moment the game began and never letting up for a second. The 104-77 win puts Milwaukee up two games to one, with another game at home coming up. It’s too soon to count out Toronto, because we’ve seen them power through ugly series and inexplicably win them. But right now, it looks like the Raptors are headed for a couple more games, and then a quick extinction. They could easily be down 3-0, and they would need a lot going right to get the turnaround they desire. We’ll have a long talk about Toronto if they do indeed lose. Right now, this is about Milwaukee, and how the Bucks have maybe come together to play incredible basketball….The Bucks have made a clear statement that they should be feared. Even if they somehow seize up and fall apart in a series loss, something nobody is predicting at this point, consider how damn young they are. We see teams rise and fall out of the Eastern Conference constantly — remember how the Knicks were good for a season, and only that? Remember the Indiana dynasties that fell obsolete so, so quickly? Now, Milwaukee might be doing the same thing to Toronto, who has run in the top of the East for a few seasons now. The Bucks, unlike any of those teams mentioned before, are built to last long into the future.”

Michael Wines writes of a ‘Pivotal Moment’ for Democrats? Gerrymandering Heads to Supreme Court: “A bipartisan group of voting rights advocates says the lower house of the Wisconsin Legislature, the State Assembly, was gerrymandered by its Republican majority before the 2012 election — so artfully, in fact, that Democrats won a third fewer Assembly seats than Republicans despite prevailing in the popular vote. In November, in a 2-to-1 ruling, a panel of federal judges agreed. Now the Wisconsin case is headed to a Supreme Court that has repeatedly said that extreme partisan gerrymanders are unconstitutional, but has never found a way to decide which ones cross the line. Some legal scholars believe this could be the year that changes that. If that happens, they say, an emphatic ruling against partisan gerrymanders would rank with another redistricting decision: Baker v. Carr, the historic 1962 case that led to the principle of one person, one vote.”

Charlie Savage writes that Jeff Sessions Dismisses Hawaii as ‘an Island in the Pacific’: “WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke dismissively about the State of Hawaii while criticizing a Federal District Court ruling last month that blocked the Trump administration from carrying out its ban on travel from parts of the Muslim world. “I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power,” Mr. Sessions said this week in an interview on “The Mark Levin Show,” a conservative talk radio program….“Hawaii was built on the strength of diversity & immigrant experiences — including my own,” Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, wrote on Twitter. “Jeff Sessions’ comments are ignorant & dangerous.” The other senator from Hawaii, Brian Schatz, who is also a Democrat, expressed similar sentiments, writing on Twitter: “Mr. Attorney General: You voted for that judge. And that island is called Oahu. It’s my home. Have some respect.”

Jeremy Venook explains The Product-Placement Presidency: “Nevertheless, Ivanka’s quest to legally protect her own name is yet another demonstration of the ethical ambiguities that arise from a powerful businessman in the White House, staffed by members of his family. Quite often, the line between the Trump brand and the Trump administration is not a clear one. Famous (and profitable) as the family’s names were before Donald became president—there’s speculation that the name is the Trump Organization’s most valuable asset—Trump’s ascension to arguably the highest office on earth, and his subsequent decision to bring his daughter into the White House, have drastically increased their visibility. This fact has not escaped them. Speaking to The New York Times in March, Eric Trump said he believes “the stars have all aligned” to make their brand “the hottest it has ever been”—although he didn’t go so far as to explicitly acknowledge the role his father’s presidency may be playing in that heat. Likewise, the Trump Organization’s decision to double the initiation fee at Mar-a-Lago in January has been read by many critics as an implicit acknowledgement that Trump’s brand is more valuable now that he’s in the Oval Office.”

Why do we have grass lawns? Here’s why —

Daily Bread for 4.20.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with isolated thunderstorms and a high of sixty-three. Sunrise is 6:03 AM and sunset 7:43 PM, for 13h 40m 34s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 39.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred sixty-third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1861, Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army. On this day in 1836, an act of Congress creates the Territory of Wisconsin.

Recommended for reading in full — 

James B. Nelson reports that Milwaukee makes Conde Nast list of ‘6 U.S. Cities to Watch’: “Milwaukee made the Conde Nast Traveler list of “6 U.S. Cities to Watch in 2017,” thanks to its vibrant restaurant scene and “endless party” during the summer. The magazine compares Milwaukee favorably to Chicago, Minneapolis and Madison and says “Milwaukee has many, if not all, of the same qualities that make these sister cities buzz — and then some.” Conde Nast said the city is a “hotbed of locavore cuisine, and a spate of award-winning restaurants have helped the city shed its beer-and-cheese reputation.” The magazine cited Ardent, Wolf Peach, Odd Duck and Vanguard as examples — all on the Journal Sentinel’s Carol Deptolla’s Top 30 or Top Eats restaurant lists. Also cited are new hotels, including the Kimpton in the Historic Third Ward and the Westin coming later this spring downtown.”

Michelle Ye Hee Lee fact-checks Trump’s claim that Korea ‘actually used to be a part of China’: “He then went into the history of China and Korea. Not North Korea, Korea. And you know, you’re talking about thousands of years . . . and many wars. And Korea actually used to be a part of China. And after listening for 10 minutes, I realized that it’s not so easy.” — President Trump, interview with the Wall Street Journal, April 12, 2017….If Trump was actually referring to the tributary system between Korea and China, then he left out a significant amount of context that distorted the relationship between them. Korea and China have long been intertwined, geopolitically and culturally. But Korea, or even Goguryeo, was not a spinoff of China, as he made it seem. Korea has its own unique roots and history. It would be worthwhile for the president to get his history lesson from Korean experts, perhaps at the State Department, rather than potentially self-serving accounts from foreign leaders.”

Scott Shane, Mark Mazzetti, and Adam Goldman report that Trump Adviser’s Visit to Moscow Got the F.B.I.’s Attention: “WASHINGTON — Ever since F.B.I. investigators discovered in 2013 that a Russian spy was trying to recruit an American businessman named Carter Page, the bureau maintained an occasional interest in Mr. Page. So when he became a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign last year and gave a Russia-friendly speech at a prestigious Moscow institute, it soon caught the bureau’s attention. That trip last July was a catalyst for the F.B.I. investigation into connections between Russia and President Trump’s campaign, according to current and former law enforcement and intelligence officials. It is unclear exactly what about Mr. Page’s visit drew the F.B.I.’s interest: meetings he had during his three days in Moscow, intercepted communications of Russian officials speaking about him, or something else. After Mr. Page, 45 — a Navy veteran and businessman who had lived in Moscow for three years — stepped down from the Trump campaign in September, the F.B.I. obtained a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court allowing the authorities to monitor his communications on the suspicion that he was a Russian agent.”

Casey Michel describes how Putin Woos the American Fringe: “Where the American far-right and hard-left carry distinct, disparate views on any range of subjects, there appears one area where they align: Russia’s apparent victimhood at the hands of a malignant West, and the righteousness of Moscow’s complaints about American encroachment. These talking points – of Russia’s putative “encirclement,” or of the West’s supposed degeneracy in the face of Moscow’s moral rectitude – are close echoes of Russian state news channels, especially Sputnik and RT (formerly Russia Today). These channels are notable for mixing slanted reportage and misdirection with more creditworthy reporting, an effective propaganda technique designed to sow doubt and confusion. These same figures of the American fringe — whether Green Party activists, white nationalists, or California secessionists — often subsequently show up on these channels. At times, this creates scenes of startling irony, such as when the state news channel from one of the least environmentally friendly countries in the world hosted the Green Party’s 2016 presidential debate. Green Party candidate Jill Stein, a trusty font of Russia-friendly talking points, even appeared next to both Putin and (now-disgraced) Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn at the Dec. 2015 gala honoring RT.”

Tech Insider describes how the 300-year-old Silms river in Canada vanished in 4 days:

Daily Bread for 4.19.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be partly cloudy, with afternoon thunderstorms, and a high of sixty-four. Sunrise is 6:04 AM and sunset 7:42 PM, for 13h 37m 52s of daytime. The moon is in its third quarter with 49.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred sixty-second day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

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

On this day in 1775, the Battles of Lexington and Concord begin the first military engagements of the Revolutionary War. On this day in 1862, Wisconsin Governor Louis Harvey dies while leading an expedition to relieve Wisconsin troops after the battle of Shiloh. The expedition was bringing “doctors, nurses, and much-needed medical supplies to soldiers when Harvey, crossing from one steamboat to another, slipped, fell into the swift currents of the Tennessee River, and never re-surfaced.”

Brian Stelter reports that Source: Fox News and Bill O’Reilly are talking exit: “A well-placed source said Tuesday afternoon that representatives for Fox and O’Reilly have begun talking about an exit. But this prompted a denial from sources in O’Reilly’s camp. Even one person close to O’Reilly, however, said he will probably not be back on “The O’Reilly Factor.” The original well-placed source said an announcement about O’Reilly’s fate was likely by the end of the week. The fact that none of these sources were willing to go on the record speaks to the delicate maneuvering underway. The network’s parent company, 21st Century Fox (FOX), will hold a board meeting on Thursday, a spokeswoman told CNNMoney. One of the sources said O’Reilly will be a primary topic. The Murdochs, the men who control 21st Century Fox, are pointedly not commenting on any of this. But conversations inside Fox have already turned to possible O’Reilly successors.”

Paul Farhi reports on a key detail in Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News future is increasingly in peril: “O’Reilly’s contract — signed in March — has an “opt out” clause that would require Fox to pay him a fixed amount if invoked, making extensive negotiations unlikely and unnecessary.”

Jason Samenow writes that The nation is immersed in its warmest period in recorded history: “The U.S. is enduring a stretch of abnormally warm weather unsurpassed in the record books, and it shows no immediate sign of ending. The latest one-, two-, three-, four- and five year periods — ending in March — rank as the warmest in 122 years of record-keeping for the Lower 48 states, according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Freakish bouts of warm weather have accompanied this long period of historic warmth, unlike anything previously experienced. In February of this year, Chicago witnessed multiple 70-degree days for the first time and a record snowless streak. Denver hit 80 degrees as early as it ever has (in a calendar year). Meanwhile, spring arrived as much as three weeks early in the South.”

Rick Romell and Paul Gores report that These Milwaukee firms use H-1B visa program targeted by Trump’s executive order: “Milwaukee companies have actively sought to make use of the foreign-worker visa program that President Trump moved Tuesday to limit. Among the biggest local users of the controversial program are some of the area’s largest and most prominent firms, including Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance, Rockwell Automation and ManpowerGroup. In fiscal 2016, applications were filed for hundreds of skilled foreign workers — typically for computer technology jobs — at local sites of each of those companies. Leading the group was Johnson Controls, with applications for at least 508 skilled foreigners at its offices in Milwaukee County. For Rockwell, 359 were sought.”

An Alligator On Mount Pleasant Porch In Charleston, South Carolina didn’t feel like leaving:

Daily Bread for 4.17.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of sixty-nine. Sunrise is 6:07 AM and sunset 7:40 PM, for 13h 32m 24s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 68.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred sixtieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

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

On this day in 1951, Baseball Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle makes his major-league debut with the New York Yankees. On this day in 1897, author and playwright Thornton Wilder is born in Madison, Wisconsin.

Recommended for reading in full —

Brittany Carloni reports that Milwaukee Catholic school keeps it all in the family as grads return as staff, volunteers: “Gracing the lobby of the middle school at Notre Dame School of Milwaukee is a colorful mural created by the school’s Class of 2007, with painted representations of girls dressed in school uniforms, graduation gowns, lab coats and traditional dresses called vestidos folkloricos. One girl is Christian Oliva, who stands in her uniform of a plaid skirt and navy blue sweater next to her classmate Crystal Serna. Ten years later, the two 24-year-olds work side-by-side in a classroom at Notre Dame — Oliva as a teacher’s aide and marketing coordinator, Serna teaching first grade. “We never planned that we were going to come back here and we are also in that mural,” Oliva said. The two graduates are among 10 alumnae who have returned to Notre Dame School to teach in the classroom, work in school offices or volunteer in some way.”

Patrick Kingsley reports that Erdogan Claims Vast Powers in Turkey After Narrow Victory in Referendum: “ISTANBUL — A slim majority of Turkish voters agreed on Sunday to grant sweeping powers to their president, in a watershed moment that the country’s opposition fears may cement a system of authoritarian rule within one of the critical power brokers of the Middle East. With nearly 99 percent of votes in a referendum counted on Sunday night, supporters of the proposal had 51.3 percent of votes cast, and opponents had 48.7 percent, the country’s electoral commission announced. The result will take days to confirm, and the main opposition party said it would demand a recount of about 37 percent of ballot boxes, containing around 2.5 million votes.”

Maria Sacchetti reports that ICE immigration arrests of noncriminals double under Trump: “Arrests of immigrants with no criminal records more than doubled to 5,441, the clearest sign yet that President Trump has ditched his predecessor’s protective stance toward most of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Advocates for immigrants say the unbridled enforcement has led to a sharp drop in reports from Latinos of sexual assaults and other crimes in Houston and Los Angeles, and terrified immigrant communities across the United States. A prosecutor said the presence of immigration agents in state and local courthouses, which advocates say has increased under the Trump administration, makes it harder to prosecute crime. “My sense is that ICE is emboldened in a way that I have never seen,” Dan Satterberg, the top prosecutor in Washington state’s King County, which includes Seattle, said Thursday. “The federal government, in really just a couple of months, has undone decades of work that we have done to build this trust.”

David Frum considers Trump’s foreign policy in On Military Upsurge: ‘If It Were Good Foreign Policy, Donald Trump Would Not Be Doing It’: “David Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, argued that Trump won the Republican nomination for president because he promised to “fight and win wars.” “But now he’s embarked again on one of these open-ended conflicts,” Frum said. “There’s no plan that one can see. How does he even psychologically cope with the commitment that’s undertaking on behalf of us all?” Frum also said that it was a mistake to reflexively support Trump’s missile strikes in Syria. “I think a good rule of thumb is, if it were good foreign policy, Donald Trump would not be doing it,” Frum insisted. “There was no process, no deliberation,” he noted. “There was no inter-agency process because there are no agencies, there are no deputies meeting because there are no deputies. It seems to have been done fitfully and impulsively with no answer to the question, “Okay, so what do you do the next day?'” “Could he do anything that could change your mind?” [CNN’s Fareed] Zakaria asked. “He’s him,” Frump replied. “He’s never going to stop being him.”

Bret Israel writes about the Shoe-string theory: Science shows why shoelaces come untied: “A new study by mechanical engineers at UC Berkeley finally shows why your shoelaces may keep coming untied. It’s a question that everyone asks, often after stopping to retie their shoes, yet one that nobody had investigated until now. The answer, the study suggests, is that a double whammy of stomping and whipping forces acts like an invisible hand, loosening the knot and then tugging on the free ends of your laces until the whole thing unravels. The study is more than an example of science answering a seemingly obvious question. A better understanding of knot mechanics is needed for sharper insight into how knotted structures fail under a variety of forces. Using a slow-motion camera and a series of experiments, the study shows that shoelace knot failure happens in a matter of seconds, triggered by a complex interaction of forces.”

Daily Bread for 4.16.17

Good morning.

Easter Sunday in Whitewater will be increasingly sunny with a high of sixty-nine. Sunrise is 6:09 AM and sunset 7:39 PM, for 13h 29m 40s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 76.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred fifty-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1962, at Gerde’s Folk City, Bob Dylan first performs a version of Blowin’ in the Wind. On this day in 1944, the the USS Wisconsin battleship is put into active duty for service during the Second World War.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Eric Lipton, Ben Protess, and Andrew Lehren report that With Trump Appointees, a Raft of Potential Conflicts and ‘No Transparency’: “WASHINGTON — President Trump is populating the White House and federal agencies with former lobbyists, lawyers and consultants who in many cases are helping to craft new policies for the same industries in which they recently earned a paycheck. The potential conflicts are arising across the executive branch, according to an analysis of recently released financial disclosures, lobbying records and interviews with current and former ethics officials by The New York Times in collaboration with ProPublica. In at least two cases, the appointments may have already led to violations of the administration’s own ethics rules. But evaluating if and when such violations have occurred has become almost impossible because the Trump administration is secretly issuing waivers to the rules.”

Avi Sek reports that Trump says he can’t be sued for violence at his rallies because he won the election: “Last year, protesters from a campaign rally sued Donald Trump — claiming the future president urged his supporters to assault them. Now Trump is the president, of course. And while the lawsuit grinds on, with more accusations added last week, he claims he won immunity along with the election. “Mr. Trump is immune from suit because he is President of the United States,” his lawyers wrote Friday, rebutting a complaint filed by three protesters who claimed Trump incited a riot against them at a Louisville event in March 2016. Trump’s team challenged the accusations — negligence and incitement to riot — on many other grounds, too. But a federal judge already rejected their attempt to have the lawsuit thrown out earlier this month. And in another new filing in the same case, a Trump supporter accused of assaulting protesters agreed with the plaintiffs that Trump wanted a riot — while denying he actually harmed anyone.”

Bourree Lam writes that The Fight Over Trump’s Tax Returns Isn’t Over: “The release of Trump’s tax returns is an issue Americans of both parties seem keen to hang on to. In January, a poll by ABC News and The Washington Postfound that 74 percent of Americans believed that Trump should release his returns. Another poll found that 64 percent of Republicans want to see Trump’s tax returns too….With that level of interest, it’s no wonder that Rachel Maddow’s tax scoop in March, a few pages from the president’s 2005 tax returns, was a nonevent that still received immense media and public attention. Anna Chu, one of the organizers of the Tax March who works at the National Women’s Law Center, told DCist that the leak didn’t show what the public needs to see. And a one-page leak of Trump’s record to The New York Times only whet the public’s appetite. The speculation that his returns might turn up concerning revelations is amplified by ongoing worries that Trump hasn’t taken adequate measures to distance himself from his businesses while in office, resulting in myriad conflicts of interests.

Kristine Phillips reports that Congressman [James Sensenbrenner, whose district includes Whitewater, WI] tells constituents that nobody has ‘got to use the internet’: “During the meeting in Wisconsin on Thursday, the attendee asked about the recent decision by Congress to wipe away an Obama-era policy that sought to limit what Internet service providers, such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast, can do with customers’ Internet browsing history. The concern is similar to one raised by consumer activists: Not all Internet users have options to switch to a different company if they don’t agree with their current provider’s privacy practices….

In response, Sensenbrenner, who voted to scrap the Federal Communications Commission’s privacy rules that were set to take effect at the end of this year, said:

“Nobody’s got to use the internet. … And the thing is that if you start regulating the Internet like a utility, if we did that right at the beginning, we would have no Internet. … Internet companies have invested an awful lot of money in having almost universal service now. The fact is is that, you know, I don’t think it’s my job to tell you that you cannot get advertising for your information being sold. My job, I think, is to tell you that you have the opportunity to do it, and then you take it upon yourself to make that choice. … That’s what the law has been, and I think we ought to have more choices rather than fewer choices with the government controlling our everyday lives.”

(Sensenbrenner’s shown he’s out-of-touch before, and is a poor fit to represent a college town. He’s every aged, well-off man who becomes complacent, thinking that what he did thirty years ago justifies his carrying on forever. Enlarged and entitled is no way to go through life; each day demands a renewal of one’s understanding of current conditions.)

Here’s a story about a little bunny that could:

Daily Bread for 4.15.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of seventy-nine. Sunrise is 6:13 AM and sunset 7:38 PM. The moon is a waning gibbous with 83% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred fifty-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1945, British and Canadian soldiers liberate the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp: “The scenes that greeted British troops were described by the BBC‘s Richard Dimbleby, who accompanied them: “…Here over an acre of ground lay dead and dying people. You could not see which was which… The living lay with their heads against the corpses and around them moved the awful, ghostly procession of emaciated, aimless people, with nothing to do and with no hope of life, unable to move out of your way, unable to look at the terrible sights around them … Babies had been born here, tiny wizened things that could not live … A mother, driven mad, screamed at a British sentry to give her milk for her child, and thrust the tiny mite into his arms, then ran off, crying terribly. He opened the bundle and found the baby had been dead for days. This day at Belsen was the most horrible of my life.”

On this day in 1861, Governor Alexander W. Randall receives a telegram from Washington requesting one regiment of 780 men to serve the Union for three months in the Civil War. (Within a week ten companies, from Kenosha, Beloit, Horican, Fond du Lac, Madison, and Milwaukee were ready.)

Recommended for reading in full — 

Julie Hirschfeld Davis reports that the White House to Keep Its Visitor Logs Secret: “WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The White House announced Friday that it would cut off public access to visitor logs revealing who is entering the White House complex and which officials they are meeting, breaking with the Obama administration’s practice and returning a cloak of secrecy over the basic day-to-day workings of the government….The announcement was another turnabout for Mr. Trump after a week of changing course on an array of domestic and foreign policy matters. In a 2012 posting on Twitter, he chided Mr. Obama for failing to release certain records, including college transcripts, as President George W. Bush had. “Hiding something?” Mr. Trump wrote then. Mr. Trump has rejected other basic standards of presidential disclosures, like the release of his tax returns, leading to questions over whether he would reveal who comes and goes at the White House.”

Alan Feuer reports that At Choate, Decades of ‘I’d Rather Let It Go at That’: “That attitude — letting it go at that — typified the response of the school’s administration toward the sexual misconduct of teachers for decades, according to the report, which was prepared for the school by an investigator at an outside law firm. The response continued through the administrations of three headmasters, one of whom remains a trustee for life at Choate. Since at least the 1960s, not only did at least a dozen Choate instructors prey upon their students, but a long list of administrators helped to keep the sexual abuse under wraps, rarely telling other members of the faculty and almost never alerting the authorities.”

T.R. Reid asks that Filing Taxes in Japan Is a Breeze. Why Not Here?” “Parliaments and revenue agencies all over the world have done what Congress seems totally unable to do: They’ve made paying taxes easy. If you walk down the street in Tel Aviv, Tokyo, London or Lima, Peru, you won’t see an office of H & R Block or a similar company; in most countries, there’s no need for that industry….What’s going on in these countries — and in many other developed democracies — is that government computers handle the tedious chore of filling out your tax return. The system is called “pre-filled forms,” or “pre-populated returns.” The taxpayer just has to check the numbers. If the agency got something wrong, there’s a mechanism for appeal. Our own Internal Revenue Service could do the same for tens of millions of taxpayers. For most families, the I.R.S. already knows all the numbers — wages, dividends and interest received, capital gains, mortgage interest paid, taxes withheld — that we are required to enter on Form 1040….Questions like that have prompted some members of Congress — including Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon; Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts; and Dan Coats, a former Republican senator from Indiana — to champion pre-filled forms. But their bills never went anywhere because the tax-preparation industry lobbies strenuously against them. The “Tax Complexity Lobby,” as it has been called, includes big national preparers like H & R Block and tax-prep software companies.”

Gal Beckerman describes How Soviet Dissidents Ended 70 Years of Fake News: “True internal pushback against the Soviet regime began to emerge only in the 1960s, at the moment when the political temperature inside Russia was moving from post-Stalinist thaw back to chilly. The suppressions began with the trial of the satirical writers Yuli Daniel and Andrei Sinyavsky in early 1966. As protests and further trials followed, the dissidents were faced with an interesting dilemma: how to fight back most effectively in light of the information that was coming their way. Almost daily, they would hear the details of interrogations, stories passed around about life in the labor camps, and the drumbeat of searches and arrests. The dissidents could have presented their own form of propaganda, hyping the persecution and turning that rich Soviet lexicon of “hooligans” and “antisocial elements” into bitter screeds against the state itself. But they didn’t. They chose instead to communicate it all as dispassionately and clinically as possible. They reached for what we might call objectivity.”

So, why is Area 51 called Area 51?