Daily Bread for 3.2.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of thirty-two. Sunrise is 6:26 AM and sunset 5:36 PM, for 11h 19m 53s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 18.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred fourteenth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Landmarks Commission is scheduled to meet at 6 PM.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Matthew Rosenberg, Adam Goldman, and Michael Schmidt report that the Obama Administration Rushed to Preserve Intelligence of Russian Election Hacking: “WASHINGTON — In the Obama administration’s last days, some White House officials scrambled to spread information about Russian efforts to undermine the presidential election — and about possible contacts between associates of President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russians — across the government. Former American officials say they had two aims: to ensure that such meddling isn’t duplicated in future American or European elections, and to leave a clear trail of intelligence for government investigators. American allies, including the British and the Dutch, had provided information describing meetings in European cities between Russian officials — and others close to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — and associates of President-elect Trump, according to three former American officials who requested anonymity in discussing classified intelligence. Separately, American intelligence agencies had intercepted communications of Russian officials, some of them within the Kremlin, discussing contacts with Trump associates.”

Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller report that Sessions met with Russian envoy twice last year, encounters he later did not disclose: “Then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) spoke twice last year with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Justice Department officials said, encounters he did not disclose when asked about possible contacts between members of President Trump’s campaign and representatives of Moscow during Sessions’s confirmation hearing to become attorney general. One of the meetings was a private conversation between Sessions and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that took place in September in the senator’s office, at the height of what U.S. intelligence officials say was a Russian cyber campaign to upend the U.S. presidential race. The previously undisclosed discussions could fuel new congressional calls for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Russia’s alleged role in the 2016 presidential election. As attorney general, Sessions oversees the Justice Department and the FBI, which have been leading investigations into Russian meddling and any links to Trump’s associates. He has so far resisted calls to recuse himself.”

Partick Markey reports that Gov. Scott Walker: Wisconsin road projects may be scaled back to save money: “MADISON – The state is reviewing whether it can scale back future road projects to save money, Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday. Walker touted smaller-scale projects just weeks after the Department of Transportation warned in a memo that there is a “tidal wave” of costly, critical projects that cannot be delayed forever. The memo comes at a time when Walker is standing against raising the gas tax and some of his fellow Republicans who control the Legislature are calling for finding another $300 million for highways over the next two years.”

Ed Yong describes how Wild Elephants Sleep Just Two Hours a Night: “The remarkably short amount of sleep in wild elephants is a real elephant in the room for several theories for the function of sleep,” says Niels Rattenborg from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology. Some scientists have argued that sleep evolved to give animals a chance to reset their brains, ready for a new day of learning. Others suggest that sleep provides an opportunity to clear out toxins that accumulated during the day. And yet others say that sleep allows animals to consolidate the memories that they have created while they were awake. But if any of these ideas are right, how do elephants cope with such little sleep? “The hypotheses about restorative functions start to go out the window,” says Manger. “You can’t say that these are general things that apply to sleep across all mammals.” The idea about memory consolidation becomes especially shaky: it’s meant to happen during REM sleep, and Manger’s elephants only seemed to get REM sleep every three to four days. How do they remember anything at all, much less develop their apocryphally long-lasting memories?”

Biodegradable bags help save animals’ lives and reduce pollution:

Daily Bread for 3.1.17

Good morning.

A new month begins in this small town, on a day of rain & snow, with a high of thirty-six. Sunrise is 6:28 AM and sunset 5:45 PM, for 11h 17m 00s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 10.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred thirteenth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1872, Pres. Grant signs the Act of Dedication law that creates Yellowstone National Park. On this day in 1924, astronaut Donald ‘Deke’ Slayton is born in Sparta, Wisconsin.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Jennifer Rubin observes that Trump’s speech to Congress was mostly devoid of substance: “if you were looking for real details about policy matters, you no doubt were disappointed. Most critically, GOP members of Congress got little sense as to what the president would and would not accept as an Obamacare replacement. That means they’ll be flying blind, hoping to reach consensus that won’t be so unpopular with voters that Trump turns on his own party members. One cannot over-emphasize how strange it is that the White House is providing no cover, let alone direction, on arguably the most important aspects of its own agenda. Happy talk and mindless phrases, of course, leave Trump with wiggle room to blame Democrats or Republicans, or both, when things don’t work out, but it makes success on complex and controversial issues much more difficult.”‘

Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee were Fact-checking President Trump’s address to Congress: “President Trump’s maiden address to Congress was notable because it was filled with numerous inaccuracies. In fact, many of the president’s false claims are old favorites that he trots out on a regular, almost daily basis. Here’s a roundup of 13 of the more notable claims, in the order in which the president made them….”

Alan Blinder, Serge Kovaleski, and Adam Goldman report that Threats and Vandalism Leave American Jews on Edge in Trump Era: “In a meeting with state attorneys general earlier Tuesday, Mr. Trump suggested that the threats and destruction might be a politically coordinated effort to “make people look bad,” according to the attorneys general of Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. “First, he said the acts were reprehensible,” said Attorney General Josh Shapiro of Pennsylvania, a Democrat who asked Mr. Trump about the episodes during a session at the White House. “Second, he said: ‘And you’ve got to be careful; it could be the reverse. This could be the reverse, trying to make people look bad.’” Jewish leaders denounced Mr. Trump’s comments to the attorneys general, and some urged the federal government to accelerate its investigation of the threatening calls, the latest of which came on Monday.”

Jim Rutenberg considers When a Pillar of the Fourth Estate Rests on a Trump-Murdoch Axis: “The Financial Times reported the latest example of their closeness last week: that Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka was a trustee of the nearly $300 million fortune Mr. Murdoch set aside for the two children he had with his third wife, Wendi, who arranged the trusteeship. Ms. Trump gave up that oversight role in December, before her father’s inauguration but well after Election Day. That means the whole time that Mr. Murdoch’s highly influential news organizations were covering Mr. Trump’s campaign and transition, their executive chairman was entangled in a financial arrangement of the most personal sort — tied to his children’s financial (very) well being — along with the president’s daughter. Referring to her only as the president’s “daughter” fails to capture her true role. She is Mr. Trump’s most trusted confidante. And she is married to a key presidential adviser, Jared Kushner, who, as it happens, is so close with Mr. Murdoch that he even helped Mr. Murdoch set up his bachelor pad after his last divorce, The New Yorker reported. The latest news about the Murdoch-Trump axis is acutely problematic for the leadership at The Wall Street Journal — owned by News Corp. — as it seeks to quell a rebellion by a group of staff members who believe that the paper has held them back from more aggressively covering Mr. Trump, they suspect, under pressure from Mr. Murdoch. (As Joe Pompeo of Politico first reported last week, a meeting to discuss their grievances is to take place at The Journal on Monday.)”

A robot named Handle, from Boston Dynamics, is amazingly agile, and can jump four feet, vertically:

Daily Bread for 2.28.17

Good morning.

February in this small town ends with thunderstorms and a high of fifty-seven. Sunrise is  6:30 AM and sunset 5:44 PM for 11h 14m 08s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 4.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred twelfth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1972, near the conclusion of Pres. Nixon’s visit to China, the United States and China issue the Shanghai Communiqué pledging to work toward normalization of relations between the two countries. On this day in 1862, the 8th and 15th Wisconsin Infantry regiments and the 5th, 6th and 7th Wisconsin Light Artillery batteries fight the Battle of Island No. 10, Missouri.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Drew Harwell reports that Hundreds allege sex harassment, discrimination at Kay and Jared jewelry company: “Hundreds of former employees of Sterling Jewelers, the multibillion-dollar conglomerate behind Jared the Galleria of Jewelry and Kay Jewelers, claim that its chief executive and other company leaders presided over a corporate culture that fostered rampant sexual harassment and discrimination, according to arbitration documents obtained by The Washington Post. Declarations from roughly 250 women and men who worked at Sterling, filed as part of a private class-action arbitration case, allege that female employees at the company throughout the late 1990s and 2000s were routinely groped, demeaned and urged to sexually cater to their bosses to stay employed. Sterling disputes the allegations. The arbitration was first filed in 2008 by more than a dozen women who accused the company of widespread gender discrimination. The class-action case, still unresolved, now includes 69,000 women who are current and former employees of Sterling, which operates about 1,500 stores across the country.”

Paul Kane finds An unlikely ally for President Trump: Liberal actress Jennifer Garner: “People felt like Trump really understood them, that he was going to come in and create jobs for them,” she said. “They felt like they needed something to just turn everything upside down.” It’s that level of despair that leaves Garner willing to deal with Trump when some of her friends want to offer nothing but resistance. She may even be willing to meet the president. “Send me a ticket to Mar-a-Lago. I’m ready to go down and have a steak and a good chat,” she said, only half joking about the prospect. “I really think it’s great, if he’s willing to help the poor kids who got him elected.”

Robert Pear and Kate Kelly report that Trump Concedes Health Law Overhaul Is ‘Unbelievably Complex’: “WASHINGTON — President Trump, meeting with the nation’s governors, conceded Monday that he had not been aware of the complexities of health care policy-making: “I have to tell you, it’s an unbelievably complex subject. Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.” The president also suggested that the struggle to replace the Affordable Care Act was creating a legislative logjam that could delay other parts of his political agenda. Many policy makers had anticipated the intricacies of changing the health care law, and Mr. Trump’s demands in the opening days of his administration to simultaneously repeal and replace President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement made the political calculations far more complicated. Governors of both parties added still more confusion on Monday when they called for any replacement to cover all the people already benefiting from the landmark law.”

Michael Daly describes The American Greatness of Ian Grillot: “Nobody was ever more American than was Ian Grillot when he leapt from under the table and started towards the gunman in Austins Bar & Grill on Wednesday night. Grillot had been in this sports bar in Olathe, Kansas, watching a basketball game when a decidedly un-American man was ejected for making disparaging remarks to two patrons whom he imagined to be Middle Eastern. “Get out of my country!” the man was heard to shout. Moments later, the man returned to the bar with a gun in hand and shot both patrons. Grillot ducked under a table but retained the presence of mind to count the number of shots. “I thought I heard nine,” Grillot would later say in a video released by the University of Kansas Health System. “I expected his magazine to be empty.” America was never greater than the moment that immediately followed. “So I got up and proceeded to chase him down,” Grillot would recall. “I wasn’t really thinking when I did that. It was just, it wasn’t right, and I didn’t want the gentleman to potentially go after somebody else.” Grillot would dismiss any suggestion that he was a hero.”

Tech Insider finds evolving paper art that has no end:

Daily Bread for 2.27.17

Good morning.

Whitewater’s Monday will be mostly sunny with a high of forty-eight. Sunrise is 6:31 AM and sunset 5:42 PM, for 11h 11m 16s of daytime. The moon is new, with just .9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred eleventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Urban Forestry Commission meets at 4:30 PM. Whitewater’s School Board meets in open session beginning at approximately 7 PM.

On this day in 1933, Germany’s Reichstag catches fire. The ruling Nazis, blaming the Communists, quickly use the fire in the parliament as a pretext to suspend civil liberties. On this day in 1949, the Kittoe Mine Fire leaves fourteen miners trapped 168 feet underground in smoke, debris and knee-deep water for seven hours.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Andrew Higgins reports that Trump Embraces ‘Enemy of the People,’ a Phrase With a Fraught History: “MOSCOW — The phrase was too toxic even for Nikita Khrushchev, a war-hardened veteran communist not known for squeamishness. As leader of the Soviet Union, he demanded an end to the use of the term “enemy of the people” because “it eliminated the possibility of any kind of ideological fight.” “The formula ‘enemy of the people,’” Mr. Khrushchev told the Soviet Communist Party in a 1956 speech denouncing Stalin’s cult of personality, “was specifically introduced for the purpose of physically annihilating such individuals” who disagreed with the supreme leader. It is difficult to know if President Trump is aware of the historic resonance of the term, a label generally associated with despotic communist governments rather than democracies. But his decision to unleash the terminology has left some historians scratching their heads. Why would the elected leader of a democratic nation embrace a label that, after the death of Stalin, even the Soviet Union found to be too freighted with sinister connotations?

Meg Jones asks What if they held a town hall meeting and Rep. Paul Ryan didn’t come?: “KENOSHA – Lining up behind microphones Sunday evening, a few hundred of Rep. Paul Ryan’s constituents directed their wrath and disapproval toward an empty chair. “It says a lot to me that he’s not here,” said Lee Hansen of Racine, who served in the 82nd Airborne in the 1970s. “Maybe we should repeal and replace Paul Ryan.” Forward Kenosha organizers scheduled the town hall meeting Sunday evening at a union hall to give residents of the 1st Congressional District a way to get their thoughts and opinions to the Janesville Republican. Julia Kozel, a Forward Kenosha board member, said Ryan was invited to the event but didn’t respond. She said she found out he wasn’t coming through a story in the Kenosha News a few days earlier. “I don’t think he appreciates hearing things contrary to his ideology,” said Kozel.”

Jenna Johnson reports that These Iowans voted for Trump. Many of them are already disappointed: “Of the six swing states that were key to Trump’s unexpected win in November, his margin of victory was the highest in Iowa, where he beat Clinton by 9 percentage points. Yet at the dawn of his presidency, only 42 percent of Iowans approve of the job that he’s doing and 49 percent disapprove, according to a Des Moines Register/Mediacom Iowa Poll this month.”

Jennifer Rubin describes Trump vs. an America that works: “We don’t think it is a coincidence that in the election Trump lost the most economically productive areas of the United States. Brookings found, “The less-than-500 counties that Hillary Clinton carried nationwide encompassed a massive 64 percent of America’s economic activity as measured by total output in 2015. By contrast, the more-than-2,600 counties that Donald Trump won generated just 36 percent of the country’s output—just a little more than one-third of the nation’s economic activity.” To be clear, Clinton carried the most diverse, most cosmopolitan and most successful parts of America. (“Her base of 493 counties was heavily metropolitan. By contrast, Trumpland consists of hundreds and hundreds of tiny low-output locations that comprise the non-metropolitan hinterland of America, along with some suburban and exurban metro counties.”)

Nature on PBS shows how to Build Animatronic Animals That Go Undercover and Infiltrate the Pack:

Daily Bread for 2.26.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of forty-five. Sunrise is 6:33 AM and sunset 5:41 PM, for 11h 08m 24s of daytime. We’ve a new moon today. Today is the one hundred tenth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1815, Napoleon escapes from Elba, shortly thereafter to inflict an additional Hundred Days of violence and suffering upon Europe until his final defeat.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Daniel Dale has updated the tally for The complete list of all 99 false things Donald Trump has said as president (The [Toronto] Star’s running tally of the bald-faced lies, exaggerations and deceptions the president of the United States of America has said, so far).

One reads, from the very horse’s mouth, that Trump will not attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (“I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!”) His absence is sure to make the evening twice as pleasant, and the food twice as easy to digest.

Evan Osnos, David Remnick, and Joshua Yaffa ponder Trump, Putin, and the New Cold War: “By Inauguration Day, January 20th, the evidence of a wide-scale Russian operation had prompted the formation of a joint task force, including the C.I.A., the F.B.I., the N.S.A., and the financial-crimes unit of the Treasury Department. Three Senate committees, including the Intelligence Committee, have launched inquiries; some Democrats worry that the Trump Administration will try to stifle these investigations. Although senators on the Intelligence Committee cannot reveal classified information, they have ways of signalling concern. Three weeks after the election, Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, and six other members of the committee sent a public letter to Obama, declaring, “We believe there is additional information concerning the Russian Government and the U.S. election that should be declassified and released to the public.” At a hearing in January, Wyden pushed further. While questioning James Comey, the director of the F.B.I., Wyden cited media reports that some Trump associates had links to Russians who are close to Putin. Wyden asked if Comey would declassify information on that subject and “release it to the American people.” Comey said, “I can’t talk about it.” Wyden’s questioning had served its purpose.”

Glenn Thrush and Michael Grynbaum observe that Trump Ruled the Tabloid Media. Washington Is a Different Story: “New York is extremely intense and competitive, but it is actually a much smaller pond than Washington, where you have many more players with access to many more sources,” said Howard Wolfson, who has split his career between New York and Washington, advising former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. “In New York, you can create a manageable set of relationships in a smaller universe,” Mr. Wolfson said. “In Washington, that becomes a lot more complicated.” There is another fundamental difference: During his Page Six days, Mr. Trump was, by and large, trafficking in trivia. As president, he is dealing with the most serious issues of the day. They involve the nation’s safety and prosperity, and it is the role of news organizations to cover them.”

Phil Edwards contends that Minecraft isn’t just a game. It’s an art form:

Daily Bread for 2.25.17

Good morning.

Following a light snowfall in the morning (with little accumulation), Whitewater will have a cloudy day with a high of thirty. Sunrise is 6:34 AM and sunset 5:40 PM, for 11h 05m 33s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 1.4% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Illustration of Ida Lewis rowing by Phebe Ann Hanaford. Via Wikimedia.

It’s the 175th birthday of Ida Lewis, an American lighthouse keeper rightly honored for rescuing people at sea: “There are no definitive records of Ida’s rescues and she was too modest to recount them herself, though some were documented in local newspapers and at least one garnered national attention; in February of 1881 she ventured into the bitter winter winds to rescue two soldiers who had fallen through the ice while traveling on foot. This act of bravery caught the attention of President Grant who shortly thereafter awarded her the prestigious Gold Lifesaving Medal. Eleven years after her death, the Rhode Island legislature voted to rename her former home, Lime Rock Lighthouse, as Ida Lewis Lighthouse in her honor. It’s important to remember that being a lighthouse keeper required unwavering courage, sheer physical strength, constant diligence, and a willingness to put one’s own life on the line. Ida was so dedicated that supposedly she would rush into inclement weather without shoes or coat so as not a waste a single second. Her life and legacy were not only an honor to research and illustrate, but truly a source of inspiration.”

Recommended for reading in full — 

Steve Verburg reports that Wisconsin Senate leader’s [Scott Fitzgerald] bill would relax high-capacity well regs: “The leader of the state Senate’s Republican majority has authored a bill to further relax regulation of high-powered water wells that have been linked to dwindling lakes and rivers in some parts of the state. The bill would allow drilling of wells that pump large quantities of ground water for farms and industry without review by state regulators if the new wells replace existing permitted wells. Conservationists and groups representing waterfront property owners have fought similar proposals — including several that failed last year — because they would eliminate opportunities to adjust well operations when they cause problems for other water users. “It locks in the existing problems, especially in the central area of the state where lakes and streams are drying up,” Amber Meyer Smith of Clean Wisconsin said Wednesday.”

Rachel Abrams profiles The Anti-Trump Activist Taking On Retailers: “SAN FRANCISCO — Sitting in a basement office that she rents by the hour, Shannon Coulter ticks off the activities she gave up in defiance of President Donald J. Trump: renting movies with her husband on Amazon, and shopping at Nordstrom, Macy’s and other retailers that sell Ivanka Trump’s products. A Nordstrom bag sat on a nearby table. It represents a victory lap of sorts for Ms. Coulter, who has almost single-handedly spearheaded a retail revolt against the president and his family. She was wearing a new silver Elizabeth and James lariat necklace purchased at the department store soon after it scrubbed Ms. Trump’s name from its website. “The goal,” Ms. Coulter said, “came originally from a place of really wanting to shop the stores we loved again with a clear conscience.” It’s been a wild ride these past few months for Ms. Coulter, who runs her shoestring movement from her home, or from cheerfully decorated work spaces like this one — surrounded by bright-blue furniture, clam chairs and decorative pillows that feel more Silicon Valley than anti-administration war room….The attention has transformed Ms. Coulter, 45, a digital marketing specialist, into the unlikely general of the digital army now supporting her campaign, Grab Your Wallet.”

Danielle Lerner reports that Muhammad Ali Jr. detained by immigration officials at Fla. airport: “Muhammad Ali Jr., 44, and his mother, Khalilah Camacho-Ali, the second wife of Muhammad Ali, were arriving at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Feb. 7 after returning from speaking at a Black History Month event in Montego Bay, Jamaica. They were pulled aside while going through customs because of their Arabic-sounding names, according to family friend and lawyer Chris Mancini. Immigration officials let Camacho-Ali go after she showed them a photo of herself with her ex-husband, but her son did not have such a photo and wasn’t as lucky. Mancini said officials held and questioned Ali Jr. for nearly two hours, repeatedly asking him, “Where did you get your name from?” and “Are you Muslim?” When Ali Jr. responded that yes, he is a Muslim, the officers kept questioning him about his religion and where he was born. Ali Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1972 and holds a U.S. passport.”

Aaron Blake offers Stephen Bannon’s nationalist call to arms, annotated: “Bannon participated in a panel discussion with White House chief of staff Reince Priebus and Matt Schlapp, the head of the American Conservative Union. And Bannon’s rhetoric was chock-full of the kind of nationalist, anti-news media rhetoric for which he has become known. He cast the next four years as a constant battle with the media. “If you think they’re going to give you your country back without a fight, you’re sadly mistaken,” he said. It was a window into the worldview of a man whose worldview very much aligns with Trump’s own. Below, we’re posting the conversation in full, with our annotations. To see an annotation, click on the yellow, highlighted text….

Even small insects can do big things —

Daily Bread for 2.24.17

Good morning.

Whitewater will see morning thunder showers on an otherwise cloudy day with a high of thirty-seven. Sunrise is 6:36 AM and sunset 5:39 PM, for 11h 02m 41s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 4.9% of its visible disk iluminated.Today is the one hundred eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1868, House of Representatives votes 126 to 47 in favor of a resolution to impeach President Andrew Johnson for high crimes and misdemeanors. (He was later acquitted in the Senate.) On this day in 1863, the 28th and 29th Wisconsin Infantry regiments and 12th Wisconsin Light Artillery take part in an expedition in Mississippi.

Recommended for reading in full —

Jeff Potrykus reports on Ohio State 83, UW 73: Slow start kills Badgers: “Wisconsin played its worst half of the season in the first 20 minutes, followed that with a slightly better effort in the second half but still suffered a humbling 83-73 loss to Ohio State on Thursday night at Value City Arena. “You’ve always got to be fearful of a team that has nothing to lose,” UW senior guard Bronson Koenig said of the unranked Buckeyes. “That’s kind of what happened tonight. They just were tougher than us. They beat us to loose balls. They played harder than us and that is something we pride ourselves on. “Hopefully, this is another wake-up call and we don’t have to have too many of these…I didn’t expect this at all.” As a result of the ugly loss, the 15th-ranked Badgers (22-6, 11-4) trail first-place Purdue (23-5, 12-3) by a full game with three games remaining.”

Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns report that An Alarmed Base Prods Democrats Into an All-Out War: “Immediately after the November election, Democrats were divided over how to handle Mr. Trump, with one camp favoring all-out confrontation and another backing a seemingly less risky approach of coaxing him to the center with offers of compromise. Now, spurred by explosive protests and a torrent of angry phone calls and emails from constituents — and outraged themselves by Mr. Trump’s swift moves to enact a hard-line agenda — Democrats have all but cast aside any notion of conciliation with the White House. Instead, they are mimicking the Republican approach of the last eight years — the “party of no” — and wagering that brash obstruction will pay similar dividends.”

Mark Berman reports Republican lawmaker who won’t hold a town hall invokes Gabby Giffords shooting. She responds: ‘Have some courage.’: “Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), in a statement released this week, blamed his decision not to hold these events in person on “the threat of violence at town hall meetings.” He also pointed to a specific violent event to bolster his case, invoking the 2011 shooting that severely injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killed six others. The former congresswoman responded Thursday, and she made clear that she does not agree with lawmakers shying away from meeting with members of the public. “To the politicians who have abandoned their civic obligations, I say this: Have some courage,” Giffords said in a statement. “Face your constituents. Hold town halls.”

Richard Paddock and Choe Sang-Hun report that Kim Jong-nam Was Killed by VX Nerve Agent, Malaysians Say: “KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The poison used to kill Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was VX nerve agent, which is listed as a chemical weapon, the Malaysian police announced Friday. In a brief statement, Khalid Abu Bakar, the national police chief, said the substance was listed as a chemical weapon under the Chemical Weapons Conventions of 1997 and 2005, to which North Korea is not a party. South Korea has suggested that the killing was the work of the North Korean government. The revelation that a banned weapon was used in such a high-profile killing raises the stakes over how Malaysia and the international community will respond. VX nerve agent can be delivered in two compounds that are mixed at the last moment to create a lethal dose. The police say that two women approached Mr. Kim at the airport with the poison on their hands and rubbed it on his face one after the other.”

Tech Insider unboxes the latest Nintendo console, the Switch:

Daily Bread for 2.23.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of forty-seven. Sunrise is 6:38 AM and sunset 5:37 PM, for 10h 59m 51s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 10.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Community Development Authority Seed Capital Committee meets at 4 PM, the CDA Board at 5 PM, and Common Council at 6:30 PM.

            Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, by Joe Rosenthal / the Associated Press.                                                                      Via Wikipedia.

On this day in 1945, photographs Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima, depicting six United States Marines raising a U.S. flag on Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima. The photograph depicts the second of two flag raisings on the island. (“The photograph was first published in Sunday newspapers on February 25, 1945. It was extremely popular and was reprinted in thousands of publications. Later, it became the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and came to be regarded in the United States as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war. Three Marines depicted in the photograph, Sergeant Michael Strank, Corporal Harlon Block, and Private First Class Franklin Sousley were killed in action over the next few days. The three surviving flag-raisers were Corporals (then Private First Class) Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, and Harold Schultz who first received Marine Corps recognition in June 2016.[2])

On this day in 1864, the 1st, 10th, 24th and 26th Wisconsin Infantry regiments continued fighting at Dalton, Georgia.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Aaron Blake reports that Donald Trump is losing his war with the media: “A new poll from Quinnipiac University suggests that while people may be broadly unhappy with the mainstream media, they still think it’s more credible than Trump. The president regularly accuses the press of “fake news,” but people see more “fake news” coming out of his own mouth. The poll asked who registered voters “trust more to tell you the truth about important issues.” A majority — 52 percent — picked the media. Just 37 percent picked Trump.”

Jon Schuppe reports that Town Hall Protests Revive Art of Bird-Dogging Politicians: “When activists needed advice on disrupting Republican lawmakers’ hometown events this month, they turned to Hugh Espey, a self-taught master in the art of political bird-dogging….The work is grinding and can go unnoticed. But there are big-game triumphs. Like the time he and fellow members of the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement hounded Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney into blurting at the Iowa State Fair in 2011 that “corporations are people” — a remark that shadowed him for the remainder of the campaign….”Bird-dogging,” Espey told them, “means you get to speak out and fight back with other like-minded folks. It’s liberating. And actually, in fact, when you bird-dog you may be called a heckler. And that’s OK.” His tips: prepare pointed questions, bring several people, spread out in the audience, ask the questions repeatedly, create tension, attract attention, take video, and talk to the media.”

Richard C. Paddock and Choe Sang-Hun explain Kim Jong-nam’s Death: A Geopolitical Whodunit: “The very public killing of Mr. Kim appears to be another remarkable episode in the annals of bizarre North Korean behavior, a whodunit with geopolitical implications. Speculation swirled that he had been killed to remove him from the line of succession in North Korea. In the days since the killing was caught on video, the drama has had an ever-expanding and multinational cast of characters — women from Indonesia and Vietnam accused of carrying out the attack, one of whom was apparently wearing a white shirt emblazoned with the letters LOL; a Malaysian boyfriend; and others believed to be North Korean agents. On Wednesday, Malaysia’s police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar, said a senior diplomat at the North Korean Embassy and an employee of the North Korean state-owned airline, Air Koryo, were also wanted for questioning. Another North Korean, who was not identified, was also being sought. Mr. Khalid also said that extra police officers had been sent to the morgue where Mr. Kim’s body was being kept after an attempt to break into the facility was detected.”

Don Behm reports that Milwaukee County pension chief loses job after overpayment error: “The head of the Milwaukee County retirement system is out of the job after public disclosure of another pension payment error, and at least one County Board supervisor is pushing for the troubled system to be turned over to the state. County retirement plan services director Marian Ninneman resigned after failing to correct an ongoing overpayment to one person that amounted to $140,000 over several years even though Ninneman was informed of the mistake nearly three years ago, County Executive Chris Abele said. “This pensioner didn’t do anything wrong” but now that person is being asked to pay it all back, Abele said in an interview.”

Philip Carlson is the talent agent who signed and represented Philip Seymour Hoffman, Claire Danes, Idris Elba, Viola Davis, and Liev Schreiber. He describes his Passion for Finding Talent:

Daily Bread for 2.22.17

Good morning.

Whitewater’s midweek will be unseasonably warm with a high of sixty-nine. Sunrise is 6:39 AM and sunset 5:36 PM, for 10h 57m 01s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 17.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Police & Fire Commission is scheduled to meet tonight at 6:30 PM.

George Washington was born on this day in 1732. On this day in 1922, Wisconsin experiences one of the worst ice storms on record, experiencing “ice accumulations of 1-2″, with a few reports of around 4″, built up on trees, poles, and wires. Property damage was a staggering $10 million in Wisconsin.”

Recommended for reading in full —

Annysa Johnson reports that Tony Evers, Lowell Holtz easily advance out of Wisconsin DPI superintendent primary: “Incumbent state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers easily placed first in Tuesday’s primary election, earning the right to defend his seat in the April 4 election against voucher advocate Lowell Holtz. Evers, who is seeking a third four-year term, had about 69% of the vote. Holtz, a retired Whitnall School District superintendent, had 23%. And former Dodgeville administrator-turned-part time-consultant John Humphries was third with 7%. The state’s top education post, which pays $120,111 annually, is officially nonpartisan. But Tuesday’s primary sets the stage for a quasi-partisan battle over the direction of education in Wisconsin. It pits a longtime public school advocate favored mostly by Democrats and teachers unions against a pro-school-choice, anti-Common Core candidate backed primarily by Republicans.

Michael Shear and Ron Nixon report that New Trump Deportation Rules Allow Far More Expulsions: “WASHINGTON — President Trump has directed his administration to enforce the nation’s immigration laws more aggressively, unleashing the full force of the federal government to find, arrest and deport those in the country illegally, regardless of whether they have committed serious crimes. Documents released on Tuesday by the Department of Homeland Security revealed the broad scope of the president’s ambitions: to publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants; strip such immigrants of privacy protections; enlist local police officers as enforcers; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations. The new enforcement policies put into practice language that Mr. Trump used on the campaign trail, vastly expanding the definition of “criminal aliens” and warning that such unauthorized immigrants “routinely victimize Americans,” disregard the “rule of law and pose a threat” to people in communities across the United States. Despite those assertions in the new documents, research shows lower levels of crime among immigrants than among native-born Americans.”

Jenna Portnoy reports that The women got up in Brat’s grill, and then some: “ Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.), who drew national notice after complaining that women were “in my grill” because he was reluctant to hold a town hall meeting, finally relented and came face to face with those women — and plenty others — at a raucous public event Tuesday night. [“The women are in my grill no matter where I go,” Brat says Brat held the meeting in a tiny town in Nottoway County, a rural community carried by Trump in November. It’s about an hour south of where most in Brat’s district live, but that didn’t stop a stream of people from driving into town and filling up the town hall, with scores shut out on the sidewalk.  For a little more than an hour, Brat was heckled nonstop as he fielded questions on health care, President Trump’s policies and the border wall. His answers seemed to antagonize most in the crowd of 150, who yelled back at him, at points drowning him out and prompting a few of his supporters to leave early in disgust.”

Roger Cohen describes The Russification of America: “For me, the most troubling thing was finding myself unsure who was more credible — Pence or Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister. The Russification of America under Trump has proceeded apace. Vladimir Putin’s macho authoritarianism, disdain for the press, and mockery of the truth has installed itself on the Potomac. Putin is only the latest exponent of what John le Carré called “the classic, timeless, all-Russian, barefaced, whopping lie” and what Joseph Conrad before him called Russian officialdom’s “almost sublime disdain for the truth.” The Russian system under Putin is a false democracy based on a Potemkin village of props — political parties, media, judiciary — that are the fig leaf covering repression or elimination of opponents. Russia runs on lies. It’s alternative-fact central (you know, there are no Russian troops in Ukraine). But what happens when the United States begins to be infected with Russian disease?”

Great Big Story explores Chicago Footwork: Music and Dance at a Whole New Speed:

Chicago Footwork: Music and Dance at a Whole New Speed from Great Big Story on Vimeo.

Daily Bread for 2.21.17

Good morning.

Here in Wisconsin it’s election day in the Spring Primary; two (Holtz, Humphries) of the state superintendent candidates call each other liars. Well done, candid politicians, well done. In Whitewater, we’ll have a day of morning clouds and afternoon sunshine, with a high of sixty-two. Sunrise is 6:41 AM and sunset 5:35 PM, for 10h 54m 12s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 25.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1885. the Washington monument is dedicated. On this day in 1918, the Wisconsin Assembly rejects (by a 76-15 margin) a denunciation of  Sen. Robert LaFollette and the nine Wisconsin congressmen who refused to support World War I.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Jason Stein reports that Scott Walker’s budget would shrink parole agency to 1 employee: “MADISON – The state’s parole system for roughly 3,000 long-time state inmates would drop from eight employees to just one, under Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal. As a lawmaker in the late 1990s, Walker championed the state’s truth in sentencing law to ensure tough sentences on convicted criminals. Now as governor, Walker wants to sharply downsize the system for handling the potential release of state inmates who are still subject to the rules that were in effect prior to the debut of truth in sentencing in 2000. The move is in keeping with other actions of the governor, such as his decision not to issue pardons. If the state loses some of its staff experienced in judging the risk of paroling inmates, the effect will likely be more people remaining in prison for longer, Madison attorney Lester Pines said.”

Michael Rosenwald reports on Trump’s dislike for Camp David in Mar-a-Lago 3, Camp David 0. With Trump as president, is the rustic Md. retreat doomed?: “ Dwayne Snurr, a janitor and lifelong resident of this rural, working-class town 60 miles from the White House, was eating chicken wings in a cafe off Main Street last week when he began chewing over a locally important subject: President Trump’s taste in vacations. “I guess he’s got that place down in Florida,” Snurr said, referring to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Palm Beach resort. “When you have a place like that, I have to assume you prefer the beach and nice weather.” Trump’s Florida compound and his other gold-laden properties have been top of mind lately in Thurmont, where just a few miles up a winding mountain road presidents have vacationed and cajoled world leaders at Camp David — deep in the woods, in cozy cabins, a total anathema to Trump. “Camp David is very rustic, it’s nice, you’d like it,” Trump said in an interview with a European journalist just before taking office. “You know how long you’d like it? For about 30 minutes.”

Peter Baker and Sewell Chan describe the process From an Anchor’s Lips to Trump’s Ears to Sweden’s Disbelief: “….in that moment was born a diplomatic incident that illustrates the unusual approach that President Trump takes to foreign policy, as well as the influence that television can have on his thinking. After watching the program, Mr. Trump threw a line into a speech the next day suggesting that a terrorist attack had occurred in Sweden the night before. Just like that, without white papers, intelligence reports, an interagency meeting or, presumably, the advice of his secretary of state, the president started a dispute with a longtime American friend that resented his characterization and called it false. The president’s only discernible goal was to make the case domestically for his plans to restrict entry to the United States.The Swedes were flabbergasted.“We are used to seeing the president of the U.S. as one of the most well-informed persons in the world, also well aware of the importance of what he says,” Carl Bildt, a former prime minister of Sweden, said by email on Monday. “And then, suddenly, we see him engaging in misinformation and slander against a truly friendly country, obviously relying on sources of a quality that at best could be described as dubious.”

Greg Jaffe describers For a Trump adviser, an odyssey from the fringes of Washington to the center of power: “[Sebastain] Gorka is a deputy assistant to the president. He reports to Stephen K. Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, and is a member of his Strategic Initiatives Group. Bannon has spoken in similarly apocalyptic terms of a “new barbarity” that threatens the Christian West. Most counterterrorism experts dismiss Gorka’s ideas as a dangerous oversimplification that could alienate Muslim allies and boost support for terrorist groups. “He thinks the government and intelligence agencies don’t know anything about radicalization, but the government knows a lot and thinks he’s nuts,” said Cindy Storer, a former CIA analyst who developed the agency models that trace the path from religious zealotry to violence. Religious scholars are equally withering. “I can’t overstate how profoundly dangerous this is,” said Omid Safi, a professor of Middle Eastern studies at Duke University. “This is music to the ears of [the Islamic State]. This is what they seek.”

Daily Bread for 2.20.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy, with a chance of afternoon & evening showers, and a high of sixty-three. Sunrise is 6:42 AM and sunset 5:34 PM, for 10h 51m 24s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 34% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred fourth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1792, Pres. Washington signs the Postal Service Act, establishing the United States Post Office Department. On this day in 1863, Company A of the 10th Wisconsin Infantry began training as sharpshooters in Madison, Wisconsin.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Annie Armstrong interviews Ex-Neo Nazis [to] Explain What’s Driving the Alt-Right: “Do you feel like if that hadn’t have happened, your old self could have identified with the alt-right? Frank Meeink: Oh, absolutely. It’s the same movement. It’s just cleaned up; it’s well-spoken. They preach exactly the same stuff that I used to preach. Exactly the same stuff. Angela King: The alt-right does not exist. It’s nothing more than white supremacists who have repackaged the hate and served it up in a more palatable form for human consumption.”

Josh Marshall describes The American Experiment in Exile: “The historic oddity of this situation points to a common dynamic Americans now face at home and abroad. Our partners in the international order we created – some of whom we conquered to make it possible – are now seeking to defend it from us. Let’s say that again, Defend it from us. How do we now as loyal Americans look at the warnings of the French and the Germans, as well as the British and our other erstwhile allies’ warnings? This is a complicated question which different people, depending on their professions and governmental responsibilities and personal dispositions, must answer in different ways. But we cannot ignore the fact that the American experiment is now in a kind of exile – taken refuge elsewhere – and the executive power of the American state now under a kind of, hopefully temporary, occupation. We face a comparable dynamic at home. I have been thinking for weeks that the central challenge and reality of the Trump Era is what do you do as an institutionalist when the central institutions of the state have been taken over, albeit democratically, by what amount to pirates, people who want to destroy them? To put it another way, do the institutions and norms which Trump and his gang are trying to destroy become shackles and obstacles in the way of those trying to defend them? There’s no easy answers to these questions.

Kristina Rizga explains Why Teaching Civics in America’s Classrooms Must Be a Trump-Era Priority: “In 2011, all federal funding for civics and social studies was eliminated. Some state and local funding dropped, too, forcing many cash-strapped districts to prioritize math and English—the subjects most prominently featured in standardized tests. A study by George Washington University’s Center on Education Policy found that between 2001 and 2007, 36 percent of districts decreased elementary classroom time spent on social studies, including civics—a drop that most affected underfunded schools serving working-class, poor, rural, and inner-city kids.*

Charles F. Gardner reports on the NBA All-Star Game: West prevails; Giannis leads East: “NEW ORLEANS – The Greek Freak put on a show in his all-star debut. Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a team-high 30 points and pounded home some crowd-pleasing dunks, but the Western Conference all-stars pulled away in the final quarter for a 192-182 victory over the East in the NBA All-Star Game at the Smoothie King Center. New Orleans forward Anthony Davis set an NBA All-Star Game record with 52 points to lead the West, beating the mark of 42 points set by Wilt Chamberlain in 1962. Russell Westbrook just missed beating Chamberlain’s mark, scoring 41 points. Antetokounmpo was impressive with 14-of-17 shooting on layups and dunks. He attempted a single three-pointer and missed it. He scored in the last second to reach the 30-point mark, the most scored by a Bucks player in an NBA All-Star Game. He also had six rebounds, three steals and one assist while playing 23 minutes.”

Have Conspiracy Theories Gone Mainstream?

Daily Bread for 2.19.16

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of sixty-three. Sunrise is 6:44 AM and sunset 5:32 PM, for 10h 48m 36s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 42.8% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred third day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this  day in 1473, astronomer and mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus is born in Toru?, Poland. On this day in 1863, photographer Edward S. Curtis is born near Whitewater.

Recommended for reading in full —

Patrick Marley reports that Wisconsin gives cash to Lincoln Hills guards fired for excessive force (on juvenile inmates): “MADISON – For the second and third times, Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has given cash settlements to guards who it determined had used excessive force on juvenile inmates, state records show. The payoffs — including one totaling $9,000 — were reached as the FBI continues a criminal investigation of Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls, which share a campus 30 miles north of Wausau. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last year reported officials at the prison complex trained staff improperly, failed to preserve video evidence, didn’t document serious incidents and often shirked their duty to report matters to parents, police and social service agencies. State Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) said he wants the Walker administration to explain why it is cutting deals after disciplining employees. “Either they had a weak case going in or they had a strong case but they suddenly lost their backbone,” he said. “Neither one is good.”

Darren Samuelsohn and Annie Karni report on a Leaked Trump tape: ‘You are the special people’ (Exclusive audio shows how Trump lets loose at his clubs — inviting guests to join him on staff interviews): “President Donald Trump, living alone inside the White House, often hungers for friendly interaction as he adjusts to the difficult work of governance. At his clubs, he finds what’s missing. That showed last November at a cocktail and dinner reception celebrating longtime members of his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club. Deep into the process of meeting potential Cabinet nominees, the president-elect invited partygoers to stop by the next day to join the excitement. “We’re doing a lot of interviews tomorrow — generals, dictators, we have everything,” Trump told the crowd, according to an audio tape of his closed-press remarks obtained by POLITICO from a source in the room. “You may wanna come around. It’ll be fun. We’re really working tomorrow. We have meetings every 15, 20 minutes with different people that will form our government.” “We’re going to be interviewing everybody — Treasury, we’re going to be interviewing Secretary of State,” he continued. “We have everybody coming in — if you want to come around, it’s going to be unbelievable….so you might want to come along.”

The New York Times editorial board fittingly describes President Trump, White House Apprentice: “It’s with a whiff of desperation that President Trump insists these days that he’s the chief executive Washington needs, the decisive dealmaker who, as he said during the campaign, “alone can fix it.” What America has seen so far is an inept White House led by a celebrity apprentice….“Everything he rolls out is done so badly,” Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian, marveled recently. “They’re just releasing comments, tweets and policies willy-nilly.”

Daniel Dale’s updated The complete list of all 80 false things Donald Trump has said in his first 4 weeks as president: “The [Toronto] Star’s running tally of the bald-faced lies, exaggerations and deceptions the president of the United States of America has said, so far….”

Helen Czerski, author of Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life, explains why some of the kernels in your popcorn don’t pop:

Daily Bread for 2.18.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of sixty. Sunrise is 6:45 AM and sunset 5:31 PM, for 10h 45m 49s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 52.4% of its visible disk illuminated.Today is the one hundred first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1885, Mark Twain publishes the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in the United States.On this day in 1920, Janesville, Wisconsin city council votes to allow billiard halls and bowling alleys to open for limited hours on Sunday.

Recommended for reading in full —

Rebecca Carballo reports that Cooperative mergers reduce options for dairy farmers in Wisconsin: “The number of dairy cooperatives in Wisconsin continues to shrink, leaving dairy farmers in the state with fewer options for selling their milk, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s most recent cooperative statistics reports. The number of agriculture cooperatives headquartered in Wisconsin dropped from 180 in 2000 to 113 in 2015. Of those, dairy cooperatives headquartered in Wisconsin dropped from 31 to 21 in that same period. The explanation for the shrinkage is simple but problematic for smaller dairy farms: Cooperatives across the agricultural industry are consolidating. Darin Von Ruden, Westby dairy farmer and president of the Wisconsin Farmers Union, finds the increasing number of cooperative mergers worrisome, noting consolidation was especially prevalent in northwestern Wisconsin. “We have fewer and fewer places we can sell our products to,” Von Ruden said. “We’re lucky in southwest Wisconsin we have a few different places, but it’s a different story in the northwest.” He added that cooperatives such as Dairy Farmers of America have become “marketing giants” in the southwest part of the U.S. “If that’s the way they’re going to carry on their business around the rest of the country, that is a scary thought for the 50- to 100-cow operators,” Von Ruden said.”

Emily Guskin and Scott Clement interview independent voters for ‘What the hell is he doing on Twitter and watching cable TV all the time?’: Eight independents talk Trump: “Tom Barnett, an independent from Binghamton, N.Y., said he disapproves of Trump but not strongly, feeling the newly elected president is acting too quickly on some policies. “Sure you make promises, but he’s moving way too fast,” Barnett said. On the travel ban, Barnett said: “I think it’s too quick; he should have looked more into it. And deporting a lot of these people; I don’t think that’s right. Even if they did make a mistake in their lives.” The 51-year-old Barnett also has problems with Trump’s media habits and temperament. “What the hell is he doing on Twitter and watching cable TV all the time?” he asked. “I don’t want a president watching cable TV all the time! That’s my job!” “He’s got very thin skin,” Barnett said, “He can dish it out, but he can’t take it.”

Erin Gloria Ryan sees The Downfall of Kellyanne Conway: “As Kellyanne’s once-forceful cable news denials have disintegrated into whimpers, I can’t say I feel anything for her at all. I don’t mind when people point out how tired she looks. I simply cannot dredge up any sympathy for a person who has acknowledged the structural problems most women face only when she is personally facing them, or used them as derailing tactics when she’s losing an argument. I can’t mourn the downfall of a fair-weather feminist, a woman who has used her power to hurt other women. Ms. Conway made her bed. And now it’s time for her to get some sleep.”

David Frum asks How High Does Russia’s Influence Reach?: “Nobody would care if an incoming national security adviser had confidential conversations with an ambassador of a hostile foreign government before Inauguration Day, if it were believed that the conversations served a legitimate and disinterested public purpose. But that is exactly what is doubted in this case. To put the story in simplest terms: 1) Russian spies hacked Democratic Party communications in order to help elect Donald Trump. 2) Donald Trump welcomed the help, used it, publicly solicited more of it—and was then elected president of the United States. 3) President Obama sanctioned Russia for its pro-Trump espionage. 4) While Russia considered its response, its ambassador spoke with the national security adviser-designate about the sanctions 5) The adviser, Flynn, reportedly asked Russia not to overreact, signaling that the new administration would review the sanctions; Russia did not respond. 6) As president-elect and then president, Donald Trump has indicated that he seeks to lift precisely those sanctions caused by Russia’s espionage work on his behalf.”

It’s a battle between an octopus and a crab, until (at around :55) someone else shows up:

Daily Bread for 2.17.17

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy and mild, with a high of sixty. Sunrise is 6:47 AM and sunset 5:30 PM, for 10h 43m 03s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 62.2% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one hundred first day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1801, the House of Representatives breaks a tie on the thirty-sixth ballot, and chooses Thomas Jefferson to be president.On this day in 2002, West Allis native Chris Witty wins a gold medal in speed skating’s 1000 meter at the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games.

Recommended for reading in full — 

Tracy Jan reports that The biggest beneficiaries of the government safety net: working-class whites: “Working-class whites are the biggest beneficiaries of federal poverty-reduction programs, even though blacks and Hispanics have substantially higher rates of poverty, according to a new study to be released Thursday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Government assistance and tax credits lifted 6.2 million working-class whites out of poverty in 2014, more than any other racial or ethnic demographic. Half of all working-age adults without college degrees lifted out of poverty by safety-net programs are white; nearly a quarter are black and a fifth are Hispanic.

The result does not simply reflect the fact that there are more white people in the country. The percentage of otherwise poor whites lifted from poverty by government safety-net programs is higher, at 44 percent, compared to 35 percent of otherwise poor minorities, the study concluded.”

David Rothkopf describes The Fog of Trump (Come for the chaos, stay for the consequences. The Flynn debacle is just the tip of the iceberg): “Disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s 24 days in office is by almost half a year the shortest tenure of any national security advisor in history. The scandal that brought Flynn down is almost certainly the earliest of real consequence to hit a fledgling presidency. From Flynn’s apparently illegal communications with the Russian government to Trump’s conducting of what should have been secret business in the middle of a dinner party at his Florida club, no White House has ever shown such contempt for the norms of operational security. Trump’s approval rating is the lowest for a new president in the modern era. His disregard for the Constitution has not only gotten him in trouble with the court system earlier than any president in recent memory, but it quite likely gives him the record for being the earliest serial violator of his oath of office ever. No president has ever been enshrouded by anything remotely like the web of conflicts of interest that envelops Trump, who has made being above the law a foundational principle of his presidency. He has done more to shake the confidence and earn the opprobrium of America’s most important allies — from the U.K. to EU and Mexican leaders to Australia — than any president since the United States became a world power.”

Sari Horwitz and Adam Entous report Flynn in FBI interview denied discussing sanctions with Russian ambassador: “Former national security adviser Michael Flynn denied to FBI agents in an interview last month that he had discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country’s ambassador to the United States before President Trump took office, contradicting the contents of intercepted communications collected by intelligence agencies, current and former U.S. officials said. The Jan. 24 interview potentially puts Flynn in legal jeopardy. Lying to the FBI is a felony offense. But several officials said it is unclear whether prosecutors would attempt to bring a case, in part because Flynn may parse the definition of the word “sanctions.” He also followed his denial to the FBI by saying he couldn’t recall all of the conversation, officials said.”

Julie Hirschfeld and Eric Schmitt report that Trump’s Pick to Replace Flynn Turns Down the Job: “Current and former national security officials familiar with the situation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment, said Mr. Harward had harbored strong reservations from the beginning about taking the post because of Mr. Trump’s unpredictable style and the level of chaos that has engulfed his White House. Those were only underscored this week in the politically charged aftermath of Mr. Flynn’s ouster, despite the attempts of Mr. Trump’s inner circle to allay his concerns. One person briefed on the discussions said that Mr. Harward, who had been interviewing for a different administration post when he was tabbed for the N.S.C., had been startled by media accounts of Mr. Trump telling the deputy national security adviser, who was close to Mr. Flynn, that she could stay in her post. It added to his concerns about working for a mercurial president.”

A Japanese man’s persistence has been rewarded, and after ten years’ time, he’s solved a puzzle that perplexed him. Well done —

Daily Bread for 2.16.17

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be cloudy with a high of forty. Sunrise is 6:48 AM and sunset 5:28 PM, for 10h 40m 18s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 71.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the one-hundredth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Update: these meetings are for 2.23:  Whitewater’s Community Development Authority Seed Capital Screening Committee meets at 4 PM, and the CDA —Board of Directors meets thereafter at 5 PM.

On this day in 1937, Wallace H. Carothers, a research chemist for Du Pont, received a patent for nylon. On this day in 1943, Milwaukee native Mildred Harnack is executed in Berlin for her service in the German resistance.

Jacob Carpenter reports that Wisconsin dog and Westminster winner Rumor conquers New York City: “With their Best in Show victory Tuesday night, Rumor and [owner Kent] Boyles, who runs a kennel between Janesville and Madison, became the toast of New York City, embarking on a whirlwind tour of the Big Apple. Five-year-old Rumor, named after the song “Rumour Has It” by British songstress Adele, became the second German shepherd to claim top dog in the 141-year history of the competition. “To be the old, retired one, and to come out and take on the new champion, it was a whole lot of fun,” Boyles said Wednesday. Working on just three hours of sleep, Rumor made several television appearances, snapped majestic photos atop the Empire State Building and One World Observatory, and kept with tradition by politely noshing on a pair of steaks at Sardi’s. Rumor handled the onslaught famously before crashing in the afternoon, her 65-pound body weighed down by meat and media attention.”

Ana Fifield reports that Airport assassination of half brother focuses new attention on North Korean leader: “For the victim was his older half brother, Kim Jong Nam, traveling on an apparently fake passport that said he was a 46-year-old named Kim Chol. It was an attack that South Korea’s spy chief asserted was directly ordered from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. One of the women grabbed the man as the other sprayed liquid on his face and held a cloth over it for about 10 seconds. In the hullabaloo of the check-in area, no one even seemed to notice. This account of the attack and its aftermath was pieced together from interviews with staff at the airport, police and other official statements, and leaks to the local media. The women left swiftly, but not that swiftly. They went down three sets of escalators, past an H&M and a Baskin-Robbins, and out of the terminal to a taxi stand, where they needed to buy a voucher for their journey before lining up for a cab. They got in and told the driver to take them to the Empire Hotel, some 40 minutes from the airport.

Michael D. Shear observes that After Election, Trump’s Professed Love for Leaks Quickly Faded: “WASHINGTON — As a candidate for president, Donald J. Trump embraced the hackers who had leaked Hillary Clinton’s emails to the press, declaring at a rally in Pennsylvania, “I love WikiLeaks!” To the cheering throngs that night, Mr. Trump marveled that “nothing is secret today when you talk about the internet.” The leakers, he said, had performed a public service by revealing what he called a scandal with no rival in United States history. Now, after less than four weeks in the Oval Office, President Trump has changed his mind. At a news conference on Wednesday and in a series of Twitter postings earlier in the day, Mr. Trump angrily accused intelligence agencies of illegally leaking information about Michael T. Flynn, his former national security adviser, who resigned after reports that he had lied about conversations with the Russian ambassador.”

Charles Blow describes a slow, Drip, Drip, Drip: “In July, at a televised campaign event, Trump said: “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing. I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” Then in October, an hour after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tapes of Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women, WikiLeaks began to dump the Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails on the internet. Coincidence? Maybe. But that would be one hell of a coincidence, considering all the other reinforcing “coincidences”: Trump’s inexplicable, inexhaustible praise of Russia and Vladimir Putin; Putin’s failure to respond to Obama’s sanctions; an explosive report last week from CNN that read: “For the first time, U.S. investigators say they have corroborated some of the communications detailed in a 35-page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent.” What we know only makes what we don’t know feel all the more ominous. But I believe that facts are forthcoming. Reporters are digging like a crew of coal miners hopped up on a case of Red Bull, and sources in Washington are leaking to anyone with a press credential. Drip, drip, drip it goes until the dam breaks and the truth spills.”

These are the bees that give us almonds:

Daily Bread for 2.15.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of thirty-two. Sunrise is 6:50 AM and susnet 5:27 PM, for 10h 37m 33s of daytime. The mon is a waning gibbous with 79.5% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the ninety-ninth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s Tech Park Board meets this morning at 8 AM.

On this day in 1820, social reformer and women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony is born. On this day in 1865, the 12th Wisconsin Light Artillery participated in the Union victory at Congaree Creek near Columbia, South Carolina.

Tom Kertscher reports that three (Seventh Circuit Appellate) Judges question investigators’ conduct in Brendan Dassey ‘Making a Murderer’ case: “CHICAGO – Guessing how federal appeals court judges will rule based on the questions they ask in a hearing is more parlor game than science. Nevertheless, an attorney for the state of Wisconsin had barely started his argument Tuesday that Brendan Dassey’s murder conviction should be reinstated when Judge Ilana Rovner stopped him cold. Rovner wanted to know if Dassey, convicted in the 2005 murder of photographer Teresa Halbach, would have concluded he could go home after answering questions by investigators, instead of being arrested. After all, he was a low-IQ, “extremely suggestible” 16-year-old, she noted. Wisconsin’s deputy solicitor general, Luke Berg, was firm in his response: No specific promises were ever made. However, the exchange immediately highlighted a critical issue in the case: Even if Dassey wasn’t given an explicit promise of leniency, did the way he was questioned — including lines such as, “The truth will set you free” — produce an involuntary confession? Don’t you think, Rovner asked Berg, that investigators “crossed the line?” Rovner, nominated to the court by Republican President George W. Bush, is leading a three-judge panel of the Chicago-based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Dassey’s murder conviction, sensationalized in the “Making A Murderer” documentary, was overturned last August by William Duffin, a federal magistrate judge in Milwaukee. Duffin ruled that Dassey’s constitutional rights were violated because investigators for the prosecution made false promises to Dassey during multiple interrogations.”

Michael Schmidt, Mark Mazzetti, and Matt Apuzzo report that Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence: “WASHINGTON — Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials. American law enforcement and intelligence agencies intercepted the communications around the same time they were discovering evidence that Russia was trying to disrupt the presidential election by hacking into the Democratic National Committee, three of the officials said. The intelligence agencies then sought to learn whether the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians on the hacking or other efforts to influence the election. The officials interviewed in recent weeks said that, so far, they had seen no evidence of such cooperation. But the intercepts alarmed American intelligence and law enforcement agencies, in part because of the amount of contact that was occurring while Mr. Trump was speaking glowingly about the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. At one point last summer, Mr. Trump said at a campaign event that he hoped Russian intelligence services had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails and would make them public.”

Greg Miller, Adam Entous and Ellen Nakashima report on Flynn’s swift downfall: From a phone call in the Dominican Republic to a forced resignation at the White House: “Michael Flynn was at a beachside resort in the Dominican Republic, a stretch of sand and sun that he and his wife had visited for years, when he took a few moments out of their post-election vacation for a call with the Russian ambassador to the United States. As a veteran intelligence officer, Flynn must have known that a call with a Russian official in Washington would be intercepted by the U.S. government, pored over by FBI analysts and possibly even shared with the White House. But six weeks later, Flynn was forced out of his job as national security adviser to President Trump over what was said in that conversation and Flynn’s inability to be truthful about it with then-Vice President-elect Mike Pence and other officials now in senior positions at the White House.”

Dave Gold (a Democrat) writes that ‘Data-Driven’ Campaigns Are Killing the Democratic Party: “Though the problem for Democrats is urgent, the challenge is not new. Before the clamor for a “data-driven” approach, the “best practices” embraced by much of the Democratic Party apparatus encouraged campaigns that were predominantly driven by issue bullet points. In 2000, for example, the Gore presidential campaign had no shortage of position papers, but it would be challenging (at best) to say what the campaign’s message was. In contrast, in Obama’s 2008 campaign, “Hope and Change” was not only a slogan, but a message frame through which all issues were presented. Years ago, my political mentor taught me the problem with this approach, using a memorable metaphor: issues are to a campaign message what ornaments are to a Christmas tree, he said. Ornaments make the tree more festive, but without the tree, you don’t have a Christmas tree, no matter how many ornaments you have or how beautiful they are. Issues can advance the campaign’s story, but without a narrative frame, your campaign doesn’t have a message, no matter how many issue ads or position papers it puts forward. Storytelling has been the most effective form of communication throughout the entirety of human history. And that is unlikely to change, given that experts in neurophysiology affirm that the neural pathway for stories is central to the way the human brain functions (“The human mind is a story processor, not a logic processor,” as social psychologist Jonathan Haidt has written).”

Tech Insider contends that The ‘alpha dog’ myth is leading countless owners to mistreat their dogs:

Daily Bread for 2.14.17

Good morning.

Valentine’s Day in Whitewater will be mild and partly sunny, with a high of forty-four. Sunrise is 6:51 AM and sunset 5:26 PM, for 10h 34m 50s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 87.2% of its visible disk illuminated.Today is the ninety-eighth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1859, Oregon became America’s thirty-third state. On this day in 1819, C. Latham Sholes, one of the inventors of the typewriter, is born. Sholes lived much of his life in Wisconsin, and served in both the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate.

Recommended for reading in full —

Patrick Marley reports that Syrian man files lawsuit in Wisconsin over Trump refugee ban: “MADISON – Wisconsin was pulled into the legal fight Monday over President Donald Trump’s refugee and immigration ban, with a Syrian man filing suit over his inability to finalize asylum for his wife and 3-year-old daughter. The man – a Sunni Muslim who filed the federal lawsuit under the name John Doe to protect his family’s identity – arrived in the United States in 2014 after two military forces extorted, falsely imprisoned and tortured him. He was granted asylum in May 2016 and soon afterward sought asylum for his wife and daughter, who remain in war-torn Aleppo. According to the lawsuit, the grants of asylum for his wife and daughter were in the final stages of being processed when they were halted by Trump’s executive order that barred Syrian refugees from the United States. The order also suspended immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries.”

Eric Posner asks Is Trump mentally unstable? and concludes that he’s not unstable, but rather a lifelong liar:  “But if Trump’s behavior is politically pathological, it is psychologically natural. If biographic accounts are to be believed, he has spent his entire life telling lies and profiting from them. The lies helped his business, his love life, and his endless efforts at self-promoting. They helped him win the election. And not just the lies, but the incessant bloviating about things he knows nothing of. Having won the campaign, he has gained immense self-confidence in his political instincts. Three weeks in, he sees no reason (yet) to depart from his modus operandi of chattering, lying, bloviating, and tweeting, in order to provoke people, gain attention, and control the agenda. He enjoys it all too much, maybe he can’t really help it, but he has not been convinced that his lies harm him. He makes up facts to make himself look good because he is like everyone else except more so. Unlike everyone else, he is publicly contradicted by the press. When this happens, he doubles down rather than take the risk of losing face. Trump believes that the press is controlled by his enemies; he cannot afford to make concessions to it.”

Andrew Roth reports that Russian lawmakers rush to the defense of Trump’s ex-national security adviser: “ Leading Russian lawmakers rushed to defend President Trump’s former national security adviser on Tuesday after he resigned for misleading senior White House officials, including Vice President Pence, about his contacts with Russia. The heads of the foreign affairs committees in both Russia’s upper and lower houses of parliament chalked up Michael Flynn’s resignation to a dark campaign of Russophobia in Washington, and said it would undermine relations between the White House and the Kremlin.”

The 141st Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show is under way. The Journal Sentinel has a 51-photograph slideshow.

Iceland, under a full moon

 

Iceland under Full Moon from O Z Z O Photography on Vimeo.

 

Daily Bread for 2.13.17

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of forty-six. Sunrise is 6:52 AM and sunset 5:25 PM, for 10h 32m 08s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 92.9% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the ninety-seventh day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

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

On this day in 1935, a New Jersey jury convicts Bruno Richard Hauptmann of the kidnapping and murder of aviator Charles Lindbergh’s son. For further reading on the case, see The Sixteenth Rail, Fulcrum Publishing, Golden, Colorado, ISBN 978-1-55591-716-6, copyright by Adam Schrager, 2013, 314 pages. On this day in 1935, Wisconsin establishes a minimum gasoline price per gallon.

Piet Levy reports that Al Jarreau, celebrated vocalist, Milwaukee native, dies at 76: “Al Jarreau has said his yellow brick road started in Milwaukee. From singing songs as a child at church and PTA meetings, to his first paid gigs at the Pfister Hotel, the genre-blending jazz singer went on to tour the world, record 21 albums and earn seven Grammys. He remains the only vocalist in Grammy history to win in the jazz, pop and R&B categories. But Jarreau’s heart was always at home. “Practically every night from stage, he would say, ‘I’m from Milwaukee,’ ” said fellow Milwaukee native Joe Turano, a member of Jarreau’s band for 17 years and his musical director since 2008. When they met, Turano said, Jarreau asked, “‘You’re from Milwaukee? I never had a guy from Milwaukee in my band before.’ And he gave me a big hug.” Jarreau, 76, died in a Los Angeles hospital early Sunday morning, with his wife, Susan, their son Ryan and a few friends and relatives by his side. On Wednesday, Jarreau announced through his website that he would have to retire from touring on medical orders, due to “exhaustion.” A cause of death was not immediately known. “He was just a great human and talented and wonderful to be around,” said friend Greg Marcus, CEO of the Marcus Corp. “He made you feel good. The world has lost someone special.”

Philip Rucker reports that Trump friend says Priebus is ‘in way over his head’: One of President Trump’s longtime friends made a striking move on Sunday: After talking privately with the president over drinks late Friday, Christopher Ruddy publicly argued that Trump should replace his White House chief of staff. “A lot of people have been saying, ‘Look, Donald has some problems,’ and I think he realizes that he’s got to make some changes going forward,” Ruddy said in an interview with The Washington Post. Ruddy went on to detail his critique of White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus: “It’s my view that Reince is the problem. I think on paper Reince looked good as the chief of staff — and Donald trusted him — but it’s pretty clear the guy is in way over his head. He’s not knowledgeable of how federal agencies work, how the communications operations work. He botched this whole immigration rollout. This should’ve been a win for Donald, not two or three weeks of negative publicity.”

David Sanger, Eric Schmitt, and Peter Baker describe Turmoil at the National Security Council, From the Top Down: “Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump’s Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them. Most are kept in the dark about what Mr. Trump tells foreign leaders in his phone calls. Some staff members have turned to encrypted communications to talk with their colleagues, after hearing that Mr. Trump’s top advisers are considering an “insider threat” program that could result in monitoring cellphones and emails for leaks. The national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, has hunkered down since investigators began looking into what, exactly, he told the Russian ambassador to the United States about the lifting of sanctions imposed in the last days of the Obama administration, and whether he misled Vice President Mike Pence about those conversations. His survival in the job may hang in the balance. Although Mr. Trump suggested to reporters aboard Air Force One on Friday that he was unaware of the latest questions swirling around Mr. Flynn’s dealings with Russia, aides said over the weekend in Florida — where Mr. Flynn accompanied the president and Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe — that Mr. Trump was closely monitoring the reaction to Mr. Flynn’s conversations. There are transcripts of a conversation in at least one phone call, recorded by American intelligence agencies that wiretap foreign diplomats, which may determine Mr. Flynn’s future.”

Tom Boggioni relates a comment from Charlie Sykes in Conservative pundit: Trump only uses ‘cringe-worthy’ surrogates because no one else will lie for him: ““I want to know who will play him on SNL next week,” Sykes said after watching Miller yell at multiple Sunday morning hosts. “What an extraordinary choice by the Trump administration to push Stephen Miller out when they actually do have some credible spokesmen. This was a cringe-worthy performance.” “Stephen Miller has only one audience,” Sykes continued. “He’s playing to Donald Trump. This is somebody proving that he is the loyalist possible spokesman. But what you have there [in Miller] is you have the intersection of inexperience, incompetence and zealotry, and the fact that he is doubling down on something that is clearly just not true.”

On February 7, 2017 a tornado hit NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. Employees shot video of the tornado and its aftermath:

Daily Bread for 2.12.17

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will see morning rain give way to occasional sunshine and a high of thirty-nine. Sunrise is 6:54 AM and sunset 5:23 PM, for 10h 29m 26s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 97.3% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the ninety-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Abraham Lincoln is born this day in 1809. On this day in 2002, Verona, Wisconsin’s Casey FitzRandolph wins a gold medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games in the Men’s 500 Meters.

Recommended for reading in full —

J. Weston Phippen writes that Yale Changes the Name of Calhoun College Over Ties to Racism: “Yale University announced Saturday that it would rename its residential college that bore the name of John C. Calhoun, a Yale graduate, U.S. vice president, white supremacist and advocate of slavery. The college will now be named after Grace Murray Hopper, a mathematician who graduated from the university in 1934 and left a teaching role to enlist in the Navy during World War II. The name change is a reversal of a decision made last spring, when Yale’s president, Peter Salovey, said he would not remove Calhoun’s name, because he thought it better to confront history, not to erase it. In that same spirit, Calhoun’s name will not be removed from the college, but will appear alongside Hopper’s, although the college will only be referred to by the latter. Hopper left her teaching job at Vassar and joined the Navy to help defeat Fascism, and she remained in service most of her life. But she is much better known for her work on early computers, developing code and language that allowed non-specialists to use them. ”

Oliver Willis describes How To Fight Cult Leaders Like Donald Trump And L. Ron Hubbard And Win (Willis – a progressive, not a libertarian – has for months now described Trump’s appeal as that of a cult leader): “In the last fifteen years or so there has been a steady stream of books, tv series, and documentaries about just how crazy the behavior of the church [of Scientology] has been historically and leading up to the bizarre behavior of current leader (and Tom Cruise bestie) David Miscavige. This informational war has demystified the church in the minds of most of the public, turning it into more of a punchline than anything….In an ideal world, a Trump supporter would learn about the bed of lies his entire persona is built on and simply leave the Trump compound of their own accord. But in the real world, this is unlikely to happen. If anything, Trump cultists will double down on their loyalty due to external attacks, with Trump issuing verbal kool-aid to them by describing everything outside the bubble as “fake news.” But outside reporting and debunking of his lies and mendacity does erode the cult of Trump. It galvanizes those of us on the left who are opposed to him with a shared set of information and logic to pass back and forth within our ranks as ammunition. Then for those moderates who are open to a logical argument, it arms them with information they need to form an informed opinion. With these two divisions of an information army continually supplied with material, you can win a war.”

Emma Green describes how These Conservative Christians Are Opposed to Trump—and Suffering the Consequences: “Earlier this month, Jonathan Martin jotted off a sad tweet. “I’ve lost count of the number of people who say they’ve had ministry jobs threatened/been fired for speaking out in some way in this season,” the Christian author and speaker wrote. Confirmation rolled in: one story from a church planter in California, another from a former worship leader in Indiana. These are “not people who would historically self-identify as progressives, at all,” Martin told me later. They’re “people who see themselves as being very faithful evangelicals.” Donald Trump has divided conservative Christian communities. Most white Christians support Trump, or at least voted for him. Some who have spoken out against his presidency or his policies, though, have encountered backlash. For a small group of people working in Christian ministry, music, and nonprofit advocacy, the consequences have been tangible: They’ve faced pressure from their employers, seen funds withdrawn from their mission work, or lost performing gigs because of their political beliefs.”

Daniel Dale has The complete list [so far – it’s only been three weeks] of all 57 false things Donald Trump has said as president: “U.S. President Donald Trump makes frequent false claims about matters big and small. The Star is planning to track them all. Contact Daniel Dale at ddale@thestar.ca if you hear Trump say anything you know is false or should be checked. Last updated: Feb. 10, 2017….

53. Feb. 7, 2017 —

Meeting with the National Sheriffs’ Association

The claim: “The murder rate in our country’s the highest it’s been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? 47 years? I’d say that in a speech and everybody’s surprised. Because the press doesn’t tell it like it is. It wasn’t to their advantage to say that.”

In fact: The homicide rate is not even close to a 47-year high. In fact, it remains near historic lows. There were 10 homicides per 100,000 residents in 1980, eight per 100,000 residents in 1995; in 2015, the latest year for which there is national data, it was five per 100,000 residents. Trump sometimes correctly notes that the increase in the homicide rate between 2014 and 2015 was the largest in more than 40 years. But that is far different than the actual rate being the highest.”

Tea & Kung Fu? Of course —

Ya’an, China, is home to some of the country’s best tea. It’s also home to the amazing long spout tea performers. This performance art, which dates back to 220 AD, mixes Kung Fu and the long spout metal teapot. Liu Xumin is a tea performer who has spent years mastering this ancient art form. His hope, he says, is to “achieve the integration of tea pot and human, of heaven and human, and of tea and human.”

Daily Bread for 2.11.17

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be forty-five and partly cloudy. Sunrise is 6:55 AM and sunset is 5:22 PM, for 10h 26m 46s of daytime. The moon is full today, with 99.6% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the ninety-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Whitewater’s annual Freeze Fest at Cravath Lakefront takes place today, with a Polar Plunge from Noon – 3:00 PM to benefit Special Olympics of Wisconsin and a Chili Cook Off 11:00 AM – 2:30 PM.

Thomas Edison is born this day in 1847. On this day in 1842, Territorial Legislature member James R. Vineyard shoots fellow legislator Charles C.P. Arndt shortly after a session’s adjournment.

Recommended for reading in full —

Jason Horowitz reports that Steve Bannon Cited Italian Thinker Who Inspired Fascists: “ROME — Those trying to divine the roots of Stephen K. Bannon’s dark and at times apocalyptic worldview have repeatedly combed over a speech that Mr. Bannon, President Trump’s ideological guru, made in 2014 to a Vatican conference, where he expounded on Islam, populism and capitalism. But for all the examination of those remarks, a passing reference by Mr. Bannon to an esoteric Italian philosopher has gone little noticed, except perhaps by scholars and followers of the deeply taboo, Nazi-affiliated thinker, Julius Evola. “The fact that Bannon even knows Evola is significant,” said Mark Sedgwick, a leading scholar of Traditionalists at Aarhus University in Denmark. Evola, who died in 1974, wrote on everything from Eastern religions to the metaphysics of sex to alchemy. But he is best known as a leading proponent of Traditionalism, a worldview popular in far-right and alternative religious circles that believes progress and equality are poisonous illusions.  Evola became a darling of Italian Fascists, and Italy’s post-Fascist terrorists of the 1960s and 1970s looked to him as a spiritual and intellectual godfather. They called themselves Children of the Sun after Evola’s vision of a bourgeoisie-smashing new order that he called the Solar Civilization. Today, the Greek neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn includes his works on its suggested reading list, and the leader of Jobbik, the Hungarian nationalist party, admires Evola and wrote an introduction to his works. More important for the current American administration, Evola also caught on in the United States with leaders of the alt-right movement, which Mr. Bannon nurtured as the head of Breitbart News and then helped harness for Mr. Trump.”

Andrew Sullivan considers The Madness of King Donald: “Then there is the obvious question of the president’s mental and psychological health. I know we’re not supposed to bring this up — but it is staring us brutally in the face. I keep asking myself this simple question: If you came across someone in your everyday life who repeatedly said fantastically and demonstrably untrue things, what would you think of him? If you showed up at a neighbor’s, say, and your host showed you his newly painted living room, which was a deep blue, and then insisted repeatedly — manically — that it was a lovely shade of scarlet, what would your reaction be? If he then dragged out a member of his family and insisted she repeat this obvious untruth in front of you, how would you respond? If the next time you dropped by, he was still raving about his gorgeous new red walls, what would you think? Here’s what I’d think: This man is off his rocker. He’s deranged; he’s bizarrely living in an alternative universe; he’s delusional. If he kept this up, at some point you’d excuse yourself and edge slowly out of the room and the house and never return. You’d warn your other neighbors. You’d keep your distance. If you saw him, you’d be polite but keep your distance. I think this is a fundamental reason why so many of us have been so unsettled, anxious, and near panic these past few months. It is not so much this president’s agenda. That always changes from administration to administration. It is that when the linchpin of an entire country is literally delusional, clinically deceptive, and responds to any attempt to correct the record with rage and vengeance, everyone is always on edge.”

Greag Sargent believes that A blueprint for resistance to Trump has emerged. Here’s what it looks like: “1) Have (guarded) faith in our system….2) Keep pressuring Republicans to exercise real oversight on Trump….3) Fight hard in the Senate will all available procedural weapons….4) Keep looking to civil society and try to fortify it where possible….5) Keep Trump distracted and off balance, to minimize the damage he can do….”

(I’d say it’s still early, and there will be much more difficult days, with significant setbacks, along the way.)

Rosie Gray asks, and answers, What is the NRx (Neoreaction) Movement?: “White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been in contact via intermediaries with Curtis Yarvin, Politico Magazine reported this week. Yarvin, a software engineer and blogger, writes under the name Mencius Moldbug. His anti-egalitarian arguments have formed the basis for a movement called “neoreaction.” The main thrust of Yarvin’s thinking is that democracy is a bust; rule by the people doesn’t work, and doesn’t lead to good governance. He has described it as an “ineffective and destructive” form of government, which he associates with “war, tyranny, destruction and poverty.” Yarvin’s ideas, along with those of the English philosopher Nick Land, have provided a structure of political theory for parts of the white-nationalist movement calling itself the alt-right. The alt-right can be seen as a political movement; neoreaction, which adherents refer to as NRx, is a philosophy. At the core of that philosophy is a rejection of democracy and an embrace of autocratic rule.”

In Alaska, it’s Moose v. Moose: