Daily Bread for 9.20.17

Good morning.

Midweek in Whitewater will be cloudy with a four-in-ten chance of afternoon thundershowers. Sunrise is 6:31 AM and sunset 6:54 PM, for 12h 13m 13s of daytime. The moon is new, with 0.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the three hundred fifteenth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

Spencer Ackerman observes that Trump Uses Putin’s Arguments to Undermine the World (“If you liked the #MAGA speech that the American president just delivered to the UN, you’ll love the original version—the one spoken by the Russian president delivered in 2015”):

The leader stepped to the podium of the United Nations General Assembly, as close to a literal world stage as exists, and issued a stringent defense of the principle of national sovereignty.

“What is the state sovereignty, after all, that has been mentioned by our colleagues here? It is basically about freedom and the right to choose freely one’s own future for every person, nation and state,” he said, attacking what he identified as the hypocrisy of those who seek to violate sovereignty in the name of stopping mass murder.

“Aggressive foreign interference,” the leader continued, “has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and the lifestyle itself. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster.”

The leader was not Donald Trump on Tuesday, but Vladimir Putin in 2015. Whatever nexus between Putin and Trump exists for Robert Mueller to discover, the evidence of their compatible visions of foreign affairs was on display at the United Nations clearer than ever, with Trump’s aggressive incantation of “sovereignty, security and prosperity” as the path to world peace. “There can be no substitute for strong, sovereign, and independent nations, nations that are rooted in the histories and invested in their destiny,” Trump said, hitting his familiar blood-and-soil themes that echo from the darker moments in European history….

Anna Nemtsova writes Here Are Just a Few of Russia’s Dirty Tricks Going Into Germany’s Elections (“Even if Chancellor Angela Merkel is re-elected by a landslide on Sunday, Moscow could get a toehold in the Bundestag through the far-right AfD party”):

….Moscow’s attempts to inflame and exploit the emotions of some 4 million Russian-speaking German citizens have been obvious.

Victor Bashkatov, a 35-year-old politician, was astonished to see a crowd of far-right and Russian-German citizens protesting outside his office in the Bundestag last year. Hundreds of people came out on that chilly gray day with banners in Russian and German, furious about immigrants allegedly kidnapping and raping a 13-year-old girl—protesters demanded an investigation into the crime against “our Russian girl.”

The older generation of German citizens from former Soviet countries tend to watch Kremlin-controlled TV channels, and the story about “Lisa,” the little girl, eventually turned out to be fake. She had run away from home, stayed with an older male friend, and made up the story. But it inspired many of the Russian-speaking Germans to support the far-right populist party, Alternative for Germany, or AfD, which often is compared to France’s xenophobic National Front or Geert Wilders’ anti-Muslim movement in the Netherlands….

(Putin will choose either extreme right or extreme left, or both, so long as that choice undermines the constitutional order in his target country. So in America, both Trump and Jill Stein were good picks – both pro-Putin, both contemptuous of America’s democratic traditions in their own ways.)

Reuters reports that Trump using campaign, RNC funds to pay Russia probe legal bills:

U.S. President Donald Trump is using money donated to his re-election campaign and the
Republican National Committee to pay for his lawyers in the probe of alleged Russian interference in the U.S. election, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters.

Following Reuters exclusive report on Tuesday, CNN reported that the Republican National Committee paid in August more than $230,000 to cover some of Trump’s legal fees related to the probe.

RNC spokesperson Cassie Smedile confirmed to Reuters that Trump’s lead lawyer, John Dowd, received $100,000 from the RNC and that the RNC also paid $131,250 to the Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group, the law firm where Jay Sekulow, another of Trump’s lawyers, is a partner….

While previous presidential campaigns have used these funds to pay for routine legal matters such as ballot access disputes and compliance requirements, Trump would be the first U.S. president in the modern campaign finance era to use such funds to cover the costs of responding to a criminal probe, said election law experts.

See generally (on the quality of Trump’s legal team) What’s the matter with Trump’s lawyers?

(If GOP donors want to fund a criminal defense of Trump, it’s lawful to do so. Trump’s the first man to proclaim himself worth ‘TEN BILLION DOLLARS‘ (his capitalization) who felt the need to bang a tin cup.)

Chris Geidner reports More Than Seven Lawyers Working On Michael Flynn’s Defense Team:

Michael Flynn’s family has set up a legal defense fund and is now soliciting donations as multiple investigations scrutinize the actions of the former Trump national security adviser.

The family is setting up the fund because “[t]he enormous expense of attorneys’ fees and other related expenses far exceed their ability to pay,” according to a statement from Joe Flynn and Barbara Redgate, Flynn’s brother and sister, respectively.

A source familiar with his legal representation said Flynn’s “core team” is seven attorneys from Covington — including partners, counsel, and associates — with “numerous” others involved at certain points. The fees will “certainly be into the seven figures,” according to the source.

Flynn, who played key roles in Trump’s campaign and is a retired Army lieutenant general, has been under scrutiny in the various investigations relating to Russia’s attempts to influence the 2016 election, including special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. Flynn tweeted out the news about the legal defense fund first thing Monday….

Many animals losing some of their hearing over time, but not barn owls. Here’s the secret to why barn owls don’t lose their hearing:

Be jealous of barn owls: Even in old age, they don’t lose their hearing, according to a new study. In the first hearing test of its kind, researchers trained the birds (Tyto alba) to sit on a perch and fly to a second perch only after hearing a sound cue. Then, they analyzed how young and old barn owls responded to sounds at different intensities, ranging from levels that would be completely inaudible to humans to sounds corresponding to soft whispers. Older owls showed little or no hearing loss compared with their younger brethren, the team reports today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. This is because, unlike mammals, birds can regenerate lost hair cells in the innermost part of the ear that is responsible for detecting sounds, the scientists say. Understanding how birds retain good hearing, they add, may lead to new treatments for humans.