Daily Bread for 2.3.18

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be cloudy with afternoon snow showers and a high of thirty-three. Sunrise is 7:05 AM and sunset 5:11 PM, for 10h 05m 34s of daytime. The moon is a waning gibbous with 88.1% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred fiftieth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1690, the first paper money was issued in America: “Over three centuries ago on this day, Massachusetts printed America’s first paper money. Before creating bills, Americans used Pine Tree Shillings and other coins as their currency. After the British shutdown a Massachusetts mint, these coins were in short supply. So, in 1689, when the British wanted Americans to fight the French in Canada, there was no money available to pay the troops. Since the soldiers wouldn’t fight for free, the government thought it best to issue certificates to the troops in lieu of paying them with coins. A piece of paper would represent a coin’s worth and could later be redeemed for “real money.” ”

February 3, 1959 is the day the music died: “Bad winter weather and a bus breakdown prompted rock-and-roll musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper to rent a plane to continue on their “Winter Dance Party” tour. Icy roads and treacherous weather had nearly undermined their performances in Green Bay and Appleton that weekend, so after a show at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, on February 2, 1959, they boarded a four-seat airplane. The three performers and pilot Roger Peterson perished when the plane crashed about 1:00 AM on Monday, February 3rd (“The Day the Music Died,” according to singer Don McLean in his song “American Pie”) .”

Recommended for reading in full —

➤ David Corn cautions While You Are Tweeting About the Nunes Memo, Russia Is Plotting Its Midterms Attack:

For the past week or so, the big kerfuffle dominating the news related to Russia has been over the memo—a classified memorandum drafted by the Republican staffers of the House Intelligence Committee that claims the FBI inappropriately used the now infamous Steele dossier in an application for a super-secret warrant authorizing surveillance of a Trump campaign foreign policy adviser named Carter Page. Donald Trump and his champions—including Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), the chair of the committee, and the other Republicans on the panel—want this memo publicly released, presumably because they believe it would undermine the FBI’s Russia investigation. Democrats on the committee contend that the memo cherry-picks facts and is misleading. The FBI and the Justice Department oppose its release, noting that such a disclosure would reveal important national security secrets. Others have noted that this is all a red herring; even if there was something fishy about this one warrant application—and there’s no telling if there was—that would have no bearing on the rest of the FBI’s investigation of Moscow meddling in the 2016 election and interactions between Trump associates and Russians.

But look at what just happened. I spent the opening of this article explaining this dust-up, rather than far more important recent developments related to the Russia scandal. And that’s the point. The Trump White House wants the politerati worked up over this sideshow. Consider these two other occurrences from this week. On Monday, Trump’s CIA chief, Mike Pompeo, told the BBC that Russia will “target” the midterm elections this year. The very same day, it was reported that the Trump administration will not implement the new sanctions on Russia that Congress passed last year in legislation that Trump begrudgingly signed into law. So here we have word that the US political system remains under threat from Vladimir Putin’s covert information warfare campaign and that the Trump administration has decided not to intensify sanctions that might deter Moscow from again subverting American democracy. Still, these significant events received a sliver of the coverage devoted to the tussle over #releasethememo.

A stunt has kicked aside substance. Not only do the memo shenanigans deflect attention from the intelligence committee’s main job—probing the scandal; they also keep the spotlight from shining on a profound national security concern: the continuing threat from Russia. It is not well known that the Moscow cyber assault on the 2016 elections went beyond the presidential campaign. Russian hackers also broke into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party outfit in charge of House races, and swiped and released key internal documents about some of the most important House races that year. This included the group’s strategy documents assessing the strengths and weaknesses of Democratic candidates and its confidential voter turn-out models. Moscow’s assault on the DCCC was an extensive operation that had an impact. In several House races, candidates used the leaked material to attack Democrats. (In primary contests, Democrats exploited the leaks against Democratic rivals. In the general election, Republicans did the same.) DCCC officials came to believe the dumps were a decisive factor in several races in which the Democrat lost.

➤ Anna Mitchell and Larry Diamond contend China’s Surveillance State Should Scare Everyone:

Imagine a society in which you are rated by the government on your trustworthiness. Your “citizen score” follows you wherever you go. A high score allows you access to faster internet service or a fast-tracked visa to Europe. If you make political posts online without a permit, or question or contradict the government’s official narrative on current events, however, your score decreases. To calculate the score, private companies working with your government constantly trawl through vast amounts of your social media and online shopping data.

When you step outside your door, your actions in the physical world are also swept into the dragnet: The government gathers an enormous collection of information through the video cameras placed on your street and all over your city. If you commit a crime—or simply jaywalk—facial recognition algorithms will match video footage of your face to your photo in a national ID database. It won’t be long before the police show up at your door.

This society may seem dystopian, but it isn’t farfetched: It may be China in a few years. The country is racing to become the first to implement a pervasive system of algorithmic surveillance. Harnessing advances in artificial intelligence and data mining and storage to construct detailed profiles on all citizens, China’s communist party-state is developing a “citizen score” to incentivize “good” behavior. A vast accompanying network of surveillance cameras will constantly monitor citizens’ movements, purportedly to reduce crime and terrorism. While the expanding Orwellian eye may improve “public safety,” it poses a chilling new threat to civil liberties in a country that already has one of the most oppressive and controlling governments in the world.

➤ Adam K. Raymond offers A Super Bowl LII Glossary for the Uninitiated:

Gronk, G.O.A.T., dog masks — the million of Americans attending Super Bowl parties this weekend are bound to hear those terms and plenty of others that will be unfamiliar to people who don’t follow football.

We’re here to help. Here’s a short glossary of terms relevant to Super Bowl LII that will allow anyone to hold up their end of a conversation about horse punching or greasy poles [list follows].

➤ Matt Phillips reports Stocks Fall to End a Bad Week, and a Boom Begins to Look Shaky:

The immediate catalyst was the jobs report, which showed the strong United States economy might finally be translating into rising wages for American workers — a sign that higher inflation could be around the corner. But what is really worrying investors is that the fuel behind this stock market boom, namely cheap money from global central banks, may disappear sooner than they thought.

In recent weeks, the shift in sentiment has played out across the world’s largest financial markets. As stocks have sold off, Treasury yields have surged. The dollar has slumped.
“It’s a legitimate concern, when inflation spikes up a little bit, that people should evaluate how is this going to affect profits and how is this going to affect the Fed,” said Jonathan Golub, chief United States equity strategist at Credit Suisse. “The market is becoming more vigilant around these concerns, and that’s good and that’s healthy.”

Climb Inside Thailand’s Three-Headed Elephant: