Daily Bread for 3.10.18

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of forty-one. Sunrise is 6:13 AM and sunset 5:56 PM, for 11h 42m 26s of daytime. The moon is a waning crescent with 40% of its visible disk illuminated. Today is the four hundred eighty-fifth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1876, “three days after his patent was issued, [Alexander Graham] Bell succeeded in getting his telephone to work, using a liquid transmitter similar to Gray’s design. Vibration of the diaphragm caused a needle to vibrate in the water, varying the electrical resistance in the circuit. When Bell spoke the sentence “Mr. Watson—Come here—I want to see you” into the liquid transmitter,[84] Watson, listening at the receiving end in an adjoining room, heard the words clearly.[85]”

Recommended for reading in full —

➤ Jennifer Rubin asks Will Kim Jong Un — like every other dictator — sucker Trump?:

Is Trump now to glad-hand with Kim, treating him as just another world leader? Will Trump even bring up human rights? (You will recall that, in 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama was ridiculed for suggesting he’d sit down with the North Korean dictator; he prudently backed off that idea.)

John McLaughlin, former acting director of the CIA, pointed to other concerns — namely Trump’s team: “These people have never been in a real negotiation … and have no idea how complicated this will be.” If there is no progress before a May meeting, what is the point of a face-to-face discussion between Trump and a recalcitrant dictator? “May seems too soon,” observed McLaughlin, although he noted the meeting could be delayed.

And that is really the rub: Is Trump or anyone else in the administration, including the intelligence community, really prepared to have such a high-stakes negotiation? With Trump — who cannot even follow his lawyers’ advice to not incriminate himself — the chance of going off-script is exceptionally high, with potentially disastrous results. Initial indications were far from encouraging.

(The meeting might never take place, but if does happen, one can safely predict that Trump’s past history of business failures and profound ignorance will lead Kim, or any other leader, to sucker Trump easily. Even the announcement of the meeting is a victory of recognition, of sorts, for Kim.)

➤ Ben Collins and Spencer Ackerman report Exclusive: Reddit Says It’s Cooperating With Russia Investigations. They’ve Handed Over Zero Documents (“Reddit’s CEO said the ‘front page of the Internet’ is working with Congress to uncover Russian propaganda. But it’s turned over no material to investigators”):

After a long public silence, the Internet giant Reddit has finally acknowledged the presence of Russian propaganda on its platform—and indicated it’s working with the Congressional probes into Russia’s 2016 election interference.

“While I know it’s frustrating that we don’t share everything we know publicly, I want to reiterate that we take these matters very seriously, and we are cooperating with congressional inquiries,” Reddit CEO Steve Huffman wrote to the Reddit community in a blog post on Monday.

“We’ve been taking action for a long time,” Huffman added in a follow-up comment.

But The Daily Beast has learned that the cooperation Reddit is providing is, at most, precursory. Knowledgeable sources tell The Daily Beast that Reddit has not, for instance, produced any documents to the House or Senate committees shedding light on how Russian propaganda hijacked a site that bills itself as the “front page of the internet.”

➤ Nico Hines, Adam Rawnsley, and Tanya Basu report What Was the Mysterious WMD an Assassin Used on a Russian Spy? The Answer Could Lead to Vladimir Putin (“Forensic detectives and military scientists have embarked on a complex trail of clues that could lead all the way from a quiet city in southwest England to Vladimir Putin:

Poisoning a Russian double agent exiled in Britain with a lab-made substance? Well, that’s usually an assassination ordered by the Kremlin.

Britain’s police detectives and security services now need to prove it.

Scotland Yard’s counterterrorism detectives are deep into a sophisticated version of classic murder weapon analysis with the help of Ministry of Defence biological weapons experts at the  Porton Down military research facility.

This weapon of mass destruction was deployed against a Russian father and his daughter who were spending a leisurely Sunday afternoon in the picturesque cathedral city of Salisbury. The WMD was so powerful that 21 people have been treated for its effects.

The Porton Down facility has been home to Britain’s defense and technology research since reports emerged from First World War battlefields that the Germans had killed 140 British soldiers with chlorine gas in January 1915. Coincidentally, the highly secretive facility is located on the outskirts of Salisbury, just seven miles from where former Russian military intelligence colonel Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, were found on Sunday.

➤ Peter Beinart explains What Trump Means When He Calls Gary Cohn a ‘Globalist’:

The term “globalist” is a bit like the term “thug.” It’s an epithet that is disproportionately directed at a particular minority group. Just as “thug” is often used to invoke the stereotype that African Americans are violent, “globalist” can play on the stereotype that Jews are disloyal. Used that way, it becomes a modern-day vessel for an ancient slur: that Jews—whether loyal to international Judaism or international capitalism or international communism or international Zionism—aren’t loyal to the countries in which they live.

That slur has a long, dark history. The infamous 1903 forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zionwarns that, “The nations of the West are being brought under international control”—by Jews. In 1935, Nazi Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels railed against “the absolute destruction of all economic, social, state, cultural, and civilizing advances made by western civilization for the benefit of a rootless and nomadic international clique of conspirators”: Jews. David Duke called Brexit a triumph over the “Jewish globalist agenda.”

It’s possible to use the term “globalist”—even about a Jew—innocently, just like it’s possible to use the term “thug” about an African American with no racist intent. And perhaps that’s what Trump was doing when he applied it to Cohn. The problem is that this requires giving Donald Trump a benefit of the doubt that he forfeited long ago.

When Trump uses anti-Semitic language, his defenders often counter that his daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren are Orthodox Jews. Sure, but even bigots contain multitudes. Trump may feel genuine affection for Jared Kushner, and likely Gary Cohn too. But that doesn’t change the fact that he employs anti-Semitic tropes in ways that make him almost unique among contemporary American politicians. After all, history is filled with politicians who fomented anti-Semitism yet enjoyed warm relationships with individual Jews.

For Cohn, there’s a sad irony here. He reportedly considered resigning after Trump’s equivocal response to last August’s outbreak of white supremacism in Charlottesville, but stuck it out, and instead resigned over Trump’s tariff policy. What thanks did he get? A presidential tribute using language that would have made the Charlottesville marchers smile.

Embed from Getty Images

They’re out there, watching, waiting…

➤ Anna Fifield reports Japanese towns struggle to deal with an influx of new arrivals: wild boars:

HIRAIZUMI, Japan—  Rapidly shrinking towns and cities across Japan are experiencing a population explosion. Not an explosion of humans, though. An explosion in wild boar numbers.

Across the country, wild boars are moving in as Japan’s rapidly aging population either moves out or dies out. The boars come for the untended rice paddies and stay for the abandoned shelters.

“Thirty years ago, crows were the biggest problem around here,” said Hideo Numata, a farmer in Hiraizumi, human population 7,803, precise boar population unknown.

“But now we have these animals and not enough people to scare them away,” he said, sitting in a hut with a wood stove and two farmer friends. At 67, Numata is a relative youngster around here. His friends, Etsuro Sugawa and Shoichi Chiba, are 69 and 70 respectively. One of their farmer neighbors is 83.

Southern parts of Japan have had a wild boar problem for some years. The papers are full of reports of boars in train stations and parking garages, around school dormitories and even in the sea, swimming out to islands.