Daily Bread for 3.21.18

Good morning.

Wednesday in Whitewater will be partly cloudy with a high of forty-two. Sunrise is 6:54 AM and sunset 7:08 PM, for 12h 14m 30s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 18% of its visible disk illuminated . Today is the four hundred ninety-sixth day.Days since Trump’s election, with 11.9.16 as the first day.

On this day in 1918, Imperial Germany launches the Spring Offensive:

a series of German attacks along the Western Front during the First World War, beginning on 21 March 1918, which marked the deepest advances by either side since 1914. The Germans had realised that their only remaining chance of victory was to defeat the Allies before the overwhelming human and matériel resources of the United States could be fully deployed. They also had the temporary advantage in numbers afforded by the nearly 50 divisions freed by the Russian surrender (the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk).

By late April 1918, the danger of a German breakthrough had passed. The German Army had suffered heavy casualties and now occupied ground of dubious value which would prove impossible to hold with such depleted units. In August 1918, the Allies began a counter-offensive with the support of 1–2 million fresh American troops and using new artillery techniques and operational methods. This Hundred Days Offensive resulted in the Germans retreating or being driven from all of the ground taken in the Spring Offensive, the collapse of the Hindenburg Line and the capitulation of the German Empire that November.

On this day in 1865, Battle of Goldsborough, North Carolina, ends:

The 21st, 22nd and 25th Wisconsin Infantry regiments took part as three Union armies totaling 100,000 men captured the city and its railroad facilities. These were then used to supply troops moving north toward Virginia. Union forces occupied Goldsborough until April 10, 1865, the day after Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia.

Recommended for reading in full —

➤ Ella Nilsen and Rachel Wolfe of Vox Senetences have a summary entitled Facebook status: in deep trouble:

  • Facebook is in deep trouble over new revelations of how the personal data of 50 million users was accessed and used in the runup to the 2016 election. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • The problems for Facebook started when the New York Times and the UK Observer published reports this weekend revealing that Cambridge Analytica collected the data of tens of millions of users without their permission. [NYT / Matthew Rosenberg, Nicholas Confessore, and Carole Cadwalladr]
  • The analytics firm is owned by conservative hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer, and at the time of the data leak, it was headed by Trump’s key adviser Steve Bannon. [UK Observer / Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison]
  • Whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who helped found Cambridge Analytica, characterized the data leak as a bid to use a massive amount of Facebook data to target political ads and posts to users, to “exploit what we knew about them and target their inner demons.” [UK Observer / Carole Cadwalladr and Emma Graham-Harrison]
  • That’s all the more interesting because Trump’s 2016 campaign used Cambridge Analytica, paying them $5.9 million. (Ted Cruz’s campaign used the firm as well.) [Vox / Emily Stewart]
  • What Wylie is saying is that Mercer, Bannon, and other right-wing figures were using data to essentially wage a new “culture war” online, targeting people’s fears in campaigns. [Guardian / Carol Cadwalladr]
  • It’s important to note that this wasn’t a hack. And the news about the Facebook data breach isn’t really news; it’s been around for years. [Vox / Aja Romano]
  • But with the political implications of what the firm was able to do with the data, lawmakers in the US and the EU are furious and are calling for further investigations. [Vox / Zeeshan Aleem]
  • Beyond the question of what this means for our data, there are huge implications for Facebook’s business. The company’s stock took a nosedive amid the recent reports. [Vox / Emily Stewart]

➤ Ari Berman reports Kris Kobach Just Got Humiliated in Federal Court (“The Kansas secretary of state wanted to prove his claims of widespread voter fraud. Instead, he was repeatedly embarrassed.”):

Kobach’s battle against the ACLU was supposed to be a showcase for his claims of widespread voter fraud. When he ran for Kansas secretary of state in 2010, Kobach said “the illegal registration of alien voters has become pervasive.” That led Kansas to pass the law requiring people to provide documentation including a birth certificate, passport, or naturalization papers to register to vote. The law prevented 35,000 Kansans from registering between 2013 and 2016.

Kobach, who led President Donald Trump’s election integrity commission and is now running for governor, hired Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation to support his claim that illegal votes by non-citizens had swung US elections. But under questioning from ACLU lawyer Dale Ho, von Spakovsky admitted he couldn’t name a single election where votes by non-citizens had decided the outcome.

Over and over, the claims of voter fraud offered by Kobach and his witnesses collapsed under scrutiny. Kobach asked Tabitha Lehman, the clerk of Sedgwick County, Kansas, to share a spreadsheet showing that 38 noncitizens in the county had registered or attempted to register. But under questioning from the ACLU, Lehman conceded that only five of them had voted over the past two decades, when 1.3 million votes were cast in the county. Kobach has often said that the evidence of fraud he’s uncovered in Kansas is only “the tip of the iceberg.” In his closing argument, Ho said, “The iceberg, on close inspection, Your Honor, it’s more of an ice cube.”

(Emphasis added.)

➤ Whistleblower [the Cambridge Analytica director of research]: We tested Trump slogans in 2014:

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie says the company tested Trump slogans such as “drain the swamp” and “deep state” as early as 2014, before Trump announced a presidential run.

➤ Jennifer Rubin delivers A reminder of just how wrong Trump apologists were:

The promise that he would be saved by advisers with more intellect, temperament and experience also ignored Trump’s unwillingness to hire critics who voiced their qualms during the campaign. Those who had served at senior levels in prior administrations didn’t come in. That left him with a mediocre talent pool. And now — ah, his defenders would have shuddered to know this a year or so ago — he’s resorted to hiring TV personalities.

Moreover, Trump’s insistence on bringing with him the security blanket of family members — who were neither competent nor ethically pristine — meant that whomever he officially selected for top posts would have to deal with a competing power center (Javanka). And hiring his daughter and son-in-law meant their conflicts of interest were ladled into the toxic brew of his own conflicts, nontransparent finances and foreign emoluments.

In sum, Trump could neither hire nor heed the advice of “very best people” on his staff or Cabinet. The pusillanimous Congress was never going to challenge him. But here’s the thing: By removing the GOP majority in Congress, the country can mitigate — not eliminate — Trump’s increasingly unhinged conduct. To get the institutional check that Republicans such as House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) promised, it seems, they need to be stripped of that majority.

➤ Explorers are Discovering Life Under Antarctica’s Ice:

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