Friday in Whitewater will be rainy with a high of sixty-seven. Sunrise is 6:11 AM and sunset 7:41 PM, for 13h 30m 05s of daytime. The moon is a waxing gibbous with 96.8% of its visible disk illuminated.
On this day in AD 79, Mount Vesuvius erupts:
Mount Vesuvius, a stratovolcano in modern-day Italy, erupted in 79 AD in one of the most catastrophic volcanic eruptions in European history. Historians have learned about the eruption from the eyewitness account of Pliny the Younger, a Roman administrator and poet. The event is the namesake for the Vesuvian type of volcanic eruptions.
Mount Vesuvius violently spewed forth a deadly cloud of super-heated tephra and gases to a height of 33 km (21 mi), ejecting molten rock, pulverized pumice and hot ash at a massive rate of 1.5 million tons per second, ultimately releasing 100,000 times the thermal energy of the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings. Several Roman settlements were obliterated and buried underneath massive pyroclastic surges and ashfall deposits, the best known being Pompeii and Herculaneum.
The total inhabitants of both cities were 16,000–20,000; the remains of over 1,500 people have been found at Pompeii and Herculaneum, but the overall death toll is still unclear.
Recommended for reading in full —Andrew Cohen offers A Reader’s Guide to Our Constitutional Crisis:
Conservative Michael Gerson describes A cancer on the presidency:
It’s not easy to write in real time about the legal and political fate of a president who rages in tweets, “NO COLLUSION — RIGGED WITCH HUNT!” at one o’clock in the morning. In part this is because of the gulf that exists between the reality that animates the mind of Donald Trump and the reality in which the rest of us live. In part it’s because so much of what happened this week, in and out of courts in Washington, New York, and Virginia, is unprecedented in the nation’s history. In some ways we’ve already gone past the point at which the Watergate story ended.
The conviction of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort on tax fraud and bank fraud charges in Virginia tells us that jurors aren’t going to buy into the administration’s “witch hunt” theme when there is compelling evidence of criminal conduct. A juror emerged on Wednesday to say that a lone holdout prevented prosecutors from sweeping all 18 of the charges against Manafort, a defendant the president later called “brave.” That’s bad news for Trump and bad news for Manafort, too, who now faces a second federal trial, in Washington, before a less sympathetic judge and perhaps less sympathetic jurors, too.
The guilty pleas entered by former Trump lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen, for their part, tell us that federal prosecutors believe the president himself may have committed crimes. More bad news for the president. As Benjamin Wittes pointed out, “the significance of the Cohen plea is not merely that Cohen alleges that Trump had him arrange to pay hush money to a porn star and a model in a specific effort to influence the election with illegal corporate contributions. It’s that the Justice Department believes this allegation to be true and is willing to proceed criminally against Cohen on that basis.” And don’t forget it was federal prosecutors in New York, and not special counsel Robert Mueller’s team in Washington, who handled the Cohen deal.
Jeffrey Goldberg describes Donald Trump’s Mafia Mind-Set:
Every time we gain a peek into the inner workings of Trump world, we see a leader with the ethics of an Atlantic City casino owner who surrounds himself with people chosen for their willingness to lie and cheat at his bidding. A world in which Paul Manafort is “a very good person.” A world in which payoffs and election tampering are all in a day’s work.
Left to his investigation, Mueller will expose this world to the light. And the choice for Congress is likely to be clear: Impeach, or tolerate massive corruption.
Rich Kremer reports DNR Wastewater Permit Backlog Persists More Than Year After Critical Audit:
I have not seen [Gambino family underboss Salvatore “Sammy the Bull”] Gravano in a very long time—he has spent most of the past two decades in prison, after having failed to hide his drug-distribution business from his federal monitors—but my thoughts turned to him yesterday, when I read President Donald Trump’s tweet on the subject of loyalty and respect. The president, who is obviously perturbed by the felony conviction of his former campaign chair Paul Manafort and the plea deal taken by his former attorney Michael Cohen, wrote the following: “I feel very badly for Paul Manafort and his wonderful family. ‘Justice’”—a cutting reference to the Justice Department, which he oversees as the leader of the executive branch—“took a 12 year old tax case, among other things, applied tremendous pressure on him and, unlike Michael Cohen, he refused to ‘break’ – make up stories in order to get a ‘deal.’ Such respect for a brave man!”
What we see in this astonishing tweet is an implicit endorsement by the president of the United States of omertà, the Mafia code of silence, which has been honored, especially over the past 30 years or so, more in theory than in practice.
In these statements, Trump displays contempt for the rule of law, and honors criminals who refuse to cooperate with law enforcement. He’s doing nothing less than elevating gangster ideology to the status of high principle. He’s also evincing a gauzy and archaic understanding of the nature of gangsterism. I heard, in his statements, echoes of many conversations I had while trying to understand the culture of organized crime.
A Curious Polar Bear Gets Up-Close To Photographer:
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is still behind on reviewing a backlog of wastewater discharge permits more than a year after an audit found the agency wasn’t following its own policies aimed at preventing water pollution, the agency reports.
A report requested by state Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, shows the DNR fell short of its goals for reviewing municipal, industrial and concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) wastewater permits between July 2017 and July of this year. The DNR did not respond to a request for comment on the data.
DNR policy suggests an acceptable permit backlog of no more than 10 percent for municipal and industrial sources and 15 percent for CAFOs. The latest data show backlogs of 13.6 percent for municipal and industrial permittees and 21.8 percent for CAFOs.