Month: December 2018

No Thanks, I Have a Gig as Spın̈al Tap’s Drummer

John Kelly is resigning as Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff by the end of the year.

Good riddance.

He’s a xenophobic, misogynistic, racist asshole, but it appears that “The Donald” does not think that he’s a campaign season consigliere, and (God help us) we are into the Presidential campaign season.

Unfortunately for the White House, no one wants the job.

President Trump said on Saturday that his chief of staff, John F. Kelly, would step down by the end of the year, the latest move in a long-planned staff shake-up as the president heads into the 2020 campaign facing growing peril from the special counsel and newly empowered Democrats.

The departure of Mr. Kelly, who had been brought in last year to impose order on the West Wing but found managing Mr. Trump an impossible task, had been rumored for months, and Mr. Trump announced it to reporters before departing for the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia. He said a replacement would be named in the next day or two.

“John Kelly will be leaving — I don’t know if I can say ‘retiring,’” the president said. “But he’s a great guy. John Kelly will be leaving at the end of the year.”

Mr. Trump has settled on Nick Ayers, a youthful but experienced political operative who serves as chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, as his top choice to replace Mr. Kelly, people familiar with the matter said. In Mr. Ayers, Mr. Trump sees what Mr. Kelly, a career military officer, was not: a wily political operative whose focus would be on politics and campaigning as the president looks toward his re-election bid.  

Ayers is not interested in the job.

But Mr. Ayers, 36, who has young children and wants to return home to Georgia with his family, has so far agreed to serve only on an interim basis through the spring. Mr. Trump, who does not want more turnover, is pressing Mr. Ayers to agree to a more permanent stay, those familiar with the discussions said.

If the president ultimately turns to another candidate, potential choices include the Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin; his budget director, Mick Mulvaney; and the United States trade representative, Robert Lighthizer. 

Mnuchin doesn’t want the job either, and neither does Lighhizer.

Yet Another Reason Not to Give to NPR

Julia Botero was happy to catch on, and determined to stay on, at NPR. After completing an internship at the public broadcasting organization in Washington in 2013, she began a year-long stint as a temporary employee, moving between producing jobs at NPR’s signature news programs, “All Things Considered” and “Morning Edition.”


Worse was the sense of constant competition among her fellow temps, many of whom were angling to be hired for a limited number of permanent positions. “The only person I felt I could trust,” she said, “was the person I was dating, who was in the same position I was.” After a year of such uncertainty, she left, taking a job as a reporter for a group of public radio stations in New York state.

What’s surprising about Botero’s experience is how unsurprising it is at NPR.

For decades, the public broadcaster has relied on a cadre of temporary journalists to produce its hourly newscasts and popular news programs. Without temporary workers — who are subject to termination without cause — NPR would probably be unable to be NPR. Temps do almost every important job in NPR’s newsroom: They pitch ideas, assign stories, edit them, report and produce them. Temps not only book the guests heard in interviews, they often write the questions the hosts ask the guests.

And there are a lot of them. According to union representatives, between 20 and 22 percent of NPR’s 483 union-covered newsroom workforce — or 1 in 5 people — are temp workers. The number varies week to week as temps come and go.


Resentment among temps about their status has boiled beneath the surface at NPR for years, but the tensions have begun to bubble up over the past several months. Some temporary employees raised complaints in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal involving Michael Oreskes, the former head of NPR’s newsroom. Oreskes was accused by several women, including a then-temporary employee, of misconduct. Oreskes was forced to resign by NPR last year; several women said his behavior highlighted the vulnerability of temporary employees, who fear they could be blackballed for complaining or resisting an overly aggressive manager.

The outrage over Oreskes coalesced into a broader employee inquiry into the status of temps at NPR. Following “listening sessions” conducted among 40 current and former temporary journalists, NPR employees produced a report in May detailing a number of grievances and allegedly abusive practices.

Among them: Temps were often left in the dark about how long their assignments would last, how much they’d be paid, who they were reporting to, or what their title was. They also said they received little feedback from supervisors after completing an assignment, and were “routinely” overlooked in NPR’s recruiting efforts.

Several temps interviewed for this story use the same word to describe NPR’s temp system: “Exploitative.”

By any measure, NPR is unusual among broadcast media organizations in the size of its temporary workforce.


NPR’s union representatives remain guarded, however. They noted that during bruising negotiations over a new three-year contract last year, NPR’s management proposed eliminating all benefits for temps (except those required by law), including health insurance and holiday pay. Those proposals were withdrawn amid broad staff opposition.

As I have noted before, if a company does not do well by its employees, it’s claims to do good are highly suspect.

Tweet of the Day

“The Hillary Clinton campaign didn’t spend their money on white workers or people of color. They spent it on themselves.

They took a billion dollars and set it on fire and called it a campaign.” –@VanJones68

— Waleed Shahid (@_waleedshahid) December 9, 2018

This is at its core why some people, myself included, loathe the entire Clinton campaign, and think that everyone who worked for this should be asking people if they, “Want fries with that,” for a living.

The incompetence and outright looting of the Hillary Clinton’s campaign gave us Trump, and these people want another opportunity to get paid for their incompetence.

They are the real Washington Generals.

So Not Reassured

“Helicopter Destroyer,” my ass!

I read this yesterday, December 7, and for some reason, I was not reassured at reports that the Japanese Navy will be reconstituting its aircraft carrier fleet:

The Japanese government announced on Nov. 27, 2018 that it plans to modify its two Izumo-class helicopter carriers to support F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters.

The announcement follows years of speculation that began even before Izumo commissioned into service in 2015.

“Since we are equipped with such vessels, it is desirable that we will use them for various purposes,” Japanese defense minister Takeshi Iwaya told reporters. “We would like to advance our research and studies on this.”


Japan’s post-war constitution forbids offensive military operations. For decades, the country’s leaders have interpreted the prohibition to mean the Japanese navy legally could not possess aircraft carriers.

The Japanese fleet sidestepped the carrier-ban by acquiring what it called “helicopter destroyers” — that is, surface warships with hangars and unusually large flight decks.

The Izumo class stretched the credibility of the “helicopter destroyer” moniker. The type lacks major weaponry. Its flight deck extends from stem to stern. It’s a carrier in everything but name. In practice, Izumo and sister ship Kaga, which commissioned in 2017, only have embarked helicopters.

Each 814 feet long and displacing 27,000 tons of water while fully loaded, Izumo and Kaga are small for carriers. The U.S. Navy’s supercarriers each are a thousand feet long and displace more than 100,000 tons. The Americans’ amphibious assault ships — which support helicopters, AV-8B Harrier jump jets and F-35s — are around 850 feet long and displace 41,000 tons.

Yep, nothing to see here, move along.

Understanding the Yellow Vest Movement

We can talk about what is, and is not, causing this phenomenon, but at its core, it boils down to this statement, “France’s Gas Tax Disaster Shows We Can’t Save Earth by Screwing Over Poor People.”

French President Emanuel Macron has been cutting taxes on the rich, and raising taxes on everyone else, ever since entering office.

This is a well deserved smack-down of an investment banker who has seen his role as making life easier for other investment bankers.

We’re Gonna Need a Smaller Violin

It appears taht Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard is at risk of closure:

Things don’t look good for The Weekly Standard. Yesterday, CNN’s Oliver Darcy reported that the conservative magazine may shutter after sparring between its leadership and owners MediaDC, who told the magazine’s editor, Stephen Hayes, that he could court potential buyers, then went back on the pledge. While MediaDC’s parent company wouldn’t be drawn publicly last night, MediaDC’s chairman, Ryan McKibben, has reportedly requested a meeting with Hayes next week. Ominously, Darcy reports, he’s requested that the entire Standard staff be made available immediately afterward.

The Standard has steadfastly opposed the Trump presidency, making it a relative rarity in conservative media circles. Its anti-Trump stance—and stated commitment to fact-driven and nuanced debate—helps explain why CNN’s scoop elicited such widespread concern in the mediasphere. On the right, Noah Rothman, an associate editor at Commentary magazine, tweeted, “This would be a disaster. The Weekly Standard is indispensable.” Further left, Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein called CNN’s story “terrible news.” The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer added, “I’m obviously not the target audience for The Weekly Standard but its output in the Trump era has mostly avoided the bizarre tone of Trumpist sycophancy dominating much of conservative media and losing it would be bad.”


The fact that The Weekly Standard is right, for all the wrong reasons, for once, does not justified its continued existence.

Even now, as a “fact checker” for Facebook, it continues its role as a pox on public discourse and a welfare program for overpriviliged conservatives.

The hand-wringing for a publication that was begun to pursue Bill Clinton’s penis and to advocate for destabilizing wars throughout the world does not deserve support for anyone who might consider themselves a journalist.

I’m Guessing Steve Bannon or Another of Trump’s Minions

You literally could not have chosen a worse time for a caravan to set off to the United States than mid to late October before an election in which a nativist demagogue was trying to keep his party in power.

It gave Trump the ability to stoke his base, and wave his dick around and pretend to be brave.

It now turns out that fraudulent accounts on social media played a large role in instigating the caravan, and applying the old saw of cui bono, the most likely suspects are people tied to Trump and the Republican party:

Just days before the migrant caravan set out from Honduras, an imposter stole the identity of a prominent early supporter on Facebook, using a fake account to try to boost the caravan’s numbers.

Bartolo Fuentes, a Honduran activist, journalist, and former lawmaker told BuzzFeed News that someone used the phony account to send Facebook messages falsely claiming that established migrant groups were organizing the effort. News like that — coming from a well-known public figure in Honduras, such as Fuentes — could go a long way to convincing people to join the group of migrants traveling to the US.

The caravan, which threaded north through Guatemala and Mexico, eventually ballooned in size to more than 7,000 people. It also became a political flashpoint in the lead-up to last month’s US midterm elections.In response to a query from BuzzFeed News, a Facebook spokesperson said the phony account “was removed for violating [the company’s] misrepresentation policy,” but declined to share any further information, such as what country it originated from, what email address was used to open it, or any other details that might reveal who was behind it. Facebook added that, barring a subpoena or request from law enforcement, it does not share such information out of respect for the privacy of its users.

Actually Facebook does share such information (Cambridge Analytica), but only with people who won’t advertise the fact.

As far as Fuentes can tell, the fake account, which primarily used Facebook Messenger to spread disinformation, was created less than a week before the caravan was scheduled to depart.

On his real account, Fuentes did post a few times about the caravan, which he said he’d heard about in mid-September after being invited to join a small private WhatsApp group of would-be migrants. One of his posts, from Oct. 4, showed a stylized image of a bedraggled migrant and indicated the caravan “spontaneously convened” without any formal organizer.

But the messages being sent by the imposter, which also had Fuentes’s photo, had a very different flavor, the former lawmaker learned. They claimed that the prominent and influential migrant rights organization Pueblo Sin Fronteras was organizing the caravan and would be leading it on the arduous journey.

But the news was fake. Although Pueblo Sin Fronteras had organized several previous caravans, including a big one in the spring that attracted 1,500 people, it staunchly opposed the latest effort based on well-founded fears it would stoke anti-immigrant sentiment ahead of the elections.

The bogus Fuentes account stands out for its sophistication and timing. It was created before the caravan departed, when the event had not yet attracted news coverage. It operated entirely in Spanish and precisely targeted influencers within the migrant rights community. And rather than criticize or undermine the caravan — as other online campaigns would later attempt to do — it was used to legitimize the event, making a loosely structured grassroots event appear to be a well-organized effort by an established migrant group with a proven track record of successfully bringing Central American people to the US border.

Fuentes has been unable to get any information from Facebook about the account, but one small detail stood out. Whoever created it listed the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa as Fuentes’s hometown, rather than the San Pedro Sula suburb of El Progreso. That might seem like a minor error, but it’s the sort of mistake a foreigner — not a Honduran — [also, in my personal opinion, not a member of the FSB or GRU] would make about the well-known former lawmaker, whose left-wing party stands in opposition to the current president’s administration.


The largest caravan organized by Pueblo Sin Fronteras numbered 1,500 people. To this day, Mujica said he is mystified by how the latest caravan could have grown so large.

“Nobody wanted this to take place so close to the elections,” he added. “Somebody was clearly trying to mislead people to generate more interest in the caravan.”

This is precisely the sort of Karl Rove style rat-f%$#ery that we see from the Republicans.   (Rove once planted bugs in his own office to create the impression that his opponents were spying on him)

There is Republican stink all over this.

Dropping the “A Word” on Brexit

This is rather evocative language within the context of British Politics, and what it evokes is well deserved loathing of May and her Evil Minions:

Mervyn King, the former governor of the Bank of England, has launched a stinging attack on Theresa May’s Brexit deal, likening it to the appeasement of the Nazis in the 1930s.

In a sweeping attack on No 10, the Treasury and his successor, Mark Carney, the Brexit-supporting King said the political elite was allowing the UK to become a vassal state that would be forced to accept Brussels diktats. He described the deal negotiated by the government as “incompetence of a high order”.

King’s comments came as Carney told the Treasury select committee on Tuesday that the price of food could go up by 10% if the UK left the EU with no deal and with no plans to avoid chaos at the country’s ports.

He said Britain’s ports were not ready for a shift to World Trade Organization rules for the country’s exports and imports with the EU.

King, however, slammed May’s deal as “a muddled commitment to perpetual subordination from which the UK cannot withdraw without the agreement of the EU”.

He added: “It simply beggars belief that a government could be hellbent on a deal that hands over £39bn while giving the EU both the right to impose laws on the UK indefinitely and a veto on ending this state of fiefdom.”

May’s Brexit deal is so bad that it could have been negotiated by Donald Trump.

Not Just Pennsylvania

Broadband sucks everywhere in the US, but researchers at Penn State have revealed that it is far worse than the official numbers:

It’s often a foregone conclusion that rural areas face major challenges to improve their access to high-speed broadband, and in Pennsylvania, that’s very much true. But what if you actually measure broadband speeds statewide from millions of data points to get a better sense of the geographic disparities of connectivity? One new study says it’s  actually much worse than previously thought.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University spent much of this year studying internet speeds across the state, and found that only a small fraction of residents—just under 10 percent—live in areas that meet the Federal Communication Commission’s minimum speed needed for broadband connectivity. Most of those areas that meet the federal minimum standard are, as shown in green below, in the state’s major population centers, including Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg.

The work at Penn State uncovered stark differences between advertised internet speeds and actual speeds.

“It’s not just a little different. It appears that the more rural areas have a larger difference between advertised and actual broadband speeds than urban locations,” Penn State researcher Sascha Meinrath said in a recent university announcement. “In some locales, the discrepancy between actual and advertised speeds are an order of magnitude difference or larger. And if you’re this underserved or without internet access entirely, you’re just not going to be a viable part of the 21st century economy.”

This is not something that will be fixed with deregulation, no matter what the free market mousketeers.

Tardis, Meet Turdis

The residents of Biggin Hill, which is perhaps the the most English place name in the UK, are upset because the local transit agency has installed a massive outside rest room for its bus drivers:

Residents on a quiet residential road have complained after transport planners installed an 11-ft lavatory block for bus drivers outside their homes.

On Tuesday Transport for London (TfL) installed the lavatory block – dubbed the “Turdis” by angry residents – on a street in Biggin Hill, on the border of South London and Kent, amid claims that homeowners on the road were not consulted.

Local councillor Julian Bennington said that furious residents smashed its windows within hours of its installation earlier this week and that its lock is already broken.

He said: “People are very angry – it’s literally outside their houses.

“It’s a monstrosity dumped here – the size of it and everything else – in the middle of what is a residential area.

“We knew nothing about it as local councillors and the council didn’t either. Residents have now been asking about why they weren’t consulted.”

I don’t want to make fun of this situation, but a, “Turdis in Biggin Hill,” is simply too much to ignore.

Remember When the Koch Brothers Funded Study on Single Payer?

The headline number was supposed to be the taxes required, but even with their money skewing the analysis, courtesy of the best minds at George Mason University that money can buy, the savings were in the trillions of dollars. (Self own time)

Well, some good folks at my alma mater ran the numbers without a thumb on the scales, and the savings are even more eye poppingly huge:

Medicare for All advocates just received an early holiday present: a new study from the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst finds that single-payer health care will save the US $5.1 trillion [as compared to the $2.054 trillion from the Mercatus Center study noted above] over a decade while drastically cutting working-class Americans’ health spending. It’s the most robust, comprehensive study yet produced on Medicare for All, which has long been in need of easily citable research.

The study analyzes Sen. Bernie Sanders’s Medicare for All Act from top to bottom, elaborating on several key aspects of the bill, including what the transition to a fully public, comprehensive, free-at-the-point-of-use health care system might look like and what impact the program will have on US residents. Most significantly, it answers the most common question single-payer advocates face: “How will we pay for it?”

The findings are impressively thorough. Reaching nearly two hundred pages in length, the report has been praised by health policy experts for its sound methods and clarity. Alison Galvani of the Yale School of Public Health predicts it will become recognized as the “seminal analysis” of Medicare for All.

This amounts to over $1500 a year savings for every man, woman, and child in the United States.

We need to do it now.

It Sucks to be Uber, Too.

The New Work City Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) just imposed a minimum hourly wage on Uber and Lyft:

The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) said on Tuesday that it passed rules that will require “high volume” drivers of for-hire vehicles to receive a wage per trip that corresponds to $27.86 per hour, or $17.22 after expenses. The rules will go into effect in mid-January.

“New York City is the first city globally to recognize that the tens of thousands of men and women who are responsible for providing increasingly popular rides that begin with the touch of a screen deserve to make a livable wage and protection against companies from unilaterally reducing it,” TLC chair Meera Joshi said in a statement.

According to the commission, the rules will result in the equivalent of a $10,000 annual raise for 96% of New York City’s Uber, Lyft, Juno, and Via drivers. A report commissioned by the TLC found that median earnings for high-volume drivers of for-hire vehicles decreased by over 10% between 2016 and 2017.


The New York City Council in August voted in favor of establishing a minimum wage for ride-hailing drivers and preventing ride-hailing services from hiring new drivers for a year. The decision came after a report from transportation analyst Bruce Schaller that said ride-hailing services increased traffic congestion.

In July, the New York Unemployment Insurance Appeal Board issued a ruling that requires Uber to provide unemployment benefits for its drivers.

Increasingly, people are coming to realize that Uber, Lyft, and the rest of the, “Gig Economy,” are little more than con men who are personally profiting from negative externalities, much like polluters, the banksters, and spammers.

It Sucks to be Zuck

Remember those internal emails that Parliament seized from the CEO of a company suing Facebook?

These documents have now been released to the public, and it is not pretty.

First, rather unsurprisingly, we have copious evidence of anti-competitive behavior, and second, it is now clwar that Facebook was a willing co-conspirator with Cambridge Analytica:

Facebook Inc. wielded user data like a bargaining chip, providing access when that sharing might encourage people to spend more time on the social network — and imposing strict limits on partners in cases where it saw a potential competitive threat, emails show.

A trove of internal correspondence, published online Wednesday by U.K. lawmakers, provides a look into the ways Facebook executives, including Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, treated information posted by users like a commodity that could be harnessed in service of business goals. Apps were invited to use Facebook’s network to grow, as long as that increased usage of Facebook. Certain competitors, in a list reviewed by Zuckerberg himself, were not allowed to use Facebook’s tools and data without his personal sign-off.

In early 2013, Twitter Inc. launched the Vine video-sharing service, which drew on a Facebook tool that let Vine users connect to their Facebook friends. Alerted to the possible competitive threat by an engineer who recommended cutting off Vine’s access to Facebook data, Zuckerberg replied succinctly: “Yup, go for it.”

In other cases Zuckerberg eloquently espoused the value of giving software developers more access to user data in hopes that it would result in applications that, in turn, would encourage people to do more on Facebook. “We’re trying to enable people to share everything they want, and to do it on Facebook,” Zuckerberg wrote in a November 2012 email. “Sometimes the best way to enable people to share something is to have a developer build a special purpose app or network for that type of content and to make that app social by having Facebook plug into it. However, that may be good for the world but it’s not good for us unless people also share back to Facebook and that content increases the value of our network.”

The emails were released by a committee of U.K. lawmakers investigating social media’s role in the spread of fake news. They provide more insight into how Facebook achieved its dominance of social media, and how it thought about the value of users’ data, which users provide to the company for free. Facebook, which runs a network of more than 2 billion people globally, has been interrogated by regulators about the reaches of its power, and the effect of that control on user privacy, the spread of misinformation, and global elections.

Lawmakers obtained the documents after compelling the founder of U.S. company Six4Three to hand them over during a business trip to London, despite the fact that they were under seal in a California court case.


Damian Collins, head of the committee that released the documents, says the emails show that Facebook shut off access to data required by competing apps and conducted global surveys of the usage of mobile apps by customers possibly without their knowledge. He also said that a change to Facebook’s Android app policy that resulted in call and message data being recorded was deliberately made difficult for users to know about. He explained his rationale for releasing the emails in a tweet:

We don’t feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents.

— Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) December 5, 2018

This is why you don’t f%$# with a parliamentary investigation when you run a multi-national corporation.

They will find a way to f%$# you.

I’m really not surprised at the revelations, though.

A cursory look at his history reveals that he’s a dishonest, narcissistic, and amoral rat-bastard.

This is just more of the same.

More of This

Acero, a large public school chain in the Chicago area, has the dubious distinction of being the first charter school in the nation to have its teachers strike:

Hundreds of educators at Chicago’s Acero charter schools walked off the job Tuesday morning, halting classes for 7,500 predominantly Latino students and launching the nation’s first strike over a contract at the independently operated campuses.

Backed by affiliates at the Chicago Teachers Union, the charter network’s teachers said they would not return to work after what they described as a series of fruitless negotiations with management.

“We’re going to stay on strike until we get educational justice for the people who work in Acero charter schools,” CTU President Jesse Sharkey said outside the charter network’s empty Zizumbo elementary school campus as dozens of picketers settled in. “We’re going to stay on strike until the students at Acero charter schools get the resources into their classrooms that they need to do their jobs.”

The charter network cancelled all classes, athletics and extracurricular activities. School buildings will remain open with group activities supervised by nonunion staff members, though parents were encouraged to keep children at home or at nearby parks and community facilities.

Acero’s chief executive blasted the walkout as the product of an “anti-charter political agenda.”


The CTU has said key issues include reduced class sizes, maternity and paternity leave, a revamped teacher evaluation system and better pay. The union said they were also unable to secure commitments on special education services and guaranteed protections for undocumented students and families.

I am surprised that this has taken so long.

The underlying business plan of most charter schools is to treat their teachers like garbage.


Spaghetti and Meat Balls, a film by Quentin Tarantino:

Now We Know Why Trump Tried to Keep Haspel Away From Congress

Unlike SecDef Mattis and Secretary of State Pompeo, who have studiously avoided looking at the intelligence data so that they could express doubt about the accusations that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, CIA Director Gina Haspel has to look at the intelligence.

It’s job one for the DCIA.

So, now that she has briefed Senators on what she knows, and while they cannot discuss the specific intelligence, they have said that MBS guilty as hell:

Senators emerged from an unusual closed-door briefing with the CIA director on Tuesday and accused the Saudi crown prince of complicity in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

In some of their strongest statements to date, lawmakers said evidence presented by the U.S. spy agency overwhelmingly pointed to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in the assassination.

“There’s not a smoking gun — there’s a smoking saw,” said Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), referring to the bone saw that investigators believe was used to dismember Khashoggi after he was killed Oct. 2 by a team of Saudi agents inside the country’s consulate in Istanbul.

Armed with classified details provided by President Trump’s handpicked CIA director, Gina Haspel, senators shredded the arguments put forward by senior administration officials who had earlier insisted that the evidence of Mohammed’s alleged role was inconclusive.

………“If the crown prince went in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Haspel, who had declined to appear alongside Mattis and Pompeo at a briefing on U.S.-Saudi policy for the full Senate last week, was joined by agency personnel and gave what lawmakers described as a compelling and decisive presentation of the evidence that the CIA has analyzed since Khashoggi, a Washington Post contributing columnist, was killed.


Graham leveled sharp criticism at Pompeo and Mattis, saying he thought they were “following the lead of the president.” He called them “good soldiers.” But, Graham added, one would “have to be willfully blind not to come to the conclusion” that Mohammed was “intricately involved in the demise of Mr. Khashoggi.”

“It is zero chance, zero, that this happened in such an organized fashion without the crown prince,” Graham said.

Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) said that “it would defy logic to think” that someone other than Mohammed was responsible, noting that members of the prince’s own royal guard are believed to have been part of the team that killed Khashoggi.

The only question now is whether Trump is protecting his, or Jared Kushner’s business interests in Saudi Arabia.

Brings Back Childhood Non-Memories

The recent earthquake in Anchorage is familiar to me in a completely unfamiliar way.

I was in the last big one in Alaska, the 9.6 Richter Scale quake on March 27 1964, but I was only about 20 months old, so I have no memory of the event.

The scale is logarythmic 7.0 Richter Scale trembler had about 400 times (102.2) less energy, so the damage is far less extreme, and this has been further mitigated by improved building standards since 1964, so the impact has been far less severe:

A collapsed section of road on the Glenn Highway north of Anchorage is set to snarl traffic for days as Southcentral Alaska pivoted from crisis response to cleanup in the area’s most significant earthquake in a half-century.

The 7.0 earthquake jolted Anchorage and the rest of Southcentral Alaska on Friday morning, cracking and collapsing roads and highways, damaging buildings, knocking out power and sending people scrambling outside and under furniture. The violent shaking left many homes a mess, and aftershocks continued through the night and through the day Saturday. Schools in Anchorage will be closed until Dec. 10, and many schools in the Mat-Su Borough will be closed until at least Wednesday.

Seismologists called the earthquake the most significant in Anchorage since the 1964 Good Friday earthquake, in terms of how strong the ground itself shook and severity of impact. The size of the quake and a risk of underwater landslides in Cook Inlet triggered an unusual localized tsunami warning. The day after, people all over Southcentral Alaska were rattled and anxious.

But relief was tangible as Anchorage officials reported that there were no deaths, and generally minor injuries — a broken arm, cuts from glass. And despite widespread reports of varying degrees of structural damage, no buildings entirely collapsed, which officials credited to Anchorage’s strict building codes. Hospitals and airports were fully functional Saturday and businesses were beginning to reopen.

Thankfully, the feared tsunami never materialized.
 I know that I was there, my dad was on the (generally ignored) commission that recommended not rebuilding in areas subject to liquefaction, but it’s weird as hell how this evokes non-existent memories in me.

Another Day, Another Corruption Allegation

No, it’s not Trump, it’s Benyamin Netanyahu:

The Israeli police recommended Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be indicted on bribery, fraud and other charges, accusing him of trading regulatory favors for fawning news coverage, in what is potentially the most damaging of a series of corruption cases against him.

It was the third time this year that the police have urged that Mr. Netanyahu face criminal prosecution. And it dealt another blow to his teetering governing coalition, which narrowly averted collapse last month and is clinging to a one-vote majority in Parliament while edging closer to calling early elections.

Mr. Netanyahu, who has dominated Israeli politics for a decade and continues to lead all potential challengers in opinion polls, must now await the decision of the attorney general, whom he appointed, on whether to indict him in all three cases. Depending on the decision, which could take months, he could be Israel’s first sitting prime minister to be indicted.


In the other cases, he is accused in the first of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts in exchange for political favors, and in the second of trading influence for favorable coverage in a leading Israeli newspaper.


In the new case against him, Mr. Netanyahu is not accused of getting rich himself, but of enriching the country’s biggest telecommunications company, Bezeq, at the public’s expense and for the sake of his own image and that of his wife and family.

Between 2012 and 2017, Mr. Netanyahu “intervened in a blatant and ongoing manner, and sometimes even daily,” in coverage at Walla, a news website owned by Bezeq, the police said. This ensured “flattering articles and pictures” were published and critical content about him and his family was removed.

The police said Mr. Netanyahu and his associates sought to sway Walla’s hiring of senior editors and reporters. In return, Mr. Netanyahu, who personally oversaw the communications ministry from 2014 to 2017, rewarded Bezeq with enormously lucrative concessions, the police said. Those included approval of its merger with Yes, a satellite television company, despite the objections of lower-level ministry officials.

This man has been a pox on Israeli politics for over 3 decades.

Here’s hoping that he will finally get his comeuppance.