Monday, March 12, 2018

HOLLYWOOD - "Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story"

"The brilliant mind of Hollywood legend Hedy Lamarr" PBS NewsHour 3/11/2018


SUMMARY:  he actress Hedy Lamarr captivated audiences during the 1930s and 1940s in films like "Algiers" and "Ziegfeld Girl" and became known as an iconic beauty.  "Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story," a new documentary, showcases her overlooked achievements in technology, including her work on an invention that helped form the basis for WiFi.  NewsHour Weekend's Megan Thompson spoke to Alexandra Dean, director of the film, which airs May 18 on American Masters.

OPINION - Shields and Parker 3/9/2018

"Shields and Parker on Trump’s possible North Korea meeting, Stormy Daniels’ lawsuit" PBS NewsHour 3/9/2018


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including the abrupt announcement that President Trump intends to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the tariffs imposed on imported steel and aluminum and a lawsuit against the President by actress Stephanie Clifford, who goes by the name of Stormy Daniels.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  And now to the analysis of Shields and Parker.  That’s syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker.  David Brooks is away this week.

And welcome to both of you.  Happy Friday.

Mark, two bold strokes by the President this week.

Let’s start with the one that we led the program with tonight, North Korea.  Surprised, I think, a lot of people by saying he will meet, as long as North Korea meets certain conditions.  Was this the right move?

Mark Shields, syndicated columnist:  We will find out if it was the right move, Judy.  It was a bold move.  Make no mistake about it.  And it disarmed his critics who had accused him of being — bellicose language, which was provable, and that he was risking the brink of war almost, and especially gratuitously belittling the North Korean leadership.

Judy Woodruff:  Little rocket man.

Mark Shields:  Little rocket man.

And then, miraculously, the North Korean — seemingly miraculously — said, I’m willing to negotiate and consider the possibility of removing my nuclear capability, which I think nobody above the I.Q. of room temperature believes.

But, at the same time, the problem with North Korea in the past has not been their willingness to meet or to negotiate or to agree.  It’s just that North Korea has never kept its word.  But the President certainly has taken a bold act.  And it’s brought us back from the brink of war.  And I think there’s an audible sigh of relief.

Judy Woodruff:  Smart move, Kathleen?

Kathleen Parker, Washington Post:  I just see it as very, very risky.

And it’s risky because, on the one hand, he’s giving Kim Jong-un this legitimacy that he has for so long wanted.  You know, when the President of the United States says something, it’s always important, everybody listens, and when he does something, it’s always important.  The markets go up and down when he opens his mouth.

When he — he can cause wars with his words.  And when he now says he’s going to meet with North Korea, he is setting himself up for all sorts of problems, potential problems.  But he’s also, because he’s Donald Trump, has lots of wiggle room to pull out of it at the last minute if he decides the circumstances aren’t right.

We don’t know exactly what those are.  And it’s all been just odd, I think, to have had these — his messaging about what North Korea’s willing to do came from the South Koreans, who then also were the ones to present…

Judy Woodruff:  They’re the ones who announced it.

Kathleen Parker:  Who announced it in front of the White House.

And I was taken aback by that.  I thought, well, is he out?  Did he have a dinner date, so that somebody else had to talk about it?  And at what point is Trump going to talk to the country about this very, very important and significant move?

Judy Woodruff:  And, in fact, Mark, it was announced abruptly.  The South Korean official who was at the White House was there.

He was going to meet with President Trump today.  Yesterday, the President, we are told, it’s been reported that he heard he was in the White House, went to see him.  The President stuck his head into the press room and said, we’re going to have an announcement about — that you will want to pay attention to.

So the way it was announced, the way it was handled raises some questions.

Mark Shields:  It does raise questions, Judy.  But the questions have been raised and continue to be raised.

As one Republican explained to me, you have to understand that every day is a new reality show.  And there’s no continuity to this Presidency.  And it’s winning the day.  It’s changing the conversation.  He’s changed the conversation.

What was the conversation?  Gary Cohn, his economic adviser, was quitting because of his trade policy.  What was the conversation?  Stormy Daniels, the porn actress with whom the President allegedly had — or at least President’s people paid $130,000 to just before the election, was going to go public.

The disarray in the White House, that — you name it, Republican civil war, if not — civil war is strong, but at least Republican strife over his trade policy.  This knocked it all off the front pages.

I did notice the South Korean National Security Adviser had mastered one of the great secrets of dealing with Donald Trump was, he began, continued and ended the entire conversation by praising President Trump for the meeting, that it was all due to his leadership, his strong, principled positions.

And so, you know, this worked for Donald Trump.  It got the other bad stories away for at least 24 hours.

Judy Woodruff:  Kathleen, how much attention should we be paying to the theatrics of this, the orchestration of it?  How much do we learn by looking at that?

Kathleen Parker:  Well, I don’t know that we learn anything from the theatrics, because it’s become sort of a template of his.

And you do realize you’re watching a reality show.  But there are other troubling aspects of this.  And that includes the fact that we really have no representation in that part of the world.  We have no ambassador to South Korea.

And our special representative to North Korea has just left the building with mostly, probably, I’m not sure, but I think because of a disagreement with Trump about how he was — about his bellicosity.

But this fellow, Joseph Yun, was tending toward having these talks.  And then to add to that we don’t have any real diplomatic involvement.  Rex -- Secretary of State Rex Tillerson -- is speaking publicly about how we’re nowhere close to talking to North Korea, and within the same news cycle, the President is making this announcement or accepting this invitation.

NEWSHOUR SHARES - Henrik Trygg, Singing Ice

"When an adventurous skater bends thin ice, this frozen lake sings" PBS NewsHour 3/9/2018


SUMMARY:  In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, Swedish photographer Henrik Trygg captured the eerie, beautiful sounds of bending ice when he filmed his friend Mårten Ajne skating on a freshly frozen lake.

AT THE MOVIES - "Wrinkle in Time"

"How ‘Wrinkle in Time’ director Ava DuVernay is breaking down walls in Hollywood" PBS NewsHour 3/9/2018


SUMMARY:  Known to millions of readers, Madeleine L'Engle's beloved fantasy book "A Wrinkle in Time" is breaking into a new dimension, as a big-budget Disney film.  Director Ava DuVernay is the first African-American woman to lead a $100 million film production, and is actively working to change the culture of Hollywood.  Jeffrey Brown reports.

"A Wrinkle in Time" Official US Trailer

LAST SHOT - Grace University

"Tiny college’s impending closure inspires basketball team to play its heart out" PBS NewsHour 3/8/2018


SUMMARY:  For every big-money, high-profile college sports program you'll see during March Madness, there's a tiny, low-profile program like Grace University in Omaha, Nebraska.  As they compete in a regional postseason basketball tournament for Christian colleges, they face an uncertain future.  Special correspondent Mike Tobias of PBS Station NET reports.


"'Directorate S' traces Pakistan's role at the heart of the Afghanistan war" PBS NewsHour 3/8/2018

U.S. longest war.


SUMMARY:  The U.S. has been fighting in Afghanistan for more than 16 years, and mostly against the Taliban, a group that exists in large part due to the intelligence services of Afghan neighbor Pakistan.  Steve Coll's new book "Directorate S" is perhaps the definitive story of the war's aftermath and tense U.S. relations with Pakistan.  Coll joins Nick Schifrin for a conversation.

"The inside story of America's longest war" PBS NewsHour 3/8/2018 (full interview)


SUMMARY:  Many books have covered the war in South Asia, but Steve Coll's “Directorate S: The CIA and America's Secret Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001–2016” reveals new information about military mistakes, missed diplomatic opportunities, failed negotiations with the Taliban and Pakistan's support for the Taliban.  Nick Schrifin talks to Steve Coll about his new book.

NEWSHOUR SHARES - Baby Beluga Got Stranded

"When a baby beluga got stranded, these vets jumped into action" PBS NewsHour 3/7/2018


SUMMARY:  In our NewsHour Shares moment of the day, a team of veterinarians went into overdrive when they discovered a beluga whale calf separated from its mother on a rocky, Alaska beach.  Special correspondent Valerie Kern of Alaska Public Media shares a profile of the woman who led the rare rescue.


"‘The Trade’ tells personal stories of far-reaching drug crisis" PBS NewsHour 3/7/2018


SUMMARY:  The new Showtime documentary series "The Trade" shows the pain and consequences of the nation's opioids epidemic by putting a human face on the crisis.  Best known for the Oscar-nominated film "Cartel Land," director Matthew Heineman wanted to show just how far the drug war reaches, and the consequences on both sides of the border.  Jeffrey Brown reports.

"The Trade" (2018) Official Trailer

IMMIGRATION - U.S. vs. California

Personal message to Trump from a Californian.... UP YOURS!

"Suing California, Sessions vows to ‘use every power’ to stop state laws on immigration enforcement" PBS NewsHour 3/7/2018


SUMMARY:  Attorney General Jeff Sessions accused the state of California on Wednesday of "using every power it has and some it doesn't to frustrate federal law enforcement" on the issue of immigration.  The Justice Department is suing the state for three laws on interaction with federal immigration officials, including requiring businesses to alert workers of impending raids.  William Brangham reports.

"Gov. Jerry Brown: Sessions ‘sowing discord’ instead of proposing immigration reform" PBS NewsHour 3/7/2018


SUMMARY:  California Gov. Jerry Brown says the Trump administration's lawsuit against the state over immigration is a political stunt, and called Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ claim that California is protecting criminals a lie.  Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra join Judy Woodruff to share their reactions to the Justice Department’s case against California.

MAKING THE GRADE - Teaching STEM in Preschool?

"Many preschool teachers are scared of teaching STEM.  Here’s a solution that might help" PBS NewsHour 3/6/2018

NOTE:  This unsettled feeling is admission of the teachers' own poor education.  If they had a good grounding in STEM, they would not have a problem.


SUMMARY:  Everyone knows that 3-, 4- and 5-year-olds ask a lot of questions.  But that unrestrained curiosity can unsettle preschool teachers who feel they lack sufficient understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (often referred to as STEM).  Hari Sreenivasan reports from Chicago on efforts to boost science learning among some of the youngest students by boosting teacher confidence.

TRUMP AGENDA - The Tariff Wars

"Gary Cohn steps down as GOP urges Trump restraint on tariffs" PBS NewsHour 3/6/2018


SUMMARY:  Chief economic adviser Gary Cohn is stepping down -- another major White House resignation, this time over trade policy.  As President Trump pushes ahead with his plan for tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, Republicans are increasingly sounding their concerns about starting trade wars, and urging the president to take a more ”targeted” approach.  Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff for more.

"Why this U.S. beer keg company is worried about Trump’s tariffs" PBS NewsHour 3/7/2018


SUMMARY:  President Trump's promised tariffs on steel and aluminum imports have drawn mixed reaction from Washington, as well as American businesses.  Hari Sreenivasan talks to Paul Czachor, CEO of the American Keg Company, the only domestic manufacturer of steel beer kegs in the country, about his company’s concerns that kegs made from low-cost steel from abroad will gain an even greater advantage.

"Meet the Trump trade adviser whose tariff policy is about to be tested" PBS NewsHour 3/8/2018

aka "The Evil Within the White House"


SUMMARY:  Peter Navarro is one of the key White House figures who has made a case for imposing stiff new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.  What ideas and philosophy drive Navarro?  Economics correspondent Paul Solman revisits his profile of Trump's right-hand man on trade to consider what President Trump’s tariff announcement means for the global economy.

EL SALVADOR - Factory+College Pipeline

"The factory that combines school and work to give El Salvador a brighter future" PBS NewsHour 3/5/2018


SUMMARY:  At a garment factory that makes T-shirts bearing the logos of American universities, about a fifth of the workers at high-school dropouts.  But if they want to keep their jobs, they'll need to do something about it.  Special correspondent Fred De Sam Lazaro reports from El Salvador on the factory turned college pipeline that employs those normally left out of society, including ex-gang members.

WOMEN'S MOVEMENT - Meaning for Afghanistan

"What more women in government would mean for Afghanistan" PBS NewsHour 3/5/2018


SUMMARY:  War is a reality of life in Afghanistan, but it's not all-consuming, say a delegation of Afghan women leaders who recently visited Washington.  The country is also undergoing significant social and cultural shifts around gender and leadership.  Judy Woodruff talks with Shaharzad Akbar, a senior advisor to President Ghani, and Muqaddesa Yourish of Afghanistan's Civil Service Commission.

ITALY - The Shift to Populist Government

This is the latest shift in European politics for which the American champion is Trump.  This is very, very bad.

"Italian populist parties just defeated the political establishment.  Here’s why." PBS NewsHour 3/5/2018


SUMMARY:  Italians went to the polls Sunday in Europe's latest test of the political strength of populist and right-wing parties.  The two biggest winners -- the populist "Five Star Movement" and the right-wing "League" -- earned better than 50 percent of the vote.  William Brangham and special correspondent Christopher Livesay discuss how the election reshapes Italy’s political landscape.


"DACA sits in limbo as symbolic deadline passes" PBS NewsHour 3/5/2018

Trump #NotMyPresident  Punish people (who were at the time) children for parent's mistake.


SUMMARY:  Last fall, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the DACA program would end by March 5 unless Congress acted.  But that day has come and Congress has not acted, despite efforts to strike a deal that was ultimately rejected by President Trump.  Lisa Desjardins reports on what’s at stake for the “Dreamers.”

Saturday, March 10, 2018

AT THE MOVIES - Jackie Chan 2017

A father's child is killed in an IRA attack in London.
The rouge IRA cell made a very, very fetal mistake.

SUBTITLE:  "Never push a good man too far."


Monday, March 05, 2018

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 3/2/2018

"Shields and Brooks on White House chaos, gun control polarization" PBS NewsHour 3/2/2018


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including a tumultuous week at the White House, President Trump’s surprise announcement of a tariff on imported steel and aluminum, and political polarization in Congress over gun control.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  It’s been one more whirlwind week in Washington, another high-profile departure from the White House, fresh scrutiny over the president’s son-in-law, and an escalation in the war of words between Mr. Trump and his own attorney general, all this as the President made surprise declarations on trade and gun control.

That brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome, gentlemen.

So, so much going on this week, I barely know where to begin.

At the White House, Mark, the President’s closest aide announced she’s leaving.  He has a son-in-law who is under a lot of scrutiny over alleged conflicts of interest.  He has a chief of staff who is raising questions again about his — how he handled the firing of an aide over domestic abuse, and on and on.

The leaks seem to just be flowing a gusher every day.  What matters in all of this?

Mark Shields, syndicated columnist:  What matters is chaos in the White House is bad for the United States and bad for the world.  There’s no rational order.

I mean, for example, what you have described, the morale at the White House, from every report, is just incredibly low.  To work in any White House, Judy, is an act of both self-sacrifice and self-interest.  You miss birthdays.  You miss anniversaries.  You miss your children’s recitals.

But there’s a sense of mission, a sense of history, a sense also that it’s special.  You’re part of something special.  You get status and recognition.

All that is missing here.  This is a civil war in a leper colony.  There is no sense of direction.  The steel quotas being a perfect example.  There was no preparation — tariffs, rather — there was no preparation politically, there was no preparation for making a case, there was no preparation for the press, there was no preparation within the White House.

There’s nothing organization.  It’s all act on impulse and chaos and sort of the whim of the President himself.

Judy Woodruff:  There’s almost a temptation, David, to look at this as some kind of sideshow.  But there are real consequences, aren’t there?

David Brooks, New York Times:  Yes.

I’m actually thinking — I’m trying to think of historical parallels, when we have had this much chaos in the American Presidency.  Richard Nixon had some bad days at the end there, but he had a very high-quality staff around him.  Woodrow Wilson had a stroke.

I’m going through the list.  I can’t think of anything quite like this, where we have the combination of a semi-competent or a missing staff, and an emotionally and intellectually unstable President.

Reince Priebus, the former chief of staff, said in an interview not long ago that, when you look from the outside, it’s actually 50 times worse from the inside.  And we’re getting a glimpse of that.

And one thing that leapt out at me — and I think this is the key thing, the most important thing — that it has real-world consequences.  We’re not just fighting over whether he has a military parade or not.

The steel tariff thing has real consequences.  And the word that leapt out at me that one of his staffers said, one of his allies said, he made the decision because he became unglued.

And so we have a President makes a decision because he becomes unglued, a decision totally in avoidance of the entire process.  And then to combine the chaos of it, he issues a tweet this morning which to me was a topper even by Trump standards that a trade war is good and easily won, a concept that no economist of any stripe and no historian of any stripe could possibly think is anything other than crazy.

And so it’s extremely disorienting right now.

Judy Woodruff:  So, how do we process this, Mark?

It’s the headlines.  Again, you could go in almost any direction every day over a new controversy or set of controversies at the White House.

Mark Shields:  I honestly don’t know, Judy.

I mean, it’s just — it’s overload.  It really is.  The one consolation, the one defense that the President’s apologists and supporters say, he doesn’t mean what he says.  That’s supposed to be the consolation.  And don’t be so concerned.

One of the more plausible explanations for the impulsive imposition, keeping of a promise he’s made for 30 years on steel tariffs, was that the 18th District of Pennsylvania is up in two weeks, the special election for a Republican seat that the Democrats have not even contested in 2014 and 2016, that Donald Trump carried Southwestern Pennsylvania, blue-collar, by 20 points, and the Democrat, Conor Lamb, former Marine, former prosecutor, U.S. prosecutor, is even with the Republican nominee.

And a defeat here would send such panic.  This is Trump territory.  And this — was seen as standing up for American jobs.  That’s the most plausible explanation politically.  It’s not a defense, but it’s an explanation.

CLIMATE CHANGE - Coffee and Sugar

"The ‘silent massacre’ killing El Salvador’s sugarcane workers" (Part 3) PBS NewsHour 2/28/2018


SUMMARY:  A mysterious, chronic kidney disease is wreaking havoc on farm workers in Central America, particularly those who harvest sugar.  Despite the risks, Salvadoran cane cutters continue the grueling work, pushed by economic troubles.  Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on how some are trying to improve work conditions in El Salvador.

"The race to develop coffee that can survive climate change" (Part 4) PBS NewsHour 3/2/2018

NO!  This can't be happening, I need my morning 'joe!'  PANIC!


SUMMARY:  What has driven tens of thousands of Salvadorans to leave home, many for the U.S.?  El Salvador's coffee beans suffered a devastating disease five years ago, and now face an even greater existential threat, climate change.  Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports on how researchers there are trying to develop a plant that can adapt to warming global temperatures.


"Why Putin is unveiling ‘invincible’ nuclear weapons now" PBS NewsHour 3/1/2018

ANSWER:  Russian success in cyber-attack on American election system, and non-response to Russian incursions in Europe.  The cowardly policies of Trump.


SUMMARY:  Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted of new nuclear weapons that he says can defeat U.S. missile defenses in an address unveiling a grand vision for his country.  His return to Cold War rhetoric comes a month after the U.S. announced its own plans to deploy new nuclear weapons and two weeks before the Russian election.  Nick Schifrin talks with Richard Burt, former chief arms control negotiator.

TRUMP AGENDA - Lets Start a Trade War

"How Trump’s tariffs could backfire on the U.S. economy" PBS NewsHour 3/1/2018


SUMMARY:  President Trump announced stiff new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum on Thursday at a meeting with industry leaders.  The President said the U.S. needed to crack down on countries flooding American markets with cheap metals.  Judy Woodruff sits down with Greg Ip of The Wall Street Journal to discuss what this means for Americans and the fears it could spark a trade war.


"‘Plague of inequality’ haunts U.S. 50 years after a landmark study on racial division" PBS NewsHour 2/28/2018


SUMMARY:  This weeks marks the 50th anniversary of the Kerner Commission, a bipartisan assessment of race in America that revealed the nation to be both separate and unequal.  A half century later, a new report ["Healing Our Divided Society"] takes stock of what we’ve begun to fix, and what still needs to be done.  Hari Sreenivasan talks to the author of the new report, Fred Harris, and Darren Walker president of the Ford Foundation.

"Healing Our Divided Society" (PDF download)

RUSSIA'S WAR ON AMERICA - Target, State Voting Systems

"Russia’s sights are set on U.S. elections.  Can states secure their voting systems in time?" PBS NewsHour 2/28/2018


SUMMARY:  The scope of Russian meddling in the last U.S. election has been outlined in special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments and the threat confirmed by heads of U.S. intelligence agencies.  What can states do to protect American voters and democracy?  Judy Woodruff talks with David Becker of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, and Denise Merrill Connecticut's Secretary of State.


"Why is Hope Hicks, Trump’s longest-serving aide, resigning?" PBS NewsHour 2/28/2018

ANSWER:  She sees the handwriting on the wall.  Also note she kept a dairy. 😉


SUMMARY:  White House Communications Director Hope Hicks made the surprising announcement on Wednesday that she will leave the Trump administration in the coming weeks.  The news comes a day after Hicks testifies for hours before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the Russia probe.  Judy Woodruff learns more from Ashley Parker of The Washington Post.

"Everything Must Go" (18:32)
Rachel Maddow, MSNBC

GUNS IN AMERICA - Arming Teachers Insanity

What in insane idea! Want MORE bullets flying around your children?!


"Texas schools can choose to train and arm their teachers.  Here’s how it works" PBS NewsHour 2/27/2018


SUMMARY:  President Trump, a number of other Republicans and the NRA have ramped up calls for arming teachers.  But it's an idea that generating a lot of criticism among educators.  Jason Villalba, a Texas state representative and the architect of the School Marshal Program that allows Texas school districts to train and arm teachers, joins John Yang to discuss how it works.

"Teachers want common-sense gun reform, not to carry weapons, says National Education Association official" PBS NewsHour 2/27/2018


SUMMARY:  What do teachers think of calls from President Trump and others for arming educators as a response to mass shootings at schools?  Becky Pringle of the National Education Association joins John Yang to share opposition to the proposal and why many teachers can’t imagine the responsibility of carrying a firearm in the classroom.

SUPREME COURT - Microsoft Emails

"Can the U.S. force Microsoft to give up emails stored abroad?  Supreme Court weighs privacy vs. security" PBS NewsHour 2/27/2018


SUMMARY:  A case involving Microsoft and overseas data puts a familiar tech issue before the Supreme Court, the balancing act between the interests of law enforcement and personal privacy.  Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal joins Judy Woodruff to break down that case, as well as the justices’ ruling on the detainment of undocumented immigrants.


"What the House Democratic memo means for the Russia probe" PBS NewsHour 2/26/2018


SUMMARY:  Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee released on Saturday a [Democratic] memo that rebuts key claims made in a Republican memo that alleged federal law enforcement abused its powers when it sought so-called FISA wiretaps on a former Trump campaign aide.  Jamil Jaffer, a former senior counsel for the House Intelligence Committee, joins Lisa Desjardins to unpack the new memo.


"Trump says it’s O.K. to fight the NRA ‘every once in a while’" PBS NewsHour 2/26/2018

WARNING:  Trump lies and panders to NRA.


SUMMARY:  President Trump called again for banning bump stocks during a listening session with the nation's governors, even if it means breaking with the NRA.  But in returning to the idea of arming trained teachers, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee urged him to take it off the table.  Meanwhile, lawmakers on Capitol Hill face a number of proposals, but it’s not clear if anything can pass.  Hari Sreenivasan reports.

"How this powerful NRA lobbyist transformed U.S. gun laws" PBS NewsHour 2/26/2018

IMHO the NRA is a domestic terrorist organization.


SUMMARY:  As Florida's legislature begins to consider changes to gun laws in the wake of the deadly shooting at a Parkland high school, the question of whether anything will pass has a great deal to do with the powerful voice of the NRA in that state.  Mike Spies, a staff writer for The Trace who wrote about the NRA's past successes for The New Yorker, joins Hari Sreenivasan for more.

"Congress is chewing over several gun proposals.  What’s really possible?" PBS NewsHour 2/27/2018


SUMMARY:  Students-turned-activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were in the halls of Congress on Tuesday to press for more gun control.  Senate Republicans pointed to a bill that would push more agencies to work with the background check system.  But Democratic Senate Leader Chuck Schumer says that doesn't go far enough.  Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff for more.

"Trump, lawmakers seek common ground on gun control" PBS NewsHour 2/28/2018


SUMMARY:  Students returned to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Wednesday for their first classes since a Valentine's Day shooting, with many saying they would keep fighting for stricter gun control laws.  Meanwhile, President Trump met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to talk about legislation, backing better background checks and arming teachers or other school workers.  John Yang reports.

"Here’s how American companies are responding to the Florida school shooting" PBS NewsHour 3/1/2018


SUMMARY:  Students and educators were gunned down at their school in Parkland, Florida, two weeks ago, and corporate America is responding.  Kroger announced that stores will no longer sell firearms and ammunition to buyers under 21, joining Walmart and Dick's this week in restricting sales of various items.  Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports other companies are distancing themselves from the NRA.

"Will corporate leaders taking a stand on guns have a contagious effect?" PBS NewsHour 3/1/2018


SUMMARY:  As public demand for action on gun control gains traction in the wake of the Florida school shooting, companies such as Delta Air Lines and Walmart are taking steps to distance themselves from the NRA.  Hari Sreenivasan is joined by Nancy Koehn of the Harvard Business School to discuss what is triggering corporate America to engage in the gun debate and whether this can lead to change.

OSCARS 2018 - My Favorites

"The Shape of Water"
Best Picture

"Blade Runner 2049"
Best cinematography - Roger Deakins
Best visual effects - John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert and Richard R. Hoover

The classic "Blade Runner" (1982)
Which I love.

Monday, February 26, 2018

OPINION - Brooks and Marcus 2/23/2018

"Brooks and Marcus on Florida school shooting rage, Rick Gates’ guilty plea" PBS NewsHour 2/23/2018


SUMMARY:  New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including the plea deal cut between Robert Mueller and former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s lack of a White House security clearance and the reaction to the Florida school shooting from students and political leadership.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  Now to the analysis of Brooks and Marcus.  That’s New York Times columnist David Brooks and Washington Post deputy editorial page editor Ruth Marcus.  Mark Shields is away.

And welcome to both of you on this Friday night.

Let’s start, pick up I guess where we left off, David, listening to the last conversation about the Mueller investigation.  There have been a flurry of indictments, some guilty pleas.

What does it all add up to right now?

David Brooks, New York Times:  I really have no idea.


David Brooks:  We don’t know — Gates is an interesting story because he did have access to the administration during the crucial period of the transition and during the campaign.  And does he have some witnessing of collusion?  I guess that’s the million-dollar question.

I remain a skeptic about that just, because I think they’re too incompetent to have colluded.  But it could be.  But the other interesting thing to me is how big this investigation is, 19 people they have brought charges on.  And so where does that go when they hit Donald Trump?

Do they stay with Russia?  Do they go to some of the broader financial issues that have been alleged with Deutsche Bank?  To me, just the scope of the investigation is interesting because where it could go and for the increasing pressure it puts on the Trump psychology, because he seems to never be able to get out of feeling that pressure just coming down upon him.

Judy Woodruff:  What do you think it all…


Ruth Marcus, Washington Post:  Well, truer words were never spoken about the Trump psychology.

I mean, we saw it emerge over the weekend with the indictments you were talking about last Friday night of — not central to the Trump campaign, but involving the Russian interference.  And he couldn’t leave that alone, needed to blame it on his predecessor, needed to say that it showed no collusion, that they concluded no collusion, when they hadn’t.

This latest set of indictments and guilty pleas with Manafort and Gates, I find extremely tantalizing, because I’m not quite as convinced as you are on the no collusion front.  It sort of depends on the meaning of collusion, because what we know from these indictments is that these were people who were working very closely with Russian interests.

At the time they were working with the campaign, they felt themselves — it’s incredible to anybody who reads about the amount of money they were making, but they were in financial straits.  They needed money to support their incredibly lavish lifestyles.

Judy Woodruff:  This is Manafort and Gates.

Ruth Marcus:  Manafort and Gates.

And so we know things happened.  We know there were contacts with Russians.  We know that there were changes in the platform regarding Ukraine.  So, was there collusion that might have fallen short of President Trump?  I don’t know.

But I know that there is, like, this submarine of the Mueller investigation that just keeps plowing forward.  We don’t see where it’s going until it decides to surface.

Judy Woodruff:  How much, David, is it affecting what the President’s able to do?  He brings it up.  He tweets about it.  He brings up Obama, blames him for not pursuing this investigation.

David Brooks:  Yes.

I should say I’m not convinced of anything.  I really don’t know.


David Brooks:  But it’s clearly having an intense psychological effect on the administration, as it does on even on — even on a normal administration under investigation, you don’t know who’s about to turn, you don’t know which conversation you had months ago is about to get you into trouble, you’re thinking about hiring lawyers.

This is an administration that’s already not an happy place to live.  It just ratchets up that pressure.  And that is a normal administration.  In an administration where a man is at the top who is — I’m trying to think of polite words — volatile in the face of pressure, I think it makes it extremely miserable to be there.

ON TV - "The Looming Tower"

"Pre-9/11 drama 'The Looming Tower' explores the failure of intelligence when division gets in the way" PBS NewsHour 2/23/2018


SUMMARY:  A new drama takes viewers back to the events that led to the 9/11 attacks.  Hulu's "The Looming Tower," based on Lawrence Wright's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, retells the true story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden in the years before the fall of 2001, and how U.S. intelligence services withheld information from each other at critical junctures.  Jeffrey Brown reports.

Hulu Official Trailer


"Why women need a seat at the table to make peace last" PBS NewsHour 2/22/2018


SUMMARY:  In the years after Rwanda's genocide, how did women come to make up a large portion of the nation's parliament?  Author and activist Swanee Hunt says their women's movement that grew out of necessity.  Hunt, a former ambassador and founding director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard's Kennedy School, gives her Brief but Spectacular take on women waging peace.

DOCUMENTARY - "Abacus: Small Enough to Jail"

"Documentary tells tiny bank’s David vs. Goliath story in 2008 financial crisis aftermath" PBS NewsHour 2/22/2018


SUMMARY:  Only one bank was indicted in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, and it was a very small one.  The Oscar-nominated documentary "Abacus: Small Enough to Jail" tells the story of its prosecution for mortgage fraud and its ultimate acquittal.  Jeffrey Brown talks with director Steve James.

Official Trailer

MAKING SEN$E - Optimist's View

"If you’re worried about the world, here’s reason to be hopeful — and keep worrying" PBS NewsHour 2/22/2018


SUMMARY:  There are many days when news events can be overwhelming and even lead to a pessimistic sense of the world, especially after tragedies like the shooting in Florida.  But it may help to take the much longer view.

And that’s the focus of a conversation our economics correspondent, Paul Solman, has tonight.  It’s for his weekly series, Making Sen$e.

IMMIGRATION - Based on Family

"Why family-based immigration has become a sticking point in the national debate" PBS NewsHour 2/22/2018


SUMMARY:  News that first lady Melania Trump's parents have obtained green cards raises questions about whether their legal permanent residency here benefited from the very set of immigration laws that President Trump wants to eliminate.  Lisa Desjardins talks with John C. Yang of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and Art Arthur from the Center for Immigration Studies about family-based immigration.

NORTH KOREA - Eye on Nuclear Program

"The science of measuring North Korea’s destructive nuclear power from afar" PBS NewsHour 2/21/2018


SUMMARY:  The Trump administration considers North Korea's nuclear and missile programs the top threat to American national security.  How much do we really know about their nuclear devices?  In the second of a series, science correspondent Miles O'Brien reports on how analysts gauge North Korea's progress.

TRUMP AGENDA - Teaching Climate Change as Educational Malpractice?


"Some states are trying to downplay teaching of climate change.  Teachers see ‘educational malpractice’" PBS NewsHour 2/20/2018


SUMMARY:  Teaching climate change in schools is a hot-button issue in a number of states, including Idaho and New Mexico, where lawmakers have tried to weaken or dismantle science standards crafted by educators and scientists.  Amid a climate-change skeptical Trump administration, legislators cite a concern about one-sided arguments.  Special correspondent Lisa Stark of Education Week reports.

MORTGAGES - The Struggle of Minorities

"Struggle for black and Latino mortgage applicants suggests modern-day redlining" (Part 1) PBS NewsHour 2/15/2018


SUMMARY:  Ten years since the economic recession, lending has returned for many Americans.  Yet the gap between white and black home-ownership is wider now than it was in 1960, with signs of modern-day redlining showing up across the country.  Special correspondent Aaron Glantz reports as part of a year-long investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

"How a legal loophole benefits neighborhood newcomers while leaving longtime residents behind" (Part 2) PBS NewsHour 2/19/2018


SUMMARY:  Since banks constricted credit after the 2008 housing bust, they have been slowly increasing the amount they’re lending.  But this economic prosperity has not reached everyone.  Watch part two of a two-part series by Aaron Glantz of Reveal.

THE RUSSIA FILE - The Indictments & Troll Factory

"Russia indictments lay the foundation for broader conspiracy charges, says former FBI special counsel" PBS NewsHour 2/19/2018


SUMMARY:  After months of downplaying Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential election, President Trump lashed out on Twitter this weekend over the special counsel’s indictment of 13 Russian officials.  Matthew Olsen, a former Special Counsel to Robert Mueller when he director of the FBI, talks about the indictment and what it means for the investigation.

"Russia’s ‘troll factory’ impersonates Americans to sow political chaos.  How can the U.S. fight it?" PBS NewsHour 2/20/2018


SUMMARY:  Russia's attempts to interfere in American elections and political discourse did not end with the 2016 race.  What do we know about Moscow’s meddling and what can we expect in the near future?  Judy Woodruff learns more from Nina Jankowicz, a Russian disinformation analyst, about how it works, what we should be worried about and what average Americans can do in response.

SCHOOL SHOOTINGS - The Students & Guns In Schools


"‘We do have a right to go to school and not fear for our lives,’ say Florida shooting survivors" PBS NewsHour 2/19/2018


SUMMARY:  Last week’s school shooting has given rise into a new campaign for action on guns.  Two students from the Florida high school, Suzanna Barna and Lewis Mizen, discuss the aftermath of the shooting and the change they hope to drive in state and national gun laws.

"Staging walkouts and rallies, students and family members implore lawmakers to end gun bloodshed" PBS NewsHour 2/21/2018



SUMMARY:  As dozens of survivors from the Florida school shooting lobbied the Republican-led Florida legislature for tougher gun control, thousands across the country heeded a call to walk out of classes, massing at Florida’s state capitol, as well as the U.S. Capitol and White House, where President Trump held a listening session with shooting survivors and family members.  William Brangham reports.

"These students are fed up with going to school scared for their lives" PBS NewsHour 2/21/2018


SUMMARY:  Student-led rallies in support of gun control are picking up momentum in Florida and around the country, in part born out of anger over the easy availability of assault-style weapons.  Judy Woodruff gets perspectives from Camille Richter and Jake Bennett, two Virginia high school students who took part in a walkout from their schools.

"For kids who survived the Florida shooting, the next assault is from online conspiracy theorists" PBS NewsHour 2/21/2018


SUMMARY:  The immediate response to the school shooting in Florida was a national wave of prayers, condolences and political outrage.  Then came a different flood, allegations and conspiracy theories about the students now calling for gun reform.  Right-wing outlets and online trolls are promoting the false theory that the Parkland teens are actually paid actors or even FBI “plants.”  Hari Sreenivasan reports.

"Scottish town devastated by gun violence has advice for America: Say ‘no more’" PBS NewsHour 2/21/2018


SUMMARY:  For the Scottish town of Dunblane, one deadly shooting massacre was enough.  After 16 children and a teacher were murdered in 1996, Britain outlawed hand-gun ownership.  After years of watching deadly shootings in the U.S. with little change in American attitudes toward gun control, some in Dunblane feel inspired by students in Parkland, Florida.  Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports.


"If we arm teachers, ‘we have accepted… that school shootings will not stop,’ says Detroit teacher" PBS NewsHour 2/21/2018


SUMMARY:  After last week's mass shooting at a Florida school, "students are scared," gasping even at the sound of the normal school announcement system going off, says Mike Conrad, a teacher at a high school outside Detroit.  Conrad joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the importance of making school a safe environment and why he's opposed to arming teachers.

"NRA backs Trump’s call for arming teachers: ‘Schools must be the most hardened targets’" PBS NewsHour 2/22/2018


SUMMARY:  The CEO of the NRA gave a full-bore defense of gun rights at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, calling for weapons in schools in response to a mass shooting in Florida last week.  Meanwhile, Republicans in that state like Sen. Marco Rubio face new pressure in the gun control debate, as evidenced by a tense televised town hall on Wednesday night.  William Brangham reports.

"Students who support gun rights say schools safer when ‘good guys’ are armed" PBS NewsHour 2/22/2018


SUMMARY:  Judy Woodruff talks with Maddison Westcott, a Rio Salado College student, and Ian Parish, a Liberty University student, about various restrictions and other gun control measures being raised, as well the prospect of arming teachers.

"New Florida gun control proposals make notable break with NRA" PBS NewsHour 2/23/2018


SUMMARY:  President Trump at CPAC again insisted that arming teachers would help stop mass shootings, despite disapproval of many education groups, and repeated his call to keep seriously mentally ill people from buying guns.  But in Florida, Republican Gov. Rick Scott broke with the President and the NRA in announcing new gun control proposals for his state.  William Brangham reports.


Watch Face Paint Tell the Story of Human Evolution in 1:38 Minutes

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

HUMOR TIMES - Trump, Elon Musk, Stephen Miller

Trump, Truth and the Lantern of Dreams

Our perception of truth is particularly fallible when it comes to other people.

By Douglas Board
I grew up with a rock-solid grasp of the difference between reality and fiction: rock-solid but wrong. Reality was stony-faced, wounding and compulsory: a cross-country run in winter rain, the humiliating impossibility of catching leather balls or mastering Mandarin pronunciation. Mostly reality went on and on, unchanging, for example the grinding calendar of scholastic production – lessons and examinations. Sometimes it was fickle. Either way, it was unyielding.
trump truthGrowing up, fiction was the opposite. Whether it was Jules Verne or Hawaii Five-0, fiction was escape; temporary, of course, but any break-out from the vertical and horizontal bars of a calendar had to be that. After all, time was reality (stony-faced, wounding and compulsory).
I grew up in a modern version of Plato’s cave. We youngsters strapped lamps of reason to our foreheads as we hacked at the shadows of knowledge on the wall. Producing ragged piles of inconsequential facts determined our grades: the capital of Colombia, the square root of two and the practice of transhumance.
Fiction offered escape. I dropped the flashlight of reason to grab the lantern of dreams – the dreams of Agatha Christie, Alistair Maclean and Douglas Adams. Their lanterns bathed the cave’s walls in kaleidoscopic color. Better yet, the lanterns had wings. The joy of exiting the cave like a bat out of hell! (a late adolescent discovery: music could also be an escape. Ditto various substances.)
In fact what the cave produced was millions of knowledge-workers: smart-arses whose shiny rational prowess was soon deployed to produce not piles of facts, but money. I inhaled cave air thick with duty and self-importance. Above all, I knew the cave was real, and home. Escapist fiction was charming, but merely demonstrated the impossibility of living outside.
Discovering the many wrongs baked into this view of reality and imagination took decades: I didn’t try to write fiction seriously until I was 50. Here’s wrong number one.
The cave allegory hangs on light and seeing. However, human eyes are not pinhole cameras but reality constructors with extensive mental processing. We never ‘see’ the boundaries of our blind spots because mental processing fills the spots in with what we ‘know’ is there.
In fact, if we can’t imagine something, we probably won’t ‘see’ it even when it’s front of our nose. A famous experiment in psychology shows observers of a basketball game failing to see a gorilla walk across the court. To take another example, Einstein’s imagination had to work overtime before astronomers could ‘see’ what space-time looked like.
Audrey Niffenegger is a professor of creative writing, not physics. When she picked up her dream lantern and conceived The Time Traveler’s Wife, she flew her readers out of the cave to somewhere astonishing. Millions flexed their imaginative muscles. We left today’s shackles behind but returned able to see more than we could before. Douglas Adams did that for me, but Agatha Christie didn’t. I didn’t grasp the difference at the time.
Our perception is particularly fallible when it comes to other people. Once we have arrived at a view, often in seconds, we stop noticing attentively: we’ve decided that we ‘know’. When the other person is as polarizing as Donald Trump, the effect is multiplied. Like the basketball spectators, we can’t tear our eyes off him, but still we could easily miss gorillas.
So a contribution which fiction can offer is to introduce a character – in my novelette ‘The Rats’ someone a bit weird on the fringes of Scottish business – whose unfamiliarity makes us notice afresh. Our reactions remain subjective, but more than mindless repetition from social or news media. Then, soberly, we can compare the fictional character with the occupant of the White House.
But the cave lets us go farther. For me the deepest Trumpian riddle is: how could it conceivably make sense to vote for a fool and a charlatan, knowing him to be both? (Many Trump supporters see someone heroic; their votes pose no mystery.) ‘Conceivably’ is a clue that the first challenge is to our imagination.
My cave is a disagreeable dream. Suppose for a minute that the dream captures some truth. The process starts, as in Pink Floyd’s The Wall, with the scholastic force-feeding of rationality. Working life after school is even more stony-faced, wounding and compulsory. Each blank square between the horizontal and vertical bars of the calendar becomes another day for mining. It’s a story about imprisoning ourselves, because the cave’s only guards are the ideas in our heads.
The way this dream tells it, the role of the smart and the intellectually credentialed is key. As miners, they reap most of the rewards. As thinkers and teachers, they hammer home the imprisoning ideas (into themselves, as well as others). They lap up money and prestige but are no less trapped than those cast onto the intellectual scrapheap. As for the dreamers, they may be part of the problem – it depends what they do with their lanterns.
This is a picture of carnage. To escape, why not a leader who lifts high the lantern of his crazy dreams and pulls faces at the lights of rationality? Why not an egotistical charlatan, if your other choices are miners?


Elon Musk Reveals: Donald Trump is ‘Starman,’ Now Floating in Space

SpaceX entrepreneur says he offered a “free space ride” to the president, and he took it. “He’s Starman now, and he’s in the driver’s seat, the way he likes it.”

SpaceX and Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk shocked the world yesterday, not only with the spectacular rocket launch, but later with the news that the “Starman” sitting in his Tesla Roadster in space right now is actually President Donald Trump.

Elon Musk, Starman, Trump
Elon Musk says that “Starman” is actually President Trump.

The White House fervently denied it, until they realized no one had seen the president since the launch.
“I just thought it would be a nice gesture,” said Musk, “so I offered him a ‘free space ride,’ as kind of a joke. I didn’t think he’d take me up on it.
“I thought about telling him it would mean certain death, but then I thought, well, we could do humanity two favors at once: open a new era of space travel, and get rid of its most vexing problem.”
NASA scientists say it’s possible, since SpaceX had full control of placing the payload on the rocket. “We didn’t inspect it or anything,” said NASA spokesman Dave Blackman, “they seemed to know what they were doing. Certainly, more than we do, these days.”
Logistics were a problem, Musk admitted, since the president added significantly to the payload weight.
“I’ll tell you this, he’s no 239 pounds, that’s for sure. But I’m going to respect his privacy and not give away his real weight,” stated Mr Musk.
“I don’t know why everyone is fretting so much about this. He always insisted on being in the driver’s seat, no matter what he did,” Musk said. “Now, he’s there forever. Pretty fitting, I’d say!”
“He always promoted himself as a star here on Earth. May he rest in peace now, among the real stars.”


The Jerry Duncan Show Interviews White House Advisor Stephen Miller

Wherein our intrepid talk radio show host interviews White House advisor Stephen Miller

Live from under a rock in your backyard, it’s The Jerry Duncan Show.
Good morning listeners nationwide. Is it a good morning? We’ll soon find out. Today on the show my guest is Stephen Miller, White House senior advisor to the president.
Stephen Miller by DonkeyHotey
Stephen Miller. Image by DonkeyHotey,

Wow, in person the most hated man in America. Are you a distant cousin of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels?
Is this some kind of joke?
No. Even Harvey Weinstein thinks you’re creepy. My question is who is running the Bates Motel if you are here talking to me?
In response to those tasteless remarks, I quote the great Vice President Dan Quayle “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind.”
You grew up in a liberal Democratic household. When did you change sides?
In high school. I started riling up my classmates by telling them all the Hispanic students should be deported if they didn’t start speaking English. Then I started getting offers to go on conservative talk radio shows. I told listeners that Osama bin Laden would feel welcome at Santa Monica High School.
How did your classmates react?
Well, there were flyers of my photo posted on all the lockers with the words “this should scare you from getting pregnant.”
When did you realize that you were never going to have friends?
It was in preschool when no one would let me play with their toys in the sandbox. But I got even. There were clumps of cat turds underneath the sand, so I scooped them up with my hands and passed them out to every kid. The little monsters thought it was candy and ate it. I laughed my ass off as they gagged and cried.
What happened as you got older?
I was meaner. In high school, I dropped a childhood friend because he was Mexican American. I was against a student LGBT group and started a campaign to get rid of condoms.
What the hell were you thinking?
That I could be the next Archie Bunker. I have a spiritual connection to the man.
You realize that he’s a fictitious character.
No he’s not. Fake news.
Okay Meathead. Let’s talk about your college days.
I went to Duke University. I wanted to get away from California. One of the first things I did was write in the school newspaper that poet Maya Angelou had racial paranoia. Listen Duncan, I’ve read more enlightening things about African Americans on a men’s room stall than her gibberish.
You have Trump’s ear. You were the reason the Trumpster changed his mind about DACA before the government shutdown.
We think alike. That should be comforting to all Americans.
An intern interrupts the interview.
Sorry to bother you Mr. Duncan, but Bernie Sanders is in the hallway. He’s very agitated. Apparently Mr. Miller is getting on his nerves.
Send him in, scrambled brains. I like a good fight.
(The sound of a door is heard opening and closing)
Thank you for allowing me to be on your show.
Why are you here absent minded professor?
I was listening to your show and disgusted by the hate coming out of the mouth of this putz Stephen Miller. The way he treats immigrants, especially Hispanics is inhumane.
Can’t take the heat old man then get out of politics.
Look, my father was an immigrant from Poland. He didn’t have a nickel when he arrived on Ellis Island in 1921.
Then you can appreciate this joke. How do you sink a Polish battleship?
With a torpedo?
Wrong. Put it is water.
Who wrote that crazy Sean Hannity?
Here’s another one. How do you get a one-armed Pole out of a tree?
Saw the branch?
Wave to him.
Where do you hear this crap?
I make it up. I have jokes for every ethnicity. I’m an equal opportunity offender.
You’re a spoiled brat who has a rich daddy. That’s what you are. My old man sold paint for a living. Can you imagine? When he shook paint cans, his head looked like it had Parkinson’s disease.
Are  you punishing me because I’m spoiled rotten?
No. I’m punishing you because you are rotten.
Poor, poor Bernie.
Yes we were poor. So poor that if I wasn’t a boy, I wouldn’t have had anything to play with.
Immigrants should have a path to citizenship. And no discrimination as to who gets citizenship.
I’ve been listening to you two Nobel Prize winners and have a solution. Get off my show.
But I want to talk about my new slogan Make America Meaner for the 2020 Trump campaign.
Then I get to talk about my 2020 campaign slogan. BS you can trust.
See you tomorrow everyone.