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

Excerpt

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.

(LAUGHTER)

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…

(CROSSTALK)

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.

(LAUGHTER)

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

Excerpt

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

BRIEF BUT SPECTACULAR - Swanee Hunt

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

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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?

#StandAgainstAntiScience

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

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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

THE STUDENTS:

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

Excerpt

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

#NeverAgain

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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.




GUNS IN SCHOOLS:
#StandAgainstNRA

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

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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

Excerpt

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.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC - Face Paint Video


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.”

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The Jerry Duncan Show Interviews White House Advisor Stephen Miller


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

ANNOUNCER
Live from under a rock in your backyard, it’s The Jerry Duncan Show.
JERRY
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, flickr.com.

STEPHEN MILLER
Hello.
JERRY
Wow, in person the most hated man in America. Are you a distant cousin of Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels?
MILLER
Is this some kind of joke?
JERRY
No. Even Harvey Weinstein thinks you’re creepy. My question is who is running the Bates Motel if you are here talking to me?
MILLER
In response to those tasteless remarks, I quote the great Vice President Dan Quayle “What a waste it is to lose one’s mind.”
JERRY
You grew up in a liberal Democratic household. When did you change sides?
MILLER
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.
JERRY
How did your classmates react?
MILLER
Well, there were flyers of my photo posted on all the lockers with the words “this should scare you from getting pregnant.”
JERRY
When did you realize that you were never going to have friends?
MILLER
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.
JERRY
What happened as you got older?
MILLER
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.
JERRY
What the hell were you thinking?
MILLER
That I could be the next Archie Bunker. I have a spiritual connection to the man.
JERRY
You realize that he’s a fictitious character.
MILLER
No he’s not. Fake news.
JERRY
Okay Meathead. Let’s talk about your college days.
MILLER
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.
JERRY
You have Trump’s ear. You were the reason the Trumpster changed his mind about DACA before the government shutdown.
MILLER
We think alike. That should be comforting to all Americans.
An intern interrupts the interview.
INTERN
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.
JERRY
Send him in, scrambled brains. I like a good fight.
(The sound of a door is heard opening and closing)
BERNIE
Thank you for allowing me to be on your show.
JERRY
Why are you here absent minded professor?
BERNIE
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.
MILLER
Can’t take the heat old man then get out of politics.
BERNIE
Look, my father was an immigrant from Poland. He didn’t have a nickel when he arrived on Ellis Island in 1921.
MILLER
Then you can appreciate this joke. How do you sink a Polish battleship?
BERNIE
With a torpedo?
MILLER
Wrong. Put it is water.
BERNIE
Who wrote that crazy Sean Hannity?
MILLER
Here’s another one. How do you get a one-armed Pole out of a tree?
BERNIE
Saw the branch?
MILLER
Wave to him.
BERNIE
Where do you hear this crap?
MILLER
I make it up. I have jokes for every ethnicity. I’m an equal opportunity offender.
BERNIE
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.
MILLER
Are  you punishing me because I’m spoiled rotten?
BERNIE
No. I’m punishing you because you are rotten.
MILLER
Poor, poor Bernie.
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.
JERRY
I’ve been listening to you two Nobel Prize winners and have a solution. Get off my show.
MILLER
But I want to talk about my new slogan Make America Meaner for the 2020 Trump campaign.
BERNIE
Then I get to talk about my 2020 campaign slogan. BS you can trust.
JERRY
See you tomorrow everyone.

Monday, February 19, 2018

OPINION - Corn and Ponnuru 2/16/2018

"Corn and Ponnuru on Russia probe indictments, Florida school shooting" PBS NewsHour 2/16/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Mother Jones Washington bureau chief David Corn and National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including criminal charges against Russian operatives for interfering in the election, the politics of gun control after another mass shooting at an American school and a standstill in Congress’ work to pass immigration reform and DACA protections.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  And that brings us today to the analysis of Corn and Ponnuru.  That is David Corn, Washington bureau chief for “Mother Jones” and an analyst for MSNBC, and Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor at “The National Review” and a columnist for Bloomberg View.

Both Mark Shields and David Brooks are away this week.

And we thank you both for being here.

So, I am going to ask you in just a moment, Ramesh, about Ronan Farrow’s reporting.

But I want to start with our lead tonight, and that is this extraordinary set of documents that have come out from the special counsel, Robert Mueller, indicting 13 Russian operatives, individuals, in a systematic effort to overturn or to affect the outcome of the election in 2016.

What do you make of it?

Ramesh Ponnuru, National Review:  Well, I think that one of the things that gets ignored is just how much a surprise this was.

This didn’t leak beforehand, which I think is an impressive thing, since so many things do leak in Washington, D.C.  It shows you that Robert Mueller is running a very tight ship and he knows things that the press doesn’t know.  He knows things that the people that he’s investigating don’t know that he knows.

And that’s something that we all have to keep in mind as we follow the twists and turns of this story.

Judy Woodruff:  Where do you — do you think, David Corn, that we are now — that there is any doubt in people’s mind that the Russians were doing everything they could to affect the outcome?

David Corn, Mother Jones:  I think in Donald Trump’s mind and in his die-hard champions’.

I mean, people forgot Robert Mueller’s instruction, his task, is not just to investigate associations between Trump people and Russians, but to find out exactly what happened during the campaign in terms of what the Russians did.

They had three aspects to it.  One was what we learned about today, the social media thing.  The other was the hacking and the dumping, you remember, putting out the e-mails from the DNC and John Podesta.

And the third was probing state election systems to see what they could do.  They didn’t do anything on Election Day, but that worried people a lot.

And all these things are crimes.  So when Donald Trump, for the last year-and-a-half, says there is nothing to this, he’s helping Putin actually cover up criminal activity.

Judy Woodruff:  Well, and he’s saying, again, as we reported, Ramesh, no collusion, you know, more evidence, no collusion.

And yet is the White House paying enough attention to the facts on the ground about Russian interference in the election?

Ramesh Ponnuru:  Well, these indictments may not prove collusion, but they’re also not evidence against collusion.  They’re just about a different aspect of these Russian operations.

One thing that we have not seen from President Trump is any degree of urgency or concern expressed about these Russian efforts.  He seems to regard all of the talk of that as an attempt to delegitimize his election, and to reject all of it as a result.

Judy Woodruff:  And that’s understandable, isn’t it?

David Corn:  Well, no.

(LAUGHTER)

David Corn:  His number one job is to protect…

Judy Woodruff:  For the sake of argument.

David Corn:  … is to protect the country.  That’s what he is, as commander in chief.

And this very week, the intelligence chiefs appeared before Congress, and they all said (yet again) that the Russian effort, which was to help him, succeeded in 2016, and they expect the Russians to do it again in the midterm elections.

So this is a pressing national security threat that Donald Trump, as Ramesh says, doesn’t seem to even acknowledge, let alone do anything about.

Reminder:  In 'Trump World' it is ALWAYS about Trump and nothing else.

AT THE MOVIES - 'Black Panther'

"In ‘Black Panther,’ an African superhero shatters the Hollywood status quo" PBS NewsHour 2/16/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  "Black Panther" isn't just a big-budget action movie getting rave reviews; it's a full-fledged cultural phenomenon.  Unlike other movies in the Marvel  [Comics] universe, it has an African superhero, a majority-black cast, and an African-American director.  Jeffrey Brown reports on the many ways the movie, which debuts Friday, is generating excitement and inspiration.




IMMIGRATION - The 'Dreamer' Program

"Senators begin to outline bipartisan ‘Dreamer’ plan as open debate begins" PBS NewsHour 2/14/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  While the Senate formally opened debate on the issue of immigration, it began the day where it left off on Monday, no clear bill or direction for protecting "Dreamers."  As President Trump pressed Congress to follow his four criteria for an immigration bill, a large bipartisan group of senators said they had agreed on a more narrow approach.  Lisa Desjardins reports.




"This ‘Dreamer’ and undefeated boxer finds peace in the ring in the face of uncertainty" PBS NewsHour 2/14/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  For DACA recipient Alexis Zazueta, the sport of boxing has been a calming force amid the uncertainty of his future.  The undefeated professional boxer was brought to Arizona at the age of 1 by his parents and found his passion for boxing in middle school.  Special correspondent Tyler Paley of Arizona PBS reports.

NORTH KOREA - Nuclear Program Up Close

"This American scientist has seen North Korea’s nuclear program up close" PBS NewsHour 2/14/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  How advanced is North Korea's nuclear weapons program?  Just ask the few Western experts who have seen glimpses of the program and its evolution, like nuclear scientist Sig Hecker, who has visited seven times and given eye-opening access to their facilities.  Science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports on how experts try to access the North’s capabilities.

GUNS IN AMERICA - Florida School Shootings


"School shootings like the one in Florida are no longer rare.  Are schools more prepared?" PBS NewsHour 2/14/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Police swarmed a high school in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday afternoon where a gunman shot and killed multiple people.  The suspect was arrested later off campus and was identified as a former student.  Judy Woodruff learns more from Terence Shepherd of WLRN News, Ronald Stephens of the National School Safety Center, and Broward County commissioner Michael Udine.




"Florida school grieves deadly shooting by teen suspect with troubled past" PBS NewsHour 2/15/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  A routine day turned into terror at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday.  Authorities say 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz has confessed to killing 17 people, and charged him with premeditated murder, as a clearer picture emerged of the deeply troubled young man and his motive.  Special correspondent Steve Mort of Feature Story News joins Judy Woodruff for an update.




"Shootings are terrorizing America.  There are real ways to stop them" PBS NewsHour 2/15/2018

I can not remain silent, the NRA's solution is to put MORE guns in schools. #StandAgainstNRA

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  There have been so many deadly mass shootings in America that one could easily feel powerless in stopping them.  What is the way forward?  Judy Woodruff talks to Kristina Anderson of the Koshka Foundation for Safe Schools, Robert Draper of The New York Times Magazine, Daniel Webster of Johns Hopkins University, and Katherine Newman of the University of Massachusetts.




"The Florida school shooting, in students’ own words" PBS NewsHour 2/15/2018

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SUMMARY:  As Parkland, Florida, mourns a school shooting that left 17 dead, we listen to the voices of those who experienced the tragedy firsthand.




"The lives we lost in Parkland, Florida" PBS NewsHour 2/16/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Funeral services began Friday for the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.  We remember each of the 17 people killed on Wednesday, including the teachers who helped save students’ lives.

WINTER OLYMPICS - American Snowboarding

"American snowboarders soar above expectations at Olympics" PBS NewsHour 2/13/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Seventeen-year-old American snowboarder Chloe Kim dazzled the 2018 Winter Olympics with her aerial acrobatics and athletic spins, winning a gold medal on Monday.  Jeffrey Brown talks with Eddie Pells of the Associated Press about Kim, the daughter of South Korean immigrants, as well as several other snowboarding standouts in Pyeongchang.



On YouTube

BALTIMORE - Failing Schools & Corrupt Cops

"Freezing classrooms spark heated debate over Baltimore’s school infrastructure" PBS NewsHour 2/13/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Baltimore City Public Schools faced outrage from parents after images emerged of students wearing coats in a freezing classroom.  More than a third of schools reported a lack of heat this winter during a cold snap, and that’s just one of the many problems plaguing the school system’s crumbling infrastructure, underscoring a larger debate about long-term funding and investment.  John Yang reports.




"How corrupt Baltimore cops used the badge to steal" PBS NewsHour 2/13/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Two Baltimore city police officers were convicted in federal court on Monday on charges including racketeering and robbery, as part of a brazen corruption scandal.  Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force were tasked with getting illegal guns off the street, but used their authority to target people for theft.  John Yang talks to Jayne Miller of WBAL-TV about the debate on how the city police force needs to change.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION - The Rob Porter Scandal

"White House security clearance process ‘broken,’ says top Trump intelligence official" PBS NewsHour 2/13/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  Leaders of the American intelligence agencies sounded a series of alarms at a Senate Intelligence hearing on Tuesday about Russian election meddling and breakdowns in the White House security clearance process.  The resignation of a top aide over domestic abuse allegations has put problems with security clearances into the spotlight.  Judy Woodruff reports.




"Why did Rob Porter lack a permanent security clearance?  Here’s how the process works" PBS NewsHour 2/13/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The White House and the FBI have shared conflicting accounts on the timeline of the background investigation into former White House staff secretary Rob Porter, who lacked a permanent security clearance and faced allegations of domestic abuse.  How was the process designed to work?  Judy Woodruff learns more from attorney Mark Zaid.

NEWSHOUR BOOKSHELF - "The Line Becomes a River"

"How this former Border Patrol agent learned to see through the eyes of those trying to cross" PBS NewsHour 2/12/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  In "The Line Becomes a River," Francisco CantĂș describes his experience as a Border Patrol agent in the deserts of Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico.  Written as a collection of dispatches, CantĂș shows how the job became a difficult balancing act between his sense of shared humanity and the demands of law enforcement.  The author joins Jeffrey Brown for a conversation near the border.

TRUMP AGENDA - Leave Consumers Unprotected

HAY Trump:  It's called the Consumer Protection Agency, NOT the Financial Business Protection Agency.

"How the Consumer Protection Agency is being curtailed by the Trump administration" PBS NewsHour 2/12/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  The Trump administration has made it clear that it plans to roll back the once-tough approach of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was born out the 2008 financial crisis, and intended to be a federal watchdog cracking down on predatory lending and shady financial dealings.  William Brangham talks to Chris Arnold of NPR about its impact and its uncertain future.

TRUMP AGENDA - The Non-Infrastructure Plan

"Here’s what Trump’s spending proposal would fund and cut" PBS NewsHour 2/12/2018

In actually, the so-called infrastructure spending is actually a privatizing plan (aka big profit to private industry).

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  President Trump unveiled his long-awaited infrastructure plan to fix roads, bridges, and airports on Monday; as well as his $4.4 trillion outline of spending priorities.  But the plan was overshadowed by internal struggles at the White House, and questions of how top staff handled domestic violence allegations against two aides.  Yamiche Alcindor joins Judy Woodruff for more.




"LA mayor: Infrastructure fuels prosperity, and federal government needs to do its part" PBS NewsHour 2/12/2018

Excerpt

SUMMARY:  President Trump's $1 trillion infrastructure blueprint relies on states and local governments, as well as private sector investment, to provide much of the needed funding.  Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says that his city is doing its part already, and that the federal government needs to step up.  Garcetti joins Judy Woodruff to discuss that, as well as protecting “Dreamers.”

COMMENT - What is 'Collusion' Politically

According to legal dictionaries I consulted:

Collusion:

Where two persons (or business entities through their officers or other employees) enter into a deceitful agreement, usually secret, to defraud and/or gain an unfair advantage over a third party, competitors, consumers or those with whom they are negotiating.  Collusion can include secret price or wage fixing, secret rebates, or pretending to be independent of each other when actually conspiring together for their joint ends.  It can range from small-town shopkeepers or heirs to a grandma's estate, to gigantic electronics companies or big league baseball team owners.

In politics, specifically the Russia Investigation, are the 'two persons' in this context Russia and Trump Campaign?

Does 'deceitful agreement' include a Trump campaign official/representative meeting with Russians?

In my book, if ANY U.S. political campaign official is meeting with a foreign government representative on American political campaign issues, that is Collusion.

THE WIRE - Another Trump Spin, 'No Collusion'

"Trump: ‘No Collusion!’" by Robert Farley, FactCheck.org 2/16/2018

A tweet from President Trump, and a White House statement, claims the indictment handed down against 13 Russian nationals and three Russian organizations for illegally interfering in the 2016 election indicates there was “no collusion” between Russians and the Trump campaign, and that “the results of the election were not impacted."  But the indictment did not go that far on either count.

The indictment alleges the defendants used the names of U.S. citizens and companies to illegally buy political ads on social media and stage political rallies.

Although some of the activity dated back to 2014, the indictment states that by early to mid-2016, the defendants’ operation included supporting Trump and disparaging Hillary Clinton.

According to the indictment, “Some defendants, posing as U.S. persons and without revealing their Russian association, communicated with unwitting individuals associated with the Trump Campaign and with other political activists to seek to coordinate political activities.”

In a Feb 16 press conference announcing the indictment, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein reiterated that the communications established by the defendants were made with “unwitting Americans.”

“Now, there is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity,” Rosenstein said.  “There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.

In the hours after Rosenstein’s press conference, Trump tweeted:


A press release issued by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders echoed those points.

Statement from the press secretary regarding the Russia Indictments, Feb 16: President Donald J. Trump has been fully briefed on this matter and is glad to see the Special Counsel’s investigation further indicates — that there was NO COLLUSION between the Trump campaign and Russia and that the outcome of the election was not changed or affected.

But that’s not what Rosenstein, or the indictment presented by the U.S. special counsel’s office, stated.

Rosenstein merely stated that there was no allegation in “this indictment” that any Americans — including those in the Trump campaign — wittingly participated in “this illegal activity."  (Emphasis is ours.)

According to Rosenstein, the Russians “recruited and paid real Americans to engage in political activities, promote political campaigns and stage political rallies.  The defendants and their co-conspirators pretended to be grassroots activists.  According to the indictment, the Americans did not know that they were communicating with Russians.”

Later, Rosenstein noted that, “the nature of the scheme was the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists, even going so far as to base their activities on a virtual private network here in the United States so, if anybody traced it back to that first jump, they appeared to be Americans.”

In other words, those who may have been paid by the Russians for social media ads, or to stage rallies, did not knowingly collude with the Russians.

Trump’s tweet goes beyond what Rosenstein and the indictment stated.  His tweet assumes there is no investigation beyond what was revealed in the Feb 16 indictment.  And we just don’t know one way or the other what other things Mueller may be investigating.

Bloomberg reported after the indictment was announced that, “Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his prosecutors haven’t concluded their investigation into whether President Donald Trump or any of his associates helped Russia interfere in the 2016 election, according to a person with knowledge of the probe.”

As for Trump’s claim that the indictment indicates that “the results of the election were not impacted,” that also goes beyond what Rosenstein said.

Again, Rosenstein said, “There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election."  That’s consistent with a declassified intelligence report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that was released on Jan 6, 2017.  That report accused Russia of meddling in the 2016 election on Trump’s behalf, but it “did not make an assessment of the impact that Russian activities had on the outcomes of the 2016 election.”

According to that DNI report, “The US Intelligence Community is charged with monitoring and assessing the intentions, capabilities, and actions of foreign actors; it does not analyze US political processes or US public opinion.”

As we wrote when Vice President Mike Pence recently repeated the false talking point that U.S. intelligence agencies came to the “universal conclusion” that Russia’s meddling had no impact on the election results, the intelligence community has not concluded one way or the other if Russia’s influence campaign affected the election outcome.

In this case, Rosenstein acknowledged there was “no allegation” in the indictment that the Russians’ social media campaign or rallies swayed votes.  The impact of these activities is possibly unknowable.

THE WIRE - A Trump Con

"GM Korea Didn’t Announce Move to Detroit" by D'Angelo Gore, FactCheck.org 2/15/2018

General Motors will close one of its four assembly plants in South Korea in May.  It did not say it was moving production to Detroit instead, as President Trump claimed.

“That was not part of the announcement,” GM spokesman Patrick Morrissey said in a phone interview with FactCheck.org.

A GM Korea press release announcing the closure said that the Gunsan plant has been underused for years, “making continued operations unsustainable.”  But the press release also said the company presented stakeholders with “a concrete plan to stay in the country and turn the business around” to save jobs.

However, during a meeting on trade held at the White House with the president’s cabinet and some members of Congress, Trump said that the company was relocating.

Trump, Feb 13: One thing I just — I do want to tell you, we just got this notice.  General Motors in Korea announces the first step in necessary restructuring.  They’re going to — GM Korea company announced today that it will cease production and close its Gunsan plant in May of 2018, and they’re going to move back to Detroit.

You don’t hear these things, except for the fact that Trump became President.  Believe me, you wouldn’t be hearing that.  So they’re moving back from Korea to Detroit.  They’re moving.

The President got the closure part right, but there was nothing in the company’s official statement about “moving back” to the Motor City.

“There could be broader global implications,” as a result of closing the plant, Morrissey, a GM spokesman, told us by phone.  But as for a planned move to Detroit?  “That was not part of the announcement,” he said.

Kristin Dziczek, head of the Industry, Labor & Economics Group at the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was more direct.

“There is no new plant or new production in Detroit” as a result of this, Dziczek told us in an interview.  She tweeted similar statements contradicting the president, who also wrongly said that Fiat Chrysler was moving a manufacturing plant from Mexico to Michigan.


In its Feb 12 press release, GM Korea said “it will cease production and close its Gunsan plant by the end of May 2018” because the “facility has been increasingly underutilized, running at about 20 percent of capacity over the past three years, making continued operations unsustainable.”

“This announcement occurs after a careful review of the company’s operations, which have sustained significant losses for the past several years,” the company said.

Dziczek noted that fewer people are buying the Chevy Cruze, which is one of two cars made at the Gunsan plant.  So there’s really no need for more capacity in the U.S., where Cruzes are already made in Lordstown, Ohio, she explained.

Contrary to Trump’s claim of a move to Detroit, the company will still have three other assembly plants in South Korea.  And the company promised to present stakeholders with a “concrete plan to stay in the country and turn the business around.”

“The proposal includes significant product-related investments in South Korea and would preserve thousands of jobs,” its press release said.

The company said that it will make a decision on its next steps by the end of February.