Wednesday, June 26, 2019

CALIFORNIA - Real Gun Control


NOTE:  This was copied from the e-newspaper, therefore no link to article.

"Background checks required for ammo" from AP, San Diego Union-Tribune 6/26/2019

California has among the most stringent gun laws in the country, and on Monday a far-reaching new initiative to curb violence will require background checks for every ammunition purchase.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and other proponents said it will save lives, but opponents are suing in hopes of eventually undoing a law they said will mostly harm millions of law-abiding gun owners.

Voters approved the checks in 2016 and set an effective date of July 1.  Ammunition dealers are seeing a surge in sales as customers stock up before the requirement takes effect.

“In the last two weeks I’ve been up about 300%” with people “bulking up because of these stupid new laws,” said Chris Puehse, who owns Foothill Ammo east of Sacramento.

Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence spokeswoman Amanda Wilcox appeared with Newsom at a news conference Tuesday and said the checks are “the kind of thing that could have prevented” last week’s fatal shooting of rookie Sacramento police Officer Tara O’Sullivan.

Prosecutors charge that Adel Sambrano Ramos fatally shot the 26-year-old officer using one of two rifles assembled from parts to create assault weapons that are illegal in California.  Wilcox and other supporters said ammunition background checks can help authorities discover so-called ghost guns that aren’t registered with the state.

The state Department of Justice, which will administer the background check program, estimates there will be 13.2 million ammunition purchases each year.  But 13 million will be by people who already cleared background checks when they bought guns in California, so they are already registered in the state’s gun owners’ database.

They will pay a $1 processing fee each time they pick up bullets or shotgun shells.

Store clerks will run buyers’ identification through that database and a second database of those who bought guns legally but are no longer allowed to own them because of certain criminal convictions or mental health commitments.  Those who pass get their ammo on the spot.

But the Democratic governor and Robyn Thomas, executive director of the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, said there are still some issues that must be addressed.  People who bought rifles or shotguns before 2014 and anyone who bought a handgun before 1996 are likely not in the state’s registry.

Wilcox said owners of unregistered weapons will have to pay $19 for a one-time background check that can take days to complete and is good for a single purchase within 30 days.  Wilcox said that should encourage owners to register their firearms.  Buyers will also have to get their ammunition through registered dealers, ending a practice that allowed bullets to be ordered online.

Monday, June 24, 2019

SCIENCE - Race to Quantum Technology

"The race to develop quantum technology is getting crowded" PBS NewsHour 6/23/2019


SUMMARY:  Quantum mechanics looks at how particles smaller than atoms interact.  At this minuscule scale, entirely different laws of physics apply.  But in the global race to develop quantum technology, the U.S. is competing in an increasingly crowded field.  NewsHour Weekend's Christopher Booker reports.

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 6/21/2019

"Shields and Brooks on Trump’s Iran decision, Biden segregationist comments" PBS NewsHour 6/21/2019


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s political news, including President Trump’s response to the conflict with Iran and controversy around former Vice President Joe Biden’s comments about working with segregationists.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  This week in politics, Joe Biden's comments on working with segregationists, and tensions with Iran escalate to new heights.

It's time for the analysis of Shields and Brooks.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Hello to both of you.  A very, very full week.

So, Mark, let's talk about what we are leading with tonight, and that is, again, the tense situation, standoff, whatever you want to call it, between the United States and Iran, with the latest news being President Trump had authorized a military strike, but then — or almost authorized, and then, at the last minute, pulled it back.

What do we make of this?

Mark Shields, syndicated columnist:  Well, the President is keeping his word he made during the campaign to be unpredictable.  And I think unpredictable is what this qualifies as, Judy.

It's a little unsettling, obviously, because there is no scholar warrior like Jim Mattis in the room.  It isn't — you don't get the sense that this has been well-thought-out and the idea that the country is prepared.

There is no sense of what our objective is, and how we will know we have succeeded, and how the country gets on board, and whether, in fact, we do have, as we — for example, George H.W. Bush had 39 nations in the coalition in 1991 when he was responding to the invasion of KuwaitAnd this is — we are virtually alone.

I mean, it's unsettling.  I'm relieved that the President did.  I'm rather that he found out so late in the game, that nobody thought to tell him that we're talking about human casualties.  But that's where we are.

Judy Woodruff:  What does this say to you, David, about this sort of last-minute reverse course?

David Brooks, New York Times:  Yes.

Well, first, I'm glad he reversed course.  It does seems disproportionate to me.  And disproportion is one of the primary elements of just war theory going back to Saint Augustine.  So, Donald Trump and Saint Augustine have one thing in common.

I guess I agree with Mark.  I don't know what the strategy here — and, most importantly, I don't know — I don't know Donald Trump's theory of the Iranian regime.  They have been expanding their terror activities and seemingly stepping up to the pace.

But are there — is there a battle within the Iranian regime we should be conscious of to try not to tilt things over to the hard-core radicals?  Or do we just need to lay down some deterrence?  Is there a way we could sweet-talk them into being nicer?  Like, there's all these things.

And it's all about the regime.  Are they the aggressor?  Are we the aggressor here?  These are the basic questions that underlie how you react.

You need to — in order to know how to react, you got to know how they will react, and you have to have some theory of what they're thinking.  And a normal President would give an Oval Office address and tell us, but we don't really have that.

So I'm sort of struck.  I don't know what the proper deterrence is, because I don't know what will deter or what their goals are.

Judy Woodruff:  Mark, is there clarity in the administration's approach to Iran, to what is going on?

Mark Shields:  No.  No, there isn't, Judy.

And the old aphorism in Washington [DC] is, if you want people in on a rocky landing, you better have them be sure that they're on board for the takeoff.

I mean, that is — coming back to George H.W. Bush, who was probably the model in this regard, he got his position ratified by the United Nations Security Council and approved by a Democratic House and a Democratic Senate, so that there was this a sense of what our objective was, what the — why the force was being applied, and that there had been an international effort to enlist support, a successful one.

All of that is missing here, Judy.  And so, as a consequence, there's just, I think, as David said, both curiosity, anxiety, and just tension.

David Brooks:  And tactics are sort of driving strategy.

So we have accidentally walked into the position where we have drawn a red line, where Pompeo was said that you cannot kill Americans.  And if you do that, suddenly, things change radically.  So that's a red line.

And so if they do end up killing Americans, accidentally or on purpose, then what happens?  And if you don't have the overall strategy — they have got so many tools at their disposal.  They could do cyber-warfare.  They could attack Iranian forces that are spread around the Middle East.

They can, as earlier Presidents have done, gone after the Iranian navy.  There are lots of different things they could do.  Some of them would kill people.  Some of them wouldn't kill people.  But if you don't have the overall strategy, you don't know what in order to do those things.

So every day becomes its own decision points.  And you're not really in control.  It's — you're just stumbling around in the dark, doing one thing.  Then they do something, and then they do something.  And that, it seems to me, a perfect recipe for escalation.

Judy Woodruff:  What about the question that I was asking, I think, Senator Risch and Senator Reed, Mark?

And that is, does this have longer-lasting effects, in that, does it give the sense that this is an administration that is indecisive, weak, and then have — in other words, are there lasting effects?  Or is this just something you move on and move on to the next crisis?

Mark Shields:  The next crisis.

Well, I mean, I don't think the — I don't want to accuse the President of being weak, just as a citizen, quite frankly, not as — taking off my analyst hat, because he did show restraint, but about policy that he has not been able to articulate or explain, and therefore to enlist support for it.

So, we're all by ourselves here, Judy.  That's the difficult part.  There are no allies.  And that is — I think that's a consequence of everything we have been through for the first three years of this administration.

David Brooks:  Yes.

And, at the core, I think he is America first.  And that goes back to — whether he knows it or not, to a sort of an isolationist tendency, that we shouldn't get involved in foreign adventures.  And that's pretty much where the American people are right now, and even where the Republican Party is.

And so I think there's that core.  But if you looked at his rhetoric, you would think he was most aggressive person on Earth, because his rhetoric is, we will rain down fire and death upon you.

And so there's a gigantic gap between the way he talks and mostly what he's been doing.

Mark Shields:  And it does — it's the maximum application.  It's sort of contradictory, maximum application of force to the Iranian regime, yet I'm not going to get involved or we're not going to get involved in any foreign entanglements, which could collide.

I mean, the maximum force at some point could lead to a foreign entanglement.  That's — I think that's the dilemma.


"A firsthand report of ‘inhumane conditions’ at a migrant children’s detention facility" PBS NewsHour 6/21/2019


SUMMARY:  The Associated Press details grave conditions inside a Texas migrant detention facility where 250 infants, children and teenagers were being held without adequate food, water or sanitation during a recent visit.  Warren Binford, a law professor at Willamette University, joins William Brangham to share her firsthand account, what Border Patrol agents think and what's next for these children.

Editor's Note:  After our broadcast, CPB responded to our request for comment with the following statement:

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) leverages our limited resources to provide the best care possible to those in our custody, especially children.  As DHS and CBP leadership have noted numerous times, our short-term holding facilities were not designed to hold vulnerable populations and we urgently need additional humanitarian funding to manage this crisis.  CBP works closely with our partners at the Department of Health and Human Services to transfer unaccompanied children to their custody as soon as placement is identified, and as quickly and expeditiously as possible to ensure proper care.

All allegations of civil rights abuses or mistreatment in CBP detention are taken seriously and investigated to the fullest extent possible.

DRUMS OF WAR - U.S./Iran On the Brink

"President Trump holds back on strike against missile site" PBS NewsHour 6/21/2019


SUMMARY:  President Trump says he approved an airstrike against Iran in retaliation for the downing of a U.S. drone, only to call it off last-minute upon deciding the potential for casualties was too high.  Now, some former senior military and diplomatic officials are questioning the President’s decision-making process.  Nick Schifrin reports.

"Why Trump’s choice to hold back on Iran was about instincts" PBS NewsHour 6/21/2019


SUMMARY:  According to President Trump, the U.S. military was ready to launch an airstrike against Iran as a response to their shooting down an unmanned U.S. drone when he called it off.  He laid out differing timelines for his decision-making, but Trump was consistent in attributing the attack's cancellation to his worry over potential Iranian casualties.  Judy Woodruff talks to Yamiche Alcindor for more.

"Possibility of war with the U.S. leaves Iranians ‘rattled’" PBS NewsHour 6/21/2019


SUMMARY:  A day after President Trump said he had called off a planned airstrike against Iran shortly before it was due to occur, governments of both countries were preoccupied with the conflict, which represents the closest Iran and the United States have come to war in 30 years.  Judy Woodruff talks to special correspondent Reza Sayah, reporting from Tehran, about the reaction and “anxiety” among Iranians.


"The life and legacy of opera star Luciano Pavarotti, according to Ron Howard" PBS NewsHour 6/20/2019


SUMMARY:  Acclaimed director Ron Howard has released a new documentary on the life of opera star Luciano Pavarotti, who grew up in Modena, Italy, and rose to fame with the global phenomenon The Three Tenors.  The film is filled with archival footage, interviews with family, and of course, music.  Jeffrey Brown caught up with Howard to discuss it and what surprised him most about Pavarotti, who died in 2007.

HUNGER - North Korea

Politics using people as pawns.

"How sanctions, weather and a bad harvest have left North Koreans without enough to eat" PBS NewsHour 6/20/2019


SUMMARY:  In North Korea, hunger is pervasive, and medical supplies are inadequate, in part because of U.S. and U.N. sanctions.  While China and South Korea are offering humanitarian assistance, U.S. officials fear aid would be usurped by the government rather than distributed among the people who need it.  But as Nick Schifrin reports, conditions in the world’s most isolated country are only worsening.

U.S. SUPREME COURT - Memorial and Religion

COMMENT:  While I am a staunch supporter of separation of church and state, in this case the decision is correct.

"Why Supreme Court ruled removing cross memorial would be hostile to religion" PBS NewsHour 6/20/2019


SUMMARY:  A Maryland World War I memorial in the form of a cross will remain on public land, after the Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling, 7 to 2.  What does the decision mean for hundreds of challenges pending in lower courts over religious monuments on public lands, which critics say violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause?  John Yang talks to's Tom Goldstein.

IMMIGRATION - Statement From ICE

"ICE director on due process, rule of law and upcoming deportations" PBS NewsHour 6/18/2019

Another 'Acting' director that Trump uses to avoid facing Congressional oversight.


SUMMARY:  On Twitter Monday night, President Trump announced plans for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to step up removal of undocumented immigrants from the U.S. next week.  How will these people be located and what happens to them next -- especially the families?  Amna Nawaz talks to ICE Acting Director Mark Morgan, who served as chief of U.S. Border Patrol during the Obama administration.

Doesn't this idiot realize that "work with ICE, and we will help remove you back to your country of origin" will send these people running.  THEY DO NOT WANT TO BE SENT BACK TO THEIR COUNTRY.  They escaped their country because they were NOT safe there!

INFLUENZA THREAT - Stopping a Killer

"Why another flu pandemic is likely just a matter of when" (Part-1 of 3) PBS NewsHour 6/18/2019


SUMMARY:  Despite the availability of vaccines, the flu still kills tens of thousands of people in the U.S. each year, and hundreds of thousands more worldwide.  But public health officials fear that an even graver threat lies ahead: the emergence of a new, much more deadly flu virus.  As William Brangham reports, the scenario has occurred before.

"Why the race to stop the next flu outbreak starts at state fairs and the beach" (Part 2 of 3) PBS NewsHour 6/19/2019


SUMMARY:  Public health officials agree the constantly mutating influenza virus has the potential to cause a major outbreak and a deadly global crisis.  For the second part of the NewsHour’s series on preparing for such a pandemic, we examine how research and testing depends on animals.  William Brangham has the story of scientists looking for potential new flu strains in unexpected places, such as the beach.

"A universal flu vaccine could finally be within sight" (Part 3 of 3) PBS NewsHour 6/20/2019


SUMMARY:  Influenza is a shape-shifter virus that could spark a global pandemic.  Researchers at the National Institutes of Health are working to deliver what is referred to as The Holy Grail in the fight: a universal flu vaccine that could protect against all strains of the virus.  William Brangham concludes our pandemics series by learning what it will take to develop a universal vaccine.

EUROPE - Caught in the Middle of Tensions

"Why Europe is caught in the middle of U.S.-Iran tensions" PBS NewsHour 6/18/2019


SUMMARY:  Although tensions between the U.S. and Iran are high, officials from both countries insist they don't want a military confrontation.  Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says Iran will resist sanctions but not wage war, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called sending more U.S. troops to the region a "deterrent."  Meanwhile, U.S. allies in Europe are sharply divided on Iran.  Nick Schifrin reports.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION - Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and Iran

This administration is just embarrassing.

NO key-post of permanent Secretary of Defense since 2018!

"Reports of domestic violence prompt Shanahan to step down" PBS NewsHour 6/18/2019


SUMMARY:  Another personnel disruption is rocking the White House, as Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan withdrew from consideration for the permanent role Tuesday amid reports of domestic violence in his past.  The Washington Post’s Aaron Davis spoke with Shanahan about the allegations.  He joins Judy Woodruff to discuss, and Judy gets reaction to the news from Lisa Desjardins and Yamiche Alcindor.

"Tim Kaine on Shanahan allegations, Mark Esper and tensions with Iran" PBS NewsHour 6/18/2019


SUMMARY:  President Trump announced Tuesday that Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan will not seek confirmation for the permanent version of the role.  Reports then surfaced about possible incidents of domestic violence in Shanahan’s past.  Judy Woodruff talks to Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) about the “troubling” allegations, why not having a permanent Secretary of Defense is risky and tensions with Iran.

"Former Bush Pentagon official on Iran, Shanahan and ‘terrible’ vetting process" PBS NewsHour 6/18/2019


SUMMARY:  Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are inflamed, with the U.S. sending more troops to the Mideast amid what it calls provocation by Iran.  Now, a new disruption: Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan is stepping down amid reports of domestic violence in his past.  Former Pentagon comptroller Dov Zakheim of the Center for Strategic and International Studies joins Judy Woodruff to discuss.

ANNIVERSARY - 'Stonewall' at 50

"2 gay veterans on their 25 years of love" PBS NewsHour 6/17/2019


SUMMARY:  The 1969 police raid at Stonewall Inn in New York City was a watershed moment in LGBTQ history.  After years of police harassment and mistreatment, the bar’s patrons fought back.  As part of the NewsHour’s coverage of the 50th anniversary, we share an animated StoryCorps conversation between two gay veterans about their 25 years of love.  It's part of StoryCorps' “Stonewall Outloud” collection.

UNITED STATES - Deaths While Crossing

"Why U.S. pedestrian deaths are at their highest level in almost 30 years" PBS NewsHour 6/17/2019


SUMMARY:  U.S. pedestrian deaths are at their highest level since 1990.  Possible explanations include wider roads, sprawling cities, heavier traffic in residential areas due to navigation apps and increasing distractions from digital devices.  And according to victims’ families and safety advocates, the problem is a crisis state and local governments have been slow to address.  Arren Kimbel-Sannit reports.

CYBER WAR - U.S. v Russia

"Why cyber warfare represents diplomatic territory" PBS NewsHour 6/17/2019


SUMMARY:  The New York Times reported over the weekend on U.S. military attempts to infiltrate the Russian power grid.  The effort represents the latest offensive in an increasingly digital conflict with Russia, whose 2016 election interference is well documented.  John Yang talks to R.P. Eddy, a former National Security Council official and founder of an intelligence consulting firm, about this new frontier.

HONG KONG - People Power, the Umbrella Revolution

"What Hong Kong’s backpedal on China extradition law means for Beijing" PBS NewsHour 6/17/2019


SUMMARY:  Huge demonstrations in Hong Kong protesting a proposed Chinese extradition law seem to have paid off, as the city’s chief executive has indefinitely suspended the controversial legislation.  What does the backtracking mean for Hong Kong and Beijing?  Nick Schifrin talks to Lee Cheuk Yan, a co-founder of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, and Doug Paal of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

PICKS OF THE MONTH - Politics, Philosophy, Humor




CALIFORNIA - Apology to Native Americans

NOTE:  This was copied from the e-newspaper, therefore no link to article.

"Newsom apologizes to Native Americans" by Taryn Luna, San Diego Union-Tribune 6/19/2019

Governor cites state’s history of violence, calls it ‘a genocide’

Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Tuesday apologizing on behalf of the citizens of California for a history of “violence, maltreatment and neglect” against Native Americans in a rare move that some tribal leaders said could begin a healing process for their communities.

“California must reckon with our dark history,” Newsom said.  “We can never undo the wrongs inflicted on the peoples who have lived on this land that we now call California since time immemorial, but we can work together to build bridges, tell the truth about our past and begin to heal deep wounds.”

Newsom offered an in-person apology during remarks at a blessing ceremony at the site of the future California Indian Heritage Center in West Sacramento.  The Democratic governor said he had been discussing a formal apology with advisers for several months and decided to take action Tuesday when more than 100 tribal leaders from all over the state visited Sacramento for an annual meeting.

“It’s called a genocide.  That’s what it was.  A genocide.  (There’s) no other way to describe it and that’s the way it needs to be described in the history books,” Newsom said.  “And so I’m here to say the following: I’m sorry on behalf of the state of California.”

The governor’s order references an 1851 address from the state’s first chief executive, former Gov. Peter Burnett, in which he tells lawmakers to expect “a war of extermination” to continue “until the Indian race becomes extinct.”

A year earlier in the Legislature’s first session, lawmakers approved an “Act for the Government and Protection of the Indians” that allowed Native Americans to be sold into indentured servitude for minor offenses and separated children from their families.  The state spent the equivalent of more than $1 million in currency at the time to subsidize militia campaigns against the native people, according to the governor’s office.

California’s American Indian population declined from about 150,000 to 30,000 between 1846 and 1879, wrote Benjamin Madley, an assistant professor of history at UCLA, in a 2016 op-ed calling for the state to acknowledge the genocide .  Madley is the author of the 2009 book “An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873.”

Daniel Salgado, chairman of the Cahuilla Band of Indians, said Newsom’s formal apology is a recognition of a long history of what happened to native people in California.

“People can say it should have come a long time ago but I appreciate that this governor is stepping up and taking that first step in what we believe is a healing process,” Salgado said.  “In any kind of relationship, there’s recognition of a wrongdoing, an apology and a healing starts to take place.”

Newsom’s office said the state has never formally apologized for actions against Native Americans.

The governor is also calling for a Truth and Healing Council to hear testimony and clarify the historical record on the relationship between the state and California Native Americans.  Christina Snider, Newsom’s tribal adviser and a member of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, will lead the council and delegates from California’s tribes will work her to issue a draft report on its findings by Jan. 1.

Asked if the state should provide more formal reparations for California Native Americans, Newsom said he hadn’t engaged in those conversations and believed the council would provide a forum to discuss future steps.

Abby Abinanti, chief judge of the Yurok Tribal Court, said she hopes the council will serve as a model for other states.

“It’ll be a long process, an education process,” Abinanti said.  “Truth is a good thing.  Healing is a good thing.  We’re at a time and place in the world where it’s essential for us to try to do those things.”

Sitting in a circle of plastic chairs under an oak tree with the governor, tribal leaders shared stories of past trauma at the hands of settlers.  Some cried and sang songs.

Several expressed optimism that Newsom would continue a meaningful dialogue and work collaboratively with Native Americans.

Erica Pinto, chairwoman of the Jamul Indian Village, reminded him that her people judge actions more than words.

“It’s healing to hear your words, but actions will speak for themselves,” Pinto said.  “I do look forward to hearing and seeing more of you.”

Luna writes for the Los Angeles Times.

Monday, June 17, 2019

OPINION - Shields and Brooks 6/14/2019

"Shields and Brooks on Trump and foreign campaign help, Democratic debates" PBS NewsHour 6/14/2019


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s political news, including President Trump’s comments about willingness to accept foreign opposition research, the status of election security legislation, candidate lineups for the upcoming Democratic Presidential debates and the politics of Democratic socialism.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  Back in the U.S., the stages are set for the first Democratic primary debates, and President Trump weighs in on accepting information from foreign governments about political opponents, which brings us to the analysis of Shields and Brooks.

That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Hello to both of you.

So let's start with the story that has pretty much dominated the week, David, and that is President Trump saying in that interview with ABC that if he were offered information from a foreign government about a political opponent, he wouldn't have any trouble taking it, and he — why would he report it to the FBI?  Now, he's walked it back a little.

David Brooks, New York Times:  Yes.

Judy Woodruff:  But how serious is this?

David Brooks:  Well, it's a great moment in moral philosophy when you're asked if you're going to cheat, and you say, of course, everyone cheats.


I salute him for not pretending to be better than he really is.  He's pretty candid about it.

But I do think that's a bit of his mind-set, that the rules — everybody breaks the rules.  And maybe he conducted his business life that way, and he certainly wants to do that.  It's just his natural reaction is, of course.  Everybody breaks the rules.

What's disturbing to me is not so much him.  We sort of know him already — is how many Republicans are now walking themselves up to the position, well, we're in a death match, and so we need a leader like that.

And I think, in order to justify their support for President Trump, they have talked themselves — or many people have — into the position that this is a life-or-death struggle, the left is out to destroy us, and so breaking the rules is what you got to do.

And so that, to me, is almost a scarier prospect than the heart and soul of Donald Trump.

Judy Woodruff:  So, some of them, some Republicans have said that he made a mistake.

David Brooks:  Yes.

Judy Woodruff:  But you're right.

David Brooks:  Mitt Romney and others.

But some of the others, the people who are supporting him, it's the ends justify the means argument.

Judy Woodruff:  Mark?

Mark Shields, syndicated columnist:  Yes, I agree with David.

It just — it strikes me that the President remains unchanged in a changing world.  Being President has not changed him in the least.  Even Warren Harding, not a particularly thoughtful or self-reflective man, said, the White House is an alchemist.  It finds what your strengths are, in his case, finds what your weaknesses are.

Donald Trump said in an interview with George Stephanopoulos: I have heard a lot of things in my life.  I have never gone to the FBI.

I mean, he was talking as a New York real estate guy.  He's never made the transition to, I'm thinking, is it good for the United States of America, is it good for the working families, is it good for world peace or whatever, that a President is supposed to think through that prism.

It comes right down to, is it good for me?  And, to David's point, hey, hey, get a little advantage over my opponent, yes, you better believe I will do it.  What am I, a sissy, a snitch that's going to go to the FBI?

And it's a — it really is sort of a sad moral judgment.

The other thing I would just point out is ABC — it was ABC's story.  And ABC today broke the — they revealed the Trump state polls at this point.  And I don't know if you saw that, but he is now trailing Joe Biden by 16 points in Pennsylvania, by 10 points in Wisconsin, by seven points in Florida.

So, I mean, we're looking at the cusp right now, given those kind of numbers, of a campaign that literally would do anything.

Judy Woodruff:  Which the President, when he was asked about those polls the other day, said that that's not correct.

Mark Shields:  That's right.

Judy Woodruff:  That his polls show that he's ahead in every state.

Mark Shields:  And these are his polls that they revealed today.


Judy Woodruff:  But, David, to your point about Republicans being on board, I mean, the fact is, you have mainly Republicans holding up efforts in the Congress right now to tighten election security.

So, this is — this is having some consequences here.

David Brooks:  Yes.  And this is Mitch McConnell.

And, frankly, I don't — the federal government has already authorized $380 million for the states.  One of the bills would give them another billion.  And so I don't really know what — the right spending level for this.

But you would think, given what we have been through and the seriousness of what we have been through, that you would want to err on the side of preventing the corruption of our electoral system, which has happened, which we know is going to happen again, from multiple sources, maybe, the Russians doing something different than they did last time.

And so you think you would — if we're going to spend whatever hundreds and hundreds of billions on defense, on our military defense, a billion on — to defend our electoral system doesn't seem to me an outrageous expense.

And so it seems like something they should be doing.  And you get the impression Mitch McConnell doesn't want to do anything that will annoy Donald Trump.

Mark Shields:  Yes, Mitch McConnell has been constant on this.  He's no Johnny-come-lately.

He was the one voice, you will recall, in the leadership in 2016, when the leadership of the Congress unanimously agreed with the Obama administration to go public on the revelation that Russia was already deeply involved in the systematic undermining of our electoral process, he resisted it, and, as a consequence, stopped it.

He is now stopping the reforms.  I mean, even Roy Blunt, the chairman of the Rules Committee, has been quite candid about this.  I mean, the fact is that, in a secular democracy, the closest thing to a public sacrament is a national election.

And when you're starting to tamper with that and trifle with that — I mean, we went through it in 2016.

Judy Woodruff:  In '16.

Mark Shields:  We saw what happened when there was strife and disunity nurtured on the Democratic side between Sanders and Clinton campaigns by those e-mails.  A party chair was forced out.

And Donald Trump himself 140 times mentioned WikiLeaks approvingly during the campaign.

Judy Woodruff:  Right.

Mark Shields:  I mean, so, there was a play.  And the Mueller report — committee — investigation confirmed it.

Judy Woodruff:  But, at this point, not — nothing is really moving that would change — that would protect…

Mark Shields:  No, thanks to Mitch.

Judy Woodruff:  … that would protect what we have — gone on.

Mark, you mentioned the polls.  The Democrats, it probably brought a little spring to their step.  But we know these polls are temporary.

Today, David, the Democratic National Committee announced that they have got their first debates coming up next week.  And they're divided into two nights because there are so many candidates.  The Democrats — the party said, OK, the most we're going to allow on the stage on any one night is 10.  So they have got 10 one night and 10 the next.

Today, they drew names.  And we can show you the lineup now.  On the first night, June the 26, there are going to be these 10.  And I'm not going to name every single one of them.

Mark Shields:  Yes.

Judy Woodruff:  But I can tell you that this is — Elizabeth Warren is included here, Beto O'Rourke, and then the others, Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar and a number of others.

The second night, you have, frankly, several of the front-runners, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg, Kamala Harris, and others.

LAST BASTION - Syrian Idlib Province

"Idlib’s ‘relentless’ onslaught vs. northeastern Syria’s ‘fragile stability’" PBS NewsHour 6/14/2019


SUMMARY:  In northwest Syria, Idlib province -- the final stronghold of opponents of the Assad regime -- is under relentless attack, and a source of tension between Syria and Turkey.  Land liberated by the U.S. and its Kurdish allies in northeast Syria [Ar Raqqah] faces a very different situation.  Nick Schifrin talks to Gayle Tzemach Lemmon of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Hassan Hassan of the Center for Global Policy.

SCHOOL SECURITY - Standard Response Protocol

"After multiple tragedies, how Colorado schools are securing the classroom" PBS NewsHour 6/14/2019


SUMMARY:  School shootings have become a tragic reality of modern American life.  How can school administrators prepare for the worst-case scenario?  John Ferrugia of Rocky Mountain PBS in Denver reports on how Colorado’s multiple deadly school shootings in the past 20 years have driven the state to develop new safety protocols -- some of which have been adopted across the country.

I Love U Guys Foundation

MUSICAL CONNECTIONS - Breaking Down Barriers

"How this Palestinian music festival is breaking down cultural barriers" PBS NewsHour 6/13/2019


SUMMARY:  Typically, the Palestinian West Bank is referenced in the context of Middle East peace talks.  But for the past three years, the organizers of the three-day Palestine Music Expo, or PMX, have sought to encourage people to open their minds, and their ears, to what Palestinian artists have to offer.  John Yang reports from the Palestine West Bank on an effort to exchange culture and create connection.

WEALTH GAP - Racial Wealth Disparity in America

"Can ‘baby bonds’ help the U.S. close its staggering racial wealth gap?" PBS NewsHour 6/13/2019


SUMMARY:  Whites in the U.S. have much greater household and individual wealth than blacks and other minorities.  In fact, the typical black household has about 10 cents for every dollar of wealth in a typical white household.  Some economists and politicians believe this racial wealth disparity will continue to widen unless it's addressed.  As Paul Solman reports, one idea for closing it begins at birth.

TROUBLED WATERS - The Tanker Attacks

"After suspected attacks on Mideast oil tankers, U.S. blames Iran" PBS NewsHour 6/13/2019


SUMMARY:  Two oil tankers near the strategically important Strait of Hormuz were damaged Thursday.  After the U.S. Navy rushed to assist evacuating sailors, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran, calling the suspected attacks a "clear threat to international peace and security."  They come amid heightened tensions with Iran and an increased U.S. military presence in the Mideast.  Nick Schifrin reports.

"After apparent attacks on oil tankers, what’s next for the U.S. and Iran" PBS NewsHour 6/14/2019


SUMMARY:  After two oil tankers near the strategically critical Strait of Hormuz were damaged Thursday, the U.S. said Iran was responsible.  The UN, meanwhile, has called for an independent investigation.  Judy Woodruff talks to Vali Nasr, a Middle East scholar and former State Department official, and Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former CIA operations officer in the Middle East, about this precarious situation.

TRUMP WITHOUT BOUNDARIES - Accepting Foreign Opposition Research

"Why Trump’s view of accepting foreign opposition research is ‘textbook illegal’" PBS NewsHour 6/13/2019


SUMMARY:  President Trump has caused a new outcry by declaring that he would accept information about a political opponent provided by a foreign government.  The admission comes after Robert Mueller warned of significant Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.  Yamiche Alcindor reports, and Judy Woodruff talks to former federal prosecutor Shan Wu and Trevor Potter of the Campaign Legal Center.


COMMENT:  This is one of the side effects of today's technology, including the Internet.  Today's technology makes things easier and faster, but also more dangerous.

"Why ‘deepfake’ videos are becoming more difficult to detect" PBS NewsHour 6/12/2019


SUMMARY:  Sophisticated and inaccurate altered videos known as “deepfakes” are causing alarm in the digital realm.  The highly realistic manipulated videos are the subject of a House Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday.  As Miles O’Brien reports, the accelerating speed of computers and advances in machine learning make deepfakes ever more difficult to detect, among growing fears of their weaponization.

POST 9/11 - First Responders' Long Shadow

"Compensation for 9/11 first responders is running out.  Will Congress act?" PBS NewsHour 6/12/2019


SUMMARY:  It’s been nearly two decades since the terrorist attacks of September 11th, and many first responders continue to suffer dire health consequences from exposure to hazardous materials at the disaster sites.  Meanwhile, Congress still struggles with how to compensate them, as allocated funding runs dry.  Lisa Desjardins talks to Michael McAuliff, a journalist who has covered the story for years.

HONG KONG - The Protests

aka 'Tails of a Puppet Government'

"Mass protests over Hong Kong extradition law turn violent" PBS NewsHour 6/12/2019


SUMMARY:  Protesters in Hong Kong are promising more mass demonstrations after some erupted into violence.  Police battled crowds in a growing crisis over Hong Kong officials’ granting mainland China greater control over the city -- including the power to extradite people from Hong Kong for trial in China.  Debi Edward of Independent Television News reports on the “dogged determination” of the law’s critics.

AT THE MOVIES - This Summer

"Which movies to see in the theater this summer" PBS NewsHour 6/11/2019


SUMMARY:  This summer, movie screens will feature a variety of long-awaited blockbusters, sequels and reboots, such as "Toy Story 4" and the live-action version of "The Lion King."  But there will also be documentaries, independents and directorial debuts.  Jeffrey Brown speaks to Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post’s chief film critic, about her favorites and how much the summer season matters to studios.

NORTH KOREA - Ruthless Kim Jong Un

"The ruthless rise of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un" PBS NewsHour 6/11/2019


SUMMARY:  Life in North Korea is difficult for outsiders to imagine.  A new book attempts to pull back the curtain of opacity as it examines the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, who took over from his dictator father when his older brother fell out of favor.  Nick Schifrin talks to The Washington Post's Anna Fifield, author of “The Great Successor: The Divinely Perfect Destiny of Brilliant Comrade Kim Jong Un.

AMERICA - Adult Literacy

"Why 36 million American adults can’t read enough to work — and how to help them" PBS NewsHour 6/11/2019


SUMMARY:  In the U.S., 36 million adults lack the basic literacy skills needed to sustain employment -- yet education programs for this group serve only about 1.5 million, and funding continues to be cut at state and federal levels.  Meanwhile, stigma can keep adults from reconnecting with the classroom.  Kavitha Cardoza reports from Maine, whose governor has pledged to increase funding for adult education.

DEMOCRATS - On Impeachment

"Where do House Democrats stand on impeachment?" PBS NewsHour 6/11/2019


SUMMARY:  Congressional Democrats remain conflicted about whether to pursue impeachment against President Trump.  When asked about her plans investigating the president, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi responded that “what we’re doing is winning in court.”  Lisa Desjardins joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest from Capitol Hill and why “there is so much pressure” on Democratic lawmakers over this issue.

"Why Seth Moulton thinks impeachment is the right thing to do" PBS NewsHour 6/11/2019


SUMMARY:  Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton redoubled his support Tuesday for beginning impeachment proceedings into President Donald Trump, saying that was the right course of action despite the potential political ramifications.

In an interview with PBS NewsHour managing editor and anchor Judy Woodruff, Moulton said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s concerns about starting an impeachment inquiry were valid.  But Moulton said he believes the situation rises above making political calculations.

“Maybe the politics make this tricky and I understand that.  I accept that might be the case,” he said.  “But how about just doing the right thing on principle on the oath that we swore, not to protect our political party but to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States?

Moulton is one of several 2020 Democrats who have called for an impeachment investigation.  House Democrats are divided on the issue, and are continuing to investigate the president while weighing next steps.

Asked how Democrats should respond to Trump’s name-calling — on Tuesday, the President called former Vice President Joe Biden a “dummy” — Moulton said it’s more important to focus on how Trump has “failed as commander in chief” and to “talk about how we are going to lead.”


STONE BY STONE - The Washington National Cathedral

"The painstaking process of repairing a damaged cathedral" PBS NewsHour 6/10/2019


SUMMARY:  The Washington National Cathedral in Washington DC, sustained major damage during a rare 2011 earthquake.  Nearly eight years later, reconstruction is still underway at the country's second-largest church.  Jeffrey Brown visited the landmark to learn more about the long and painstaking repair effort, including how it has been funded and what steps have been taken to avoid future disaster.


"How the U.S. women’s soccer team offers a cultural story, not just an athletic one" PBS NewsHour 6/10/2019


SUMMARY:  The [FIFA] Women’s World Cup has kicked off in Paris, with the United States once again considered a leading contender.  But there's tough competition, and this year, the U.S. team is playing against the backdrop of its lawsuit for alleged gender discrimination and equal pay violations.  Lisa Desjardins talks to USA Today’s Christine Brennan about the athletic and cultural promise of this "veteran" team.

MOTHERS' MESSAGE - Breaking the Cycle of Violence

"How these grieving mothers seek to stop the cycle of violence" PBS NewsHour 6/10/2019


SUMMARY:  A group of mothers whose children were murdered are taking their tragic stories to inmates imprisoned for committing violent crimes.  The perspective shared by Mothers with a Message encourages prisoners, some of whom will never be released, to understand the painful consequences of violence -- and sometimes grants the grieving mothers new peace.  Maya Trabulsi of San Diego’s KPBS reports.



"Why the NRA is facing new scrutiny of its financial affairs" PBS NewsHour 6/10/2019

Because they're crooks.


SUMMARY:  The NRA, a powerful voice in the U.S. political battle over guns, is facing scrutiny of its financial affairs.  Amid reports of lavish personal spending by CEO Wayne LaPierre, a new investigation finds significant payments and favors granted to members of the NRA's board of directors.  John Yang talks to The Washington Post's Carol Leonnig about potential legal implications and member fallout.

BORDER BATTLE - U.S.-Mexico Deal vs Immigration

"Will U.S.-Mexico deal reduce immigration?  A report from 2 borders" PBS NewsHour 6/10/2019


SUMMARY:  President Trump announced Friday that he had struck a deal with Mexico both to stem the flow of immigrants from Mexico into the U.S. and to avoid levying tariffs on Mexican imports.  Nick Schifrin talks to the NewsHour’s Amna Nawaz, reporting from El Paso, and James Frederick, a journalist based in Mexico City, about the details of the agreement and the outlook for meaningful change.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

CYBERATTACK - U.S. Customs and Border Protection

NOTE:  This article was copied from the e-newspaper, therefore no article link.

"Photos of travelers taken in data breach" San Diego Union-Tribune 6/11/2019

U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said Monday that photos of travelers had been compromised as part of a “malicious cyberattack,” raising concerns over how federal officials’ expanding surveillance efforts could imperil Americans’ privacy.

Customs officials said in a statement Monday that the images, which included photos of people’s faces and license plates, had been compromised as part of an attack on a federal subcontractor.

The CBP makes extensive use of cameras and video recordings at airports and land border crossings, where images of vehicles are captured.  Those images are used as part of a growing agency facial-recognition program designed to track the identity of people entering and exiting the U.S.

The CBP says airport operations were not affected by the breach, but it declined to say how many people might have had their images stolen.  The agency processes more than a million passengers and pedestrians crossing the U.S. border on an average day, including more than 690,000 incoming land travelers.

A CBP statement said that the agency learned of the breach on May 31 and that none of the image data had been identified “on the Dark Web or Internet.”  But reporters at The Register, a British technology news site, reported late last month that a large haul of breached data from the firm Perceptics was being offered as a free download on the dark web.


Monday, June 10, 2019

MUSIC - Supernatural Now Tour, Santana

COMMENT:  Santana is one of my favorite artists, and is so unique that there is a music genera named after him (rock-Latin fusion, aka Santana sound).  My favorite album video at bottom.

"Santana’s rhythmic tradition continues with new album, tour" PBS NewsHour 6/9/2019


SUMMARY:  Twenty years ago, Carlos Santana released one of the biggest hit albums in history:  the Grammy-winning "Supernatural."  But 2019 also marks the 50th anniversary of his famed Woodstock performance.  On top of that, he has a new album, "Africa Speaks."  In Part 1 of a special two-part series, NewsHour Weekend's Tom Casciato sits down with the legendary guitarist to discuss his latest musical direction.

Santana Abraxas (Full Album)

RACETRACKS - Why Are Horses Dying

"Why horses are dying at U.S. racetracks at an alarming rate" PBS NewsHour 6/8/2019


SUMMARY:  The Belmont Stakes marked the end of the Triple Crown on Saturday, but the focus of horse racing this year is centered on a tragic statistic: an average of 10 horses a week died at American racetracks in 2018, a fatality rate that is two-and-a-half to five times greater than in the rest of the horse racing world.  New York Times reporter Joe Drape joins Hari Sreenivasan to discuss.

THINK BIG - SpaceX to Launch 12,000 Satellites?!

"SpaceX plans launch of 12,000 satellites into Earth’s orbit" PBS NewsHour 6/8/2019


SUMMARY:  Elon Musk's company, SpaceX, recently launched 60 internet satellites into Earth's orbit, with a plan to release 12,000 more satellites in the coming years.  The venture, called Starlink, promises to increase internet access around the globe.  But scientists are worried about what kind of orbital debris may be left behind.  Loren Grush, a reporter with The Verge, joins Megan Thompson to discuss.

OPINION - Shields and Wehner 6/7/2019

"Shields and Wehner on Trump’s tariff threat, Biden’s abortion rule reversal" PBS NewsHour 6/7/2019


SUMMARY:  Syndicated columnist Mark Shields and Peter Wehner of The New York Times join Judy Woodruff to discuss the week’s news, including President Donald Trump's threat to impose tariffs on Mexican goods, former Vice President Joe Biden's policy reversal on an abortion rule, plus remembering D-Day 75 years later.

Judy Woodruff (NewsHour):  President Trump's ongoing threat to impose tariffs on Mexican goods, Joe Biden's policy reversal, and remembering D-Day 75 years later.

It's been a busy week in politics,.  and we have Shields and Wehner here to analyze it all.  That's syndicated columnist Mark Shields and contributing opinion writer for The New York Times Peter Wehner.

And hello to both of you…

Mark Shields, syndicated columnist:  Judy.

Peter Wehner, New York Times:  Thank you.

Judy Woodruff:  … on this Friday.

Let's start by talking about, Mark, what we led with tonight, which is — we started talking about the jobs report today, but connecting it to this threat of tariffs on Mexico that the President has been talking about foe days.

Now, the latest word we're hearing is maybe it won't happen, but it's thrown a lot of people off-balance, Congress, Mexico, a lot of companies.  How do you assess the President's handling of this?

Mark Shields:  Judy, it's the President.  It's the way the President does it.  It's very personal.  It's high-risk.

It's not traditional.  We're talking our two biggest trading partners, Mexico and China.  And, right now, I think what we're facing is probably best put by Angus King [D-Me], the senator from Maine, who pointed out that 84 percent of the lobster business in Maine has already been lost because of the policy to Canada, and the unlikelihood of that getting back.

And for the first time, I have seen a little bit of resistance, a little bit of vertebrae on the part of farm state Republicans.  I think that — but I predict right now, with absolutely no knowledge, that the President will declare victory, and there will be something.

But I can't believe it's going to do anything but leave relations with Mexico, which had been improving over the past 30 years, in just terrible and worse shape.

Judy Woodruff:  How do you size up with the President's been saying and how he's handled this?

Peter Wehner:  I think Mark is right.  There's a lot of volatility in this.

Trump has a tropism for tariffs, if I can use that alliteration.  It's one of the few issues that he's had deep convictions for his entire life.  It's hard to tell if he thinks it's a means or an end.

If it's an end, we're in real trouble, because tariffs are taxes.  It would hurt the economy.  And it would create a lot of uncertainty in the market.

And the other thing — last thing that Mark said, which I think is extremely important, in some ways the most important part of this story, which is the damage that it's doing to the relations with Mexico.  That has been a tremendous achievement, bipartisan achievement, over the last several decades.

Mark Shields:  Yes.

Judy Woodruff:  Mexico is an ally.

Peter Wehner:  It is an ally.

But the relations are getting distant and icy.  And, in fact, if you study what's going on in Mexico, you see this stoking, that Trump is stoking anti-American resentment.

And if that relationship goes south, so to speak, that is going to have a lot of ramifications that are harmful, economic, security and otherwise.

Judy Woodruff:  But, Mark, you're saying — when you say you think the President may back off and accept whatever Mexico offers, is it — how much of that has to do with the politics of this, that he is running into headwinds from members of his own arty?

Mark Shields:  No, I think there are, and I think in the farm state — and they are states that he has to carry, quite frankly, in November 2020.

But I think he has shown that ability or the agility, I should say, to declare victory.

Judy Woodruff:  And, I mean, do you agree with Mark, that what we may see is the President's had everybody on the edge of their seats, but now we will see?

Peter Wehner:  I suspect that is — I suspect that's right, that it's such a question mark.

I mean, one of the, I guess, motifs of the Trump presidency is, he will be reckless, or wants to be reckless, and his aides try and stop him.  And sometimes they do, and sometimes they don't.

But I do agree with Mark that, whatever happens, Trump will declare victory.  It doesn't have to be rooted in reality.  It's just rooted somewhere in his own — in his own weird mind.

Judy Woodruff:  Well, we will…