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'The Impeachment Hearings Are Coming': Conservative Pundit Predicts Trump's Corruption Will Soon Catch Up to Him

September 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Matthew Chapman, AlterNet

Rick Wilson predicts dark times ahead for Trump.


President Donald Trump has run a campaign and an administration rife with scandals that would decimate any other administration, from his inner circle's ties to Russia, to his alleged flouting of the Emoluments Clause, to his cabinet's systemic use of taxpayer money for personal enrichment.

But the days of Trump simply blundering ahead with no regard for the consequences could be over very soon, according to Republican strategist Rick Wilson.

“This administration is going to go down as one of the most corrupt presidential administrations ever,” said Wilson on MSNBC's “Deadline: White House” on Wednesday. “It's not just the impeachment hearings are coming. It's not just that the other scandals and corruptions inside this administration are going to be put under the hot lights, and that's going to be the narrative all through '19 and all through the first part of 2020, is that this is a profoundly venal and corrupt man and everyone down the chain from him has their own venal corruption about them. It's also going to be they can't run the blocking and tackling against the attacks on the Justice Department, that Mark Meadows and Devin Nunes and these guys have been doing for months.”

According to Nate Silver, Democrats currently have a 70 to 80 percent chance of winning control of the House this November. If this happens, the firewall in Congress that has shielded Trump from scrutiny will break, and the investigative committees — which up until this point, at the direction of Trump's GOP allies, have largely been investigating the people investigating Trump — will instead turn their guns in full force on the president.

There is no sign that Trump is prepared for anything like this. And it could be his final undoing.

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Analysts Debunk the White House's Myth of the Booming 'Trump Economy'

September 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

Trump thinks he's created a booming economy all on his own.


President Donald Trump frequently lies when he boasts about the performance of the economy under his presidency, just as he lied when claimed the positive economic data under President Barack Obama was “phony.”

But on Monday, Chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers Kevin Hassett offered a much more thorough and systematic approach to defending the claim that the Trump administration has led to a booming economy. (Hassett also acknowledged that Trump's recent boast about the economy on Twitter was off by an order of magnitude.)

However, as multiple responses to Hassett's claims have revealed, even this more sophisticated argument fails to make the case for a Trump-induced boom.

Writing for the Washington Post, Matt O'Brien explained:

During President Barack Obama’s last 19 months in office, the economy added an average of 208,000 jobs a month; during President Trump’s first 19 months in office, it’s added an average of 189,000 jobs a month.

During Obama’s last 19 months, the share of 25- to-54-year olds who have a job rose 1.1 percentage points; during Trump’s first 19 months, it rose 0.9 percentage points.

During Obama’s last 19 months, wage growth went up 0.3 percentage points; during Trump’s first 19 months, wage growth went up 0.2 percentage points.

These are the facts that the Trump administration seems to think it can transform into evidence that it’s made the recovery better than it was before.

He explained that, despite Hassett's efforts to squint at the data and see a major impact after the 2016 elections, the trends tell basically one story: the economy under Trump has essentially been a continuation of the economy under Obama.

Some of the changes the White House attributes to Trump, he continued, are more plausibly attributable to other factors.

“The Trump administration likes to think that investment has gone up because of the magic of the Republicans' big corporate tax cuts. But the reality is a lot more mundane: It’s oil,” he wrote. “Drilling, you see, makes up a big part of business investment, so it should be no surprise that it …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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The New iPhone Is Huge. Remember When It Fit in Your Hand?

September 12, 2018 in History

By Dave Roos

Steve Jobs originally envisioned the iPhone as a small device that was mostly…a phone.


Steve Jobs unveiling the iPhone in 2007, which was less than half-inch thick, had Internet capability, an MP3 player and a two megapixel digital camera.

Apple released three new iPhones at its launch event on September 12, each one bigger than the last. With a 6.5-inch (diagonal) screen, the iPhone XS Max is the company’s largest smartphone ever. It features a screen size that’s nearly twice as big as the original 2007 model. One thing the rise of the super-sized iPhone shows is that even the inimitable . “It looked like an iPod, but it had a phone, and you would select numbers through the same interface and so on. But if you wanted to dial a number it was like using a rotary dial. It sucked.”


The iPod cell phone, made by Motorola, in 2005. The iTunes-enabled cell phone held up to 100 songs.

Jobs scrapped the design and started from scratch. At the time, there was a team of Apple engineers who had been playing with a device called the Fingerworks iGesture Pad invented by a man with hand injuries who couldn’t use a conventional mouse. Members of the team had worked on the Newton, Apple’s infamous flop of a PDA, but still believed touchscreens held promise.

“It was more of a ‘blue sky, future of computing’ kind of thing,” says Merchant. “The touchscreen research had gone through several iterations. It was briefly tied to a tablet, put aside, and had just kind of sat in the dark. Then Steve Jobs showed up and said, maybe this is the phone. Out of that mutation was how the iPhone was born inside Apple.”

With the touchscreen technology in place, Merchant says that many of the designers and engineers on the iPhone development team absolutely saw it as an opportunity to build an entirely new kind of mobile computer, exactly what the iPhone would become for its millions of loyal users.

“Steve Jobs didn’t,” says Merchant. “He thought it was cool, but the evidence suggests that Steve Jobs wanted to use Apple’s technology to build the best phone possible. And a phone fits in your hand.”

Subsequent generations of the iPhone stuck to the small design, incrementally increasing screen size, but nothing beyond 4 inches. Samsung was the first to release a truly huge phone in 2011. …read more

Source: HISTORY

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'Good God!' MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace Reacts in Disgust to Trump's Repugnant Claims About Puerto Rico

September 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Cody Fenwick, AlterNet

He went on the attack against the San Juan mayor again.


MSNBC's Nicolle Wallace reacted in disgust Wednesday afternoon on her show “Deadline: White House” while reading President Donald Trumps morning tweets that reignited his sparring with Carman Yulin Cruz, the mayor of San Juan.

“As the storm bears down on the East Coast, the president managed to fire off a tweet about collusion with Russia this morning, saying there wasn't any,” she said. “He also found time to re-up his feud with the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, over the response to the deadly hurricane that hit Puerto Rico one year ago.”

She continued: “The president's tweet: 'We got A Pluses for our recent hurricane work' — good God! — 'in  Texas and Florida (and did an unappreciated great job in Puerto Rico, even though an inaccessible island with very poor electricity and a totally incompetent mayor of San Juan). We are ready for the big one that is coming!'”

Wallace noted that Cruz had fired back, saying, “This isn't about him and about his ego. This is about the inability of his administration that he directs to ensure that the appropriate help got to Puerto Rico in time.”

“I don't remember talking about my grades since I was in grade school,” Wallace told her guests. “The president tweeting this morning about A-pluses. Really, even the most — even the most generous read can put the president at the center of his words, his public statements, his utterances about this potentially deadly storm bearing down on the Carolinas. It's bizarre!”

Watch the clip below:

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Source: ALTERNET

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Hurricane Hell: Here Are 5 of the Most Recent Devastating Storms Linked to Climate Change

September 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Alex Henderson, AlterNet

The new normal is frightening.


Only two weeks after the government of Puerto Rico raised the official death toll from Hurricane Maria from 64 to 2,975—making it the deadliest hurricane to occur last year—North and South Carolina residents are evacuating coastal areas in preparation for Hurricane Florence, which is expected to deliver winds of 130 miles per hour and be the worst hurricane to hit the Carolinas since the 1980s. Hurricanes have been pounding the southeastern U.S. for centuries, but in the era of climate change, they are becoming more frequent and more devastating.

Meteorologists are seeing an increase in the what is known as “rapid intensification,” meaning that a storm’s maximum sustained winds increase by at least 35 mph within a 24-hour period. According to data from the National Hurricane Center, there were, on average, ten cases of rapid intensification per year between 1982 and 1994—whereas between 2005 and 2017, 20 cases per year was the average. In 2017, the National Hurricane Center reported 40 cases of rapid intensification.

Meteorologists have five separate categories for hurricanes, with Category 1 being the least severe and Category 5 being the most severe. Florence appears to be reaching the Carolinas as a Category 4, but it could intensify to Category 5. And when rapid intensification—a phenomenon encouraged by climate change—occurs and a hurricane goes from Category 1 to Category 4 or 5 in less than 24 hours, there is little time to prepare.  

Here are five of the most devastating hurricanes that occurred in recent years.

1. Hurricane Katrina

In August 2015, Hurricane Katrina originated in the Bahamas before making its way to the U.S. A hurricane varies in intensity, and at its worst, Katrina became a Category 5 storm. The National Hurricane Center attributed a total of 1836 deaths to Katrina, with up to 1577 deaths in Louisiana—and the flooding was so severe in New Orleans that 80% of the city was under water.

Veteran reporter Mark Schleifstein, who covered Katrina for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, witnessed Katrina first hand and has some grim advice for residents of the Carolinas …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Here's Even More Evidence Brett Kavanaugh Committed Perjury

September 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Julia Conley, Common Dreams

“This is a theme that we see emerge with Judge Kavanaugh time and time again—he says one thing under oath, and then the documents tell a different story.”


By releasing new documents (pdf) previously marked “committee confidential” late on Tuesday, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) doubled down on accusations that U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh committed perjury in his 2006 confirmation hearing for his seat on a federal appeals court.

We continue to find more evidence that Judge Kavanaugh misled me and the Judiciary Committee under oath. I’m posting important documents that Senate Republicans didn’t want the American people to see. We deserve transparency about this nominee.

— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) September 11, 2018

In defiance of Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Durbin shared with the public two pages of emails showing that Kavanaugh was involved in discussions regarding the nomination of William Haynes for a judicial seat in 2002.

Four years later, Durbin said, Kavanaugh misled the Judiciary Committee about his involvement while under oath.

“It is clear now that not only did Judge Kavanaugh mislead me when it came to his involvement in the Bush administration's detention and interrogation policies, but also regarding his role in the controversial Haynes nomination,” Durbin said.

In an email dated November 15, 2002, Kavanaugh asked other White House officials whether Haynes, who helped form the Bush administration's torture policy while working as general counsel for the Pentagon, would be a sufficiently conservative judge.

In his confirmation hearing in 2006, Kavanaugh told senators that Haynes' nomination “was not one of the nominations that I handled” while working in the Bush White House.

“This is a theme that we see emerge with Judge Kavanaugh time and time again—he says one thing under oath, and then the documents tell a different story,” said Durbin. “It is no wonder the White House and Senate Republicans are rushing through this nomination and hiding much of Judge Kavanaugh's record—the questions about this nominee's credibility are growing every day.”

Last week, Kavanaugh told the Judiciary Committee that he had not been involved in the nomination of another judge with far right-wing views, claiming in an …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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A Category 4 Hurricane Slammed the Carolinas in 1954—and Left a Surprising Legacy

September 12, 2018 in History

By Becky Little

Fortunately most vacationers had left by the time Hurricane Hazel struck, but multiple buildings near Myrtle Beach were destroyed or damaged.


The aftermath of Hurricane Hazel in North Carolina, 1954.

A .


The damage done at Myrtle Beach by Hurricane Hazel.

Most of the Myrtle Beach buildings Hazel destroyed were small beach shacks, motels and family businesses. After the destruction, many families who owned property in Myrtle Beach sold it to real estate developers who then built bigger motels, hotels and condos over the next several decades, according to South Carolina’s The Post and Courier. That shift led to a surge in development that now accommodates Myrtle Beach as a popular tourist destination.

Today, there are thousands more people living in the Carolinas’ coastal areas and, in fact, many more people now live in coastal areas, period, which is why the price of hurricane disasters has skyrocketed over time.

“Just about any major hurricane you can think of in the last 20 years, they’re multi-billion dollar disasters,” Barnes says. “These are storms that are really becoming expensive because of the areas they’ve impacted, and the number of people and the amount of property that’s there to be damaged.”

One of the most positive developments since Hazel is that the National Hurricane Center is able to predict storms well in advance so that people can be notified and evacuate in time (the deadliest recorded hurricane in U.S. history killed 6,000 to 12,000 people because of inaccurate predictions). This doesn’t mean government officials always respond efficiently to this information—Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Maria come to mind—but when the information is used effectively, it has the power to save lives.

As climate change increases the severity of hurricanes, experts point out that effective response becomes all the more critical.

“We’re going to continue to get the worst storms, and it’s recurring in that the same areas are going to be hit over and over through the decades over time,” says Barnes. “So in the 1950s Hazel was a benchmark—will Florence become the new benchmark for North Carolina hurricanes? It’s possible.”

…read more

Source: HISTORY

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Earliest Known Drawing Found: Is It the First Hashtag?

September 12, 2018 in History

By Martin Stezano

The oldest known drawing made by Homo sapiens has been discovered in South Africa’s Blombos Cave.


It turns out the hashtag was trending way before Twitter—a new discovery in a South African cave shows human’s earliest known drawing was a depiction of the now pervasive symbol, or at least very close to it.

The extremely rare ancient etching of a red, cross-hatched pattern is estimated to be between 70,000 and 100,00 years old and predates all other previously identified drawings by roughly 30,000 years, cementing the belief that early Homo sapiens shared similar behaviors to humans today.

The drawing was discovered by Christopher Henshilwood, a professor of archaeology at Norway’s University of Bergen, and his colleagues during their expedition in Blombos Cave—a site on the southern coast of South Africa known for its rich history as a reserve for early modern human cultural activity.


Professor Chris Henshilwood and his team working behind the scenes in the cave where the drawing was found.

The “hashtag”—actually a six-by-three cross-hatched pattern believed to have been drawn in red ochre—was found on a flake of silcrete—a hardened layer of soil and sediment good for making tools (and art). The find provides further evidence that modern human behavior isn’t as modern as was once believed.

“The drawing adds another dimension to our previous findings from Blombos.” Henshilwood tells HISTORY.com, “These signs were most likely symbolic, which helps round out the argument that these Homo sapiens were behaviorally modern. They behaved essentially like us before 70 ka (Kiloanni, or one thousand years) [ago], and before they left Africa for Eurasia.”

The fact that the drawing survived at all is a bit of a miracle. While engravings similar to this one have been previously catalogued by archaeologists, hand-drawn graphics such as the one found in the Blombos Cave are typically too delicate to endure long enough to be discovered.

“There’s no reason for thinking that drawing a cross-hatched pattern required a level of cognitive sophistication more complex than that needed to engrave the same pattern on a piece of ochre,” Francesco d’Errico, one of Henshilwood’s co-authors and a Principal Investigator and Professor II at the University of Bergen’s SFF Center for Early Sapiens Behavior (SapienCE), says. “However, drawings have much lower probabilities of surviving in the archaeological record, as they are so fragile and elusive. It’s what makes [this drawing] a very special find.”

The Blombos …read more

Source: HISTORY

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China Risks Losing Her Western Friends

September 12, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

China’s extraordinary transformation over the last four decades has
been among the most dramatic events in history.

One aspect of the PRC’s rise was to create personal and
institutional relationships around the globe. Multiple ties bind
Chinese to people in nations, such as America, which only a few
decades ago considered Beijing to be a reckless, dangerous
enemy.

However, relations between China and much of the West appears to
be moving in reverse. The PRC risks losing its best friends in
other nations. Which could result in more contentious and
destabilizing future relations.

Obviously, Beijing is empowered to make its own decisions, based
on what it believes to be its people’s best interests. And there is
no reason to assume such judgments will match the preferences of
Washington or elsewhere. However, when the PRC’s policies inflame
foreign sentiment, they risk creating costly blowback.

Consider trade. President Donald Trump can be criticized both
for his focus on trade deficits — which are a largely
irrelevant accounting measure — and confrontational
approach.

It would be a tragedy if
China retreated from the freer, more open society which it appeared
ready to become.

Nevertheless, the PRC has taken advantage of the
West’s more liberal economies to benefit Chinese firms and, most
important, the Chinese state. Chinese laws and rules have been
applied in ways that hinder American and other foreign enterprises.
American and European technology has been acquired through means both fair and
foul
.

As a result, many U.S. firms, once strong advocates of the bilateral economic
relationship
, have turned hostile. Some welcome the
administration’s economic truculence.

The result is to put at risk vast financial, product, and
service flows which have been mutually beneficial. The danger goes
beyond economics, however.

A Relationship At Risk
For years, commercial ties have undergirded
the American-Chinese relationship. If that foundation deteriorates,
other disagreements will loom even larger, putting the entire
relationship at risk.

Beijing’s crackdown on academic and other exchanges also
concerns the West. Until recently Americans could work with Chinese
to explore issues of common interest.

The willingness of Chinese scholars, thinkers, and activists to
engage those from around the world was an important sign that the
PRC saw itself as a member of a shared international community and
system. While Chinese authorities might dislike some of the
influences coming from the West, Chinese participants in turn acted
as informal ambassadors for their country.

Hindering such exchanges suggests fear, the belief that Beijing
cannot withstand free contact among peoples. Indeed, today’s policy
appears to be an indirect attack on Westerners who once visited and
interacted freely with Chinese citizens.

Disagreements …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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On North Korea, Don't Let the Perfect Be the Enemy of the Good

September 12, 2018 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

South Koreans who recently met with North Korea’s Supreme Leader
Kim Jong-un report that he is determined to achieve
denuclearization by 2021, the end of President Donald Trump’s first
term. Kim also penned a letter to President Trump, which was
delivered to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Presumably, it
reaffirms Kim’s commitment to bilateral talks over
denuclearization, which appear stalled.

No doubt, the Supreme Leader can’t wait to abandon weapons
developed at such high cost under all three ruling Kims. Now
basking in President Trump’s aura, Kim presumably desires to disarm
for nothing in return, other than Washington’s good wishes. He
probably has picked a spot on his mantle for his Nobel Peace Prize,
an award he hopes to share with his American counterpart.

Or maybe not.

Despite the uncertainty surrounding prospects for improved
U.S.-North Korean ties, Kim appears to be playing the continuing
Great Game with extraordinary shrewdness. If meaningful progress
toward denuclearization is possible—and Korea
“bears” vastly outnumber “bulls”—the
Trump administration will have to better assess the North’s
objectives and strategy.

The United States should
not allow the perfect to become the enemy of the good.

What does Pyongyang want? The Democratic People’s Republic
of Korea is a monarchy based on a secular version of the divine
right of kings. In visiting the DPRK one immediately notices the
complete absence of any communist imagery. No pictures of Marx or
Lenin. No references to any famous revolutionary sites in China or
Russia. Instead, the North Koreans add an artist’s brush to
symbolize the role of intellectuals, along with the workers. The
only pictures and paintings are ubiquitous renderings of
Kim’s father and grandfather, the Dear Leader and Great
Leader, respectively.

Kim’s highest objective, one can reasonably surmise, is
regime survival. And he has proved to be surprisingly adept at the
power game. He took over from his father at age 27, surrounded by
apparatchiks who had been waiting for their turn for years, even
decades. He speedily removed his supposed “mentors” and
executed those he perceived to be threats, including his uncle. No
doubt he is equally attuned to foreign dangers, likely from China
as well as America. But Washington, with a history of coercive
regime change, ranks highest as an enemy.

Is he determined to conquer the Republic of Korea, as some
claim? It’s impossible to know, but what his grandfather attempted
doesn’t seem very relevant today, since it was an opportunistic
territorial grab in a unique set of geopolitical circumstances.
Aggression twice removed sixty-eight years ago doesn’t tell us much
about Kim Jong-un. Like his grandfather and father, he is ruthless
and brutal, but his behavior and policies, including a …read more

Source: OP-EDS