Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Michael Flynn’s lawyers float an idea: he’ll testify if House and Senate investigators give him immunity. At issue, Russia’s influence in the 2016 election and their contacts with the Trump campaign.
Comment: The Senate will take the lead here, in cooperation with the FBI. The committee on the House side is tied up in controversy over ties between its chairman, Devin Nunes (R-CA), and the Trump White House.
Calling the proposed rules a “done deal,” Gov. John Kasich said these actions, coupled with a crackdown on the law enforcement side, will eventually reverse Ohio’s distinction of ranking first in the nation in overdose deaths.
“We’re paying the price right now for a lot of the neglect that happened in the past,” he said.
In battling their patients’ acute pain, doctors and other health-care providers could prescribe no more than seven days’ worth of opioid dosages for adults and five days for minors. The potency could not exceed an average of 30 morphine equivalent doses per day.
Physicians could prescribe more than that only after they’ve justified it based on the patient’s medical records. Exceptions would be made for cancer, palliative care, end-of-life, and addiction treatment. –Toledo Blade
◆ Dumbest comment of the Day: EU top bureaucrat, Jean-Claude Juncker, says he will urge “Ohio and Austin, Texas” to secede from the US if Trump doesn’t stop praising BrexitStory here.
Comment: Looks like ole Jean-Claude’s been in the liquor cabinet again.
According to the letters [seen by the Post], the Justice Department notified Yates earlier this month that the administration considers her possible testimony — including on the ouster of former national security adviser Michael Flynn for his contacts with the Russian ambassador — to be off-limits in a congressional hearing because the topics are covered by attorney-client privilege or the presidential communication privilege. –Washington Post
Comment: It was Yates who supposedly warned the Trump White House that Flynn’s name had been unmasked. She was a holdover from Loretta Lynch’s department and, naturally, the Trump people don’t trust her. The fact that they let her serve as acting AG indicates how inexperienced they were and the price they paid because Senate Democrats slow-walked the Trump nominees, including Jeff Sessions at DOJ.
Trump has consistently pledged to restore mining jobs, but many of those jobs were lost to technology rather than regulation and to competition from natural gas and renewables, which makes it unlikely that he can do much to significantly grow the number of jobs in the industry, said Murray.
“I suggested that he temper his expectations. Those are my exact words,” said Murray. “He can’t bring them back.” –Mining.com
Starting today, all users will soon have access to the new Facebook Camera feature that lets them overlay special effects on photos and videos. They can then share this content to a Snapchat clone called Facebook Stories that appears above News Feed on mobile and works similarly to Instagram’s 24-hour ephemeral slideshows. Users also may share these posts to News Feed, individual friends through the new Facebook Direct private visual messages that disappear once digested or any combination thereof. –TechCrunch
Hand-picked and farm-fresh– ⇒Linked articles in bold purple
◆Brexit bill nears final Parliamentary passage(BBC) The Lords made changes to the Commons’ bill, but those are expected to be reversed when Commons reconsiders. When the EU Withdrawal Bill finally passes with an agreed text, expected this week, Britain is expected to quickly trigger “Article 50,” starting the formal Brexit process.
◆ Democrats’ answer to replacing Obamacare. No, No, and Hell No.
⇒ They have opted for the Groucho Marx Strategy: “Whatever It Is, I’m Against It”
Quartz adds that the leaks show how powerful new encryption methods are.
While Snowden revealed that telcos handed over data about their customers to the NSA in bulk, there is no sign in the Vault 7 documents that the CIA can hack into encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp or Signal and use that to carry out mass surveillance. To see what’s on your phone, the agency must get access to the phone itself. –Quartz
Comment from Michael Lipson: Maybe the most revolutionary thing was that the CIA needed to have physical contact with a lot of the target devices. I would have suspected that they’d master alternative delivery methods. (Michael Lipson is Director of Technology for the web-based company, Swappa.)
Fortunately, state legislatures, alumni and philanthropists are planting little academic platoons that will make campuses less intellectually monochromatic. One such, just launched, is Arizona State University’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership. . . .
Some academics who relish progressivism’s hegemony on campuses, and who equate critical thinking with disparagement, will regret and resist things like ASU’s new school. . . .
Here and around the country this purpose is being advanced by entities such as ASU’s new school, teaching the history of ideas and statesmanship. This growing archipelago of excellence will leaven academia with the diversity that matters most. –George Will
You can credit — or blame — progressives for this enthusiastic embrace of censorship. It reflects, in part, the influence of three popular movements dating back decades:
the feminist anti-porn crusades,
the pop-psychology recovery movement and
the emergence of multiculturalism on college campuses. –Wendy Kaminer
Comment: All correct. I would add one more: Embracing the Creed of Victimization, which comes with the pernicious idea that designated victims groups can declare their injuries based on whatever they subjectively feel and these issues are beyond serious debate. To debate them is to “blame the victim.”
Question: If you were to design policies to help with deaths of despair, what would you do?
Deaton: I’d tackle opioids for a start. I mean, that’s the easy bit. I don’t think think a lot of those deaths would have taken place anyway. People who die of opioid overdoses are not trying to kill themselves. It really is this business where if you relapse, you die. And that’s not true for alcohol or other things. –Angus Deaton
Two sources close to the situation confirm Harward demanded his own team, and the White House resisted.
Specifically, Mr. Trump told Deputy National Security Adviser K. T. McFarland that she could retain her post, even after the ouster of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Harward refused to keep McFarland as his deputy, and after a day of negotiations over this and other staffing matters, Harward declined to serve as Flynn’s replacement. –Major Garrett reporting for CBS
Robust consumer spending, an uptick in factory production and firming inflation are pointing to a healthy start in 2017 for the U.S. economy and another interest-rate increase by the Federal Reserve, potentially as soon as next month. –Wall Street Journal
The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea.
Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine. –Amb. Nikki Haley
Comment: There is zero chance that the Putin regime will pull out of Crimea and slim-to-none that any successor regime would.
Here’s my interpretation: The sanctions stay until Putin gives up something significant to Trump. My assumption here is that Trump is transactional and ready to bargain, but he will never give up anything without full compensation. Same for Tillerson. Big difference from Obama and Kerry.
Russia faces bleak economic prospects for the next few years. It may be a case of managed decline in which the government appeases social and political demands by tapping the big reserves it accumulated during the boom years with oil and gas exports. But there is also a smaller possibility of a more serious economic breakdown or collapse. –Andrey Movchan at Carnegie’s Moscow Center
Britain’s strategic ambition to act as a bridge between Europe and the United States long predates Brexit, but it has now become a central component of the government’s hopes of keeping and building influence in the world.
But pressing for higher defence spending looks like a tough ask.
And her hopes of becoming a bridge – or honest broker – between the EU and the US won’t be easily fulfilled either. –BBC
Comment: This bridge needs building, but it cannot be built from the middle pier. It must have a strong anchor in Washington and buy-in, literally, from European nations that have been paying too little.
Comment: Lots of my friends, who know a great deal about foreign affairs, are deeply concern about the resulting loss of experience. I am not.
Although I have many concerns about Trump’s foreign policy, reorganizing the State Department is not among them. First, these were political appointees, even though they had begun as foreign service officers. A new administration has every right to bring in its own people in top positions. Second, I have real concerns about several of these fired employees, some of whom were enmeshed in Hillary’s email scandals and other policy fiascos. Third, if there is one thing Rex Tillerson, the next Sec. of State knows, it is how to build and control a bureaucracy.
Bottom line: I am concerned about US policies and several of Trump’s major initiatives, but cleaning house in Foggy Bottom is good news, not bad.
Comment: Theresa May has proved herself very adroit so far and willing to listen to voters. She opposed Brexit, but, after it was approved by the voters and she entered office (replacing David Cameron), she has moved strongly to implement it. In short, she listens to voters. Second, as Britain leaves the European Union, it needs to renegotiate all its trade treaties (since they are now done through the EU). A strong trade relationship with the US is crucial.
Comment: Today’s tomatoes have been bred for long shelf-life and long-distance transportation. They taste nothing like summertime tomatoes from the backyard. Any tech that can improve this unhappy result will be most welcome.
◆ Comment: The US-Mexico relationship is in deep trouble over two big issues, trade and immigration, and is likely to worsen as the rhetoric ramps up.
The US has tremendous negotiating leverage because Mexico depends on the US market for its goods. But pushing that advantage will surely bring anti-American politicians to the fore in Mexico, pushing left-wing populism. And it may become politically difficult for Mexico’s centrist leaders to push compromise solution.
In the US, the risk for Republicans is continued alienation of Hispanic voters, a growing segment of the population. Although they generally vote Democratic, some state parties, like Texas Republicans, have won significant Hispanic support and will be very edgy about a deteriorating relationship.
Comment:Laura Jarrett is undoubtedly a very competent young reporter. She seems to have good connections, too. Pres. Obama attended her wedding to a fellow Harvard Law student.
But asking her to cover a Department of Justice committed to reversing many of the policies associated with her mother and Pres. Obama, her life-long family friend, is a CNN news decision of breathtaking stupidity.
Two Comments: (1) What a president he would have made. (2) Bernie’s smack-down of American citizens, his sniveling contempt, captures something that millions of ordinary voters know about Washington. It’s long-time denizens, particularly self-styled progressives, have contempt for them and their country. They no longer even bother to conceal it. It is worse than an unwise political strategy. It is noxious.
◆ Just hearing Trump’s name “triggers trauma,” says squeamish California church So they won’t say it in prayers for the president, as they have for Pres. Obama (and presumably his predecessors). The story is here, in the Washington Times.
Leaders of a California church have come to the decision to stop praying for the president of the United States by name, because they say “Donald Trump” is a “trauma trigger” for some parishioners. . . .
The rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena sent all his congregants a letter saying
Whereas before we prayed for ‘Barack, our president,’ we are now praying for ‘our president, our president-elect, and all others in authority.’ This practice will continue for at least the near future. –Washington Times
Comment: Of course, they can pray for whoever they wish, or not pray at all. It’s a free country. But state your reasons honestly and show some respect for people who have suffered real trauma.
(1)Calling the words “Donald Trump” a “trigger for trauma” is an insult to the millions of men and women who suffer from PTSD because of rape, shootings, war, and other horrific events.
(2)This is really a political stance–which they have every right to take–but they are not taking it honestly. They are hiding the reason for their change as a concern for parishioners’ health. It’s not. This is simply a political stance, or perhaps a marketing calculation that praying for Pres. Trump will drive away the customers. Again, they have every right to do whatever they want. But show a little backbone and state your real reasons.
◆ Brexit: Which courts will rule Britain? Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May has said that European courts will no longer rule within her country after Brexit. She was just contradicted by the new head of the European Union, a rotating position that will be held by Malta’s PM. He said that if Britain wants a transition period in pulling out of the EU, it will need to accept rulings from the European Court of Justice. The (London) Times has the story. (Times, via the Australian)
◆ European Union opposes moving US embassy to JerusalemThe AP story is here. (via Business Insider) The stance is a standard one for European diplomats.
“It is very important for us all to refrain from unilateral actions, especially those that can have serious consequences in large sectors of public opinion in large parts of the world,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters after chairing their talks in Brussels. –AP
♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions: ◆ Joe Morris for story on European courts and Britain
Hand-picked and farm-fresh– ⇒Linked articles in bold purple
◆ Comment on the debate: Trump won, both in the ordinary sense and in the sense that he put a tourniquet on the bleeding. Still, he cannot undo the damage of the tapes. That’s red wine spilled on a white carpet. He’ll never get it all out, and for good reason. People think it reveals his real character and temperament. Trump probably did not make much headway in winning back the female vote during the debate. What he did well was emphasize the need for change, stress that Hillary is (in his opinion) all talk and no action, and highlighted her defects on foreign policy and decision-making more generally. Hillary did an equally good job emphasizing Trump’s defects of temperament. As for demeanor: I thought Hillary didn’t look as comfortable as she did in the first debate. Her smiles seemed forced and formulaic, even contemptuous. That shouldn’t matter but it does because it underscores the inauthenticity voters see in Clinton.
The moderators? Anderson Cooper was fair. Martha Raddatz was not. She’s normally a pro, but she entered the debate at one point. That’s not her job, and it’s not fair. (Charles Lipson. This commentary is an analysis, not a surrogate’s argument for either candidate. That’s a different task.)
The deeper concern is that Russia, like other major powers, has a long playbook ready for potential future attacks. Security experts point to evidence that a well-funded Russian hacking group, known as Energetic Bear, has been probing the networks of power grid operators and energy and oil companies in the United States, Europe and Canada. That could be exploration — or it could be preparation of the battle space in the event of a future conflict.
Mr. Obama seems likely to invoke some kind of financial sanctions under the new executive order, which allows the Treasury secretary to freeze the financial assets of individuals tied to hacking attacks or prevent them from conducting financial transactions. — David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth, reporting in the New York Times
◆ The Rise of “Soft” Holocaust Denial, where Israel-haters do not deny the genocide outright but downplay its significance. (The Tower) The locus: US universities and all of Europe. The culprits: Palestinian activists and Social Justice Warriors, who form an awkward coalition that can only exist as long as they have a common enemy.
The essential problem that Brexit poses for [PM May] is clear. On the one hand, she wants to keep the economic benefits of facing no barriers to trade in the world’s largest single market, the EU. But on the other, her 27 EU partners are not willing to agree to this unless she also accepts the single market’s obligations, including free movement of workers and a plethora of EU regulations. The dilemma has come to be known as “soft” or “hard” Brexit. Soft Brexit means giving priority to the single market at the price of accepting some limitations on control over borders and laws, as well as contributing to the EU budget. Hard Brexit puts the emphasis on taking back such controls even if that means walking away from the single market. –The Economist