• ZipDialog Roundup for Sunday, May 27

    Articles chosen with care. Comments welcomed. Linked articles in bold purple

     Trump’s back home and the Russian mess is still dogging him.

    He’s considering major changes at the White House to cope. Washington Post says the allegations “threaten to consume his Presidency”

    The White House plans to far more aggressively combat the cascading revelations about contacts between Trump associates — including Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser — and Russia.

    White House officials also are trying to find ways to revive Trump’s stalled policy agenda in Congress and to more broadly overhaul the way the White House communicates with the public.

    That includes proposals for more travel and campaign-style rallies nationwide so that Trump can speak directly to his supporters, as well as changes in the pace and nature of news briefings, probably including a diminished role for embattled White House press secretary Sean Spicer. –Washington Post

    Comment: These allegations are why the investigation by Special Council Robert Mueller are so important–and why it needs to move quickly. If there really was collusion with the Russians, the public and Congress need to know. Same if there was no collusion since the allegations themselves are making it hard to govern.

     The most important comment in US politics this week:

    Mitch McConnell’s “I don’t know how we get to 50,” votes to pass a health-care reform bill

    He did express some optimism on tax reform. (Reuters via Business Insider)

    Politico reports: “McConnell Steps Into ObamaCare Firing Line”

    Comment: This process is going to be very painful as the insurance markets narrow and premiums go up. Those who pay them are going to be mad as hell. Those who might be harmed by reforms are going to be just as mad.

    Politically, the question is whether voters will hold Democrats responsible for making the mess or Republicans for failing to fix it.

    My hunch: it is much easier to be the party out of power, casting the blame for failure. Since the Republicans hold both Houses and the Presidency, they won’t have much luck pointing the finger at Chuck Schumer or Nancy Pelosi.

     American Airlines passenger tried to bite flight attendant, then ran off the plane. Now in custody.  (Washington Post)

    Likely Sentence: To be dragged repeatedly up and down the aisle of a United flight while listening to an endless loop of instructions on how to buckle your seat belt.

    (Btw, is there anybody left who doesn’t grasp the vexing concept of buckling a seat belt? Still, I am delighted to hear the detailed explanation on every single flight. I’m sure the flight attendants love doing it, too. Also, except for Sully Sullenberger, is there any such thing as a “water landing”? Isn’t there another term for that?)

     Uber and Lyft beat the city of Austin, will return on their terms  (The Verge)

    Austin didn’t give in on the requirements that led the ride-sharing companies to pull out for a year. But the Texas legislature just passed a bill that says the state, not the city, is in charge of setting the requirements. The key state requirement is annual background checks on the drivers.

     Little Caesar’s delivered a pizza (allegedly) labeled “halal.” The recipient says it was pepperoni. So, naturally, he is suing . . . for $100 million  (USA Today)

    Comment: I can see the plaintiff’s point. Pepperoni is virtually impossible to detect on pizza.

    But is $100 million really enough?




  • Just your typical lawsuit

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    A transgender Bronx woman . . . claims she has been forced to turn tricks to finance the care of her dog, because the city barred the animal from her homeless shelter. –New York Post

    Actually, New York is just fine with having service dogs in shelters (1) if they are service dogs, and (2) if the city has a little time to find a shelter that can handle them. The city’s lawyer said there was no evidence the dog was a service dog.

    Still, the story has a happy ending:

    After inquiries by The Post, the city late Friday said it had approved Lopez’s pup through the normal process, clearing the way for the animal to stay with her in a shelter past Monday.

    After the hearing, [Mariah] Lopez took to Facebook Live to crow about her victory.

    “I won. I woooon,” she laughed into the camera. “Bitch, I always win!” –New York Post

    Comment: The dog is now suing the city over having to stay with Ms. Lopez.

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Tuesday, April 18

    Topics and articles chosen with care. Linked articles in bold purple

     The big news continues to be tension in Korea, where Vice President Pence is visiting and told the North Koreans not to mistake the president’s resolve

    Comment: This is a crisis of choice, in a sense. Trump, like Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama, could have kicked it down the road. All those presidents tried and failed to resolve the issue.

    Delay is not always a bad solution, but it’s not always a good one, either. You have to figure out whether time is on your side or your adversary’s.

    The problem here is that North Korea is making steady progress on two deadly fronts, and it is no longer willing to delay them for small bribes, like those paid by previous administrations.

    North Korea is getting better at building nuclear bombs. It is trying hard to make them smaller, so they can fit on a missile, and it is trying to build a hydrogen bomb. Second, it is making steady progress building medium-range missiles and is seeking to build an ICBM. The combination of small nukes and long-range missiles would put the US within range of nuclear attack by a hyper-dangerous regime whose leader does not appear to be calm, steady, and rational.

    The US has long said a North Korean nuclear threat to the US was unacceptable. Saying it, as several presidents have, is a far cry from making it an effective policy. That is what none have been able to do, and not for lack of trying. Trump seems to be doing something. We don’t know exactly what and we don’t know how effective he and his team will be. We do know it is risky to try; the Trump team has calculated that it is far more dangerous in the long run to sit and wait.

    Over the longer horizon, then, it is Pyongyang’s policies and erratic, bellicose pronouncements that created the crisis.

    Over the short term, though, the crisis was initiated by the US.

    My interpretation: Trump, Mattis, Tillerson, and McMaster (and probably Coats and Pompeo) looked that North Korea’s military program and asked themselves a fundamental question: Is time on our side or theirs? If it is on ours, then delay. If it is on their’s, then force the issue. We can see first-hand what their strategic assessment is.

    The hard part now is to force the issue with threats and not the actual use of force, which could lead to vast casualties. 

    In using threats, Trump has a huge advantage over Obama. Trump’s threats to use force are credible. The Chinese and North Koreans–and America’s friends in the region–have to take that seriously for the first time in years.

     “Calexit” supporters drop their secession bid . . . for now (Washington Post)

    Comment: Ken Burns is particularly disappointed.  His proposed PBS series began with a letter,

    My dearest Tiffany–
    If we should lose tomorrow’s battle, if I should die far from the gnarly waves of Newport Beach, I want you to know . . . .

     New York Times runs op-ed by “a leader and parliamentarian.”  That’s what the NYT calls him–and that’s all they say.

    The paper overlooked his day job: he’s a convicted terrorist who murdered five Israelis.

    Comment: You really can’t blame the Times if a writer omits a detail from their résumé.  

    Of course, the writer is the most prominent Palestinian terrorist in jail. The NYT deliberately hid the crucial information about his murders from readers.

    To compound this nasty piece of work, the Times ran it to gin up American public support for a hunger strike by jailed Palestinians.

    The Daily Caller excoriates the paper, rightly.

    And Elliott Abrams, writing for the Council on Foreign Relations blog, rips the Times a new one. Well worth reading. His conclusion nails a crucial point: the readers deserve the information.

     Shocking News: The US economy keeps growing but electricity use is flat. That’s what Bloomberg says. Per capita, it has fallen for six straight years.

     Lawsuit of the Day:

    • Professor comes into Wal-Mart to get fishing license
    • Get license but finds his employment listed as “toilet cleaner”
    • Humorless fisherman files suit

    The AP story is here.

    Comment: According to the lawsuit, the professor feared mockery every time he yelled “I caught another big one.”

     A serious story on the sexual-harrassment allegations against Bill O’Reilly  (Washington Post)

    A key part of the story is the allegation by a Los Angeles author and radio personality, Wendy Walsh, who is not seeking money, which then led to an independent investigation by the prominent NYC law firm. It was the law firm’s negative findings on Fox News Chairman Roger Ailes that led to his departure.

    As the Washington Post puts it:

    A similar fate [to Ailes] could await O’Reilly; a negative finding by the law firm could force the hands of Fox News Chairman Rupert Murdoch and his sons, James and Lachlan, who run Fox’s parent company.–Washington Post

     Here is tomorrow’s Washington Post opinion page. Notice a pattern?

    The list continues beyond this screenshot. It is, as the mathematicians say, “finite but large.”


    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Robert Lieber and Ed Lasky
    for different reports on the New York Times‘ hiding the background of a Palestinian terrorist.


  • Dwyane Wade’s wife is suing her divorce attorney . . . her 13th former divorce attorney

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    Quick tip for lawyers: When your client has already fired 12 previous attorneys, it might not be them.

    Second tip: When your client’s divorce is now in its 10th year, it might not be slow courts.

    The Chicago Tribune story gives a hint of the problem:

    If Dwyane Wade’s ex-wife didn’t like the $5.125 million-plus divorce settlement she got from the Chicago Bulls star, she shouldn’t have started spending it.

    That’s the argument of her 13th and possibly final former divorce attorney, who is asking a judge to throw out a malpractice lawsuit Siohvaughn Funches filed against him.

    Funches wants Cook County Judge Martin Agran to find that lawyer Brian Hurst tricked her into signing a deal with Wade, her high school sweetheart from south suburban Robbins. The marathon fight over the divorce entered its 10th year in November. –Chicago Tribune

    That’s right: her name is Siohvaughn Funches.

    Most amazing fact in the case, aside from the plaintiff’s name: She has found a 14th attorney, willing to take her case.

  • Today’s Best Lawsuit: Potato Chips

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    Pair files lawsuit against potato chip company’s half-filled bags. This is a real lawsuit.

    Sameline Alce and Desiré Nugent . . . instead of just finishing off the remnants in disappointment, they’re now suing Wise Foods on the grounds that their air-filled bags deceived them into overpaying.

    The pair filed the lawsuit in Manhattan federal court on Monday night, claiming the Pennsylvania-based chip company was “misleading” customers by intentionally leaving their bags 58% to 75% empty. –Fox News

    The weight of the bags is accurate, they acknowledgebut the size of the bags is misleading.

    Comment: They are also suing Kevin Costner and Bull Durham for the grossly-misleading song, “Sixty Minute Man.” 

  • Dumb, dumber, dumbest lawsuit: Zoo wants raccoon to be compensated for “moral damage”

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    A Russian private zoo is suing an advertising firm that featured its raccoon in an “erotic” and amoral” commercial shoot with a nude model (Heat Street)

    The Moscow zoo, called Animals Are Not Toys, says it rented a raccoon named Thomas to a production company for a commercial shoot and was horrified later to learn that the raccoon was forced to film with a nude female model.

    The zoo now wants the offending advertisement pulled from the air and the raccoon to be compensated for suffering “moral damage.


    Comment: I believe it was Augustine who wrote most eloquently on the moral damage to raccoons.

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Friday, Dec. 2

    Hand-picked and farm-fresh–
    Linked articles in bold purple

    ◆ The University of California system says it will defy President-elect Donald Trump and refuse to enforce federal law regarding illegal immigrants. The system is headed by former Obama Administration official Janet Napolitano. The crunch for universities and sanctuary cities will come if federal funds are cut off. (Fox News)


    jill-stein-w-caption◆ New York Times columnist Gail Collins wants a recount of the Presidential vote, calls Green Party candidate Jill Stein the “star of this show.” Collins’ op-ed includes this astounding conclusion:

    The one positive effect of the recount, besides reassuring people who worry the Russians might be capable of hacking a massive American vote tally, is the way it reminds the nation, every day, that Donald Trump is one of the least successful presidential candidates in American history. –Gail Collins, New York Times

    Comment: You might want to reread that.  “Donald Trump is one of the least successful presidential candidates in American history.” Let me try a wacky counter-argument. He won the election. He also demolished the two greatest political dynasties of the last 30 years: the Bushes and the Clintons. Unless you are on the Times editorial board, that normally counts as successful.


    james-mattis-200px-no-margins◆ Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis is Trump’s choice for Sec. of Defense. He’s battle-hardened, tough on Iran, but not a war-monger. He’s wildly popular among the uniformed military. The Washington Post’s story is here.

    warning-beware-of-dumb-lawsuits-purple-200px◆ Today in really, really dumb lawsuits (AP)

    An engineer who fell asleep at the controls of a Metro-North train and caused a derailment that killed four people in New York City sued the railroad Thursday, saying its negligence and carelessness led to the accident.  … The lawsuit blamed the railroad for increasing hazards by failing to install automatic brakes. It also said Metro-North relied on a deficient safety culture because it “prizes on-time performance at the expense of protecting riders and workers.”–AP

    ◆ Chicago racks up catastrophic murder numbers. (Chicago Tribune)

    chicago-crime-labeled-300px-no-marginsThe 701 homicides through Wednesday marked a nearly 56 percent jump from the 450 killings a year earlier. With one month still to go, that represents the most homicides since 704 in 1998. There were 761 homicides in 1997.

    Through Wednesday, nearly 4,050 people have been shot, a 50 percent jump from 2,699 victims a year earlier, according to the department statistics. Shooting incidents rose by comparable figures, to 3,315, up 49 percent from 2,224 a year earlier. –Chicago Tribune



    ◆ Send interesting stories to
    Charles (dot) Lipson at Gmail (dot) com