• ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, March 20

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

     Darwin at work: “Selfie-crazed teens keep falling through frozen Central Park pond” (New York Post)

    Another group of kids attempting to take a selfie on top of some ice at The Pond in Central Park plunged into its icy waters, officials said.

    Luckily, they were able to swim ashore and then walked away from the scene, multiple witnesses told the NYPD. –New York Post

     North Korea’s Test of Rocket Engine Shows “Meaningful Progress,” South Says  (New York Times). North Korea certainly agrees.

    North Korea said on Sunday that it had conducted a ground jet test of a newly developed high-thrust missile engine, which its leader, Kim Jong-un, called “a great event of historic significance.” –New York Times

    Comment: I expect the US to ratchet up the pressure significantly over the coming year.  Yes, the Chinese have been reluctant to put the screws to Pyongyang, mainly because they fear the regime could collapse. But the Chinese must be growing concerned themselves. Why? Because

    • The US is not rolling over anymore
    • The Japanese and South Koreans are certain to begin arming themselves in defense
    • Something rarely mentioned: The Koreans are historic enemies of China, and Beijing might be worried about which way those missiles might point

     Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch hearings begin Monday. 

    Washington Post headline suggests the expectation: “Gorsuch seen by man as smart, modest nominee for High Court” 

    Comment: He should sail through. But first . . . the Senators will preen for their political bases. Meaningless theater. 

    Then, the Senators will try to get him to say how he would decide controversial cases. He won’t. They know he won’t. Again, meaningless theater.

    Cable TV will feature more meaningless blather.

    Democratic Senators from deep blue states will likely vote no. D’s from purple states probably won’t want to vote against an obviously well-qualified, mild-mannered nominee.

    They’ll save their powder for the next nominee.

     Chance the Rapper: making contributions to his community

    The story is here, at Bustle.

     Bad news for brick-and-mortar retailers as shopping moves online. No simple fix for declining foot traffic and lower profit margins, says the Wall Street Journal, as chains scale back.

     

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    ♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Randi Belisomo
    for the Chance the Rapper tweet

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, March 16

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

     Diplomacy with North Korea is a failed strategy, Rex Tillerson, US Sec. of State says in Asia  (Washington Post)

    It’s time to take a “different approach” to dealing with North Korea, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in Tokyo on Thursday, because 20 years of diplomacy had “failed” to convince the regime in Pyongyang to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

    Tillerson’s comments will fuel fears in the region that military options might be on the table to deter North Korea — an approach that could prove devastating for Seoul, where more than 20 million people live within North Korean artillery range. –Washington Post

    Comment: By far the most dangerous region in today’s world. Tillerson’s message is also aimed at China, since US diplomacy has focused in vain on getting China to use its leverage with North Korea.

     Rachel Maddow: People disappointed by Trump story expected too much (Washington Post)

    The NY Post says parent NBC is none-too-happy with this whiff either.

    Comment: Gee, wonder who hyped it for 20 minutes at the start of her own show (I watched so you didn’t have to). By then, she already knew the hype was false. 

    People have compared it to Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone’s vault and finding nothing. The difference is that Geraldo didn’t already know the vault was empty.

     Kremlin spies orchestrated huge Yahoo! hack, according to US indictment (New York Times)

    If true, the allegations offer an extraordinary case study of Russian cyber espionage, and particularly the symbiotic relationship between identity thieves and spammers and Russia’s elite intelligence services.

    Cybersecurity experts and the F.B.I. have long suspected that Russian spies employed and protected criminal hackers to a striking degree, but evidence has been scarce. The indictment made public on Wednesday describes this collusion in detail for the first time.

    The Washington Post thinks the indictment and investigation could shed light on other hacks.

     When the US spies on foreigners, it sometimes picks up Americans’ communications. It is supposed to “mask them” to cover up their identities. It appears the Obama White House asked for some of those masked names. Now, Congress wants to know who asked and whether they received the answers (CNN) The request is bipartisan.

    The leaders of the House Intelligence Committee asked the three leaders of the intelligence community Wednesday about any time during the last seven months of the Obama administration whenever any of its agents and officials improperly named, or “unmasked,” and disseminated the identities of American citizens picked up in intelligence collection.

    Chairman Devin Nunes, R-California, and Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, wrote that they were concerned that members of the intelligence community have not been sufficiently honoring previously established “robust ‘minimization procedures'” to protect the identities of US citizens, including “masking” their names. The letter they sent refers to the disclosure to the public that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had several conversations with the Russian Ambassador. –CNN

    Comment: If White House aides asked for unmasking, they could well be investigated criminally for the subsequent leaks.

     Tesla raises $1.5 billion as it begins testing its much-anticipated, high-volume Model 3  (Daily Mail)

    Comment: A lot hinges on the success of the mass-market Model 3 if Tesla is to move beyond its high-end niche.

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, March 10

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

     “Scientists Closer to Creating a Fully Synthetic Yeast Genome” (NPR)

    An international research consortium reports Thursday that it has figured out an efficient method for synthesizing a substantial part of the genetic code of yeast. . . .

    The milestone is the latest development in the intensifying quest to create living, complex organisms from scratch in the lab. This group previously reported it had completely synthesized one of yeast’s 16 chromosomes, which are the molecular structures that carry all of an organism’s genes. –NPR

    Comment: THIS IS ASTOUNDING.

     South Korean president removed from office after impeachment by parliament is upheld by Constitutional Court

    New elections to replace Park Geun-hye must be held within 60 days. The leader, far and away, is a leftist who wants to pursue more accommodation with North Korea and might well ask the US to remove its newly arrived anti-missile system. (Washington Post)

    Comment: Beijing and Pyongyang would welcome such an appeasement policy toward the increasingly aggressive and erratic regime in North Korea. Indeed, Chinese pressure on Seoul to do just that has been ratcheting up.

     Students at Wellesley College: Transgender Woman Can’t Be Diversity Officer Because She’s a White Man Now (National Review Online)

    Timothy Boatwright was born a girl, and checked off the “female” box when applying to the Massachusetts all-women’s school, according to an article in the New York Times.

    But when he got there, he introduced himself as a “masculine-of-center genderqueer” person named “Timothy” (the name he picked for himself) and asked them to use male pronouns when referring to him.

    And, by all accounts, Boatwright felt welcome on campus — until the day he announced that he wanted to run for the school’s office of multicultural affairs coordinator, whose job is to promote a “culture of diversity” on campus.  –National Review Online

    Comment: You have to watch with fascination the world of “diversity politics” when Wellesley students reject–as insufficiently diverse–what could be planet earth’s only self-identified female who uses the descriptor, “masculine-of-center genderqueer.” 

    At Wellesley’s diversity carnival, the prime attraction seems to be an ancient mythical symbol, the Ouroboros. This serpent is eating its own tail.

     More evidence for those who think the end is near:
    “Toxic wild boars reportedly stalk Fukushima residents”
      (Fox News)

    Hundreds of boars carrying highly radioactive material are reportedly stalking residents hoping the Japanese town of Fukushima six years after the meltdown of the nuclear plant. –Fox News

     NYT: “After halting start, Trump plunges into Effort to Repeal Health Law”  (New York Times)

    There are East Room meetings, evening dinners and sumptuous lunches — even a White House bowling soiree. Mr. Trump is deploying the salesman tactics he sharpened over several decades in New York real estate. His pitch: He is fully behind the bill to scotch President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement, but he is open to negotiations on the details. –New York Times

     

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ A friend who forwarded the Wellesley story
     

     

  • ZipDialog Roundup for Monday, March 6

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

     There are two overriding stories today:

    1. Trump, the Russians, and the FBI (of course)

    2. North Korean missiles fired toward Japan, creating an ever-growing crisis in the region

    The North Korean story has not received the attention it deserves.

    North Korea launches more four missiles; three of them land in Japanese waters  (Washington Post)

    The launches follow a remarkable month in which Kim Jong Un’s regime tested a solid-fuel rocket that it says is part of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States and in which the regime is accused of assassinating the leader’s half brother. Both actions have angered allies and adversaries in the region, and Monday’s launches will only exacerbate that. . . .

    The launches have ratcheted up the tensions in the region. . . .

    In Japan, the government said three of the missiles had landed perilously close to Japan, splashing down within its exclusive economic zone and within about 200 miles of its coastline in Akita prefecture.

    “These missile launches clearly show that North Korea has developed a new threat,” a visibly worried Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters in Tokyo. “We will collect information and strongly protest to North Korea.” –Washington Post

    Comment: The obvious reason this is dangerous is the immediate threat to South Korea and Japan and, in a few years, to the US mainland.  There are now very strong incentives for Japan to build military capacity. That is not good for China, and China knows it. The fact that they cannot or will not curb Pyongyang shows how delicate these issues are.

    There are less obvious risks, too. One is that Kim Jong Un’s willingness to use a weapon of mass destruction in a foreign airport, surely knowing it would be attributed to North Korea, strongly suggests the regime is quite unstable and willing to take those risks to remove other Kim family members the Chinese could install if they engineer a coup. If the regime does melt down, the complications from Chinese and Western involvement will be enormous, with commensurate dangers. 

     The clearest statement of the Trump wiretapping imbroglio is this tweet by Senator Ben Sasse

    Sasse is one of the most intelligent and thoughtful members of the Senate. Elected from Nebraska in 2015, he is a Republican who  never backed Trump.

     

     GREAT MEDICAL NEWS: “Sickle cell anemia patient ‘cured’ by gene therapy, doctors say” (Fox 31 Denver)

    In a world first, a teenager with sickle cell disease achieved complete remission after an experimental gene therapy at Necker Children’s Hospital in Paris, researchers say.

    People with sickle-cell disease, a group of inherited blood disorders, have abnormal hemoglobin in their red blood cells, causing blood to clog in the tiny vessels and organs of the body.

    After 15 months since treatment, the patient — who began therapy at age 13 — no longer needs medication, and his blood cells show no further sign of the disease, according to a case report published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine. –Fox 31 Denver

    Comment: The treatment is a proof of concept and could bring hope to millions. Worldwide, 275,000 babies are born each year with the disease.

     Shocking: The New York Times says criticism of Kellyanne Conway is “sexist,” and that Democrats deserve blame  (New York Times)

    They quickly add that Hillary Clinton receives the same criticism and Republicans deserve blame for criticizing her.

    Misogyny, it seems, remains a bipartisan exercise. Whatever legitimate criticisms can be leveled at each woman, it’s striking how often that anger is expressed using the same sexist themes, from women as well as men.

    Witness the furor over [Conway] sitting on her knees on a couch in the Oval Office during a reception for presidents of historically black colleges. While she drew fire for disrespect, some of the criticisms included digs about her spreading her legs and raunchy allusions to oral sex, Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton. Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana, told a now-notorious joke that hers was a “familiar” position in the Oval Office of the 1990s, drawing a rebuke from none other than Chelsea Clinton.–NYT

    Comment: The Times is certainly correct in saying the criticism of Conway has been suffused with contempt, some because she is a woman, some because she is a Republican. In fact, she is the first woman to manage a successful Presidential campaign. She grew up in a lower-middle-class area of New Jersey, raised by a divorced mother and relatives. She deserves enormous credit for her professional success, all while raising a family, including four kids. 

    Turkey’s Erdogan compares German behavior with Nazi period  (Reuters)

    Why such a fierce attack? Because Erodgan wants a positive vote for his April 16 referendum that would abolish the checks and balances on his power that still remain. He has already gotten rid of many, and he wants to remove the rest.

    Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany on Sunday of “fascist actions” reminiscent of Nazi times in a growing row over the cancellation of political rallies aimed at drumming up support for him among 1.5 million Turkish citizens in Germany.

    German politicians reacted with shock and anger. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas told broadcaster ARD that Erdogan’s comments were “absurd, disgraceful and outlandish” and designed to provoke a reaction from Berlin. . . .

    The row has further soured relations between the two NATO members amid mounting public outrage in Germany over the arrest in Turkey of a Turkish-German journalist. It has also spurred growing demands for Merkel to produce a more forceful response to Erdogan’s words and actions.–Reuters

     There are real hate crimes, but there are fake ones, too. Kevin Williamson argues that the scale of hate crimes in the US has been exaggerated.  (National Review Online)

    The Left desperately wants Americans to be indecent people who go around attacking Muslims and foreigners with funny names, but, by and large, we aren’t. Campus feminists desperately want “rape culture” to be a reality, and so they invent phony rape stories from Duke to the University of Virginia, making sure to target fraternities and sports teams, which are to them symbols of patriarchy. These stories are given currency and credence by incompetent journalists. –Kevin Williamson in National Review Online

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Graham Lewis
     for the Kevin Williamson article on hate.
    ◆ Eliot Cohen and Bob Pahre for the Ben Sasse tweet on Trump and wiretapping

     

  • North Korean missile launch: Trump Administration’s First Big Challenge

    Launch violates UN Resolutions

    North Korea’s goal: Nuclear-tipped ICBMs that can hit America

    It will probably reach that objective during Trump’s presidency, says Richard Haass, an experienced policymaker and now head of the Council on Foreign Relations in NY. (Bloomberg report here.)

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    Comment: The fact that Pyongyang launched this provocative test while Japan’s Prime Minister Abe was visiting the US is an unmistakable message of defiance.

    Its immediate effect will be to tighten US alliances with South Korea and Japan and to encourage considerably more military expenditures on their part. That, in turn, will raise concerns in China, which could try to halt North Korea but has been unwilling to do so.

    North Korea is also very closely aligned with Iran, which purchases its missile technology from Pyongyang and cooperated with them on nuclear technology.

    The US can ratchet up sanctions on North Korea, of course, but that country has so few ties to the international system that leverage is hard to achieve.

    In short, this is a very dangerous country that several US administrations have tried–and failed–to stop.

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Saturday, February 11

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

     Trump rejects Tillerson’s choice for No. 2 at State, Elliott Abrams  Tillerson wanted Abrams, an experienced strategist who had served in the Reagan Administration and in a more senior position under George W. Bush. Abrams had attracted opposition from both left (predictably) and some on the right for too close to neoconservatives and interventionists. (New York Times)

    Mr. Trump had a productive meeting with Mr. Abrams on Tuesday, according to a White House official and a person close to Mr. Abrams. But after it took place, Mr. Trump learned of Mr. Abrams’s pointed criticisms of the president when he was running for president, the administration official said. Among those criticisms was a column headlined “When You Can’t Stand Your Candidate,” which appeared in May 2016 in The Weekly Standard.  –New York Times

    Comment: Trump’s decision appears to be based on personal pique and disloyalty, not policy issues, but we will learn more over the next few days.

     Newly-confirmed Sec. of Education, Betsy DeVos physically blocked from entering Washington, DC, elementary school (WJLA, ABC7)

    The Washington Teacher’s Union organized a gathering outside of the school, but were not among the protesters who blocked her. –WJLA

    She eventually made it into the school.

    Comment: The Teacher’s Union peaceful protests are fully protected by the First Amendment. They are fine, whether you agree with their viewpoint or not. By contrast, the others, who tried to block DeVos entry and enter her car, deserve full-throated condemnation.

     Trump has very positive meeting with Japanese PM Abe, says US committed to defense of Japan (Reuters via CNBC) The US defense commitment represents a significant change from Trump’s rhetoric as a candidate

    At the same time, Pres. Trump had a positive phone call with China’s leader, Xi, reaffirming Washington’s traditional “one-China” policy.

    Comment: These are significant, positive steps to stabilize both deterrence (protecting Japan) and diplomacy (discussions with China).

     Michael Barone is worried–and for good reason–that liberals are not condemning street violence in the US

    The response of liberal politicians? So far as I know, there has been almost none. At the Powerline blog John Hinderaker links to a Grabien video showing Democratic politicians and celebrities making statements that some may take as endorsements of violence, such as Sen. Tim Kaine’s urging followers to “fight in the streets.” I suspect he would claim that he was speaking metaphorically and only urging peaceful protest. But it would be nice if he could find time to condemn the violence we have seen at Berkeley — and which is increasingly unsurprising on our college and university campuses, which have become the part of our society most hostile to free speech. Michael Barone on Berkeley riots in the Washington Examiner

    Comment: My answer to Barone’s question: Liberal politicians probably do care, but they care more about their political standing. That means they do not want to alienate the highly-mobilized left, much of which supports the violence or is simply too cowardly to speak out again it.

     To help build its self-driving cars, Ford spends $1 Billion to buy majority stake in Silicon Valley startup (Detroit Free Press)

    Comment: Ford is buying the expertise of Argo AI’s founders and their robotics expertise. Ford has already made considerable progress on its “virtual driver system”

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . .Friday, Feburary 10

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

     Dr. Tom Price finally approved by Senate to head Health and Human Services after harsh words  (Washington Post) Another party-line vote in the Senate on what the WaPo calls a “polarizing” candidate.

    ⇒ Related Story: This year’s Obamacare sign up reported at 12.2 million (US News)

    Comment: It is the policies that are really polarizing. Trump and the Republicans are determined to kill off Obamacare and know full-well that they will own not only the replacement but responsibility for the entire health-care system when they get rolling on it.

    The 12.2 million number is striking to me. The whole US health system was upended for such a small number and such skimpy coverage.

     Trump tells China’s Xi that US will honor supports “one-China” policy, does not support Taiwan’s independence  (New York Times)

    Comment: In the campaign, Trump had expressed doubts about the “one-China” policy, which is an issue Beijing will fight for. This is hardly the end of the increasingly militarized confrontation between China and its neighbors, though. Recently, China has (verbally) asserted its right of sovereign control over some islands that have long been Japanese. The US has reaffirmed that the islands are not only Japanese but that the US will help Japan fight for them under our bilateral defense arrangements.

    ◆ Related story: Japan’s Prime Minister Abe to meet with Trump this weekend (Wall Street Journal) The WSJ expects the visit to soothe worried US allies in Asia. Abe and Trump already have a strong relationship.

    North Korea Purges Its Chief “Enforcer,” the man who purged others.  (New York Times)

    Comment: When this kind of turmoil reaches the upper-tier of political officials, as it has now, the regime is clearly unstable. That poses dangers for all the surrounding countries.

     Russia, Iran supporting Taliban fighters against US in Afghanistan  So say top US commanders there. (Washington Free Beacon)

    Comment: Trump’s idea that Putin could cooperate in fighting terror group looks like a pipe dream in Afghanistan as well as Syria. 

     Luther Strange is Alabama’s new senator, appointed to replace Jeff Sessions, now Attorney General

    Comment: “Luther Strange”? No relation to Lex Luthor or any other comic-book villain, as far as we know. Still, a great name. 

     And finally

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦

     

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Sunday, January 5

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

    Goldwater Institute proposes model free speech code for public universities–one that legislatures could pass

    The key provisions in this model legislation are inspired by three classic defenses of campus free speech: Yale’s 1974 Woodward Report, The University of Chicago’s 1967 Kalven Report, and the University of Chicago’s 2015 Stone Report.

    The model legislation presented and explained in this brief does several things:

    • It creates an official university policy that strongly affirms the importance of free expression, nullifying any existing restrictive speech codes in the process.
    • It prevents administrators from disinviting speakers, no matter how controversial, whom members of the campus community wish to hear from.
    • It establishes a system of disciplinary sanctions for students and anyone else who interferes with the free-speech rights of others.
    • It allows persons whose free-speech rights have been improperly infringed by the university to recover court costs and attorney’s fees.
    • It reaffirms the principle that universities, at the official institutional level, ought to remain neutral on issues of public controversy to encourage the widest possible range of opinion and dialogue within the university itself.
    • It ensures that students will be informed of the official policy on free expression.
    • It authorizes a special subcommittee of the university board of trustees to issue a yearly report to the public, the trustees, the governor, and the legislature on the administrative handling of free-speech issues.

    Taken together, these provisions create a system of interlocking incentives designed to encourage students and administrators to respect and protect the free expression of others. –Goldwater Institute’s “Campus Free Speech: A Legislative Proposal”

     Hundreds plan to moon Chicago’s Trump Tower in protest  Below is the actual ad for the event:

    Comment: Expected to show up at the event

     Obit for an old-time Chicago Cop who kept his nose clean. Instead of being promoted to Superintendent of Police, he was demoted to the midnight shift in a high-crime area (Chicago Tribune)

    In 1979, when Pope John Paul II came to Chicago, Joe DiLeonardi was Acting Superintendent of Police and expected to be named to the job permanently. Highly regarded, he working to clean up the department and promote minorities. Yet, within two years, he was working at a low-grade police job at the airport and then demoted even further to the midnight shift in a high-crime neighborhood.

    What did he do wrong, you might ask?

    Simple enough, he wanted to root-out organized crime and its political connections. Mayor Jane Byrne, elected as a “reform mayor,” wasn’t having it. In 1980, DiLeonard told the Chicago Tribune that

    two of Byrne’s top aides demanded the ouster of the department’s most prominent fighter of organized crime, and blamed influence from the mobbed-up 1st Ward organization. DiLeonardi’s successor, Richard Brzeczek, denied the allegations. …

    DiLeonardi was said to be the inspiration for “Kojak,” the nattily attired TV detective played by Telly Savalas. –Chicago Tribune

     “Judge Breaks Precedent, Orders Google to Give Foreign Emails to FBI” (Gizmodo)

    A potentially major blow for privacy advocates occurred on Friday when a U.S. magistrate ruled against Google and ordered it to cooperate with FBI search warrants demanding access to user emails that are stored on servers outside of the United States. The case is certain to spark a fight, because an appeals court ruled in favor of Microsoft in a similar case recently. –Gizmodo

     “China Assails U.S. Pledge to Defend Disputed Islands Controlled by Japan” (New York Times)

    The disputed [Diaoyu or Senkaku] islands have been among a number of potential points of contention as China builds up its presence in the East and South China Seas.

    Chinese and Japanese vessels regularly maneuver at close quarters in the waters as China tries to challenge Japan’s control of the islands. –New York Times

    The islands have different names, depending on the nations claiming them.

     Great Tweet:

    Actually, Fielding Mellish looks like ZZ Top.

     If you don’t know who “Fielding Mellish” is, then you really ought to see Woody Allen’s early movie, Bananas. The best 1-minute scene in it doesn’t star Woody; it stars a mad dictator

     

     

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Clarice Feldman
     for the Goldwater Institute’s Free Speech proposal

     

  • ZipDialog’s Roundup of News Beyond the Front Page . . Sunday, Nov. 20

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

     

    ◆ Get ready for a LOT more of this: Norway’s planned donations to the Clinton Foundation for next year are down 90% from their peak. (Daily Caller)

    clinton-foundation-300px-no-marginsComment: Utterly predictable. When the donations are mainly to cultivate your future power-in-office, then they will decline sharply when your political future dies.

    Comment: Speaking engagements now open!

    clinton-speakers-bureau-300px-no-margins

     

    ◆ IowaHawk has the best comments on the cast of Hamilton lecturing Mike Pence:

    iowa-hawk-hamilton3

    ◆ How Japan filled a huge, giant, enormous sinkhole–65 feet deep–in the middle of a city within a week.  (Wired) Chicago officials scoffed, noting that “in our city, 3 potholes can provide steady employment for city workers for 13 years.”

    isis-200px-w-right-margin◆ ISIS leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, seems a tad worried he might be targetted by the US. Refuses to sleep without a suicide vest. (Fox News) Also, demands the flowers, hard candy, and Tempur-Pedic bed in his hotel suite.

    ◆ An interview with Steve Bannon. (Hollywood Reporter) Make up your own mind.bannon-steve-300px-no-margins

    I’m not a white nationalist, I’m a nationalist. I’m an economic nationalist . . . Like [Andrew] Jackson’s populism, we’re going to build an entirely new political movement. It’s everything related to jobs. The conservatives are going to go crazy. I’m the guy pushing a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan. –Steve Bannon in the Hollywood Reporter

    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦

    zd-hat-tip-facing-inward-100px-w-margin♥ Hat Tip for helpful suggestions:
    ◆ Tom Elia
     for IowaHawk
    ◆ Michael Lipson for Japanese sinkhole