ZipDialog Roundup for Thursday, October 19

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

◆ US consulting firm with ties to the Clintons lobbied on behalf of Russia’s nuclear giant (Circa)

A Russian nuclear executive, whose company was the target of an FBI investigation and who admitted to corrupt payments to influence the awarding of contracts with the Russian state-owned nuclear energy corporation, paid millions of dollars in consulting fees to an American firm in 2009 and 2010 to lobby the U.S. regulatory agencies and assist the Russian’s who were then attempting to acquire twenty percent of American uranium, according to court documents, a former FBI informant and extensive interviews with law enforcement sources.

Roughly $3 million in payments from 2010 to 2011 were made to APCO Worldwide Inc., which is described on their website as the second largest lobbying firm in the United States. The firm also provided in kind pro-bono services to Bill Clinton’s foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, services they begin 2007, according to APCO officials who spoke with Circa

and press releases from the company. It was during the same time that then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was part of the Obama administration board that would eventually approve the sale of the U.S. uranium to Russia. –Sara A. Carter at Circa

◆ Great News about the US Economy: Lowest jobless claims since 1973 (Bloomberg)

Comment: One-month data contains random effects, but the trend is great.

Head of NBC News dined with Harvey Weinstein, then spiked the well-sourced exposé from Ronan Farrow. Pressure to resign–but he’s still on the job. (Fox News)

NBC says they are not investigating.

NBC News is coming under increasing criticism for its failure to investigate why its embattled president, Noah Oppenheim, spiked a bombshell story that would have been the first to expose Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein as a sexual predator.

An NBC spokesperson says the network is not investigating the matter, despite new revelations that Oppenheim sat at small table with Weinstein at an exclusive New York gala in April, when Oppenheim reportedly already knew that his reporter, celebrity scion Ronan Farrow, had obtained damning audio recordings in which Weinstein admitted groping the breasts of an Italian model. –Fox News (link here)

 Screenwriter close to Weinstein highlights Hollywood’s code of omertà: “Everybody f**king knew” (Mashable)

Scott Rosenberg worked with Weinstein and company for almost a decade:

“Everybody fucking knew,” he wrote (not once, not twice, but three times) in a lyrical, near novella-length Facebook response to those shrinking away from responsibility in enabling Weinstein’s behavior.

Hollywood’s general unwillingness to face the music of personal accountability for the rot in their own industry added insult to injury in the onslaught of allegations. Because those (seemingly) well-meaning yet spineless responses only ensure one thing: that this will keep happening. –Mashable

Comment: Mr. Rosenberg’s choice of words is certainly apt.

I just hope this little unpleasantness doesn’t keep Hollywood from preaching to the rest of us.

◆ John Kelly speaks eloquently about his son’s combat death, says he was “stunned” by a Congresswoman’s criticism of Pres. Trump’s condolence call

NYT gives it a straightforward headline: Kelly Speaks About Son’s Death and Criticizes Congresswoman Wilson

CNN gives it an ugly spin: John Kelly’s stirring but incomplete attempt to clean up for Donald Trump

Comment: CNN’s spin, presented as hard news, is shameful.

◆ FUSION GPS:  Founders of the firm behind Trump-Russia dossier take the Fifth (Business Insider)

Won’t talk to House Intel Committee. Refuse to say who paid for the smear job.

Comment: The now-discredited dossier is important because then-director of the FBI, James Comey, used it as the basis for an investigation of the Trump campaign.

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Hat Tip to

◆ Tom Elia for the Mashable “everybody knew” story.

The Clinton Foundation Decides to Keep Donations from Harvey Weinstein

◆ Clinton Foundation decides to keep Harvey’s money (Washington Times)

It’s all about helping women, don’t ya know.

Comment: The Clinton Foundation consulted its moral conscience, found it missing in action, and went with the money.

Who’s gonna administer it?

According to a flurry of texts, the frontrunner is Anthony Weiner.

To call this move “tone deaf” is an understatement

ZipDialog Roundup for Wednesday, October 11

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

◆ The devastation–human and material–keeps growing from California wildfires

 

Stand and Deliver: Goodell send letter telling NFL players he wants them to stand during anthem(ESPN)

No specifics on how the league plans to ensure it or act toward players who do not stand.

Comment #1: ESPN broke into their political coverage to cover this sports story.

Comment #2 re Trump vs NFL kneelers: ZipDialog predicted

(a) the league would cave after seeing the fans’ and advertisers’ reactions,
(b) Trump was politically smart to make this an issue; most people respect the flag, and ALL his base does; and
(c) when Trump won on this issue, he wouldn’t be shy about saying so.

 Horny Harvey and Hollywood Hypocrisy

Harvey Weinstein’s Behavior Was ‘Worst Kept Secret in Hollywood,” says actor (Fox News)

Comment: Now that he has been destroyed, the powerful people and institutions will finally speak.

I completely understand why the weak and vulnerable kept quiet; they are victims. But the powerful and well-entrenched who knew about this have no such excuses.

 The next phases of the Weinstein story, as I see it

Comment: Here are some obvious angles. The question is whether the media wants to investigate, given that they are directly implicated, along with their powerful friends:

  • Democrats who were close to him will have to defend themselves and offer stories about their ignorance (some true, some false)
    • Many are now saying they are “shocked, shocked” to find out this about Mr. Weinstein. Gimme a break.
    • Why did Hillary, Barack, and all the others wait five days after the NYT broke the story before commenting?
    • Why did all the late-night comedians (except John Oliver) maintain radio silence, as Saturday Night Live did? They will jump on Weinstein’s figurative corpse now, but where were they after the story broke?
  • The media will be all over the Weinstein story but they will downplay or ignore the media’s complicity or the Democrats role in it (just as the conservative media will harp on it)
    • The NYT, the most MSM of MSM outlets, deserves lots of credit for breaking the story. But they need to explain why they didn’t dig further a decade ago, when they first had the story. Lots of women were harmed in the intervening years.
  • What about the media outlets, like the NYT and NBC, that had the story and didn’t run it?  What about the gossip sites like TMZ? Why didn’t they investigate this well-known rumor?
  • What about the others sexual harassment and exploitation in Hollywood? Will the media investigate or wait for Gloria Allred? There have been rumors for years about pedophilia, but no real reporting.

Henry Kissinger meets with Trump. What’s that about?

Comment: Kissinger  has made one of the most sensible and serious proposals about working with China to resolve the North Korean crisis. He is also the most trusted intermediary to broker a deal between Beijing and Washington and to carry back-channel messages between the two. (Kissinger’s proposal was contained in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, subscription)

My guess: Trump listened to Kissinger, said “great, if Xi is willing to do it. But if he won’t or it doesn’t work, tell him the US will act unilaterally in a wide variety of ways that the Chinese won’t like.”

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Hat Tip to

◆ Randy Helm for pointing out that the NYT deserves credit for breaking the story

ZipDialog Roundup for Friday, October 6

Articles chosen with care. Your comments welcomed.
Linked articles in bold purple

Leaks that Pres. Trump plans to “decertify” the Iran nuclear deal

That action doesn’t kill the multilateral deal, but it does begin a process that could.

When Trump makes his formal decision about Iran’s behavior, as he is required to do periodically by law, the Congress will then have to decide whether to reimpose sanctions.

Comment: The issue is complicated because (1) the agreement is multilateral and most other signatories want to stay in, (2) Obama front-loaded nearly all the benefits for Iran, among the most incompetent negotiating moves ever, and (3) the agreement does not limit Iran’s deadly, malevolent action in other areas, including missile tests (another major shortcoming).

Obama, Susan Rice, and John Kerry thought that Iran’s financial windfall would make them a more responsible actor.

That magical thinking is best captured by a Yiddish phrase:

More nasty weather headed our wayTropical Storm Nate could cause flooding in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast (NOLA.com)

It is expected to hit late Saturday night.

Comment: The Mississippi Gulf Coast has no protection, but New Orleans has wetlands to the south, which ought to afford some protection. Unfortunately, those wetlands–and the protection they afford–have shrunk dramatically over the past few decades, thanks to canals cut for pipelines and ships. The water moving through those cuts has changed the local ecology and harmed the wetlands.

Harvey Weinstein, film mogul and, according to interviews in the NYT, perpetrator of serial sexual harassment against actresses and employees

The New York Times broke the story as an exclusive, with vivid details and on-the-record accusations (link here).

Now, all the other news outlets are on the case.

BuzzFeed reports that Weinstein, a major player in national Democratic politics, is relying on key Clinton and Obama aides to cope with the fallout. (link here)

Normally, Gloria Allred appears as a plaintiff’s lawyer in the harassment cases, beginning with a huge press conference.

But that doesn’t happen when the allegations are against a major Democrat. Actually, Gloria’s daughter, Lisa Bloom, is involved–working for Weinstein and, she says, trying to educate him that “times have changed.”

Allred offered a half-hearted comment, saying she “would have declined” because she never represents people accused of harassment, only alleged victims. She offered no criticism of Mr. Weinstein.

Comment: Expect gloating and finger pointing from Republicans, who are happy to gain a moment’s relief from their own scandal, an anti-abortion Congressman who is resigning after texts surfaced, urging his mistress to terminate her pregnancy.

 After Las Vegas, Republicans open to banning “bump stocks” used to convert semi-automatic rifles into fully-automatic ones (New York Times)

The NRA seems open to some regulation, as well.

Comment: Because passing a law would take time, many are urging the ATF to change its regulatory interpretation. That’s passing the buck–and evading what should be a Congressional and Presidential responsibility. We’ve gotten so used to passing everything by Presidential decree or bureaucratic regulations, even Republican congressmen want to avoid the normal, constitutional process for changing our laws.

Indiana Senator Joe Donnelly (D) is facing a tough reelection in a Republican-leaning state. Now, he gotten more bad news: a non-partisan report rates him the least effective Democrat in the Senate (Indianapolis Star)

Even when Democrats were in the majority, he accomplished almost nothing, they say.

Comment: His prospective Republicans opponents were shocked, shock, and appalled. “Indiana needs….”

 Nobel Prizes

  • Literature: Kuzuo Ishiguro, author of “Remains of the Day”
  • Chemistry: 3 scientists who improved images of molecules
  • Physics: 3 scientists who detected gravitational waves, confirming a prediction of Einstein’s
  • Medicine: 3 scientists who discovered the genes regulating the body’s biological clock

One of the winners in Medicine, Jeffrey Hall (emeritus, Brandeis) said that he collaborated with a Brandeis colleague, Michael Roshbash, because they shared common interests in “sports, rock and roll, beautiful substances and stuff.” He quit science ten years ago, he said at the time, because his grant funding ran out, the grant-review process was corrupt and biased, and he was fed up with academia. (story here)

Comment: Looks like he was proven right about the bias.

The Peace Prize will be given Friday. If they can find an innocent child or a do-gooder organization, fine. Otherwise, they should remember that they gave one to Arafat. They might want to think about what’s happening in Myanmar, either, since the country is headed by another Peace Prize winner and is now driving Rohingya Muslims out of the country.

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Multiple sexual-harassment allegations against A-List Producer Harvey Weinstein

The New York Times exclusive names names and includes many “on-the-record” quotes, together with vivid anecdotes.

Here’s the opening:

Two decades ago, the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein invited Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what the young actress expected to be a business breakfast meeting. Instead, he had her sent up to his room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower, she recalled in an interview.

“How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?” Ms. Judd said she remembers thinking. –New York Times

The NYT, quoting two anonymous officials at Weinstein’s company, say he reached “at least eight settlements with women” regarding “sexual harassment and unwanted physical contact.”

Another former employee goes on-the-record to say that Harvey Weinstein’s conduct “wasn’t a secret to the inner circle” at the company.

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Harvey denies many of the story’s allegation but takes leave of absence

To its credit, the New York Times includes a prominent link to Weinstein’s response.

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Hypocrisy: More than Enough to Go ‘Round

The main dynamics here are sex, money, and power.

There’s a huge hypocrisy angle, too, since Weinstein’s dozens of successful films, first at Miramax and then at the Weinstein Company, helped define positive roles for modern women.

Expect some political fallout, too, since Weinstein was a very big player in Democratic Party circles.

Reports should inquire whether the recipients of his support were aware of these allegations and settlements, which appear to be known in entertainment circles (where Democrats have extremely good connections).

There should be no partisan gloating. This is a sad story of woman after woman coerced, a pattern that lasted for years, according to the Times.

In any case, the Republicans have no space to gloat. They have their own scandal: An upstate New York Congressman, prominent in anti-abortion politics, is leaving congress after texts surfaced showing he had gotten his mistress pregnant and urged her to have an abortion. No abortion for you, but my mistress is a different story.

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