Wednesday, November 13th, 2019


Life’s Impeach and Then You Lie

The public impeachment hearings are a Rorschach test for America. Those with views based in reality will see a guilty president. The apologists who continue to enable the president will be like, "What ink blot? I don't see any ink blot." And so it was during the opening day of public impeachment hearings. William Taylor added more damning details of a clear quid pro quo in which Trump and his Giuliani-led shadow state department demanded the Ukrainian president announce an investigation into the Bidens in order to get the promised American military aid. On that matter, no refutations were offered, though there were some efforts to impeach the character of William Taylor (a long shot that failed), repeated attempts to smear Joe and Hunter Biden (which was the exact goal of the quid pro quo in the first place), and endless implications that the fact that the money was ultimately released without any Biden-related investigations means that there was no crime at all (marking the first time that getting caught in the act has been used as a defense). At one point, the GOP counsel asked William Taylor: "This irregular channel of diplomacy is not as outlandish as it could be, is that correct?" Taylor laughed, and confirmed, "It's not as outlandish as it could be." Don't worry. With this administration and its enablers, we'll get there.

+ Here's the latest on day one in the impeach pit from WaPo and the NYT.


Mo Money Mo Problems

"The New York Times reviewed contracts and internal company documents, and interviewed more than 50 workers with SoftBank-funded start-ups like Oyo, the delivery firm Rappi and the real estate brokerage Compass in places such as Chicago, New Delhi, Beijing and Bogotá, Colombia. What emerged was a pattern that repeated across the world: a distinctly modern version of the bait-and-switch. 'These start-ups try to get workers attracted to them and bring them within the fold,' said Uma Rani, a researcher at the International Labor Organization who is surveying start-up contractors in emerging economies. 'When the workers attach to the whole thing and are highly dependent on it, then you slash it. This is something we are systematically seeing.'" A very interesting report from the NYT: The SoftBank Effect: How $100 Billion Left Workers in a Hole. "SoftBank's Vision Fund is an emblem of a broader phenomenon known as 'overcapitalization' — essentially, too much cash."


Rice Versa

"Defenders of golden rice, including the more than 100 Nobel laureates who in 2016 signed a letter urging Greenpeace to stop bashing GMOs, and in particular golden rice, tend to blame activist opposition for preventing the approval and release of this superfood. But that is only one cause. The greatest impediment to the release and use of golden rice has been the regulatory apparatus of the health departments and agriculture ministries in the countries where the research was being done as well as in the nations where the biofortified rice was most needed. In short, the very government agencies that were supposed to protect human lives and health have instead been inadvertently responsible for years of mass blindness and death." Ed Regis in WaPo: Golden rice could save children. Until now, governments have barred it.


St Marks the Spot

Venice is always beautiful. Even during the regular flooding that afflicts St Mark's Square. But this is different. "The mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, said he would declare a state of emergency, adding that the flood levels represented a wound that would leave indelible marks. 'We ask the government to help us. This is the result of climate change.'" Two people die as Venice floods at highest level in 50 years. Here are some photos from the scene from The Guardian and BBC.

+ While Venice is flooding, Australia is burning. "About 150 fires are still burning in New South Wales and Queensland, feeding off tinder-dry conditions ... 'We've got the worst of the summer - the worst of the season - still ahead of us as we head into summer.'"


Cam Shaft

"Kushner floated the idea during meetings in July, part of a messaging effort to push back against criticism that Trump has failed to deliver on the signature proposal of his 2016 campaign. The Army Corps and CBP have told Kushner that construction contractors do not want their proprietary techniques visible to competitors." WaPo: White House to use webcams to create live feed of border wall construction.

+ AP: US held record number of migrant children in custody in 2019. (Let's get a webcam on this...)


Creep Out

"For the last year, this small group of 20-somethings has run citizen stings in the region, particularly North County, posing as young teens on dating sites, and agreeing to meet with the people they suspect are trying to lure them for sex." LA Times: Creep Catchers' name and confront adults who chat with minors online. "These sorts of citizen sting operations can result in public shaming but usually don't lead to prosecution. Some hail them as effective, exposing predators who target vulnerable young people. Others worry the operatives are untrained and the situations are dangerous. And what about due process for the accused?"


Miller Low Life

"Most of the hate crimes — about 60% — were motivated by race, ethnicity, or ancestry bias. The other motivations included religion (19%), sexual orientation (17%), gender identity (2%), disability (2%), and gender (1%)." Buzzfeed: The FBI Says Violent Hate Crimes Have Surged To A 16-Year High. Activists Aren't Surprised.

+ Very related: Stephen Miller's Affinity for White Nationalism Revealed in Leaked Emails. (That this is not surprising makes it no less troubling.)


You Can Run But You Can’t Slide

Think the impeachment hearings and the court of public opinion are hard to stomach. Try this case ."He told a kid to slide. Then he got sued. As I watch this unfold from the nearly empty gallery, I first am overcome with the ridiculousness of the scene. I chuckle when the words 'bang-bang play' became courthouse vernacular, grimace when the quality of an opposing JV team is attacked as 'awful,' and marvel at the surreal image of an attorney labeling a crude drawing of a baseball diamond as 'Defense Exhibit 1.' I had come to Somerville ready to ridicule, but it doesn't take long for the gravity of the situation to hit me. If this jury of four men and four women decides Suk was reckless as a third-base coach for making this most routine decision, who else will end up in a courtroom like this someday?"


Credit Crunch

"The report's release comes amid intense national scrutiny of the way children of South Korea's wealthy, well-connected ‘elite' get accepted to university." The college admissions scandal is not unique to America, although South Korea has its own twist. More South Korean professors caught naming kids as academic paper co-authors.


Bottom of the News

"Baboon society made so much sense. You were born into a family, and immediately everyone knew who you were and where you stood in the world. Maybe your family was high ranking enough that you got to eat the best foods and sleep in the safest trees, and maybe they weren't, but at least you and everyone else in your world knew which it was." How Living With Baboons Prepared Me for Living Through High School.

+ "The co-founder of global circus company Cirque du Soleil has been detained for growing cannabis on his private island in the South Pacific." (Every Cirque du Soleil plot has been dependent on that cannabis...)

+ The Mouse That Roared: Disney plus surpasses 10 million sign-ups since launch.

+ Today in "What the hell is wrong with us..." El Chapo's wife, Emma Coronel Aispuro, set to appear on VH1's 'Cartel Crew.'

+ Puppy with extra tail on his head rescued. (And he looks pretty damn cute.)