Chuck Schumer, What Are You Even Doing?

  • Jul. 24th, 2017 at 8:30 AM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, quoted in the Washington Post over the weekend:
"When you lose to somebody who has 40 percent popularity, you don't blame other things — Comey, Russia — you blame yourself," Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in an interview previewing the new plan. "So what did we do wrong? People didn't know what we stood for, just that we were against Trump. And still believe that."
Goddammit. There are so many things wrong with that load of horseshit, I hardly know where to begin, but I'll start here: I can't even imagine how much Vladimir Putin loves that quote.

Just think about what a huge boner Putin has over the fact that he hated Hillary Clinton so much that he interfered in an election to defeat her and elect Donald Trump, and now the leadership of Clinton's own party is blaming her and insisting that blaming Russia is a deflection of responsibility.

You know who else likes that quote?


Thanks a fuckload, Schumer.

Please join your pals Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in having an entire stadium of fucking seats.

If people didn't know what Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party stood for, it was categorically not because Hillary Clinton failed to articulate those things. She was absolutely relentless with her message of breaking down barriers so that everyone would have the same opportunities. She gave speech after speech detailing her values and her policy plans. She had the most robust campaign website I have ever seen. She spoke to as many voters one-on-one as any human running for the United States presidency possibly could have.

Everything that was in her control to communicate that message, she did.

It was not in her control whether people listened. And it was not in her control that the media often chose to aim their cameras at an empty podium where Trump would appear at some point in the afternoon rather than at her giving a stump speech full of her detailed proposals.

Here's something else that happened this weekend:


Chris Cuomo, the host of CNN's "New Day," the news network's flagship morning news show, doesn't know that Clinton's campaign slogan wasn't "I'm with Her." And arrogantly shames her based on his garbage mistake!

Maybe that sort of shit has more to do with why people weren't more keenly aware of the Democrats' agenda than a failure of Hillary Clinton.

Someone remind Chuck Schumer that she was a good enough messenger, after all, to win the popular fucking vote.

On the New Look

  • Jul. 24th, 2017 at 8:15 AM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

So, as you may have noticed, Shakesville has a new look. It's just a cosmetic update: All the functionality is still the same.

Shaker mdevile's amazing Teaspoon Charge banner, which went up in September 2014, was the longest-running banner in Shakesville's 13-year history. I will always love it with one million hearts.

But following the election, it increasingly felt at odds with what I feel like as I'm working every day. Which is not to say I'm not still teaspooning — I most certainly am. But resistance feels more like planting my feet in the ground than it does running forward. Regrettably so.

It's taken me a long time to find an image that better reflects what I'm feeling every day. My profound thanks to the contributors and mods who offered their input on the few images that made it far enough to be shared for feedback.

The new image — train tracks on a bridge to an uncertain destination — resonates strongly with me. Things are changing quickly, and we don't know exactly where we'll end up, but I want to do whatever I can to influence where we go. And to continue to validate the perspective of this community, who's in the same car with me.

Onward together. Stronger together.

Image Credit: Tama66, who has made this image available for use via Pixabay under the Creative Commons CC0.

Posted by Victoria Stern

A journal is investigating research by a group in Australia, after receiving “serious allegations” regarding a 2017 paper about treating eye burns. The journal, Frontiers in Pharmacology, has issued an expression of concern (EOC) for the 2017 paper while it investigates. The notice does not specify the nature of the allegations.  Meanwhile, several other papers […]

The post Work by group at Australian university faces scrutiny appeared first on Retraction Watch.

Read These Blogs

  • Jul. 23rd, 2017 at 9:22 PM

Posted by Phil Yu


A White Person Wrote 'Why Anyone Can Be Chinese,' And It's A Checklist In Privilege: A white scholar's recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal suggests he might need some lessons on his own privilege.

* * *

A Case of Mistaken Identity Spurs Hateful Messages for a Sikh Professor: Campus Reform incorrectly identified Simran Jeet Singh, a Sikh professor of religion at Trinity U. in San Antonio, as the man in a photo raising both middle fingers in front of Trump Tower. It was his brother.

* * *

Here's How NOT to Apologize After Being Racist on the Internet: "Look, I know that Asian beauty is so mysterious and exotic and special because people literally like to tell me that shit to my face as if I wasn't aware that I was Asian. But it is goddamn 2017 and y'all need to cut it out with this racist exoticism bullshit."

* * *

For Vietnamese Community, Tommy Le's Death Could Create a 'New Paradigm' of Activism: The killing of Tommy Le by a King County Sheriff's Deputy has left Seattle's Vietnamese community grappling with how best to communicate their concerns about the case.

* * *

Magic Can Be Normal: "Why seek out examples of representation in art and culture for my kids as if their lives and identities depend on it? Because I'm convinced they might." Nicole Chung on political parenting, representation, and finding magic."

* * *

Kenzo Designer Humberto Leon Pens an Open Letter About Identity Politics: In this op-ed, Humberto Leon -- co-founder of Opening Ceremony and co-creative director of Kenzo -- shares his experience as a gay man and first generation Asian American in Donald Trump's America.

* * *

Why Whites and Asians Have Different Views on Personal Success: A new study explores why the latter are far more likely to opt for an elite college where they'd struggle than a so-so one where they'd excel.

* * *

Law schools are filled with Asian Americans. So why aren't there more Asian judges? Asians are the fastest-growing ethnic group in the U.S. but underrepresented in the leadership of the legal profession.

* * *

What to say when you're Asian American and someone calls you 'exotic': Calling someone "exotic" is racism thiny veiled as a compliment. What is the harm, and how can you respond?

* * *

Asian American Voices in Response to Madame Butterfly: Seattle Opera recently hosted a panel discussion inviting Asian arts leaders to respond to Madame Butterfly.

* * *

This photo book addresses the fetishisation of Asian women: Using mimicry to subvert the stereotypes imposed on Asian women and their bodies, Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee's photo book project XING enlists a roster of photographers to explore identity and 'Othering.'

* * *

The Poet Bao Phi, On Creating A 'Guidebook' For Young Asian-Americans: Bao Phi hopes his poetry book Thousand Star Hotel and his children's book A Different Pond can fill the hole in Asian-American literature that he saw when he was a kid.



Posted by Ivan Oransky

The week at Retraction Watch featured authors making a difficult decision to retract once-promising findings about gliobastoma, and sanctions for a researcher in whose lab image manipulations were found. Here’s what was happening elsewhere: “So, here we are! You’ve decided to join the dark side of Science. That’s great!” Ten Simple Rules for Scientific Fraud & […]

The post Weekend reads: 10 rules for research misconduct; peer review’s black box; the rich get richer appeared first on Retraction Watch.

2 Live Crew's Fresh Kid Ice dies at 53

  • Jul. 13th, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Posted by Phil Yu

Christopher Wong Won was a founding member of the groundbreaking, controversial rap group.



Christopher Wong Won, aka Fresh Kid Ice, a founding member of the groundbreaking, controversial rap group 2 Live Crew and one of the first high-profile Asian American rappers, has died. He was 53.

2 Live Crew Rapper Fresh Kid Ice Dies at 53

Won died of an undisclosed medical condition in a Miami hospital on Tuesday, according to his longtime manager Debo. 2 Live Crew's former frontman Luther Campbell, aka Uncle Luke, aka Luke Skyywalker, tweeted his condolences on Thursday morning, calling Fresh Kid Ice "a legend."

Read more »

Angry Reader of the Week: Sujata Day

  • Jul. 21st, 2017 at 11:00 AM

Posted by Phil Yu

"My entire life is a series of decisions where I always chose art over money."



Hey, everybody! You know what's up. It is time again to meet the Angry Reader of the Week, spotlighting you, the very special readers of this website. Over the years, I've been able to connect with a lot of cool folks, and this is a way of showing some appreciation and attention to the people who help make this blog what it is. This week's Angry Reader is Sujata Day.

Read more »

Posted by Phil Yu

Teen romantic comedy, based on the popular novel by Jenny Han, has started shooting.



Lana Condor, last seen as Jubilee in X-Men: Apocalypse, is starring in the teen romantic comedy To All the Boys I've Loved Before, based on the novel by bestselling author Jenny Han.

Lana Condor to Star in 'To All the Boys I've Loved Before' Movie Based on Jenny Han Novel

Condor plays Lara Jean Covey, a romance novel buff who starts her junior year content to spend lunch in the library reading. Her love life goes from imaginary to out of control when her secret box of love letters is unexpectedly delivered to the various boys she's had crushes on throughout her life. To avoid confronting them, Lara Jean fakes a relationship with one of them -- but starts to realize that she may not be pretending.

The film, directed by Susan Johnson with a screenplay by Sofia Alvarez, has begun production in Vancouver.

John Corbett stars as Lara Jean's father, a single dad trying to raise three daughters on his own. Janel Parrish and Anna Cathcart will play Lara Jean's sisters. The cast also includes Noah Centineo, Israel Broussard and Andrew "King Bach" Bachelor.

Read more »

The Friday Blogaround

  • Jul. 21st, 2017 at 4:30 PM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

This blogaround brought to you by lamplight.

Recommended Reading:

Julia Serano: [Content Note: Transphobic narratives] On Transgender People and 'Biological Sex' Myths

Ragen Chastain: [CN: Fat hatred] Slate's Hiring Policy: No Fat Chicks?

Shay Stewart-Bouley: [CN: Misogynoir] My Black life Matters, or Ramblings of Middle Age

Keith Reid-Cleveland: [CN: Police misconduct] Body Camera Footage Shows Baltimore Police Officer Planting Drugs

Russell Brandom: Verizon Admits to Throttling Netflix in Apparent Violation of Net Neutrality

Charline Jao: [CN: Images of violence/guns in video at link] Hit Woman Taraji P. Henson Does Not Mess Around in Proud Mary Trailer

Leave your links and recommendations in comments. Self-promotion welcome and encouraged!

Your Best Photograph

  • Jul. 21st, 2017 at 3:30 PM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

If you're a photographer, even if a very amateur one (like myself), and you've got a photo or photos you'd like to share, here's your thread for that!

It doesn't really have to be your best photograph—just one you like!

Please be sure if your photo contains people other than yourself, that you have the explicit consent of the people in the photos before posting them.

* * *

This is a photo I took in our backyard earlier today of a gorgeous big bee in a sunflower, which sprouted from fallen birdseed mix that contained sunflower seeds. Nature!

image of a sunflower surrounded by various green plants, with a big, fuzzy bumblebee right at its center

"Mooch" Is Settling in Nicely

  • Jul. 21st, 2017 at 2:30 PM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

So, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who has been regularly filling in for Sean Spicer when he was stuck in a bush or whatever, has been made White House Press Secretary, i.e. Spicer's old job. And Anthony Scaramucci has officially been announced as White House Communications Director.

He started the gig by holding a press briefing where he went on endlessly about how much he loves Donald Trump, who is the greatest guy and an amazing athlete and a total winner and and and...


Scaramucci's obnoxious presser was documented by a number of journalists who are already calling him "Mooch." Sure.

But here's the thing:


Trust that he spent time during the presser flattering the press, too, and talking about how he wants to improve relations between the White House and the media. Which was evident bullshit — and far less important than this:

I do believe that the best messenger, the best media person, the most savvy person in the White House is the President of the United States, and I'm frankly hoping to learn from him.
Yeah, that would be the same guy who's been waging a war on the free press since he became a candidate. "Mooch" will learn a lot from him, I'll bet.

Utilitarian Review 7/21/17

  • Jul. 21st, 2017 at 6:27 PM

Posted by Noah Berlatsky

On Patreon

Why you should welcome our Oankali overlords.

Online interactions are real interactions.
 
Utilitarians Everywhere

At Slate I wrote about how Dunkirk points the way to better anti-war movies, even though it isn’t anti-war itself.

At Playboy I wrote about George Romero and smaller than life horror.

At Quartz I said we need to SMASH ALL EASTER EGGS!

At Splice Today I wrote about

—why battle metaphors are a bad way to talk about cancer.

Three Kings and American savior fantasies.

Music that isn’t planning to change the world from Dustin Wong & Takako Minekawa, My Purest Heart for You, and Red Pill.
 

Daily Dose of Cute

  • Jul. 21st, 2017 at 1:30 PM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

image of Zelda the Black and Tan Mutt lying on the floor looking up at me
THIS FACE!!! ♥

As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.

We Resist: Day 183

  • Jul. 21st, 2017 at 12:30 PM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

a black bar with the word RESIST in white text

One of the difficulties in resisting the Trump administration, the Republican Congressional majority, and Republican state legislatures is keeping on top of the sheer number of horrors, indignities, and normalization of the aggressively abnormal that they unleash every single day.

So here is a daily thread for all of us to share all the things that are going on, thus crowdsourcing a daily compendium of the onslaught of conservative erosion of our rights and our very democracy.

Stay engaged. Stay vigilant. Resist.

* * *

Here are some things in the news today:

Earlier today by me: Republicans Are "Dismayed" Again. Oh. and If You Make an Authoritarian President, He Will Behave Like an Authoritarian and I Don't Like This One Bit and Sean Spicer Has Resigned.

REMINDER: KEEP CALLING YOUR SENATORS TO TELL THEM TO VOTE NO ON REPEALING THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.


Sarah Boseley's important article is also accompanied by an equally stark image of Donald Trump signing the Executive Order that reintroduced the Mexico City policy, while surrounded by grinning white men: Reince Preibus, Peter Navarro, Jared Kushner, Steven Miller, and Steve Bannon.

The article is tough, but I highly recommend reading it. Please note if you have a needle phobia, there is an image of a young woman getting a contraceptive implant about midway through the story.

* * *

Ben Wieder, Gabrielle Paluch, and Kevin G. Hall at McClatchy: Ex Trump Associates Helped Fugitive Kazakhs in Visa Scheme.
Two former associates of Donald Trump helped a family of wealthy Kazakh fugitives make extensive investments in the United States, some aimed at helping family members obtain legal residency here, a McClatchy investigation shows.

Felix Sater, an ex-con and one-time senior adviser in the Trump Organization, helped the Trump family scout deals in Russia. He led an effort that began in 2012 to assist the stepchildren of Viktor Khrapunov, who that year had been placed on an international detention request list by the global police agency Interpol.

...On paper, Donald Trump's business relationship with Sater ended almost a decade ago. But earlier this year, Sater re-entered Trump's orbit when he and Michael D. Cohen, one of Trump's personal lawyers, were involved with a Ukraine-Russia peace proposal that was presented to Michael Flynn, then Trump's national security advisor.

...Several key people in Trump’s orbit did business with the Kazakh clan, including the law firm of Trump campaign surrogate Rudy Giuliani and the Bayrock Group, which developed Trump-branded projects in New York, Florida, and Arizona and was founded by Tevik Arif, a politically-connected former Soviet official from Kazakhstan.

Lincoln Mitchell, a political consultant who specializes in Russia and its neighboring countries, said virtually any investment from Kazakhstan warrants scrutiny.

"It would be hard to imagine getting Kazakh investment that wasn't close to the ruling family," Mitchell said in a telephone interview from the former Soviet republic of Georgia.
Again: Legitimate for Bob Mueller to scrutinize Trump's finances. Legitimate, and crucial.

Guardian/AP: CIA Director: Russia Loves to Meddle and 'Stick It to America'. "The CIA director, Mike Pompeo, said on Thursday that Russia had no plans to leave Syria and would continue to try to meddle in US affairs to 'stick it to America.' He reiterated his belief that Russia interfered in the US presidential election and described the US-Russia relationship as 'complicated.' 'I think they find any place that they can make our lives more difficult, I think they find that's something that's useful,' he said." Yep. Have you mentioned this to your boss, sir?

Speaking of Russians fucking with us... Keir Simmons and Saphora Smith at NBC News: Russia's Lavrov Says Trump May Have Met Putin More Times.
Donald Trump may have held more meetings with Vladimir Putin at the G-20 summit earlier this month, Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Friday — but he shrugged off the importance of the encounters.

"They might have met even much more than just three times," he told NBC News' Keir Simmons in an exclusive interview, dismissing speculation about the leaders' meetings.

"Maybe they went to the toilet together," he joked.

Asked whether the two presidents had other conversations or met in the corridors of the G-20 meeting, Lavrov used the analogy of children mingling at a kindergarten.

"When you are bought by your parents to a kindergarten do you mix with the people who are waiting in the same room to start going to a classroom?" he asked.

He added: "I remember when I was in that position I did spend five or ten minutes in the kindergarten before they brought us to the classroom."
Fucking ridiculous. I will never stop being angry that Donald Trump is such an overconfident dipshit that he put us in the position of being mocked by the Russian Foreign Minister, who just takes the piss at will, because we are being (un)governed by a man who is little more than a Russian nesting doll of character defects.

On that note... Philip Bump at the Washington Post: Trump Can Usually Make It About a Third of the Way Through an Interview Without Mentioning Hillary Clinton. "In fact, in 19 interviews that he's conducted since becoming president, we found that Clinton tended to be mentioned much earlier than a number of Trump's other favorite topics: The 2016 election, the votes he received, the electoral college and Barack Obama. ...In 17 of 19 of his interviews, Clinton came up, on average about 36 percent of the way in. ...How much does Trump like to raise the subject of Hillary Clinton? He even mentions her more frequently and sooner than his other favorite opponent: the press." GOD, DONNIE, GET IT THROUGH YOUR HEAD: SHE'LL NEVER LIKE YOU.

Sara Robinson at Rewire: Trump's Sensitivity to Being Laughed at Should Alarm Everyone. "When we hear Trump say, 'They're laughing at us,' it's almost certainly because he's about to put forth a policy explicitly designed to assert dominance or act out rage, abusing the vast powers of his office to brutally stuff some inferior group or nation back into its perceived place because they have dared to challenge him. Trump's fear of being laughed at is the clearest possible sign that we have installed an abuser-in-chief in the White House. Savvy global actors have already figured out that laughing at him is a very reliable way to provoke him into ridiculous postures and self-destructive policies. But closer to home, we also need to realize that over the next three and a half years, the worst abuses of power, the most draconian displays of force, and the most profound violence this administration does to our nation and to the bodies and futures of its citizens will almost inevitably occur because Trump thought somebody was laughing at him."

Daniel Dale at the Toronto Star: Donald Trump Said 414 False Things in His First Six Months. "The Star has tracked every single word Trump has said, tweeted or issued in his name since he took the oath on Jan. 20. Other than the sheer quantity of lies, what's most striking is their outlandish obviousness. With some exceptions, this is not sophisticated deceit. Trump is the toddler with purple icing on his face declaring that a fairy must have eaten the last piece of cake."

* * *

In other news...


[Content Note: White supremacy] Ayana Byrd at Colorlines: Climate Scientist Blows Whistle on Trump Administration's Department of the Interior.
Joel Clement's previous job: Director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the U.S. Department of the Interior, where he focused on helping endangered Native communities in Alaska prepare for and adapt to climate change.

His current job, as of June 15 when he was involuntarily reassigned: Collecting royalty checks from fossil fuel companies as a senior advisor at the Office of Natural Resources Revenue.

On Wednesday (July 19), Clement filed a complaint and a whistleblower disclosure form with the Office of Special Counsel, an independent investigative and prosecutorial agency for federal employees. That same day, The Washington Post published an op-ed by him titled, "I'm a Scientist. I'm Blowing the Whistle on the Trump Administration." It begins with this disclaimer:
I am not a member of the deep state. I am not big government.

I am a scientist, a policy expert, a civil servant and a worried citizen. Reluctantly, as of today, I am also a whistleblower on an administration that chooses silence over science.
Clement writes that involuntary reassignments like the one he (and about 50 others) received were used to eliminate those whose views did not agree with the new administration's.
Fucking hell. And what did Clement do that targeted him for retaliation? "I believe I was retaliated against for speaking out publicly about the dangers that climate change poses to Alaska Native communities."

[CN: LGBT hatred] Michael Fitzgerald at Towleroad: Donald Trump to Nominate Another Anti-LGBTQ Secretary to the Army. "Donald Trump has announced that he plans to nominate anti-LGBT veteran and defense contractor manager Mark Esper as Secretary of the Army. Esper is a lobbyist and vice president for government relations at defense contractor Raytheon and served as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense from 2002 to 2004. ...However, GLAAD reports that Esper was also the former chair of the National Security Policy subcommittee for the 2008 Republican Party Platform, which specifically targeted LGBT service members. Additionally, he has worked with anti-LGBT lawmakers including Senator Bill Frist and served as Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President of the Heritage Foundation."

David Shepardson and Valerie Volcovici at Reuters: White House Deregulation Push Clears out Hundreds of Proposed Rules. "The White House said Thursday it had withdrawn or removed from active consideration more than 800 proposed regulations that were never finalized during the Obama administration as it works to shrink the federal government's regulatory footprint. ...The steps to eliminate regulations makes good on a much-repeated Trump campaign promise to promote business-friendly policies. Investors have anticipated the action, helping to push share prices higher on hopes that fewer regulations will boost business growth and lead to higher corporate profits."

What have you been reading that we need to resist today?

Sean Spicer Has Resigned

  • Jul. 21st, 2017 at 11:15 AM

Posted by Melissa McEwan


[If you cannot view the image in the second tweet, it is a photo of Sean Spicer with his eyes cast downward, to which I've added text reading: "I'm resigning to spend more time with my family working on my Melissa McCarthy impersonation. Thank you and goodbye."]

Spicer reportedly handed in his notice because Donald Trump hired Anthony Scaramucci as White House Communications Director: "Mr. Trump offered Mr. Scaramucci the job at 10 a.m. The president requested that Mr. Spicer stay on, but Mr. Spicer told Mr. Trump that he believed the appointment was a major mistake, according to a person with direct knowledge of the exchange."

That person is almost certainly Reince Priebus, who rumor has it isn't thrilled with Scaramucci's appointment, either.

Let's all take a moment to fondly recall, while Sarah McLachlan's "I Will Remember You" plays, all of the horrors that Spicer was willing to spin and defend, all of the corruption about which he was willing to straight-up lie, all of the indignities he was willing to suffer on behalf of this obscene administration. But he drew the line at having to work with someone he doesn't like.

Sounds about right.

Good riddance, Sean. Give Scottie McClellan a call. You'll have a lot to discuss, I'm sure.

I Don't Like This One Bit

  • Jul. 21st, 2017 at 10:30 AM

Posted by Melissa McEwan

Next week, the Trump administration will reportedly announce a unilateral travel ban on U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea.
Koryo Tours and Young Pioneer Tours, who both operate there, said the ban would be announced on 27 July to come into effect 30 days later.

They were informed by the Swedish embassy, which conducts US affairs in the country.

US officials have confirmed the ban to US media and linked it to the death of jailed American student Otto Warmbier, but given no details on date or scope.
This is potentially a pointless provocation (although Kim Jong Un doesn't particularly want Americans visiting anyway), but, more importantly, it's a very concerning precedent: Warmbier's death is being used as a rationale for banning people from traveling to North Korea, when there is already a State Department caution for traveling there.

And if the motivation were genuinely just concern for citizens' safety, I'm not sure, at all, why this alarming punitive measure is part of the ban: "After the 30-day grace period [to allow tourists and humanitarian workers still in the country to leave] any US national that travels to North Korea will have their passport invalidated by their government."

This strikes me as the exploitation of a tragic situation in order to have an excuse to set a precedent for banning U.S. citizens' travel to other places.

Lest you imagine that's unjustifiable alarmism: "Associated Press news agency quoted US officials as saying that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had decided to implement a 'geographical travel restriction' for North Korea, meaning the use of US passports to enter would be illegal."

I have long suspected that the Trump administration would eventually disallow foreign travel for average citizens. That is, that we simply won't be allowed to leave.

I fear that Trump's border wall, for example, on which he persists despite the fact that undocumented immigration from Mexico has significantly declined, is really less about keeping people out than it is about keeping people in.

And, last month, to little fanfare, the Trump administration reinstated some travel restrictions to Cuba (where it has never been illegal, full-stop, for U.S. citizens to visit, unlike this North Korea ban).

What it utterly unclear is what limitations this administration believes there are, if any, on its ability to issue executive orders defining additional "geographical travel restrictions."

Suffice it to say, this news is not reassuring.

Posted by Melissa McEwan

This is what happens when a country decides to make its president an arrogant, nepotistic authoritarian with contempt for the rule of law: He shreds every last vestige of functional democratic systems if anyone tries to hold him or his family accountable for their corruption.

Carol D. Leonnig, Ashley Parker, Rosalind S. Helderman, and Tom Hamburger at the Washington Post: Trump Team Seeks to Control, Block Mueller's Russia Investigation.
Some of [Donald] Trump's lawyers are exploring ways to limit or undercut special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's Russia investigation, building a case against what they allege are his conflicts of interest and discussing the president's authority to grant pardons, according to people familiar with the effort.

Trump has asked his advisers about his power to pardon aides, family members. and even himself in connection with the probe, according to one of those people. A second person said Trump's lawyers have been discussing the president's pardoning powers among themselves.

One adviser said the president has simply expressed a curiosity in understanding the reach of his pardoning authority, as well as the limits of Mueller's investigation.
The President of the United States has "simply expressed a curiosity" about whether he can pardon himself and his children, whom he inappropriately elevated to key roles in his campaign and/or administration, because they have definitely broken laws and thus may need to be pardoned if the Special Counsel, who was appointed because that president's Attorney General is also a corrupt liar, finds out about their lawbreaking in the course of his investigation, which just expanded to include said president's personal business dealings.

You know. Normal stuff.
Other advisers said the president is also irritated by the notion that Mueller's probe could reach into his and his family's finances.

Trump has been fuming about the probe in recent weeks as he has been informed about the legal questions that he and his family could face. His primary frustration centers on why allegations that his campaign coordinated with Russia should spread into scrutinizing many years of Trump dealmaking. He has told aides he was especially disturbed after learning Mueller would be able to access several years of his tax returns.
There are a number of reasons Trump is "disturbed" at the thought of his tax returns being scrutinized, from the possibility of embarrassment if they reveal Trump is nowhere as wealthy as he has claimed, which is pathetic but relatively harmless, to the possibility of being exposed as having had business dealings with Russia (or individual Russians), despite having repeatedly claimed he does not, which could be a bigger problem, given the raison d'être of Mueller's probe.

There's some reason, after all, that Trump defiantly refused to disclose his tax returns, in breach of common practice, during the presidential election. He has stubbornly resisted financial transparency, and Mueller's scrutiny is certain to reveal precisely why.

So naturally Trump's legal team is going on the offense, trying to discredit Mueller as being compromised by conflicts of interest and accusing him of violating the limited scope of his investigation.
"The fact is that the president is concerned about conflicts that exist within the special counsel's office and any changes in the scope of the investigation," [one of Trump's attorneys, Jay] Sekulow said. "The scope is going to have to stay within his mandate. If there's drifting, we're going to object."

Sekulow cited Bloomberg News reports that Mueller is scrutinizing some of Trump's business dealings, including with a Russian oligarch who purchased a Palm Beach mansion from Trump for $95 million in 2008.

"They're talking about real estate transactions in Palm Beach several years ago," Sekulow said. "In our view, this is far outside the scope of a legitimate investigation."
Except it's not outside the scope of a legitimate investigation — because that Russian oligarch, Dmitry Rybolovlev, purchased the estate from Trump for two-and-a-half times what Trump paid for it two years earlier, which looks exactly like what happens in real estate money laundering schemes.

That doesn't mean it was a money laundering transaction, but it looks enough like it could be that it warrants investigation, especially given that Mueller is investigating collusion and thus must examine any potential evidence of quid pro quo.

Recall what Trump just said on the investigation to the New York Times: "By the way, I would say, I don't — I don't — I mean, it's possible there's a condo or something, so, you know, I sell a lot of condo units, and somebody from Russia buys a condo, who knows? I don't make money from Russia. In fact, I put out a letter saying that I don't make — from one of the most highly respected law firms, accounting firms. I don't have buildings in Russia. They said I own buildings in Russia. I don't. They said I made money from Russia. I don't. It's not my thing. I don't, I don't do that. Over the years, I've looked at maybe doing a deal in Russia, but I never did one. Other than I held the Miss Universe pageant there eight, nine years [crosstalk]."

Being that Trump is known to be a profligate liar, who tells "big lies, needless lies, above all else unrelenting lies," it's just as likely and maybe more so that those words were actually another confession, masquerading as another denial.

Mueller has every reason to investigate Trump, his family, and his associates, in excruciating detail. And the fact that he does is precisely why Trump is "curious" about the means he has to stop him.

Posted by Victoria Stern

When a neuroscientist noticed there were problems with his January 2017 paper in Nature Neuroscience, he didn’t wait for the journal to take action — instead, he published his concerns about four figures on PubMed Commons. Months later, the journal has issued formal corrections to those figures — along with several more.    In February […]

The post Months after neuroscientist flagged errors, Nature journal corrects them — and more appeared first on Retraction Watch.

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