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Zorro

Profile Information

Gender: Male
Hometown: America's Finest City
Current location: District 50
Member since: 2001
Number of posts: 11,551

Journal Archives

Eight Days a Week

Just watched this on Hulu. Warp propelled me back into the early 60s, when the Beatles brought a sense of cheerful exuberance during a time of great social and political trauma.

I wish there was some element in today's dark political environment that could invoke that same feeling.

Anyway, highly recommended.

Historians Find Another Spy in the U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

His Soviet code name was Godsend, and he came to Los Alamos from a family of secret agents.


The world’s first atomic bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945, in the New Mexican desert — a result of a highly secretive effort code-named the Manhattan Project, whose nerve center lay nearby in Los Alamos. Just 49 months later, the Soviets detonated a nearly identical device in Central Asia, and Washington’s monopoly on nuclear arms abruptly ended.

How Moscow managed to make such quick progress has long fascinated scientists, federal agents and historians. The work of three spies eventually came to light. Now atomic sleuths have found a fourth. Oscar Seborer, like the other spies, worked at wartime Los Alamos, a remote site ringed by tall fences and armed guards. Mr. Seborer nonetheless managed to pass sensitive information about the design of the American weapon to Soviet agents.

The spy fled to the Soviet Union some years later; the F.B.I. eventually learned of his defection and the espionage but kept the information secret.

His role “has remained hidden for 70 years,” write Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes in the current issue of Studies in Intelligence, the C.I.A.’s in-house journal; their article is titled “On the Trail of a Fourth Soviet Spy at Los Alamos.” In separate interviews, the sleuths said they were still gathering clues regarding the exact character of Mr. Seborer’s atomic thefts.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/23/science/manhattan-project-atomic-spy.html

The Moral Injury of Pardoning War Crimes

The president may feel like he’s righting a wrong, but he’s damaging the nation’s moral compass.

Post-traumatic stress — the nightmares, flashbacks and anxiety set off by terrifying events — is a defining injury of the global war on terrorism. But in the past few decades, the mental health community and the military have come to understand that there is a related, intensifying phenomenon called moral injury.

Moral injury doesn’t simply result from witnessing or participating in the horrors of war. Moral injury comes from participating in events that violate soldiers’ morality or, as the Department of Veterans Affairs describes it: “failing to prevent immoral acts of others, or giving or receiving orders that are perceived as gross moral violations.”

A person suffering from moral injury may be unable to trust friends and family, or the society that enabled the immorality. The injured can question whether virtue exists. Moral injury is often described as a bruise of the soul.

To avoid such injury, militaries long ago adopted procedures to ensure that those who don the uniform can do so with honor and then remove it with pride. One of the pillars of that framework is the military justice system; another is societal taboos against aberrant behavior.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/22/opinion/editorials/trump-gallagher-pardon-war-crimes.html

'Our Nation Is Being Torn Apart. Truth Is Questioned.'

Fiona Hill’s warnings challenge Trump to keep America safe from Moscow’s efforts to destabilize democracy and snare influence around the globe.

Over the last several weeks, each impeachment inquiry witness put the Trump presidency in greater peril. But it was Thursday’s testimony from Fiona Hill that underscored the full breadth of the damage Russia has already done to the United States: “Our nation is being torn apart; truth is questioned; our highly professional expert career Foreign Service is being undermined.”

In unflinching language, Dr. Hill, a former National Security Council senior director, laid out how Russia used cyberwarfare to systematically attack our 2016 elections, and adroitly warned against a similar attack she expects in 2020. Her most revealing comments came with an appeal to the Trump administration and its congressional allies not to continue parroting a “fictional narrative,” which originated in the Russian intelligence service — that Ukraine, not Russia, disrupted our 2016 elections.

By categorically indicting Russia’s tactics and obliquely warning against President Trump’s acceptance of them, Dr. Hill touched the core of how and why Mr. Trump’s own actions and inaction have pointed him toward impeachment. And doing so opened a door to far larger discussion — the president’s failure to confront the huge Russian intelligence operation to disorient democracies as it seeks to expand its influence around the globe. So far, those tactics have not only taken down the United States several notches in global trust, but apparently have targeted Britain, France and Germany in similar fashion.

What the Trump administration and the rest of us need to acknowledge is that these campaigns are a type of low-grade full spectrum warfare — military jargon for the combined use of new and complex methods for attaining victory. To be sure, the attacks have been mostly bloodless, except in eastern Ukraine. But they constitute warfare nevertheless — fully analogous to the Cold War, when Russia also challenged the United States for the balance of influence around the world.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/23/opinion/trump-fiona-hill-russia.html

Yes, Congress should be talking about the president and bribery

DID PRESIDENT TRUMP commit bribery? When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) leveled this accusation this month, some may have heard hyperbole — or even a public-relations stunt. Messaging concerns persuaded Democrats to abandon the term “quid pro quo” for “bribery.” But it is not phony messaging. The Democrats’ charge is grounded in the Constitution’s language — and it is credible.

The Constitution specifically lists bribery as an impeachable offense, before “high crimes and misdemeanors.” If the president is guilty of bribery, there is no need to wonder what “high crimes and misdemeanors” means.

Of course, the Constitution does not define “bribery,” either. But federal law does: It is the act of giving, offering or promising anything of value — not just money or tangible items — to a public official to influence an official act. Likewise, the law bars public officials from soliciting anything of value in return for influencing the performance of an official act. In Mr. Trump’s case, two weeks of testimony have uncovered evidence that he solicited something of value from the Ukrainian government (besmirching a political opponent) in exchange for official acts (a White House meeting, the delivery of military aid).

The first piece of evidence came from Mr. Trump himself, who released the rough transcript of a July 25 phone call he had with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. As Mr. Zelensky asked for an Oval Office visit and to buy more antitank missiles from the United States, Mr. Trump requested “a favor”: launching investigations into supposed 2016 election interference on the part of Ukraine and into natural gas company Burisma. The former is part of an effort by Mr. Trump and his personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani to discredit and distract from the fact that Russia meddled in the 2016 race to help Mr. Trump. The latter is an attempt to smear former vice president Joe Biden, whose son Hunter sat on Burisma’s board. According to the transcript, only after Mr. Zelensky promised investigations did Mr. Trump offer a White House meeting.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/yes-congress-should-be-talking-about-the-president-and-bribery/2019/11/22/ba0c209c-0cb6-11ea-8397-a955cd542d00_story.html

Republicans are out of arguments in the Trump impeachment inquiry. So they're trying props.

Watching the impeachment hearings at home in Los Angeles, I’d been trying to figure out what those oversized posters stationed behind Republican committee members were all about.

Thursday, I had a front-row seat to the House of Representatives’ fifth day of hearings in this sad but necessary national trauma. The hearing room on the first floor of the Longworth House Office Building was chilly; the lights were bright. Camera-laden photographers milled around the front of the room waiting for the orchestrated arrival of witnesses, who were escorted in through a side door.

I could finally see what the posters were for; they were a trio of puerile attacks on Democratic Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff.

Like so much of the Republican rhetoric we’ve heard over the last two weeks, they didn’t even make sense: “101 days since Adam Schiff learned the identity of the whistleblower.” “8 days since Adam Schiff claimed he didn’t know the identity of the whistleblower.” And the nonsensical “0 days since Adam Schiff followed House rules.”

At this point, gratuitous attacks on Schiff are all the Republicans have.

https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-11-22/republicans-trump-impeachment-inquiry-using-props

A group of hunger strikers protested peacefully in Pelosi's office. Then they decided to storm it.

The hunger strike inside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office to protest inaction on climate change wasn’t going well Thursday.

It was day four without food for nine young strikers who vowed to stay until the bitter end, and Pelosi (D-Calif.) had not come close to meeting their demand to talk with them for an hour on camera about her leadership on the issue. They were allowed to squat at the entrance to her office on the plush blue carpet and quietly draw signs with Sharpies, but aside from that, it was almost as if Pelosi didn’t know they were there.

And so, weak and dizzy for lack of food, they gathered in a circle in the hallway and came up with a plan.

With the little energy they had left, they would storm past two aides, barge into the wider room where the congresswoman’s chief of staff and others sat, get arrested by police and make a statement that they were there to protest the “lip service” House Democrats paid to an issue that would impact their future.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/climate-environment/2019/11/21/nine-climate-activists-arrested-after-storming-nancy-pelosis-office/

This doesn't help.

The Tesla Truck Is Coming Today. Here's What That Means for Ford and GM Stock

The Tesla “cyberpunk” pickup truck is coming. That much is obvious to investors following the space. Tesla’s reveal event—happening Thursday evening in Los Angeles—is a big deal for car people. What’s not obvious is what the truck will look like or how it will perform.

That isn’t all that’s opaque. The impact of Tesla’s truck ambitions on existing U.S. truck giants Ford Motor and General Motors is also difficult to call.

“Citi data suggests Ford has more headline risk than GM,” Citigroup analyst Itay Michaeli wrote in a Thursday research report. “If Tesla’s pickup impresses, Ford is competitively more exposed to share-loss risk than GM, with materially higher [earnings] exposure.”

That makes sense. Ford (ticker: F) is a bigger truck maker than General Motors (GM) and a large portion of its profits come from trucks. But Michaeli goes deeper in his research note. Ford sells more trucks with selling prices greater than $60,000. The Tesla (TSLA) truck will likely be positioned for the higher end of truck buyers based on its existing models and the high cost of batteries powering electric vehicles.

https://www.barrons.com/articles/tesla-truck-reveal-today-ford-gm-stock-51574345280

Trump Accuses Vindman of Becoming a War Hero Just to Make Him Look Bad

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Moments after the decorated veteran testified to Congress on Tuesday, Donald Trump accused Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman of becoming a war hero “just to make me look bad.”

In a vicious broadside on Twitter, Trump claimed that Vindman carried out an “evil plan, years in the making” to “load himself up with medals” that would give his future testimony against Trump greater credibility.

“Fifteen years ago, he went to fight in Iraq, thinking to himself, ‘Boy, this is going to help me when I try to attack Trump someday,’ ” Trump tweeted. “This is how the Never Trumpers roll.”

When Vindman earned a Purple Heart, Trump wrote, “His scheme to attack me personally really started coming together.”

Trump contrasted Vindman, whom he called a “disgraceful showboat,” unfavorably with Representative Devin Nunes, whom he labelled “a great American.”

“Say what you will about Devin Nunes, he’ll never go and do something heroic,” Trump tweeted.

https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/trump-accuses-vindman-of-becoming-a-war-hero-just-to-make-him-look-bad

Woman who threw slushie on Matt Gaetz at Pensacola event sentenced to 15 days in prison

Source: Pensacola News-Herald

Amanda Kondrat'yev, the woman who threw a red slushie drink on U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz at a campaign event in June, was sentenced Monday to 15 days in prison for assaulting a U.S. congressman.

The 35-year-old wife and mother of two, who briefly ran against Gaetz as a Democratic challenger in the 2016 election, will turn herself in to the U.S. Marshals to begin her sentence Dec. 2.

Kondrat'yev pleaded guilty in August and admitted to throwing the cup at Gaetz as he was leaving the Brew Ha Ha restaurant for an "Open Gaetz" event on June 1.

Sentencing guidelines called for a prison sentence of eight months to a year, but U.S. Magistrate Judge Hope Cannon said the fact that Kondrat'yev had no prior criminal history and that the crime in question had a "limited duration" justified a departure from those guidelines.

Read more: https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2019/11/18/woman-who-threw-slushie-matt-gaetz-sentenced-15-days-prison-amanda-kondratyev/4227935002/
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