Political Men Behaving Badly


On Monday, we announced that starting this week we would have a Daily Pnut Week in Review. The highest scoring winner will be congratulated in this Monday’s Daily Pnut (unless they prefer anonymity) and mailed a book of their choosing that day from our book list. If there are multiple people who have perfect scores, then we’ll use a random generator to pick the winner.

This online quiz is 10 short questions, and submissions must be made by 12pm EST Sunday, 4/15. Everything in the quiz has been covered in this week’s Daily Pnut.


“Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We’ve been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.” – Seneca, Letters from a Stoic


Arming India to Provide a Counterweight to China: Rival US defense contractors Boeing and Lockheed Martin competed this week at India’s Defense Exposition, each seeking to win part of the biggest prize, a deal worth $15 billion where India would buy 110 fighter aircraft. India’s government has traditionally purchased most of its military gear from Russia. French and Swedish businesses are also competing for part of that contract. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is encouraging foreign defense companies to partner with local Indian firms and share technology with them, as part of a long-term goal of developing a homegrown defense industry.

The White House supports sharing American technology with India, whom it considers a key counterweight to China in the region, and views strengthened ties as diminishing Russia’s influence. As the US Ambassador to India said Wednesday, “The US is going to be very forward-leaning in technology, the transfer of technology, and indigenous production that we can offer to India.” He added the US plans to share with India sensitive technology never before offered, something Russia has not wanted to do. (NYT)

India’s Deep Domestic Divisions: While Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a staunch Hindu nationalist, and quite bullish on building his country’s defense industry, any determination to protect his country’s Muslim population isn’t as obvious. Police in northern India have been trying to lodge charges against eight men in the brutal rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl, a member of a nomadic Muslim tribe. She was kidnapped and held in a small Hindu temple, whose custodian police say planned the atrocity because he opposes the settlement of the Muslim tribe in the area. Officers trying to arrest the custodian and his accomplices have been confronted by increasingly activist right-wing Hindu lawyers determined to prevent any charges being brought. Modi has made no comment on the case, and critics have pointed out that his rise to power while boasting nationalist ideology has emboldened extremists. (The Guardian)


New Zealand’s Zealous Approach to Global Warming: New Zealand’s government has capped oil and gas drilling in its waters as part of its efforts to combat climate change. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Thursday that no new permits for offshore exploration will be granted. A quick and angry outcry was heard from the country’s fossil fuel industry. (CNN Money)

A Vatican Reversal: The Vatican released a letter from Pope Francis Wednesday wherein the pontiff apologized for making “serious mistakes” in his handling of the sex abuse scandal in Chile. Francis said his lack of “truthful and balanced information” led to his misjudging the situation concerning Bishop Juan Barros. The Pope had appointed Barros to the small diocese of Osorno in 2015 despite allegations that he had helped cover up sexual abuse by his mentor, the Rev. Fernando Karadima. Karadima had been found guilty of abusing dozens of minors dating back to the 1980s and was dismissed by the church in 2011. When he visited Chile in January, Pope Francis ignored protestations by victims of Karadima to the appointment of Barros. (NPR and BBC)

Britain and Bungling Immigration: After WWII ended, a war-torn Great Britain encouraged immigration from Commonwealth countries to alleviate an “acute shortage of labour” and help rebuild the Homeland. Beginning 70 years ago, hundreds of people were carried from Jamaica, Trinidad, Tobago, and other islands, to Britain aboard the British passenger ship HMT Empire Windrush. Now many undocumented Caribbean-born UK residents are learning that an “immigration anomaly” is causing seniors who have lived their entire lives as Brits to be denied health services, prevented from working, and facing destitution, detention, and possible deportation. (BBC)


You Down with TPP? Who’s Down with TPP? President Trump discarded the multi-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) within days of taking office, claiming he could negotiate much better trade deals than former president Obama. But after increasing fears in farm states of the Chinese imposing devastating retaliatory tariffs on products like soybeans and pork produced in the Heartland, 25 Republican senators wrote to Trump urging him to rejoin the pact. Thursday morning, the president announced he had directed his economic adviser and his trade negotiator to look into the possibility of the US rejoining the TTP, something that will be much easier said than done. (Bloomberg, NYT)

The Philanderer-in-Chief: Federal prosecutors are investigating the possible illegality of hush money payments to a porn star and a Playboy model made on Donald Trump’s behalf by Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer, and American Media Inc. (AMI), owner of the National Enquirer. Cohen’s homes and offices were raided this week by FBI agents using search warrants to obtain anything related to those transactions, among other things. Now the Associated Press reports a previously unknown $30,000 payment, made by the Enquirer to a former doorman at a Trump building in New York, to suppress a rumor that Trump had fathered a child with an employee in the 1980s. George Washington is rolling in his grave. (The Guardian)

More Political Men Behaving Badly: The Missouri House’s Special Investigative Committee on Oversight released a 24-page document Wednesday that will expand its investigation of Republican Governor Eric Greitens, who admitted to an extramarital affair with his hair stylist. Greitens was indicted on one count of felony invasion of privacy in February. This time the panel will consider whether to recommend Greitens’ impeachment. Wednesday evening, Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill tweeted: “I have read the official report from the Republican led Missouri House investigation, including the sworn testimony. It is clearly time to put the interests of the people of Missouri first. The Governor should resign.” Greitens called the investigation a political “witch hunt.” (NPR)

Boehner and Biggie Start Singing Let’s Ride and Get High: Former House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday his “thinking on cannabis has evolved.”Federal policy lists marijuana as a Class 1 drug, meaning it lacks accepted medical use and has a high potential to be abused. Boehner now says: “I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities.” Both Boehner and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, another Republican, will join the Board of Advisors of Acreage Holdings, a corporation that operates cannabis cultivation, processing, and dispensing across 11 states. In a joint statement, the former marijuana opponents said: “We need to look no further than our nation’s 20 million veterans, 20 percent of whom, according to a 2017 American Legion survey, reportedly use cannabis to self-treat PTSD, chronic pain, and other ailments. Yet the VA does not allow its doctors to recommend its usage. There are numerous other patient groups in America whose quality of life has been dramatically improved by the state-sanctioned use of medical cannabis.” (NPR)


– “Bolingo the gorilla learns to handstand in Florida zoo.” (BBC)

– Robin Lopez is a 7-foot Stanford graduate who plays in the NBA, but tussles and fights with NBA mascots like he was in WWE. (CNN)

– “The Belgian army has been criticised over plans to allow homesick recruits to sleep at home rather in barracks during their initial training, as it deals with a major recruitment crisis. The 28,000-strong army has suffered from a large number of recruits quitting early over complaints that they miss their friends and family.” (The Guardian)

– A Syrian man who “fears arrest for refusing a military call-up … now survives on airline meals of rice and chicken” at an airport in Malaysia. (The Guardian)

– “Compound growth gets discussed as a financial concept, but it works in careers as well, and it is magic. A small productivity gain, compounded over 50 years, is worth a lot. So it’s worth figuring out how to optimize productivity. If you get 10% more done and 1% better every day compared to someone else, the compounded difference is massive.” – Sam Altman on Productivity

– “Teach kids creativity. Ultimately, machines will be better at coding.” (Wired)


“In your actions, don’t procrastinate. In your conversations, don’t confuse. In your thoughts, don’t wander. In your soul, don’t be passive or aggressive. In your life, don’t be all about business.” – Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

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