Mindfulness in War | The Power of Advertising | Trump and Putin’s Mulligan Over Mueller’s Report

APRIL 10, 2019  /   SUBSCRIBE



“No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path.”

“Doubt everything. Find your own light.”

– Gautama Buddha




Making Mountains Out Of Mouse Traps: Russian President Vladimir Putin has joined the chorus of President Trump and his supporters who say Special Counsel’s Robert Mueller’s report exonerates the president. Putin said the inquiry’s findings validated the Kremlin’s continuous denials of collusion with Trump’s presidential campaign. “It was clear for us from the start that it would end like this,” Putin said of the Trump-Russia investigation, adding: “A mountain gave birth to a mouse.”

Putin repeated Moscow’s across-the-board disavowals on Tuesday, claiming the Russian government had no contact with Trump when he visited Moscow as a businessman. But these pronouncements came as Attorney General William Barr continued to refuse to allow Congress to see the entire 400 page Mueller report. Instead, Barr had presented a four-page “summary” of the report which claimed the special counsel found no evidence the Trump campaign “conspired or coordinated” with the Russian government to influence the election.

In truth, Mueller’s long investigation uncovered a multi-pronged operation to interfere with the 2016 vote. Not only were 25 Russians indicted on charges of hacking Democratic email accounts and spreading disinformation on social media, but a number of persons close to the Trump campaign were either indicted, are awaiting trial, or have pled guilty to various related criminal offenses. Mueller followed the long-standing Justice Department tradition of not indicating a sitting president, instead of leaving the decision up to Congress for contemplation of any possible impeachment charges. Stonewalling the release of the report by Trump’s hand-picked attorney general raises serious questions about what damaging evidence Mueller was able to uncover in the course of the investigation. Additional read: Whatever Trump Is Playing, It Isn’t Golf: The sport means a lot to Trump—which hasn’t stopped him from cheating outrageously at it. (Atlantic)



A Second Arab Spring?: How long is too long in office? Sudan’s president Omar Hassan al-Bashir seized power in 1989; now protesters are saying ‘just go already.’ Some people began protesting last December over food shortages and rising prices. It quickly became a mass movement across the country, with hundreds of thousands of people calling for al-Bashir to step down. Over the weekend masses demonstrated in front of army headquarters in the capital of Khartoum. The president’s residence is in the same army compound. Eyewitnesses said some of the soldiers were protecting protesters from other security forces trying to disperse the crowd. Al-Bashir’s hold on power is stronger than that of the ailing president of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who agreed to resign amid mass demonstrations just a week ago. Al-Bashir met with his security council Sunday, but as the demonstrations intensified, his government seemed unsure how to respond. But one worrisome sign was the increased presence in Khartoum of the janjaweed, notorious militias blamed for the atrocities in Dafur. They were reconstituted by the Sudanese government as the Rapid Support Forces. Protesters and activists braced themselves amid rumors of a crackdown. (NYT)

A Rise In Temperatures, A Fall In Walruses: In the fall of 2017 the crew making Netflix’s documentary Our Planet recorded the tragic behavior of hundreds of walruses in Russia that were climbing up high, rocky slopes overlooking a beach, only to then walk over the edge. “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever filmed,” said a cameraman on a behind-the-scenes video. Our Planet makes a point of saying what other nature series have not — the wonders they’re showing are endangered because of humans. Much of the planet’s excess carbon dioxide is concentrated at the North Pole, and temperatures are increasing faster there than anywhere else. Such warming has already caused the disappearance of 95 percent of the Arctic’s oldest sea ice. As the sea ice platforms became thinner and sparser, Pacific walruses have increasingly been forced onto solid land by the thousands. Experts say the walruses gather “out of desperation, not out of choice. A stampede can occur out of nowhere [making the animals] a danger to themselves.” And so they climb “to find space away from the crowds.” “This is the sad reality of climate change,” the documentarian said. “They’d be on the ice if they could.” (Atlantic)

War And Peace Of Mind: The commander of coalition forces in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt, is using a powerful “new” tool to begin his forces’ daily operations — Mindfulness. Piatt is employing the ancient practice of using breathing techniques, similar to those in meditation, to gain focus and reduce distraction. Mindfulness training has been used by militaries in other nations to improve shooting, heal trauma-stressed veterans, make command decisions and help soldiers in chaotic battles. NATO is conducting a two-day symposium this week in Berlin, Germany to discuss the evidence behind the use of Mindfulness in the military. (NYT) Additional songs: All These Things That I’ve Done by The Killers and Disarm by The Smashing Pumpkins. If Daily Pnut ever produces a war movie both songs will be in the soundtrack.


Additional World News:



Actor In Chief: Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation Sunday, and her replacement with an acting secretary, is just the latest example of what President Trump told CBS’ Face The Nation in February: “I like ‘acting’ because I can move so quickly. It gives me more flexibility.” What the president could mean by that is that by appointing people to temporary “acting” positions, he can avoid putting his choices through the Senate’s confirmation process as it is outlined in the US Constitution.

Max Stier, CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, sees a danger in this method. The lack of permanence at the top of these departments means “we don’t have established leaders in really important places in our government,” Stier says, comparing the acting directors to substitute teachers. “They might be amazing educators or amazing leaders in their own right, but they’re not … going to be perceived as having complete and full authority by those that are around them.” It’s a crucial issue because “these are jobs that are fundamental to keeping us all safe.”Nielsen’s departure means a total of 15 of Trump’s Cabinet-level appointees have left in the first three years of the Trump administration, compared to seven for President Obama and four for President George W. Bush. (NPR)

Big Pharma’s Medi-Sins: Some 30 million Americans rely on insulin to keep their life-threatening diabetes under control. When a doctor invented the drug in 1923, he refused to put his name on the patent because he considered it unethical to profit from a discovery that would save lives. He also believed a patient who needed medication should be able to afford it. But in today’s America, thanks to a lax regulatory environment, drug companies set whatever prices they wish, and insulin has become the poster child for pharmaceutical price gouging. In just the past 10 years, the cost of the four most popular types of insulin tripled, and the out-of-pocket prescription costs patients face doubled. By 2016 the average price of insulin had risen to $450 a month and it didn’t stop there. How can companies get away with raising drug prices so drastically? One researcher had this simple answer: “They’re doing it because they can.”(Vox)




The Power of Advertising: Using Ads to Fight Against the Truth: Just about everybody grew up hearing their comfortable identifying phrase: “Johnson & Johnson: A Family Company.” Among the most recognizable of the household products made by the 130-plus-year-old company is Johnson’s Baby Powder. So it was pretty horrifying to learn that in 2013 a jury found J&J negligent in the first ever case to claim that regular use of its Baby Powder for feminine hygiene caused ovarian cancer. The verdict spawned a cascade of similar lawsuits, and of the eight ovarian cancer cases that have gone to trial so far, half have resulted in verdicts for plaintiffs. Evidence showed a company not immersed in warm fuzzy family feelings, not following its own credo “to put the needs and well-being of the people we serve first.” Rather, it’s a company that in 2006, when the WHO began classifying cosmetic talc such as Baby Powder as “possibly carcinogenic” when used by women as a genital antiperspirant and deodorant, something many had done for years, it looked for even more way to sell more Baby Powder to two key groups of longtime users: African-American and overweight women.

A 2006 internal J&J marketing presentation, the “right way” to focus was “under-developed geographical areas with hot weather and higher AA [African American] population.” Other internal documentation shows J&J’s decades-long efforts to offset declining Baby Powder sales by targeting certain markets despite knowing that asbestos had been found in its Baby Powder and Shower to Shower — information it did not disclose to regulators or the public. (Reuters)

Here’s how many Facebook ads some publishers are running on their main pages (Digiday)




“It did what all ads are supposed to do: create an anxiety relievable by purchase.” – David Foster Wallace

“All the papers that matter live off their advertisements, and the advertisers exercise an indirect censorship over news.” – George Orwell


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