The Whistleblower’s Papers
September 27, 2019
“Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics the greatest number have begun their career, by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing Demagogues, and ending Tyrants.” – Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist Papers
“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” – Donald Trump
The Years of Donald Trump: Power Pursued Irresponsibly
- An anonymous whistleblower filed an official complaint against President Donald Trump, stating that his actions on Ukraine “pose risks to US national security,” and accused the White House of attempting to cover up the conversations President Trump held with Ukranian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy.
- The whistleblower has called out White House officials for “locking down” the official, word-for-word transcript of the call between world leaders, and instead released a memo of the call this past Wednesday.
- President Trump tweeted early Thursday morning regarding the situation in his normal manner, calling the incident “The greatest scam in the history of American politics.” House speaker Nancy Pelosi slammed the White House, calling the lack of official transcript a “cover-up.”
- The complaints listed by the whistleblower also indicate that other phone calls may have been treated in a similar manner, raising concerns about other conversations between President Trump and other world leaders.
- Acting Director of National Intelligence, Joseph Maguire, testified before the House intelligence committee on Thursday. During his opening statement, Maguire simply said that the situation was “totally unprecedented.” During his testimony, he stated that after contacting the White House, they informed him that these proceedings were out of his control. He insisted: “I believe the whistleblower was acting in good faith … I think he did the right thing.”
- Daily Pnut on who else might be tapping into secret White House conversations
- Trump Didn’t Bribe Ukraine. It’s Actually Worse Than That.: Mislabeling what the president has done could make impeachment more difficult to achieve. (Politico)
- Giuliani pursued shadow Ukraine agenda as key foreign policy officials were sidelined (WaPo, $)
- White House Sends Impeachment Talking Points to Democrats, Then Tries to Recall Them: “They’re complete Orwellian lies and toxic trash,” Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., a Democrat who received the message, said of the talking points. (He did not use them.) (NYT, $)
- We’ve Reached the Breaking Point: The Ukraine scandal confirms that Trump knows he can act with impunity—and no one will stop him. (The Atlantic, $)
- “You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself.” – James Madison, The Federalist Papers
The Assassin Who Came in from the Cold
- On August 23rd, former Chechen separtist commander, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was assassinated in broad daylight in the streets of Berlin. Two witnesses saw the gunman fleeing the scene and alerted authorities, who promptly arrested the suspect as they attempted to make a getaway.
- Despite having captured him, authorities have been unable to identify the man. An anonymous email sent to investigators suggested the identity of the suspect, stating that they were a hit man released from prison by Russian authorities in order to carry out the assassination. The email claimed the man’s real name was Vladimir Alekseevich Stepanov, though authorities are worried that the source is unreliable.
- The Kremlin has denied any connection to the Berlin suspect, but it has also ignored German investigators’ requests for help, which has raised suspicion amongst German officials. Khangoshvili had fought against Russian troops in at least two wars in the early 2000s and had survived other assassination attempts before settling in Germany in 2016.
- So far, the only lead remains the emails sent by an anonymous user, who also sent multiple articles from a 2005 court hearing which landed Vladimir Alekseevich Stepanov 24 years in prison. The email’s implication was that he had been released early in order to carry out the mission in Berlin. (NYT $)
- This event reminds us of this article: The Last Unknown Man: He appeared out of nowhere. He had no name, no memory, no past. He was the only person the FBI ever listed as missing even though they knew where he was. How could B.K. Doe remain anonymous in the modern age’s matrix of observation? (The New Republic)
- In the very near future it will be impossible to be unknowable or to go through real life in incognito mode: How Amazon’s Ring is creating a surveillance network with video doorbells: Here’s everything we know about Amazon’s video doorbell and the controversies surrounding it. (Vox)
- Over 1,900 Egyptians have been arrested since last weekend’s protests against Egyptian president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, and those Egyptians willing to participate in protests planned for today may also face dire repercussions: on Thursday, the Egyptian government threatened that any protestors would be met with physical force.
- Last weekend’s protests saw the use of rubber bullets and tear gas, and Cairo has been crawling with policemen conducting random searches and vans containing monitoring equipment since then.
- Egyptian access to the internet has also been under tighter and tighter restrictions, with government disrupting access to platforms including Twitter and Facebook Messenger.
- British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump have both expressed personal support for Sisi, with Trump even calling him his “favorite dictator”. (Guardian)
Additional World News
- ‘We are in an epidemic’: Adrian Hayes on how social media magnifies climbing’s danger: The British adventurer, who overcame personal tragedy to scale K2, attributes the recent spike in novice climbers attempting Everest to society’s quest for attention (Guardian)
- Global postal union reaches deal to prevent ‘nightmare’ of US exit: Agreement to reform UN agency’s fee structure comes after Trump administration threat and emergency talks (Guardian)
- Australia’s Largest State Lifts Abortion Restrictions (NPR)
- In a Twist, Netanyahu Wins a Chance to Keep His Job (NYT, $)
- A Visit to FARC’s Jungle Lair: For three years, there has been peace between the Colombian military and FARC. Now, though, some of the leftist guerrillas are preparing to resume their armed campaign. Der Spiegel visited a FARC training camp deep in the jungle. (Spiegel)
Mind The Wage Gap
- Regardless of the average U.S. income reaching a new high in 2018, the inequality between the poorest and richest U.S.households is now the largest it’s been in fifty years.
- An increase in income inequality occurred the most in nine states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Kansas, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Texas and Virginia.
- William M. Rodgers III, a professor of public policy and chief economist at the Heldrich Center at Rutgers University stated that several factors were responsible for the gap, including the decrease in organized labor, and competition for jobs abroad.
- The U.S. average household income has never been higher in history, a record $61,937 for 2018, the Census Bureau says. But despite this, in 29 states the median income was less than the national statistic.
- In New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, the percentage of people in poverty decreased for the fourth year in a row. (NPR)
Additional USA News
- How The U.S. Hacked ISIS (NPR)
- Immigrant Population Growth in the U.S. Slows to a Trickle: The U.S. population gained immigrants last year at the slowest pace since 2008. President Trump’s approach to immigration is seen as the likely cause. (NYT, $)
- Bike crash left Spokane man unconscious, so his Apple Watch called 911 (Seattle Times)
- The Moderate Middle Is A Myth (FiveThirtyEight) and The America That Isn’t Polarized: Political institutions may be more divided than they’ve been in a century and a half, but how divided are Americans themselves? (NYT, $)
The Key To Sounding Smart: Hesitation
- Anxiety over public speaking including the pauses during our speech and not being able to find the right word is referred to as a condition called glossophobia.
- This condition can discourage people from public speaking completely. To fight against this, linguists assert that hesitation or break in speech can create a more positive perception in your audience.
- A study in the journal Lingua has determined that speech that contains “unfilled pauses” is appreciated as more “articulate” and “educated” than speech without breaks or hesitation.
- Despite this though, there are drawbacks: these same speakers are also perceived as less “authoritative” and “confident.”
- The pauses imply to an audience though that a speaker is being more cautious and thoughtful about what they and in turn believe the speaker is more clever.
- Although the study did not compare silences with placeholders like “ums” it may be more useful to decrease the usage of them. Prior research suggests that speakers who excessively use “ums” are observed as “less credible”, “less truthful” and “less competent”. In comparison pauses that are filled with words like “um” can be shown to indicate that perhaps there is something complicated or pertinent approaching in conversation. (Guardian)
- Man who invented labradoodle says it’s his ‘life’s regret.’ Wally Conron says he created a ‘Frankenstein’s monster’ as unethical breeders now make hybrids with serious health problem (Guardian)
- Too Much Training Can Tax Athletes’ Brains (NPR)
- A Peculiar Solar System Has Scientists Rethinking Theories Of How Planets Form (NPR)
- Neither, and New: Lessons from Uber and Vision Fund (Stratechery)
- A Wandering Mind: How Travel Can Change the Way You Think (Farnam Street)
- Antidotes to Overwork (Zen Habits)
- Paperwork, Appointments And Repairs: Managing Adult Responsibilities (NPR)
- It turns out money can kind of buy happiness after all: A new paper argues that, actually, winning the lottery totally does make you happy. (Vox)
- How Are You Preparing Your Finances for an Economic Downturn? (Lifehacker)
- ‘It has saved countless lives’: readers’ picks of the best books this century: After we published our list of the greatest books since 2000, you sent in your own suggestions – from Chinese sci-fi to a history of music (Guardian)
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