A Simple Cure for Stress
November 13, 2019
“The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men.”
“The measure of a man is what he does with power.”
Commander in Nepotism
Former national security adviser John Bolton remarked last week that when it comes to setting policy, President Trump often confuses personal relationships with national relationships. That’s evidenced by Trump’s relationship with Turkey’s strongman president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who’s a guest at the White House today.
Trump’s ties to Turkey go back a decade, beginning with an invitation to do business in Istanbul from Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, the son-in-law of a Turkish tycoon. Trump licensed his name to be put on two skyscrapers; Trump Towers Istanbul opened in 2012. Yalcindag became a business partner of the Trump Organization, which still receives money for the use of the Trump name. In 2015 Trump acknowledged his personal relationship with Turkey.
After the 2016 election, Erdogan gave Yalcindag a new role as chairman of a state-run business group that lobbies on behalf of Ankara; Yalcindag started traveling regularly to Washington. Yalcindag knew Erdogan’s son-in-law — Turkey’s finance minister Berat Albayrak — now in charge of overseeing the Turkey-US relationship. Once Trump was in the White House, he named his son-in-law Jared Kushner a senior adviser, handing him a nebulous but expansive foreign policy portfolio. The three sons-in-law play key roles connecting the two countries, something Albayrak calls “Backdoor diplomacy.”
Several times, contrary to America’s best interests and its national security, Trump has acceded to Erdogan’s wishes, from holding off on sanctions to removing American troops from northern Syria. A former George W. Bush administration official noted: “Trump is replacing formal relations among nations … with family-to-family relationship, or crony-to-crony-relationships. Certainly Erdogan would prefer that … as he runs a crony capitalist regime of his own. But it ought to be a matter of concern to all Americans.”
Additional quote: “Nepotism is the lowest and least imaginative form of corruption.” – Daniel Alarcón
It’s A Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Starlink Satellite
- On Veterans’ Day, SpaceX, the private rocket company founded by Elon Musk, launched its second payload of 60 Starlink satellites into space as part of its planned constellation of tens of thousands of orbiting transmitters intended to beam internet service across the globe.
- When the first batch of SpaceX satellites was launched in May, many astronomers were surprised at how bright they were, which raised concerns that the constellation would wreak havoc on scientific research and transform the view of the night sky from earth. SpaceX addressed scientists’ concerns, saying it wanted to mitigate Starlink’s impacts.
- But last month the company applied to the Federal Communications Commission for permission to operate an additional 30,000 satellites, on top of the 12,000 already approved. This number of additional satellites in low-earth orbit would mean SpaceX’s constellation would contain more than eight times as many satellites as there are currently orbiting. (NYT)
- Space-grade CPUs: How do you send more computing power into space? (Ars Technica)
(Vali)Sure Way to Get Proper Prescriptions
- The founders of an online pharmacy, Valisure, feared that US drugs were not as safe as people believed. The tiny start-up with only 14 employees routinely checks the chemical makeup of drugs for quality and consistency before they’re shipped to consumers. It was Valisure scientists who discovered that Zantac and its generic form, ranitidine, contained a chemical thought to cause cancer, and alerted American regulators.
- Since then more than 40 countries from Australia to Vietnam have either stopped sales, launched investigations or otherwise stepped in to protect consumers from possible health risks. This month the Food and Drug Administration confirmed unacceptable levels of the chemical, N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), in some ranitidine products; it is still investigating and asking companies to recall ranitidine and a similar drug, nizatidine, if unacceptable amounts of NDMA are discovered.
- Valisure pharmacists reject more than 10 percent of drug batches due to detected contaminants, medicine that didn’t dissolve properly, or pills that contain the wrong dose, among other issues. Since late 2018, Valisure has reported more than 50 problems directly to drug companies. (PRNewswire, WaPo)
- Do Smart Drugs Work? (Gizmodo)
- Google reveals ‘Project Nightingale’ after being accused of secretly gathering personal health records (Verge) & Google’s secret cache of medical data includes names and full details of millions – whistleblower (Guardian)
Boris Johnson’s MI6 Tactics
- British prime minister Boris Johnson’s nefariously undemocratic decision, to withhold a secret 2018 parliamentary report on Russia’s meddling in British politics until after the December 12 election, hasn’t stopped the leak of some unsavory details in the report.
- The details, if confirmed, paint a damning portrait of Russian oligarchs funneling money to Conservative Party politicians. Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee whose campaign was victimized by systematic Russian election interference, joined a host of critics castigating Johnson’s decision.
- “Who do they think they are that they would keep information like that from the public especially before an election?” Clinton asked, before answering her own question: “They think they are the all-powerful, strong men who should be ruling.” As sometimes happens, the report itself could wind up being less damaging than the cover-up. (NYT)
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A Civil War in the White House
- Acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney withdrew his bid Monday to join in a lawsuit filed by former national security adviser John Bolton over whether Congress could compel his testimony in the impeachment inquiry. Mulvaney withdrew hours after a lawyer representing Bolton and his former deputy Charles Kupperman told the judge that his clients wanted nothing to do with the staff chief because they had vastly different interests.
- Mulvaney and Bolton have had a long-running feud over Trump pressuring Ukraine’s president to open an investigation into his democratic rival.
- Mulvaney facilitated the effort and Bolton wanted no part of the “drug deal” Mulvaney was cooking up. Bolton has said he would testify before the impeachment committee if ordered to do so by a court, even though Bolton no longer works for the administration and Trump has no authority to prevent him from testifying.
- Several current government employees have given depositions to Congress despite Trump’s order not to. Wednesday two of those witnesses will testify in the first public hearings to be televised. (NYT, CBSNews)
With All Due Respect
- President Trump’s former US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has authored a book about her time in the administration entitled, With All Due Respect. In it Haley claims she was recruited by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to subvert the wishes of the president.
- “Kelly and Tillerson confided in me that when they resisted the President, they weren’t being insubordinate, they were trying to save the country,” Haley wrote. In an interview over the weekend Haley said that if the men didn’t like what the president was doing they should have communicated their concerns to him and/or quit their jobs.
- “To undermine a President is really a very dangerous thing. And it goes against the Constitution and it goes against what the American people want. It was offensive,” Haley told CBS.
- What’s more offensive might be that both of these hugely accomplished Cabinet officials, who were hand-picked for their roles by the president and who presumably came into the administration favorably inclined to him, so quickly and clearly assessed that the man they were working for was an active danger to the country – and Haley chose the path of “See Something – Say Nothing.” (CNN)
Additional USA News
- Trump adviser Stephen Miller injected white nationalist agenda into Breitbart, investigation reveals (Guardian)
- Donald Trump Jr’s disastrous book launch may seem funny – but there’s a very dark side to the booing (Guardian)
- Supreme Court leans toward Trump on ending ‘Dreamers’ immigrant program (Reuters) & Is the Supreme Court’s Fate in Elena Kagan’s Hands? She’s not a liberal icon like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, but, through her powers of persuasion, she’s the key Justice holding back the Court’s rightward shift. (New Yorker, $)
Blow Out the Stress
- The Dutch have a simple cure for stress – go outside and exercise in the wind. They even have a unique term for it -“uitwaaien,” which literally translates to “outblowing” – and it’s been popular for more than a hundred years.
- A lecturer in Dutch linguistics explains: “It’s basically the activity of spending time in the wind, usually by going for a walk or a bike ride. Uitwaaien is something you do to clear your mind and feel refreshed – out with the bad air, in with the good. It’s seen as a pleasant, easy, and relaxing experience – a way to destress or escape from daily life.” (Nautilus)
- How to be an Epicurean: A philosophy that values innocent pleasure, human warmth and the rewards of creative endeavour. What’s not to like? (Aeon)
- The post-truth prophets: Postmodernism predicted our post-truth hellscape. Everyone still hates it. (Vox)
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