February 7, 2020
“But although the cliche says that power always corrupts, what is seldom said … is that power always reveals. When a man is climbing, trying to persuade others to give him power, concealment is necessary. … But as a man obtains more power, camouflage becomes less necessary.”
“The most important thing a man has to tell you is what he’s not telling you,” he said. “The most important thing he has to say is what he’s trying not to say.”
― Robert A. Caro
Drew Angerer via Getty Images
The Years of Donald Trump: Unrestrained Power
On February 12, 1999, the day after his acquittal on two articles of impeachment brought against him for perjury and obstruction of justice, President Bill Clinton apologized to the American people in a contrite 90 second speech from the Rose Garden. He asked that we “rededicate ourselves to the work of serving our nation and building our future together” and said: “This can be, and this must be, a time of reconciliation and renewal for America.”
On February 6, 2020, the day after his acquittal on two articles of impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, a defiant President Donald Trump celebrated his victory in the East Room by airing profanity-laced grievances going back to his election, lambasting everyone who had stood in his way, and lavishing praise on anyone who stood by him. His rambling stream-of-consciousness tirade lasted over an hour and had all the trappings of a campaign rally. He belittled enemies — from Nancy Pelosi to Robert Mueller, Adam Schiff to James Comey to Hillary Clinton — saving special venom for the one Republican who dared vote guilty on one count of impeachment: Mitt Romney.
“We went through hell unfairly, did nothing wrong,” Trump told his exuberant crowd. He again said his phone call to the Ukrainian president was “perfect,” and insisted his conduct was “very good,” although several Republican senators have explicitly said what he did was inappropriate or wrong. The president termed investigations involving him “bulls**t.” And while the majority of the monologue was self-directed, Trump ended on a note of apology to his family for everything “evil” people had put them through.
- The Money Behind Trump’s Money (NYT, $)
- America’s Survival Depends Not on Law but on People (Atlantic, $)
The War For Talent
- Over the years a number of American scientists have taken advantage of Chinese recruitment programs like Thousand Talents, which offers academics lavish grants as a solution to the grinding responsibility of fund-raising. In the words of one organic chemist who gave up a tenured position at the University of South Florida and relocated to Tianjin University in China: “We have time to think here. You can think about your research.”
- A spokeswoman for the Chinese embassy in Washington described the Thousand Talents program as similar to recruitment programs of other countries, with a goal to promote international cooperation in science. But US officials are accusing China’s recruitment programs as a way to steal sensitive technology from American laboratories.
- In 2019 the Department of Energy barred its personnel from participating in several countries’ recruitment programs, including China. The Justice Department tasked law enforcement authorities with rooting out scientists who steal research from American laboratories; as a result, Thousand Talents grantees have come under a legal microscope.
- Last week prosecutors charged acclaimed Harvard chemist Charles Lieber, viewed by many as a future Nobel laureate, with lying to federal authorities about his affiliation with Thousand Talents. (NYT)
- The U.S. Government Secretly Spied on Chinese American Scientists, Upending Lives and Paving the Way for Decades of Discrimination (The Intercept)
- China theft of technology is biggest law enforcement threat to US, FBI says (Guardian)
- U.S. attorney general says U.S., allies should consider Nokia, Ericsson investment to counter Huawei (Reuters)
If You Can’t Beat Em, Beat Em
- India’s prime minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) are pursuing dangerously divisive, hate-filled campaign tactics. In the weeks leading up to the Delhi state elections on Saturday, BJP candidates have been out in full force, desperate to win and actively stoking religious animus to build up a sense that the whole nation is in danger.
- The focal point of the BJP’s fear-mongering narrative has been the thousands of women in the Delhi suburb of Shaheen Bagh, who’ve been camped out in the cold since December peacefully protesting India’s new anti-Muslim citizenship law (CAA).
- On Sunday at a rally in Delhi, Yogi Adityanath, the firebrand Hindu nationalist chief minister of Uttar Pradesh known for preaching hate and violence against India’s Muslims, spewed the kind of invective that will surely get people killed. He labeled the women, mostly housewives and political novices, as “terrorists” who should be fed with “bullets not biryani.” (Guardian)
- Gandhi’s Killer Evokes Admiration as Never Before (NYT, $)
Additional World News
- U.S. Troops in Standoffs With Russian Military Contractors in Syria (WSJ, $)
- U.S. Warns of Sexual Assault Risk in Spain (NYT, $)
- NASA astronaut Christina Koch returns to Earth, setting new spaceflight record (NBC)
- Bumblebees’ decline points to mass extinction – study | Environment (Guardian)
- German politician elected with help from far right to step down (Guardian)
EPA In The Weeds Over Weedkiller Out Of The Weeds
- In late 2016 the EPA approved the use of the weedkiller Dicamba for use on genetically engineered soybean varieties. It’s worked great for farmers who grow GMO soybeans, not so much for those who grow the old-fashioned, non-GMO kind. The problem is Dicamba doesn’t always stay where it’s sprayed. On hot days it can evaporate and drift across the landscape, damaging other plants. It’s been happening on an enormous scale across the soybean farming belt, from Minnesota in the north to Arkansas in the south.
- Millions of acres of old-style soybeans have been damaged, as well as vineyards and orchards. It’s even had lethal consequences for people. In a dispute between two Arkansas farmers, one of them shot and killed the other.
- State agencies are responsible for investigating each report of pesticide drift and figuring out whether the law was violated, but states have struggled to keep up with soaring numbers of complaints. “We’re just running ourselves ragged, just trying to get out there and collect the evidence,” says the person in charge of Indiana’s pesticide investigations.
- In 2019 the EPA extended its approval of Dicamba, having decided a few more restrictions on how and where the herbicide can be sprayed would solve the problem. It didn’t. In fact, the number of complaints have gone up. (NPR)
A Nation Divided Is Red In The Face
- A Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee report released Thursday said Leader Mitch McConnell’s skepticism and reluctance to publicly acknowledge Russian interference in the 2016 election contributed to a delayed response by the Obama administration, which was painted by the report as moving too slowly and indecisively to address the interference or to forcefully counter it.
- Numerous Obama administration officials said McConnell and members of Congress were briefed in September 2016 about the Russian interference, but some members “resisted the administration request that a bipartisan statement be made regarding Russia being responsible for interference activities.”
- Some government officials were also concerned that a big announcement could actually aid the Russian effort. But even after the administration warned the interference must stop, “Russia continued its cyberactivity to include further dissemination of stolen emails, clandestine social-media-based influence operations and penetration of state voting infrastructure through Election Day 2016,” the report said. (NYT)
Additional USA News
- Harvey Weinstein Rape Trial: Here Are The 4 Biggest Moments So Far (NPR)
- The Battle for California’s 20 Million Voters Came Early This Year (NYT, $)
- Facial Recognition Moves Into a New Front: Schools (NYT, $)
- Where Are All the Women CEOs? (WSJ, $)
- Opinion | The Economy Is Not as Good as It Looks (NYT, $)
- Video From Inside ICE Detention Center Shows Detainees Being Pepper-Sprayed (NPR)
The Best Shrinks Shrink Results
- German scientists have been studying the effects that character traits had on patients of therapists and have come to find that the most virtuous trait of all was humility. The more modest or conservative a therapist’s estimation of their clients’ progress, the more their clients’ symptoms had reduced and their quality of life had increased.
- The willingness to listen to the other is probably central in explaining why humility is beneficial. A humble attitude toward listening to and attempting to relieve patients of mental and physical stressors is necessary to provide accurate and helpful feedback, rather than assuming things are going all well.
- However, therapist humility on its own is not sufficient for therapy to be effective. Therapists who reported more self-doubt in their work alleviated client distress more if they also reported being kind to themselves outside of work, meaning that being self-critical and humble are important traits that caretakers should aim toward for the betterment of their treatments. (Aeon)
- Epoch Times, Punished by Facebook, Gets a New Megaphone on YouTube (NYT, $)
- Corey Feldman: ‘The biggest problem in Hollywood is paedophilia’ (Guardian)
- Rough ride-share: why drivers are also at risk of violence (Guardian) & Public Transit Hits a Speed Bump: Not Enough Drivers (WSJ, $)
- Nuro’s new delivery R2 bot gets the first driverless vehicle exemption from feds (Techcrunch)
- Opinion | We’re Still Living in Stalin’s World (NYT, $)
- Caffeine has been a boon for civilization, Michael Pollan says. But it has come at a cost. (WaPo, $)
- Scientists in Israel grow date plants from 2,000-year-old seeds (Guardian)
- Edwin Moses: ‘We all knew doping was happening … it was a dark period in athletics’ (Guardian)
- Modern Love: Pew: 30% of US adults have used online dating; 12% found a committed relationship from it (Techcrunch) and not so modern love: Philanderers, Predators and Pickup Artists: A History (NYT, $)
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