The Human Operating System
May 14, 2020
“Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know.”
“Respond intelligently even to unintelligent treatment”
― Lao Tzu
Aaron P. Bernstein via Getty Images
Trump’s General Problem: The People vs. General Flynn
Federal Judge Emmet G. Sullivan opened the door for legal experts and outside parties to oppose the Justice Department’s motion to exonerate President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn. This comes just a week after federal prosecutors asked Judge Sullivan to dismiss the high-profile case against Mr. Flynn, who in 2017 was charged with making false statements to federal authorities.
Flynn’s lawyers have aggressively fought back against Sullivan’s order. Flynn’s defense lawyer, Sidney Powell, wrote in a court filing: “There is no place for third parties to meddle in the dispute, and certainly not to usurp the role of the government’s counsel. This travesty of justice has already consumed three or more years of an innocent man’s life – and that of his entire family. No further delay should be tolerated.”
The case against Flynn started with Robert Mueller’s initial investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, and revolved around phone conversations between Flynn and Sergey Kislyak, who at the time was Russia’s ambassador to the United States. Flynn then pleaded guilty in a hearing in 2017 and again in 2018.
President Trump has repeatedly asked for Flynn’s exoneration, and Vice President Pence has stated he would welcome Flynn back to the administration, calling him a “patriot.” More than a dozen prosecutors from Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, on the other hand, supported Judge Sullivan’s ruling. Leaked comments from former president Barack Obama on Friday sparked outrage from Trump, who has begun calling the series of recent events surrounding Flynn, “Obamagate.”
On Wednesday, Judge Sullivan appointed John Gleeson, a retired judge to “‘present arguments in opposition to’ the department’s request to withdraw the charge against Mr. Flynn.” Judge Gleeson had vocalized his concern about the department’s requests earlier this week, stating that “prosecutors deserve a ‘presumption of regularity’ — the benefit of the doubt that they are acting honestly and following the rules.”
- ‘Obamagate’: Trump seeks to draw Biden into conspiracy theory (Guardian)
- Senate Republicans break with Trump over ‘Obamagate’ (Politico)
- Obamagate was the worst crime ever committed and here is what it was (WaPo, $)
- Opinion | Trump reveals the problem with our hero worship of the military (WaPo, $)
- Why Trump’s Generals Have Abandoned Ship (Time)
- Additional reference: The People Vs. Larry Flynt (Trailer)
Image via Getty Images
Meeting Of The Mine Mine Mine
- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a surprise trip to Jerusalem on Wednesday to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as Israel’s continued support of Chinese firms and companies.
- Pompeo and President Trump have engaged in a war of words with China over its handling of the coronavirus outbreak while Israel continued to allow Chinese companies to make major infrastructure investments – creating a sore spot in past negotiations and talks. Despite the warm welcome, Netanyahu’s vow to annex West Bank territory drew a shadow over the visit.
- Opponents of annexation have warned that it would kill the chance of a two-state solution to the long-running conflict and would spark violence. The State Department has tried to downplay the Trump administration’s role in shaping Israel’s annexation plans, though many believe there will be no efforts made to stop it.
- Israela Oron, a retired Israeli general and two-state solution supporter said, “The question is ‘How come annexation is so urgent in the middle of the corona pandemic and the economic crisis? The simple answer is the upcoming election in the U.S.” President Trump will likely depend on votes from American evangelists and right-wing Jewish voters, who support Israel’s takeover of the West Bank on religious grounds. (NYT, $)
Additional World News
- Afghan attack: Babies killed as gunmen storm Kabul maternity ward (BBC) & Maternity ward massacre shakes Afghanistan and its peace process (Reuters) This would be more prominently discussed and covered were it not for COVID-19. There will be more news like this that will not register as much given our preoccupation with the immediate issues arising from COVID-19.
- Microplastics discovered blowing ashore in sea breezes | Environment (Guardian)
- We’ve known how to make healthier buildings for decades (The Verge)
- French serial-killer expert admits serial lies, including murder of imaginary wife (Guardian)
- Russian hacking attack on Bundestag damaged trust, says Merkel (Guardian)
- Coronavirus: Trump says Dr Fauci’s warning ‘not acceptable’ (BBC)
- ‘Superbugs’ are a hidden danger in the fight against coronavirus, says former CDC director (CNBC)
- In South Korea And China, Loosening Restrictions Brings Coronavirus Resurgence (NPR)
- China hacking poses ‘significant threat’ to US Covid-19 response, says FBI (Guardian)
- COVID-19 Cases Double In Ill-Prepared Haiti (NPR)
- How Hong Kong Is Beating the Coronavirus (Atlantic)
- Where Bats Are Still on the Menu, if No Longer the Best Seller (NYT, $)
- US expelling hundreds of child migrants, citing coronavirus pandemic (Guardian)
COVID-19 & Money
- Global funds invest more in China as coronavirus spreads to the rest of the world (CNBC)
- 7-Year No-Interest Loans: What It Takes To Sell Cars In A Pandemic (NPR)
- Hundreds of public companies hold on to small business loans as deadline to return money nears (CNBC)
- Naomi Klein: How big tech plans to profit from the pandemic (Guardian)
From Sea To Coughing Sea
- A May 7 White House coronavirus task force report has revealed that coronavirus cases are still on the rise across the country, from large metropolitan areas to smaller rural communities.
- This data contradicts Trump’s statement that coronavirus cases were ”coming down rapidly” across the country. Some of the most impacted metropolitan areas were Central City, Kentucky; Nashville, Tennessee; and Des Moines, Iowa.
- This data shows that cases are spreading from the coastal cities where the pandemic found its initial footing into the middle of the country. Some states, including Iowa, Tennessee, and Kentucky, do not have stay-at-home orders in place, and other counties which have relaxed their stay-at-home orders, are experiencing a rebound in cases.
- In Dallas and Fort Bend counties in Texas, weakened stay-at-home orders have earned the counties respective case increases of 116.8 percent and 64.8 percent, and are being tracked by the coronavirus task force as “locations to watch”. (NBC)
Do Not Come In, Not By The Hairs Of Our Covered Chiny Chin Chins
- States are opening up their economies despite not having met the White House’s criteria for doing so: having a downward trajectory of cases over a two week period, along with increased testing.
- This month Missouri allowed concerts to resume for the first time since the state’s stay-at-home order at the beginning of April. The governor has also directed that all businesses in the state can reopen, provided employees and customers keep some distance between themselves. St. Louis will remain in lockdown. This, even though the number of daily new positive cases in Missouri is trending upward.
- Epidemiologists cite four main reasons why it’s premature for states to be reopening right now.
- Nationally, the outbreak has either peaked or plateaued, but there’s still a lot of infection out there.
- Despite over 80,000 deaths in the US, the vast majority of the population still hasn’t been infected, has no immunity, and is fully susceptible.
- This virus is very contagious, sneaky and deadly — still.
- The US has wasted lockdown time. It needs more testing, more contact tracing, targeted isolation of infected people, and quarantining of their contacts. It also needs more research into social distancing to know what relaxed measures are safe. (Vox)
- 5 common arguments for reopening the economy — and why experts say they are flawed (CNN)
- The Wisconsin Supreme Court’s conservative majority strikes down state stay-home order (Vox)
- Missouri Republicans on the verge of gutting gerrymandering reform (Guardian)
- Does Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis know what he’s doing? We’re about to find out. (WaPo, $)
- Pork Chops vs. People: Battling Coronavirus in an Iowa Meat Plant (NYT)
- Opinion | Other countries are winning against the virus. We are quitting. (WaPo, $)
- Coronavirus: LA County stay-at-home orders to last to July (LA Times)
- When it comes to Covid-19, another case of white flight (CNN)
Sanity is The Pandemic’s First Viral Victim: First Toilet Paper Now Flour
- What came first: the lack of chicken or the lack of eggs? Early on in the pandemic, grocery shelves were picked clean. While it didn’t exactly fly off of shelves at first, flour quickly became worth its tablespoons in gold. But where is it all going?
- Arbitrary bread bakers, that’s where. Since the start of the pandemic, social media has been flooded with pictures of focaccias, sourdough loaves, rolls, buns, etc. This surge in amateur baking has also led to a surge in flour hoarding. At the end of March, when most stay at home orders were extended, there was an 160% increase in flour sales.
- Brent Minner, marketing director of Hometown Food Company which owns multiple flour brands, said, “We are making the flour as fast as we possibly can and shipping it to our customers, and it’s flying off the shelves as soon as it gets there.”
- So will this trend of trendy bakers continue after quarantine wraps? It’s hard to tell. Being at home makes the multiple tedious steps of baking a lot easier. That combined with the returned accessibility of pre-made food and the freedom to leave your home might put an end to the baking craze and allow flour to safely return to the shelves of the grocery store. (Atlantic, $)
- We totally agree with Mr. Buffett: Warren Buffett warns against carrying a credit card balance: ‘You can’t go through life borrowing money at those rates’ We think credit cards if not thoughtfully used can be financial weapons of mass destruction targeted at uneducated consumers.
- Anger is a valuable emotion driving private and public good (Aeon) And yet, additional quote: “The best fighter is never angry.” ― Lao Tzu. It’s so fascinating that we have sent people to the moon, and built incredibly sophisticated technology (hardware and software). And despite all of that we still have done so little to fully understand humanity’s operating system (OS)—our emotions.
- What do our dreams mean? (BBC)
- In schools we teach calculus, biology, fluid dynamics, and computer engineering but we don’t teach people how to think about life. We think one of the shortcomings of the human OS is that we don’t apologize enough: Why we’ve been saying ‘sorry’ all wrong (BBC) No, we don’t think it’s too late to apologize: Timbaland – Apologize ft. OneRepublic and people would Wise Up to know that. And here is one of the finest movies from the most recent Fin de siècle: Magnolia Trailer.
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