Tom Danehy: Tom remains distressed by the nation's cult of ignorance (Tucson Weekly)
I guess Isaac Asimov said it best: "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there always has been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'" Well, it's not and, despite the temporary ditch of stupidity in which we currently find ourselves, it never will be.
Tierney Sneed: After Secretive Senate Process, GOP Will Completely Own TrumpCare (TPM)
If Senate Republicans pass their Obamacare repeal bill, they'll have no one but themselves to blame for the consequences.
Josh Marshall: Today's [June 21] Johnson Hearing Glossed Over One of the FBI's Most Epic Fails (TPM)
As I said above, it's not clear to me that this is more than a mix of incompetence and indifference on the part of the FBI and just an unfortunate chain of events. But it's a critical part of the story, a major ball the FBI dropped - while devoting vast resources to the Clinton email probe - which gave the Russian subversion campaign critical months to do its work before the US government took real cognizance of what was happening.
Jessica Bohon: Deaths of despair are rising in America. They are claiming lives all around me (The Guardian)
Half of my schoolmates are dead, in jail or battling addiction. My town does not have a mental health clinic so, faced with hopelessness, people self-medicate
Suzanne Moore: With the government in paralysis, and fear, anger and grief everywhere, it feels explosive (The Guardian)
There is a growing anxiety in our cities and those feigning strong and stable leadership are anything but. It's up to us to ask how best to take care of each other.
Steven Morris: Teenage boys wear skirts to school to protest against 'no shorts' policy (The Guardian)
Dozens of pupils at Isca academy in Exeter stage uniform protest after school insists they wear trousers despite heatwave.
Melissa Kite: There's no escape from mindfulness (Spectator)
I don't know what it is exactly - no one does - but even my GP tells me I'd benefit from it.
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Jeannie the Teed-Off Temp
from Marc Perkel
from that Mad Cat, JD
REPUBLICANS ARE CROOKS!
REPUBLICANS ARE THE ANTI-CHRIST!
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THE SUCKERS AND THE SUCKEES!
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In The Chaos Household
Little bit of a marine layer!
"House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey does not seem to think much of Donald Trump (R-Grifter). Whenever comparisons are made between his character, Frank Underwood, and the real life president, he simply brushes it aside.
When Spacey appeared on The One Show earlier, he was asked if "House of Cards" is still as "compelling" as what's happening in reality, according to Digital Spy. This is Spacey's answer: "We've never felt an obligation to compete with the real world. We believe that we're an alternate universe - we're the alternative reality president, as opposed to the reality television president."
Spacey added that the show might have parallels in real life, but "House of Cards" is always first in everything. In fact, he considers it eerie how some things that happen on the show has unfolded in the world today. "Some time between when we shoot [the season] and then the series drops, one or two or three or five or six things that we adventured in and described and played happen in the real world," he said. "And we always go, 'People are gonna think that we stole it from the headlines,' but actually it's the other way round."
Before Season 5 ended, Spacey's Underwood actually threatened to kill his wife, Claire (Robin Wright), if she does not step up in their political quest.
Showrunners Frank Pugliese and Melissa James Gibson said it's not a threat that should be taken lightly, since Frank does not shy away from murder. "He's done some terrible things. He is capable," Pugliese told The Hollywood Reporter. "There might be a desire in both their parts to be able to do this alone, but I don't know if they're going to be able to do it without each other. Or maybe they will. That's a question for season 6."
Class Of 2018
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Snoop Dogg, Shonda Rhimes, "Weird Al" Yankovic and late entertainers Bernie Mac and Steve Irwin will be receiving stars on Hollywood's Walk of Fame next year.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce revealed the 2018 honorees Thursday.
Other recipients include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Taraji P. Henson, RuPaul, Simon Cowell, Jennifer Lawrence, Zoe Saldana and Lynda Carter.
Jack Black, Anthony Anderson, Carrie Underwood and Mary J. Blige are also part of the Walk of Fame's class of 2018.
So are business magnate Richard Branson and Steve Jones, the former The Sex Pistols member turned radio host.
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Goes To Russia
Stephen Colbert is on a mission to Russia.
The host of CBS' "The Late Show" is on assignment there for a future broadcast, the network said Thursday.
Colbert, whose steady political wisecracks have been accompanied by a rise in his ratings, wasted no time in taking a dig at Donald Trump (R-Corrupt) over the possibility of tapes involving fired FBI Director James Comey.
"Don't worry, Mr. President. I'm in Russia. If the "tapes" exist, I'll bring you back a copy!" Colbert tweeted.
His message came after Trump said on Twitter that he has no recordings of his private conversations with Comey, despite an earlier suggestion that they might exist.
Coal Company Sues
Coal company Murray Energy has sued HBO and its Sunday-night host, John Oliver, for what it says was a "false and malicious broadcast" last Sunday evening. It's seeking financial damages and a court order barring rebroadcasts of the segment's "defamatory statements."
Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" coal segment criticized the Trump administration's effort to revive the industry, saying coal jobs have dropped for decades and other energy alternatives are driving the industry's decline.
He ribbed Murray Energy's CEO Robert Murray, who blames regulatory efforts by the Obama administration for damaging the coal industry. He said the 77-year-old looked like a "geriatric Dr. Evil" and noted that the company had fought against coal safety regulations.
The Ohio company sued the comedian Wednesday afternoon in circuit court in West Virginia, saying that he tried to embarrass Murray by making fun of his age and appearance and made false statements about a 2007 collapse of a Utah mine, when nine miners died. The company said Oliver ignored information it sent the show that it says showed an earthquake caused the mine's collapse and that the show made no mention of "the efforts Mr. Murray personally made to save the trapped miners."
An HBO spokesman says the show didn't violate Murray Energy's rights or those of Murray. Oliver noted on the show that Murray Energy has a litigious past, and last month sued the New York Times for libel.
Takes Helm Of Han Solo 'Star Wars' Film
Ron Howard is taking command of the Han Solo "Star Wars" spinoff after the surprise departure of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.
Lucasfilm announced their replacement director Thursday, two days after Lord and Miller left the project over creative differences. Howard gives the reeling production a veteran hand in the wake of Lord and Miller's exit in the midst of shooting.
Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said filming will resume July 10. The untitled film, which stars Alden Ehrenreich as a young Han Solo, is about three-quarters of the way through production. It has several weeks of shooting left, along with reshoots.
Howard has shepherded Oscar winners like "A Beautiful Mind" and "Apollo 13." But his recent films, including the "Da Vinci Code" sequel "Inferno" and "In the Heart of the Sea," have struggled at the box office. He also has some history with Lucasfilm. He helmed the 1988 fantasy "Willow" and starred in George Lucas' 1973 breakthrough "American Graffiti."
Disney reiterated the film's release date of May 25 next year, suggesting that - at least for now - the "Star Wars" spinoff will be released on schedule. Representatives for the studio declined to comment.
Announces Retirement From Acting
Oscar-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis, one of the most acclaimed performers of his generation, has announced he is retiring.
In a statement the 60-year-old star's spokeswoman, Leslee Dart, said he "will no longer be working as an actor," trade magazine Variety reported.
"He is immensely grateful to all of his collaborators and audiences over the many years," Dart said. "This is a private decision and neither he nor his representatives will make any further comment on this subject."
Day-Lewis, a master of method acting known for being extremely selective about his roles, is the only performer to have ever won three best actor Oscars.
He earned a golden statuette for "My Left Foot" (1989), in which he plays writer and artist Christy Brown, who was confined to a wheelchair because of cerebral palsy; a second one for "There Will Be Blood" (2008), in which he plays a fierce oil man; and a third for the lead role in Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" (2013).
Environmental Protection Agency
Several more scientists advising the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been notified their contracts will not be renewed.
In an email forwarded to The Independent, Acting Assistant Director Dr. Robert Kavlock told members of the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) that EPA administrators feel "the need to reconstitute the" committee and thus none of their contracts will be renewed.
BOSC and subcommittee members are nominated by peers if they have significant scientific experience and have done research in the environmental field; they are not political appointees. They serve as external advisors to EPA staff and provide guidance from their academia, industry, non-profit sector positions to help direct resources.
Once approved, they normally serve two three-year terms, with a maximum of six years. That means all of the current advisors were appointed during one of the previous Obama administrations.
Dr Robert Richardson, a professor at Michigan State and former BOSC subcommittee chair, told The Independent that the EPA's latest actions have "made it political" due to the Trump administration's policies on climate change and the environment.
Environmental Protection Agency
Lose Bid To Dismiss Privacy Case
Two anti-abortion activists charged with felony eavesdropping for secretly filming abortion providers in California lost their bid for dismissal of the case on Wednesday, but the judge ordered prosecutors to amend a criminal complaint he deemed too vague.
San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite gave the state attorney general's office until mid-July to file a revised complaint that describes the accusations in greater detail, including specific dates, alleged victims and circumstances.
Hite ruled the identities of alleged victims would remain under court seal and admonished lawyers to keep that information confidential, after the defense team for one defendant, David Daleiden, was found to have posted videos and other identifying material online.
The judge declined to take disciplinary action against Daleiden's lawyers, as urged by prosecutors, and also denied the defense's request to toss out the case.
Daleiden, 28, and Sandra Merritt, 64, appeared in court on Wednesday, but they are not expected to enter a plea until the arraignment on July 17, the deadline set for the amended complaint.
Thank You, Alex Jones
An online conspiracy theory dubbed "pizzagate" ended Thursday with real-world consequences when a North Carolina man was sentenced to prison for arming himself with an assault rifle, traveling to the nation's capital and firing his weapon inside a neighborhood pizza restaurant.
Edgar Maddison Welch's "ill-conceived plot" last year did "actual damage to the lives of real people," a judge said before sentencing him to four years in prison.
Judge Ketanji B. Jackson said she'd never seen a case like Welch's, and she gave him a punishment on the upper end of guidelines, in part to send a message to others. If Welch believed an internet conspiracy theory that children were being harmed at the restaurant, he should have notified law enforcement, not attempted to take the law into his own hands, the judge said during Thursday's hearing in U.S. District Court in Washington.
Jackson said it was "sheer luck" that no one was physically injured when Welch entered Washington's Comet Ping Pong restaurant on Dec. 4 armed with an AR-15 assault rifle and a revolver. He was there just about a month after the election of President Donald Trump to investigate unfounded internet rumors about prominent Democrats harboring child sex slaves at the restaurant.
As diners and staff fled, leaving half-eaten pizza and cups of soda, Welch went through the restaurant. At one point, he fired his AR-15 at a locked closet, but he discovered there were no children being held in the restaurant and surrendered peacefully.
World's Longest Kill Shot
A Canada special elite forces sniper broke the world record for the longest kill shot in the military history. According to the Globe and Mail, the sniper whose name was withheld, fired from a stunning distance of 3,450 meters. He is a part of the Joint Task Force 2 in the Iraq Civil War.
The target was an ISIS operative and by killing him, the sniper broke the previous record by almost 1000 meters. He stood on a high-rise during an operation that took place within the last month in Iraq and fired. It took the bullet under 10 seconds to hit the target. The report said that the kill was independently verified by video and camera data. An unnamed military source was quoted saying: "Hard data on this. It isn't an opinion. It isn't an approximation. There is a second location with eyes on with all the right equipment to capture exactly what the shot was."
The weapon used was a McMillan Tac-50 and the ammunition was Hornady A-MAX.50 (.50 BMG). The windage and curvature of the earth were also factors that had to be considered. "The shot in question actually disrupted an ISIS attack on Iraqi security forces. Instead of dropping a bomb that could potentially kill civilians in the area, it is a very precise application of force and because it was so far way, the bad guys didn't have a clue what was happening," another military source said. He also emphasized that the operation fell within the boundaries of a government assist mission.
With this shot, the sniper has broken the previous record of 2,475 meter by Corporal of Horse, Craig Harrison of the United Kingdom who had shot a Taliban gunner in the Afghanistan War. Prior to Harrison, the title was held by another Canadian sniper, Rob Furlong, when he shot and killed an Afghan insurgent carrying an RPK machine gun during Operation Anaconda. Before Furlong, Canadian Master Corporal Arron Perry from the same battalion held the record for a few weeks after he killed an insurgent from a distance of 2,310 meters during the same operation. U.S. Serg. Bryan Kremer has the longest confirmed sniper kill shot by a U.S. soldier in 2004 in Iraq when he shot an insurgent standing at a distance of 2,300 meters.
Man With An Opinion
Robert Reich served in the administrations of Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, and brought some left wing intellectual muscle to the post of Secretary of Labour for Bill Clinton.
Since the election of Donald Trump (R-Crooked), Mr Reich, Professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, has turned his focus to the actions of the President, and concluded the New York tycoon could well be impeached.
In his latest comments, Mr Reich has said he believes Mr Trump has already done enough to warrant impeachment.
"Obstruction of justice was among the articles of impeachment drafted against both Presidents Nixon and Clinton," he wrote on his website.
"The parallel between Nixon and Trump is almost exact. White House tapes revealed Nixon giving instructions to pressure the acting FBI director into halting the Watergate investigation."
He added: "Two weeks after Trump told Comey privately, 'I need loyalty. I expect loyalty', he had another private meeting with Comey in the Oval Office. After shooing out his advisers - all of whom had top security clearance - Trump said to Comey, according to Comey's memo written shortly after the meeting, 'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go'."