Josh Marshall: The Darkness and the Rot (TPM)
Eventually I sensed that Trump wasn't inducing people's self-destruction so much as he was acting like a divining rod, revealing rot that existed already but was not apparent. It may seem like an odd comparison. But I'm reminded of the effect in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series where the cursed pirates appear to be flesh and blood bodies. But the moonlight reveals them as desiccated skeletons, animated but undead. The rot was there but hidden. Trump is the moonlight. Perhaps better to say, to invert our metaphor, Trump is the darkness.
Josh Marshall: Sessions Is About Obstruction (TPM)
At one level this is obvious. But the bizarre behavior and sheer awkwardness of the situation can obscure a simple fact: the entirety of President Trump's battle with Jeff Sessions is about obstructing the Russia probe. The anger began over his recusal (and grew as the consequences of that recusal became more apparent) and continues with the President's desire to replace him with another Attorney General who will help him end the investigation or at least remove Robert Mueller from leading it. That is the only thing this is about.
Pakistani Police Arrest 25 Council Members Accused Of Ordering 'Revenge Rape' (Reuters)
Pakistani police have arrested 25 members of an informal village council accused of ordering the rape of a 16-year-old girl as revenge for her brother's alleged sexual assault of another girl.
Suzanne Moore: "Making babies is beginning to look as difficult for men as it always has been for women" (The Guardian)
In the present-day real world, patrolling the lifestyle of men is only part of the solution, as it has been with women. This is not about one sperm getting to one egg. It is bigger. We are producing an environment in which it is harder to reproduce. How much more evidence do we need before we begin to conceive of what this means?
Wisconsin Company to Implant Microchips in Employees (KSTP)
A Wisconsin company is about to become the first in the U.S. to offer microchip implants to its employees. Yes, you read that right. Microchip implants. "It's the next thing that's inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it," Three Square Market Chief Executive Officer Todd Westby said.
Michael Gregor, MD: Big Sugar Flexes its Muscles (NutritionFacts.org)
Dr. Margaret Chan, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, gave the opening address at the 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion. One of the biggest challenges facing health promotion worldwide, she said, is that the efforts to prevent our top killers "go against the business interests of powerful economic operators." It is not just Big Tobacco anymore. "Public health must also contend with Big Food, Big Soda, and Big Alcohol. …"
Bellushka: Dealing with Scammers (Imgur)
Mocking the scammer.
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In The Chaos Household
Jerry Seinfeld is back on top of Forbes' list of the world's highest-paid comedians.
Kevin Hart, last year's highest-paid comic, dropped to No. 6 on the list, with $32.5 million.
The magazine reported that a huge Netflix stand-up deal boosted Seinfeld's bottom line to a whopping $69.0 million last year.
Seinfeld's pal Chris Rock is second with a $57.0 million haul, followed by Louis CK, who earned $52.0 million, according to the 2017 list.
Dave Chappelle and Amy Schumer round out the top five with $47.0 million and $37.5 million, respectively.
Are Actually Related
Larry David and Bernie Sanders
Larry David, who wowed Saturday Night Live viewers during the 2016 election cycle with his portrayal of Democratic primary candidate Bernie Sanders, revealed Wednesday that they are actually related.
Variety reports that the Seinfeld co-creator learned of the family links when he was taking part in the PBS program Finding Your Roots, in which celebrities discover previously-unknown branches of their family trees.
"I was very happy about that," the comedian said during an appearance Wednesday at the Television Critics Association press tour, where he was promoting the upcoming return of his HBO series Curb Your Enthusiasm. He didn't say in detail how he and Sanders are connected, telling the audience that the former presidential candidate is "a third cousin or something."
Curb Your Enthusiasm returns on Oct. 1 on HBO.
Larry David and Bernie Sanders
Flexes Political Muscle
Outdoor recreation industry leaders aren't going quietly as they stage their last trade show in Utah before moving it to Colorado.
As they said goodbye and thank you Wednesday to Salt Lake City for hosting the expo for two decades, some industry leaders also criticized Utah's Republican leaders for their hard-line opposition to a new national monument and for their efforts to seize control of federal lands.
Those issues led the industry to move the twice-yearly expo that generated an estimated $45 million in annual direct spending in the state by visitors to the expo.
Several heavy-hitters in the industry spoke at the start of the show, saying the decision to relocate to Denver is part of their effort to flex the industry's collective power and support preservation of public lands.
Amid threats by several major companies to boycott the expo if it stayed in Utah, show organizers announced earlier this year that they would leave Utah over Republican opposition to the designation of Bears Ears National Monument and the ongoing push to take more control of federal public lands.
After three months of extensive maintenance and conservation work, a 107-year-old battleship returned Wednesday to its berth in Athens, where it serves as a floating museum.
A naval band played, surrounding ships and boats sounded their horns and a naval helicopter flew overhead as the Georgios Averof, a relic from the era of dreadnoughts, was nudged in to its mooring spot.
Named after the Greek businessman who partly financed the huge cost of the ship's purchase, the armored cruiser was built in an Italian shipyard in 1910 and was at the time the most feared warship in the Aegean Sea.
It also saw active service during World War II, when it was based in Alexandria, Egypt, after the fall of Greece to German forces. After the end of the war, it carried the Greek government-in-exile back to Athens.
The Georgios Averof remained in service until 1952, and spent the next quarter-century moored on the island of Poros, until the navy decided to restore and use it as a museum in the mid-1980s.
Says Anti-Bias Law Does Not Protect Gay Workers
The Trump administration told a U.S. appeals court that federal law does not ban discrimination against gay employees, a sharp reversal of the position former President Barack Obama took on a key civil rights issue.
The U.S. Department of Justice, in a friend of the court brief, told the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan on Wednesday that Congress never intended Title VII, which bans sex discrimination in the workplace, to apply to gay workers.
The department also said the court owed no deference to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency that enforces Title VII and has argued since 2012 that the law bans discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The brief came hours after Donald Trump (R-Corrupt) said he would ban transgender people from serving in the military. That would reverse a 2016 policy adopted by Obama.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department said employers engage in sex discrimination only when they treat male and female workers differently. Objecting to homosexuality does not depend on sex, the department said, but on moral or religious beliefs.
T-rump Set To Punish
Donald Trump's (R-Crooked) administration has reportedly threatened to isolate Alaska after a senator from the state voted against the President's health care motion.
Senator Lisa Murkowski was one of seven Republicans who rejected the measure to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, one of Mr Trump's key policy pledges, during a vote on Tuesday.
The President reacted angrily to the news, writing on Twitter: "Senator Lisa Murkowski of the Great State of Alaska really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad!"
Later in the day Ms Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, the other Republican senator for Alaska, allegedly received calls from the Department of the Interior warning them that the state's future was now under consideration.
The messages, which came directly from the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, were "troubling", Mr Sullivan told Alaska Dispatch News.
Top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway (R-Ethically Challenged) said Thursday on "Fox & Friends" that having to complete financial disclosure forms demoralizes qualified people from serving in government.
"There are so many qualified men and women who wanted to serve this president, this administration and their country, who have been completely demoralized and completely, I think, disinclined to do so based on the paperwork that we have to put forward divesting assets, the different hoops you have to run through," Conway said.
Conway's claim came during her defense of newly appointed White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci (R-Human Pinkie Ring). He claimed Wednesday night that he had been the victim of a leak, saying that his financial disclosure form had been divulged to Politico.
But the Politico reporter who wrote the story, Lorraine Woellert, said the disclosure form was publicly available through a records request.
"This White House is transparent and accountable, and we've all complied with those rules," Conway added. "But [disclosures are] really disincentivizing good men and women. I hope it doesn't disincentivize Anthony [Scaramucci]."
Settles Angola Bribery Case
Oil field services giant Halliburton will pay nearly $30 million to resolve allegations of bribery in Angola, US regulators announced Thursday.
Former Halliburton vice president Jeannot Lorenz also agreed to pay a $75,000 fine for falsifying the company's books and circumventing internal controls, the Securities and Exchange Commission said in a statement.
Lorenz steered $13 million in contracts to a local company owned by a former Halliburton employee with ties to an official at the Angolan state oil company Sonangol.
The official then approved lucrative contracts for Halliburton, bringing in profits of $14 million for the Houston-based company, the SEC said.
In settling the case, Halliburton agreed to surrender the profits, with $1.2 million in interest, and to pay another $14 million in fines.
Declining In The West
Sperm count among men in North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand has halved in 40 years, according to research warning of fertility risk, though outside experts urged caution about the results.
A review of data collected from nearly 43,000 men in 185 previous studies from 1973 to 2011, found a "significant decline" in sperm concentration, according to findings published in the journal Human Reproduction Update.
The decline was 52.4 percent -- from 99 million to 47 million sperm per millilitre of semen, said the authors.
This was still above the range considered "normal" by the World Health Organization -- between 15 million and 200 million sperm per millilitre. Even a concentration under 15 million does not automatically mean infertility.
The research team found no significant decline in South America, Asia, and Africa, where fewer studies had been conducted.
June Foray, the voice of "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show's" Rocky the Flying Squirrel and his nemesis Natasha Fatale of Boris and Natasha fame in the early 1960s and a key figure in the animation industry, died Thursday. She was 99.
Foray was also the voice behind Looney Tunes' Witch Hazel, Nell from "Dudley Do-Right," Granny in the "Tweety and Sylvester" cartoons and Cindy Lou Who in Chuck Jones' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," among hundreds of others.
The first lady of voice acting, one of the original members of animation organization ASIFA-Hollywood and founder of the annual Annie Awards, was also instrumental in the creation of the Oscars' animated feature category.
Foray continued to work late in life, reprising her role as Rocky in director Gary Trousdale's short "Rocky and Bullwinkle," released by DreamWorks Animation in 2014. In a 2013 interview with Variety, Foray said: "I'm still going. It keeps you thinking young. My body is old, but I think the same as I did when I was 20 years old."
Foray is credited with coming up with the idea for the Annie Awards, which started out as a dinner honoring the year's best in animation in 1972, and she presided over what has become a gala event in the animation industry every year since. The Annies created a juried award named for Foray in 1995 that honors individuals who have made significant or benevolent contributions to the art and industry of animation, and she was its first recipient.
A longtime cheerleader for the animation industry, Foray lobbied for many years to have animated films recognized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. "I was on the board of governors for 26 years and I tried for 20 years" to convince the Academy to have a category for animated features, she told Variety. Finally the Academy created the category in 2001, and DreamWorks Animation's "Shrek" won the first Oscar for animated feature. Afterward, Foray said, "Jeffrey Katzenberg called me to thank me because he was aware of what I had done."
Foray was born June Lucille Forer in Springfield, Mass., and she was doing vocal work in local radio dramas by the time she was 12. She continued working in radio after her family moved to Los Angeles after she graduated from high school, following her dream of becoming an actress. She even had her own "Lady Make Believe" radio show that showcased her vocal talents, and she appeared regularly on network shows such as "Lux Radio Theater" and "The Jimmy Durante Show."
She met her future husband, writer and director Hobart Donavan, while working on "Smilin' Ed's Buster Brown Show," then moved on to work with Steve Allen on morning radio show "Smile Time," in which she'd play "everyone and everything. It was there that I perfected my Spanish accent and where my booming Marjorie Main-type voice got a good workout," she recalled in her autobiography.
After "Smile Time," Foray found work with Capitol Records, where she recorded many children's albums and where she first met and worked with Stan Freberg and Daws Butler, with whom she recorded several comedy records, including "Dragnet" parody "St. George and the Dragonet." Later she was a regular cast member of "The Stan Freberg Show" on CBS Radio.
Foray got her start in the animation business when someone from the Walt Disney studio called her to ask if she could do the voice of a cat. "Well, I could do anything," recalled Foray in an interview with Variety. "So he hired me as Lucifer the cat in 'Cinderella,' and then I started to work for Disney." Much of her work for Disney was uncredited, including work as a mermaid and squaw in "Peter Pan." But she starred as the voice of Hazel the Witch in the 1952 Donald Duck short "Trick or Treat," using a voice that would later morph into "Looney Tunes" character Witch Hazel. She would often say that she voiced a long litany of cartoon witches, many of them named Hazel.
About the same time, the 1950s, Foray worked on a series of cartoons by such animation pioneers as Tex Avery and Walter Lantz. For Warner Bros., she became Granny in the "Tweety and Sylvester" cartoons and Alice Crumden in the cartoon parody of "The Honeymooners," "The Honey-Mousers." At Warner Bros. she met Chuck Jones, for whom she worked on several "Looney Tunes" cartoons, starting with "Broom-Stick Bunny" in 1956. She would later star as Cindy Lou Who in Jones' cartoon adaptation of Dr. Seuss' "How the Grinch Stole Christmas."
But her greatest fame came with Jay Ward's satirical "Rocky and His Friends," which would later become "The Bullwinkle Show," eventually known collectively as "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show," which ran from 1959 through 1964. Foray did most of the female voices for the show, including the voice of Russian villain Natasha Fatale, as well as that of Rocket J. Squirrel. She also voiced characters for other Jay Ward cartoons, such as "Dudley Do-Right" (Nell Fenwick), "George of the Jungle" (Jane) and "Tom Slick" (Marigold).
It wasn't only in animation that Foray got to use her myriad vocal talents. She voiced the demonic doll Talky Tina in "The Twilight Zone" episode entitled "Living Doll" in 1963.
Despite her prolific career, she had to wait until 2012 for an Emmy nomination; she went on to win a Daytime Emmy for her performance as Mrs. Cauldron on Cartoon Network's "The Garfield Show."
Foray was married to Bernard Barondess from 1941 to 1945. She was married to Donavan from 1954 until his death in 1976.